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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Dickey, T. Lyle. 'T. Lyle Dickey to William H. Herndon' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: letter]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon504b.html


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398. T. Lyle Dickey to William H. Herndon.

Ottawa Illinois Dec — 8th 1866

Dear Sir

In reply to your letter I have to say — that I was present at a political Meeting held in a hall (I think Major's Hall) at Bloomington — one the evening of someday in September or October of 1856 at which Abraham Lincoln (late President) made a political speech to a large audience — the precise date of the meeting & the name of the hall can be found I doubt not in the old files of the Bloomington Newspapers of that day [1]

In that speech Mr Lincoln distinctly proclaimed it as his opinion that our Government Could not last — part slave & part free — : that either Slavery must be abolished every where — or made equally lawful in all the states or the Union would be dismembered. I Can not be mistaken about this — for I was very sorry to hear him express an opinion which I regarded as erroneous & very dangerous — After the Meeting was over — Mr Lincoln & I returned to Pike House — where we occupied the Same room — Immediately on reaching the room I said to Mr Lincoln — "What in God's name could induce you to promulgate such an opinion" Mr Lincoln replied familiarly — "Upon my soul Dickey I think it is true" — I reasoned to show it was not a correct opinion — He argued strenuously that the opinion was a sound one — At length I said to Mr Lincoln — "Suppose

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you are right in this opinion, & that our Government Can not last part free & part slave — What good is to be accomplished by inculcating that opinion (or truth if you please) in the minds of the People? — After a moment of silence & apparent reflection Mr Lincoln Said — "I do not see as there is any good to be accomplished the dissemination of the doctrine." To which replied — "I can see much harm which it may do" "You convince the whole people of this — & you necessarily make Abolitionists of all the People of the North & Slavery proponents of all South — & you precipitate a struggle which may end in disunion — The teaching of the opinion it seems to me tends to hasten the calamity" After some minutes reflection Mr Lincoln rose & approached me extending his right hand to take mine & Said —

"I dont see any necessity for teaching this doctrine — & I dont Know but it might do harm" — At all events from respect for your judgment, Dickey, Ill promise you I wont say so again during this Campaign" — We shook hands upon it & the subject was dropped — I heard no more of this time of thought [2] from Mr Lincoln until the year of 1858 — when he proclaimed it in his famous Speech at Springfield — at the Opening of that years Canvass —

If these facts are thought of any importance in history — you & the world are welcome to them —

Yours truly
T. Lyle Dickey

P.S. Thank you for copy of that fancy lecture [3] — Romance is not your forte — The few grains of history stirred into that lecture — in a plain narrative would be interesting — but I dont like the garnishments

T. L. D —

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2867 — 68

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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Dickey, T. Lyle. 'T. Lyle Dickey to William H. Herndon' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: letter]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon504b.html
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