One Man Great Enough

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From the author of The Class of 1846: “A swift-paced narrative of Lincoln’s pre-presidential life.” —The Washington Post Book World

How did Abraham Lincoln, long held as a paragon of presidential bravery and principled politics, find his way to the White House? How did he become the one man great enough to risk the fate of the nation on the well-worn but cast-off notion that all men are created equal?
 
Here, award-winning historian John C. Waugh takes readers on Lincoln’s road to the Civil War. From his first public rejection of slavery to his secret arrival in the capital, from his stunning debates with Stephen Douglas to his contemplative moments considering the state of the country he loved, Waugh shows us America as Lincoln saw and described it. Much of this wonderful story is told by Lincoln himself, detailing through his own writing his emergence onto the political scene and the evolution of his beliefs about the Union, the Constitution, democracy, slavery, and civil war. Waugh sets Lincoln’s path in new relief by letting the great man tell his own story, at a depth that brings us ever closer to understanding this mysterious, complicated, and truly great man.
 
“Lively prose backed with solid research.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“[Waugh’s] judicious use of the historical record and his dramatic prose make for an enjoyable read.” —Kirkus Reviews

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Date de parution 13 février 2009
Nombre de visites sur la page 3
EAN13 9780547350738
Langue English

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Contents
Title Page Contents Copyright Dedication The Uncoiling of the Serpent
W h o H e W a s a n d W h e r e H e C a m e F r o m The Dark and Bloody Ground The Hoosier Years
M a k i n g H i s W a y New Salem Politics Vandalia
T h e I s s u e ’ s D a r k S i d e Death in Alton
P o l i t i c a l E n e m i e s a n d F e m a l e E n i g m a s Springfield Young Hickory The Ballyhoo Campaign Lincoln in Love
O n t h e N a t i o n a l S t a g e The Steam Engine in Breeches and the Engine that Kn ew No Rest “Who Is James K. Polk?” Laying Congressional Pipe Seeing Spots
E c l i p s e Lincoln’s Other Life What He Had Become Tempest
C l a s h o f t h e G i a n t s Lincoln Emerges Political Earthquake At the Crossroads Axe Handles and Wedges A House Divided The Debates
P h o t o s
O n t h e G l o r y R o a d Spreading the Gospel Cooper Union Reaching for the Brass Ring
Chicago
F r o m B a l l o t s t o B u l l e t s The Four-Legged Race Firebell in the Night Getting There The War Comes Twilight of the Little Giant In Appreciation Notes Sources Cited Index About the Author Connect with HMH Footnotes
Copyright © 2007 Py John C. Waugh All rights reserved. No part of this puPlication may Pe reproduced or transmitted in any form or Py any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the puPlisher. For information aPout permission to reproduce selections from this Pook, write to trade.permissions@hmhco.comor to ermissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt uPlishing Company, 3 ark Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, New York 10016. www.hmhco.com The LiPrary of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows: Waugh, John C. One man great enough : APraham Lincoln’s road to Civil War / John C. Waugh.—1st ed. p. cm. Includes PiPliographical references and index. 1. Lincoln, APraham, 1809–1865—Childhood and youth. 2. Lincoln, APraham, 1809–1865— olitical career Pefore 1861. 3. Lincoln, APraham, 1809–1865—olitical and social views. 4. residents—United States—Biography. 5. United States—olitics and government—1837– 1841. 6. United States—olitics and government—1841–1845. 7. United States—olitics and government—1845–1861. 8. United States—History-Civil War, 1861–1865—Causes. 9. Illinois —olitics and government—To 1865. I. Title. E457.3.W25 2007 973.7092—dc22 2007009588 978-0-15-101071-4 eISBN 978-0-547-35073-8 v4.1116
For my father, who had a sense of humor Lincoln would have appreciated.
PROLOGUE
The Uncoiling of the Serpent
Theod unfinished in early 1837.new two-story statehouse in Vandalia, Illinois, sto Workmen had slapped plaster on the walls just before the Tenth General Assembly convened in December. Its damp, displeasing essence still hung in the legislative 1 chambers upstairs. Abraham Lincoln, a young Whig legislator from Sanga mon County, was beginning his second term. He was not as new to politics as the p laster was to the walls, but the plaster was more likely to stick than what he was a bout to do. In a bold move, he was about to drop a resolution into the record that ran emphatically against dominant public opinion in his state—on slavery, which raised hackl es as no other issue did. The issue was uncoiling across the country like a h issing serpent. Abolition societies proliferated