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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lincoln-Douglas in DeWitt County with a Celebrity Guest


Of course we all remember the Abe Lincoln quote "I do hope," he said at Clinton, Illinois, on October 14, 1859, "that as there is a just and righteous God in Heaven, our principles will and shall prevail sooner or later," presumably not referring to a Khoury League game at Waterworks park the only other site in town of such lofty and heated rhetoric. But another Civil War grandee was also in Clinton a few years earlier, in conjunction with a court case, along with a long time Lincoln opponent.

There was a case in Judge David Davis’ court (the old 8th Judicial Circuit) wherein the Illinois Central Railroad was sued by a farmer for damages ensuing from the construction of a right of way. Abraham Lincoln represented the Illinois Central. Stephen A. Douglas represented the farmer. The trial was postponed until the chief engineer of the Illinois Central, George B. McClellan, came down from Chicago to testify in the case (presumably for the Illinois Central).

General George McClellan went on to be a controversial but professional leader of the Army of the Potomac, and Democratic Candidate for President in 1864.

My question: Who was the Farmer, represented by Stephen Douglas?

19 comments:

EEP said...

McClellan looks like Eddie Izzard minus the drag.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who the farmer was, but as one who has more than a passing interest in Civil War history, I cannot agree with the assessment of Gen. George Brinton McClellan as "professional." His total failure to perform as Commander of the Army of the Potomac led Lincoln to remove him from command after multiple missed opportunities at hitting the Confederates hard in the early days of the War. Who knows how seriously McClellan's ineptitude {cowardice?} impacted the prolonged duration of the War?

And, as far as McClellan's Presidential bid, it's a good thing he failed there, since we might instead have been two countries and not one United States. Lincoln's re-election preserved the Union.

SoCal

Anonymous said...

According to Jim Hull, was the farmer a Turner?

IRBW

Anonymous said...

I will take minor issue with my friend SoCal. I think Gen. McClellan was professional. I think he was also a failure as a general. But he was well regarded by his troops and had a lot of spit and polish. Even though it sounds like faint praise, he managed a retreat quite well in the Peninsular campaign. He also stopped Lee at Antietam. Granted, he didn't attack well, but there could be other reasons besides the asserted cowardice for this. So I would not characterize his as one "who totally failed to perform." He did totally fail to defeat the Confederacy! But to many he is an enigma. U.S. Grant said "McClellan is to me one of the mysteries of the war."

HG

Anonymous said...

If McClellan would have had a catchy last name like Fightin Joe Hooker, his name will still be revered in military history and among visitors to Decatur.

As it is, he sort of sounds like a Press Secretary.

Anonymous said...

the farmer was Pete Toohill

a Turner descendent said...

Spencer Turner was defended in court in May 1841 by Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas;after the verdict Abraham Lincoln received payment of a blind horse.

a Turner descendent said...

Spencer Turner was defended in court in May 1841 by Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas;after the verdict Abraham Lincoln received payment of a blind horse.

Anonymous said...

So if there is continuity in this land holding, does Jimmy Killian now farm the land in question in this case?

Anonymous said...

Since Jimmy already has Civil War re-enacter garb, he only needs a phony goatee and mustache to pass a Gen. McClellan.

Anonymous said...

HG, I've always taken Grant's comment about McClellan to mean that Grant, who was a very successful military strategist, couldn't understand McClellan's reluctance to go on the offensive. It's highly possible that the length of the War, and the resulting staggering number of casualities, could have been greatly diminished had McClellan taken the fight TO Lee, instead of sitting there waiting for Lee to make all the moves. And as far as quotes, paraphrasing here, Lincoln once asked McClellan if he [Lincoln] could have the Army, since McClellan wasn't using it. No, GBM, "didn't attack well."

SoCal

Anonymous said...

Boy, for people who find this site so "boring" and can't stand the "censorship," the ranter[s] sure do spend a LOT of time posting, and RE-posting, and RE-RE-posting, and RE-RE-RE-posting the same bilge over and over at this site. Hilarious!!

Anonymous said...

That old windbag Polonius noted that "brevity is the soul of wit." PB/anti-censor, you're tiring me out. I'd rather discuss Lincoln-Douglas-McClellan than respond to your barbs, which tend towards excess. I encourage the moderator to modulate with an Aristotelian touch, and purge your bile.

HG

Anonymous said...

Accolades to my classmates for their fine analysis of the McClellan enigma. True he was a great organizer and was loved by his troops. Phil Kearney called him the "Virginia Creeper" for his lack of action. He constantly believed the CSA had more troops than were actually deployed. He should have been a Pentagon guy, not a fighter, like Grant. I concur that his lack of action, in particular at Sharpsburg (I live in the South) was a major blunder. Remember, he had the CSA's strategy BEFORE the battle. His failure to pursue Lee back to Virginia was a major malfunction.

GBM's disdain for the president was a serious flaw. He was his own biggest fan. Grant on the other hand was very simple: he "got er done". As Lincoln said of Grant, "I can use this man, he fights".

What is the moral here? Don't rely on politics and popularity (Butler, Halleck, McClernand)in your war effort or your business. Find folks who get things done.

If you lead a blind horse to water will it still drink?

Peace to all,

BEP

Anonymous said...

BEP,

You are still Wapella's combination of James McPherson and Shelby Foote in your spot on analysis of this McClennan controversy.

HG

Anonymous said...

HG, thanks for the kind words. Would like to have partied with Shelby and Walker Percy. Suspect they threw a few down.

BEP

Anonymous said...

May I suggest a civil war battle re-enactment with a twist - re-enacting throw downs after key battles. Still conceptual stages so I'll need some ideas with this one but I think we might have something here.

bbd

Anonymous said...

BBD: a fab idea however the thought of drinking corn liquor in hot wool uniforms really doesn't do it for me.

You'll need to forego some authenticity to get any traction on this one.

Anonymous said...

BEP, accolades to you, as well, for your spot-on analysis of GBM's strengths and weaknesses. You also said:

"What is the moral here? Don't rely on politics and popularity (Butler, Halleck, McClernand)in your war effort or your business. Find folks who get things done.

I couldn't agree more. :-)

SoCal

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