Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 1 [1824-Aug. 28, 1848].

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Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 1 [1824-Aug. 28, 1848].
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press

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"Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 1 [1824-Aug. 28, 1848]." In the digital collection Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed July 25, 2024.


Speech in U. S. House of Representatives on the Presidential Question1Jump to section

July 27, 1848


Mr. Speaker

Our democratic friends seem to be in great distress because they think our candidate for the Presidency dont suit us. Most of them can not find out that Gen: Taylor has any principles at all; some, however, have discovered that he has one, but that that one is entirely wrong. This one principle, is his position on the veto power.

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The gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Stanton)2Jump to section who has just taken his seat, indeed, has said there is very little if any difference on this question between Gen: Taylor and all the Presidents; and he seems to think it sufficient detraction from Gen: Taylor's position on it, that it has nothing new in it. But all others, whom I have heard speak, assail it furiously. A new member from Kentucky (Mr. Clark)3Jump to section of very considerable ability, was in particular concern about it. He thought it altogether novel, and unprecedented, for a President, or a Presidential candidate to think of approving bills whose constitutionality may not be entirely clear to his own mind. He thinks the ark of our safety is gone, unless Presidents shall always veto such bills, as in their judgment, may of doubtful constitutionality. However clear congress may be of their authority to pass any particular act, the gentleman from Kentucky thinks the President must veto it if he has doubts about it. Now I have neither time nor inclination to argue with the gentleman on the veto power as an original question; but I wish to show that Gen: Taylor, and not he, agrees with the earlier statesmen on this question. When the bill chartering the first bank of the United States passed Congress, it's constitutionality was questioned. Mr. Madison, then in the House of Representatives, as well as others, had opposed it on that ground. Gen: Washington, as President, was called on to approve or reject it. He sought and obtained on the constitutional question the separate written opinions of Jefferson, Hamilton, and Edmund Randolph; they then being respectively Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, and Attorney General. Hamilton's opinion was for the power; while Randolph's and Jefferson's were both against it. Mr. Jefferson, after giving his opinion decidedly against the constitutionality of that bill, closes his letter with the paragraph which I now read:

``It must be admitted, however, that, unless the President's mind, on a view of every thing, which is urged for and against this bill, is tollerably clear that it is unauthorized by the constitution; if the pro and the con hang so even as to ballance his judgment, a just respect for the wisdom of the legislature, would naturally decide the ballance in favor of their opinion: it is chiefly for cases, where they are clearly misled by error, ambition, or interest, that the constitution has placed a check in the negative of the President.

February 15- 1791- Thomas Jefferson-''

Gen: Taylor's opinion, as expressed in his Allison letter, is as I now read:

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``The power given by the veto, is a high conservative power; but in my opinion, should never be exercised except in cases of clear violation of the constitution, or manifest haste, and want of consideration by congress.''

It is here seen that, in Mr. Jefferson's opinion, if on the constitutionality of any given bill, the President doubts, he is not to veto it, as the gentleman from Kentucky would have him to do, but is to defer to congress, and approve it. And if we compare the opinions of Jefferson and Taylor, as expressed in these paragraphs, we shall find them more exactly alike, than we can often find any two expressions, having any litteral difference. None but interested faultfinders, I think, can discover any substantial variation.4Jump to section


But gentlemen on the other side are unanamously agreed that Gen: Taylor has no other principles. They are in utter darkness as to his opinions on any of the questions of policy which occupy the public attention. But is there any doubt as to what he will do on the prominent questions, if elected? Not the least. It is not possible to know what he will, or would do, in every immaginable case; because many questions have passed away, and others doubtless will arise which none of us have yet thought of; but on the prominent questions of Currency, Tariff, internal improvements, and Wilmot Proviso, Gen: Taylor's course is at least as well defined as is Gen: Cass'. Why, in their eagerness to get at Gen: Taylor, several democratic members here, have desired to know whether, in case of his election, a bankrupt law is to be established. Can they tell us Gen: Cass' opinion on this question? (Some member answered ``He is against it'') Aye, how do you know he is? There is nothing about it in the Platform, nor elsewhere that I have seen. If the gentleman knows of any thing, which I do not, he can show it. But to return: Gen: Taylor, in his Allison letter, says

``Upon the subject of the tariff, the currency, the improvements of our great high-ways, rivers, lakes, and harbors, the will of the people, as expressed through their representatives in congress, ought to be respected and carried out by the executive.''

