The Lost Speech
Horace Greeley's New York Tribune reported on the Bloomington convention for its national readership: "It was most emphatically a convention of the people, where all classes, opinions and shades of belief were represented---but all inspired with one common resolve to resist further aggressions of the slave power to the bitter end." The "shades of belief" were broad. The old Whig Party had collapsed. New movements focused on single topics. Here in Bloomington abolitionists, gradual emancipationists, nativists, and immigrants joined in opposition to the expansion of slavery. From this wide and fractious group, Lincoln fashioned a new political party, the Republican Party. He said, while debating Douglas, "I have supposed myself since the organization of the Republican party at Bloomington... bound as a party man." Democrats also saw the convention as driven by the slave issue. Their party newspaper, the Springfield Illinois State Register, summarized the proceedings: "They go the entire colored platform...They put the whole black creed in the ring. Nobody will call in question the sable orthodoxy of these
Foremost in the minds of those gathered at Major's Hall on May 29, 1856 was the fact of slavery. Writers in local newspapers would exclaim about slaves that, 'They are as white as you or I! Rosa, the slave girl pictured here, illustrates that fact. Taken in 1863, this photograph was sold in Central Illinois to raise funds in support of just-freed slave children in New Orleans.
While the convention was in session, the nativist Know-Nothings and the supporters of the Kansas settlers held their own meetings in town. The anti-immigrant nativists gathered as the Temple of Honor, a fraternal lodge. They spoke on temperance, a trait not common to the thousands of Germans and Irish who were settling in Illinois. Mayor Franklin Price of Bloomington, who presided undoubtedly wore his Temple of Honor regalia, as seen on the right. Gov. Reeder, at the left, had finished his term as governor of guerrilla war-torn "Bloody Kansas." He escaped Kansas disguised as a woodchopper, recreated in this period photo. In Bloomington, he described the horrors of Kansas, including the sacking of Lawrence.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Government & Politics.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Major's Hall (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named The Lost Speech (here, next to this marker); Asahel Gridley's Bank (within shouting distance of this marker); Miller-Davis Buildings (within shouting distance of this marker); Miller-Davis Building (within shouting distance of this marker); The Rounds Block (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The National Hotel (about 400 feet away); Lincoln The Lawyer (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bloomington.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on July 13, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 488 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 13, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.