The Every-day Life of Abraham Lincoln
by Francis Fisher Browne
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Many years afterward—in fact, while Lincoln was President—he referred to those early scenes in a way that illustrates his wonderful memory and his power of recalling the minutest incidents of his past life. Meeting an old Illinois friend, he naturally fell to talking of Illinois, and related several stories of his early life in that region. Particularly he remembered his share in the Black Hawk War. He referred to his part of the campaign lightly, and said that he saw but very little fighting. But he remembered coming on a camp of white scouts one morning just as the sun was rising. The Indians had surprised the camp and killed and scalped every man. "I remember just how those men looked," said Lincoln, "as we rode up the little hill where their camp was. The red light of the morning sun was streaming upon them as they lay, heads toward us, on the ground, and every man had a round red spot on the top of his head, about as big as a dollar, where the redskins had taken his scalp. It was frightful, but it was grotesque, and the red sunlight seemed to paint everything all over." Lincoln paused as if recalling the vivid picture, and added, somewhat irrelevantly, "I remember that one man had buckskin breeches on."

Lincoln also told a good story of his first experience in drilling raw troops during the Black Hawk War. He was crossing a field with a front of twenty men when he came to a gate through which it was necessary to pass. In describing the incident he said: "I could not, for the life of me, remember the proper word of command for getting my company endwise, so that it could pass through the gate. So, as we came near the gate, I shouted, 'Halt! this company is dismissed for two minutes, when it will fall in again on the other side of the gate.'" The manoeuvre was successfully executed.

During this campaign an incident occurred which well serves to show Lincoln's keen sense of justice, his great common sense, and his resoluteness when aroused. One day there came to the camp an old Indian, footsore and hungry. He was provided with a letter of safe-conduct from General Cass; but there was a feeling of great irritation against the Indians, and the men objected strongly to receiving him. They pronounced him a spy and his passport a forgery, and were rushing upon the defenseless Indian to kill him, when the tall figure of their captain, Lincoln, suddenly appeared between them and their victim. His men had never seen him so aroused, and they cowed before him. "Men," said he, "this must not be done! He must not be killed by us!" His voice and manner produced an effect on the mob. They paused, listened, fell back, and sullenly obeyed him, although there were still some murmurs of disappointed rage. At length one man, probably thinking he spoke for the crowd, cried out: "This is cowardly on your part, Lincoln!" Lincoln only gazed with contempt on the men who would have murdered one unarmed Indian but who quailed before his single hand. "If any man thinks I am a coward," said he, "let him test it." "Lincoln," was the reply, "you are larger and heavier than any of us." "That you can guard against," responded the captain. "Choose your weapons!" The insubordination ended, and the word "coward" was never associated with Lincoln's name again. He afterward said that at this time he felt that his life and character were both at stake, and would probably have been lost had he not at the supreme moment forgotten the officer and asserted the man. His men could hardly have been called soldiers. They were merely armed citizens, with a military organization in name only. Had he ordered them under arrest he would have created a serious mutiny; and to have them tried and punished would have been impossible.

It was while Lincoln was a militia captain that he made the acquaintance of a man who was destined to have an important influence on his life. This was Major John T. Stuart, afterwards his law-partner. Stuart was already a lawyer by profession. During the Black Hawk War he commanded one of the Sangamon County companies, and was soon afterward elected major of a spy battalion formed from some of these companies. He had the best of opportunities at this time to observe the merits of Captain Lincoln, and testifies that the latter was exceedingly popular among the soldiers on account of his excellent care of the men in his command, his never-failing good nature, and his ability to tell more stories and better ones than any man in the service. He was popular also among these hardy men on account of his great physical strength. For several years after the Black Hawk War Lincoln retained his military title and was usually addressed as "Captain Lincoln." But this in time was discontinued. Stuart's title of "Major," on the contrary, adhered to him through life. He was best known as "Major Stuart" down to the time of his death, which occurred early in the winter of 1886.

The time for which Captain Lincoln's company enlisted soon ran by, but the trouble with the Indians not being ended Governor Reynolds called for a second body of volunteers. Lincoln again responded, and was enrolled as a private in the independent company commanded by Elijah Iles of Springfield. A note of this occurrence, made in 1868 by Captain Iles, contains the following statement: "The term of Governor Reynolds's first call being about to expire, he made a second call, and the first levy was disbanded. I was elected a captain of one of the companies. We were mustered into service on the 29th of May, 1832, at the mouth of Fox river, now Ottawa, by Lieutenant Robert Anderson, Assistant Inspector General in the United States Army."

One day during the Black Hawk War there were in the camp on Rock river four men afterward famed in the history of the country. It was while Lincoln was a member of the company under command of Captain Iles. These men were Lieutenant Colonel Zachary Taylor, Lieutenant Jefferson Davis, Lieutenant Robert Anderson, and Private Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln and Anderson did not meet again until 1861, after the latter had evacuated Fort Sumter. Major Anderson then visited Washington and called at the White House to pay his respects to the President. After having expressed his thanks to Anderson for his conduct in South Carolina, Lincoln said, "Major, do you remember ever meeting me before?" "No, Mr. President, I do not remember having had the pleasure before," said Anderson. "Well," said Lincoln, "my memory is better than yours. You mustered me into the service of the United States in 1832 at Dixon's Ferry, during the Black Hawk War."

Lincoln displayed the same courage and fidelity in performing the duties of a soldier that had marked his conduct in all other relations of life. Father Dixon, the guide who was attached to Captain Iles's company of mounted rangers, remarks that in their marches when scouts were sent forward to examine thickets and ravines in which it was thought the enemy might be lurking it often became necessary for many of the men to dismount and attend to their riding gear. Whenever Lincoln was detailed for such service, however, his saddle was always in order.

During the contest between General Lewis Cass and General Zachary Taylor for the Presidency, in the year 1848, Lincoln made a speech in Congress in which he referred to his services in the Black Hawk War with characteristic humor:

"By the way, Mr. Speaker," he said, "did you know that I am a military hero? Yes, sir. In the days of the Black Hawk War I fought, bled, and came away. Speaking of General Cass's career reminds me of my own. I was not at Stillman's defeat, but I was about as near it as Cass was to Hull's surrender, and, like him, I saw the place very soon afterwards. It is quite certain that I did not break my sword, for I had none to break. But I bent my musket pretty badly on one occasion. If Cass broke his sword the idea is that he broke it in desperation. I bent my musket by accident. If General Cass went ahead of me in picking whortleberries, I guess I surpassed him in charges upon the wild onions. If he saw any live fighting Indians, it is more than I did, but I had a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitos, and although I never fainted from loss of blood I can truly say that I was often very hungry. Mr. Speaker, if I should ever conclude to doff whatever our Democratic friends may suppose there is in me of black-cockade Federalism, and thereupon they shall take me up as their candidate for the Presidency, I protest they shall not make fun of me as they have of General Cass by attempting to write me into a military hero."

Lincoln's popularity among his comrades in the field was so great that at the close of his military service, which had lasted three months, he was nominated as a candidate for the State Legislature. "His first appearance on the stump in the course of the canvass was at Pappsville, about eleven miles west of Springfield, upon the occasion of a public sale. The sale over, speech-making was about to begin, when Lincoln observed some strong symptoms of inattention in his audience which had taken that particular moment to engage in a a general fight. Lincoln saw that one of his friends was suffering more than he liked, and stepping into the crowd he shouldered them sternly away from his man until he met a fellow who refused to fall back. Him he seized by the nape of the neck and the seat of his breeches, and tossed him 'ten or twelve feet easily.' After this episode—as characteristic of him as of the times—he mounted the platform and delivered with awkward modesty the following speech: 'Gentlemen and Fellow-Citizens, I presume you all know who I am. I am humble Abraham Lincoln. I have been solicited by my friends to become a candidate for the Legislature. My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman's dance. I am in favor of a national bank. I am in favor of the internal-improvement system and a high protective tariff. These are my sentiments and political principles. If elected I shall be thankful. If not, it will be all the same.'"

