In February, 1860, Lincoln was invited by certain of the Republican leaders in New York to deliver one of a series of addresses which had been planned to make clear to the voters the purposes and the foundations of the new party. His name had become known to the Republicans of the East through the debates with Douglas. It was recognised that Lincoln had taken the highest ground in regard to the principles of the new party, and that his counsels should prove of practical service in the shaping of the policy of the Presidential campaign. It was believed also that his influence would be of value in securing voters in the Middle West. The Committee of Invitation included, in addition to a group of the old Whigs (of whom my father was one), representative Free-soil Democrats like William C. Bryant and John King. Lincoln's methods as a political leader and orator were known to one or two men on the committee, but his name was still unfamiliar to an Eastern audience. It was understood that the new leader from the West was going to talk to New York about the fight against slavery. It is probable that at least the larger part of the audience expected something "wild and woolly." The West at that time seemed very far off from New York and was still but little understood by the Eastern communities. New Yorkers found it difficult to believe that a man who could influence Western audiences could have anything to say that would count with the cultivated citizens of the East. The more optimistic of the hearers were hoping, however, that perhaps a new Henry Clay had arisen and were looking for utterances of the ornate and grandiloquent kind such as they had heard frequently from Clay and from other statesmen of the South.
The Whig party, whose great leader, Henry Clay, had closed his life in 1852, just at the time when Lincoln was becoming prominent in politics, held that all citizens were bound by the compact entered into by their ancestors, first under the Articles of Confederation of 1783, and later under the Constitution of 1789. Our ancestors had, for the purpose of bringing about the organisation of the union, agreed to respect the institution of slavery in the States in which it existed. The Whigs of 1850, held, therefore, that in such of the Slave States as had been part of the original thirteen, slavery was an institution to be recognised and protected under the law of the land. They admitted, further, that what their grandfathers had done in 1789, had been in a measure confirmed by the action of their fathers in 1820. The Missouri Compromise of 1820, in making clear that all States thereafter organised north of the line thirty-six thirty were to be Free States, made clear also that States south of that line had the privilege of coming into the union with the institution of slavery and that the citizens in these newer Slave States should be assured of the same recognition and rights as had been accorded to those of the original thirteen.
III THE FIGHT AGAINST THE EXTENSION OF SLAVERY