Now this is the whole matter. In substance, it is this: The people say to Gen: Taylor ``If you are elected, shall we have a national

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bank?'' He answers ``Your will, gentlemen, not mine'' ``What about the Tariff?'' ``Say yourselves.'' ``Shall our rivers and harbours be improved?'' ``Just as you please'' ``If you desire a bank, an alteration of the tariff, internal improvements, any, or all, I will not hinder you; if you do not desire them, I will not attempt to force them on you'' ``Send up your members of congress from the va[rious] districts, with opinions according to your own; and if they are for these measures, or any of them, I shall have nothing to oppose; if they are not for them, I shall not, by any appliances whatever, attempt to dragoon them into their adoption[.]'' Now, can there be any difficulty in understanding this? To you democrats, it may not seem like principle; but surely you can not fail to perceive the position plainly enough. The distinction between it, and the position of your candidate is broad and obvious; and I admit, you have a clear right to show it is wrong if you can; but you have no right to pretend you can not see it at all. We see it; and to us it appears like principle, and the best sort of principle at that---the principle of allowing the people to do as they please with their own business. My friend from Indiana (C. B. Smith) has aptly asked ``Are you willing to trust the people?'' Some of you answered, substantially ``We are willing to trust the trust the [sic] people; but the President is as much the representative of the people as Congress.'' In a certain sense, and to a certain extent, he is the representative of the people. He is elected by them, as well as congress is. But can he, in the nature [of] things, know the wants of the people, as well as three hundred other men, coming from all the various localities of the nation? If so, where is the propriety of having a congress? That the constitution gives the President a negative on legislation, all know; but that this negative should be so combined with platforms, and other appliances, as to enable him, and, in fact, almost compel him, to take the whole of legislation into his own hands, is what we object to, is what Gen: Taylor objects to, and is what constitutes the broad distinction between you and us. To thus transfer legislation, is clearly to take it from those who understand, with minuteness, the interests of the people, and give it to one who does not, and can not so well understand it. I understand your idea, that if a Presidential candidate avow his opinion upon a given question, or rather, upon all questions, and the people, with full knowledge of this, elect him, they thereby distinctly approve all those opinions. This, though plausable, is a most pernicious deception. By means of it, measures are adopted or rejected, contrary to the wishes of the whole of one party, and often nearly half of the

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other. The process is this. Three, four, or half a dozen questions are prominent at a given time; the party selects it's candidate, and he takes his position on each of these questions. On all but one, his positions have already been endorsed at former elections, and his party fully committed to them; but that one is new, and a large portion of them are against it. But what are they to do? The whole are strung together; and they must take all, or reject all. They can not take what they like, and leave the rest. What they are already committed to, being the majority, they shut their eyes, and gulp the whole. Next election, still another is introduced in the same way. If we run our eyes along the line of the past, we shall see that almost, if not quite all the articles of the present democratic creed, have been at first forced upon the party in this very way. And just now, and just so, opposition to internal improvements is to be established, if Gen: Cass shall be elected. Almost half the democrats here, are for improvements; but they will vote for Cass, and if he succeeds, their votes will have aided in closing the doors against improvements. Now this is a process which we think is wrong. We prefer a candidate, who, like Gen: Taylor, will allow the people to have their own way, regardless of his private opinions; and I should think the internal improvement democrats, at least, ought to prefer such a candidate. He would force nothing on them which they dont want, and he would allow them to have improvements, which their own candidate, if elected, will not.

