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coln and most of his hearers had ever seen, answered one of the campaign speeches of the candidate from New Salem. Lincoln in his reply said :
“ Mr. Forquer commenced his speech by announcing that the young man would have to be taken down.
It is for you, fellow-citizens, not for me, to say whether I am up or down. The gentleman has seen fit to allude to my being a young man; but he forgets that I am older in years than I am in the tricks and trades of politicians. I desire to live, and I desire place and distinction; but I would rather die now, than, like the gentleman, live to see the day that I would change my politics for an office worth three thousand dollars a year, and then feel compelled to erect a lightning-rod to protect a guilty conscience from an offended God."
Lincoln was elected, and his record was much more prominent than it had been during his first term. The three things he proved were that he was a very adroit politician, that he shared a financial insanity which just then pervaded the state, and that he had convictions on slavery. His political address was shown in his leading position among the delegates from his district, called the “ Long Nine,” from the height of all the members, and its recognition was proved by the fact that a great scheme of that body, the removal of the capital, was left to his engineering. The removal for Vandalia was settled, and Alton, Decatur, Peoria, Jacksonville, and Illiopolis sought the honor. The Long Nine, however, by giving their support to other bills only in return for votes for Springfield, conquered. This success led to complimentary dinners and meetings, and among the toasts were these:
“ Abraham Lincoln: He has fulfilled the expectations of his friends, and disappointed the hopes of his enemies."
“A. Lincoln : One of Nature's noblemen."
The interest of the statesmen during this session, however, was mainly taken up with a grand scheme for the manufacture of an Illinois boom. Chicago had started on her meteoric career, and the legislators were drunk with the idea of giving the whole state a similar experience. They planned a canal from Lake Michigan to the Illinois River and railroads between numerous cities, some of which owed their existence only to maps. Thirteen hundred and fifty miles of rail were thus arranged for. Every stream in the state was to be improved. Unfortunately there were a few
neighborhoods which had no rivers and were not included in the railroad system, but the open-handed Solons met this difficulty by voting $200,000 to be divided among these places. To carry out the rest of the plan they voted the perfectly inadequate sums of $8,000,000 for railroads and $4,000,000 for the canal. Lincoln was on the committee on finance. In the consequences of these dreams he shared at a later session. The frenzy was almost universal, and Stephen A. Douglas was among the most enthusiastic.
As far as Lincoln's career was concerned, however, his most important act was one which passed almost unnoticed, a protest entered March 3, the day before the legislature adjourned. The sentiment in favor of slavery in Illinois, which was peopled largely by settlers from Southern states, had always been considerable. After the separation of Illinois from Indiana, it kept the Indiana act which authorized a sort of slavery by indenture. A serious attempt
the state to slavery had been made by the legislature no later than the session of 1822–23, and public opinion was very hostile to abolitionists, who were looked upon as pretentious Eastern cranks. It was not the easiest course to take any positive stand on the question, and when Lincoln made this protest the murder of Lovejoy at Alton was but one year ahead. The resolutions passed almost unanimously; the protest being signed with but two names.
The resolutions are :
“Resolved by the General Assembly of the state of Illinois : That we highly disapprove of the formation of Abolition societies and of the doctrines promulgated by them;
“That the right of property in slaves is sacred to the slave-holding states by the Federal Constitution, and that they cannot be deprived of that right without their consent;
“That the General Government cannot abolish slavery in the District of Columbia against the consent of the citizens of said District, without a manifest breach of good faith;
“That the Governor be requested to transmit to the states of Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, New York, and Connecticut, a copy of foregoing report and resolutions."
The record of the protest reads :
“Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having passed both branches of the General Assembly at its present session, the undersigned hereby protest against the same.
“ They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy, but that the promulgation of abolition doctrines tends rather to increase than abate its evils.
"They believe that the Congress of the United States has no power under the Constitution to interfere with the institution of slavery in the different states.
“They believe that the Congress of the United States has the power under the Constitution to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, but that the power ought not to be exercised unless at the request of the people of the District.
“The difference between these opinions and those contained in the above resolutions, is their reason for entering this protest.
“A. LINCOLN, “Representatives from the County of Sangamon."
Thus Lincoln put his opinions on record in 1837 in a way that through all the controversy of thirty years he had no need to alter. the first striking illustration of his power to say the right thing on great moral issues.