Saturday, June 12, 2021

The first five congratulation telegraphs sent to Lincoln after the May 18, 1860, Chicago convention.

At least five telegrams reached Abraham Lincoln in Springfield shortly after he had been nominated at the Chicago convention on May 18, 1860. Although there is some difference of opinion as to which one he received first, the order most generally accepted follows:
  1. Lincoln: "You are nominated." John James Speed (J.J.S.) Wilson.
  2. Abe Lincoln: "We did it, glory to God.'' Knapp. (Lincoln abhorred the name "Abe.")
  3. Abraham Lincoln: You're nominated and elected.'' J.J. Richards.
  4. Hon. A. Lincoln: " You were nominated on 3rd ballot.'' J.J. Richards.
  5. Hon. A. Lincoln: "Vote just announced. While number necessary to choice; 234 Lincoln, 354 votes not stated. On motion of Mr. Evarts of New York, the nomination was made unanimous amid intense enthusiasm." J.J.S. Wilson.
J.J.S. Wilson (later a civil war Colonel) was superintendent of the Eastern Division of the Caton Telegraph Lines (later the Illinois Telegraph Company) with headquarters at Springfield. Mr. N. M. Knapp lived in Winchester, Illinois, and worked hard for Lincoln's nomination. J. J. Richards was a resident of Springfield and was connected with the Great Western Railroad. 
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Reactions to the 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago, where Lincoln was nominated as the presidential candidate.

The intelligence of the convention which nominated Abraham Lincoln has often been challenged. Many held that the candidacy of Lincoln was successful because his friends bought votes, bartered offices, and packed the convention with a howling mob, "filling every available space and much that they had no business to fill." The immediate reaction of the two radical elements in America was the best evidence that the convention had made a sagacious choice. 
Drawing of the Wigwam interior during the 1860 nominating convention. Note the second-story gallery and curved ceiling structure to allow for better acoustics.

The Abolitionists of the North, whose one obsession is indicated by their name, began at once a vicious attack on the Republican nominee. Wendell Phillips, the editor of the "Liberator," published an article under the title, "Abraham Lincoln, the Slave-Hound of Illinois." He took occasion to remark that "notwithstanding the emptiness or Mr. Lincoln's mind, I think we shall yet succeed in making this a decent land to live in."

The Slavery group of the South was more pronounced in their dissatisfaction with the Republican nominee than the Abolitionists. Slavery meant more to them than the preservation of the Union. They immediately attacked Lincoln as a recognized foe of the institution they had nourished and which now sustained them.

That "politics make strange bedfellows" was never more clearly exhibited than in the united attack upon Lincoln by both the Slavery and Anti-Slavery groups. Those who sponsored the candidacy or Lincoln anticipated just such a reaction and saw the wisdom of choosing a man whose course would not be influenced by either of these radical elements.

Such literary men as Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Greenleaf Whittier, William Cullen Bryant, George William Curtis, and James Russell Lowell sanctioned Lincoln's nomination and gave him their support. They recognized in him one whose chief passion would be to save the Union. Lowell set forth his convictions as follows: 
"We are persuaded that the election of Mr. Lincoln will do more than anything else to appease the excitement of the country. He has proved both his ability and integrity; he has had experience enough in public affairs to make him a statesman and not enough to make him a politician."
One of the reporters who made the Chicago convention was Charles Carleton Coffin. After the convention adjourned Coffin was with the group that traveled from Chicago to Springfield to advise Abraham Lincoln that he had won the party's nomination for the presidency.
Engraved portrait of Charles Carleton Coffin.
The ten men who were chosen to advise Lincoln of the convention's decision were:
  • George Ashmum of Massachusetts
  • Francis P. Blair of Missouri
  • George S. Boutwell of Massachusetts
  • Samuel G. Bowles of Massachusetts
  • David K. Carter of Ohio
  • William M. Evarts of New York
  • William D. Kelley of Pennsylvania
  • Carl Schurz of Wisconsin
  • Amos Tuck of New Hampshire
  • Gideon Wells of Connecticut
Coffin remained for some days gathering items about the newly nominated Republican candidate for President. The second morning after his arrival, he made this interesting observation: 
"I crossed the public square and entered the office of Mr. Lincoln. A pine table occupied the center of the room, a desk in one corner. The May sun shone through uncurtained windows upon ranges of shelves filled with law books, pamphlets, and documents—a helter-skelter arrangement. Newspapers littered the floor. Mr. Lincoln was seated at the desk, clad in a linen duster, with a pile of letters and a wooden inkstand before him. He had a hearty welcome for all who came. There was no sign of elation. To friends, neighbors, old acquaintances, and strangers alike, he was simply Abraham Lincoln."
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Friday, June 11, 2021

What Happened to the Boots Lincoln was Wearing the Night he was Shot?