Mr. Speaker, I have said Gen: Taylors position is as well defined, as is that of Gen: Cass. In saying this I admit I do not certainly know what he would do on the Wilmot Proviso. I am a Northern man, or rather, a Western free state man, with a constituency I believe to be, and with personal feelings I know to be, against the extension of slavery. As such, and with what information I have, I hope and believe, Gen: Taylor, if elected, would not veto the Proviso. But I do not know it. Yet, if I knew he would, I still would vote for him. I should do so, because, in my judgment, his election alone, can defeat Gen: Cass; and because, should slavery thereby go to the teritory we now have, just so much will certainly happen by the election of Cass; and, in addition, a course of policy, leading to new wars, new acquisitions of teritory and still further extensions of slavery. One of the two is to be President; which is preferable?

But there is as much doubt of Cass on improvements, as there is of Taylor on the Proviso. I have no doubt myself of Gen: Cass on this question; but I know the democrats differ among themselves

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as to his position. My internal improvement colleague (Mr. Wentworth)5Jump to section stated on this floor the other day that he was satisfied Cass was for improvements, because he had voted for all the bills that he (Mr. W.) had. So far so good; but Mr. Polk vetoed some of these very bills, the Baltimore convention passed a set of resolutions, among other things, approving these vetoes, and Gen: Cass declares, in his letter accepting the nomination, that he has carefully read these resolutions, and that he adheres to them as firmly as he approves them cordially. In other words, Gen: Cass voted for the bills, and thinks the President did right to veto them; and his friends here are amiable enough to consider him as being on one side or the other, just as one or the other may correspond with their own respective inclinations. My colleague admits that the platform declares against the constitutionality of a general system of improvements, and that Gen: Cass endorses the platform; but he still thinks Gen: Cass is in favor of some sort of improvements. Well, what are they? As he is against general objects, those he is for, must be particular and local. Now this is taking the subject precisely by the wrong end. Particularity---expending the money of the whole people, for an object, which will benefit only a portion of them---is the greatest real objection to improvements, and has been so held by Gen: Jackson, Mr. Polk, and all others, I believe, till now. But now, behold, the objects most general,---nearest free from this objection, are to be rejected, while those most liable to it, are to be embraced. To return; I can not help believing that Gen: Cass, when he wrote his letter of acceptance, well understood he was to be claimed by the advocates of both sides of this question, and that he then closed the door against all further expressions of opinion, purposely to retain the benefits of that double position. His subsequent equivocation at Cleveland, to my mind, proves such to have been the case.

One word more, and I shall have done with this branch of the subject. You democrats, and your candidate, in the main are in favor of laying down, in advance, a platform---a set of party positions, as a unit; and then of enforcing the people, by every sort of appliance, to ratify them, however unpalatable some of them may be. We, and our candidate, are in favor of making Presidential elections, and the legislation of the country, distinct matters; so that the people can elect whom they please, and afterwards, legislate just as they please, without any hindrance, save only so much as may guard against infractions of the constitution, undue haste, and want of consideration. The difference between us, is clear as noon-

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day. That we are right, we can not doubt. We hold the true republican position. In leaving the people's business in their hands, we can not be wrong. We are willing, and even anxious, to go to the people, on this issue.


But I suppose I can not reasonably hope to convince you that we have any principles. The most I can expect, is to assure you that we think we have, and are quite contented with them. The other day, one of the gentlemen from Georgia (Mr. Iverson)6Jump to section an eloquent man, and a man of learning, so far as I could judge, not being learned, myself, came down upon us astonishingly. He spoke in what the Baltimore American calls the ``scathing and withering style.'' At the end of his second severe flash, I was struck blind, and found myself feeling with my fingers for an assurance of my continued physical existence. A little of the bone was left, and I gradually revived. He eulogised Mr. Clay in high and beautiful terms, and then declared that we had deserted all our principles, and had turned Henry Clay out, like an old horse to root. This is terribly severe. It can not be answered by argument; at least, I can not so answer it. I merely wish to ask the gentleman if the whigs are the only party he can think of, who some times turn old horses out to root. Is not a certain Martin Van Buren, an old horses which your own party have turned out to root? and is he not rooting a little to your discomfort about now? But in not nominating Mr. Clay, we deserted our principles, you say. Ah! in what? Tell us, ye men of principles, what principle we violated. We say you did violate principle in discarding Van Buren, and we can tell you how. You violated the primary, the cardinal, the one great living principle of all Democratic representative government---the principle, that the representative is bound to carry out the known will [wishes] of his constituents. A large majority of the Baltimore Convention of 1844, were, by their constituents, instructed to procure Van Buren's nomination if they could. In violation, in utter, glaring contempt of this, you rejected him---rejected him, as the gentleman from New-York (Mr. Birdsall)7Jump to section the other day, expressly admitted, for availability---that same ``General availability'' which you charge upon us, and daily chew over here, as something exceedingly odious and unprincipled. But the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Iverson) gave us a second speech yesterday, all well considered, and put down in writing, in which Van Buren was scathed and withered a ``few'' for his present position and movements. I can not remember

