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Abraham Lincoln; 


His Birth to his Inauguration as President. 





i 1S72. 

The printed text of this copy 
is the original which has been 
preserved by transferring it, in 
1950, to new rag paper. 

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, 


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washing! 

Boston : 
SUreoi:\^ed and Printed hy Rand, Avery, c^ Co. 



~rN the following pages I have endeavored to give the life of Abraham 
-*- Lincoln, from his birth to his inauguration as President of the United 
States. The reader will judge the character of the performance by the 
work itself : for that reason I shall spare him the perusal of much prefatory 

At the time of Mr. Lincoln's death, I determined to write his history, as 
I bad in my possession much valuable material for such a purpose. I did 
not then imagine that any person could have better or more extensive 
materials than I possessed. I soon learned, however, that Mr. William H. 
Herndon of Springfield, 111., was similarly engaged. There could be no 
rivalry between us ; for the supreme object of both was to make the real 
history and character of Mr. Lincoln as well known to the public as they 
were to us. He deplored, as I did, the many publications pretending to be 
biographies which came teeming from the press, -t long as the public inter- 
est about Mr. Lincoln excited the hope of gain. Out of the mass of works 
which appeared, of one only — Dr. Holland's — is it possible to speak with 
any degree of respect. 

Early in 18G9, Mr. Herndon placed at my disposal his remarkable c^l 
lection of materials, — the richest, rarest, and fullest collection it -wrts possi- 
ble to conceive. Along with them came an offer of hearty co-operation, of 
which I have availed myself so extensively, that no art of mine would serve 
to conceal it. Added to my own collections, these acquisitions have enabled 
me to do what could not have been done before, — prepare an authentic 
biography of Mr. Lincoln. 

Mr. Herndon had been the partner in business and the intimate personal 
associate of Mr. Lincoln for something like a quarter of a century ; and Mr. 


Lincoln had lived familiarly with several members of his family long before 
their individual acquaintance began. New Salem, Springfield, the old 
judicial circuit, the habits and friends of Mr. Lincoln, were as well known 
to Mr. Ilerndon as to himself With these advantages, and from the num- 
berless facts and hints which had dropped from Mr. Lincoln during the confi- 
dential intercourse of an ordinary lifetime, Mr. Ilerndon was able to institute 
a thorough system of inquiry for every noteworthy circumstance and every 
incident of value in Mr. Lincoln's career. 

T; fruits of Mr. Herndon's labors are garnered in three enormous vol- 
umes of original manuscripts and a mass of unarranged letters and papers. 
They comprise the recollections of Mr. Lincoln's nearest i'riends ; of the 
surviving members of his family and his family-connections ; of the men 
still living who knew him and his parents in Kentucky ; of his schoolfellows, 
neighbors, and acquaintances in Indiana ; of the better part of the whole 
population of New Salem ; of his associates and relatives at Springfield ; and 
of lawyers, judges, politicians, and statesmen everywher., who had any 
thing of interest or moment to relate. They were collected at vast expense 
of time, labor, and money, involving the employment of many agents, long 
journeys, tedious examinations, and voluminous correspondence. Upon the 
value of these materials it would be impossible to place an estimate. That 
I have used them conscientiously and justly is the only merit to which I lay 

As a general thing, my text will be found to support itself; but whether 
the particular authority be mentioned or not, it is proper to remark, that each 
statement of fact is fully sustained by indisputable evidence remaining in 
my possession. My original plan was to verify every important statement by 
one or more appropriate citations ; but it was early abandoned, not because 
it involved unwelcome labor, but because it encumbered my pages with a 
great array of obscure names, which the reader would probably pass un- 

I dismiss this volume into the world, with no claim for it of literary 
excellence, but with the hope that it will prove what it purports to be, — 
a faithful record of the life of Abraham Lincoln down to the 4th of March, 

Ward H. Lamon. 
Wasiiisgtos City, May, 1872. 



Portrait of Abraham FrorUispUce. 

Mrs. Sarah Lincoln, Mother of the Presidesi- pack 39 

Dennis F. Hanks *^ 

Mr. Lincoln as a Flatboat-man ^^' 

Plan of New Salem ^^ 

Black Hawk, the Indian Chief *^ 

Mrs. Mary Lincoln, Wife of the President 238 

Joshua F. Speed ^'^ 

Hon. David Davis, Jl i ge of the Supreme Court of the United States 313 

Stephen T. Looan 

John T. Stuart ^^' 

William H. IIersdqh 

Uncle John Hanks **'' 

Mr. Lincoln's Home in Springfield, Illinois *"* 

norman b. judd 

Fac-Simile of Mr. Llscoln's Account of his Familt . . . Appeitdix. 




