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The first session of the 30th Congress was to convene on December 6, 1847. In October of that year, the Lincolns rented their house for $90 a year to Cornelius Ludlum, and left for Washington by way of Lexington, Kentucky, where they visited Mary’s family. After a difficult stagecoach and railroad trip, the Lincolns arrived in Washington.

Though Lincoln was active as a new member of Congress, his colleagues generally appraised him as a droll Westerner of average talents. Lincoln's opposition to the Mexican War, which had broken out in May 1846, soon made him unpopular with his constituents. In Illinois, the patriotic fervor and hunger for new lands dispelled any doubts that the people may have had about the American cause. Lincoln's "spot" resolutions asked President James Polk to admit that the "spot" where American blood was first shed was Mexican territory. His anti-administration speeches created surprised resentment at home and earned him the nickname "Spotty Lincoln." Illinois Democrats called Lincoln a disgrace.

The war debates also raised the issue of slavery. Whether these newly won territories should be open to slavery was perhaps the most serious question before the 30th Congress. The debates in Congress showed Lincoln the explosiveness and divisiveness of the slavery question.

In May, 1849, the second session of the 30th Congress ended and Lincoln returned home, happy to be reunited with his friends and family who had stayed in Washington only a short time. Feeling that he had no future in politics, Lincoln returned to the dusty roads of the Eighth Judicial Circuit

Lincoln declined an offer to assume the governorship of the new Oregon Territory.


Adapted from the National Park Service. Used with permission.