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Full text of "Abraham Lincoln: Address of Edward F. Dunne, Governor of the State of Illinois, before the Annunciation Club of Buffalo, New York, February 15, 1916"

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EDWARD F. DUNNE 




EDWARD F. DUNNE 



Abraham Lincoln 

Addeess of Edward F. Dunne, Governor of the State of 

Illinois, Before the Annunciation Club of Buffalo, 

New York, February 15, 1916. 



At your kind invitation I come to participate with you in 
the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of a great 
American President and statesman, Abraham Lincoln. 

I come from a State which is proud of its history and 
achievements ; from a State which although not yet a century 
old, has advanced into the front rank of the States of the 
Union. 

We are proud in Illinois of the fact that this comparatively 
young State has distanced her sister States, excepting two, in 
population, wealth, manufacturing and political importance; 
that she stands first in agricultural wealth, fertility of soil 
and railway development. But proud as we are of her ma- 
terial prosperity, we are prouder still of her history and the 
part she has played in the history of the Nation. 

We are proud that it was on the soil of Illinois that the 
gentle Pere Marquette made most of his important discoveries 
and planted the cross of Christianity in 1673, his mission being 
one for the salvation of souls and not the subjugation of the 
bodies of men. 

We are proud of the achievements which La Salle and Joliet, 
Tonti and Hennepin accomplished on Illinois soil. 

We are proud of the fact that the hardy pioneers who dwelt 
in the wilderness around Kaskaskia in what is now the State of 
Illinois, anticipated, in 1771, the demands of the colonists in 
Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and the rest of the Thir- 
teen colonies when they repudiated Lord Dartmouth's 
^* Sketch of Government for Illinois,'' as ^'oppressive and 
absurd," and declared '* should a government so evidently 



8 

tyrannical be established, it could be of no duration. There 
would exist the necessity of its being abolished. ' ' This declar- 
ation of independence antedates that of 1776 in Philadelphia 
by five years. 

We are proud of the fact that on Illinois soil took place, on 
July 4, 1778, the struggle resulting in the capture from the 
English by George Rogers Clark of the fort of Kaskaskia, 
which wrested forever from the British crown all of the terri- 
tory west of Pennsylvania lying between the Ohio and Missis- 
sippi rivers. 

We are proud of the fact that it was on the soil of Illinois 
that its two intellectually gifted sons argued out before the 
people sitting as a jury the greatest moral issue that this 
country has ever faced — ^the issue as to whether this country 
could long endure as a republic with human slavery legally 
enforced in one part of it, and legally prohibited in another. 

We are proud of the fact that that great issue, as the result 
of that great debate, was finally settled right in the awful ar- 
bitrament of war under the leadership of the great soldier fur- 
nished by Illinois in the nation's crisis, backed by the valor of 
125,000 sons of Illinois upon the battlefield. 

We are proud of the fact that Illinois produced in the na- 
tion's crisis a U. S. Grant to lead her soldiers to final victory, 
and that in the great war for the preservation of the life of 
the nation she produced such brilliant generals as Logan, 
Shields, McClernand, Oglesby, Mulligan and Lawler, and 
others, who have shed illustrious honor upon the State, but 
above and beyond all, Illinois is proud of the fact that she 
gave to the nation and to the world in 1861 the greatest human- 
itarian and statesman of the nineteenth century, one of the 
most wonderful men in history, in the person of Abraham 
Lincoln. 

We are celebrating tonight the natal anniversary of this 
great man and I am called upon to speak appropriately to 
the theme. I fear that in calling upon me for this purpose 
you have overrated my powers. Since the death of Lincoln, 
his name has been upon the tongues and pens of most of the 
great orators and writers of the world. With the single excep- 



tion, probably, of Napoleon, no name has so engrossed the 
attention of the civilized world in the last century as has that 
of Lincoln. Orators, poets and historians have vied with each 
other in doing honor to that illustrious name and yet the 
theme has not become threadbare nor exhausted. 

Four men who have reached the presidency of this great 
Eepublic stand out among their fellow presidents as titanic 
figures in American history — ^Washington, the ideal patriot; 
Jefferson, the ideal statesman; Jackson, the ideal citizen-sol- 
dier ; and Lincoln, the ideal humanitarian. 

