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of speech were almost always drawn from his per-
“Why, sir, there is not a single statement in Trumbull's
AFTER A GREAT STRUGGLE.
Condition of the Two Contestants—The Crocodile and the Negro
Douglas in the South-Lincoln Nominated by Illinois Republicans—The Rail-Splitting Candidate-Some Pithy Sayings—Lincoln Speaks in New York—The Man from Illinois.
HE election was over, and the two champions
were left in a condition that varied with each. It had been a long and exhaustive struggle, but it was observed of Lincoln that, though weary, he appeared more like an athlete just entering a struggle, not just coming out of one. His sinewy form was as erect and elastic as ever, his eye was bright, and his face, though naturally sallow, was lighted with animation. Here his early training and abstemious habits stood him in good stead. He had “never applied hot and rebellious liquors to his blood," and in this time of sore trial he came out unscathed. The hundred days of a tense and exciting canvass left no mark on him. Douglas, on the other hand, was badly shattered; his voice was almost gone, and he scarcely spoke above a whisper. He showed great fatigue, and he sought rest and repose as soon as he could get away from his friends. But Douglas, too, had an iron constitution, and he soon rallied his physical forces, and was himself again after a few days of rest. Later on, he went through several of
the Southern States, descending towards the Gulf of Mexico by the Mississippi River. At various points down the stream he was received with acclaim, and his speeches manifested his desire to recover with the slave-owning people of the South whatever he might have lost in the debate on the free soil of Illinois. He said at Memphis, Tenn., for example, that wherever the climate and soil of a State or Territory made it for the interest of the people to encourage slave labor, there they would have a slave code. At that time, the Buchanan administration cherished, among other darling plans for the acquisition of more slave territory, one for the purchase of Cuba. Douglas said that this was necessary. In New Orleans, he said that wherever a race showed itself incapable of self-government, the stronger race must govern it; and that the negro was of such a race. Indeed, his speeches were all designed to strengthen himself with men who believed that slavery was right, just, and needful to the white race.
It was during this brief tour that Douglas made use of the famous “crocodile” figure of speech, afterwards taken up by Lincoln. Douglas said: “As between the crocodile and the negro, I take the side of the negro; but, as between the negro and the white man, I would go for the white man, every time." Lincoln, at home, noted that; and afterwards, when he had occasion to refer to the remark, he said: “I believe that this is a sort of proposition in proportion, which may be stated thus: “As the negro is to the white man, so is the crocodile to the negro; and as the negro
may rightfully treat the crocodile as a beast or reptile, so the white man may rightfully treat the negro as a beast or reptile.' Now, my brother Kentuckians, who believe in this, you ought to thank Judge Douglas for having put that in a much more taking way than any of yourselves have done."
This, however, was somewhat later in the year. Lincoln now belonged, apparently, to politics. He resumed his practice of law, and to all appearances had given up thoughts of political preferment; but he did not conceal his regret at the failure of his party to carry the Legislature and secure his own election to the United States Senate. When asked by a friend how he felt when his defeat was assured by the returns of the election, he said, in his usual good-natured and jocose way, that he felt "like the boy who stubbed his toe, too badly to laugh and too big to cry.” By this time, we must remember, he was accustomed to defeat. He had been in a minority too long to regard the victory of others over him as an unmixed evil.
Lincoln's affability, perfect simplicity, good-nature, and home-like freedom of manner had by this time made him, as it were, an inmate of every household in the West. Everybody among those plain people recognized him as “one of us,” a man to be loved and admired, and not at a distance either. The Lincoln-Douglas debate, however, gave him a wider fame. The speeches had been so extensively read, and the joint canvass was in itself so unique an affair to Eastern people, that they all thought they knew now the two men who had
figured on this national stage. Invitations came pouring upon Lincoln from all over the Northern States, seeking to secure his services in the battle being fought in each State. During the winter of 1858-9, he devoted himself to his own private affairs, listening, we may suppose, to the beating of the popular heart as indicated in the newspapers and in the political meetings that the excited condition of public affairs made it necessary to hold all over the country.
In May, 1859, he was called upon to say, as a possible candidate for the Presidency, what were his views concerning the attempts made in some States to curtail the political privileges of naturalized foreigners. Dr. Theodor Canisius, a German citizen of Illinois, wrote him a letter asking him what he thought of such an attempt as this, lately made in Massachusetts. Lincoln, while declining to criticise Massachusetts, said he should be sorry to see any such proposition brought up in Illinois, and he would oppose it wherever he had the right to do so.
"As I understand the spirit of our institutions," said he, “it is designed to promote the elevation of men. I am, therefore, hostile to anything that tends to their debasement. It is well known that I deplore the depressed condition of the blacks, and it would, therefore, be very inconsistent for me to look with approval upon any measure that infringes upon the inalienable rights of white men, whether or not they are born in another land or speak a different language from our own.”
The Republicans of Illinois held their annual convention in Decatur, Macon County, May 10, 1859.