One of the most valued treasures presented to the Chicago Historical Society was a coat which affidavits attest is the garment worn by Abraham Lincoln on the night of his assassination. 
Lincoln on his death bed.

In 1924, there came to light in Philadelphia several pieces of wearing apparel said to have been worn by Lincoln on that fateful night. The items displayed were: "An old black suit, the collar stained with the lifeblood of the martyred President, the trousers wrinkled, and a badly torn overcoat. The clothes were sold for $6,500 ($25,200 today).

The gloves and handkerchief which Lincoln Is said to have with him on the night of April 14, 1865, were exhibited in New York City in 1924. 

In 1859, while on a visit to Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln ordered boots from Conrad Loch reputed to be the finest bookmaker in America. The Moroccan leather boots cost $19.50 ($633.00 today) and Abe put down a $10 deposit. A good pair of boots then cost $12.50 ($405.00 today). It took 10 months to make them and he wore them during his campaign for the presidency and at his inaugurations. Indeed, in 1865, the night John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln he was wearing Conrad Loch’s maroon and black Russian Calf boots.

Peter Kahle, a humble German immigrant, a shoemaker from Scranton, Pennsylvania thought he could make a pair of comfortable shoes for his President. He was a modest man and worked from a store basement, but advertised it as the “largest boot and shoe establishment in the County.” Using the diagrams as a template he crafted a pair of shoes then sent them to Lincoln by way of a present from a humble admirer. The shoes fitted perfectly and Lincoln was delighted and sent a personal thank you letter to Kahler. The shoemaker was no fool and the Presidential letter of recommendation was published making Peter Kahler a celebrity shoemaker. Henceforth he promoted himself as ‘Doctor Kahler, official bootmaker to the President.'”
Boots fit for Lincoln.
Lincoln's Foot Measurements.
During the Civil War (1861-1865), it was very difficult for the President to find private time for boot fitting, and almost impossible for bootmaker to have an audience with the Commander in Chief. Lincoln was determined, however, to have comfortable boots and sent for Dr. Kahler to attend him at the White House. There were several conditions, including he must never talk of their meeting, not even to his family. The President’s instructions to Dr. Kohler were to follow the Native Indian method of moccasin measurement i.e., stand barefoot on a piece of rawhide and with his hunting knife cut out the sole, following the contour of the foot. The President pulled off his boots, stood upon the sheet of thick brown paper and Dr. Kahler outlined the feet. After the diagram was concluded and the President signed and dated it to show his approval. President Lincoln’s right foot was half an inch longer than his left foot.

There appeared an article in the "Superintendent and Foreman" in 1895, setting forth the story of how a man in Lynn, Massachusetts, had come in possession of the boots Lincoln wore to Ford's Theatre that fateful night.

William T. Clark, a 23-year-old army clerk, rented the back bedroom on the first floor in the Petersen's boarding house across the street from Ford's Theatre. Clark found the Conrad Loch boots under his bed after Lincoln’s body was removed. Clark had just lost his job and used the boots as collateral for a personal loan, from Justin H. Hatch (a civil servant at the U.S. Treasury), to go West to the goldfields and seek his fortune.

Eventually, the boots were given to a school teacher, possibly Hatch’s granddaughter who brought them to her classroom every year on Lincoln’s birthday for the kids to see, try on and play with. The Conrad Loch boots were finally obtained by the National Park Service in 1947.

Kahler’s boots remained Lincoln's favorite and he was buried wearing a pair.

If only the stovepipe hat that Lincoln wore that night to the theatre could be located.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

After Lincoln's assassination, Mary Lincoln bequeathed the coat to Lincoln's favorite doorman, Alphonse Donn. The Donn family held the coat for over a century, allowing curious visitors to cut swatches of the bloodstained lining. Eventually, souvenir seekers did so much damage that the sleeve separated from the body of the coat. Because of its fragile condition, the coat is not currently on display, but the Ford's Theatre Museum contains a replica. 

Abraham Lincoln and Democracy, a robust analysis.

In historical writing and analysis, PRESENTISM is the introduction of present-day ideas and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past. I believe presentism is a form of cultural bias, and it creates a distorted understanding of the subject matter. Reading modern notions of morality into the past is committing the error of presentism. I'm well aware that historical accounts are written by people and can be slanted, so I try my hardest to present articles that are fact-based and well researched, without interjecting any of my personal opinions.