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the gentlemans precise language; but I do remember he put Van Buren down, down, till he got him where he was finally to ``stink'' and ``rot.''

Mr. Speaker, it is no business, or inclination of mine, to defend Martin Van Buren. In the war of extermination now waging between him and his old admirers, I say, devil take the hindmost---and the foremost. But there is no mistaking the origin of the breach; and if the curse of ``stinking'' and ``rotting'' is to fall on the first and greatest violators of principle in the matter, I disinterestedly suggest, that the gentleman from Georgia, and his present co-workers, are bound to take it upon themselves.

But the gentleman from Georgia further says we have deserted all our principles, and taken shelter under Gen: Taylor's military coat-tail; and he seems to think this is exceedingly degrading. Well, as his faith is, so be it unto him. But can he remember no other military coat tail under which a certain other party have been sheltering for near a quarter of a century? Has he no acquaintance with the ample military coat tail of Gen: Jackson? Does he not know that his own party have run the five last Presidential races under that coat-tail? and that they are now running the sixth, under the same cover? Yes sir, that coat tail was used, not only for Gen: Jackson himself; but has been clung to, with the gripe of death, by every democratic candidate since. You have never ventured, and dare not now venture, from under it. Your campaign papers have constantly been ``Old Hickories'' with rude likenesses of the old general upon them; hickory poles, and hickory brooms, your never-ending emblems; Mr. Polk himself was ``Young Hickory'' ``Little Hickory'' or something so; and even now, your campaign paper here, is proclaiming that Cass and Butler are of the true ``Hickory stripe.'' No sir, you dare not give it up.

Like a horde of hungry ticks you have stuck to the tail of the Hermitage lion to the end of his life; and you are still sticking to it, and drawing a loathsome sustenance from it, after he is dead. A fellow once advertised that he had made a discovery by which he could make a new man out of an old one, and have enough of the stuff left to make a little yellow dog. Just such a discovery has Gen: Jackson's popularity been to you. You not only twice made President of him out of it, but you have had enough of the stuff left, to make Presidents of several comparatively small men since; and it is your chief reliance now to make still another.

Mr. Speaker, old horses, and military coat-tails, or tails of any sort, are not figures of speech, such as I would be the first to introduce

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into discussions here; but as the gentleman from Georgia has thought fit to introduce them, he, and you, are welcome to all you have made, or can make, by them. If you have any more old horses, trot them out; any more tails, just cock them, and come at us.

I repeat, I would not introduce this mode of discussion here; but I wish gentlemen on the other side to understand, that the use of degrading figures is a game at which they may not find themselves able to take all the winnings. (We give it up). Aye, you give it up, and well you may; but for a very different reason from that which you would have us understand. The point---the power to hurt---of all figures, consists in the truthfulness of their application; and, understanding this, you may well give it up. They are weapons which hit you, but miss us.


