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thern State! There is but one way to prevent it: united action on the part of Illinois, closing up the ranks, and thus rendering it impossible that war shall rage on our soil. [Applause.]
“I repeat that, so long as it was possible to settle this question by peaceful means, I was willing to make any reasonable sacrifice for that purpose; but when the question comes whether the war shall be transferred from the cotton fields of the South to the corn-fields of Illinois, I choose to say that the further off that war the better. [Applause.]
“War does exist. It is a sad thought to every patriot.War-civil war-must be recognized as existing in the United States. We may no longer close our eyes to that solemn fact. This government must be maintained, the enemies of the country overthrown, and.the more stupendous and overwhelming our preparations, the less bloodshed and the shorter the struggle.”
Here, in the capital, which was the scene of some of his proudest triumphs, let us resolve to wear these immortal words in our heart of hearts, and to transmit them to endless generations. [Applause.] I now speak to the people of the Free States, who are again approached by the enemies of Douglas, and once more called upon to strike at the safety of the Republic. Be no longer deceived by wicked and ambitious men. Remember that every appeal to party against the Government is an argument intended to demoralize the energies of the present Executive and his ministers; is but a crafty preparation for a still more fearful evil than disunion itself-even to the death of all personal liberty, and to the perpetuity of a civil feud before which the wars of other days and other nations will seem but the pastimes of a village fair.
His magnanimity was a leading characteristic. He was less permanently controlled by party feelings or personal prejudices than any man I ever knew. He was impulsive, and frequently
dealt in harsh invective, but so generous a soul could not nurse his wrath to keep it warm. If he said a bitter thing, he soon regretted and frankly admitted it. If he struck a hard blow, the same clenched hand that gave it was promptly opened to reconciliation. This trait was, probably, the secret of his popularity in society and in the Senate. In fact, his manner could not be resisted. He disarmed prejudice by a double charmby his ability and his magnanimity. [Applause.] After the most acrimonious debate, it was no uncommon thing for him to jest with the men he had been recently denouncing. If he offended like a man, he forgave like a God. I shall never forget his appearance when the electoral vote was read, in the House of Representatives, in February last. That was a memorable scene. According to law, Vice President Breckinridge presided. Only three Southern States had deserted the flag and faith of their fathers. The galleries were crowded, and some interest was excited by the rumor that violence was intended to prevent the formal proclamation of the constitutional verdict of the American people. I looked round me to see whether certain men, who continued to retain seats in that great Convention, Senators and Representatives, with all their boasted chivalry, and honor, and courage, could lend themselves to the studied denunciation of an election of the ruler of thirty millions of people—could participate in all the solemn ceremonials belonging to it—could hear the vote of every State read off and recorded, even while their souls were black with sin, and their hearts filled with the pre-ordained purpose of disregarding that election, and of making it the pretext of a war intended to convert this capital into a Gahenna, a Phlegethon, a very hell earth. [Applause.] The Vice President, calm, cold, and complacent,-for so young a man, very calm, cold, and complacent, -announced every State before the vote was read, and seemed
to be the impersonation of Senatorial rectitude and dignity. Before him were the Senators and Representatives from Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, States that have since been stolen out of the Union by the treachery of their executives, not to speak of the Senators from other States who lived under a system of successful terrorism, all aiding in the ceremony, and yet nearly all pledged to put the dagger to the heart of their country. The reading had not progressed far, before Judge Douglas walked down the main aisle. Every eye was turned upon him. Taking his seat between Senators Seward and Lane, the one now the honored head of the State Department under President Lincoln, the other a dishonored echo of the Secession conspiracy, he proceeded to enter into a pleasant side-conversation with both, no doubt in reference to the fact that while Mr. Seward had been defeated for the Presidential nomination of his own party, and Mr. Lane had aided to break up the Democracy, he, Judge Douglas, felt as proud of his few electoral votes, and of the million of Democrats at his back, as even the successful competitor, then shortly to be inaugurated into the Presidency for four years. [Applause.] No confusion in him on that great day, for he indulged in no guilty reservations. He was ready to die for his country. If in the near future there was a dagger and a bowl for that country, his hand was not ready to drive the one or to drug the other. He had, therefore, no cause for self-reproach. He yielded to the decree of the ballot box with a grace and promptitude all his own.Around him were gathered the dark conspirators that he knew were plotting his country's ruin, and, like so many Catalines, affecting a show of deference to a Constitution they were sworn to assail and to trample under foot. [Sensation.]
I have spoken of his rare magnanimity. A dozen instances of this could be produced—a single one will suffice: His name was presented for the Presidency to the Cincinnati Convention in 1856. His friends were among the bold and daring men of the party, skillful veterans, and ardent young politicians from every section. They loved him so warmly that they scarcely dreamed of yielding him to another. Conscious of his great deservings and abilities, they resolved to embarrass the nomination of his leading competitor. For days they contended for him, and with so much tact and force as to protract the ballotings to the close of the week.
Douglas was in Washington watching the progress of the Convention, and when he saw that bad feeling was being created in the debate and the voting, he telegraphed to his friend Col. Richardson, a member of the Congress that assembles here tomorrow, three despatches, demanding of his supporters to yield to Mr. Buchanan’s nomination as soon as he received “a majority of the Convention,” and asserting his gratification at the unanimous adoption of the platform, in which the popular principle of committing the slavery question forever to the people of the Territories was endorsed, had accomplished all the objects he had in view in allowing his friends the use of his name. He followed this act of self-abnegation by a canvass in support of his successful rival, marvellous for the eloquence he displayed, and for the vast sums of money expended out of his private fortune, to secure him the vote of Illinois. [Applause.] The impartial and inexorable historian will record how this magnanimity was reciprocated. The fidelity of 1856 was rewarded by the proscriptions of '57 and 58. The President nominated by the friends of Douglas at Cincinnati, after he had received the majority of the Democratic Convention, refused to accept or recognize or support the nomination of Douglas when he had received a fair majority at Charleston, and the platform upon which Mr. Buchanan was elected, and without which he could
not have been elected, which made Douglas so potential a champion of his cause, was rejected and broken under circumstances of unblushing and unparalleled perfidy. [Applause.]
The experience of a public man, especially one engaged in American politics, is nearly always a thankless and painful experience. There have been many instances of the truth of this assertion. From early days, with the exceptional cases of Jefferson, Washington, and Jackson, few of our great leaders have been properly appreciated by the people they have served. Much as we prate of corruption of politicians, and of their ambition, it is a fact, a thousand times vindicated, that the most faithful of our representative men, after having given their best years to their country, have died poor. Absorbed in general duties, they can afford to give little time to their own interests. It is well known that General Jackson retired from Washington in debt—that Mr. Webster left no legacy to his children but the record of his immortal eloquence—that Mr. Clay was not a rich man in any sense—that the simple manners and frugal tastes of Mr. Calhoun alone prevented him from being annoyed by pecuniary troubles. Harrison, Taylor, Fillmore, and Pierce, were men in but moderate circumstances; and in looking along the catalogue of names that now adorn our history, I cannot lay my hand upon one who has rightly served his country in the councils of the nation that has given consistent attention to his own business affairs. [Sensation.] Indeed, wherever an American statesman has fallen short in the discharge of his obligations to the country and the Constitution, has yielded to faction or expediency, has been tainted with corruption, it will be found that his mercenary, and grasping, and dishonest spirit has been directed to the accumulation of a fortune for himself. Who that knew the departed patriot, whose death the whole liberal world deplores—who that knew Stephen A. Douglas will refuse to say