Lincoln, Douglas and Their First Debate

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 \AM\.\Tue\.

I live in rural Central Illinois in Livingston County. Like most counties in Central Illinois, we have our Lincoln sites, places Lincoln visited while he was riding the circuit as a lawyer. In those more civilized days, courts in most areas only operated part time. On a court day, the judges and attorneys would arrive at a county seat, and the trials on the court’s docket would be called and tried. So it was on May 18, 1840 when Lincoln and his fellow attorneys rode into Pontiac, the then tiny county seat of Livingston County, for the first ever session of the Circuit Court in Livingston County.

Lincoln by this time was beginning to be well known in Central Illinois. He was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, and was one of the leaders of the Whig Party in Central Illinois. He was only 31 and was clearly a young man on his way up in the world.

Lincoln was not the only celebrity attorney present that day in Pontiac. Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln’s great antagonist, was also present. Only 27, Douglas was already famous throughout the State. Douglas was a fervent Democrat and one of the great orators of his day. Already he had been Attorney General of the State, and a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. Later that year he would be appointed Secretary of State, and in 1841 he would be appointed a Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, the youngest man ever to serve on that tribunal. Douglas was also clearly a young man rising swiftly in the world.

However, on May 18, 1840 Lincoln and Douglas were not concentrating on grand issues or the future. Their attention was riveted on the case of William Popejoy vs. Isaac Wilson, the first case filed in the Circuit Court in Livingston County. Wilson had accused Popejoy of stealing meat from a Sarah McDowell, and Popejoy was suing him for slander. Slander lawsuits were not uncommon in Central Illinois of that period, and Lincoln, as was the case with most attorneys, represented quite a few clients in regard to such cases.

There was no love lost between Popejoy and Wilson. Wilson had previously sued Popejoy for the death of a horse of his that Wilson had allowed him to borrow. The horse had died and Wilson, represented by Stephen A. Douglas, had sued for $300.00 in damages. Lincoln had represented Popejoy. The jury had returned a verdict for Wilson, but assessed damages at $70.25.

In the current lawsuit for slander, Lincoln again represented Popejoy and Douglas again represented Wilson. Lincoln won the case, with the Jury deliberating on a pile of sawlogs on the bank of the Vermilion River which winds through Pontiac. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Vote Vampire Lincoln!

Friday, May 14, 2010 \AM\.\Fri\.

I normally attempt to keep a close eye on politics, but I missed that Abe Lincoln was running in 2008.  I guess our 16th President must have lost the vampire war that Paul Zummo wrote about here and I wrote about here.  If I had known that he was running, who knows, I might have voted for Vampire Lincoln, considering the alternatives.


Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Friday, March 5, 2010 \AM\.\Fri\.

Hattip to Allah Pundit at Hotair.  At last it can be told!  Move over Buffy, you have nothing on Honest Abe!  Believe it or not, the Lincoln Museum is having a presentation by the author of this book on Saturday.  Once Lincoln freed the US from vampires perhaps he could tackle the demon problem, just as Queen Victoria did in Great Britain.


President Kennedy Was Wrong

Wednesday, March 3, 2010 \AM\.\Wed\.

Hattip to Sandro Magister. On September 12, 1960 John F. Kennedy, running for president, spoke to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association to assuage the fears of many in the country that his loyalty would be to the Pope rather than to the Constitution.  (The irony of course was that JFK took his faith quite lightly, to put it politely.)  The text of the speech is here.  On Monday March 1, 2010, Archbishop Chaput, at Houston Baptist University, gave a reply to this speech.

The core of the speech is that Kennedy was wrong:

Fifty years ago this fall, in September 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. He had one purpose. He needed to convince 300 uneasy Protestant ministers, and the country at large, that a Catholic like himself could serve loyally as our nation’s chief executive. Kennedy convinced the country, if not the ministers, and went on to be elected. And his speech left a lasting mark on American politics. It was sincere, compelling, articulate – and wrong. Not wrong about the patriotism of Catholics, but wrong about American history and very wrong about the role of religious faith in our nation’s life. And he wasn’t merely “wrong.” His Houston remarks profoundly undermined the place not just of Catholics, but of all religious believers, in America’s public life and political conversation. Today, half a century later, we’re paying for the damage.

Read the rest of this entry »


Lincoln Portrait

Saturday, February 13, 2010 \AM\.\Sat\.

Something for the weekend.  Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait narrated by James Earl Jones.


The Short and Simple Annals of the Poor

Friday, February 12, 2010 \AM\.\Fri\.

Today is the 201rst birthday of Abraham Lincoln.  It is a state holiday here in the Land of Lincoln, of course, and in California, Connecticut, Missouri, New Jersey and New York. 

One fact that all Americans know about Lincoln is that he was born in a log cabin.  He was indeed, a one room log cabin on Nolin Creek in Kentucky.  With the passage of time this fact has become picturesque, almost quaint.  This is a grave mistake for anyone wishing to understand Abraham Lincoln.  The log cabin symbolized for Lincoln his entry into the very hard life of a pioneer family.  Unending physical toil aged men and women before their time.  The arduous life of the frontier also made sudden death an often unwelcome guest.  Lincoln’s brother Thomas died in infancy.  His mother Nancy Hanks died when Lincoln was 9.  His sister Sarah died in childbirth at age 20, along with the son she had just brought into this world.  His namesake,  his paternal grandfather Abraham, was killed in 1786 by Indians.  Lincoln was born into a very tough and unforgiving world. Read the rest of this entry »


Blood and Guts Obama

Friday, December 4, 2009 \AM\.\Fri\.

In regard to President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan this week, I thought he made the cardinal error of basically telling the Taliban that if they keep their heads down for the next year and a half they can pretty well count on us being out of Afghanistan before he is up for re-election in 2012.  It is immoral to tell troops to die in a struggle that the Commander-in-Chief has clearly written off, and I think that is the reality behind Obama’s speech.  Rule one of fighting a war is to win it, but I suspect  that is not Obama’s intent.  But for the political consequences of Afghanistan quickly becoming terrorist haven number one, I doubt if Obama would do anything other than withdraw all American troops as quickly as possible.

At any rate, as a war speech by a President I would rate this a solid D.  If he wants examples of better speeches, he might try something like this minus the cussing.

Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal has Lincoln adopting a similar policy to Obama’s during the Civil War:

After months of what his opponents called weakness and indecision, President Abraham Lincoln announced a new strategy for ending the war with the rebellious Southern states to a group of reporters today.

The Army of the Potomac, now under the command of Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant, will be granted an additional 35,000 troops, well short of the 200,000 requested by Grant several months ago, for the invasion of the South which will begin next spring.

Declaring that, “Unions and freeing slaves and such are one thing, the lives of brave young Americans quite another,” the President also indicated that the United States committment would have a definite time limit.

If the seceding states cannot be persuaded to return to the Union by August of next year, Washington would begin to withdraw US forces.  Asked if this implied eventual recognition of the Richmond government by Washington, the President declined to comment.

The indispensable Iowahawk gives his interpretation of Obama as war President here.

Our enemies are not idiots.  Based on the evidence I think they have reached the obvious conclusion that Obama is weak and vacillating.  They will now act accordingly.  We are in for  interesting times.