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Eyewitness​ accounts

"I heard Abraham Lincoln . . .

He had arrived [in Kalamazoo] that morning [August 27, 1856] from Chicago . . . a tall, gaunt, smooth-shaven man with black disheveled hair and heavy eyebrows, dressed in a short alpaca coat . . . black satin open vest, wide turn down collar with black necktie and dark pants of cheap texture - the whole outfit probably not costing more than $10 in the money of the period. The people bent forward with eager curiosity to listen to the tall stranger who was probably unknown even by reputation to the great mass of his audience, and who had never been seen (but) by half a dozen men on the ground . . . He had a clear, penetrating voice of tenor quality, which reached the confines of the great crowd, and he commanded their attention from the start."—A Happy Reminiscence of the Great American, by Charles S. May, published in the Kalamazoo Weekly Telegraph (Dec. 1893). 

". . . Lincoln is the man for me."

"[We] got there before the multitude commenced pouring in. We stopped upon the corner of Portage and some other street under the shade of some oaks and saw our delegation come up. [It] was over two miles long! We then went in near the ground for speaking and attempted to count the number of teams that drove past . . . after going up to 250, they came pouring in so fast that we gave up in despair. 

[I] came to the grounds where there were four or five tables spread with the staples of the land: bread, meat, cheese, etc. The tables were about 15 rods long and every few rods were set barrels of ice water with tin cups attached. I commenced at one end of a table and ate my way threw [sic], and when I gave in from sheer fatigue, I was alarmed at what I had done .

. . . meanwhile, we listened to the different speeches that were being made. Mr. Lincoln, Blair, Bingham, Bates, Jones, Kellogg and many other distinguished speakers were there. They occupied four different stands at once and the crowd was so dense at every one of them that we could not listen with much satisfaction. Listened to Mr. Bates the longest and liked him much, but Lincoln is the man for me."—Diary Entry for Wednesday, August 27, 1856, Henry Parker Smith