Shook Hands with Lincoln

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Golden New Era
Golden, Illinois
Thursday, March 1, 1928

Shook Hands with Lincoln

03050901 copyIt is given to few people, perhaps, to play as continuous and important a part in the history of a village as that enacted by our old friend and fellow citizen, H. E. Selby.  His history is just about the history of Golden and vicinity.  The old Selby homestead was to the west of Golden a few miles.

Mr. Selby is naturally full of historical facts and reminiscences.  He is perhaps, in this section, the only survivor of the vast army of men who could once boast of having shaken hands with Abraham Lincoln.  He enjoyed that privilege in Quincy in 1858 at the famous Lincoln-Douglas debate.  Always admiring Lincoln as a great man, his admiration was increased by hearing the big debate.  Mr. Selby thinks the rock in Washington park to mark the location of the historic incident is not correctly placed, and he is borne out in this opinion by others who were present.  An odd feature, in a physical sense, of the contest, was the tallness of Mr. Lincoln and the shortness of Mr. Douglas.  (The black/white images below were captured at the Lincoln-Douglas Debate at the Homestead National Monument, Beatrice, Nebraska on June 20, 2009)

Lincoln-Douglas Debate (4)Lincoln-Douglas Debate (1)Mr. Selby was a Union soldier in the Civil War and was left for dead on the battlefield of Chickamauga, having been struck squarely in the temple by a rebel bullet.  That he was not instantly killed was due to a circumstance which was at once fortunate and odd.  His cap being large, he had folded up a Quincy Whig (newspaper) and placed it inside the cap around the band to take up the slack.  It did even better as it checked the bullet so that it did not penetrate the brain.

Shiloh National Military Battlefield, TennesseeAt the close of the war, Mr. Selby took up school teaching for a few years, being granted a certificate without an examination, a favor extended to some of the soldiers.  Later he entered business in Golden and spent his active life here.  He is now 85 and active in mind and body for a person of that age.

When the Wind Blows…by Anna Wienke

Harlow E. Selby, first public school teacher and early business man of the village, was a Civil War Veteran.  He was born on October 24, 1842 in Ohio, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Selby.  Mr. Selby came to Illinois with his parents at the age of 14.

After being honorably discharged from the Army in June of 1865, he continued teaching through two winters.  In the spring of 1867, he embarked into merchandising, with the purchase of an established business in partnership with S. Selby.  About two months later, they began dealing in grain in connection with commercial pursuits.  They conducted this store with success until 1891, when the building was destroyed by fire.  They continued in the grain business, with elevators at Golden, Chatton, and Bowen.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate (5)The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 were a series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate for the Senate in Illinois, and Senator Stephen Douglas, the Democratic Party candidate.  At the time, U.S. senators were elected by state legislature; thus Lincoln and Douglas were trying for their respective parties to win control of the Illinois legislature.  The debates previewed the issues Lincoln would face in the aftermath of his victory in the 1860 presidential election.  The main issue discussed in all seven debates was slavery.

In agreeing to the debates, Lincoln and Douglas decided to hold one debate in each of the nine congressional districts in Illinois.  Because both had already spoken in two—Springfield and Chicago—within a day of each other, they decided that their joint appearances would be held only in the remaining seven districts.

The debates were held in seven towns in the sate of Illinois:  Ottawa on August 21, Freeport on August 27, Jonesboro on September 15, Charleston on September 18, Galesburg on October 7, Quincy on October 13, and Alton on October 15.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate (3)The debates in Freeport, Quincy, and Alton drew especially large numbers of people from neighboring states, as the issue of slavery was of monumental importance to citizens across the nation.  Newspaper coverage of the debates was intense.  Major papers from Chicago sent stenographers to create complete texts of each debate, which newspapers across the United States reprinted in full, with some partisan edits.  Newspapers that supported Douglas edited his speeches to remove any errors made by the stenographers and to correct grammatical errors, while they left Lincoln’s speeches in the rough form in which they had been transcribed.  In the same way pro-Lincoln papers edited Lincoln’s speeches but left the Douglas texts as reported.

After losing the election for Senator in Illinois, Lincoln edited the texts of all the debates and had them published in a book.  The widespread coverage of the original debates and the subsequent popularity of the book led eventually to Lincoln’s nomination for President of the United States by the 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate (2)The format for each debate was:  one candidate spoke for 60 minutes, then the other candidate spoke for 90 minutes, and then the first candidate was allowed a 30-minute “rejoinder.”  The candidates alternated speaking first.  As the incumbent, Douglas spoke first in four of the debates.

012909F4=The Golden New Era
Golden, Illinois
Thursday, February 9, 1938

Abraham Lincoln by James Whitcomb Riley

A peaceful life—just toil and rest—
All his desire;
To read the books he likes the best
Beside the cabin fire—
God’s word and man’s—to peer sometimes
Above the page in smouldering gleams,
And catch, like far heroic rhymes,
The one march of his dreams.
A peaceful life—to hear the low
Of pastured herds
Or woodman’s axe that, blow on blow,
Fell sweet as rhythmic words.
And yet there stirred within his breast
A fateful pulse that like a roll
Of drums, made high above his rest
A tumult in his soul.
A peaceful life!  They hailed him even
As one was hailed
Whose open palms were nailed toward heaven
When prayers nor aught availed.
And lo, he paid the self shame price
To lull a nation’s awful strife,
And will us, through sacrifice
Of self, his peaceful life.
Thanks always for stopping by. 
Next post:  Little Known Facts Concerning Lincoln (1934)

About corinthrose

Born again Christian, helpmate of 42 years, domestic engineer of two children, GRANDmother of six darlings, professional volunteer, fanatic photographer, and a wanna be writer. Occasionally, infatuated with family history, flower photography, and traveling with my hiking buddy.
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1 Response to Shook Hands with Lincoln

  1. Very interesting! Love the history of that time. I imagine those were lively debates.

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