When the convention was held in Chicago, which nominated Mr. Lincoln for the Presidency in 1860, a respectable gentleman in Massachusetts–not of Mr. Lincoln’s party–was induced to take the opportunity, in company with several delegates and others interested in the objects of the convention, to go out to Chicago, and spend a few days in visiting that section of the country. In a very few minutes after the final balloting was had, and Mr. Lincoln was nominated, it happened that a train of cars started upon the Central Railroad, passing through Springfield, the place of Mr. Lincoln’s residence, and Mr. R., the gentleman alluded to, took passage in the same. Arriving at Springfield, he put up at a public house, and loitering upon the front door steps, had the curiosity to inquire of the landlord where Mr. Lincoln lived. Whilst giving the necessary directions, the landlord suddenly remarked, “There is Mr. Lincoln now, coming down the sidewalk; that tall, crooked man, loosely walking this way; if you wish to see him you will have an opportunity by putting yourself in his track.”
In a few moments the object of his curiosity reached the point our friend occupied, who advancing, ventured to accost him thus: “Is this Mr. Lincoln?”
“That, sir, is my name.”
“My name is R., from Plymouth county, Massachusetts, and learning that you have to-day been made the public property of the United States, I have ventured to introduce myself with a view to a brief acquaintance, hoping you will pardon such a patriotic curiosity in a stranger.”
Mr. Lincoln received his salutations with cordiality, told him no apology was necessary for his introduction, and asked him to accompany him to his residence. He had just come from the telegraph office, where he had learned the fact of his nomination, and was on his return home when our friend met and accompanied him thither.
Arriving at Mr. Lincoln’s residence, he was introduced to Mrs. Lincoln and the two boys, and entered into conversation in relation to the Lincoln family of the old colony–the Hingham General Lincoln of the Revolutionary army, and the two Worcester Lincolns, brothers, who were Governors of Massachusetts and Maine at one and the same time. In reply to Mr. R.’s inquiry whether Mr. Lincoln could trace his ancestry to either of those early families of his own name, Mr. Lincoln, with a characteristic facetiousness, replied that he could not say that he ever had an ancestor older than his father, and therefore had it not in his power to trace his genealogy to so patriotic a source as old General Lincoln of the Revolution–though he wished he could. After some further pleasant conversation, chiefly relating to the early history of the Pilgrim Fathers, with which he seemed familiar, Mr. R. desired the privilege of writing a letter to be despatched by the next mail. Mr. Lincoln very promptly and kindly provided him with the necessary means. As he began to write, Mr. Lincoln approached, and tapping him on the shoulder, expressed the hope that he was not a spy who had come thus early to report his faults to the public.
“By no means, sir,” protested Mr. R.; “I am writing home to my wife, who, I dare say, will hardly credit the fact that I am writing in your house.”
“O, sir,” exclaimed Mr. Lincoln, “if your wife doubts your word, I will cheerfully indorse it, if you will give me permission;” and taking the pen from Mr. R., he wrote the following words, in a clear hand, upon the blank page of the letter:
“I am happy to say that your husband is at the present time a guest in my house, and in due time I trust you will greet his safe return to the bosom of his family. A. LINCOLN”
This gave our friend an excellent autograph of Mr. Lincoln, besides bearing witness to his hospitable and cheerful spirit.
Whilst thus engaged in pleasant conversation, the cars arrived that brought from Chicago the committee of the convention appointed to notify Mr. Lincoln of his nomination. He received them at the door, and conducted them to seats in his parlor. Our friend, who related the interview to us, says that on the reception of this committee Mr. Lincoln appeared somewhat embarrassed, but soon resumed his wonted tranquillity and cheerfulness. At the proper time the chairman of the committee arose, and, with becoming dignity, informed Mr. Lincoln, that he and his fellows appeared in behalf of the convention now in session at Chicago, to inform him that he had that day been unanimously nominated to the office of President of the United States, and asked his permission to report to that body his acceptance of the nomination. Mr. Lincoln, with becoming modesty, but very handsomely, replied, that he felt his insufficiency for the vast responsibilities which must devolve upon that office under the impending circumstances of the times, but if God and his country called for his services in that direction, he should shrink from no duty that might be imposed upon him, and therefore he should not decline the nomination.
After this ceremony had passed, Mr. Lincoln remarked to the company, that as an appropriate conclusion to an interview so important and interesting as that which had just transpired, he supposed good manners would require that he should treat the committee with something to drink; and opening a door that led into a room in the rear, he called out, “Mary! Mary!” A girl responded to the call, whom Mr. Lincoln spoke a few words to in an under-tone; and, closing the door, returned again to converse with his guests. In a few minutes the maiden entered, bearing a large waiter, containing several glass tumblers, and a larg pitcher in the midst, and placed it upon the centre-table. Mr. Lincoln arose, and gravely addressing the company, said,–“Gentlemen, we must pledge our mutual healths in the most healthy beverage which our God has given to man; it is the only beverage I have ever used or allowed in my family, and I cannot conscientiously depart from it on the present occasion; it is pure Adam’s ale from the spring;” and taking a tumbler, he touched it to his lips and pledged them his highest respects in a cup of cold water. Of course, all his guests were constrained to admire his consistency, and to join in his example.
Mr. R., when he went to Chicago, had but little political sympathy with the Republican convention which nominated Mr. Lincoln; but when he saw, as he did see for himself, his sturdy adherence to a high moral principle, he returned an admirer of the man, and a zealous advocate of his election.
Originally posted 2008-02-24 14:01:55.