Conclusion: Usher F. Linder: Orator from Coles

by Roma Linder Bradley

8 January 2004

[Chapters 1-3 here.]



In 1858, the year of the great debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in the campaign for the Unites States Senate, the Honorable Usher F. Linder was one of the most active supporters of Douglas in Illinois -- an association which gave rise to the nickname, "For God's Sake Linder." Some of Lincoln's friends made the practice of following Douglas on his speaking trips, and attacking him in speeches after Douglas was "in bed asleep, worn out by the fatigues of the day." Douglas telegraphed Linder to meet him at Freeport and accompany him on his speaking tour "to help fight off the hell-hounds," as he called them, that were howling on his path. He concluded the message with the expression: "For God's sake, Linder, come!"[1] A telegraph operator made the request public with the result that the Republicans dubbed him with this epithet, a title he wore "with great pride and distinction ever since."

Linder joined Douglas at St. Louis and traveled down through the southern part of Illinois, speaking for him at all his rallies. While at St. Louis, the crowd mistook Linder for Lincoln and cheered him triumphantly. The St. Louis Democrat carried the story. There was a serenade for Judge Douglas at the Planter's House on the evening of the speeches. The crowd

1 Linder, p. 79.

which gathered around was small at first but increased rapidly, and by the close of Douglas' address, it had grown quite large. After he retired the few Nationals who were present, set up a cry for Linder -- the orator they had heard from Southern Illinois. The crowd, which was growing quite large, mistook the name of Linder for Lincoln, and supposing that Old Abe was present, raised a tremendous shout for "Lincoln! Lincoln! Lincoln!" James J. McBride appeared and tried to explain the mistake, but the crowd was still quite vociferous for Lincoln. Finally after music from the band quieted matters down, Mr. Linder appeared and was greeted with three big cheers.[2]

From St. Louis, Linder accompanied Douglas to Cairo where he spoke to the assembled Cairoites.[3] The two men then traveled to Jonesboro for the second of the Great Debates. After the rebuttals, cheers were given for Lincoln and Douglas, and in the midst of the commotion, Linder was enthusiastically summoned to the platform. He mounted the stand, made a short Douglas speech, followed by much applause and cheers.[4]

Linder next accompanied Douglas to the site of the fourth debate held in his home town of Charleston, and took an active part in the day's festivities. Earliest dawn found the highways from the four corners of the county marked with clouds of dust from the wagons of pioneer farmers who were slowly

2 St. Louis Democrat, September 14, 1858.

3 Chicago Journal, September 16, 1858.

4 Chicago Journal, September 17, 1858.

making their way to town. The people of Coles County had come for the day. Dog Town, Bloody Hutton, Greasy Creek, Paradise, Muddy Point, Farmington, Goosenest Prairie -- they were all there. Every rural neighborhood was represented among the wagons that drew to a halt under the shade trees of the fair grounds. Upon their arrival, many formed organized processions and advanced with fife and drum playing and flags and banners flying.

Reporters from the two leading party organs of the state -- the Chicago Press and Tribune for the Republicans and the Chicago Times for the Democrats, were on hand to record the events of the day. Both Lincoln and Douglas spent the previous night in Mattoon, ten miles away, and the two parties, through a joint committee, had arranged for mammoth parades to come to Charleston from the neighboring towns. The Republicans were to follow the south road and the Democrats were to use the north road, thus avoiding collisions. Those living along the way were asked to join the procession of their party as it advanced toward Charleston.[5]

The Republican procession left Mattoon early in the morning, led by the "Bowling Green" band of Terre Haute. A large float drawn to six or eight horses and decorated with white muslin and silk and wild flowers dominated the whole Republican demonstration as it entered the city. The float carried thirty-two white-clad young ladies wearing green

5 Coleman, p. 174.

velvet caps, each representing a state of the union. A large sign on one side of the float bore the words: "Westward the Star of Empire Takes its way, Our Girls Link-on to Lincoln, Their Mothers were for Clay." On the other side of the float in large letters were the names of the Republican candidates: Lincoln, Oglesby, Marshall and Craddock.[6] Following the float, a young girl dressed in pure white and mounted on a white horse represented Kansas seeking admission to the union. The word "Kansas" was inscribed in large letters on a banner attached to the right side of the horse and on another banner attached to the saddle was inscribed the motto: "I will be free."[7] Horace White, who was present as a reporter for the Chicago Press and Tribune commented, "As she was very good looking, we thought that she would not remain free always."[8]

