Summary of Speech at Wilmington, Delaware, 10 June 1848
The first speaker introduced to the assembled multitude was the “Lone Star of Illinois,” Hon. Mr. Lincoln.1 He was received with three hearty cheers, and delivered an eloquent and patriotic speech on some of the principles of the Whig party and the standard-bearers they had selected to carry out their measures.2 He referred to the history of James K. Polk’s administration—the abuse of power which characterized it—the high-handed and despotic exercise of the veto power, and the utter disregard of the will of the people, in refusing to give assent to measures which their representatives passed for the good and prosperity of the country. The manner in which the present Executive had carried on the Mexican war should condemn it and the Locofoco party before the whole people. He did not believe with many of his fellow citizens that this war was originated for the purpose of extending slave territory, but it was his opinion, frequently expressed, that it was a war of conquest brought into existence to catch votes.3 Admitting, however, that the disputes between Mexico and this country could not have been settled in an amicable manner—admitting that we went into the battle field as the last resort, with all the principles of right and justice on our side, why is it that this government desires a large sum of money to gain more territory than will secure “indemnity for the past and security for the future?”4 During the whole war this was the stereotyped motto of the administration; but when the treaty was was sent to the Senate, the Executive not only included enough of territory for this purpose, but actually extended the boundaries and made an agreement to pay the Mexican government $15,000,000 for the additional territory[.] This subject demanded attention, and, although he had means of information, it had never been satisfactorily explained to him. Mr. Lincoln referred to other topics in an eloquent manner, and concluded with a few patriotic remarks on the character and long services of the Whig candidates[.]
1Abraham Lincoln left Washington, DC on June 5 and travelled to Philadelphia, where he attended the Whig National Convention. The convention concluded on June 9, and on June 10, Lincoln, in company with four other Whigs, stopped in Wilmington on their way back to Washington. Lincoln spoke first and was followed by William T. Haskell of Tennessee, Edward C. Cabell of Florida, and John W. Houston and Nathaniel B. Smithers of Delaware.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 5 June 1848, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1848-06-05; 9 June 1848, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1848-06-09; 10 June 1848, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1848-06-10; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:277; Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 320-30.
2The Whigs had nominated Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore as their candidates for president and vice president, respectively, in the presidential election of 1848.
Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War, 325-26, 329.
3Some northern Whigs denounced the Mexican War as a southern conspiracy to add slave territory to the United States.
Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 249.
4In his annual message to Congress on December 7, 1847, President James K. Polk claimed that the government’s prosecution of the Mexican War was simply “to obtain redress for the wrongs she [Mexico] has done us.” He further stated, “We demand an honorable peace; and that peace must bring with it indemnity for the past and security for the future.”
U.S. House Journal. 1847. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 31.
Copy of Printed Document, 1 page(s), Delaware State Journal (Wilmington, DE), 13 June 1848.