We are gathered tonight to honor the last but not the least 
of these great men. 

Lincoln's character is remarkable in that it seems to grow 
and increase in public estimation as the years go by. I doubt 
that his contemporaries appreciated in his lifetime the won- 
derful character of the man. When one stands alongside of 
some great architectural triumph with his hand upon its 
base, he fails to drink in the symmetry and grandeur of the 
structure. It is only when he stands away from the base of 
the monument that he begins to appreciate its dignity and 
symmetry, and so it is with the character of Lincoln. Those 
who lived and worked with him, it seems to me, never appre- 
ciated at its full worth the marvelous character of the man. 
It is only as the years roll by and as we get the perspective of 
time that we recognize the simplicity and noblility of his 
character. 

Lincoln's personal history is one of the saddest and strang- 
est in all history. Born in a miserable log hut, in the direst 
poverty, without the education of schools, without influential 
friends, without physical attraction, without money or prop- 
erty and without antecedents, by virtue of his innate moral 
rectitude and intellectual ability alone, he struggled upward 
and onward until he died in the White House, President, Chief 
Executive, of the greatest Eepublic on the face of the earth. 

Thomas a'Kempis in his beautiful work, the ^^ Imitation of 
Christ," has pointed out in the choicest language how to 
become a follower of the Christian Eedeemer. It is a work 
that is written for, and appeals to Christians. Lincoln was 



10 

not a Christian. I doubt if he was ever aifiliated with any- 
church. Indeed, his biographers show that in the early days 
of his manhood he read much of Thomas Paine and Voltaire. 
He was probably a deist, a believer in the existence of an 
all-wise Providence, but a disbeliever in miracles, revelation, 
the atonement, and punishment after death. 

He probably never read or heard of the ^^ Imitation 
of Christ," and yet fate or destiny made him uncon- 
sciously a man who was surrounded all his life by many 
circumstances such as we read of in the life of Christ. He 
was born in a lowly cabin in the outskirts of civilization. He 
was the son of a rude and unlettered carpenter. He lived 
in the direst poverty. He preached the doctrines of human 
equality. He was filled with sympathy for the poor and 
distressed. He demanded equality before the law, and died 
a martyr to the cause of humanity. 

I will discuss his character tonight from three standpoints. 
First, from the standpoint of his profession as a lawyer; 
second, from the standpoint of statesmanship, and third, as 
a man of many sorrows. 

For twenty-three years of his life Abraham Lincoln 
practiced law for a living in the Springfield District of 
Illinois. It was known as the Eighth Judicial Circuit, and 
comprised one-seventh of the whole state. Without schol- 
astic education, or in fact any education, except that which 
was acquired through his own efforts, and without even 
examination as to his legal attainments, he was early ad- 
mitted to the bar. Prior to that admission his whole life had 
been that of a manual laborer. Despite his early handicaps, 
he soon discovered in himself that strength of character and 
mental force which makes men great. Imbued with a natural 
facility of speech and a lucidity of thought which found 
expression in the simplest of language, he felt himself quali- 
fied to become a pleader of the rights and demands of others. 
His confidence in himself was well founded. After receiving 
his license to practice, he commenced a professional career 
as a lawyer which rapidly developed into a successful 
practice. 



11 

No man in the profession in this time worked so tirelessly 
and incessantly. Astride a powerful horse, with his saddle 
bags containing his briefs and pleadings, or in a wobbling, 
dilapidated buggy, he followed the Circuit Judge from 
county seat to county seat through fourteen counties, over 
almost impassible roads, sleeping in impossible taverns, 
often sharing a bed with fellow lawyers, or sometimes with 
the Circuit Judge himself. For weeks at a time he was away 
from his home and office, constantly trying cases in the then 
obscure and widely separated county seats of eastern central 
Illinois. No farmer or mechanic of to-day did half of the 
physical labor performed by Lincoln in making these fearful 
pilgrimages. The remarkable feature of these laborious 
trips is the fact that throughout them all he preserved his 
health and good temper. The physical hardships of his early 
life seemed to have inured him to all kinds of harassing 
wear and tear, his temperate habits preserved his extraor- 
dinary physical strength, and the unfailing good humor and 
light-heartedness with which his Maker endowed him, en- 
abled Mm, after a hard day's work, to cast off his cares as 
easily as he discarded his overcoat. 