NOTE: I present articles without regard to race, color, political party, religion, national origin, citizenship status, gender, age, disability, or military status. What I present are facts — NOT ALTERNATIVE FACTS — about the subject.
 What you won't find are rumors, lies, unfounded claims, character assassinations, hateful statements, insults, or attempts at being funny.

Lincoln's Inauguration, March 4, 1861.

The word democracy occurs only 137 times in the collected writings of Abraham Lincoln. But no other word described what he saw as the most natural, the most just, and the most progressive form of human government in existence. Nothing, he said, could be “as clearly true as the truth of democracy.” 

Of course, being “clearly true” (or, as Thomas Jefferson might have put it, self-evident) did not mean that everyone applauded it or assented to it in Lincoln’s lifetime. Democracy had a long history, and not all of it was admirable. Classical Athens may be said to have been the pilot program for democracy, beginning in the sixth century B.C., when the ordinary citizens of Athens saved their city from occupation by the forces of Sparta and lodged political power in the hands of the city Assembly. But many of the shrewdest of Athenian thinkers — Thucydides the historian, Plato, the Philosopher — were skeptical about turning over control of the city to what often behaved like a mob. Plato never allowed Athenians to be forgiven for executing his teacher, Socrates. He was convinced that most people have “no knowledge of true being, and have no clear patterns in their minds of justice, beauty and truth.”

The French Revolution did not give democracy a better reputation, especially after it descended into the Reign of Terror and revealed what Ruth Scurr has called “the uneasy coincidence of democracy and fanaticism.” The restored European monarchies of Lincoln’s day, having learned the hard lesson of the guillotine, had scant use for democracy, and even the least monarchical of all the monarchies — that of Great Britain — was nevertheless governed by a deeply-entrenched aristocracy whose members would continue to constitute a majority of every ministerial cabinet until 1906.

Nevertheless, for Lincoln, democracy was what Hans Kelsen called “a generally recognized value,” and his loyalty to democracy was what armed him to combat the spread of human slavery in the United States. Even though democracy is a political system and slavery an economic system, Lincoln believed that they were in death’s grip with each other. “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master,” he wrote in 1858, “This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this to the extent of the difference is no democracy.” So, when the thunderous cloud of Civil War broke over his presidency, Lincoln had no hesitation in portraying the struggle as a contest, not over constitutional niceties or even over slavery itself, but over the basic principle of democracy. 

The fundamental notion of any democracy is that political sovereignty resides in the people; strictly speaking, this differs from a republic, where sovereignty also is understood to rest, ultimately, in the hands of the people, but which is deployed through their representatives. “A pure democracy,” wrote James Madison in the tenth of the Federalist Papers, can only be “a society consisting of a small number of persons, who assemble and administer the government in person.” A republic is “a government in which the scheme of representation takes place” and involves “the delegation of the government to a small number of citizens elected by the rest.” Madison understood this “delegation” as a kind of purifying process “to refine and enlarge the public views, bypassing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country.” In other words, republics mistrust democracy, or at least the run-of-the-mill of the people who compose democracies. Republics envision a role for a more elevated elite, who can do for the people what the people ought to do, but often don’t.
James Madison

The American founders understood themselves as creating a republic. Even the most rousing of the Revolutionary rabble-rousers, Tom Paine, never even uses the term democracy in his famous broadside against the monarchy, Common Sense, in 1776. Yet, it was clear during the Revolution that the line between a democracy and a republic was a porous one. In 1777, Alexander Hamilton praised the new revolutionary constitution of New York as a “representative democracy” (thus mingling the two concepts) because “the right of election is well secured and regulated, and the exercise of the legislature, executive and judiciary authorities, is vested in select persons,” but persons “chosen really and not nominally by the people.” Half a century later, republicanism and democracy had fused: the 1787 Constitution had created a system of delegated representation that captured perfectly the ideal of a republic, but no class of natural elites emerged whom the mass of the people would obligingly vote as their representatives.

And no wonder the freedom Americans enjoyed from entanglement in European wars eliminated any possibility of the formation of a professional military elite, and the prevalence of evangelical Protestant religion undermined any notions of social hierarchy. 
Alexis de Tocqueville

By the time Alexis de Tocqueville arrived in America to begin his analysis of American political society, republican was still the noun, but democratic had become the adjective, and the adjective so controlled the noun that it only made sense for Tocqueville to entitle his inquiry, Democracy in America — Democracy, and not Republicanism. “A democratic republic subsists in the United States,” Tocqueville wrote: the country’s sheer size and the preference Americans had for commerce rather than politics made an indirect system of representation desirable, but the internal spirit of that system would be highly democratic because the American people have “a taste for freedom and the art of being free,” and don’t need to have their views refined and enlarged by others. It is those tastes — Tocqueville called them mores – that make what was designed as a republic work as a democracy in a “more or less regulated and prosperous” fashion. 

