620. Norman B. Judd (William H. Herndon Interview).
Octr 2d '90
I wish to relate to you an important fact. Soon after the assassination of Mr. Lincoln I interviewed Mr Judd, two or three times, in relation to his knowledge of Lincoln generally and particularly about what L said in reference to the questions he intended to ask Douglas at Freeport. Turn to our life of L. 410. Douglas put 7 questions to L. at Ottowa. Lincoln went to Chicago and had a meeting of his friends and told them that he intended to put 4 questions to Douglas at Freeport and among those questions was the 2d one which was substantially this "Can a territory exclude slavery from its limits while in a territorial condition or state". At the meeting of Lincoln's friends at Dixon or Chicago were Peck — Judd — Ray Et al. All of them, after Lincoln had read the 4 questions to be put to Douglas at Freeport, objected to them and said in substance that Douglas would not positively answer the question directly and that if he did it would be in the affirmative and that would Elect him to the Senate again. "It is none of your business Mr Lincoln particularly to put the question because you are the Candidate for the U.S. Senate and that is your particular business” said Lincoln's friends. Lincoln replied "Douglas will answer the question as soon as asked & if he does not I will push him to the wall at every joint debate or wherever I shall speak other wise than in joint debate; and the sooner Douglas answers the better for him. The people demand a direct answer". "Douglas will answer in some glittering generalities and Evade the question” said Peck — Ray Et al. "Yes, he will answer directly" said Lincoln; and to which Lincoln's friends said, "To put the question is none of your business Mr. Lincoln and to which Mr Lincoln said — "Yes it is my business, and if Douglas answers the question, which he will, Either way he is a dead cock in the pit." Mr. Lincoln here went into a kind of argument to Convince his friends that he was right and conluded by saying — "I am after larger game. The battle of 1860 is worth a hundred of this — " . . . Lincoln evidently wanted to kill Douglas politically and did it effectively. I say that Judd told me what Lincoln said in the meeting of friends at Dixon or Chicago, I think Chicago, though White says that
the meeting was at Dixon. Probably he is correct. Though Peck — Ray — Judd Et all say that Lincoln uttered the above words still I doubt the Exact words
., because, as you well know, Mr. Lincoln was one of the most secretive men that ever lived. The expression means that, "I am a candidate for the Presidency of the U.S. of America. That is what I am fighting for". I do not think that Mr Lincoln ever uttered the words as stated, though he looked at the time for the office. I think at most that the words as above are inferences, legitimate ones. Lincoln never told mortal man his purposes and plans — Never. Evidently L beat around the bush.
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3691-92
1. Ebenezer Peck, a Chicago lawyer and politician; Charles H. Ray, editor-in-chief of the Republican newspaper, the Chicago Press and Tribune.