Summary of Speech at Paris, Illinois, 6 August 18561
Next came Hon. A. Lincoln, familiarly called here at home, Abe Lincoln. He’s our Abe, whose good humor permits the Suckers all to call him thus, and whose everlasting good sense and great candor make the people proud to call him our Abe.2 Well, Abe got up— that is to say, he undoubled his great, long, gangling legs, and stood almost erect before the audience, about six feet two, and looked so much like some great strapping Yankee, that doubtless, those who did not know him and the purpose for which he rose, expected to see him begin to peddle out wooden nutmegs and horn gun-flints.3 But if there were any expecting to have spurious articles put upon them, they were much mistaken, for he never carries such about him. We shall not undertake to tell what he said to the people, but we do not hesitate to say that his arguments on the leading issue between the parties were unanswerable; and we wish every man in the State could hear the same.– He showed very clearly that so far as parties have become sectional, the fault is not with those who are advocating the principles of the founders of the Government— not with the Republican party, who are opposing those waging war against those principles— but that the blame must fall upon those who have resolved to jeopard the Union for the extension of an institution which the Statesmen of the Revolution thought an evil in the country, and hoped would ultimately be altogether eradicated from the land.4
1This summary of a speech by Abraham Lincoln is excerpted from a longer, unsigned article published by the Prairie Beacon describing a meeting in support of Republican presidential candidate John C. Fremont at Paris, Illinois, on August 6, 1856. No other account of this speech has been located.
Lincoln intended to travel to Paris by train, arriving on August 5, 1856. Following this speech on August 6, he spoke over the next few days in Grand View, Charleston, and Shelbyville, arriving home in Springfield on August 10. From July 1856 onwards, Lincoln gave over fifty speeches across Illinois in support of Fremont and to rally the disparate elements of the emerging Republican Party. See the 1856 Federal Election.
Preceding this excerpt is a description of a speech by John A. Matson at the same meeting. According to a brief description of the Paris meeting in the Daily Illinois State Journal, about one thousand people attended the event.
Abraham Lincoln to Joseph Gillespie; The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 7 August 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-08-07; 8 August 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-08-08; 9 August 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-08-09; 11 August 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-08-11; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:425-33; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 13 August 1856, 2:2.
2Illinois is known as the Sucker State and its residents as suckers.
Edward Callary, Place Names of Illinois (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009), 338-39.
3In the nineteenth century United States, Yankee peddlers were synonymous with trickery, and were reputed to try to sell counterfeit objects such as fake nutmegs carved out of wood.
Robert Hendrickson, The Facts on File Dictionary of American Regionalisms (New York: Facts on File, 2000), 327; J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 10:612.
4The institution referred to is slavery. The 1856 Republican Party platform opposed the extension of slavery to the territories and claimed this position was in keeping with the values of the “Republican fathers” of the United States. For another speech from the campaign of 1856 where Lincoln invoked the founders on slavery, see Summary of Speech at Princeton, Illinois.
Proceedings of the First Three Republican National Conventions of 1856, 1860, and 1864 (Minneapolis, MN: Charles W. Johnson, 1893), 43.
Copy of Printed Document, 1 page(s), Prairie Beacon (Paris, IL), 8 August 1856, 2:2.