Birth. — His father and mother. — History of Thomas Lincoln and his family 
a necessary part of Abraham Lincoln's biography. — Thomas Lincoln's 
ancestors. — Members of the family remaining in Virginia. — Birrh of 
Thomas Lincoln. — Removal to Kentucky. — Life in the Wilderness. — 
Lincolns settle in Mercer County. — Thomas Lincoln's father shot by 
Indians. — Widow and family remove to Washington County. — Thomas 
p or. — Wanders into Breckinridge County. — Goes to Hardin County. — 
Works at the carpenter's trade. — Cannot read or write. — Personal 
appearance. — Called " Linckhom," or " Linckhcrn." — Thomas Lincoln 
as a carpenter. — Marries Nancy Hanks. — Previously courted Sally 
Bush. — Character of Sally Bush. — The person and character of Nancy 
Hinks. — Thomas and Nancy Lincoln go to live in a shed. — Birth of a 
daughter. — They remove to Nolin Creek. — Birth of Abraham. — Re- 
moval to Knob Creek. — Little Abe initiated into wild sports. — His sad- 
Less. — Goes to school. — Thomas Lincoln concludes to move. — Did not 
fly from the taint of slavery. — Abraham Lincoln always reticent about 
the history and character of his family. — Record in Ids Bible . 


Thomas Lincoln builds a boat. — Floats down to th" Ohio. —Boat capsizes. — 
Ldods in Perry County, Indiana. — Selects a location. — Walks back to 
Jinob Creek for wife and children. — Makes his way through the wilderness. 
— £ cttles behveen the two Pigeon Creeks. — Gentryville — Selects a site. — 
Lncolp builds a half-faced camp. - - Clears ground and raises a small crop. 
--Dennis Hanks. — Lincoln builds a cabm. — State of the country.— 
Indiana admitted to the Union. — Rise of Gentryville. — Character of the 
people. — Lincoln's patent for his land. — His farm, cabin, furniture. — 
The milk-sickness. — Death of Nancy Hanks Lincoln. — Funeral discourse 
by David Elkin. — Grave. — Tom Lincoln marries bally Bush. — Her 

goods and chattels. — Her surprise at the poverty of tlic Lincoln cabin. — 
Clothes and comforts Abe and his sister. — Abe leads a new life. — Is 
sent to school. — Abe's appearance and dress. — Learning "manners." 

— Abe's eiisays. — Tenderness for animals. — The last of school. — Abe 
excelled the masters. — Studied privately. — Did not like to work.— 
Wrote on wooden shovel and boards. — How Abe studied. — The books 
he read. — The " RcWscd Statute of Indiana." — Did not read the Bible. 

— No religious opinions. — How he behaved at home. — Touching recital 
by Mrs. Lincoln. — Abe's memorj-. — Mimicks the preachers. — Makes 
" stump-speeches " in the field. — Cruelly maltreated by his father. — 
Works out cheerfully. — Universal favorite. — The kind of people he lived 
amongst. — Mrs. Crawford's reminiscences. — Society about Gentry ville. 

— His step-mother. — His sister. — The Johnstons and Hankscs. — Abe a 
ferrj-man and farm-servant. — His work and habits. — Works for Josiah 
Crawford. — Mrs. Crawford's account of him. — Crawford's books. — Be- 
comes a wit and a poet. — Abe the tallest and strongest man in the settle- 
ment. — Hunting in the Pigeon Creek region. — His activity. — Ixjvc of 
talking and reading. — Fond of rustic sports. — Furnishes the literature. 

— Would not be slighted. — His satires. — Songs and chronicles. — Gen- 
tryvillc as " a centre of business." — Abe and other boys loiter about the 
village. — Very temperate. — " Clerks " for Col. Jones. — Abe saves a 
drunken man's life. — Fond of music. — Marriage of his sister Nancy. — 
Extracts from his copy-book. — His Clironicles. — Fight with the Grigs- 
bys. — Abe " the big buck of the lick." — " Speaking meetings " at 
Gcntryville. — Dennis Ilanks's account of the way he and Abe Iwcame so 
learned. — Abe attends a court. — Abe expects to be President. — Going 
to mill. — Kicked in the head by a horse. — Mr. Wood. — Piece on tem- 
perance. — On national politics. — Abe tired of home. — Works for Mr. 
Gentry. — Knowledge of astronomy and geography. — Goes to New 
Orleans. — Counterfeit money. — Fight with negroes. — Scar on his face. 