The procession reached Charleston about eleven o'clock and proceeded to the public square. A giant banner eighty feet long hung from the courthouse to a high building on the other side. It read, "Coles County 400 Majority for Lincoln," while on the other side, there was a life-size painting of the railsplitter as a young man standing in an old yawl-like wagon and driving a team of oxen. The picture bore the legend: "Old Abe Thirty Years Ago." Since Lincoln had emigrated to Coles County driving his father's team a la the design on the banner,

6 Chicago Press Tribune, September 21, 1858.

7 S.E. Thomas, "Lincoln and Douglas Debate," The Teachers College Bulletin -- E.I.S.T.C.," No. 86 (October, 1924), p. 6.

the display had peculiar significance and attracted much attention during the day.[9]

The Democratic procession advanced with a band of thirty-two couples mounted on horseback and gorgeously attired. Sixteen carried American flags on hickory sticks and sixteen carried flags on ash sticks, thus wishfully symbolizing the union of Democrats and Whigs.[10] Douglas did not ride with the procession, but came to Charleston from Mattoon with Mrs. Douglas on a special train he had hired for the campaign.[11] Upon entering the town the procession followed the same route that had been taken by the Lincoln party a few minutes earlier. Delegates from the western part of Coles and the adjoining counties carried several large and splendid banners upon one of which appeared "Edgar County good for 500 Majority for the Little Giant" and on another, "This government was made for white men -- Douglas for life." Passing through the streets of Charleston the procession halted in front of the Union Hotel which was almost hidden by banners and flags.[12]

Stores and residences were colorfully decorated with flags and banners for the gala occasion. There were numerous brass bands and fife and drum corps in town accompanying

8 Chicago Press and Tribune, September 21, 1858.

9 Chicago Democrat, September 28, 1858.

10 Chicago Times, September 21, 1858.

11 Thomas, p. 7.

12 Chicago Times, September 21, 1858.

the various delegations. The Chicago Press and Tribune wrote, "The joint demonstration eclipsed all previous political turnouts in the central portion of the state. Ottawa and Freeport must try again, for while the latter perhaps brought a few more listeners to the debate, both together would not have made so imposing a display of the etceteras of a great campaign.[13] When the two processions had converged in the center of town, both candidates were welcomed by the leading men of their respective parties. One incident during the welcoming festivities demonstrates the high-pitched rivalry of the two parties. During an eloquent speech of welcome for Senator Douglas, some over-enthusiastic Republican musicians ordered their band to play on the opposite corner thus completely preventing the people from hearing what was going on. This little piece of malicious fun, however, was soon stopped and the procession then dispersed.[14]

After dinner the crowd proceeded to the fair-grounds where the debate was to be held. Processions were formed by both parties to accompany their champions from the square to the speaker's stand. There were various estimates of the size of the crowd which assembled a quarter of a mile west of the village. The figures ran from ten thousand to twenty thousand, but the lower figure is probably nearer the actual number.[15]

13 Chicago Press and Tribune, September 21, 1858.

14 Chicago Times, September 21, 1858.

15 Coleman, p. 179.

Rough board seats had been provided for part of the audience, but a large majority had to stand. The crowd was ranged around in a semi-circular fashion with the platform forming the central line.[16]

The raised platform, approximately eighteen by thirty feet in dimensions, had been specially erected for the speakers. It was colorfully decorated with red, white and blue streamers draped to the center point from which hung Old Glory. In addition to the speakers and reporters, a number of the leaders of both parties were seated around the candidates. Among the supporters of Douglas was Usher "For God's Sake" Linder and his cousin Elisha Linder. Posters were liberally sprinkled throughout the crowd and the many bands filled the remaining space behind the platform.[17]

Lew Wallace, who was one of the crowd assembled at the fair grounds, writes: "Mr. Douglas was first to appear. He seemed worried, and took seat with the air of one too closely occupied with thought to notice or care for surroundings. Presently Mr. Lincoln mounted the steps. He paused on the platform, and took a look over the crowd and into the countenances near by, and there was a smile on his lips and a whole world of kindness in his eyes. Douglas' clothes were well-tailored, while those of Lincoln spoke of a slop-shop,

16 Missouri Republican, September 22, 1858.

17 Description taken from the painting "The Lincoln-Douglas Debate at Charleston," by Robert Marshall Root.

his thin neck craning out over a sweat-wilted collar."[18]

Mr. Lincoln opened the debate at fifteen before three in the afternoon and spoke for one hour according to agreement. His composition is characterized by sincerity, earnestness, and the device of repetition. Several times throughout his argument, he asserts that he is open to correction. He uses repetition to achieve his desired emphasis and his most important points are almost always repeated during the course of his argument. His sentences are short, succinct, and quick to the point, and this brevity aids greatly to the aural effect of his speaking. Lew Wallace writes of Lincoln's delivery, "His voice was clear without being strong. He was easy and perfectly self-possessed. The pleasantry, the sincerity, the confidence, the amazingly original way of putting things and the simple unrestrained manner withal, were doing their perfect work."[19] However, the Chicago Times records that Lincoln spoke as well, but no better, than usual and since it was the "habit of Democrats to tolerate in the most respectful manner free speech, he was not interrupted or disturbed."[20] Nevertheless, three tremendous cheers were given as Lincoln returned to his seat on the platform.