So, when Lincoln spoke of democracy, he was speaking of a republican system in which democratic habits had become so pervasive that they reversed the usual flow of republicanism. Instead of the representatives restraining the wildness of the people, the people themselves set the limits of what those representatives may do. “By the frame of the government under which we live, these same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief,” Lincoln explained, “and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals.” Under the canopy of democracy, the people are judged competent to direct their own lives, public and private, without needing or wanting the paternal tyranny of aristocrats and monarchs or the meddlesome oversight of the wealthy or the learned. “The legitimate object of government,” Lincoln wrote in 1854, “is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, the government ought not to interfere.” The purpose of government, Lincoln said, was not to organize, stratify or mobilize the people, but simply to level the playing field, in order to guarantee “an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life” by securing equality before the laws. Thus government’s principal utility was to maximize personal transformation, “to lift artificial weights from all shoulders” and “to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all.”

In such a “community” — such a democratized republic — two rules must be obeyed as with iron rods:

1. The rule of the majority.
Whatever principles and policies are endorsed by the majority of that people must become the principles and policies of their government; otherwise, the sovereignty of ‘the people’ means nothing. “If the majority does not control, the minority, would that be right?” Lincoln asked. “Would that be just or generous? Assuredly not!” By the same measure, the minority who have disagreed must acquiesce in the majority’s rule. “If the minority will not acquiesce,” Lincoln concluded, “the majority must, or the government must cease.” What was worse, an unbowed minority would “make a precedent” for themselves “which, in turn, will divide and ruin them; for a minority of their own will secede from them” whenever disagreement breaks out. The long-term result — and truth be told, it will not be a very long term — will be either “anarchy or...despotism.” Sovereignty will either evaporate as each separate faction or individual does what is right in their own eyes; or else, in desperation, decent men will turn to a dictator to sort out the chaos. “The rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible,” Lincoln said, “so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy, or despotism in some form, is all that is left.” That was why the Civil War was what Lincoln called “essentially a People’s contest.” The Confederate rebellion was an assault by a minority on the decision of the majority, as expressed in Lincoln’s own election, and in that way, it was really intended to question the entire principle of democracy. 

2. The legitimacy of the minority.
No majority is perfect or infallible simply for being a majority. In a democracy, the rule of self-interest, persuasion, reason and civility guarantee that a minority may cling to its opinion, and use every legitimate opportunity to convince others that they are right. “We should remember,” Lincoln cautioned his own allies once he became president, that “while we exercise our opinion... others have also rights to the exercise of their opinions, and we should endeavor to allow these rights, and act in such a manner as to create no bad feeling.” It is the mark of the dictator, not a democracy, to treat the minority as a social enemy, to be put up against the barn wall and shot, or (in the case of the Confederate rebellion) to engage in a “deliberate pressing out of view, the rights of men, and the authority of the people.” There was, in Lincoln’s ‘idea of democracy,’ no need for firing squads to conclude arguments. “I do not deny the possibility that the people may err in an election,” Lincoln admitted in 1861, “but if they do, the true cure is in the next election.”

To set aside those rules, whether out of weakness or confusion, was to cast doubt on whether democracy really had any legitimacy whatsoever. The challenge of the Confederate rebellion was not directed solely at him or his party or his administration; it presented “to the whole family of man, the question, whether a constitutional republic, or a democracy, a government of the people, by the same people can, or cannot” survive the push-and-shove of its own people’s disagreements, or whether democracies are doomed forever to fly off, by their own centrifugal force, into fragments. “For my part,” he told his secretary, John Hay, in May 1861,
I consider the central idea pervading this struggle is the necessity that is upon us of proving that popular government is not an absurdity. We must settle this question now, whether in a free government the minority have the right to break up the government whenever they choose. If we fail, it will go far to prove the incapability of the people to govern themselves.  

Or, as he would put it more eloquently at Gettysburg in November 1863, the war was “testing whether this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

If those two rules are the basic operating system of democracy, then we should also notice that these two rules also require rules of their own to operate rightly. First, democracy operates best within the boundaries of a nation-state. This is not a concept that, in an increasingly globalized world economy, meets with much enthusiasm today. However, the nation-state actually provides the only effective means of identifying who belongs to a certain democratic entity (which is to say, its citizens) and who is an interloper not subject to its restraints and who could harm it with impunity. Second, within that nation-state, there should be a reasonably broad franchise — in other words, almost all adults within its boundaries should be entitled to vote and to hold office. Third, voting should be without coercion or manipulation. Fourth, citizens may organize themselves into political associations of their own choosing. And fifth, political information is permitted to circulate freely and without hindrance among the citizens.