But in my hurry I was very near closing on the subject of military tails before I was done with it. There is one entire article of the sort I have not discussed yet; I mean the military tail you democrats are now engaged in dovetailing onto the great Michigander. Yes sir, all his biographers (and they are legion) have him in hand, tying him to a military tail, like so many mischievous boys tying a dog to a bladder of beans. True, the material they have is very limited; but they drive at it, might and main. He invaded Canada without resistance, and he outvaded it without pursuit. As he did both under orders, I suppose there was, to him, neither credit or discredit in them; but they [are made to] constitute a large part of the tail. He was not at Hull's surrender, but he was close by; he was volunteer aid to Gen: Harrison on the day of the battle of the Thames; and, as you said in 1840, Harrison was picking huckleberries [whortleberries] two miles off while the battle was fought, I suppose it is a just conclusion with you, to say Cass was aiding Harrison to pick huckleberries [picking whortleberries]. This is about all, except the mooted question of the broken sword. Some authors say he broke it, some say he threw it away, and some others, who ought to know, say nothing about it. Perhaps it would be a fair historical compromise to say, if he did not break it, he did n't do any thing else with it.

By the way, Mr. Speaker, did you know I am a military hero? Yes sir; in the days of the Black Hawk war, I fought, bled, and came away. Speaking of Gen: Cass' career, reminds me of my own. I was not at Stillman's defeat, but I was about as near it, as Cass

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was to Hulls surrender;8Jump to section and, like him, I saw the place very soon afterwards. It is quite certain I did not break my sword, for I had none to break; but I bent a musket pretty badly on one occasion. If Cass broke his sword, the idea is, he broke it in de[s]peration; I bent the musket by accident. If Gen: Cass went in advance of me in picking huckleberries [whortleberries], I guess I surpassed him in charges upon the wild onions. If he saw any live, fighting indians, it was more than I did; but I had a good many bloody struggles with the musquetoes; and, although I never fainted from loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very hungry. Mr. Speaker, if I should ever conclude to doff whatever our democratic friends may suppose there is of black cockade federalism about me, and thereupon, they shall take me up as their candidate for the Presidency, I protest they shall not make fun of me, as they have of Gen: Cass, by attempting to write me into a military hero.


While I have Gen: Cass in hand, I wish to say a word about his political principles. As a specimen, I take the record of his progress on the Wilmot Proviso. In the Washington Union, of March 2nd. 1847, there is a report of a speech of Gen: Cass, made the day before, in the Senate, on the Wilmot Proviso, during the delivery of which, Mr. Miller,9Jump to section of New Jersey, is reported to have interupted him as follows, towit:

``Mr. Miller expressed his great surprise at the change in the sentiments of the senator from Michigan, who had been regarded as the great champion of freedom in the North West, of which he was a distinguished ornament. Last year the senator from Michigan was understood to be decidedly in favor of the Wilmot Proviso; and, as no reason had been stated for the change, he (Mr. M.) could not refrain from the expression of his extreme surprise[.]''

To this, Gen: Cass is reported to have replied as follows, towit:

``Mr. Cass said that the course of the senator from New-Jersey was most extraordinary. Last year he (Mr. C) should have voted for the proposition had it come up. But circumstances had altogether

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changed. The honorable senator then read several passages from the remarks, as given above, which he had committed to writing, in order to refute such a charge as that of the senator from New-Jersey[.]''

In the ``remarks above committed to writing'' is one numbered 4 as follows, towit

``4th. Legislation now would be wholly inopperative, because no teritory hereafter to be acquired can be governed, without an act of congress providing for its government. And such an act, on it's passage, would open the whole subject, and leave the congress, called on to pass it, free to exercise it's own discretion, entirely uncontrolled by any declaration found on the statute book[.]''

In Niles' Register, Vol. 73, page 293, there is a letter of Gen: Cass to [A.O.P.] Nicholson, of Nashville, Tenn. dated Decr. 24th. 1847, from which, the following are correct extracts---

``The Wilmot Proviso has been before the country some time. It has been repeatedly discussed in congress, and by the public press. I am strongly impressed with the opinion that a great change has been going on in the public mind upon this subject---in my own as well as others; and that doubts are resolving themselves into convictions, that the principle it involves should be kept out of the national legislature, and left to the people of the confederacy in their respective local government[.]'' * * *

``Briefly, then, I am opposed to the exercise of any jurisdiction by congress over this matter; and I am in favor of leaving the people of any teritory which may be hereafter acquired, the right to regulate it themselves, under the general principles of the constitution; Because

1. I do not see in the constitution any grant of the requisite power to congress; and I am not disposed to extend a doubtful precedent beyond it's necessity---the establishment of teritorial governments when needed---leaving to the inhabitants all the rights compatable with the relations they bear to the confederation.''

