Summary of Speech at Lowell Massachusetts, 16 September 18481
The sterling Whigs of Lowell came together last Saturday evening, at the City Hall. The meeting was called to order by the Chairman of the Whig Central Committee, Hon. Linus Child; Homer Bartlett, Esq.[Esquire], was chosen Chairman, and A. Gilman, Sec’y[Secretary]. After a few animating remarks from the Chairman, he introduced George Woodman,2 Esq.[Esquire], of Boston, who made a very pertinent and witty off-hand speech, which was frequently interrupted by the spontaneous plaudits of the audience. At the close of his speech, Mr Woodman introduced the Hon. Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois. It would be doing injustice to his speech to endeavor to give a sketch of it.3 It was replete with good sense, sound reasoning, and irresistable argument, and spoken with that perfect command of manner and matter which so eminently distinguishes the Western orators. He disabused the public of the erroneous suppositions that Taylor was not a Whig; that Van Buren was anything more than a thorough Locofoco, on all subjects other than Free Territory, and hardly safe on that—and showed up, in a masterly manner, the inconsistency and folly of those Whigs, who, being drawn off from the true and oldest free soil organization known among the parties of the Union, would now lend their influence and votes to help Mr Van Buren into the Presidential chair.—4His speech was interrupted by the cheers of the audience, evi[n]cing the truth of the great supposition that the dead can speak.
1There were four newspaper accounts of Abraham Lincoln’s speech, three in Lowell newspapers and one in the Boston Atlas. The account here, presumably written by Alfred Gilman, appeared in the Lowell Daily Journal and Courier, September 18, 1848. The editors could not locate or obtain the paper for that date either in original newsprint or on microfilm. The source text comes from a copy of the item as it appeared in the Journal, found in the files of the Abraham Lincoln Association.
William F. Hanna, Abraham Among the Yankees: Abraham Lincoln’s 1848 Visit to Massachusetts (Taunton, MA: The Old Colony Historical Society, 1983), 55.
2The editors could not positively identify this person.
3At the end of the first session of the Thirtieth Congress, Lincoln spent eleven days in Massachusetts stumping for Zachary Taylor to win the presidential election of 1848. Lincoln left Washington on Saturday, September 9 and arrived in Massachusetts on September 12.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:280-84; The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 9 September 1848,; 12 September 1848,; Abraham Lincoln to Junius Hall.
4Accusations that Taylor was not a Whig plagued his campaign, and Lincoln and other Taylorite Whigs, lead by John J. Crittenden, spent the fall of 1848 working to convince party faithful and neutrals of the general’s Whig bona fides.
Anti-slavery and some regular Whigs condemned the nomination of Taylor, a southern slaveholder who had no previous political affiliation, as an abandonment of Whig principles. As an act of protest, Henry Clay and many others refused to endorse Taylor and participate in the campaign.
For some “Conscience” Whigs, the nomination of Taylor proved the last straw, and they began making plans for an anti-slavery party. Conscience Whigs and Van Buren Democrats came together to form the Free Soil Party. The party held a convention in Buffalo in August and nominated Martin Van Buren for president.
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), 333-39; K. Jack Bauer, Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985), 243-44.

Copy of Printed Document, 1 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).