— An apocryphal story 19 


Abe's return from New Orleans. — Sawing planks for a new house. — The 
milk-sickness. — Removal to Illinois. — Settles near Decatur. — Abe leaves 
home. — Subsequent removals and death of Thomas Lincoln. — Abe's 
relations to the family. — Works with John Hanks after leaving home. — 
Splitting rails. — Makes a speech on the improvement of the Sangamon 
River. — Second voyage to New Orleans. — Loading and departure of the 
boat. — " Sticks " on New Salem dam. — Abe's contrivance to get her off. 

— Model in the Patent Office. — Arrival at New Orleans. — Negroes 
chained. — Abe touched by ihc sight. — Returns on a steamboat. — 
Wrestles with Daniel Needham 73 

The site of New Salem. — The village as it existed. — The first store. — Num- 
ber of inhabitants. — Their houses. — Springfield. — Petersburg. — Mr. 

Lincoln appears a second time at New Salem. — Clerks at an election. — 
Pilots a boat to Boardstown. — Country store. — Abe as " first clerk." — 
" Clary's Grove Boys." — Character of Jack Armstrong. — lie and Abe 
become inumato friends. — Abe's popularity. — Love of peace. — Habits 
of study. — Waylaying strangers for information. — Pilots the steamer 
" Talisman " up and down the Sangamon 85 


Offutt's business gone to ruin. — The Black Hawk War. — Black Hawk crosses 
the Mississippi. — Deceived by his allies. — The governor's call for 
troops. — Abe enlists — Elected captain. — A speech. — Organization of 
the army. — Captain Lincoln under arrest. — The march. — Captain Lin- 
coln's company declines to form. — Lincoln under arrest. — Stillman's 
defeat. — Wasting rations. — Hunger. — Mutiny. — March to Dixon. — 
Attempt to capture Black Hawk's pirogues. — Lincoln saves the life of an 
Indian. — Mutiny. — Lincoln's novel method of qiielUng it. — Wrestling. 

— His magnanimity. — Care of his men. — Dispute with a regular ofKcer. 

— Reach Di.Kon. — Move to Fox River. — A stampede. — Captain Lin- 
coln's efficiency as an officer. — Amusements of the camp. — Captain 
Lincoln re-enlists as a private. — Independent spy company. — Progress 
of the war. — Capture of Black Hawk. — Release. — Death. — Grave. — 
George W. Harrison's recollections. — Duties of the spy company. — 
Company disbanded. — Lincoln's horse stolen. — They start home on foot. 

— Buy a canoe. — Feast on a raft. — Sell the boat. — Walk again. — 
Arrive at Petersburg. — A sham battle 98 


The volunteers from Sangamon return shortly before the State election. — Abe 
.1 •candidate for the Legislature. — Mode of bringing forward candidates. — 
Parties and party names. — State and national politics. — Mr. Lincoln's 
position. — Old way of conducting elections. — Mr. Lincoln's first stump- 
speech. — "A general fight." — Mr. Lincoln's part in it. — His dress and 
appearance. — Speech at Island Grove. — His stories. — A third speech. — 
Agrees with the Whigs in the policy of internal improvements. — His 
own hobby. — Prepares an address to the people. — Mr. Lincoln defeated. 

— Received every vote but three cast in his own precinct. . .121 


Results of the canvass. — An opening in business. — The firm of Lincoln & 
Berry. — How they sold liquor. — What Mr. Douglas said. — The store a 
failure. — Berry's bad habits. — The credit system. — I^incoln's debts. — 
He goes to board at the tavern. — Studies law. — Walks to Springfield for 
books. — Progress in the law. — Does business for his neighbors. — Other 
studies. — Reminiscences of J. Y. Ellis. — Shy of ladies. — His apparc4. — 
Fishing, and spouting Shakspcare and Burns. — Mr. Lincoln annoyed by 

company. — Retires to the country. — Bowlin Greene. — Mr. Lincoln's 
attempt to speak a funeral discourse. — John Calhoun. — Lincoln studies 
6ur\-eving. — Gets employment. — Lincoln appointed postmaster. — How 
he performed the duties. — Sale of Mr. Lincoln's personal property under 
execution. — Bought by James Short. — Lincoln's visits. — Old Hannah. 

