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16
ILLINOIS HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1856

As the presidential year of 1856 came on, the old line Whigs and anti-Nebraska men were fused into the new Republican party through spontaneous conventions held in the different northern states. In Illinois, "People's" conventions assembled in the counties and named delegates to a state convention which was held in Bloomington in May, representing "those regardless of party who oppose the further extension of slave territory and who wish to curb the rising pretentions of the slave oligarchy." Among the prominent men present was Abraham Lincoln, who spoke at the close of the convention. Reporters afterward testified that the spell of his simple oratory was so entrancing that they forgot their tasks and the speech went unreported. In later years it was written out from memory by one of the hearers and became known as "Lincoln's lost speech," being the subject of no little controversy.

[Illinois Journal, Springfield, June 3, 1856]

HON. A. LINCOLN

During the recent session of the State anti-Nebraska Convention, the Hon. A. Lincoln of this city made one of the most powerful and convincing speeches which we have ever heard. The editor of the Chicago Press, thus characterizes it:

Abram Lincoln of Springfield was next called out, and made the speech of the occasion. Never has it been our fortune to listen to a more eloquent and masterly presentation of a subject. I shall not mar any of its fine proportions or brilliant passages by attempting even a synopsis of it. Mr. Lincoln must write it out and let it go before all the people. For an hour and a half he held the assemblage spell-bound by the power of his argument, the intense irony of his invective, and the deep earnestness and fervid brilliancy of his eloquence. When he concluded, the audience sprang to their feet, and cheer after cheer told how deeply their hearts had been touched, and their souls warmed up to a generous enthusiasm.

In the Democratic national convention which met at Cincinnati, June 2, 1856, Douglas on one ballot received