Illinois Daily Press
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The day Abraham Lincoln got here to Quincy


  • Mar 1, 2015 Up to date Oct 30, 2020

Locals all through the area prefer to suppose that Abraham Lincoln, Whig and Republican, lawyer, and two-time opponent of Quincyan Stephen A. Douglas for nationwide political workplaces, was a frequent customer.
It is little surprise that individuals of Central Illinois, the place the Nice Emancipator and martyred president had spent 29 years of his life, would wish to declare some particular connection to him.

Lincoln on a number of events was a correspondent, fellow legislator and sometimes a legislation practitioner in Springfield courts with a substantial variety of Quincy males. However “The Lincoln Log,” the authoritative each day chronology of Lincoln’s actions, reveals that his dimension 14 boots plodded the streets of Quincy on solely two events. He took trains by the group a minimum of 4 instances, however his locations had been in Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.
Lincoln stayed in Quincy two nights in late 1854. He was on the town to make the final in a collection of speeches towards the explosive Kansas-Nebraska Act, which two Quincyans sponsored that yr — Stephen A. Douglas within the Senate and William Richardson within the Home.
On the request of lawyer Abraham Jonas of Quincy, Lincoln was right here to spice up the candidacy of Quincy pal and fellow lawyer Archibald Williams, a person extra ungainly and much more unattractive than Lincoln. Williams was opposing Richardson for the Fifth Congressional District seat.
Lincoln spoke that night to a crowd packed onto the second ground of Kendall’s Corridor at Sixth and Maine. Orrin Kendall had constructed the mansard-roofed, three-story brick constructing in 1850 to deal with his confectionary enterprise on the primary ground and host giant assemblies on the second. Lincoln’s enchantment that evening did nothing to spice up Williams, who a number of days later misplaced to Richardson. Nevertheless it helped revive Lincoln’s personal long-dormant political profession.
By no means effusive in reward of any speech Lincoln made, Quincy lawyer Orville Browning gave lean discover in his diary to this one. Lincoln had arrived the evening earlier than, Browning wrote. He dined and took tea and “addressed the individuals at Kendall’s Corridor on the Nebraska query.”
Native newspapers had been hardly any extra restrained. The Democratically oriented Quincy Herald didn’t give Lincoln’s speech any discover in any respect. And the Quincy Day by day Whig on Nov. 3 ran two full columns on Web page 2 condemning Douglas and Kansas-Nebraska. The paper devoted solely 130 phrases in two paragraphs to “Mr. Lincoln’s Speech.”
Lincoln’s Quincy speak repeated the one he had given in Peoria two weeks earlier. The speech has been featured in books. Historian Lewis Lehrman in “Lincoln at Peoria: The Turning Level” summarizes it because the decisive dialogue of Lincoln’s growing insights on slavery and the start of his rise to greatness. Quincy journalists apparently thought-about it a yawner.
Lincoln’s higher identified go to was on Oct. 13, 1858, when he debated Douglas throughout their contest for Douglas’ U.S. Senate seat. Lincoln had arrived on the practice from Macomb that morning. Some 12,000 individuals joined him in Washington Park that afternoon to listen to him debate Douglas.
Quincy was the sixth web site of seven debates in Illinois’ 9 congressional districts. (Douglas and Lincoln had already debated in Chicago and Springfield.) They might end in Alton two days after their forensics in Quincy. Between Aug. 21 and Oct. 15, they might journey some 1,400 miles throughout Illinois.
Having given dozens of different speeches, some over three hours lengthy, each males at Quincy had been exhausted. Lincoln spoke first, which gave Douglas yet another hour to relaxation. Douglas’ slurred speech as he started his 90-minute retort, nonetheless, led some to conclude that he was intoxicated.
Every of the debates targeted on a single challenge — the enlargement of slavery — which from the nation’s founding had lease its republican gown ragged. It was a difficulty so able to denying Individuals a Union that the Founders wrote it into the Structure in 1787. As George Washington, chairman of the constitutional conference, defined to a pal, “I’m totally persuaded it’s the finest that may be obtained at the moment.”
Douglas and Lincoln disagreed at Quincy on what the Founders meant of their compromise over slavery. Lincoln believed they thought slavery could be step by step eradicated, that it had been set on a course of final extinction.
Douglas didn’t disagree that slavery would finish. He believed, nonetheless, that in a democracy the means had been as necessary as the top. His argument was with Lincoln’s notion that morality ought to trump the need of the individuals in stopping slavery’s unfold.
Having transformed his celebration to the concept of standard sovereignty — the 1856 Democratic Platform made standard sovereignty its shining plank, Douglas argued that voters of a locality ought to determine for themselves their establishments, together with slavery. Such an argument to Lincoln was an specific denial of the humanity of blacks.
It was at Quincy that Lincoln answered such reasoning with what is probably going his most profound response at any of the debates. Lincoln mentioned, “When Choose Douglas says that whoever or no matter group needs slaves, they’ve a proper to have them, he’s completely logical if there’s nothing mistaken within the establishment; however in the event you admit that it’s mistaken, he can’t logically say that anyone has a proper to do mistaken… . If it’s a mistaken, he can’t say that he would as quickly see a mistaken voted up as down.”
Between Peoria and Quincy over these 4 years, Lincoln perfected his argument. In it, he uncovered the flaw in Douglas’s standard sovereignty because the means to resolving the disaster between North and South.
Over the various miles he had traveled since his first go to to Quincy in 1854, Lincoln at Quincy on that Wednesday in 1858 had perfected a chic argument: No vote might make a mistaken proper.
Reg Ankrom is a member of the Historic Society of Quincy and Adams County and a neighborhood historian. He’s a member of a number of history-related organizations, the creator of a historical past of Stephen A. Douglas and a frequent speaker on pre-Civil Battle historical past

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