Lincoln's friend, Mr. A.Y. Ellis, who was with him during a part of this campaign, says: "He wore a mixed-jeans coat, claw-hammer style, short in the sleeves and bobtail,—in fact, it was so short in the tail that he could not sit down on it,—flax and tow linen pantaloons, and a straw hat. I think he wore a vest, but I do not remember how it looked. He wore pot-metal boots. I went with him on one of his electioneering trips to Island Grove, and he made a speech which pleased his party friends very well, although some of the Jackson men tried to make sport of it. He told several good anecdotes in the speech, and applied them very well, I thought."

The election took place in August, and although Lincoln was defeated he received two hundred and seventy-seven out of the two hundred and eighty-four votes cast in his precincts. He was so little known outside of New Salem that the chances of election were hopelessly against him, yet the extraordinary evidence of favor shown by the vote of his fellow-townsmen was a flattering success in the midst of defeat. His failure to be elected, however, left him once more without occupation. He was without means, and felt the necessity of undertaking some business that would provide him an income, however small. It seems that at this time he considered seriously learning the blacksmith's trade, but while entertaining the idea an event occurred which opened the way in another direction. The particulars of this event are given by Mr. W.G. Greene. "A man named Reuben Radford," says Mr. Greene, "was the keeper of a small store in the village of New Salem. A friend told him to look out for the 'Clary Grove boys' or they would smash him up. He said he was not afraid. He was a great big fellow. But his friend said, 'They don't come alone. If one can't whip you, two or three can, and they'll do it.' One day he left his store in charge of his brother, with injunctions that if the 'Clary Grove boys' came he must not let them have more than two drinks apiece. All the stores in those days kept liquor to sell and had a corner for drinking. The store was nicely fitted up, and had many things in glass jars nicely labelled. The 'Clary Grove boys' came, and took two drinks each. The clerk refused them any more as politely as he could. Then they went behind the counter and helped themselves. They got roaring drunk and went to work smashing everything in the store. The fragments on the floor were an inch deep. They left and went off on their horses whooping and yelling. Coming across some herds of cattle, they took the bells from their necks, fastened them to the tails of the leaders, and chased them over the country yelling like mad. Radford heard them, and, mounting his horse, rode in hot haste to the store. I had been sent that morning with grist to the mill, and had to pass the store. I saw Radford ride up, his horse a lather of foam. He dismounted, and looked in upon the wreck through the open door He was aghast at the sight, and said, 'I'll sell out this thing to the first man that comes along.' I rode up and said, 'I'll give you four hundred dollars for it.' 'Done!' said he. 'But,' I said, 'I have no money. I must have time.' 'How much?' 'Six months.' 'Agreed.' He drew up a note for four hundred dollars at six months, and I signed it. I began to think I was stuck. Then the boys came in, and among them was Lincoln. 'Cheer up, Billy,' he said. 'It's a good thing. We'll take an inventory.' 'No more inventories for me,' said I, not knowing what he meant. He explained that we should take an account of stock to see how much was left. We found that it amounted to about twelve hundred dollars. Lincoln and Berry consulted over it, and offered me two hundred and fifty dollars for my bargain. I accepted, stipulating that they should assume my notes. Berry was a wild fellow—a gambler. He had a fine horse, with a splendid saddle and bridle. He turned over the horse as part pay. Lincoln let Berry run the store, and it soon ran out. I had to pay the note. Lincoln said he would pay it some day and did, with interest." This ended Lincoln's brief career as a country merchant.

Many of the anecdotes in the foregoing pages touch upon Lincoln's ambition to fit himself for a public speaker. Even at this early day the settlers in New Salem were infected with the general desire to join in the march toward intellectual improvement. To aid in this object, they had established a club entitled the New Salem Literary Society. Before this association, the studious Lincoln was invited to speak. Mr. R.B. Rutledge, the brother of Anne Rutledge, says of the event: "About the year 1832 or 1833, Mr. Lincoln made his first effort at public speaking. A debating club, of which James Rutledge was president, was organized and held regular meetings. As Lincoln arose to speak, his tall form towered above the little assembly. Both hands were thrust down deep in the pockets of his pantaloons. A perceptible smile at once lit up the faces of the audience, for all anticipated the relation of some humorous story. But he opened up the discussion in splendid style, to the infinite astonishment of his friends. As he warmed with his subject, his hands would forsake his pockets and enforce his ideas by awkward gestures, but would very soon seek their easy resting-places. He pursued the question with reason and argument so pithy and forcible that all were amazed. The president, after the meeting, remarked to his wife that there was more in Abe's head than wit and fun; that he was already a fine speaker; that all he lacked was culture to enable him to reach the high destiny which he knew was in store for him."

On the 7th of May, 1833, Lincoln was appointed postmaster at New Salem by President Jackson. The duties of the position were light, there being only a weekly mail, and the remuneration was correspondingly small. "The office was too insignificant to be considered politically, and it was given to the young man because everybody liked him, and because he was the only man willing to take it who could make out the returns. He was exceedingly pleased with the appointment, because it gave him a chance to read every newspaper that was taken in the vicinity. He had never been able to get half the newspapers he wanted, and the office gave him the prospect of a constant feast. Not wishing to be tied to the office, as it yielded him no revenue that would reward him for the confinement, he made a post-office of his hat. Whenever he went out, the letters were placed in his hat. When an anxious looker for a letter met the postmaster he found also the post-office, and the public official, taking off his hat, looked over and delivered the mail wherever the public might find him. He kept the office until it was discontinued, or was removed to Petersburg."

A small balance due the government remained in the hands of Lincoln at the discontinuance of the office. Time passed on, and he had removed to Springfield and was practicing law, having his place of business in Dr. Henry's office. Meanwhile his struggle with poverty was unabated, and he had often been obliged to borrow money from his friends to purchase the barest necessities. It was at this juncture that the agent of the United States called for a settlement of his post-office accounts. The interview took place in the presence of Dr. Henry who thus describes it: "I did not believe he had the money on hand to meet the draft, and I was about to call him aside and loan him the money, when he asked the agent to be seated a moment. He went over to his trunk at his boarding-house and returned with an old blue sock with a quantity of silver and copper coin tied up in it. Untying the sock, he poured the contents on the table and proceeded to count the coin, which consisted of such silver and copper pieces as the country people were then in the habit of using in paying postage. On counting it up, there was found the exact amount of the draft to a cent, and in the identical coin which had been received. He never, under any circumstances, used trust funds."

When Lincoln was about twenty-three years of age, some time in 1832, he began studying law, using an old copy of Blackstone's Commentaries which he had bought at auction in Springfield. This work was soon mastered, and then the young man looked about him for more. His friend of the Black Hawk War, Major John T. Stuart, had a considerable law library for those days, and to him Lincoln applied in his extremity. The library was placed at his disposal, and thenceforth he was engrossed in the acquisition of its contents. But the books were in Springfield, where their owner resided; and New Salem was some fourteen miles distant. This proved no obstacle in the way of Lincoln, who made nothing of the walk back and forth in the pursuit of his purpose. Mr. Stuart's partner, Mr. H.C. Dummer, who took note of the youth in his frequent visits to the office, describes him as "an uncouth looking lad, who did not say much, but what he did say he said straight and sharp." "He used to read law," says Henry McHenry, "barefooted, seated in the shade of a tree just opposite Berry's grocery, and would grind around with the shade, occasionally varying his attitude by lying flat on his back and putting his feet up the tree," a situation which might have been unfavorable to mental application in the case of a man with shorter extremities. "The first time I ever saw Abe with a law-book in his hand," says Squire Godbey, "he was sitting astride Jake Bates's woodpile in New Salem. Says I, 'Abe, what are you studying?' 'Law,' says Abe. 'Good God Almighty!' responded I." It was too much for Godbey; he could not suppress the exclamation of surprise at seeing such a figure acquiring learning in such an odd situation. Mr. Arnold states that Lincoln made a practice of reading in his walks between Springfield and New Salem; and so intense was his application and so absorbed was he in his study that he would pass his best friends without observing them, and some people said that Lincoln was going crazy with hard study.