Douglas eagerly stood up for his hour and one half reply and refutation. He too was greeted with vigorous

18 Lew Wallace: An Autobiography (New York, 1906), I, 254.

19 Wallace, p. 254.

20 Chicago Times, September 21, 1858.

applause as he commenced to speak. The senator's reply was mainly a defense of the accusations set forth by his opponent. Like Lincoln, Douglas attempts to secure a high degree of ethos with his audience by establishing an attitude of sincerity. This quality is evident when Douglas alludes to his "worthy opponent" for whom he has the "highest respect." Douglas also displays a vividness of language with his concrete and specific examples such as "no sooner was the sod grown green over the grave of the immortal Clay, no sooner was the rose planted on the tomb of the Godlike Webster, than many of the leaders of the Whig party....attempted to abolitionize the Whig party"[21] which almost borders on the "purple patch."

On viewing Douglas in the debate, Wallace writes, "His face was darkened by a deepening scowl, and he was angry; and in a situation like this, his anger is always an admission in the other party's favor. He spoke so gutturally, that it was difficult to understand him. He failed to draw me like his competitor, he had no magnetism; he was a mind all logic; at the same time, be it said in truth, Stephen A. Douglas could not make a poor speech."[22] A writer for the Chicago Times viewed the situation somewhat differently, however: "The effect of each individual auditor was electrical and the speaker entered into the discussion with great energy of

21 Paul M. Angle, ed., Created Equal? (Chicago, 1958), p. 234.

22 Wallace, p. 255.

manner and in a style of manly and convincing eloquence."[23]

Lincoln and Douglas left the platform side by side and both champions were heartily cheered by their respective partisans. The country people quickly gathered their banners and assembled their families. No doubt Republicans and Democrats alike were persuaded that the result of the day was in their favor. The people poured out of the gates, the carriages and bands of music formed in processions and they all marched back to town. Most of the farmers, getting their scattered wagon loads together, started at once for home, most of them having a number of long weary miles into the night to travel. Meanwhile local leaders from both parties gathered to confer with their chiefs.

After the debate Lincoln and Douglas returned to the Capitol House and when the two men had finished supper both parties held political rallies. The Democrats used the courst house, while the Republicans rally was held on the southwest corner of the public square. Richard J. Oglesby addressed the Republican meeting; the meeting of the Democrats was addressed by Usher F. Linder, a candidate for the State Senate.

After the rallies there were informal receptions with local bands serenading each candidate. The music was heard far into the early hours of the morning and finally vibrated and throbbed itself to sleep.

23 Chicago Times, September, 1858.



Usher F. Linder, once described as the most brilliant orator that ever lived in Illinois,[1] had rhetorical talents which belied this epithet. The speech style and delivery of the Orator from Coles was held in high esteem by the people of Illinois. As a speaker and advocate, his reputation was unparalleled and it was small wonder he was sometimes called the "most eloquent in the west."[2]

Linder spoke in an oral style which was described by local reporters as "declamation." Upon reading his speeches, one is immediately cognizant that the full impact could only materialize in oral presentation. Such sentences as, "I look upon a sea of up-turned faces," "I will tell you," and "mark my words," appear frequently throughout his texts and illustrate his direct speaker-to-hearer relationship.

Linder enhanced his oral style with the frequent use of personal pronouns. There are few sentences that do not include such phrases as "I believe," "many of you," and "we are the Democratic Party!"

For the most part, the language of the speeches is clear and easily understandable. His sentences are generally

1 Henry Clay Whitney, Life on the Circuit (Caldwell, Idaho, 1940), p. 180.

2 Illinois State Journal September 22, 1852.

lengthy and loose with a few periodic ones interspersed for contrast. The average number of words in his sentences is fifty-one and many contain over one-hundred. Thus most of his speech texts appear to be a string of independent clauses aimlessly connected by semi-colons and hyphens.