Having laid down these five secondary rules, it will not take much insight to see that the Confederacy formed as much a threat to these secondary rules as it did to the two operating rules. To begin with: the Confederacy did not exhibit “a reasonably broad franchise” and had not for years, even for its white population. In the eleven states which would form the Confederacy, only one (Tennessee) showed voter participation higher than the national average in the 1852 presidential election; the rest showed voter participation 15% lower, and in some cases lower by 20% than in the free states. A pro-secession propagandist like Edmund Ruffin frankly despised his own Virginia legislature as “that despicable assembly” because of “the enlargement of the constituency to universal suffrage.” 

Likewise, the Confederacy did not permit full and free discussion of political issues because its political life was marked by nothing so much as the suppression of free speech and the control of the circulation of free political information. In 1835, the postmaster-general, Amos Kendall, refused to protect the distribution of anti-slavery materials through Southern post offices in terms eerily reminiscent of ‘cancel culture,’ because (Kendall said) “we owe an obligation to the laws, but a higher one to the communities in which we live,” and those communities demanded censorship to save them from offenses.

In truth, the Confederacy had lost all grip on democracy and had become an oligarchy, managed by a handful of slave-owning elites. “Society is a pyramid,” explained the editor of the Nashville Daily Gazette late in 1860. “We may sympathize with the stones at the bottom of the pyramid of Cheops, but we know that some stones have to be at the bottom and that they must be permanent in their place.” The stones, in this case, were slaves. No wonder James Madison feared slavery as the oligarchic snake in the republican garden since the classical republics whose vices he had studied had demonstrated all too well that “in proportion as slavery prevails in a State, the Government, however, democratic in name, must be aristocratic in fact.” At every point, the Confederacy had failed the democratic test. 

Yet, the Confederacy is also a chilling example, for us as much as for Lincoln, of how easily a democratic republic can slide backward into coercion and hierarchy. The realization that haunted Lincoln was that democracies tend to be, as Thomas Hobbes’s definition of life, 'nasty, poor, mean, brutish, and short.'

Especially short. Most human societies had maintained order by either coercion or superstition. The few who had not done so sooner or later succumbed to the fear of anarchy and welcomed the Alexanders and the Caesars to create order. At the very beginning of his political career, Lincoln had feared this was about to overtake the American democracy. In his first major political speech, the Lyceum Address of January 1838, Lincoln was convinced that Americans were in real danger of political self-destruction since the tsunami of mob actions in the previous year looked so destabilizing that Americans might be tempted to look to some “Towering genius” who “thirsts and burns for distinction” to save them from “a Government that offers them no protection.” 

Once installed, people tolerated the rule of Alexander and Caesar, not only because they promised law and order, but because (and this Lincoln did not explore in 1838) they dispensed patronage and deployed favoritism. This was not the prettiest glue a society could use to hold itself together, and it frequently descended into corruption, but patronage and favoritism worked in their own oppressive way.  

Democracies would need social glue as well, but the glue which the American founders hoped to apply was a virtue. If Americans could be persuaded to deny themselves, to place the public interest first, and to govern with a view to truth, even to their own personal harm, then the United States would prosper. Self-government in a nation could only flourish in an atmosphere of personal self-government, supported (as John Adams insisted in 1776) “by pure Religion, or Austere Morals. Public Virtue cannot exist in a Nation without private... Virtue.” 

The problem with virtue, however, was that it demanded more of people than they might be willing to give. In the same year that Americans declared their independence, Adam Smith declared in The Wealth of Nations that “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.” By 1787, there were a good many sadder but wiser Americans who agreed: the only way to make the American republic work was by appeals to self-interest. “Individuals of extended views and of national pride may bring the public proceedings to” the “standard” of virtue, complained James Madison, “but the example will never be followed by the multitude.” What was true in economies was true in politics: the real governor of human behavior was self-interest, not a virtue. “If men were angels, no government would be necessary,” Madison conceded. But they were not, and so “ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”

But if virtue was difficult for democracies to practice, was self-interest not toxic? And did that explain why democracies were so short-lived? Abraham Lincoln believed as profoundly in self-interest as Adam Smith. “We have been mistaken all our lives if we do not know” that “everybody you trade with makes something.” Lincoln “maintained that there was no conscious act of any man that was not moved by a motive, first, last, and always,” wrote William Henry Herndon of his old law partner. Even when Lincoln was arguing for the recruitment of black men as Union soldiers, he framed the argument in terms of self-interest rather than virtue. “Negroes, like other people, act upon motives,” Lincoln reasoned. “Why should they do anything for us if we will do nothing for them?” 

