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Our forefathers

Tuesday, Apr 23, 2013

* Damien Ober writes about a new book on Abe Lincoln’s congressional term

When Lincoln presents a bill which would have ended slavery in the District of Columbia, the inclusion of a fugitive slave clause makes the bill the “kind of balanced legislation needed to pass a badly divided house.”… His support for presidential candidate Zachary Taylor—a slave-owner and hero of the war he had fought so hard to stop—“was simple for Lincoln;” Taylor was the only Whig who could win and any Whig was better than any Democrat—on slavery and the other issues important to Lincoln.

* Jared Hitchings writes about Stephen Douglas, whose 200th birthday is today

Not only was Douglas not bitter about losing the presidency to Lincoln, he in fact toured the country stumping for the Union cause at the outbreak of the Civil War. It was during this tour that he contracted Typhoid fever and died on June 3, 1861.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Excessively Rabid - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    Bring back the Whigs.

  2. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 11:48 am:

    I am always amazed how these great leaders, like Lincoln, the Founders and the Framers meet the particular needs of the Country at times of most need. Roosevelt, Churchill during WW2, etc. I just watched the History Channel’s tribute to the ’80’s and would argue that Reagan, Thatcher, Walesa, John-Paul were that decade’s great leaders. Lately, not so much…

  3. - in the know - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 11:50 am:

    I’ve heard this bit about Douglas before, and been unable to find the reference subsequently, that part of Douglas’ mission for Lincoln through the border states involved the recruitment of officers, including Grant himself. As I said, I read that account somewhere and never been able to find it subsequently, but if so, It makes for a great example of setting aside partisan rancor for the good of all.

  4. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 12:02 pm:

    I ran across some interesting trivia on Lincoln and JQ Adams the other day.

    While in Congress in 1848, Lincoln was on the House floor when Adams, the leading abolitionist of his day, collapsed after casting a minority and loud vote on a resolution congratulating generals in the Mexican War.

    Adams died two days later, and Lincoln was an honorary pallbearer at his funeral.

    That makes JQ Adams, a revolutionary in his own right as his father’s secretary in wartime France, a link between Washington, who he served as an ambassador, and Lincoln, who he served with in Congress.

  5. - Chris DeRose - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 12:04 pm:


    I’m the author of “Congressman Lincoln: The Making of America’s Greatest President,” the book you reference above.

    I grew up in Illinois and actually got involved in politics early on, volunteering on races from township committeeman to governor and interning for Speaker Hastert.

    I’ve been a reader of Capitol Fax since your first day on the web (I still religiously follow politics back home). As such, it’s a huge honor to get a shout out here.


    Chris DeRose

  6. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 12:05 pm:

    ===was the only Whig who could win and any Whig was better than any Democrat===

    That Lincoln, does sound like a “Blood Oath” or “Litmus Test”?

    Golly, Lincoln, was being politcally savy, all the while NOT cutting his nose off to save his face.

    Whoa! Now, I am spitballing here, so bear with me. I think I read somewhere, that the Grand old Party, the GOP, is “Lincoln’s Party”, am I right, or am I “Right”? I don’t know, but aren’t there big fundraisers for Illinois Republicans, be it a Township, County, whatever, and they are called…Lincoln Day Dinners?

    Now, here is where I am spitballing…If Lincoln thought that being inclusive to his Party was the best way for his party to win, over the Democrats he knew would not even entertain Lincoln’s agenda … and then you throw in that Pesky “Reagan Rule” mumbo-jumbo…

    Does that sound like Reagan, and …Lincon … to some in My Party, like …RINOs, or are they “Good Republicans” even thought a “blood oath” is not followed, or a “litmus test” is not passed?

    This is so hard! I am so confused. I thought the more rigid you were, the more pure you were, the more Republican you were, unless you get the approval of being a “Good Republican”…

    Politics is not a religion based on “absolutes” and “purity”, its based on who gets the most votes, and which Party can get the most members to move agendas forward.

