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earnest conviction. You must not only convince, but persuade and inspire. You cannot talk at such a multitude: you must talk to them and with them. Such were the great debates between Lincoln and Douglas. These were the conditions which Mr. Colfax was required to meet; and he came out of the canvass with a majority of two thousand in his favor, the same voters having given one thousand Democratic majority at the previous election.
When Congress assembled, Mr. Colfax entered warmly into the protracted and exciting contest which resulted in the election of Mr. Banks as Speaker of the House.
In June, 1856, during the struggle for freedom in Kansas, Mr. Colfax made a speech in the House of Representatives on the "laws" imposed on the Territory by border ruffians, which produced a powerful effect. He quoted the provision against any person who should "say that persons have not the right to hold slaves in this Territory." He alluded to the penalty affixed to this crime, that of "imprisonment at hard labor, with ball and chain ;" and exhibited to the House an iron ball, such as the law required, thirty pounds in weight, and a chain six feet long. He then quoted from Washington and Jefferson and the fathers of the Republic, and showed, that, if living in Kansas, their sentiments would bring upon them the infamous penalties of the slave code.
Mr. Colfax had been a great admirer of Henry Clay ; and, in concluding, he said, —
"The language of one of the noblest statesmen of the age, uttered six years ago at the other end of this Capitol, rises before my mind. I allude to the great statesman of Kentucky, Henry Clay.
And while the party, which, while he lived, lit the torch of slander at every avenue of his private life, and libelled him before the American people by every epithet that renders man infamous, a gambler, débauché, traitor, and enemy of his country, -are now engaged in shedding fictitious tears over his grave, and appealing to his old supporters to aid by their votes in shielding them from the indignation of an uprisen people, I ask them to read this language of his, which comes to us as from his tomb to-day. With the change of but a single geographical word in the place of 'Mexico,' how prophetically does it apply to the very scenes and issues of this year! And who can doubt with what party he would stand in the coming campaign, if he were restored to us from the damps of the grave, when they read the following, which fell from his lips in 1850, and with which, thanking the house for its attention, I conclude my remarks?
“But if, unhappily, we should be involved in war, in civil war, between the two parties of this confederacy, in which the effort upon the one side should be to restrain the introduction of slavery into the new Territories, and upon the other side to force its introduction there, what a spectacle should we present to the astonishment of mankind in an effort not to propagate wrongs in the territories thus acquired from Mexico! It would be a war in which we should have no sympathies, no good wishes; in which all mankind would be against us: for, from the commencement of the Revolution down to the present time, we have constantly reproached our British ancestors for the introduction of slavery into this country.'
This speech of Mr. Colfax presented the views of the Republicans with so much force, that half a million copies were printed by subscription for general circula
In 1858, he was triumphantly re-elected over all opposition. When the Thirty-seventh Congress organized, he was appointed chairman of the Committee on Post-Offices and Post-Roads. He took a deep interest in opening new routes, and giving mail facilities to the West; and was
specially active in favor of all measures aiding the Pacific Railroad.
In 1860, he was an early and ardent friend of Mr. Lincoln's nomination for President, and contributed largely to the triumph of Republican principles in the election of that year. He was urged by powerful influences for the position of Postmaster-General; but Mr. Lincoln had decided to appoint Hon. C. B. Smith of Indiana Secretary of the Interior, and this forbade a second appointment from that State. His relations with Mr. Lincoln were those of warm personal friendship; and it is well known that Mr. Lincoln relied confidently on his judgment in regard to some of the most important measures of his administration.
N December, 1863, Mr. Colfax was chosen Speaker
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of the House of Representatives; and has been subsequently re-chosen to the same office, which he now holds. The position is one of great difficulty and responsibility; but Mr. Colfax has acquitted himself with unsurpassed dignity and ability. It is an office requiring great tact, and characteristics the opposite of each other. But the qualifications of a presiding officer were probably never so clearly and forcibly described as in the language of Sir William Scott, afterwards Lord Stowell, in nominating Mr. Speaker Abbott for re-election as Speaker of the House of Commons in 1802:
"To an enlargement of the mind capable of embracing the most comprehensive subjects must be added the faculty of descending with precision to the most minute; to a tenacious respect for forms, a liberal regard for principles; to habits of laborious research, powers of prompt and instant decision; to a jealous affection for the privileges of the house, an awful sense of its duties; to a firmness that can resist solicitation, a suavity of nature that can receive it without impatience; and to a dignity of public demeanor suited to the quality of great affairs, and commanding the respect that is requisite for conducting them, an urbanity of private manners that can soften the asperities of business, and adorn an office of severe labor with the conciliatory elegance of a station of ease.”
In April, 1865, Mr. Colfax went with a party of friends on a journey across the continent, to San Francisco.
The evening before he started, he called at the White House to take leave of President Lincoln. Mr. Lincoln was going to Ford's Theatre, and had invited Mr. Colfax to accompany him; but the latter was compelled to decline. It was the night of the assassination. The conversation naturally turned on the immense mineral wealth of the West; and Mr. Lincoln said, " Tell the miners from me that their prosperity is the prosperity of the nation. We shall soon prove that we are the treasury of the world." When Mr. Lincoln rose to leave the Executive Mansion, as it proved for the last time, Mr. Colfax accompanied him to the door of his carriage, and received the beloved President's last "good-by." At the parting moment he turned, and said, "Don't forget, Colfax, to tell those miners that that is my speech to them. A pleasant journey to you! I will telegraph you at San Francisco. Good-by!" Within an hour and half, the assassin had done his work.
Before leaving home for the Pacific, Mr. Colfax delivered a eulogy on the martyred President, at Chicago; and afterwards, by invitation, repeated it in Colorado to the Mormons at Salt-lake City, and in California.
His whole journey was a complete ovation along the route at every town and city. He was invited to address the people; and he did so, speaking on the war, the Pacific Railroad, the Mexican question, and the great interests of the rising nation on the Pacific slope.
At Salt-lake City Mr. Colfax was received with much attention, and passed a few days in carefully studying the Mormon organization. Brigham Young inquired of the speaker what the government intended to do about the question of polygamy. Mr. Colfax