But he did not believe that self-interest alone could sustain a democracy. Even Madison had constrained political self-interest by the Constitution’s separation of powers; Lincoln believed that there was a natural law in morals which restrained self-interest in democracy. In any question of policy, then, “let us be brought to believe it is morally right”; but, at the same time, he added, let us believe that it is “favorable to, or, at least, not against, our interest.” It was slavery, he believed, which insisted “that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.” Slavery was the instrument of men “bent only on temporary self-interest.” So, as much as Lincoln believed that self-interest was too instinctive a rule in human society to deny completely, he also believed that there was a circle to be drawn around certain tenets of natural law which neither self-interest nor majorities could invade.

Nothing showed this to better effect than the series of debates Lincoln held with Stephen A. Douglas during the campaign for the senior U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 1858. For Douglas, democracy was really simple majoritarianism: whatever 51% of the people wanted for the nation ought to be the rule. What mattered most in Douglas’s mind was the process — whether the rules of counting the majority had been properly observed. Once that requirement was satisfied, Douglas cared not at all whether slavery was “voted up or voted down” in the territories. “Let the voice of the people rule.” This was an example of what Michael Sandel has called the “procedural republic,” which treats its citizens strictly as independent individuals who have rights. Since, in Douglas’s reasoning, slave-owning was a constitutionally guaranteed and morally neutral right, it was no business of anyone in the free states to interfere with the free exercise of that right.

Lincoln represented an entirely different perspective. Democracy was not about helping people exercise rights apart from doing what was right. Even if slavery was legal by certain state laws, it was nevertheless a clear violation of natural law. No majority, of 51% or any other percent, had the power to reverse natural law, and certainly not the natural laws Lincoln could find written in the Declaration of Independence about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or in physical nature and the instinctive resistance of the humblest creatures to oppression and exploitation by members of their own species. “The ant, who has toiled and dragged a crumb to his nest, will furiously defend the fruit of his labor, against whatever robber assails him,” Lincoln declared, which made the wrong of slavery “so plain, that the dumbest and stupid slave that ever toiled for a master, does constantly know that he is wronged.” In the face of Douglas’s belief that democracy existed only to provide a procedural framework for exercising rights, Lincoln insisted that democracy had a higher purpose, which was the realization of a morally right political order. For Douglas, democracy was an end in itself; for Lincoln, it was a means rather than an end, a means in the political life of realizing the natural ends for which men were made.

Natural law had been a source of restraint and appeal for centuries before Lincoln. The audiences to which he appealed in 1858 understood what he was talking about even if they balked at his application of it to slavery. In 1859, all of that fell to pieces. Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, published in November of 1859, set out a vision of a world system from which all laws except that of self-interest were fully and finally banished. Lincoln died before the full effect of Darwin’s ideas could draw any form of a comment from him. But the democratic project that Lincoln felt was a full and satisfactory statement of the truth of human nature could, after Darwin, no longer justify itself in any terms other than the simple satisfaction of human demands — and in that case, monarchies, oligarchies, and dictatorships might serve those ends just as well as democracy.  

World War One’s aftermath saw Europeans plunge into an orgy of constitution-making, seeking to replace the dynasties toppled by the war — the Habsburgs, Hohenzollerns, Romanovs, and sultans — with a world made safe for democracy — only to see those democracies, bereft of any moral law, crumble and collapse before more insidious but also more effective appeals to self-interest. And even when, in 1989, democracy achieved its most notable victory in the collapse of the Soviet Union and its empire, it still managed (as Paul Berman wrote in Terror and Liberalism) “in its pure version... to seem mediocre, corrupt, tired, and aimless, a middling compromise, pale and unappealing something to settle for, in a spirit of resignation.”
Salmon P. Chase
By contrast, Lincoln was not nearly so limp in his embrace of democracy. Self-interest has a role to play, but so does confidence in the moral right. And yet, even that confidence had to obey the iron rod of democracy’s operating rules. Right without law was little better than Douglas’s law-without-right, or even lawlessness itself, and he did not believe that democracy could survive without both determined advocacy of natural right and an equally determined acquiescence to the rule of law. When his earnest Treasury Secretary, Salmon Chase, urged him to step beyond the Emancipation Proclamation and unilaterally emancipate all slaves everywhere in the United States (rather than just the Confederacy), Lincoln replied with a sharp reminder that this unilateralism, even in the name of freedom, was exactly what put democracy in danger. “If I take the step,” Lincoln argued, “must I not do so, without the argument of military necessity, and so, without any argument, except the one that I think the measure politically expedient and morally right? Would I not thus give up all footing upon constitution or law? Would I not thus be in the boundless field of absolutism?”