— Ab. Trent. — Mr. Lincoln as a peacemaker. — His great strength. — 
The judicial quality. — Acting second in fights. — A candidate for the 
Legislature. — Elected. — Borrows two hundred dollars from Coleman 
Sraoot. — How they got acquainted. — Mr. Lincoln writes a little book on 
infidelity. — It is burnt by Samuel Hill Ic3 


James Rutlcdge. — His family. — Ann Rutlcdge. — John McNeil. — Is engaged 
to Ann. — His strange story. — The loveliness of Ann's person and char- 
acter. — air. Lincoln courts her. — They are engaged to be married. — 
Await the return of McNeil. — Ann dies of a broken heart. — Mr. 
Lincoln goes crazy. — Cared for by Bowlin Greene. — The poem "Im- 
mortality." — Mr. Lincoln's melancholy brocUiigs. — Interviews with 
Isaac Cogdale after his election to the Tresidency. — Mr. Herndon's inter- 
view with McNamar. — Ann's grave. — The Concord cemetery. . .159 


Bennett Able and family. — Mary Owens. — Mr. Lincoln falls in love with 
her. — What she thought of him. — A misunderstanding. — Letters from 
Miss Owens. — Mr. Lincoln's letters to her. — Humorous account of the 
affair in a letter from Mr. Lincoln to another lady 172 


Mr. Lincoln takes his scat in the Legislature. — Schemes of internal improve- 
ment. —Mr. Lincoln a silent member. — Meets Stephen A.Douglas. — 
Log-rolling. — Mr. Lincoln a candidate for re-election. — The canvas.s. — 
" The Long Nine." — Speech at Mechanicsburg. — Eight — Reply to Dr. 
Early. — Reply to George Forqucr. — Trick on Dick Taylor. — Attempts 
to create a third party. — Mr. Lincoln elected. — Federal and State poll 
tics. —The Bank of the United States. — Suspension of specie payments. 

— Mr. Lincoln wishes to be the De Witt Clinton of Illinois. — The inter- 
nal improvement system. — Capital located at Springfield. — Mr. Lin- 
coln's conception of the duty of a rcppjsentative. — His part in passing 
the " system." — Begins his antislavery record. — Public sentiment against 
tlic Abolitionists. — History of antislavery in Illinois. — The Covenanters. 

— Struggle to amend the Constitution. — The "black code." — Death 
of Elijah P. Lovcjoy. — Protest against proslavcry resolutions. — No 
sympathy with extremists. — Suspension of specie payments. — Mr. Lin- 
coln re-elected in 1S38. — Candidate for Speaker. — Finances. — Utter 
failure of the internal-improvement " system." — Mr. Lincoln re-elected in 


1840. — He introduces a bill. — His speech. — Financial expedients. — 
Bitterness of feeling. — Democrats seek to hold a quorum. — Mr. Lincoln 
jumps out of a window. — Speech by Mr. Lincoln. — The alien question. 
— The Democrats undertake to " reform " the judiciary. — Mr. Douglas a 
leader. — Protest of Mr. Lincoln and other Whigs. — Reminiscences of a 
colleague. — Dinner to " The Long Nine." — " Abraham Lincoln one of 
nature's noblemen." 


Capital removed to Springfield. — Mr. Lincoln settles there to practise law. — 
First case. — Members of the bar. — Mr. Lincoln's partnership with John 
T. Stuart. — Population and condition of Springfield. — Lawyers and 
politicians. — Mr. Lincoln's intense ambition. — Lecture before the 
Springfield Lyceum. — His style. — Political diseussious run high. — 
Joshua F. Speed his most intimate friend. — Scene in Speed's store. — 
Debate. — Douglas, Calhoun, Lamborn, and Thomsis, against Lincoln, 
Logan, Baker, and Browning. — Presidential elector in 1840. — Stump- 
ing for Harrison. — Scene between Lincoln and Douglas in the Court- 
Housc. — A failure. — Redeems himself — Meets Miss Mary T' i. - 
She takes Mr. Lincoln captive. — She refuses Douglas. — Engi,':--. — 
Miss Matilda Edwards. — Mr. Lincoln undergoes a change of hean. — 
Mr. Lincoln reveiUs to Mary the state of his mind. — She releases him. 
— A reconciliation. — Every thing prepared for the wedding. — Mr. Lin- 
coln fails to appear. — Insane. — Speed takes him to Kentucky. — Lines 
on " Suicide." — His gloom. — Return to Springfield. — Secret meetings 
with Miss Todd. — Sudden marriage. — Correspondence with Mr. Speed 
on delicate subjects. — ReUcs of a great man and a great agony. — Miss 
Todd attacks James Shields in cerinin witty and sarcastic letters. — Mr. 
Lincoln's name " given up " as the author. — Challenged by Shields. — A 
meeting and an explanation. — Correspondence. — Candidate for Con- 
gressional nomination. — Letters to Speed and Morris. — Defeat . i 