No lawyer in the circuit tried as many nisi prius cases as 
did Lincoln. For a time in his career on the circuit he was 
almost incessantly in court, being retained on either side of 
nearly every case on trial. 

Nor were his labors confined to the Circuit Court. The 
labor performed by him on briefs filed in the Supreme 
Court was prodigious. In the first twenty-five volumes of 
the Supreme Court reports his name appears as counsel 173 
times. In some of these cases doubtless the briefs may have 
been prepared by associate counsel, but no lawyer could 
have had 173 cases in the Supreme Court within twenty-three 
years without having done an enormous amount of work on 
the same, both in the Circuit and Supreme Courts. The 
wonder of the thing grows upon us when we reflect that for 
many years he prepared his own pleadings in long hand; 
that his brief book was kept in his pocket and sometimes in 



12 

his hat, and that, in his early days in the profession, he was 
very careless and unmethodical. 

His industry, however, marvelous as it was, never equaled 
his modesty. Lincoln was not a commercial lawyer. He 
knew not how to capitalize anything; least of all did he 
know how to capitalize his own wonderful genius. The 
possessor of rude but convincing eloquence that persuaded 
juries and convinced courts, endowed by God with a nobility 
of character and a love of truth which shone through his 
every act and work, and brought success to nearly every 
cause he championed, this great man and this great lawyer 
was possessed of an instinctive modesty that refused to rate 
his own worth in mercenary cash. 

The man, who within a few years afterward gave utterance 
to that immortal classic at Gettysburg and penned the like- 
wise immortal Emancipation Proclamation, in his own esti- 
mation as a lawyer was not worth $25.00 a day. On one of 
his circuits, it is said, Lincoln only collected $5.00 in cash. 
On many of them, most of his fees were $5.00 a trial, and 
in but very few cases did he receive $50.00. 

His guileless and uncommercial character as a lawyer is 
but illustrated by his notes made preparatory to a law 
lecture. 

^^The matter of fees is important," he wrote, ''far beyond 
the mere question of bread and butter involved. Properly 
attended to, fuller justice is done to both lawyer and client. 
An exorbitant fee should never be charged. As a general 
rule, never take your whole fee in advance, nor any more 
than a small retainer. When fully paid beforehand, you 
are more than mortal if you can feel the same interest in the 
case as if something was still in prospect." 

On one occasion, when he learned that an attorney who had 
retained him had charged $250.00 for their joint services, he 
refused to take any share of the money until the f^e had 
been reduced to what he deemed a reasonable amount. 

For this and other outrages of this character upon the 
legal profession, he was denounced by Judge David Davis, 
who said: ''Lincoln, you are impoverishing the bar by your 



13 

picayune charges/' and he was tried by his brother lawyers 
in a mock court, condemned, found guilty, and paid his fine 
with the utmost good nature. 

The lack of financial acquisitiveness, amounting at times 
to self-deprivation, characterized his every station in life, 
from grocery clerk to the presidency, and impelled him at 
all times to side with the under dog and to champion the 
cause of the poor, the lowly and the oppressed. 

But Lincoln, the lawyer, was not only industrious and 
modest; he was incorruptibly honest. He could not, and 
would not, lie, dissemble, pettifog or corrupt. Lincoln fought 
his legal battles in the open. Although a power in politics, 
he never maneuvered and intrigued to get a man on the 
bench that he could own. Although a member of the Legis- 
lature and of Congress, he never was a lobbyist, either during 
his term of office or afterwards. He never joined swell 
clubs or fawned upon the wealthy. He never invited judges 
on the bench to stretch their legs and consciences at private 
dinner parties. He never dosed them with Euinart and 
Oliquot, or furnished them with private cars and free trans- 
portation. He had no systematized departments in his law 
office, called ^^Tax Department," wherein the duties of the 
tax lawyer was to fix the assessor; ^'Legislative Depart- 
ment, '^ wherein the legislative lawyer was detailed to see 
the councilmen and assemblymen; '^ Publicity Department,'' 
wherein the publicity lawyer was employed to fix the news- 
papers ; ' ' Claim Department, ' ' wherein the claim lawyer was 
detailed to get to the hospital with a receipt in full before 
the injured claimant was operated upon; '^ Coroner's De- 
partment," wherein the deputy lawyer arranged to draft the 
verdict for the accommodation of the coroner's jury; nor 
a '^ Settlement Department," whose duty it was to settle 
cases with litigants behind the backs of the lawyers who had 
brought suits and got them in readiness for trial. Lincoln 
would have scorned to preside over, or be found in such a 
law ofece. 