Despite many histrionic passages, the tone is conversational, and the number of sentences in the passive voice exceeds those in the active. His transitions usually consist of one words such as "but," "thus," or "yet." Occasionally his connecting devices are more precise and he says, "I further believe" or even, "The next measure in point of importance is...." His ideas usually progress smoothly from one to another, but there is sometimes evidence of a rambling digression from the main points.

Linder made frequent errors in grammar which probably went unnoticed by most of his listening audience. Nevertheless, such phrases as, "I never enjoy in looking over," and "him who is the favorite son of Illinois," would make most grammarians cringe. Many of his mistakes come under the heading of verb and noun agreement and such phrases as "the American army are," and "Congress have," are frequent throughout the texts.

The orator was also fond of using a somewhat inverted word order, probably for the sake of emphasis. As a result, such phrases as, "I know not," "is there not enough," and "be he Whig or be he Democrat," occur throughout his speeches.

Linder's generally effective choice of words contributed greatly to colorful presentation. His average word length was three syllables, although many were four and five syllables long. He had a talent for selecting specific phrases that immediately evoked the image he desired. Thus he refers to Andrew Jackson as the "sole luminary," Napoleon, "the conquering eagle," and Stephen A. Douglas, "the Spartan."

He chose concrete, vivid words to paint clear pictures. In describing the Democratic party, Linder says, "though the heads of office holders have been taken off close to their shoulders for their adherence to the great cardinal doctrine of the Democratic creed, yet from the ashes of them will rise up an army which will strike terror into the hearts of the adversaries of popular sovereignty. It is said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, and when they take off the heads of the friends of Stephen A. Douglas, they but sow the dragon's teeth from which will spring a spartan."[3]

The Gentleman from Coles used a very formal language and some of his phrases seem almost obsolete. Such words as "mandate," "cant," "therein," "knaves," whilst" and "edict," are frequently sprinkled throughout his manuscripts. He was also fond of using words that lent an antiquated flavor to his speaking. Some of these terms include, "odium," "futile," "thraldom," "wallow," and "musty."

Linder was remembered for his many platitudes which he interspersed in his oratory. In his speech to the Democratic

3 Chicago Daily Times, April 27, 1858.

convention, he told of "half-fledged politicians," and "overgrown aristocracy," and "thread-bear [sic] assertions."

In spite of his formal approach, Linder did not hesitate to include popular colloquialisms of the day. He readily incorporated such phrases as, "war-worn veteran," "crammed down the throats," "seal the lips," and "care a fig."

The orator also used "loaded words" profusely. Those who followed his political creed were "intelligent," "virtuous," and "men of high standing," while the Black Republicans were "hungry hounds" who "bask and sun themselves in the sunshine of executive favor" and "crawl at the foot-stool of power."

Linder did not hesitate to participate in the practice of "name calling." In his argument to remove Justin Butterfield from the Cabinet, he spoke out indignantly from the floor of the lower house of the Illinois Legistlature: "He is universally odious, and stinks in the nostrils of the nation. He is a lump of ice, an unfeeling, unsympathetic aristocrat, a rough, imperious, uncouth, and unamiable man."[4]

In addition to colorful language, Linder employed many stylistic devices to enhance the persuasive qualities of his speaking. He used synecdoche to describe the need for a tariff, "Its certain result is to afford employment to hands who would otherwise be idle." He used a type of apostrophe when he exhorted: "It is finished; now Lord receive me and my

4 Donald W. Riddle, Congressman Abraham Lincoln (Urbana, 1957), p. 238.

people into thy kingdom." He employed alliteration in many of his sentences, such as "the farsical reasoning is futile and fallacious." Hyperbole was another favorite device, and in emphasizing the severe measures that the Black Republicans endorsed, he proclaimed, "They would have scalped him; they would have taken the last drop of Democratic blood out of his veins."

Linder frequently added metaphors and similes to enhance the vividness of his language. Douglas stands "fast and unmoved by the waves of power," Linder looks out at a "sea of upturned faces," political demagogues "disappear from view like the butterflies and painted birdsd of summer, when the first breath of November is breathed upon" and the large debt "hangs like an incubus over the State."