He soon began to make a practical application of his legal knowledge. He bought an old form-book and began to draw up contracts, deeds, leases, mortgages, and all sorts of legal instruments for his neighbors. He also began to exercise his forensic ability in trying small cases before justices of the peace and juries, and soon acquired a local reputation as a speaker, which gave him considerable practice. But he was able in this way to earn scarcely money enough for his maintenance. To add to his means, he took up the study of surveying, and soon became, like Washington, a skilful and accurate surveyor. John Calhoun, an intelligent and courteous gentleman, was at that time surveyor of the county of Sangamon. He became interested in Lincoln and appointed him his deputy. His work was so accurate and the settlers had such confidence in him that he was much sought after to survey, fix, and mark the boundaries of farms, and to plot and lay off the town of Petersburg. His accuracy must have been attained with some difficulty, for when he began to survey his chain was a grape-vine. He did not speculate in the land he surveyed. Had he done so the rapid advance in the value of real estate would have made it easy for him to make good investments. But he was not in the least like one of his own appointees when President,—a surveyor-general of a Western territory, who bought up much of the best land, and to whom the President said, "I am told, sir, you are monarch of all you survey."

The nomination of Lincoln for the State Legislature on his return from the Black Hawk War was premature. The people of New Salem voted for him almost to a man, but his acquaintance had not then extended into the surrounding district far enough to insure his election. In the campaign of 1834 the choice of a candidate again fell upon him, and this time there was a prospect of success. Lincoln entered into the contest with earnestness, and used every legitimate means to secure a victory. Mr. Herndon relates the following incident of this campaign: "Lincoln came to my house, near Island Grove, during harvest. There were some thirty men in the field. He had his dinner, and then went out into the field where the men were at work. I introduced him, and the boys said they would not vote for a man unless he could 'make a hand.' 'Well, boys,' he said, 'if that is all that is needed I am sure of your votes.' He took hold of the cradle and led the way all around with perfect ease. The boys were satisfied. I don't think he lost a vote in that crowd. The next day there was speaking at Berlin. He went from my house with Dr. Barnett, who had asked me who this man Lincoln was. I told him he was a candidate for the Legislature. He laughed and said, 'Can't the party raise better material than that?' I said, 'Go to-morrow and hear him before you pass judgment.' When he came back I said, 'Doctor, what have you to say now?' 'Why, sir,' he said, 'he is a perfect take-in. He knows more than all the rest of them put together.'"

The result of the election was that Lincoln was chosen to represent the Sangamon district. When the Legislature convened at the opening session, he was in his place in the lower house; but he bore himself quietly in his new position. He had much to learn in his novel situation as one of the lawmakers of the State, and as a co-worker with an assembly comprising the most talented and prominent men gathered from all parts of Illinois. He was keenly watchful of the proceedings of the House, weighing every measure with scrutinizing sagacity, but except in the announcement of his vote his voice was seldom heard. At the previous session, Mr. G.S. Hubbard, afterwards a well-known citizen of Chicago, had exerted himself to procure the passage of an act for the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. His effort was defeated; but he continued, as a lobbyist, to push the measure during several winters, until it was finally adopted. Lincoln lent him efficient aid in the accomplishment of his object. "Indeed," remarks Mr. Hubbard, "I very much doubt if the bill could have passed as easily as it did without his valuable help." "We were thrown much together," continues Mr. Hubbard, "our intimacy increasing. I never had a friend to whom I was more warmly attached. His character was almost faultless; possessing a warm and generous heart, genial, affable, honest, courteous to his opponents, persevering, industrious in research, never losing sight of the principal point under discussion, aptly illustrating by his stories which were always brought into good effect. He was free from political trickery or denunciation of the personal character of his opponents. In debate he was firm and collected. 'With malice toward none, with charity for all,' he won the confidence of the public, even his political opponents."

Of all the stories of Lincoln's boyhood and youth, the most profoundly touching is that of his love for Anne Rutledge. The existence of this romance was brief, but it is believed by many that it was the memory of it which threw over Lincoln that indescribable melancholy which seemed to shadow his whole life. The Rutledges from whom Anne was descended were an eminent family of the Carolinas. She was about nineteen years old when Lincoln knew her first. It was shortly after the Black Hawk War. She was a winsome girl, with fair hair and blue eyes, and Lincoln's heart was captivated by her sweet face and gentle manners. So attractive a girl was not, of course, without suitors, and Anne had been wooed by one James McNeill, a young man who had come to New Salem soon after the founding of the town. He had been more than ordinarily successful, and had bought a large farm a few miles north of the village. He was unmarried—at least he so represented himself—and paid devoted attention to Anne. They were engaged, although both had acquiesced in the wishes of Anne's parents that they should not be married until she was older.

About this time Lincoln appeared in New Salem and went to board at the Rutledge tavern. Here he saw Anne, and was much in her company. During the next year McNeill became restless and discontented. He said it was because he wanted to see his people. So he decided to go East on a visit. He sold out his interests in New Salem—an act not at all necessary if he were going only on a visit, and which in the light of after events had much significance—telling Anne that it was his hope to bring his father and mother back with him and establish them upon his farm. "This done," he said, "we will be married." He then set out on his journey.

It was late in the summer before Anne heard from him. He explained that he had been taken ill with chills and fever on the way, and had been long delayed in getting home. But the long wait had been a great strain upon Anne. Lincoln, meanwhile, had become the postmaster in New Salem, and it was to him that Anne came to inquire for letters. He watched her anxiety with sympathy, and in a way became her confidant. His tender heart, which never could resist suffering, was deeply touched at sight of her distress. Finally McNeill's letters ceased altogether; and then Anne confided to Lincoln something which McNeill had told her before he left, and which until now she had kept secret,—namely, that his name was not McNeill but McNamar. He had explained to her that he had made this change because his father had failed in business and that as his oldest son it was his duty to retrieve the family fortunes. So he had changed his name, and come West, hoping to return in a few years to his family a rich man. All this Anne had believed, and had not repeated until now.

All New Salem joined in declaring McNamar an impostor and his story a fabrication. "Who knew how many wives he had?" they said. With one accord Anne's friends denounced him; and although his story turned out afterward to be not altogether false, it is small wonder that Anne herself at last came to believe that either he was dead or had ceased to love her.

While matters were in this state, Lincoln ventured to show his love for Anne. It was a long time before she would listen; but, convinced at last that her former lover had deserted her, she promised, in the spring of 1835, to become his wife. But Lincoln had nothing on which to support a family,—in fact, could hardly support himself. Besides, Anne was anxious to go to school another year. So it was decided that she should spend the winter in an academy in Jacksonville, while Lincoln devoted himself to the study of the law. Then, when she should return from school, he would be a member of the bar and they could be married.

