After the fall of Vicksburg I was given an extended leave of absence to go home and rest. I decided to speak out to save the Union. The newspapers called this my “Great Union Speech.” In DuQuoin, Illinois I drew a crowd of 5,000. I was asked to speak in Chicago.  First time I ever did that, they hadn’t cared much for this boy from “Egypt” before then.  In Chicago 10,000 came out to hear my speech. One reporter who set out to take notes and transcribe the entire speech word for word quickly dropped his pen and later wrote, “It is impossible to do justice to this part of the speech. None but those who listened with streaming eyes and throbbing brows can appreciate the thrilling power and majesty of his words. I never saw an audience so completely under the influence of eloquent words.” Even this reporter’s pad was stained with tears. The Chicago Tribune then published my speech as a pamphlet. I then lectured in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio. I drew crowds of 10-20,000 where ever I spoke. I guess I performed well enough because it was later reported that Lincoln told his secretary John Hay that I “ …was acting so splendidly…, that he absolved [me] in his own mind for all of the wrongs [I] ever did & all [I] will do hereafter.”  

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15. Marching On Atlanta