The question before us is whether the confidence Lincoln reposed in democracy is still possible. In our universities, critical theory tells us that, just as all biological entities reduce to survival, all human relationships reduce to power, so that what calls itself democracy is really only a linguistic cloak for the same power employed by dictatorships; in our streets, what Lincoln would have at once recognized as his old nemesis, “that lawless and mobocratic spirit... spreading with rapid and fearful impetuosity, to the ultimate overthrow of every institution, or even moral principle,” insists that it, and not the laws, is the vehicle of justice; even in the halls of Congress, a sitting U.S. Senator announces that “democracy is unnatural,” that “we don’t run anything important in our lives by democratic vote other than our government,” so “it’s illogical to think it would be permanent. It will fall apart at some point, and maybe that isn’t now, but maybe it is.” These are words we have not heard since 1860, and they appall us with the thought that the ghosts of 1860 have reappeared on the stage of our public life to try us once again. Where, then, shall we find an antidote to this pessimism about the democratic future? 
Young Lincoln Giving a Public Speech.
When he spoke to the Wisconsin State Agricultural Fair in 1859, Lincoln described “an Eastern monarch” who “once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence... which should be true... in all times and situations.” They came back with this formula:
And this, too, shall pass away. This was, Lincoln acknowledged, a useful saying, “consoling in the depths of affliction!” But he did not want it to be the epitaph of democracy. “Let us hope it is not quite true,” he continued. “Let us hope, rather, that by the best cultivation of the physical world, beneath and around us; and the intellectual and moral world within us, we shall secure an individual, social, and political prosperity and happiness, whose course shall be onward and upward, and which, while the earth endures, shall not pass away.” To which I, for one, can only say, let it be so.
By Allen Guelzo
Edited by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Friday, June 4, 2021

How to dissect a photograph (the Great Northern Hotel, Chicago) to determine the year it was taken.

Great Northern Hotel (1891-1940), 227 S. Dearborn St. @ Jackson Blvd., Chicago. The entrance is under the large awening in the middle of the block. The Great Northern Office and Theatre Company Building is the taller of the two.

INTERESTING FACT: The left track does not have the center cable rail, as does the right track.
ABOVE: In 1882 the  Chicago City Railway opened cable lines to the south on State St. and Wabash-Cottage Grove Ave. Immediately successful, the State St. line would be extended to 63rd St. by 1887. In 1906 all cable service was converted to electric traction. Note the 'Chicago Street Paver Bricks.'
Close-up of the Great Northern Pharmacy, 239 Dearborn Street.
ABOVE: At the corner is the Great Northern Pharmacy, Note the cool 3D mortar and pestle sign hanging at the corner of the building. Above the doorway is a Coca-Cola banner/sign considered to be the first Coca-Cola ad of their slogan advertising series to the public. "Drink Coca-Cola" was the first slogan beginning in 1886. In 1904, Coca-Cola made their first slogan change after 17 years. The banner above the Great Northern Pharmacy enteranceway reads "Delicious and Refreshing" which was the one-year slogan for Coca-Cola. Then in 1905, the slogan was changed again to "Coca-Cola Revives and Sustains."

  The above photograph was taken in 1904.  

Architect Daniel Burnham designed the original 14-story building that was completed in 1891 and was originally called the "Chicago Hotel," but Proprietors/Owners, Hulbert & Eden, changed the name to the "Great Northern."  In 1895, he drew up plans for a 16-story addition that offered a 1,226-seat theater, 300 offices, and 300 additional hotel rooms. A new galleried, double-height hotel lobby was added, featuring a colorful stained glass ceiling and, situated above the reception desk, the elaborate casework for an Aeolian automatic pipe Orchestra, installed in 1896. Although the instrument was advertised as an Aeolian Pipe Orchestra, it was built by the Farrand & Votey Organ Company from Detroit and could be played by either a mechanical Aeolian roll player or by hand.

The hotel was extremely popular during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and was also just around the corner from The Fair Store and Woolworth’s Department Store. There was a Thompson Cafeteria nearby at 337 S. Dearborn Street.

After Root’s death in 1891, Daniel Burnham built the adjoining Great Northern Office and the Theatre Building at 20 W. Jackson Boulevard. The two buildings together formed a connected half-block structure and enclosed the largest interior court in Chicago.