A happy spring and summer followed. All their friends took an interest in the lovers, and their prospects seemed bright. But Anne's health began to fail. She could not rid herself of her haunting memories. There was a possibility that she had wronged McNamar. What if he should love her still, and should return and find her wedded to another? Had she wronged both men? In her thoughts was perpetual conflict. The old love still persisted. Her conscience troubled her. She doubted, and was morbidly melancholy. All this wore upon her; she fell ill. At last her condition became grave, then hopeless. Lincoln was sent for. Anne's last hour was passed alone with him. She died at sunset, August 25, 1835. An old neighbor who saw Lincoln just after his parting with the dying girl says: "There were signs of the most terrible distress in his face. His grief became frantic. He lost all self-control, even the consciousness of his own identity; and his closest friends in New Salem pronounced him insane, crazy, mad. They watched him with especial vigilance on dark and stormy days. At such times he raved piteously, often saying, 'I can never be reconciled to having the snow fall and the rain beat upon her grave.'" His old friend, Bowlin Greene, alone seemed possessed of the power to quiet him. He took him to his own home and kept him for several weeks, an object of undisguised solicitude. At last it seemed safe to permit him to return to his old haunts. Greene urged him to go back to the law; and he did so, but he was never the same man again. He was thin, haggard, and careworn. He was as one who had been at the brink of the grave. A long time afterward, when the grass had for nearly thirty years grown over the grave of Anne Rutledge, Lincoln was one day introduced to a man named Rutledge in the White House. He looked at him a moment, then grasped his hand and said with deep feeling: "I love the name of Rutledge to this day. Anne was a lovely girl. She was natural, well-educated. She would have made a good, loving wife. I did honestly and truly love her, and I think often, often of her now." Mr. Herndon has said that the love and the death of this young girl shattered Lincoln's purposes and tendencies. "He threw off his infinite sorrow only by leaping wildly into the political arena. He needed whip and spur to save him from despair."

The period of Abraham Lincoln's boyhood and youth had closed when he stood by the grave of Anne Rutledge. He had long been a man in stature. He was now a man in years; yet the rough path he had been forced to travel had made his progress toward maturity painfully slow. In spite of his low birth, of his dire poverty, of the rudeness and illiteracy of his associates, of the absence of refinement in his surroundings, of his scanty means of education, of his homely figure and awkward manners, of his coarse fare and shabby dress, he dared to believe there was an exalted career in store for him. He hewed out the foundations for it with indomitable spirit. It was to be grounded on manly virtues. It seems as though the boy felt the consecration of a high destiny from the very dawn of his intelligence, and it set him apart, secure amid the temptations and safe from the vices that corrupt many men. In the rough garb of the backwoodsman he preserved the instincts of a gentleman. He was the companion of bullies and boors. He shared their work and their sports, but he never stooped to their vulgarity. He very seldom drank with them, and they never heard him speak an oath. He could throw the stoutest in a wrestling match, and was ready, when brought to it, to whip any insolent braggart who made cruel use of his strength. He never flinched from hardship or danger, yet his heart was as soft and tender as a woman's. The great gentle giant had a feeling of sympathy for every living creature. He was not ashamed to rock a cradle, or to carry a pail of water or an armful of wood to spare a tired woman's arms. Though destitute of worldly goods, he was rich in friends. All the people of his acquaintance knew they could count on his doing the right thing always, so far as he was able. Hence they trusted and loved him; and the title of "Honest Abe," which he bore through life, was a seal of knighthood rarer and prouder than any king or queen could confer with the sword. Abraham Lincoln was one of nature's noblemen. He showed himself a hero in every circumstance of his boyhood and youth. The elements of greatness were visible even then. The boy who was true to duty, patient in privation, modest in merit, kind to every form of distress, determined to rise by wresting opportunities from the grudging hand of fate, was sure to make a man distinguished among his fellows,—a man noted among the great men of the world, as the boy had been among his neighbors in the wilds of Spencer County and New Salem.

The site of the town where Lincoln spent the last three years of the period covered in this portion of his biography is now a desolate waste. A gentleman who visited the spot during the summer of 1885 thus describes the mournful scene: "From the hill where I sit, under the shade of three trees whose branches make one, I look out over the Sangamon river and its banks covered apparently with primeval forests. Around are fields overgrown with weeds and stunted oaks. It was a town of ten or twelve years only. It began in 1824 and ended in 1836. Yet in that time it had a history which the world will not let die as long as it venerates the memory of the noble liberator and martyr President, Abraham Lincoln."


Lincoln's Beginning as a Lawyer—His Early Taste for Politics—Lincoln and the Lightning-Rod Man—Not an Aristocrat—Reply to Dr. Early—A Manly Letter—Again in the Illinois Legislature—The "Long Nine"—Lincoln on His Way to the Capital—His Ambition in 1836—First Meeting with Douglas—Removal of the Illinois Capital—One of Lincoln's Early Speeches—Pro-Slavery Sentiment in Illinois—Lincoln's Opposition to Slavery—Contest with General Ewing—Lincoln Lays out a Town—The Title "Honest Abe."

Abraham Lincoln's career as a lawyer covered a period of a quarter of a century, beginning about 1834 or '35, and ending with his election to the Presidency, in November, 1860. When he began his professional life he was an obscure and unpromising youth of twenty-five, with but little learning and fewer accomplishments, and without advantages of social influence or wealthy friends. Step by step, with patient industry and unflinching determination, he climbed the ladder of professional advancement until he stood among the foremost lawyers of the West. He had, indeed, won a national reputation; and when he laid aside his law books, a mature man of fifty, it was to enter upon the great honors and responsibilities of the Presidency of the American Republic.

Lincoln was devoted to his profession, and his success in it was earned by hard and constant application. But his natural taste for politics led him to take a full share in the activities of political life. He had already served a term in the Illinois Legislature (1834-35), and so well satisfied were his constituents that they renominated him for the succeeding term. In the canvass which followed he distinguished himself as a stump-speaker; showing, by his tact and ability, by the skill and ingenuity with which he met his opponents in debate, by his shrewdness in attack and readiness in retort, how much he had profited by the training of the previous years.

An incident illustrating his ready wit and his keen insight into human nature occurred early in this campaign, at Springfield, where a public discussion was held between the opposing candidates. An interesting version of this incident is given by Mr. Arnold: "There lived at this time in the most pretentious house in Springfield a prominent citizen named George Forquer. He had been long in public life, had been a leading Whig—the party to which Lincoln belonged—but had lately gone over to the Democrats, and had received from the Democratic administration an appointment to the lucrative post of Register of the Land Office at Springfield. Upon his handsome new house he had lately placed a lightning-rod, the first one ever put up in Sangamon County. As Lincoln was riding into town with his friends, they passed the fine house of Forquer, and observed the novelty of the lightning-rod, discussing the manner in which it protected the house from being struck by lightning. In this discussion there were seven Whig and seven Democratic candidates for the lower branch of the Legislature; and after several had spoken it fell to Lincoln to close the arguments. This he did with great ability. Forquer, though not a candidate, then asked to be heard for the Democrats in reply to Lincoln. He was a good speaker and well-known throughout the county. His special task that day was to attack and ridicule the young man from Salem. Turning to Lincoln, who stood within a few feet of him, he said: 'This young man must be taken down, and I am truly sorry that the task devolves upon me.' He then proceeded, in a very overbearing way, and with an assumption of great superiority, to attack Lincoln and his speech. Lincoln stood calm, but his flashing eye and pale cheek showed his indignation. As soon as Forquer had closed he took the stand and first answered his opponent's arguments fully and triumphantly. So impressive were his words and manner that a hearer believes that he can remember to this day, and repeat, some of the expressions. Among other things, he said: 'The gentleman commenced his speech by saying that this young man—alluding to me—must be taken down. I am not so young in years as I am in the tricks and trades of a politician; but,' said he, pointing to Forquer, 'live long or die young, I would rather die now, than, like the gentleman, change my politics for a three thousand dollar office, and then feel obliged to erect a lightning-rod over my house to protect a guilty conscience from the vengeance of an offended God!'"

"It is difficult to-day," says Mr. Arnold, "to appreciate the effect on the old settlers, of this figure. This lightning-rod was the first which most of those present had ever seen. They had slept all their lives in their cabins in conscious security. Here was a man who seemed, to these simple-minded people, to be afraid to sleep in his own house without special and extraordinary protection from Almighty God. These old settlers thought nothing but the consciousness of guilt, the stings of a guilty conscience, could account for such timidity. Forquer and his lightning-rod were talked over in every settlement from Sangamon to the Illinois and the Wabash. Whenever he rose to speak thereafter, they said, 'There is the man who dare not sleep in his own house without a lightning-rod to keep off the vengeance of the Almighty.'"

