and the South was looking to Texas for the extension of their inhuman institution. Lincoln at once arrayed himself against these unrighteous measures, and he delivered a speech which was acknowledged to be the best that was delivered against them during the session.

The anti-slavery conflict in Congress was hot and bitter during the two years he served in the House. Those mighty champions of Liberty, John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, and Joshua R. Giddings, of Ohio, were members; and Lincoln found himself fighting for his principles by their side. He assailed slavery as “unjust and cruel,” and did not hesitate to declare that God would visit the land in terrible retribution, if the American people continued to legislate and govern in the interests of human bondage. He voted forty-two times, in one way and another, for that famous anti-slavery measure—“The Wilmot Proviso.”

He became popular with both Whigs and Democrats, by reason of his genial spirit, fairness, and sincerity in debate, his quick-witted ability in controversy, and his transparency and uprightness of character.

He declined re-election in 1848, and again in 1850, preferring to be at home with his family, and follow his chosen profession.

His life in Washington forced upon his conviction anew that he must give more attention to intellectual improvement. He saw and felt that the distance between himself and many of his congressional associates was great indeed; and he resolved to lessen it. He devoted himself to the study of English and American Literature with the earnest application of early days. He studied language and style by reading the best authors. In short, he took a new departure in mental progress, and really accomplished what elevated his speeches and composition the rest of his life. Being one who accepted the old maxim fully, “Never too old to learn,” he not only made the most of himself possible after he was forty years of age; but he made more of himself within a few years than his most partial friends ever anticipated.

Until the repeal of the Missouri Compromise in 1854, and the attempt to force slavery upon Kansas, Lincoln remained in comparative retirement, devoting himself to his family and profession. Occasionally some proslavery demonstration by his old friend and political antagonist, Stephen A. Douglas, called him out, for he was ever ready to pursue him in public debate or political action. He made some speeches in the canvass for General Taylor, Whig candidate for president in 1848, and also for General Scott, Whig candidate for president in 1852. In the same year, also, he delivered an eulogy upon Henry Clay in the State Capitol. He made some addresses on Temperance, also. He had been accustomed to make “little speeches” upon Temperance, as he called them, from the time he entertained his companions on the stumps of Indiana. At the time he entered upon the legal profession, the temperance cause was demanding attention; and he had occasional calls for addresses in this line. In 1854 he joined the Sons of Temperance, believing that the Order was accomplishing much good in the West as well as in the East. He did not hesitate to lend both example and voice against the drink customs.

But the repeal of the Missouri Compromise in 1854 aroused him by its base injustice and political chicanery. A solemn covenant, made in 1820, to shut slavery out of the north-west, was wantonly broken, that slavery might have a foothold in Kansas and Nebraska; and his old associate and antagonist, Douglas, was the author of it. The deed aroused his whole stalwart nature against the arch democrat, who devised and prosecuted the diabolical scheme; and he took the field of political controversy, stronger and more earnest than ever.

Mr. Douglas delivered a speech in Springfield while the State Fair was in progress, and thousands of people were there. Mr. Lincoln heard it, and replied to it, in the same place, on the following day. Listeners declared it to be the grandest effort of his life, and that it completely destroyed the political foundation on which Douglas stood. His speech was over three hours long. The Spring field fournal said:—

“He quivered with feeling and emotion. The whole house was as still as death. He attacked the Bill” (the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, of which Douglas was the author) “with unusual warmth and energy, and all felt that a man of strength was its enemy; and that he intended to blast it if he could by strong and manly

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