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Incidents at Ottawa


August 25, 1858.

So deep was the interest manifested and so vast the crowd in attendance upon the opening debate between Lincoln and Douglas at Ottawa, that we cannot forego giving the following incidents of the occasion, condensed from the Press and Tribune:
Before breakfast Ottawa was beleaguered with a multiplying host from all points of the compass. At eight o'clock the streets and avenues leading from the country were so enveloped with dust that the town resembled a vast smoke house. Teams, trains, and processions poured in from every direction like an army with banners. National flags, mottos and devices fluttered and stared from every street corner. Military companies and bands of music monopolized the thoroughfares around the Court House and the public square. Two brass twelve pounders banged away in the centre of the city and drowned the hubbub of the multitude with their own higher capacities for hubbub. Vanity Fair never boiled with madder enthusiasm.

At 11 o'clock two long processions were formed — one marching to the depot of the Rock Island Railroad, where Mr. Lincoln was expected to arrive, and the other moving down the road towards Peru whence Mr. Douglas was advertised to come. As the first procession was crossing the canal an enormous canal boat was moored near the bridge, crowded with men and women. On the bow was a large banner inscribed:


In a few minutes another boat appeared from Morris with a similar crowd and similar devices.

Shortly after 12 o'clock the special train from Chicago, Joliet, &c., came in with seventeen cars. When it reached the depot, three deafening cheers went up for ABRAHAM LINCOLN. The cheers were repeated and re-repeated until the woods and bluffs rang again. Mr. Lincoln was placed in a carriage beautifully decorated with evergreens and mottoes by the young ladies of Ottawa, and escorted by the procession, over half a mile in length, with military companies and bands of music from the depot to the public square, around the square and to the residence of Mayor Glover. Enormous crowds blockaded the streets and sidewalks through which the procession moved, and the shouts of the multitude rolled form end to end, around the street corners and across the bridge, in a continuous tumult. When Mr. Lincoln's carriage stopped at the Mayor's residence, three mighty cheers were given and the crowd scattered miscellaneously for dinner.

The Douglas procession moved down the Peru road to Buffalo Rock, where they met the pro-slavery champion, whom they escorted to the Geiger House. The procession was about half as long as that which waited on Mr. Lincoln, and the enthusiasm was almost wholly confined to the Irish Catholics.

At one o'clock the crowd commenced pouring into the public square. The rush was literally tremendous. The speakers' stand had been foolishly left unguarded, and was so crowded with people, before the officers of the day arrived, that half an hour was consumed in a battle to make room for the speakers and reporters. Even then the accommodations were of the most wretched character. Two or three times the surge of people on the platform nearly drove the reporters off, and half a dozen clowns on the roof broke through some of the boards and let them down on the heads of the Reception committees. The whole number of persons present could not have been less that twelve thousand. Large numbers were present from Chicago, Galena, Springfield, Peoria, Quincy, Rock Island, Bloomington, Alton and other distant points. The crowd was considerably larger on the ground than that which assembled in Chicago on the nigh of Douglas' opening speech.

At the conclusion of the debate, when Mr. Lincoln walked down from the platform, he was seized by the multitude and borne off on their shoulders; in the centre of a crowd of five thousand shouting Republicans, with a band of music in front.

It was the opinion of every unprejudiced listener, that Douglas would give a year off the end of his life if he could escape meeting Lincoln at the six discussions through which he must yet pass.