Another amusing incident of the same campaign, and one which illustrates Lincoln's love of a practical joke, is given as follows: "Among the Democrats stumping the county at this time was one Dick Taylor, a most pompous person, who was always arrayed in the richest attire—ruffled shirts, seals, etc., besides a rich embroidered vest. Notwithstanding this array, he made great pretentions of being one of the 'hard-handed yeomanry,' and ridiculed with much sarcasm the 'rag barons' and 'manufacturing lords' of the Whig party. One day, when he was particularly aggravating in a speech of this kind, Lincoln decided on a little sport, and sidling up to Taylor suddenly threw open the latter's coat, showing to the astonished spectators a glittering mass of ruffled shirt, gold watch, and glittering jewels. The crowd shouted uproariously. Lincoln said: 'While he [Colonel Taylor] was making these charges against the Whigs over the country, riding in fine carriages, wearing ruffled shirts, kid gloves, massive gold watch-chains with large gold seals, and flourishing a heavy gold-headed cane, I was a poor boy, hired on a flatboat at eight dollars a month, and had only one pair of breeches to my name, and they were buckskin,—and if you know the nature of buckskin, when wet and dried by the sun it will shrink,—and mine kept shrinking until they left several inches of my legs bare between the tops of my socks and the lower part of my breeches. Whilst I was growing taller, they were becoming shorter and so much tighter that they left a blue streak around my legs that can be seen to this day. If you call this aristocracy, I plead guilty to the charge.'"

"The Saturday evening preceding the election," says Mr. Lamon, "the candidates were addressing the people in the Court House at Springfield. Dr. Early, one of the candidates on the Democratic side, made some charge which Mr. N.W. Edwards, one of the candidates on the Whig side, deemed untrue. Edwards climbed on a table, so as to be seen by Early and by everyone in the house, and at the top of his voice told Early that the charge was false. The excitement that followed was intense—so much so that fighting men thought a duel must settle the difficulty. Lincoln, by the programme, followed Early. He took up the subject in dispute and handled it fairly and with such ability that everyone was astonished and pleased. So that difficulty ended there. Then for the first time, aroused by the excitement of the occasion, he spoke in that tenor intonation of voice that ultimately settled down into that clear, shrill monotone style that afterwards characterized his public speaking, and enabled his audience, however large, to hear distinctly the lowest sound of his voice." Mr. Arnold says that Lincoln's reply to Dr. Early was "often spoken of as exhibiting wonderful ability, and a crushing power of sarcasm and ridicule. When he began he was embarrassed, spoke slowly and with some hesitation and difficulty. But becoming excited by his subject, he forgot himself entirely, and went on with argument and wit, anecdote and ridicule, until his opponent was completely crushed. Old settlers of Sangamon County who heard this reply speak of his personal transformation as wonderful. When Lincoln began, they say, he seemed awkward, homely, unprepossessing. As he went on, and became excited, his figure rose to its full height and became commanding and majestic. His plain face was illuminated and glowed with expression. His dreamy eye flashed with inspiration, and his whole person, his voice, his gestures, were full of the magnetism of powerful feeling, of conscious strength and true eloquence."

The inflexible honesty and fine sense of honor which lay at the foundation of Lincoln's character are nobly exhibited in the following letter to a former friend but now political opponent, Col. Robert Allen:

DEAR COLONEL:—I am told that during my absence last week, you passed through this place, and stated publicly that you were in possession of a fact or facts which, if known to the public, would entirely destroy the prospects of N.W. Edwards and myself at the ensuing election, but that through favor to us you would forbear to divulge them. No one has needed favors more than I, and generally few have been less unwilling to accept them; but in this case favor to me would be injustice to the public, and therefore I must beg your pardon for declining it. That I once had the confidence of the people of Sangamon County is sufficiently evident; and if I have since done anything, either by design or misadventure, which if known would subject me to a forfeiture of that confidence, he who knows of that thing and conceals it is a traitor to his country's interest.

I find myself wholly unable to form any conjecture of what fact or facts, real or supposed, you spoke. But my opinion of your veracity will not permit me for a moment to doubt that you at least believed what you said. I am flattered with the personal regard you manifested for me; but I do hope that on more mature reflection you will view the public interest as a paramount consideration, and therefore determine to let the worst come.

I assure you that the candid statement of facts on your part, however low it may sink me, shall never break the ties of personal friendship between us.

I wish an answer to this, and you are at liberty to publish both if you choose.

Very respectfully, A. LINCOLN.


The campaign resulted in Lincoln's election to the Legislature of 1836. The nine delegates from Sangamon County happened to be men of remarkable stature, each one measuring six feet or more in height; and very naturally they were nicknamed the "Long Nine." Lincoln overtopped all the rest, and as a consequence was called "the Sangamon Chief." The State capital was then at Vandalia; and Lincoln's journey there from Springfield was made mainly on foot. As he was trudging along the muddy road, he fell in with Judge John Dean Caton, one of the early lawyers of Illinois, afterwards Chief Justice of the State, who became an intimate friend of Lincoln. Judge Caton gives an interesting account of their first meeting, which occurred at this time. "I first met Mr. Lincoln," says Judge Caton, "about the last of November, 1835, when on my way to Vandalia to join the Supreme Court, which met there the first Monday in December, at the same time as the meeting of the Legislature. There were a great many people and all sorts of vehicles on the road from Springfield to Vandalia. The roads were very bad, and most of the passengers got out and walked a considerable portion of the distance. It seemed almost like the movement of a little army. While walking thus along the side of the road I met Mr. Lincoln for the first time, and in the course of a two days' journey we became quite well acquainted. If he had been admitted to the bar at that time, he had not become known as a lawyer out of his own immediate circuit. He was going to Vandalia as a member of the Legislature. He was one of the 'Long Nine,' as it was called, from Sangamon County, who by their successful manoeuvring and united efforts succeeded in getting the seat of government moved from Vandalia to Springfield. During my stay of a few weeks in Vandalia I frequently met Mr. Lincoln. He was a very pleasant companion; but as we walked along the road on the occasion referred to, talking about indifferent subjects, nothing impressed me with any idea of his future greatness."

When Lincoln took his seat in the first session of the new Legislature at Vandalia, his mind was full of new projects. His real public service was now about to begin, and having spent his time in the previous Legislature mainly as an observer and listener he was determined during this session to identify himself conspicuously with the "liberal" progressive legislation, dreaming of a fame far different from that he actually obtained as an anti-slavery leader. As he remarked to his friend Speed, he hoped to obtain the great distinction of being called "the De Witt Clinton of Illinois."

It was at a special session of this Legislature that Lincoln first saw Stephen A. Douglas, his great political antagonist of the future, whom he describes as "the least man" he ever saw. Douglas had come into the State from Vermont only the previous year, and having studied law for several months considered himself eminently qualified to be State's attorney for the district in which he lived. General Linder says of the two men at this time: "I here had an opportunity, better than any I had previously possessed, of measuring the intellectual stature of Abraham Lincoln. He was then about twenty-seven years old—my own age. Douglas was four years our junior; consequently he could not have been over twenty-three years old. Yet he was a very ready and expert debater, even at that early period of his life. He and Lincoln were very frequently pitted against each other, being of different politics. They both commanded marked attention and respect."

A notable measure effected by the "Long Nine" during this session of the Legislature was the removal of the State Capital from Vandalia to Springfield. It was accomplished by dint of shrewd and persistent management, in which Lincoln was a leading spirit. Mr. Robert L. Wilson, one of his colleagues, says: "When our bill to all appearance was dead beyond resuscitation, and our friends could see no hope, Lincoln never for a moment despaired. Collecting his colleagues in his room for consultation, his practical common-sense, his thorough knowledge of human nature, made him an overmatch for his compeers, and for any man I have ever known."

