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

Speech at a Political Rally in the Court House at Springfield, Illinois [1]

July 11, 1836

Mr. Lincoln succeeded Mr. Calhoun. [2] At first he appeared embarrassed, and his air was such as modest merit always lends to one who speaks of his own acts. He claimed only so much creditPage  50 as belonged to one of the members of the last Legislature, for getting the State out of debt. He next came to Mr. Calhoun and the land bill. [3] At one fell stroke, he broke the ice upon which we have seen Mr. Calhoun standing, and left him to contend with the chilling waters and merciless waves. His speech became more fluent, and his manner more easy as he progressed. In these degenerate days it seems to be the fashion of the day for all parties to admire even the frailties of the administration. The Van Buren men, particularly, are even taking shelter like ghosts under the rotten bones and tombstones of the dead acts of the administration. Mr. Lincoln, however, lifted the lid, and exposed to the eye the wretched condition of some of the acts of the Van Buren party. A girl might be born and become a mother before the Van Buren men will forget Mr. Lincoln. From beginning to end Mr. Lincoln was frequently interrupted by loud bursts of applause from a generous people.


[1]   Sangamo Journal, July 16, 1836.

[2]   John Calhoun of Sangamon County, Illinois.

[3]   The bill in congress calling for distribution of the proceeds from the sale of public lands to the states. Like most Whigs, Lincoln followed Henry Clay in advocating distribution (see Lincoln's letter to the editor of the Sangamo Journal, June 13, 1836, supra). Democrats generally advocated the policy of preemption, the allowing of special privileges to actual settlers (squatters).