Lincoln tried some important lawsuits for corporations, 
but his ability could be hired and not his conscience. He 



14 

could never be hired to advise a client, no matter how 
wealthy, how to violate the law, how to cajole or corrupt a 
court or jury, how to fix an assessor, or debauch a councilman 
or legislator. 

Even when retained in a case where he owed the duty of 
giving his best efforts to his client, he insisted that the client 
must act with honor. 

It is said that during the trial of one of his cases he 
detected his client acting dishonorably, whereupon he walked 
out of the court room, and refused to proceed with the trial. 
Upon the judge sending a messenger after him, directing 
him to return, he positively declined, saying, '^Tell the judge 
my hands are dirty and I've gone away to wash them.'' 

Nor would he accept a retainer in a case which was legally 
right, but morally wrong. 

To a prospective client, seeking his services, he once said : 

'*We can doubtless win your case, set a whole neighbor- 
hood at loggerheads, distress a widow and six fatherless 
children, and thereby get you six hundred dollars, to which 
you have a legal claim, but which rightfully belongs to the 
widow and her children. Some things that are legally right 
are not morally right. We would advise you to try your 
hand at making six hundred dollars some other way. ' ' 

Such were the principles that actuated and governed 
Lincoln in the practice of his profession. A remunerative 
practice in any profession is a laudable ambition, but too 
often that ambition is tainted with the '*get-rich-at-any-cost" 
spirit of the age. 

Judged by the test of the accumulation of money, Lincoln 
was not a great lawyer, but judged by the test of probity, 
integrity, loyalty to clients and adherence to the right, 
Lincoln was among the greatest lawyers of his day. 

Let us now turn to the career of Lincoln as a statesman 
and a leader of men. 

When he first appeared in public life he had many draw- 
backs and disadvantages to contend with. He had neither 
a good education nor a good personal appearance. Truth 
compels us to admit that Lincoln was homely in face and 



15 

ungainly in figure. Both his portraits and the pen descrip- 
tions of him by his contemporaries unite in picturing him 
as a very homely-faced man with a singularly awkward and 
ungraceful carriage. Six feet four inches in height, with long 
arms and long legs, when seated he did not seem to be larger 
than the ordinary man. His vocabulary was rude, simple 
and at times coarse, the natural result of his early environ- 
ment. 

Notwithstanding these drawbacks, his clear, lucid mind, 
backed by his facility of speech, early enabled him to discover 
the vital point in the discussion of any great issue, as it 
enabled him to discover the vital point in the trial of a 
lawsuit. While still a young man, as the central figure of a 
combination of nine energetic men in the Legislature, he 
succeeded in transferring the Capital of the State from 
Vandalia to his home city, Springfield. To accomplish this 
required tact, diplomacy, industry and compelling ability, the 
same quality that brought about his election as captain of 
his company in the Black Hawk War. 

Upon turning his attention to the general national issues 
of the country, he early discovered the moral weakness and 
untenability of human slavery as being a part of the institu- 
tions of the Eepublic. He early recognized the fact that the 
American Nation was born with a disfiguring birth-mark 
upon his brow and that that birth-mark must eventually be 
effaced before the Nation could stand perfect among the 
other nations of the world, and yet with the full conscious- 
ness that slavery must be ultimately abolished in the United 
States, he was practical enough to know that the time for 
bringing about this great change must be selected under 
propitious and favorable surroundings, and that a premature 
attempt to abolish slavery, particularly by confiscation, 
would be apt to be ruinous to its advocates. Therefore, 
while determined to abolish slavery, he refused to join the 
abolitionists. 