in the North, blanketing the Union with incendiary antislavery pamphlets. Alarmed and angry Southern legislators were passing resolutions violently condemning 2 these “fire brands of discord and disunion.” The South’s mightiest guns, its most articulate and powerful ideologues, were answering in kind, showering shot and shell on abolitionism in the defense of their “peculiar i nstitution.” Southern legislatures were not only passing angry resolutions against abolitionists, they were demanding that Northern legislatures do the same. Virginia, Alabama, and Mississippi had sent memorials to Illinois, which Governor Joseph Duncan had transmitted to the General Assembly in December 183 6. In January, the Illinois legislature resoundingly p assed a set of sympathizing resolutions—that “we highly disapprove of the forma tion of abolition societies, and of the doctrines promulgated by them”; that the right of property in slaves is “sacred to the slave-holding States by the Federal Constitution, a nd that they can’t be deprived of that 3 right without their consent.” Lincoln quietly voted against the resolutions, one of only six of the legislature’s ninety-one members who did. In early March, three d ays before adjournment, he wanted to quietly add something more to the record. The issue was important to many in Illinois, but it mattered to Lincoln in a different way. For the most part, the people of Illinois were emigrants from Southern states, as was Lincoln himself—born in Kentucky and grown to m anhood in southern Indiana. Most of these former Southerners were for slavery a nd against anything that wasn’t. Lincoln, though a Southerner, didn’t see it exactly that way. Not that this gangly young lawmaker bought into the idea of Negro equali ty. He didn’t. With most white opinion, Northern and Southern, he embraced white s upremacy. He opposed black suffrage, voting in his first term for a resolution “that the elective franchise should be 4 kept pure from contamination by the admission of co lored votes.” He rejected outright the idea of racial intermarriage. But in Lincoln’s mind slavery was a different matte r. It was immoral, crowding the outer limit of inhumanity. He was to say, “I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not 5 wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel.” In March 1837, he wanted to introduce a resolution that would mirror this feeling. But he was playing with dynamite. The wording had to be hedged; it would be political
suicide in Illinois to be lumped with abolitionists . And he would have to do it virtually alone. The only other House member willing to go wi th him was Dan Stone, a fellow Whig legislator who had brought his anti-slavery ps yche with him from his native Vermont. On March 3 they introduced their resolution, protes ting the longer ones passed in January. It was entered in the record without comme nt or debate. It said: “Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having passed both branches of the General Assembly at its present session, the undersigned he reby protest against the passage of the same. They believe that the institution of s lavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy; but that the promulgation of abolition doctrines tends rather to increase than 6 to abate its evils.” That was the nub of it. Abolitionist agitation was bad enough, but the greater evil was slavery itself. The original resolutions hadn’t sai d that. There was a moral issue here. And that was the distinction Lincoln and Stone wanted to make. They made it quietly, as they went out the door. Softly introduced, those lines made virtually no no ise in the state. But it was the first public stand that this young politician ever took o n the institution of slavery. It was to be the first of many on a road that would lead him—and his country—to the very gates of disunion and civil war.
PART ONE
Who He Was and Where He Came From
1
The Dark and Bloody Ground
KBRKHKM LINCOLN’S KNCESTRKL LINE, like so many others in the New Worlp, followep a southwesterly prift—from Englanp to Mass achusetts, into New Jersey anp Pennsylvania to Virginia, then through the Cumberla np Ga into entucky. In the late 1700s, Lincoln’s Granpfather Kbraham followep the floop of migration to the Wilperness 1 Roap through that Ga, the “great cleft” in the mou ntains, ast park cliffs “so wilp anp 2 horrip” in asect “that it is imossible to beholp them without terror.” The Wilperness Roap itself, that track through entucky beyonp the Ga, was just as 3 terrorizing—“a lonely anp houseless ath” into “a w ilp anp cheerless lanp.” The roap was an ancient Inpian warrior ath over a hunting g rounp still bitterly pisutep by fierce, unwelcoming, massacre-minpep Shawnee, Iroquois, Che rokee, anp Chickasaw. entucky, crossep by that rough Inpian roap, was fa ithful to its reutation anp pefinition 4 —“the park anp bloopy grounp.” But these ioneers were ilgrims, prawn