These extracts show that, in 1846, Gen: Cass was for the Proviso at once; that in March 1847, he was still for it, but not just then; and that, in Decr. 1847 he was against it altogether. This is a true index to the whole man. When the question was raised in 1846, he was in a blustering hurry to take ground for it. He sought to be in advance, and to avoid the uninteresting position of a mere follower; but soon he began to see glimpses of the great democratic ox-gad waving in his face, and to hear, indistinctly, a voice saying ``Back'' ``Back sir'' ``Back a little.'' He shakes his head, and bats his eyes, and blunders back to his position of March 1847; but still the gad

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waves, and the voice grows more distinct, and sharper still ``Back sir'' ``Back I say'' ``Further back''; and back he goes, to the position of Decr. 1847, at which the gad is still, and the voice soothingly says ``So'' ``Stand at that.''

Have no fears, gentlemen, of your candidate. He exactly suits you, and we congratulate you upon it. However much you may be distressed about our candidate, you have all cause to be contented and happy with your own. If elected, he may not maintain all, or even any of his positions previously taken; but he will be sure to do whatever the party exigency, for the time being, may require; and that is precisely what you want. He and Van Buren are the same ``manner of men''; and, like Van Buren, he will never desert you, till you first desert him.


Mr. Speaker, I adopt the suggestion of a friend, that Gen: Cass is a General of splendidly successful charges---charges, to be sure, not upon the public enemy, but upon the public Treasury.

He, was governor of Michigan Teritory, and ex-officio, superintendent of indian affairs, from the 9th. of October 1813 till the 31st. of July 1931, a period of seventeen years, nine months, and twenty-two days. During this period, he received from the U.S. Treasury, for personal services, and personal expenses, the aggregate sum of $96.028, being an average [sum] of $14.79 cents per day, for every day of the time. This large sum was reached, by assuming that he was doing service, and incurring expenses, at several different places, and in several different capacities in the same place, all at the same time. By a correct analysis of his accounts, during that period, the following propositions may be deduced---

First: He was paid in three different capacities during the whole of the time---that is to say---

1. As governor's salary, at the rate per year of $2000.

2. As estimated for office-rent, clerk-hire[,] fuel &c in superintendence of indian affairs in Michigan, at the rate per year of $1500

3. As compensation and expenses, for various miscellaneous, items of indian service out of Michigan, an average per year of---$625

Second: During part of the time, that is, from the 9th. of October 1813, to the 29th. of May 1822, he was paid in four different capacities---that is to say---

The three as above, and, in addition thereto, the commutation of ten rations per day, amounting, per year, to $730.

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Third: During another part of the time, that is, from the beginning of 1822 to the 31st. of July 1831, he was also paid in four different capacities, that is to say---The first three, as above (the rations being dropped after the 29th. of May 1822) and, in addition thereto, for superintending indian agencies at Piqua, Ohio, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Chicago, Illinois, at the rate per year of $1500. It should be observed here, that the last item, commencing at the beginning of 1822; and the item of rations, ending on the 29th. of May 1822, lap on each other, during [for] so much of the time as lies between those two dates.

Fourth: Still another part of the time, that is, from the 31st. of October 1821 to the 29th. of May 1822, he was paid in six different capacities---that is to say---

The three first, as above, the item of rations, as above; and, in addition thereto, another item of ten rations per day, while at Washington, settling his accounts, being at the rate per year of $730.

And also, an allowance for expenses traveling to and from Washington, and while there, of $1022, being at the rate per year of $1793.

Fifth: And yet during the little portion of the time which lies between the 1st. of Jany. 1822, and the 29th. of May 1822, he was paid in seven different capacities, that is to say---

The six, last mentioned, and also, at the rate of $1500 per year, for the Piqua, Fort Wayne, and Chicago service, as mentioned above.

