Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 2.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.


[1]   Chicago Press and Tribune, August 21, 1858. The fragmentary text of this speech as given in the Press and Tribune was widely copied in other papers. Although there are reports in other papers originating from other correspondents, only this one gives a verbatim transcription of any considerable portion of the speech.

Taking the Press and Tribune report at face value, it would seem that the reporter whose initials ``G.P.'' appear at the end, wrote his story at the scene of the speech and transcribed verbatim the peroration on the Declaration of Independence. Since ``G.P.'' cannot be identified, however, Horace White's statement to Herndon in 1865 deserves to be considered. White, a Tribune reporter maintained in 1865 that he had reported the speech as printed in the Press and Tribune, and that it was actually part of the speech delivered at Beardstown on August 12 (supra), which ``inasmuch as my report of the Beardstown meeting had already been mailed I incorporated . . . in my letter from Lewisto[w]n two or three days [actually five days] subsequently.'' (Herndon, II, 418). To offset this recollection of later years is the fact that in none of the reports of the Beardstown speech which have been found, is there any reference to the peroration on the Declaration of Independence, the passage to which White referred in his 1865 statement. White's account also casts some doubt on the verbal accuracy of the passage by maintaining that he had written it from memory the day after it was delivered. ``After I had finished writing I read it to Mr. Lincoln. When I had finished the reading he said, `Well, those are my views, and if I said anything on the subject I must have said substantially that, but not nearly so well as that is said.' '' (Ibid., 417-18).

It is conceivable that White's Lewistown report and the passage from the Beardstown speech were treated as one story under the Lewistown date line. The mystery of the initials ``G.P.,'' however, has not been solved, and the fact that the reports of the Beardstown speech in all other papers make no reference to the passage on the Declaration of Independence leaves considerable doubt concerning White's 1865 statement.

In any event, the passage in question was widely copied in the Republican press, and two years later was reprinted in Republican campaign organs as a high spot in Lincoln's oratory (The Railsplitter, October 10, 1860; Wigwam, October 31, 1860).

[2]   Congressman William Kellogg.

[3]   Asterisks in the source.

[4]   Two concluding paragraphs of ``G.P.'s'' report contain nothing more about the speech.