The orator was a master of the extended metaphor or analogy. Figurative analogies are more common than literal, although both were numerous throughout his speeches. "Take all the secondary planets in the firmament," he would say in describing Zachary Taylor and his army, "and place them around the brilliant noonday sun, and the light which they shed abroad in their proper places will be lost. They will be swallowed up by the vibrant rays of the great Sun, and he will shine with ten-fold lustre. Thus will 'old Rough, and Ready.' Surround him with whom you will, his deeds will be rendered more prominent and his name stands out in bold relief."[5]

5 Sangamo Journal, December 31, 1846.

With another analogy, he describes how the minority faction of his party react to Senator Douglas for upholding popular sovereignty: "...he is bayed and hunted down by these hungry hounds who are hanging around the table of the President to catch of a few crumbs that may fall from his table and they claim that they are the Democratic party."[6] In still another analogy, Linder showed how this dissenting faction was equivalent to one who has taken medicine and "has only been able to vomit forth this meagre crowd."

In addition to these devices, the orator personified many of the strongest points in his arguments. For example, he emphasizes that "reason and good sense cannot be driven into exile by the ranting of village demagogues." He further warns, "Beware or the power and weight of the administration will fall upon your heads."

"To keep peace with the south," he argues, "we have petted and carressed them, and...petted her until we have nearly spoiled her." In describing what struck him most about Lincoln, he writes that it was "the expression of goodness and kindness which gleamed in his eyes and which sat there all the days of his life." In concluding his praise of Zachary Taylor, he predicts that the name of the hero will be "written with a pen of steel upon the breast of the American public."

The Gentleman from Coles was also a skilled technician in his use of rhetorical devices. Most effective of these was

6 Chicago Daily Times, April 27, 1858.

his use of wit and humor. He was always remembered for these lineaments which fairly bristled throughout his speeches. During one of his campaigns as a Whig, the redoubtable Linder gratuituosly announced the coming of one of his opponents, Isaac T. Walker, with this hyperbole:

Fellow citizens, a very talented young man will be here in a day or two to answer the speech I am now making to you. You will be notified of his coming by the length of his whiskers, which will arrive a day or two in advance of him.[7]

Linder spoke frequently in a rather sarcastic vein of which he was a master. In addressing the Democratic state convention after the audience was in rolls of laughter, he advised, "Democrats, you had better mind how you laugh in here for your names will all be registered. It is a dangerous business to laugh -- so let me tell you, off goes your heads!"

Referring to the dissenting group of Democrats, at another point during the convention, he remarked, "Let us be tempered and charitable towards our erring brothers, they are not so much to blame. Did you ever know a man to raise a fuss with his bread and butter? You can hear a noise at the other end of the building, don't blame them, they are paid for what they do. The laborer is worthy of his hire, and the hire is worthy of his laborer."[8]

Former Governor of Illinois Edward F. Dunne wrote that

7 Walter Colyer, "Times When Lincoln Remembered Albion," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, IX (Springfield, Illinois, 1917), 489.

8 Chicago Daily Times, April 27, 1858.

Linder's reputation was in a large part due to his ability as a story-teller.[9] Indeed, he was never so happy as when he had a crowd around him listening to his jokes. One summer evening in 1858, while sitting outside the door of a hotel in Terre Haute, Indiana, he told a company of interested passers-by of the exploits of Leonard Swett, one of Illinois's noted lawyers.

"This man Swett," said Linder, "is the sharpest lawyer in Illinois. He clears his man everytime, especially if charged with murder." "How does he do it?" one of his hearers ventured to inquire. "Do it?" replied Linder, "he proves they are all insane -- every cursed one of them." "Well, how does he do that?" asked another. "I'll tell you, sir. He carries around with him a little doctor, who knows all about insanity and swears 'em all crazy as loons. The jury comes in with a verdict of insanity every time." Then he recited several cases which had occurred where the parties had been thus acquitted, when they were really "just as sane as I am sir, just as you are," said Linder. "It just beats hell."

At that moment a gentleman who had been sitting inside, but had been an amused listener, walked outside, and offering his hand to Linder, said: "Good evening, Mr. Linder, I have the honor to be the little doctor you are talking about -- you tell it very well." Linder then asked him what his name might be, though he knew it very well. "My name is Roe," said the gentleman. "Not Dr. Roe of Bloomington?" "Yes sir," the man

9 Edward F. Dunne, History of Illinois (Chicago and New York, 1933), V, 321.

replied, "Dr. Roe of Bloomington, the man you call Swett's little doctor."