Lincoln preferred to bide his time and let the leaven of 
anti-slavery sentiment do its work in its own good time. He 
knew that, under the Constitution of the United States, 



16 

slavery was recognized and tolerated, but also that, under 
the same Constitution, the confiscation of property rights 
was illegal. He, therefore, favored a moderate policy in the 
firm belief that a time would come in the history of the 
country when slavery could be abolished by compensation. 
None the less, he had no patience with the devious and 
shifting devices resorted to by statesmen of his day for the 
further extension of slavery into free territory. 

If the abolition of slavery must await until a propitious 
time, nevertheless its extension to free territory, he insisted, 
should not be tolerated. The attempted extension of slavery 
to free territory he knew would be the rock upon which the 
party in power must be shipwrecked. There he took his 
stand, and there he remained in the advocacy of the opposi- 
tion to such extension until he found himself the leader in 
the Nation of those who opposed slavery. Fortunate for 
Lincoln was it that the great leader of the opposite doctrines 
of compromise and extension lived in his own State and city, 
where Lincoln could watch his career, analyze his mistakes 
and note his errors. 

Douglas, at heart, was not a believer in slavery, but his 
long career in public life, particularly in the Senate of the 
United States, brought him in contact with all the leaders 
of the pro-slavery forces. He knew their strength, power 
and ability. He knew the tenacity with which the slave- 
holders of the South had labored to preserve the institution 
of slavery. He was a patriot and lover of his country and 
he feared the power and strength of the pro-slavery people 
and feared that that strength and power would be utilized to 
rend in twain the Nation if the abolition of slavery by con- 
fiscation were attempted. Douglas believed he was strug- 
gling for the preservation of the integrity of the Union, and 
all his policies and all his speeches were designed and 
delivered with the purpose of preventing that calamity. 

He was possessed of the idea that the slave-holding 
element had strength and power enough to bring about a 
severance between the States, and a division of the Eepublic. 
He submerged the great moral issue in the interest of the 



17 

integrity of the Nation. Lincoln took higher and loftier 
ground. He believed the time must come when slavery must 
be abolished and that when that time came no attempt to 
sever the Eepublic upon such an issue could prevail with 
the American people. 

But until the time became ripe for the enunciation of the 
doctrine of abolition he was content to stand and fight along 
the line of opposing the extension of slavery to the territories 
of the West. He determined that the citadel of slavery must 
eventually be stormed, impregnable as it seemed to be at 
the time. Outside of that citadel and in front of the citadel 
the friends of slavery had advanced their troops and erected 
entrenchments for the extension of slavery to the free terri- 
tories. The citadel could not be captured until these en- 
trenchments were stormed. 

When Douglas maintained, under the specious doctrine of 
state sovereignty, that each state and territory had the 
inherent right to determine for itself within its own boun- 
daries whether slavery should exist, and thus aligned him- 
self with the slave-holders of the South in endeavoring to 
extend slavery into the free territories of the West in 
defiance of the Missouri Compromise, Lincoln was the first 
of American statesmen to see that a breach could be made in 
these entrenchments. He challenged Douglas to an open 
debate on the prairies of Illinois on his views of state 
sovereignty, and in that debate it is conceded by all historians 
that he unhorsed his great opponent. 

When he compelled Douglas to answer his adroit question 
in this memorable debate, the answer to which necessarily 
would and did commend him to the Democrats of the North, 
but incensed against him the Democrats of the South, he 
destroyed forever Douglas' prospect for the Presidency. 
When Lincoln's friends and adherents advised him against 
putting the question, pointing out that Douglas might, and 
probably would, answer in such a way as to strengthen his 
hold upon the Democrats of Illinois for the United States 
Senate, the answer of Lincoln was, ''I am gunning for bigger 
game," and his prediction proved true. Douglas' answer to 



18 

that celebrated question propounded by Lincoln saved him 
in his candidacy for the United States Senate, but lost him 
the Presidency of the United States, and eventually made 
Lincoln that President. His conduct in that marvelous joint 
debate between Douglas and Lincoln so enhanced Lincoln's 
reputation that his name was upon the tongues of most of the 
anti-slavery people of the United States. 