Mr. Lincoln a candidate for elector in 1 844. — Debates with Calhoun.— 
Speaks in Illinois and Indiana. —At Gentry ville — Lincoln, Baker, 
Logan, Hardin, aspirants for Congress. — Supposed bargain. — Can- 
vass for Whig nomination in 1846. — Mr. Lincoln nominated. — Opposed 
by Peter Cartwright. — Mr. Lincoln called a — Elected — Takes 
his seat. — Distinguished members. — Opposed to the Mexican War. — 
The " Spot Resolutions." — Speech of Mr. Lincoln. — .Murmurs of disap- 
probation. — Mr. Lincoln for " Old Rough " in 1848. — Defections at home. 

— Mr. Lincoln's campaign. — Speech. -Passage not generally published. 

— Letter to his father. — Second session. — The " Gott Resolution." — 
Mr. Lincoln's substitute 274 


Mr. Lincoln in his character of country lawyer. — Public feeling at the time 
of his death. — Judge Davis's address at a bar-meeting. — Judge Dnim- 
mond's address. — Mr. Lincoln's partnership with John T. Stuart. — 
With Stephen T. Logan. — With William U. Ilerndon. — Mr. Lincoln 
" a" — Slow. — Conscientious. — ilcnry McHcnry's case. — 
Circumstantial evidence. — A startling case. — Mr. Lincoln's account of 
ii. — His first case in the Supreme Court. — Could not defend a bad case. 

— Ignorance of technicalities. — The Eighth Circuit. — Happy on the 
circuit. — Style of travelling. — His relations. — Young Johnson indicted. 

— .Mr. Lincoln's kindness. — Jack Armstrong's son tried for murder. — 
Mr. Lincoln defends hira. — Alleged use of a false almanac. — Prisoner 
di>chargid. — Old Hannah's account of it. — Mr. Lincoln's suit against 
Illinois Central Railway Company. — McCormick Reaping Machine case. 

— Treatment by Kdwin M. Stanton. i 


Mr. Lincoln not a candidate for re-election. — Judge Logan's defeat. — Mr. 
Lincoln an applic;int for Commissioner of the Land Office. — Offered the 
Governorship of Oregon. — Views concerning the Missouri Compromise 
and Compromise of 181)0. — Declines to be a candidate for Congress in 
1850. — Death of Thomas Lincoln. — Correspondence between Mr. Lin- 
coln and John Johnston. — Eulogy on Henry Clay. — In favor of voluntary 
emancipation and colonization. — Answer to Mr. Douglas's Richmond 
speech. — Passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. — Mr. Lincoln's views 
concerning slavery. — Opposed to conferring political privileges upon 
negroes. — Aroused by the re|)eal of the Missouri Compromise. — Anti- 
Nebraska party. — Mr. Lincoln the leader. — Mr. Douglas speaks at 
Chicago. — At Spiingfield. — Mr. Lincoln replies. — A great speech. — 
Mr. Douglas rejoins. — The Abolitionists. — Mr. Ilerndon. — Determined 
to make Mr. Lincoln an Abolitionist. — They refuse to enter the Know- 
Kothing lodges. — The Abolitionists desire to force Mr. Lincoln to take a 
stand. — He runs away from Springfield. — He is requested to " follow 
up " Mr. Douglas. — Speech at Peoria. — Extract. — Slavery and );opular 
sovereignty. — Mr. Lincoln ami Mr. Douglas agree not to speak any- 
more. — The election. — Mr. Lincoln announced for the Legislature by 
Wm. Jayne. — Mrs. Lincoln withdraws his name. — Jaync restores it 
— He is elected. — A candidate for United-States Senator. — Resigns his 
seat. — Is censured. — Anti-Nebraska majority in the Legislature. — The 
balloting. — Danger of Governor Mattc.<on's election. — Mr. Lincoln 
advises his friends to vote for Judge Trumbull. — Trumbull elected. — 
Charges of conspiracy and corrupt bargain. — Mr. Lincoln's denial. — Mr. 
Douglas imputes to Mr. Lincoln extreme Abolitionist views. — Mr. Lin- 
coln's answer 333 