These accounts have already been discussed some here; but when we are amongst them, as when we are in the Patent Office, we must peep about a good while before we can see all the curiosities. I shall not be tedious with them. As to the large item of $1500 per year amounting in the aggregate, to $26.715 for office-rent, clerk-hire, fuel &c. I barely wish to remark that, so far as I can discover in the public documents, there is no evidence, by word or inference, either from any disinterested witness or of Gen: Cass himself, that he ever rented, or kept a separate office; ever hired or kept a clerk; or ever used any extra amount of fuel &c. in consequence of his indian services. Indeed, Gen. Cass' entire silence in regard to these items, in his two long letters urging his claims upon the government, is, to my mind, almost conclusive that no such items had any real existence.

But I have introduced Gen: Cass' accounts here chiefly to show the wonderful physical capacities of the man. They show that he not only did the labor of several men at the same time; but that he

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often did it at several places, many hundreds of miles apart, at the same time. And, at eating too, his capacities are shown to be quite as wonderful. From October 1821 to May 1822, he ate ten rations a day in Michigan, ten rations a day here in Washington, and near five dollars worth a day [besides, partly] on the road between the two places! And then there is an important discovery in his example---the art of being paid for what one eats, instead of having to pay for it. Hereafter if any nice young man shall owe a bill which he can not pay in any other way, he can just board it out. Mr. Speaker, we have all heard of the animal standing in doubt between two stacks of hay, and starving to death. The like of that would never happen to Gen: Cass; place the stacks a thousand miles apart, he would stand stock still midway between them, and eat them both at once; and the green grass along the line would be apt to suffer some too at the same time. By all means, make him President, gentlemen. He will feed you bounteously,---if---if there is any left after he shall have helped himself.


But, as Gen: Taylor is, par excellence, the hero of the Mexican war; and, as you democrats say we whigs have always opposed the war, you think it must be very awk[w]ard and embarrassing for us to go for Gen: Taylor. The declaration that we have always opposed the war, is true or false, accordingly as one may understand the term ``opposing the war.'' If to say ``the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President'' be opposing the war, then the whigs have very generally opposed it. Whenever they have spoken at all, they have said this; and they have said it on what has appeared good reason to them. The marching [of] an army into the midst of a peaceful Mexican settlement, frightening the inhabitants away, leaving their growing crops, and other property to destruction, to you may appear a perfectly amiable, peaceful, unprovoking procedure; but it does not appear so to us. So to call such an act, to us appears no other than a naked, impudent absurdity, and we speak of it accordingly. But if, when the war had begun, and had become the cause of the country, the giving of our money and our blood, in common with yours, was support of the war, then it is not true that we have always opposed the war. With few individual exceptions, you have constantly had our votes here for all the necessary supplies. And, more than this, you have had the services, the blood, and the lives of our political bretheren in every trial, and on every field. The beardless boy, and the mature man---the humble and the distinguished, you have had them.

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Through suffering and death, by disease, and in battle, they have endured, and fought, and fell with you. Clay and Webster each gave a son, never to be returned. From the state of my own residence, besides other worthy but less known whig names, we sent Marshall, Morrison, Baker, and Hardin;10Jump to section they all fought, and one fell; and in the fall of that one, we lost our best whig man. Nor were the whigs few in number, or laggard in the day of danger. In that fearful, bloody, breathless struggle at Buena Vista, where each man's hard task was to beat back five foes or die himself, of the five high officers who perished, four were whigs.

In speaking of this, I mean no odious comparison between the lion-hearted whigs and democrats who fought there. On other occasions, and among the lower officers and privates on that occasion, I doubt not the proportion was different. I wish to do justice to all. I think of all those brave men as Americans, in whose proud fame, as an American, I too have a share. Many of them, whigs and democrats, are my constituents and personal friends; and I thank them---more than thank them---one and all, for the high, imperishable honor they have confered on our common state.