Up to that time Senator Seward, of New York, and Mr. 
Chase, of Ohio, were the leaders of anti-slavery sentiment. 
Both of them were men of superior education, of the highest 
culture and of the most powerful intellect. Both of them 
for years were in official positions, trained in public office, 
far excelling Lincoln in the usual qualities which go to make 
up the ordinary statesman, and yet so powerful was Lincoln's 
rude but convincing logic in this memorable debate that it 
impelled the rank and file of the Republican party to choose 
him as their candidate for the Presidency in the convention 
of 1860. Lincoln had, by his merciless logic, carried the 
state sovereignty entrenchments which Douglas had so cun- 
ningly constructed in front of the citadel of slavery. 

Once installed in these entrenchments by his election to the 
Presidency, he proceeded to construct in and upon them a 
fortress from which he could afterwards batter down and 
storm the citadel of slavery. 

In the selection of his cabinet Lincoln displayed extraor- 
dinary sagacity and acumen. To the position of Secretary 
of State he invited the cultured and seasoned statesman. 
Senator Seward, who was the best known and ablest opponent 
of slavery, except himself, in the United States. That 
great man, disappointed in his ambition for the Presidency, 
was reluctant to accept, but Lincoln appealed to his patriot- 
ism and his humanity, and would not take **no" for an 
answer. When he finally did accept, it was upon condition 
that Lincoln must disclose the names of the other members 
of his cabinet. 

Among these was Senator Chase, of Ohio, another ardent 
Free Soil Republican, between whom and Seward there was 
a violent personal antipathy. Seward refused to sit in the 



19 

cabinet with Chase, and again Lincoln's wonderful sagacity 
and diplomacy was put to the test. How he accomplished 
the bringing together of these men will never be fully known, 
but they finally yielded to Lincoln's firm demands and both 
were appointed. 

To the great astonishment of the country two Union 
Democrats were appointed, presumably for the purpose of 
assuring the South that it was not his design to commit an 
injustice or take from them their property without due 
process of law and just compensation. From thence on 
Lincoln's career in the White House was a marvel of 
ingenuity and statesmanship. Confronted with rebellion on 
the part of the Southern States and with constant friction 
in his cabinet; with threats of resignation constantly re- 
newed on the part of Chase ; with insubordination and brutal 
opposition on the part of Stanton; with contempt and inso- 
lence on the part of Seward; assailed by an unfair and 
vituperative press; afflicted with incompetence among his 
generals in the field, he nevertheless piloted the ship of state 
through the most perilous period in American history when 
the very life of the Nation was at stake. 

Men at his elbow in the cabinet intrigued against him, 
aspired to the position he held; obstructed his orders and 
nursed their own political ambitions and enmities in a way 
and to a degree that would have made the ordinary man lose 
heart and abandon the contest. Yet with a constancy, 
patriotism and ability but seldom if ever equaled in history, 
the dominant will of Lincoln prevailed. Finally, when he 
found himself strong enough and when the situation was 
opportune, he prepared and submitted to his cabinet the 
immortal Emancipation Proclamation, and, despite the oppo- 
sition of many of his most influential friends and sagest 
advisers, he gave the Proclamation to the world and fired 
the final batteries which in the end dismantled and destroyed 
the citadel of slavery. Nor was this done without an exhibi- 
tion of remarkable sagacity and exalted statesmanship. It 
was promulgated to the world as a war measure. It an- 
nounced to the people of the South that those in rebellion 



20 

against the Union must suffer the loss of their human chattels 
if they persisted in their treason, and that that property must 
be utilized against them on the battlefield. He was prudent 
enough, however, not to have the emancipation of the slaves 
of those in rebellion against the Nation to take effect imme- 
diately. He fixed a time in the proclamation in the future 
when the emancipation would go into effect unless those who 
were in rebellion laid down their arms and ceased their war 
of treason, and it contained the proviso that if those in 
resistance to the Nation would cease their rebellion they 
would be compensated for their property. 

The time and the circumstances for the abolition of slavery 
had arrived. The hour had struck upon the dial of time. 
Without violating law or the Constitution and in furtherance 
of the preservation of the integrity of the Union, he at last 
succeeded in effacing the birth-mark of slavery from the fair 
face of the American Eepublic. No statesman was ever so 
tried and so beset under trial or so triumphant in a great 
crisis as was Abraham Lincoln in the Presidency of the 
United States in the greatest crisis of its history. 