Lincoln's reputation as an orator was gradually extending beyond the circle of his friends and constituents. He was gaining notice as a ready and forcible speaker, with shrewd and sensible ideas which he expressed with striking originality and independence. He was invited to address the Young Men's Lyceum at Springfield, January 27, 1837, and read a carefully prepared paper on "The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions," which was afterwards published in the Springfield "Weekly Journal." The address was crude and strained in style, but the feeling pervading it was fervent and honest, and its patriotic sentiment and sound reflection made it effective for the occasion. A few paragraphs culled from this paper, some of them containing remarkable prophetic passages, afford a clue to the stage of intellectual development which Lincoln had reached at the age of twenty-seven, and an interesting contrast with the terser style of his later years.

In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the American people, find our account running under date of the nineteenth century of the Christian era. We find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquisition or establishment of them; they are a legacy bequeathed us by a once hardy, brave and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors. Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and, through themselves, us, of this goodly land, and to uprear upon its hills and valleys a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; 'tis ours only to transmit these—the former unprofaned by the foot of an invader, the latter undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation—to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task, gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.

How, then, shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not, by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years! At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst ourselves. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we must live through all time, or die by suicide. I hope I am not over-wary; but, if I am not, there is even now something of ill-omen amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country, the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions in lieu of the sober judgment of the courts, and the worse than savage mobs for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any community; and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit it, it would be a violation of truth and an insult to our intelligence to deny. Accounts of outrages committed by mobs form the every-day news of the times. They have pervaded the country from New England to Louisiana; they are neither peculiar to the eternal snows of the former, nor the burning sun of the latter. They are not the creature of climate; neither are they confined to the slaveholding or non-slaveholding States. Alike they spring up among the pleasure-hunting masters of Southern slaves and the order-loving citizens of the land of steady habits. Whatever their course may be, it is common to the whole country. Here, then, is one point at which danger may be expected. The question recurs, How shall we fortify against it? The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well-wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular the laws of the country, and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of 'seventy-six' did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and the Laws let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own and his children's liberty. Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap. Let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges. Let it be written in primers, spelling-books, and in almanacs. Let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation.

During the years of Lincoln's service in the Illinois Legislature the Democratic party was strongly dominant throughout the State. The feeling on the subject of slavery was decidedly in sympathy with the South. A large percentage of the settlers in the southern and middle portions of Illinois were from States in which slave labor was maintained; and although the determination not to permit the institution to obtain a foothold in the new commonwealth was general, the people were opposed to any action which should affect its condition where it was already established. During the sessions of 1836-7 resolutions of an extreme pro-slavery character were carried through the Legislature by the Democratic party, aiming to prevent the Abolitionists from obtaining a foothold in the State. Lincoln could not conscientiously support the resolutions, nor hold his peace concerning them. He did not shrink from the issue, but at the hazard of losing his political popularity and the gratifying prospects that were opening before him he drew up a protest against the pro-slavery enactment and had it entered upon the Journal of the House. The state of public opinion in Illinois at that time may be judged by the fact that of the hundred Representatives in the House only one had the courage to sign the protest with him. Lincoln's protest was as follows:

March 3, 1837.

The following protest, presented to the House, was read and ordered to be spread on the journals, to wit:

Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having passed both branches of the General Assembly at its present session, the undersigned hereby protest against the passage of the same.

They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy; but that the promulgation of abolition doctrines tends rather to increase than abate its evils.

They believe that the Congress of the United States has no power, under the Constitution, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the different States.

They believe that the Congress of the United States has the power, under the Constitution, to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, but that the power ought not to be exercised, unless at the request of the people of the District.

The difference between these opinions and those contained in the said resolutions, is their reason for entering this protest.

(Signed) DAN STONE, A. LINCOLN, Representatives from the County of Sangamon.

The great financial panic which swept over the country in 1837 rendered expedient an extra session of the Legislature, which was called together in July. General Lee D. Ewing had been elected to this session from Fayette County for the express purpose of repealing the law removing the capital from Vandalia to Springfield. "General Ewing was," says Mr. Linder, "a man of considerable notoriety, popularity, and talents. He had been a member of Congress from Illinois, and had filled various State offices in his time. He was a man of elegant manners, great personal courage, and would grace either the salons of fashion or the Senate chamber at Washington. The Legislature opened its special session (I was there as a spectator), and General Ewing sounded the tocsin of war. He said that 'the arrogance of Springfield, its presumption in claiming the seat of government, was not to be endured; that the law had been passed by chicanery and trickery; that the Springfield delegation had sold out to the internal improvement men, and had promised their support to every measure that would gain them a vote to the law removing the seat of government.' He said many other things, cutting and sarcastic. Lincoln was chosen by his colleagues to reply to Ewing; and I want to say here that this was the first time that I began to conceive a very high opinion of the talents and personal courage of Abraham Lincoln. He retorted upon Ewing with great severity, denouncing his insinuations imputing corruption to him and his colleagues, and paying back with usury all that Ewing had said, when everybody thought and believed that he was digging his own grave; for it was known that Ewing would not quietly pocket any insinuations that would degrade him personally. I recollect his reply to Lincoln well. After addressing the Speaker, he turned to the Sangamon delegation, who all sat in the same portion of the house, and said: 'Gentlemen, have you no other champion than this coarse and vulgar fellow to bring into the lists against me? Do you suppose that I will condescend to break a lance with your low and obscure colleague?' We were all very much alarmed for fear there would be a personal conflict between Ewing and Lincoln. It was confidently believed that a challenge must pass between them; but friends on both sides took the matter in hand, and it was settled without anything serious growing out of it."

When the legislative session ended, in February, 1837, Lincoln returned to a job of surveying which he had begun a year before at Petersburg, near his old home at Salem. He spent a month or two at Petersburg, completing the surveying and planning of the town. That his work was well and satisfactorily done is attested by many—among them by Mr. John Bennett, who lived in Petersburg at the time. "My earliest acquaintance with Lincoln," says Mr. Bennett, "began on his return from Vandalia, where he had spent the winter as a member of the Legislature from Sangamon County. Lincoln spent most of the month of March in Petersburg, finishing up the survey and planning of the town he had commenced the year before. I was a great deal in his company, and formed a high estimate of his worth and social qualities, which was strengthened by many years of subsequent social intercourse and business transactions, finding him always strictly honest. In fact, he was now generally spoken of in this region as 'Honest Abe.' After Menard County was formed out of a portion of Sangamon County, and the county seat established at Petersburg, Mr. Lincoln was a regular attendant at the courts. I was then keeping a hotel, and he was one of my regular customers. Here he met many of his old cronies of his early days at Salem, and they spent the most of the nights in telling stories or spinning long yarns, of which Mr. Lincoln was particularly fond."


Lincoln's Removal to Springfield—A Lawyer without Clients or Money—Early Discouragements—Proposes to Become a Carpenter—"Stuart & Lincoln, Attorneys at Law"—"Riding the Circuit"—Incidents of a Trip Round the Circuit—Pen Pictures of Lincoln—Humane Traits—Kindness to Animals—Defending Fugitive Slaves—Incidents in Lincoln's Life as a Lawyer—His Fondness for Jokes and Stories.

Lincoln's removal from New Salem to Springfield, where his more active life as a lawyer began, occurred in April, 1837, soon after the completion of his survey work at Petersburg. The event was closely connected with the removal of the State capital from Vandalia to Springfield, the law for which was passed at the legislative session of 1836-7. As has been stated, Lincoln was a member of that Legislature and was active in procuring the passage of the bill. The citizens of Springfield were very desirous of the removal of the capital to their town, and many of them were present at the session when the measure was up for discussion. They had thus become acquainted with Lincoln; they were favorably impressed as to his abilities and character, and pleased with his efforts in the matter in which they were so greatly interested. Through their influence and encouragement he chose Springfield as his future home.

