unexpected opportunity of aiding a Democratic president to defeat a Democratic senator for re-election.
If Douglas entered the canvass beset with difficulty, Lincoln was far from being able to place the contest purely on the basis of merit. The patronage of the state so long enjoyed by Senator Douglas under Democratic administration had dotted the state with Douglas postmasters, revenue collectors, and other federal officers. That Lincoln fully appreciated this handicap is evident from one of his Springfield speeches of 1858:
"Senator Douglas is of world-wide renown. All the anxious politicians of his party, or who have been of his party for years past, have been looking upon him as certainly, at no distant day, to be the president of the United States. They have seen in his round, jolly, fruitful face, post-offices, land-offices, marshallships, and cabinet appointments, chargeships and foreign missions, bursting and sprouting out in wonderful exuberance, ready to be laid hold of by their greedy hands. And as they have been gazing upon this attractive picture so long, they cannot, in the little distraction that has taken place in the party, bring themselves to give up the charming hope: but with greedier anxiety they rush about him, sustain him, and give him marches, triumphant entries, and receptions beyond what even in the days of his highest prosperity they could have brought about in his favor.
"On the contrary, nobody has ever expected me to be president. In my poor, lean, lank face, nobody has ever seen that any cabbages were sprouting out. These are disadvantages all, taken together, that the Republicans labor under. We have to fight this battle upon principle, and upon principles alone."
There was also a possibility that at the last moment it might become necessary to name as the Republican candidate for the senatorship a former Democrat, as had been done in the election of 1854. It was also rumored that John Wentworth of Chicago was the real candidate and
- Nicolay and Hay, op. cit., 261.