PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES.
"Henry Clay Whig," he rapidly acquired
that command of language and that homely
but forcible rhetoric which, added to his
intimate knowledge of the people from
which he sprang, made him more than a
match in debate for his few well-educated
Admitted to the bar in 1837 he soon
established himself at Springfield, where
the State capital was located in 1839,
largely through his influence; became a
successful pleader in the State, Circuit and
District Courts; married in 1842 a lady belonging
to a prominent family in Lexington,
Kentucky; took an active part in the Presidential
campaigns of 1840 and 1844 as
candidate for elector on the Harrison and
Clay tickets, and in 1846 was elected to the
United States House of Representatives
over the celebrated Peter Cartwright.
During his single term in Congress he did
not attain any prominence.
He voted for the reception of anti-slavery
petitions for the abolition of the slave trade
in the District of Columbia and for the
Wilmot proviso; but was chiefly remembered
for the stand he took against the
Mexican war. For several years thereafter
he took comparatively little interest
in politics, but gained a leading position at
the Springfield bar. Two or three nonpolitical
lectures and an eulogy on Henry
Clay (I852) added nothing to his reputation.
In 1854 the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise by the Kansas-Nebraska act
aroused Lincoln from his indifference, and
in attacking that measure he had the immense
advantage of knowing perfectly well
the motives and the record of its author,
Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois, then popularly
designated as the " Little Giant." The
latter came to Springfield in October, 1854,
on the occasion of the State Fair, to vindicate
his policy in the Senate, and the " AntiNebraska"
Whigs, remembering that Lincoln
had often measured his strength with
Douglas in the Illinois Legislature and before
the Springfield Courts, engaged him
to improvise a reply. This speech, in the
opinion of those who heard it,.was one of
the greatest efforts of Lincoln's life; certainly
the most effective in his whole career.
It took the audience by storm, and from
that moment it was felt that Douglas had
met his match. Lincoln was accordingly
selected as the Anti-Nebraska candidate for
the United States Senate in place of General
Shields, whose term expired March 4, 1855,
and led to several ballots; but Trumbull
was ultimately chosen.
The second conflict on the soil of Kansas,
which Lincoln had predicted, soon began.
The result was the disruption of the
Whig and the formation of the Republican
party. At the Bloomington State Convention
in I856, where the new party first
assumed form in Illinois, Lincoln made an
impressive address, in which for the first
time he took distinctive ground against
slavery in itself.
At the National Republican Convention
at Philadelphia, June I7, after the nomination
of Fremont, Lincoln was put forward
by the Illinois delegation for the
Vice-Presidency, and received on the first
ballot I o votes against 259 for William L.
Dayton. He took a prominent part in the
canvass, being on the electoral ticket.
In I858 Lincoln was unanimously nominated
by the Republican State Convention
as its candidate for the United States Senate
in place of Douglas, and in his speech of
acceptance used the celebrated illustration
of a "house divided against itself" on the
slavery question, which was, perhaps, the
cause of his defeat. The great debate carried
on at all the principal towns of Illinois
between Lincoln and Douglas as rival Senatorial
candidates resulted at the time in the
election of the latter; but being widely circulated
as a campaign document, it fixed
the attention of the country upon the
Lewis Publishing Company. Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County, Texas.. Chicago, Illinois. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth20932/. Accessed September 23, 2014.