Lincoln's first interview, after his arrival in Springfield, was with Mr. Joshua F. Speed, with whom he already had a slight acquaintance, and who details the circumstances of their meeting. "He had ridden into town," says Mr. Speed, "on a borrowed horse, with no earthly property save a pair of saddle-bags containing a few clothes. I was a merchant at Springfield, and kept a large country store, embracing dry goods, groceries, hardware, books, medicines, bed-clothes, mattresses,—in fact, everything that country people needed. Lincoln came into the store with his saddle-bags on his arm, and said he wanted to buy the fixings for a single bed. The mattresses, blankets, sheets, coverlid, and pillow, according to the figures made by me, would cost seventeen dollars. He said that was perhaps cheap enough, but small as the sum was he was unable to pay it. But if I would credit him till Christmas and his experiment as a lawyer was a success, he would pay then; adding, in the saddest tone, 'If I fail in this, I do not know that I can ever pay you.' As I looked up at him I thought then, and think now, that I never saw a sadder face. I said to him, 'You seem to be so much pained at contracting so small a debt, I think I can suggest a plan by which you can avoid the debt and at the same time attain your end. I have a large room with a double bed up-stairs which you are very welcome to share with me.' 'Where is your room?' said he. 'Up-stairs,' said I, pointing to a pair of winding stairs which led from the store to my room. He took his saddle-bags on his arm, went up-stairs, set them down on the floor, and came down with the most changed countenance. Beaming with pleasure, he exclaimed, 'Well, Speed, I'm moved!' Lincoln was then twenty-eight years old. He was a lawyer without a client, with no money, all his earthly wealth consisting of the clothes he wore and the contents of his saddle-bags."

Lincoln shared the same room with Mr. Speed during his early residence in Springfield, taking his meals with his companion at the house of Mr. William Butler, with whom he boarded for five years. His professional advancement at first was slow, and he had periods of great discouragement. An old settler of Illinois, named Page Eaton, says: "I knew Lincoln when he first came to Springfield. He was an awkward but hard-working young man. Everybody said he would never make a good lawyer because he was too honest. He came to my shop one day, after he had been here five or six months, and said he had a notion to quit studying law and learn carpentering. He thought there was more need of carpenters out here than lawyers." Soon after Lincoln's settlement in Springfield, he formed a law partnership with Major John T. Stuart, whom he had known for some years and who already had a good position at the bar. This partnership began, according to the statement of Major Stuart, on April 27, 1837. It continued just four years, when it was dissolved, and Lincoln and Judge Stephen T. Logan became partners. This latter partnership continued about two years, when, on September 20, 1843, the firm of Lincoln & Herndon was formed, and it continued to the time of Lincoln's death.

When Lincoln began to practice law, it was the custom in Illinois to "ride the circuit," a proceeding of which the older communities of the East know nothing. The State of Illinois, for instance, is divided into a number of districts, each composed of a number of counties, of which a single judge, appointed or elected as the case may be, for that purpose, makes the circuit, holding courts at each county seat. Railroads being scarce, the earlier circuit judges made their trips from county to county on horseback or in a gig; and the prominent lawyers living within the limits of the circuit made the tour of the circuit with the judge. It is said that when Lincoln first began to "ride the circuit" he was too poor to own a horse or vehicle, and was compelled to borrow from his friends. But in due time he became the proprietor of a horse, which he fed and groomed himself, and to which he was very much attached. On this animal he would set out from home, to be gone for weeks together, with no baggage but a pair of saddle-bags containing a change of linen, and an old cotton umbrella to shelter him from sun or rain. When he got a little more of this world's goods he set up a one-horse buggy, a very sorry and shabby-looking affair which he generally used when the weather promised to be bad. The other lawyers were always glad to see him, and landlords hailed his coming with pleasure; but he was one of those gentle, uncomplaining men whom they would put off with indifferent accommodations. It was a significant remark of a lawyer who was thoroughly acquainted with his habits and disposition that "Lincoln was never seated next the landlord at a crowded table, and never got a chicken-liver or the best cut from the roast." Lincoln once remarked to Mr. Gillespie that he never felt his own unworthiness so much as when in the presence of a hotel clerk or waiter. If rooms were scarce, and one, two, three, or four gentlemen were required to lodge together in order to accommodate some surly man who "stood upon his rights," Lincoln was sure to be one of the unfortunates. Yet he loved the life of the circuit, and never went home without reluctance.

In describing the many experiences of the lawyers who travelled the circuits at this period, Mr. Arnold says: "The State was settled with a hardy, fearless, honest, but very litigious population. The court-house was sometimes framed and boarded, but more frequently it was built of logs. The judge sat upon a raised platform behind a rough board, sometimes covered with green baize, for a table on which to write his notes. A small table stood on the floor in front for the clerk. In the center of the room was another larger table around which in rude chairs the lawyers were grouped, too often with their feet on top of it. Rough benches were placed there for the jury, the parties to the suit, witnesses and bystanders. The court-rooms were nearly always crowded for here were rehearsed and acted the dramas, the tragedies, and the comedies of real life. The court-house has always been a very attractive place to the people of the frontier. It supplied the place of theatres, lecture and concert rooms, and other places of interest and amusement in the older settlements and towns. The leading lawyers and judges were the star actors, and had each his partisans. Hence crowds attended the courts to see the judges, to hear the lawyers contend, with argument and law and wit, for success, victory, and fame. The merits and ability of the leading advocates, their success or discomfiture in examining or cross-examining a witness, the ability of this or that one to obtain a verdict, were canvassed at every cabin-raising, bee, or horse-race, and at every log-house and school in the county. Thus the lawyers were stimulated to the utmost exertion of their powers, not only by controversy and desire of success, but by the consciousness that their efforts were watched with eagerness by friends, clients, partisans, or rivals. From one to another of these rude court-houses the gentlemen of the bar passed, following the judge around his circuits from county to county, travelling generally on horseback, with saddle-bags, brushes, an extra shirt or two, and perhaps two or three law books. Sometimes two or three lawyers would unite and travel in a buggy, and the poorer and younger ones not seldom walked. But a horse was not an unusual fee, and in those days when horse thieves as clients were but too common, it was not long before a young man of ability found himself well mounted.

"There was very great freedom in social intercourse. Manners were rude, but genial, kind, and friendly. Each was always ready to assist his fellows, and selfishness was not tolerated. The relations between the bench and bar were familiar, free and easy. Flashes of wit and humor and repartee were constantly exchanged. Such was the life upon which Lincoln now entered; and there gathered with him around those pine tables of the frontier court-house a very remarkable combination of men, men who would have been leaders of the bar at Boston or New York, Philadelphia or Washington; men who would have made their mark in Westminster Hall, or upon any English circuit. At the capital were John T. Stuart, Stephen T. Logan, Edward D. Baker, Ninian W. Edwards, Josiah Lamborn, and many others. Among the leading lawyers from other parts of the State who practiced in the Supreme and Federal Courts at the capital were Stephen A. Douglas; Lyman Trumbull, for many years chairman of the judiciary committee of the United States Senate; O.H. Browning, Senator and member of the Cabinet at Washington; William H. Bissell, Member of Congress, and Governor of the State; David Davis, justice of the Supreme Court, Senator and Vice-President of the United States; Justin Butterfield of Chicago, and many others almost or quite equally distinguished. This 'circuit riding' involved all sorts of adventures. Hard fare at miserable country taverns, sleeping on the floor, and fording streams, were every-day occurrences. All such occurrences were met with good humor and often turned into sources of frolic and fun. In fording swollen streams, Lincoln was frequently sent forward as a scout or pioneer. His extremely long legs enabled him, by taking off his boots and stockings, and by rolling up or otherwise disposing of his trousers, to test the depth of the stream, find the most shallow water, and thus to pilot the party through the current without wetting his garments."