But the distinction between the cause of the President in beginning the war, and the cause of the country after it was begun, is a distinction which you can not perceive. To you the President, and the country, seems to be all one. You are interested to see no distinction between them; and I venture to suggest that possibly your interest blinds you a little. We see the distinction, as we think, clearly enough; and our friends who have fought in the war have no difficulty in seeing it also. What those who have fallen would say were they alive and here, of course we can never know; but with those who have returned there is no difficulty. Col: Haskell, and Major Gaines,11Jump to section members here, both fought in the war; and one of them underwent extraordinary perils and hardships; still they, like all other whigs here, vote, on the record, that the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President. And even Gen: Taylor himself, the noblest Roman of them all, has declared that as a citizen, and particularly as a soldier, it is sufficient for him to know that his country is at war with a foreign nation, to do all in his power to bring it to a speedy and honorable termination, by the most vigorous and energetic opperations, without enquiring about it's justice, or any thing else connected with it.

Mr. Speaker, let our democratic friends be comforted with the assurance, that we are content with our position, content with our

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company, and content with our candidate; and that although they, in their generous sympathy, think we ought to be miserable, we really are not, and that they may dismiss the great anxiety they have on our account.


Mr. Speaker, I see I have but three minutes left, and this forces me to throw out one whole branch of my subject. A single word on still another. The democrats are kind enough to frequently remind us that we have some dissensions in our ranks. Our good friend from Baltimore, immediately before me (Mr. McLane)12Jump to section expressed some doubt the other day as to which branch of our party, Gen: Taylor would ultimately fall into the hands of. That was a new idea to me. I knew [that] we had dissenters, but I did not know they were trying to get our candidate away from us. I would like to say a word to our dissenters, but I have not the time. Some such we certainly have; have you none, gentlemen democrats? Is it all union and harmony in your ranks?---no bickerings?---no divisions? If there be doubt as to which of our divisions will get our candidate, is there no doubt as to which of your candidates will get your party? I have heard some things from New-York; and if they are true, one might well say of your party there, as a drunken fellow once said when he heard the reading of an indictment for hog-stealing. The clerk read on till he got to, and through the words ``did steal, take, and carry away, ten boars, ten sows, ten shoats, and ten pigs'' at which he exclaimed ``Well, by golly, that is the most equally divided gang of hogs, I ever did hear of.'' If there is any other gang of hogs more equally divided than the democrats of NewYork are about this time, I have not heard of it.


[1]   AD, DLC-RTL. The manuscript is apparently the one revised by Lincoln for publication as a campaign pamphlet. The subheadings which appear throughout do not appear in the speech as printed in the Congressional Globe Appendix, pp. 1041-43. Otherwise, except for changes in style and punctuation, the Globe version follows the manuscript fairly closely. Principal variations in wording which appear in the Globe have been inserted in the text within brackets.

[2]   Frederick P. Stanton.

[3]   Beverly L. Clarke.

[4]   This sentence was substituted by Lincoln for the following deletion: ``They are more alike than the accounts of the crucifixion, as given by any two of the evangelists---more alike, or at least as much alike, as any two accounts of the inscription, written and erected by Pilate at that time.''

[5]   John Wentworth of Illinois.

[6]   Alfred Iverson.

[7]   Ausburn Birdsall.

[8]   Major Isaiah Stillman, commanding three companies of volunteers, attacked a small band of Indians on May 14, 1832, in the Black Hawk War, a few miles from Dixon's Ferry where Lincoln's company was camped. The undisciplined troops broke and ran; hence the skirmish became known as Stillman's Run. General William Hull surrendered Detroit to the British, August 16, 1812. Colonel Lewis Cass' report was largely responsible for Hull's being courtmartialed and sentenced to be shot. The sentence was never executed, however, because later investigation proved Hull to have been a scapegoat, and Cass to have been unreliable in his charges against his commanding officer.

[9]   Jacob W. Miller.

[10]   Samuel D. Marshall, Don Morrison, Edward D. Baker, and John J. Hardin.

[11]   William T. Haskell and John P. Gaines.

[12]   Robert M. McLane.

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