The straggle in Kansas. — The South begins the straggle.— The North 
meets it. — The Missourians and other proslavery forces. — Andrew H. 
Rccder appointed governor. — Election frauds. — Mr. Lincoln's views on 
Kansas. — Gov, Shannon arrives in the Territory. — The Free State 
men repudiate the Legislature. — Mr. Lincoln's "little f-peech " to 
the Abolitionists of Illinois. — Mr. Lincoln's party relations. — Mr. 
Lincoln agrees to meet the Abolitionists. — Convention at Blooming, 
ton. — Mr. Lincoln considered a convert. — His great speecli. — Con- 
servative resolutions. — Ludicrous failure of a ratification meetino- at 
Springfield. — Mr. Lincoln's remarks. — Plot to break up the Know- 
Nothing party. —" National" Republican Convention. — Mr Lincoln re- 
ceives a liundrcd and ten votes for Vice-President. — National Ueinoeratic 
Convention. — Mr. Lincoln a candidate for elector. — His canvass. — Con- 
fidential letter. — Imperfect fellowship with the Abolitionists. — Mr. Doug- 
las's speech on Kansas in June, 1857. —Mr. Lincoln's reply. — Mr. Douglts 
committed to support of the Lecompton Constitution. — The Dred Scott 
Decision discussed. — Mr. Lincoln against negro equality. — Affairs in 
Kansas. — Election of a new Legislature. — Submission of the Lecomp- 
ton Constitution to the people. — Method of voting on it. — Constitution 
finally rejected. — Conflict in Congress. — Mr. Douglas's defection.— 
Extract from a speech by Mr. Lincoln 3 


Mr. Douglas the Administration. — His course in Congress. — 
Squatter sovereignty in full operation. — Mr. Lincoln's definition of 
popular sovereignty and squatter sovereignty. — Mr. Dwuglas's private 
conferences with Republicans. — Judge Trumbull's opinion. — Mr. Douglas 
nominated for senator by a Democratic Convention. — Mr. Lincoln's klea 
ofwhat Douglas might accomplish at Charleston. — Mr. Lincoln writing 
a celebrated speech. — He is nominated for senator. — A startling doc°- 
trinc. — A council of friends. — Same doctrine advanced at Bloomington. 
— The " house-divided " speech. — Mr. Lincoln promises to explain. — 
What Mr. Lincoln thought of Mr. Douglas.— What Mr. Douglas thought 
of Mr. Lincoln. — Popular canvass for senator. —Mr. Lincoln derer- 
mines to " kill Douglas " as a Presidential aspirant. — Adroit plan to 
draw him out on squatter sovereignty. — Absurdities of Mr. Douglas.— 
The election. — Success of Mr. Douglas. — Reputation acquired "by Mr. 
Lincoln „. 

Mr. Lincoln writes and delivers a lecture. — The Presidency. — Mr. Lincoln's 
" running qualities." — He thinks himself unfit. — Nominated bv " Illinois 
Gazette." — Letter to Dr. Canisius. — Letter to Dr. Wallace on the pro- 
tective tariflr policy. — Mr. Lincoln in Ohio and Kansas. — A private 
meeting of his friends. — Permitted to use his name for the Presidency. — 

An invitation to speak in New York. — Choosing a subject. — Arrives in 
New York. — His embarrassments. — Speech in Cooper Institute. — Com- 
ments of the press. — He is charged with mercenary conduct. — Letter 
concerning the charge. — Visits New England. — Style and character of 
his speeches. — An amusing encounter with a clerical politician. . . 421 


Meeting of the Republican State Convention. — Mr. Lincoln present. — John 
Hanks and the rails. — Mr. Lincoln's speech. — Meeting of the Republican 
National Convention at Chicago. — The platform. — Combinations to 
secure Mr. Lincoln's nomination. — The balloting. — Mr. Lincoln nomi- 
nated. — Mr. I-incoln at Springfield waiting the results of the Con- 
vention. — How he received the news. — Enthusiasm at Springfield. — 
Official notification. — The " Constitutional Union " party. — The Demo- 
cratic Conventions at Charleston and Baltimore. — The election. — The 
principle upon which Mr. Lincoln proposed to make a),pointmenfs. — Mr. 
Stephens. — Mr. Gilmore. — Mr. Guthrie. — Mr. Seward. — Mr. Chase. 

