613. Milton Hay and David Littler (William H. Herndon Interview).
Octr 25th '88
I was in Hay's office on Tuesday and he said that Lincoln always spoke with profound reverence of Bolin Green. He further said that it was reputed that Lincoln made his own stories — jokes or what not and that it was a mistake — that
Lincoln heard his stories; jokes &c. and never forgot them and that the secret of L's success in this line was in the active — personified telling of them (Lincoln always told his stories &c, acting a part of them in looks — jestures — acts &c Lincoln & his story were in harmony — were one & identical. I add the last idea as my own.)
Littler at the same time and place told me that Lovejoy, about the year 56 or '58 at the fair grounds near this city was making one of his most Eloquent speeches in behalf of Liberty the world over and Especially the Colored Slaves of America. The Speech was pathos — fire — rhetoric set on flame by feelings. Ben. S. Edwards was present and became Emotionally Excited and sprang up, saying to the vast crowd this — "I would shake hands with the very devil on this question" at the same time grasping Lovejoy's hands in his own. The difficulty with Ben was that before this scene of which he was apart he was frightened by the word abolition, but was willing now to accept the opprobrious term. Lincoln sat by — heard the speech and when B. S. Edwards did what he did, Lincoln wept like a child and burst into tears and as Littler said — "He (Lincoln) broke Completely down," I suppose from the fact that L intended to make a speech or had Commenced one and then broke down — will see Littler again & correct if I am mistaken about L's pupposed attempt to speak.
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3493
1. Owen Lovejoy, an abolitionist minister and Illinois congressman.
2. A Springfield lawyer and the brother of Ninian W. Edwards.
3. For a clarifying interview, see §614.