    Lincoln knew that, (surprise, surprise), Reagan preached it, and we in “Lincoln’s Illinois”, in the Birhtplace of Ronald Reagan… and we… in the ILGOP….ignore it.

    But what did Lincoln and Reagan know about Purity, …”Right”?

  7. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 12:06 pm:

    You’re welcome, Chris. I hope to read your book this spring.

  8. - train111 - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 12:11 pm:

    Interesting what Linclon thought of Taylor:
    Zachary Taylor was an interesting character. He was a plantation owner and a slave holder, but was solidly against the compromise of 1850 and the expansion of slavery into the territories. He refused to be bullied by the Southern Congressmen unlike his subsequent 3 sucessors (Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan)

  9. - hisgirlfriday - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 12:16 pm:

    At the risk of adding some cynicism to this Douglas discussion, I think its a bit disingenuous to reduce the man and the shrewd politician to some saint of bipartisanship and place him on a pedestal fowr it. Douglas coming across as bipartisan was not something he did just out of the goodness of his heart. His 1858 reelection came in large part due to his skill at triangulating between the southern democrats/president buchanan and the republicans/lincoln.

  10. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 12:17 pm:

    –that part of Douglas’ mission for Lincoln through the border states involved the recruitment of officers, including Grant himself.–

    Grant was already in Galena by that time, working for his father-in-law.

  11. - 32nd Ward Roscoe Village - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 12:20 pm:

    To follow up on the mention of JQ Adams’ work in the House of Representatives after he was president, I highly recommend William Lee Miller’s book, “Arguing about Slavery: John Quincy Adams and the Great Battle in the United States Congress.” Great retelling of that era that you don’t learn about much in school, post-Ware of 1812, pre-Civil War.

  12. - 32nd Ward Roscoe Village - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 12:23 pm:

    hisgirlfriday: he is already literally on a pedastal on the south side of Chicago: . I drove by recently, intrigued by a sign for it when my son was auditioning at the Chicago High School for the Performing Arts right down the block from it.

  13. - Josh - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 12:28 pm:

    I am proud to call Chris DeRose a friend and an Illinoisan.

  14. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 12:35 pm:

    32, I’d add:

    “What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848,” by Daniel Walker Howe, part of the Oxford History of The United States.

  15. - Downstate Illinois - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 1:57 pm:

    Stephen Douglas was a despicable moderate who history has shown to have been on the wrong side of most major issues leading up to the Civil War.

    As he labored to find solutions to the nation’s great problems, he instead created bigger problems that exacerbated the nation’s divides.

    However he is most forgiven by his same moderate beliefs and actions following the 1860 election. Before he was a moderate, he was an American. His misguided efforts in the decade or so leading up to the war were designed, he thought, to keep the union intact. When those failed, he remained steadfastly loyal to the union.

    His actions in 1861 to support the union and its president showed himself to be a man larger than his political instinct.

    It’s interesting to remember that he not only lost the presidency to Lincoln in 1860, he lost the hand of Mary Todd to the tall gaunt Springfield lawyer 19 years earlier.

    Two of the four presidential candidates in 1860 hailed from Springfield, a big impact for such a small place.

  16. - Norseman - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 5:40 pm:

    Just downloaded to my tablet. Looks like a good read.

  17. - Just The Way It Is One - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 7:48 pm:

    In the end, BOTH Lincoln and Douglas proved to be not only wise, but shrewd and PRACTICAL Politicians–kind of sad about Mr. Douglas passing away in 1861–kind of makes you wonder what would’ve happened to the Country if he HAD won…just what would’ve happened then/next??!!

  18. - mokenavince - Tuesday, Apr 23, 13 @ 10:34 pm:

    Our Republican congressman prove every day the Whig’s and Know Nothings are alive and well.

  19. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 24, 13 @ 12:09 am:

    Chris Derose, looking forward to picking up your book.

    Fascinating time. The country was cracking apart and the real American revolution was on the horizon.

  20. - Chris DeRose - Wednesday, Apr 24, 13 @ 2:23 am:

    Thank you, Wordslinger. Please let me know how you like it:

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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