— Mr. Bates. — The cases of Smith and Cameron. — Mr Lincoln's visit to 
Chicago. — Mr. Lincoln's visit to his relatives in Coles C )unty. — Appre- 
hensions about assassination. — A visit from Hannah Armstrong. . . 4H 

Difficulties and peculiarities of Mr. Lincoln's position. — A general rcvie" 
of his character. — His personal appearance and habits. — His house and 
other property. — His domestic relations. — His morbid melancholy 
and superstition. — Illustrated by his literary tastes. — Lis humor. — 
His temperate habits and abstinence from sensual plea?vir.-.. — His am- 
bition. — Use of politics for personal advancement. — Love of pover 
and place. — Of justice. — Not a demagogue or a trimmer. — His re- 
ligious views. — Attempt of the Rev. Mr. Smith to convert him. — Mr. 
Bateman's story as related by Dr. Holland. — Effect of his beUcf upon 
his mind and character 466 


Departure of the Presidential party from Springfield. — Affecting address by 

Mr. Lincoln to his friends and neighbors. — His opinions concerning the 

approaching civil war. — Discovery of a supposed plot to murder him at 

Baltimore. — Governor Hicks's proposal to "kill Lincoln and his men." 

— The plan formeil to defeat the conspiracy. — The midnight riilc from 
Hanisbiirg to Washington. — Arrival in Washington. — Before the In- 
auguration. — Inauguration Day. — Inaugural Address. — Mr. Lincoln's 
Oath. — Mr. Lincoln President of the United States. — Mr. Buchanan 
bids him farewell 505 





ABRAHAM LINCOLN was born on the twelfth day of 
February, 1809. His father's name was Thomas Lin- 
cohi, and his mother's maiden name was Nancy Hanks. At 
the time of his birth, they are supposed to have been married 
about three years. Although there appears to have been but 
little sympathy or affection between Thomas and Abraham 
Lincoln, they were nevertheless connected by ties and asso- 
ciations which make the previous history of Thomas Lincobi 
and his family a necessary part of any reasonably full biog- 
raphy of the great man who immortalized the name by wear- 
ing it. 

Thomas Lincoln's ancestors were among the early settlers 
of Roekini^ham County in Virginia ; but exactly whence they 
came, or tho prec^e tLne of their settlement there, it is impos- 
sible to V '. They were manifestly of English descent ; but 
whether emigi-ants directly from England to Virginia, or an 
offshoot of the historic Lincoln lamily in Massachusetts, or 
of the highly-respectable Lincoln family in Pennsylvania, are 
questions left entirely to conjecture. We have absolutely 
no CAidence by which to determine them. Thomas Lincoin 
himself stoutly denied that his progenitors were either 


Quakers or Puritans ; but he furnished nothing except his 
own word to sustain his denial : on the contrary, some of 
the family (distant relatives of Thomas Lincoln) who remain 
in Virginia believe themselves to have sprung from the New- 
England stock. They found their opinion solely on the 
fact that the Christian names given to the sons of the two 
families were the same, though only in a few cases, and at 
different times. But this might have arisen merely from that 
common religious sentiment which induces parents of a devo- 
tional turn to confer scriptural names on their children, or it 
might have been purely accidental. Abrahams, Isaacs, and 
Jacobs abound in many other families who claim no kiudred 
on that account. In England, during the ascendency of the 
Puritans, in times of fanatical religious excitement, the chil- 
dren were almost universally baptized by the names of the 
patriarchs and Old -Testament heroes, or b}^ names of their 
own pioo-. invention, signif^'ing what the infant was expected 
to do and to suffer in the cause of the Lord. The progenitors 
of all the American Lincolns were Englishmen, and they may 
have been Puritans. There is, therefore, nothing unreason- 
able in the supposition that they began the practice of con- 
ferring such names before the emigration of any of them; 
and the names, becoming matters of family pride and family 
tradition, have continued to be given ever since. But, if the 
fact that Christian names of a particular class prevailed among 
the Lincolns of Massachusetts and the Lincolns of Virginia at 
the same time is no proof of consanguinity, the identity of the 
surname is entitled to even less consideration. It is barely 
possible that they may have had a common ancestor ; but, if 
they had, he must have lived and died so obscurely, and so 
long ago, that no trace of him can be discovered It v.ould 
be as difficult to prove a blood relationship hei vveen all the 
American Lincolns, as it would be to prove ?- ;^eneral cousin- 
shi^^j among all the Smiths or all thr .ioncses. ' A patronymic 
so common as Lincoln, derived from a large geographical 

