Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 3.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
Page  206

Speech at Pekin, Illinois [1]

October 5, 1858

Mr. Lincoln was welcomed to Tazewell county and introduced to the audience by Judge Bush [2] in a short and eloquently delivered speech, and when he came forward, was greeted with hearty applause. He commenced by alluding to the many years in which he had been intimately acquainted with most of the citizens of old Tazewell county, and expressed the pleasure which it gave him to see so many of them present. He then alluded to the fact that Judge Douglas, in a speech to them on Saturday, had, as he was credibly informed, made a variety of extraordinary statements concerning him. He had known Judge Douglas for twenty-five years, and was not now to be astonished by any statement which he might make, no matter what it might be. He was surprised, however, that his old political enemy but personal friend, Mr. John Haynes [3]---a gentleman whom he had always respected as a person of honor and veracity---should have made such statements about him as he was said to have made in a speech introducing Mr. Douglas to a Tazewell audience only three days before. He then rehearsed those statements, the substance of which was that Mr. Lincoln, while a member of Congress, helped starve his brothers and friends in the Mexican war by voting against the bills appropriating to them money, provisions and medical attendance. He was grieved and astonished that a man whom he had heretofore respected so highly, should have been guilty of such false statements, and he hoped Mr. Haynes was present that he might hear his denial of them. He was not a member of Congress he said, until after the return of Mr. Haynes' brothers and friends from the Mexican war to their Tazewell county homes---was not a member of Congress until after the war had practically closed. He then went into a detailed statement of his election to Congress, and of the votes he gave, while a member of that body, having any connection with the Mexican war. He showed that upon all occasions he voted for the supply bills for the army, and appealed to the official record for a confirmation of his statement.

Mr. Lincoln then proceeded to notice, successively, the charges made against him by Douglas in relation to the Illinois Central Railroad, in relation to an attempt to Abolitionize the Whig party and in relation to negro equality.

After finishing his allusions to the special charges brought against him by his antagonist, Mr. Lincoln branched out into one of the most powerful and telling speeches he has made during thePage  207 campaign. It was the most forcible argument against Mr. Douglas' Democracy, and the best vindication of and eloquent plea for Republicanism, that we ever listened to from any man.


[1]   Chicago Press and Tribune, October 7, 1858, copied from Peoria Transcript, October 6, 1858.

[2]   John M. Bush, probate judge at Pekin.

[3]   John Haynes has not been identified. Possibly the name is the reporter's error for Jonathan Haines, Pekin banker. See Lincoln to Haines, November 24, 1856.