And now let us consider the man as the man of sorrow. 

His whole career, from cradle to the grave, was pathetic 
with its burdens, its humiliations, its privations and its 
sorrows. His birth was sorrowful. His boyhood days were 
sorrowful. His youth, his manhood, his public career and 
private career all through his life were filled with the strain 
of unending sorrow. 

His infancy was barefooted and ragged. He was forced 
to work at the coarsest manual labor from the time he was 
six years of age. When a mere lad he led the horses while 
another held the plow. 

His father was a shiftless, unskilled carpenter, incapable 
of saving, or acquiring property. As soon as he was able to 
earn a wage Lincoln was hired out by his father to neigh- 
boring farmers and woodsmen for the most exacting physical 
labor, doing chores, chopping wood, splitting rails, acting 
as a flat-boat man on the rivers, as general chore-man around 



21 

country stores, A more cheerless boyhood is not disclosed in 
liistory. 

In his young manhood Lincoln appears as an awkward, 
angular youth, ugly in face and ungainly in carriage, 
unlettered and untaught. He went to school but one year 
in all his life, and the marvel is that he acquired a 
vocabulary and a diction such as is disclosed in some of his 
speeches and State papers. His love affairs were unfor- 
tunate. Spurned by most young girls of his age, he had the 
misfortune to lose by death his first sweetheart, which af- 
fected him so keenly that his friends despaired of his reason. 
After her death, his despondency was so acute and pathetic 
as to develop eccentricity from which he slowly recovered. 

His married life was unhappy almost from its inception. 
So doubtful was he of the prospect of married felicity that 
he failed and refused to be present on the appointed day for 
the marriage. Later on his courtship of his future wife was 
renewed and he finally consummated the marriage, only to 
have his most gloomy fears verified by many years of acute 
and constant married infelicity. So unhappy was his mar- 
ried life that his most reliable biographers state that while 
on the circuit when other lawyers went home on Saturday 
to spend their time with their wives and children that he 
(Lincoln) remained in some obscure hotel rather than return 
to his own fireside. 

The most pathetic picture drawn of Lincoln's unhappiness 
is that given by his law partner, who states that during the 
lunch hour, in Springfield, Lincoln, instead of walking four 
or five blocks to his home for the mid-day meal, would go 
down to the grocery store underneath his law office and buy 
a few cents' worth of cheese and crackers, and munch them 
in his office to satisfy his hunger. Nor was his domestic 
infelicity alone filled with sorrow. His financial affairs were 
never prosperous. Scrupulously honest and desirous of 
paying his debts, he was for years at a time constantly in 
debt, and, in order to pay these debts, he was depriving 
himself of the necessities of life. It is said that when he was 
elected to the Legislature he had to borrow money to go to 



22 

Vandalia, and when elected to the Presidency he was so short 
of ready cash, although he owned his home in Springfield and 
a small farm, that he was compelled again to borrow money 
to pay the expenses of the trip to Washington. 

His public life, while glorious in its results, was every- 
where bestrewn with vexations and annoyances. A consid- 
erable portion of the press was vituperative and abusive 
towards him. Members of his cabinet obstinate and irascible 
and, at times, insulting; all these things leading up to the 
final tragedy when he fell a victim to the bullet of an assassin. 
Such was the life of Lincoln, the man of sorrows. 

His whole life and his death were a martyrdom. 

If the spirits of the dead can, as we believe, look down and 
become conscious of the affairs of this world, what a glorious 
consolation must the spirit of Abraham Lincoln now be 
receiving beyond the grave. The burdens and sorrows of his 
life have been glorified to him, to his children and to his 
country by the incomparable, magnificent name and fame 
that he has left in history. 

No agonies that a human being could endure in this world 
could or would be shrunk from by any man who values fame 
if they could acquire such a fame and such a name as has 
been left by this incomparable American, the greatest 
humanitarian of his age and country. 

I know of no man in profane history who has so endeared 
himself to men of all races, nationalities, religions or color 
as has the great American statesman and beloved son of 
Illinois, Abraham Lincoln.