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Vision – being governed by a firm set of principles & attainable ideas about the future
Examples of Lincoln’s Vision
The belief that despite his poor background, he believed anyone had a “right to rise”
Abraham Lincoln Quotations Regarding Vision
Stories in Lincoln’s Life Regarding Vision
LINCOLN’S LOST SPEECH IN BLOOMINGTON
In the interval between the Decatur meeting and the Bloomington Convention called for May 29 , the excitement in the country over Kansas grew almost to a frenzy. The new State was in the hands of a pro-slavery mob, her Governor a prisoner, her capital in ruins, her voters intimidated The Convention was opened by John M. Palmer, afterwards United States Senator, in its chair, and in a very short time it had adopted a platform, appointed delegates to the National Convention, nominated a State ticket, completed, in short, all the work of organizing the Republican party in Illinois. After this work of organizing and nominating was finished, there was a call for speeches. The Convention felt the need of some powerful amalgamating force which would weld its discordant elements Man after man was called to the platform without producing any marked effect, when suddenly there was a call raised of a name not on the program—”Lincoln”— “Lincoln”—”give us Lincoln!” The crowd took it up and made the hall ring until a tall figure rose in the back of the audience and slowly strode down the aisle. As he turned to his audience there came gradually a great change upon his face. “There was an expression of intense emotion,” Judge Scott, of Bloomington once told the author (Miss Tarbell). “It was the emotion of a great soul. Even in stature he seemed greater. He seemed to realize it was a crisis in his life.”
He began his speech, then, deeply moved, and with a profound sense of the importance of the moment Starting from the back of the broad platform on which he stood, his hands on his hips, he slowly advanced towards the front, his eyes blazing, his face white with passion, his voice resonant with the force of his conviction. As he advanced he seemed to his audience fairly to grow, and when at the end of the period he stood at the front line of the stage, hands still on the hips, head back, raised on his tip toes, he seemed like a giant inspired.
“At that moment he was the handsomest man I ever saw,” Judge Scott declared. So powerful was his effect on his audience that men and women wept as they cheered As he went on there came upon the Convention the very emotion he sought to arouse.
“Everyone in that before incongruous assembly came to feel as one man,” says one of the auditors. He had made every man’, of them pure Republican. He did something more. The indignation which the outrages in Kansas and throughout the country had aroused was uncontrolled. Men talked passionately of war. It was at this meeting that Lincoln, after firing his hearers by an expression which became a watchword of the campaign, “We won’t go out of the Union and you shan’t,” poured oil on the wrath of the opponents of the Nebraska bill by advising “ballots, not bullets!”
Nothing illustrates better the extraordinary power of Lincoln’s speech at Bloomington than the way he stirred up the newspaper reporters. … Of course, all leading newspapers of the State leaning towards the new party had reporters at the Convention. Among these was Mr. Joseph Medill.
“I well remember,” says Mr. Medill, “that after Lincoln sat down and calm had succeeded the tempest, I waked out of a sort of hypnotic trance and then thought of my report for the (Chicago) Tribune. There was nothing written but an abbreviated introduction.
“It was some sort of satisfaction to find that I had not been ‘scooped,’ as all the newspaper men present had been equally carried away by the excitement caused by the wonderful oration, and had made no report or sketch of the speech.”
…. The result of this excitement was when the Convention was over there was no reporter present who had anything for his newspaper. They all went home and wrote burning editorials about the speech and its great principle, but as to reproducing it they could not. Men came to talk of it all over Illinois. Gradually it became known as Lincoln’s ” Lost Speech.”
The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Ida M. Tarbell, Vol. I, page 292.
THE COOPER INSTITUTE SPEECH
We went to Cooper Institute and there was a crowd, as there was at Beecher’s church. We finally got on the stairway and far in the rear of the great crowd, but my brother stood on the floor, and I sat on the ledge of the window-sill, with my feet on his shoulders while I told him down there what was going on over yonder. The first man that came on the platform and presided at that meeting was William Cullen Bryant, our dear old neighbor. He took his seat on the stage.
Mr. Bryant arose and went toward him, bowing and smiling. He was an awkward specimen of a man and all about me people were asking, “Who is that?” But no one seemed to know. I asked a gentleman who that man was, but he said he didn’t know. He was an awkward specimen indeed; one of the legs of his trousers was up about two inches above his shoe; his hair was disheveled and stuck out like rooster’s feathers; his coat was altogether too large for him in the back, his arms much longer than his sleeves, and with his legs twisted around the rungs of the chair—he was the picture of embarrassment.
When Mr. Bryant arose to introduce the speaker of that evening, he was known seemingly to few in that great hall. Mr. Bryant said: …. “Gentlemen of New York, it is great honor that is conferred upon me to-night, for I can introduce to you the next President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.” Then through that audience flew the query as to who Abraham Lincoln was. There was but weak applause.
Mr. Lincoln had in his hand a manuscript. He had written it with great care and exactness, and the speech which you read in his biography is the one that he wrote, not the one that he delivered as I recall it, and it is fortunate for the country that they did print the one that he wrote He had read three pages and had gone on to the fourth when he lost his place and then he began to tremble and stammer. He then turned it over two or three times, threw the manuscript upon the table, and, as they say in the West, “let himself go.”
Now the stammering man who had created only silent derision up to that point, suddenly flashed out into an angel of oratory and the awkward arms and disheveled hair were lost sight of entirely in the wonderful beauty and lofty inspiration of that magnificent address. The great audience immediately began to follow his thought, and when he uttered that quotation from (Frederick) Douglass, “It is written in the sky of America that the slaves shall some day be free,” he had settled the question that he was to be the next President of the United States. The applause was so great that the building trembled and I felt the windows shake behind me.