irresistibly over this “gash through the 5 wilperness,” to an abunpant, rich, anp beckoning romisep lanp. The abiping resence of instant peath by rifle, tomahawk, or arrow seemep worth the cost for such grounp. Moses Kustin, himself a ilgrim to Texas, s aip of them, “hunpreps Travelling hunpreps of Miles, they know not for what Nor Whith er, excet its to entuckey . . . the 6 Promisep lanp . . . the lanp of Milk anp Honey.” Lincoln’s granpfather ushep “on the crest of the w ave of Western settlement,” pee into this lanp of milk anp honey to settle on over 5,000 acres of grounp near Bear Grass Fort, the site of resent pay Louisville. There he built a log cabin, anp soon the park anp bloopy grounp claimep him. In an unrotectep mo ment, as he was sowing a cro of 7 corn with his three sons, Inpians killep him. The youngest of those surviving sons was Thomas, on ly eight years olp when his father piep. But he livep to grow u anp become a c arenter, anp to meet a woman namep Nancy Hanks. K frontier chilp like him, she h ap also mournep the early peath of 8 a arent anp was a woman “of sorrows anp acquaintep with grief.” She hap come to entucky anp to her pestiny, like Tom, through the Cumberlanp Ga over the Wilperness Roap. Tom was short, stout, anp strong, raven-hairep anp black-eyep, a man of “uncommon Enpurance.” He was illiterate, but he hap a knack for telling a story, anp he was a goop carenter, saip to have the best set of tools in Wa shington County. He was thought to be “goop, clean, social, truthful anp honest . . . a lain unretenping lopping man,” 9 who “never thought that golp was Gop” anp “pipn’t p rink an’ cuss none.” Nancy was saip to be tall, slenper, anp pelicate of frame—“Sare mape” with park hair anp hazel eyes. She struck eole as siritual ly inclinep, amiable, kinp, charitable, 10 affectionate, even-temerep, tenper, anp intelligen t, but sap by nature. It was saip that she was “touchep with the pivine atitupes of the firesipe,” mistress of the arts of 11 “the skillet, the Dutch oven, the oen firelace.”
They were marriep on June 12, 1806. He was twenty-e ight years olp anp she was twenty-three. The wepping vows were reap by Jesse Heap, an itinerant Methopist minister, one of the best known in that art of en tucky. The bripe wore a rough wepping press stitchep by a frienp, anp afterwarp there was the tyical frontier infare (ost-vows recetion). One guest rememberep it for the bear meat, venison, wilp turkey, puck, a barbequep shee, eggs wilp anp tame , coffee, syru in big gourps, anp 12 “a race for the whisky bottle.” Thomas took his young bripe to live in Elizabethtow n, a new, swiftly growing entucky settlement, a goop fit for a goop carente r. There a little paughter, Sarah, was born. When she was eighteen months olp, Tom movep w ife anp paughter to Nolen Creek, fourteen miles south of Elizabethtown anp th ree miles from Hopgenville, on the epge of the “barrens,” a 70-mile-long, 60-mile-wipe slice of mostly treeless lanp burnep 13 off by Inpians to make a buffalo grazing grounp. There, in a rough one-room log cabin above an oak-s hapep sinking sring, young Lincoln was born. Dennis Hanks, Lincoln’s olper cou sin, later recollectep Tom “comin’ over to our house one colp mornin’ in Feb’uary an’ sayin’ kinp o’ slow, ‘Nancy’s got a boy baby.’” Dennis rememberep that “Mother come ove r anp washep him an’ ut a 14 yaller flannen etticoat on him.” In 1811, the year the first steamboat applep pown the Mississii, when Lincoln was two years olp, they movep again—this time to 230 ac res in nob Creek valley ten miles north of Nolin Creek anp six miles east of Hopgenvi lle. Their next cabin stoop on the bank of the creek that emtiep into Rolling Fork, w hich emtiep into the Salt, which emtiep into the Ohio twenty-four miles below Louis ville. It sat between two stee-rising knobs besipe the Cumberlanp Roap from Louisville to Nashville, the heaviest-travelep 15 highway on the entucky frontier. But Tom hap a hankering to prift west. The entucky of his chilphoop was gone. Clear title to lanp was harp to come by in the once park anp bloopy grounp. Knp it was park for another reason: It was a slave state, anp Tom was at heart an anti-slavery man. It was saip that he anp Nancy were “just stee ep full of notions about the wrongs 16 of slavery anp the rights of men.” Dennis Hanks saip, “Tom got holp o’ a better farm [at nob Creek] after while but he coulpn’t git a clear title to it, so when Kbe was e ight year olp, an’ I was eighteen, we all lit out for Inpiany. aintucky was gittin’ stuck u , with some folks rich enough to own niggers, so it pipn’t seem no lace fur ore folks any more. . . . [Nancy] ilep everything 17 they hap wuth takin’ on the backs o’ two ack hosse s.” They set out for slave-free southern Inpiana in late 1816 when the grounp was harp with frost, arriving in mip-December, the same month anp year that territory became the nineteenth state in the young Union.