"Why, I know you, sir, -- of course I know you, Dr. Roe," said Linder. "My God, sir! Are you the man? I beg your pardon, Dr. Roe. I did not know that you were Swett's witness. Good God, sir, I beg your pardon a thousand times. What a blunder i made -- indeed, I did not know the man was Dr. Roe of Bloomington. My God! Dr., I can do nothing else but beg your pardon -- and I would not do less if I could. Gentlemen, if this man ever swears I am insane, I will believe him myself."[10]

Although Linder was always ready with a humorous anecdote -- fact or fiction -- he believed some substantil proof to be necessary in his formal speeches. He wrote to a friend concerning this matter: "Tracks and almanacks do very well as indices and to give to persons privately to read, but they won't do to read from in a political speech -- something more authentic is required."[11]

Indeed, Linder held true to his advice, for his speeches are filled with examples and illustrations in support of his main contentions. In his argument for a protective tariff, he states that "John Bull only eats ten millions worth of our wheat and pork in a year; it is vain to look for a market in

10 David W. Lusk, Politics and Politicians, Anecdotes and Incidents (Springfield, Illinois, 1889), pp. 415-417.

11 Letter from Usher F. Linder to John J. Hardin, February 21, 1844. Chicago Historical Society.

continental Europe. The surfs of Russia and Germany can produce wheat for less money than the free men of America. The protective tariff and a steady Home Market can alone advance the prosperity of Western Farmers."[12]

Numerous other ideas are introduced with such phrases as, "By an illustration, suppose....," "Particular examples carry truth to the mind with more force than general specifications...," and "I shall endeavor in a simple manner to illustrate..."

Linder's greatest talents lay in his ability to point up an argument by the use of comparison and contrast. It was while using this rhetorical device that the orator was really in his forte. One of his memorable illustrations at the Democratic state convention dealt with the absence of the popular sovereignty clause in the Constitution of Kansas. "It reminds me," he said, "of the choice the man gave to the Indian, in the division of the game secured by their joint labor: says he to the Indian, 'You take the buzzard and I will take the turkey; or I will take the turkey and you will take the buzzard.' The Indian, on a short consideration of the question of choice, replied, 'You no say "turkey" to me once!' The convention, on the question of the adoption of the constitution, did not say 'turkey' to the people once; it was 'buzzard' all the time."[13]

12 Illinois State Journal, July 25, 1844.

13 Chicago Daily Times, April 27, 1858.

A little later in this speech, he added that this issue "reminds one of the fellow flipping the dollar and betting like this: 'Heads, I win; Tails, you lose.'" Using another comparison, he advises his cohorts not to blame the dissenting Democrats since they are paid for what they do. He explains their action by saying, "Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass, or loweth the ox over his fodder? Like the hungry dog, they stay the longest where the pot boils the strongest.' I notice that my dog barks the most when he is fed the best. I suppose they are liberally paid; they should be taking into consideration the wear and tear of the conscience."[14]

In discussing the slavery clause in the Lecompton constitution, he says, referring to the people of Kansas, "The slavery question was partially left to them, and the people might have been willing to have voted upon that proposition; but to wallow with it a constitution that was odious to them, was requiring too much, like the man at a dinner: speaking of it afterwards, he said he liked the meat tolerably well, but there was too much mustard."

Thus Linder continues, "The convention said, in effect, to the people in Kansas: this slavery question is a nice little question; you have had your minds informed just enough to be capable of deciding about it, but we don't believe you are capable of deciding those other little questions relating to your domestic matters."[15]

14 Chicago Daily Times, April 27, 1858.

15 Chicago Daily Times, April 27, 1858.

The rhetorical question was also used not infrequently in the speechmaking of the Gentleman from Coles. His usual technique was to present a question and immediately introduce an answer, before beginning his argument. Hence he states, "Why then is it that he is unwilling to see this resolution pass as it is, without the amendment? I will tell you." Similarly, in advocating the need for a protective tariff, he asks, "And where does he find a market for the balance of his immense surplus?" "The home market and no other."

Besides using the rhetorical question, Linder was fond of bombarding his listeners with a series of questions for the purpose of greater emphasis. In listing the advantages of a tariff, he concludes, "Does not a tariff upon iron open our mines and make a market for the farmer at the same time? Cannot every farmer see that free trade, in this instance, not only prevents the creation of a home market, but directly protects the farmer of England? And, is it not evident that farmers so far from being a gainer under free trade, is compelled to buy his beef and grain of the English farmer, in the shape of iron manufacture of every description?"[16]

In addition to this use of questions, repetition was often relied on by the orator. He would most frequently repeat the first phrase of every sentence in a series of statements. Thus in his eulogy to Lincoln, he says, "Let us now that the great struggle is over...let us forget all

16 Illinois State Journal, July 25, 1844.

our old party issues...let us, as one united people...Let us pursue this course....Let us not fear to do justice."