Personal Glimpses of Celebrated Men and Women, Russell H. Conwell, page 354.
WHAT THE COOPER UNION SPEECH WAS ALL ABOUT
Unquestionably the most effective piece of work he did that winter was the address at Cooper Institute, New York, on February 27th, (i860). Mr. Lincoln’s audience was a notable one even for New York. It included William Cullen Bryant, who introduced him, Horace Greeley, David Dudley Field, and many more well known men of the day
The Cooper Union speech was founded on a sentence from one of Douglas’s Ohio speeches: “Our fathers when they framed the government under which we live understood this question just as well, and even better, than we do now.”
Douglas claimed that the “fathers” held that the Constitution forbade the Federal government controlling slavery in the Territories. Lincoln, with infinite care, had investigated the opinions and votes of each of the ” fathers”—whom he took to be the thirtynine men who signed the Constitution—and showed conclusively that a majority of them “certainly understood that no proper division of local from Federal authority nor any part of the Constitution forbade the Federal government to control slavery in the Federal Territories.” .
Not only did he show this of the thirty-nine framers of the original Constitution, but he defied anybody to show that one of the seventy-six members of the Congress which framed the Constitution over held any such view.
It is doubtful if there were any persons present, even his best friends, who expected that Lincoln would do more than interest his hearers by his sound arguments. Many have confessed since that they feared his queer manner and quaint speeches would amuse people so much that they would fail to catch the weight of his logic. But to the surprise of everybody Lincoln impressed his audience from the start by his dignity and his seriousness.
“His manner was, to a New York audience, a very strange one, but it was captivating,” wrote an auditor. “He held the vast meeting spellbound, and as one by one his oddly expressed but trenchant and convincing arguments confirmed the soundness of his political conclusions, the house broke out in wild and prolonged enthusiasm. I think I never saw an audience more thoroughly carried away by an orator.”
The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Ida M. Tarbell, Vol. I, page 326.
“THE HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF.”
Lincoln read the speech, containing the above, to many of his friends, before he delivered it in the contest for the United States Senate against Douglas. Some condemned, some indorsed, characterized it as “fool utterances, ahead of its time”; another said, “Lincoln, deliver that speech as read, and it will make you President.” Lincoln answered all their objections, substantially as follows: “Friends, this thing has been retarded long enough. The time has come when these sentiments should be uttered; and if it is decreed that I should go down because of this speech, then let me go down linked to the truth—let me die in the advocacy of what is just and right.”
To one complainant who followed into his office he said proudly: “If I had to draw a pen across my record, and erase my whole life from sight, and I had one poor gift or choice left as to what I should save from the wreck, I should choose that speech and leave it to the world unerased.” This was Lincoln’s position in the Lincoln-Douglas debate. His opening speech at Springfield contained this memorable sentence. In a letter to a friend, August 22, 1858, Lincoln said: “Douglas and I, for the first time during this canvass, crossed swords here yesterday. The fire flew some, and I am glad to know I am yet alive.”
From Lincoln’s Life, Stories and Speeches by Paul Selby
FIRST ECHOES FROM CHICAGO CONVENTION.
Mr. Volk, the artist, relates that, being in Springfield when the nomination was announced, he called upon Mr. Lincoln, whom he found looking radiant. “I exclaimed, ‘I am the first man from Chicago, I believe, who has had the honor of congratulating you on your nomination for President.’ Then those two great hands took both of mine with a grasp never to be forgotten, and while shaking, I said, ‘Now that you will doubtless be the next President of the United States, I want to make a statue of you, and shall try my best to do you justice.’
“Said he, ‘I don’t doubt it, for I have come to the conclusion that you are an honest man,’ and with that greeting, I thought my hands in a fair way of being crushed.
“On the Sunday following, by agreement, I called to make a cast of Mr. Lincoln’s hands. I asked him to hold something in his hands, and told him a stick would do. Thereupon he went to the woodshed, and I heard the saw go, and he soon returned to the diningroom, whittling off the end of a piece of broom handle. I remarked to him that he need not whittle off the edges. ‘Oh, well,’ said he, ‘I thought I would like to have it nice.”’
From Lincoln’s Life, Stories and Speeches by Paul Selby
Mr. Lincoln, after hearing of his nomination at Chicago for the Presidency, returned home, and, feeling somewhat weary, went upstairs to his wife’s sitting room, and lay down upon a couch in the room directly opposite a bureau, upon which was a looking-glass. As I reclined,” said he, “my eye fell upon the glass, and I saw distinctly two images of myself, exactly alike, except that one was a little paler than the other. I arose and lay down again with the same result. It made me quite uncomfortable for a few minutes, but, some friends coming in, the matter passed out of my mind. The next day, while walking in the street, I was suddenly reminded of the circumstance, and the disagreeable sensation produced by it returned. I had never seen anything of the kind before, and did not know what to make of it. I determined to go home and place myself in the same position, and, if the same effect was produced, I would make up my mind that it was the natural result of some principle of refraction or optics, which I did not understand, and dismiss it. I tried the experiment, with the same result; and, as I had said to myself, accounted for it on some principle unknown to me, and it then ceased to trouble me. But the God who works through the laws of Nature, might surely give a sign to me, if one of His chosen servants, even through the operation of a principle in optics.”
Mr. Lincoln remarked to Mr. Noah Brookes, one of his most intimate personal friends: “I should be the most presumptuous blockhead upon this footstool if I for one day thought that I could discharge the duties which have come upon me, since I came to this place, without the aid and enlightenment of One who is stronger and wiser than all others.” He said on another occasion: “I am very sure that if I do not go away from here a wiser man, I shall go away a better man, from having learned here what a very poor sort of a man I am.”
From Lincoln’s Life, Stories and Speeches by Paul Selby