A gentleman who lived in one of the judicial circuits of Illinois in which Lincoln had an extensive though not very lucrative practice gives some graphic and interesting reminiscences. "The terms of the court were held quarterly and usually lasted about two weeks. They were always seasons of great importance and much gayety in the little town that had the honor of being the county seat. Distinguished members of the bar from surrounding and even from distant counties, ex-judges and ex-Members of Congress, attended and were personally and many of them popularly known to almost every adult, male and female, of the limited population. They came in by stages and on horseback. Among them the one whose arrival was looked forward to with the most pleasurable anticipations, and whose possible absence—although he almost never was absent—was feared with the liveliest emotions of anxiety, was 'Uncle Abe,' as he was lovingly called by us all. Sometimes he might happen to be a day or two late. Then, as the Bloomington stage came in at sundown, the bench and bar, jurors and citizens, would gather in crowds at the hotel where he always put up, to give him a welcome if, happily, he should arrive, and to experience the keenest feelings of disappointment if he should not. If he arrived, as he alighted and stretched out both his long arms to shake hands with those nearest to him and with those who approached, his homely face handsome in its broad and sunshiny smile, his voice touching in its kindly and cheerful accents, everyone in his presence felt lighter in heart and more joyous. He brought light with him. He loved his fellow-men with all the strength of his great nature, and those who came in contact with him could not help reciprocating the love."

Another old friend describes Lincoln as being at this time "very plain in his costume, as well as rather uncourtly in his address and general appearance. His clothing was of home Kentucky jean, and the first impression made by his tall, lank figure upon those who saw him was not specially prepossessing. He had not outgrown his hard backwoods experience, and showed no inclination to disguise or to cast behind him the honest and manly though unpolished characteristics of his earlier days. Never was a man further removed from all snobbish affectation. As little was there, also, of the demagogue art of assuming an uncouthness or rusticity of manner and outward habit with the mistaken notion of thus securing particular favor as 'one of the masses.' He chose to appear then, as in all his later life, precisely what he was. His deportment was unassuming, though without any awkwardness of reserve."

Mr. Crane, an old settler of Tazewell County, says he used to see Lincoln when passing through Washington, in that county, on his way to attend court at Metamora; and he remembers him as "dressed in a homespun coat that came below his knees and was out at both elbows."

Lincoln's tenderness of heart was displayed in his treatment of animals, toward which he was often performing unusual acts of kindness. On one occasion, as Mr. Speed relates, Lincoln and the other members of the Springfield bar had been attending court at Christiansburg, and Mr. Speed was riding with them toward Springfield. There was quite a party of these lawyers, riding two by two along a country lane. Lincoln and John J. Hardin brought up the rear of the cavalcade. "We had passed through a thicket of wild plum and crab-apple trees," says Mr. Speed, "and stopped to water our horses. Hardin came up alone. 'Where is Lincoln?' we inquired. 'Oh,' replied he, 'when I saw him last he had caught two young birds which the wind had blown out of their nests, and he was hunting the nest to put them back.' In a short time Lincoln came up, having found the nest and placed the young birds in it. The party laughed at him; but he said, 'I could not have slept if I had not restored those little birds to their mother.'"

Again, as Dr. Holland narrates, "Lincoln was one day riding by a deep slough or pit in which, to his exceeding pain, he saw a pig struggling, and with such faint efforts that it was evident that he could not extricate himself. Lincoln looked at the pig and the mud that enveloped him, and then looked ruefully at some new clothes in which he had but a short time before enveloped himself. Deciding against the claims of the pig he rode on; but he could not get rid of the vision of the poor brute, and at last, after riding two miles, he turned back, determined to rescue the animal at the expense of his new clothes. Arrived at the spot, he tied his horse, and coolly went to work to build of old rails a passage to the bottom of the hole. Descending on these rails, he seized the pig and dragged him out, but not without serious damage to the clothes he wore. Washing his hands in the nearest brook and wiping them on the grass, he mounted his gig and rode along. He then fell to examining the motive that sent him back to the release of the pig. At the first thought it seemed to be pure benevolence; but at length he came to the conclusion that it was selfishness, for he certainly went to the pig's relief in order (as he said to the friend to whom he related the incident) to 'take a pain out of his own mind.'"

Instances showing the integrity, candor, unselfishness, and humanity of Lincoln's conduct in his law practice could be multiplied indefinitely. The following are given by Dr. Holland: "The lawyers of Springfield, particularly those who had political aspirations, were afraid to undertake the defense of anyone who had been engaged in helping off fugitives slaves. It was a very unpopular business in those days and in that locality; and few felt that they could afford to engage in it. One who needed such aid went to Edward D. Baker, and was refused, distinctly and frankly on the ground that as a political man he could not afford it. The man applied to an ardent anti-slavery friend for advice. He spoke of Mr. Lincoln, and said, 'He's not afraid of an unpopular case. When I go for a lawyer to defend an arrested fugitive slave, other lawyers will refuse me. But if Mr. Lincoln is at home he will always take my case.'"

An old woman of seventy-five years, the widow of a revolutionary pensioner, came tottering into his law office one day, and told him that a certain pension agent had charged her the exorbitant fee of two hundred dollars for collecting her pension. Lincoln was satisfied by her representations that she had been swindled, and finding that she was not a resident of the town, and that she was poor, gave her money, and set about the work of procuring restitution. He immediately entered suit against the agent to recover a portion of his ill-gotten money. This suit was one of the most remarkable that Lincoln ever conducted. The day before the case came up he asked his partner, Mr. Herndon, to get him a "Life of Washington," and he spent the whole afternoon reading it. His speech to the jury was long remembered. The whole court-room was in tears as he closed with these words: "Gentlemen of the jury. Time rolls by. The heroes of '76 have passed away. They are encamped on the other shore. This soldier has gone to his rest, and now, crippled, blinded, and broken, his widow comes to you and to me, gentlemen of the jury, to right her wrongs. She was not always as you see her now. Once her step was elastic. Her face was fair. Her voice was as sweet as any that rang in the mountains of old Virginia. Now she is old. She is poor and defenceless. Out here on the prairies of Illinois, hundreds of miles from the scenes of her childhood, she appeals to you and to me who enjoy the privileges achieved for us by the patriots of the Revolution for our sympathetic aid and manly protection. I have but one question to ask you, gentlemen of the jury. Shall we befriend her?" During the speech the defendant sat huddled up in the court-room, writhing under the lash of Lincoln's tongue. The jury returned a verdict for every cent that Lincoln had asked. He became the old lady's surety for costs, paid her hotel bill and sent her home rejoicing. He made no charges for his own or his partner's services. A few days afterwards Mr. Herndon picked up a little scrap of paper in the office. He looked at it a moment, and burst into a roar of laughter. It was Lincoln's notes for the argument of this case. They were unique:—"No contract—Not professional services—Unreasonable charges—Money retained by Deft not given by Pl'ff.—Revolutionary War—Describe Valley Forge—Ice—Soldiers' bleeding feet—Pl'ff's husband—Soldiers leaving home for the army—Skin Def't—Close."

In his Autobiography, Joseph Jefferson tells how he visited Springfield with a theatrical company in the early days (1839) and planned to open a theatrical season in that godly town. But "a religious revival was in progress, and the fathers of the church not only launched forth against us in their sermons, but got the city to pass a new law enjoining a heavy license against our 'unholy' calling. I forget the amount, but it was large enough to be prohibitory." The company had begun the building of a new theatre; and naturally the situation was perplexing. In the midst of their trouble, says Mr. Jefferson, "a young lawyer called on the Managers. He had heard of the injustice, and offered, if they would place the matter in his hands, to have the license taken off,—declaring that he only wanted to see fair play, and he would accept no fee whether he failed or succeeded. The case was brought up before the council. The young lawyer began his harangue. He handled the subject with tact, skill, and humor, tracing the history of the drama from the time when Thespis acted in a cart, to the stage of to-day. He illustrated his speech with a number of anecdotes, and kept the council in a roar of laughter. His good humor prevailed, and the exorbitant tax was taken off. This young lawyer was very popular in Springfield, and was honored and beloved by all who knew him; and after the time of which I write he held rather an important position in the Government of the United States. He now lies buried in Springfield, under a monument commemorating his greatness and his virtues,—and his name was Abraham Lincoln."

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