Open main menu

Page:Samuel Scoville -Abraham Lincoln, His Story.djvu/73

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

rying a cannon that announced his presence at each town where he spoke. Lincoln was likely to arrive shabby and haggard from an all-night ride in a day-coach. At first the rhetoric and eloquence of Douglas seemed to give him the advantage. Little by little Lincoln began to win a verdict from his audiences by the naked force of his arguments and his pitiless logic. Finally, Lincoln propounded to his opponent a question as unanswerable as the one that Christ asked the Pharisees. Whichever way he answered it Douglas would inevitably lose the support of either the North or the South. Douglas tried to compromise. By so doing he won the race for the senatorship but lost the contest for the presidency later on.

"We accuse him for this," thundered Judah P. Benjamin, the most able of the Southern senators. "Under the stress of a local election his knees gave way, his whole person trembled. His adversary stood upon principle and was beaten; and lo, he is the candidate of a mighty party for the presidency of the United States. The senator from Illinois faltered. He got the prize for which he faltered, but the grand prize of his ambition today slips from his grasp because of his faltering in his former contest; and his success in the canvass for the Senate, purchased for an ignoble price, has cost him the loss of the presidency of the United States!"

There followed the convention and campaign of 1860, and the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency of the United States. Under