Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 1.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

Speech in Illinois Legislature Concerning Apportionment [1]

[January 9, 1841?]

Mr. Lincoln replied. He appealed to every old member in the House, if it was not a fact, that when this body consisted of but fifty five members, [2] business was conducted with twice the facility that it now was. The reason was obvious enough to any reflecting mind. It required double the journalizing and double the length of time to call and record every vote which was put to the House; but a stronger reason was, that amongst ninety members the proposition of members, who, in the language of the gentleman from Monroe, (Mr. Bissell) [3] were disposed to protract business, was just double that in a House of half the number. It was perfectly plain that if each of the ninety-one members, now on this floor, make speeches on any subject, that it would require just double the time of half that number. The gentleman from Monroe, (Mr. Bissell) accused his friend from St. Clair, (Mr. Trumbull) [4] of attaching some peculiar magic to the number 100. He did not understand his objection to exceeding that number to arise from any magic in it, but from the fact that it was large enough, and expensive enough for any legislative body.

The gentleman had accused old women of being partial to the number 9; but this he presumed was without foundation. A few years since, it would be recollected by the House, that the delegation from this county were dubbed, by way of eminence the ``long nine,'' and by way of further distinction, he had been called the ``longest'' of the nine. Now, said Mr. L. I desire to say to my friendPage  228 from Monroe (Mr. Bissell) that if any woman, old or young, ever thought there was any peculiar charm in this distinguished specimen of number 9, I have, as yet, been so unfortunate as not to have discovered it, (loud applause.). [5]


[1]   D, CSmH. This document is a longhand copy, preserved in the Herndon manuscripts of the Lamon Papers, of what is apparently a contemporary newspaper report of a discussion in the legislature concerning apportionment. The discussion of the Senate resolution which took place in the House on January 7 (vide supra), as reported in the newspapers, does not seem to have included this speech. On January 9 further discussion took place, but newspaper reports are not available, the Sangamo Journal for January 12, the issue in which the report might be expected, not being extant.

[2]   In 1835 the number of representatives was increased to ninety-one.

[3]   William H. Bissell.

[4]   Lyman Trumbull.

[5]   The manuscript contains two further paragraphs reporting discussion by other members of the House.