The hotel was also opposite the Government Building. In 1910, the hotel advertised as having a "Café, Grill, and Lunch Room at Popular Prices." At that time the hotel had eight dining rooms. The hotel was ultimately demolished in 1940. The Great Northern Office and Theatre Building were demolished, in 1961, for the Dirksen Federal Building.
Great Northern Hotel Sanborn Fire insurance Map, 1906

The Aeolian Pipe Organ at the Great Northern Hotel, Chicago, c.1897

The following story from the Chicago Chronicle in October 1897 must have endeared the Aeolian Pipe Organ to the hotel guests forever and a day!

"A few nights ago, when the big Aeolian at the Great Northern began its usual evening program, it didn’t seem to work just right. The Aeolian was doing its level best to play the wedding march from Lohengrin but made an awful mess of it.

The first strain, which everyone remembers goes “Rum-tum-te-tum,” was followed by “Meouw-wow-ow.” All the crowd looked up at the organ and tried to locate the spot where the unusual accompaniment came from. The next strain of the march was followed by a screeching yowl that was heard clear up to the “G” floor. People at dinner dropped their knives and forks and looked nervously at each other and then at the doors and windows. Just as the third yell came out of the Aeolian, Proprietor Eden was seen on the second floor, stealthily moving toward the instrument with a ladder in his hand. Mr. Eden crept up close to the Aeolian and listened for a moment. Then he put his ladder against the right side and slowly made his way to the top.

When he got up he reached over and put his hand down inside of the E flat pipe. There were no results at first. Then he stood on tiptoe and shoved his arm to the shoulder down the mouth of the pipe. There followed a terrible yowling and scratching, but the Colonel pulled, and with a noise like the departure of a tight cork from the neck of a beer bottle, he pulled the hotel cat out of the pipe and carried it down to the baggage room, where it belongs."

The daily concerts given on the hotel organ were very popular and every afternoon the staff endured hundreds of people crowding into the lobby to listen to the organ. Light music and popular pieces were favored; the works of the "great masters" being rarely if ever, heard. In fact, a popular piece was being played on the organ one day in 1897 when the concert turned into a son et lumière (sound and light) show:

As the great pipe organ in the Great Northern Hotel was pealing forth "There's a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight," the opening number in the daily concert, a sheet of flame shot forth from the instrument followed by volumes of smoke, which grew more dense every minute, and in a few minutes the instrument, valued at $15,000, was a charred wreck, while the surrounding decorations were damaged to the extent of several thousand dollars.

Another feature of the hotel was the "Silver Dollar Bar," so named because its proprietor William S. Eden, who had been a barber at the Palmer House when he persuaded them to inlay silver dollars in barbershop floor. Eden also persuaded the management of the Great Northern Hotel to inlay silver dollars on a bar floor. The bar became "one of the most exclusive spots" in the hotel.

Great Northern Hotel Lobby
Great Northern Hotel Cafe
Great Northern Hotel Typical Guest Room

Chicago Tribune, December 29, 1895

Chicago has not fared well In the way of new buildings when previous years are taken into comparison. A vast amount of building was done in the period before the World’s Fair and each year s record still suffers by comparison with that. The cost of buildings in 1895 has been satisfactory as compared with last year, while the tight number of buildings and the amount of frontage involved have shown a decrease. Among the more prominent buildings of the year are the Fisher, the Great Northern Hotel Theater and office, the Studebaker, Lewis Institute, and the Davies.

On a piece of property l00x100 feet in size, extending from Jackson to Quincy street, and 100 feet east of the present Great Northern Hotel, the theater, office building, and addition to the hotel will be built. On the Jackson street side will be the office, on the Quincy street portion the continuation of the hotel, with the theater in between. The office building will extend back forty-five feet. It will be sixteen stories high and will contain 300 offices. A connection will be established with the present hotel. The entrance to the office will be at the extreme eastern end of the property and will be twenty feet wide. The Quincy street frontage, containing the hotel addition, will be a continuation of the floors as they are at present. The annex will be sixteen stories high—two stories higher than the main building. The rooms will be large and well finished. New cafes and banquet halls will be erected. with the idea of making the hotel a European and American one combined instead of simply a European one. as it is at present.

The addition will contain 300 rooms and the elevators will be changed about so as to reach the whole building. Entrance to the theater, finished in white Mexican onyx, will be on both Jackson and Quincy streets. The interior of the theater will have a seating capacity of 2,000 and will have three balconies and a large stage. Retiring rooms for women are planned for the right side of the interior and smoking rooms for men on the left, with a foyer between. The stage will face towards the main hotel. D. H. Burnham & Co. were the architects for the improvement. The building will be entirely fireproof. The drops on the stage will be on steel rollers in frames, and all the scenery will be of asbestos. One million dollars is estimated as the cost.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.