After looking over the worthy assemblage at a Democratic convention, he proclaimed that they stood out as "proof against power, proof against prescription, proof against all the appliances which have been brought to bear by a corrupt administration." Even more repetition is used to emphasize the argument over slavery in Kansas: "In the face of the greatest principle of popular sovereignty, in the face of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, in the face of the Cincinnati platform, in the face of the exposition of that platform upon the stump, in the face of Buchanan's Inaugural message, the Lecomptonite constitution is unfair."

In general, Linder's style was vigorous and spirited in its dramatic and colorful effects. He used stylistic devices in all his speeches with a special emphasis on analogy and personification. His speeches bristle with wit and humor and abound in rhetorical devices such as illustrations of comparison and contrast. Indeed, his contribution to the legislative speechmaking of the day can be called true western eloquence.

U.F. Linder's style was enhanced by a dynamic physical appearance. He was a slender six feet in stature, rather robust, dandified in dress[17] with a "devil may care carriage."[18]

17 Baringer, p. 82.

18 Peoria Democratic Press, February 10, 1847.

His eyes were the most prominent part of his roguish face which was topped with dark wavy hair. He created a most vital and colorful appearance wherever he went. One spectator of the time wrote, "Although his political opinions have been somewhat unstable, I sort of like him, he looks so jolly, good natured and sociable."[19] He was said to be withal a trifle vain, but just enough to spur him on to action.[20]

Linder spoke extemporaneously, referring from time to time to the notes he brought with him.[21] His voice was described as clear and low with a great capacity for depth and volume. It sometimes grew high-pitched at dramatic moments when he was filled with emotions.[22]

Political friend and foe alike lavished praise on the orator's delivery. "Mr. Linder made a speech in his usual manner of declamation -- none but Linder could have made just such a speech," wrote a spectator from the Sangamo Journal.[23] A Quincy Whig journalist wrote, "On almost every subject that comes up in the House, especially if there be ladies present, the honorable gentleman from Coles is sure to make a speech."[24] According to the Bloomington, Indiana, Herald Telephone,

19 Peoria Democratic Press, February 10, 1847.

20 Palmer, I, 181.

21 Peoria Democratic Press, February 10, 1847.

22 Chicago Times, April 19, 1865.

23 Sangamo Journal, January 6, 1838.

24 Quincy Whig, November 27, 1849.

Linder is proclaimed as a rare treat when it comes to making political speeches."[25] Finally, the Alton Telegraph staff felt the name of Linder to be sufficient explanation of the eloquence that followed. "As the style of this gentleman's oratory is well known in this part of the State, we shall not attempt to describe it."[26]

Usher Ferguson Linder -- a man of great natural ability, successful lawyer, keen debater and notable orator -- delighted the people of Illinois with his eloquence during the first half of the 19th century. As one of the eminent lawyers of the day, the party securing his legal services was fortunate indeed. As a campaign orator, he had few equals. He was quick in repartee and few cared to encounter him in debate. His eulogies and occasional addresses were heralded as eloquent displays of patriotism and pathos. The speechmaking of this orator from Coles was indeed a significant contribution to his state and country at a critical period in our history.

25 Bennett P. Reed, "Quite a Galaxy Engaged to Espouse Democrats," Bloomington Herald Telephone, July 2, 1964.

26 Alton Telegraph, April 18, 1838.



Angle, Paul M., ed. Created Equal? Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1958.

Barnes, Gilbert H. and Dumond, Dwight L., eds. Letters of Theodore Dwight Weld, Angelina Grimke and Sarah Grimke - 1822-1844. New York and London, D. Applewhite-Century Co., Inc., 1834.

Baringer, William. Lincoln's Vandalia. Boston, Little, Brown and Co., 1949.

Basler, Roy P., ed., Collected Works New Brunswick, N.J., Rutgers University Press, 1953.

Beckwith, Hiram W. History of Vermillion County. Chicago, H.H. Hill and Company, 1879.

Beecher, Edward. Narrative of Riots at Alton. Alton, G. Holton, 1838.

Beveridge, Albert J. Abraham Lincoln. Boston and New York, Houghton-Mifflin, 1928.

Coleman, Charles. Abraham Lincoln and Coles County, Illinois. New Brunswick, N.J., Scarecrow Press, 1955.

Crossley, Frederic B. Courts and Lawyers of Illinois. Chicago, American Historical Society, 1916.

Dumond, Dwight L., ed. Letters of James G. Birney -- 1831-1857. New York and London, D. Appleton-Century Co., Inc., 1938.

Dunne, Edward F. History of Illinois. Chicago and New York, Lewis Publishing Company, 1933.

Eighth Census of the United States 1860, Statistics of Population. Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office, 1864.

Illinois in 1837. Philadelphia, S. Augustus Mitchell and Grigg and Elliot, 1837.

Johnson, Charles B. Illinois in the Fifties. Champaign, Flanigan-Pearson Company, 1918.

Lincoln, William S. Alton Trials. New York, N.P., 1838.

Linder, Usher F. Reminiscences of the Early Bench and Bar of Illinois. Chicago, Chicago Legal News Company, 1876.

Lovejoy, Joseph C. and Owen. Memoir of the Reverend Elijah P. Lovejoy. New York, J.S. Taylor, 1838.

Palmer, John M., ed. The Bench and Bar of Illinois. Chicago, Lewis Publishing Company, 1899.

__________. Personal Recollections. Cincinnati, R. Clarke, 1901.

Pease, Theodore Calvin. The Frontier State, 1818-1848. Springfield, Illinois, Illinois Centennial Commission, 1918.

__________. Illinois Election Returns, 1818-1848.. Springfield, Illinois, Illinois State Historical Library, 1923.

Pooley, William V. The Settlement of Illinois from 1830 to 1850. Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 1908.

Riddle, Donald W. Congressman Abraham Lincoln. Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1957.

Seventh Census of the United States 1850. Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office, 1853.

Sixth Census of the United States 1840. Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office, 1843.

Statistics of the United States in 1860; compiled from the original returns and being the final exhibit of the eighth census. Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office, 1866.

Tanner, Henry. The Martyrdom of Lovejoy. Chicago, Fergus Printing Company, 1881.

Wallace, Lew. Lew Wallace: An Autobiography. New York, Harper and Brothers, 1906.

Whitney, Henry Clay. Life on the Circuit. Caldwell, Idaho, Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1940.


Bowen, A.L. "Anti-Slavery Convention Held in Alton, Illinois, October 26-28, 1837," Journal of Illinois State Historical Society, XX (1928), 329-356.

Colyer, Walter. "Times When Lincoln Remembered Albion," Journal of Illinois State Historical Society," IX, (1917), 481-490.

Dugan, Frank H. "An Illinois Martyrdom," Papers in Illinois History. 1939, 111-157.

Haines, James. "Social Life and Scenes in the Early Settlement of Central Illinois," Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society, No. 10 (1906), 35-57.

Holbert, George K. "Lincoln and Linder in Kentucky," Lincoln Herald, XLIV (June 1942), 2-12.

______________. "Lincoln and Linder in Illinois," Lincoln Herald, XLIV (October-December 1942), 2-4.

Reed, Bennett P. "Quite a Galaxy Engaged to Espouse Democrats," Bloomington Herald Telephone, July 2, 1864.

Root, Robert Marshall. "The Lincoln-Douglas Debate at Charleston," (A painting.)

Snyder, J.F. "Alfred Cowles," Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society, No. 14 (1909), 167-178.

Thomas, S.E. "Lincoln and Douglas Debate," The Teachers College Bulletin - E.L.S.T.C., No. 86 (October 1924).

"Usher F. Linder," Who Was Who in Hardin County, Illinois State Historical Society.


Alton Observer, December, 1837.

Alton Telegraph, October, 1837, April, 1838, July, 1838. Boston Liberator, October, 1837.

Chicago Daily Times, April 1858.

Chicago Democrat, September, 1858.

Chicago Inter Ocean, December, 1904.

Chicago Journal, September, 1858.

Chicago Press and Tribune, September, 1858.

Chicago Times, September, 1858, April, 1865, October, 1865.

Illinois State Democrat, February, 1860.

Illinois State Journal, July, 1844, September, 1852.

Illinois State Register, June, 1837.

Marshall Telegraph, May, 1855.

Missouri Republican, June, 1837, October, 1837, October, 1839. September, 1858.

Peoria Democratic Press, February, 1847.

Qunicy Whig, November, 1849.

Sangamo Journal, January, 1837, January, 1838, December, 1846.

St. Louis Democrat, September, 1858.


Letters from Usher Linder to:

John J. Hardin, February 2, 1844, Chicago Historical Society.

John J. Hardin, February 21, 1844, Chicago Historical Society.

Joseph J. Gillespie, August 8, 1867, Chicago Historical Society.


Born September 16, 1941, in Omaha, Nebraska, Roma Linder Bradley graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1959. She attended Milliken University for two years where she was awarded the Pi Kappa Delta gold medal for a superior rating in oratory at the National Convention. In June 1963, she graduated with Honors in Speech Education from Northwestern University, where she became a member of Zeta Phi Eta. In the fall of 1963, she began graduate work in the Department of Speech and Theatre, Indiana University, and held and assistantship in forensics.


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