1 At the end of this volume will be found a very Intercstinpc . int of the f:i- lily.pveii 
by Mr. Lincoln himself, lie original is in bis own hsndwria: i s here rfproducsd 

iii facsimile. 

LIFE OF /. ;0LH. g 

division of the old country, „ _st certainly be taken 

by many who had no claim to it by reason of descent from 
its original possessors. 

Dr. Holland, who, of all Mr. Lincoln's biographers, has en- 
tered most extensively into the genealogy of the family, says 
that the father of Thomas was named Abraham; but he give? 
no authority for his statement, and it is as likely to be wroni; 
as to be right. The Hankses — John and Dennis — who 
passed a great part of their lives in the company of Thomas 
Lincoln, tell us that the name of his father w:is Mordecai ; 
and so also does Col. Chapman, who married Thomas Lincoln's 
step-daughter. The rest of those who ought to know are 
unable to assign him any name at all. Dr. Holland says 
further, that this Abraham (or Mordecai) had four brothers, — 
Jacob, John, Isaac, and Thomas ; that Isaac went to Tennes- 
see, where his descendants are now ; that Thomas went to 
Kentucky after his brother Abraham ; but that Jacob and John 
" are supposed to have " remained in Virginia.^ This is doubt- 
less true, at least so far as it relates to Jacob and John ; for 
there are at this day numerous Lincolns residing in Rocking- 
ham County, — the place from which the Kentucky Lincolns 
emigrated. One of their ancestors, Jacob, -^.rr who seems to be 
the brother referred to, — was a lieutenant in the army of the 
Revolution, and present at the siege of Yorktown. His mili- 
tary services were made the ground of a claim against the 
government, and Abraham Lincoln, whilst a representative in 
Congress fi-om Illinois, was applied to by the family to assise 
them in prosecuting it. A correspondence of some length en- 
sued, by which the presumed relationship of the parties was 
fully acknowledged on both sides. But, unfortunately, no 
copy of it is now in existence. The one preserved by the 
Virginians was lost or destroyed during the late war. The 
family, with perfect unanimity, espoused the cause of the 
Confederate States, and suffered many losses in copsequenee , 
of which these interesting papei-s may have been one. 

' The Life of Ahrahaoi Lincoln, I17 <J. G. Holland, p. 20. 


Abraham (or Mordecai) the father of Thomas Lincohi, was 
the owner of a large and fertile tract of land on the waters of 
Linnville's Creek, about eight miles north of Harrisonburg, 
the court-house town of Rockingham County. It is difficult 
to ascertain the precise extent if this plantation, or the his- 
tory of the title to it, inasmuch as all the records of the 
county were burnt by Gen. Hunt'-, in 1864. It is clear, 
however, that it had been inherited by Lincoln, the emigrant 
to Kentucky, and that four, if not all, of his children were 
born upon it. At the time Gen. Sheridan received the order 
'• to malce the Valley of the Shenandoah a barren waste," this 
land was well improved and in a state of high cultivation ; 
but under the operation of that order it was ravaged and des- 
olated like the region around it. 

Lincoln, the emigrant, had three sons and two daughters. 
Thomas was the third son and the fourth child. Lie was born 
in 1778; and in 1780, or a little later, his father removed with 
his entire family to Ke.itucky. 

Kentucky was then the paradise of the borderer's dreams. 
Faljiilous tales of its sylvan charms and pastoral beauties had 
for years been floating about, not only along the frontiers of 
Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina, but farther back 
ill the older settlements. For a while it had been known as 
the '• Cane Countr}'," and then as the " Country of Ken- 
tucky." Many expeditions were undertaken to explore it ; 
t wo or three adventurers, and occasionally only one at a time, 
passing down the Ohio in canoes. But they all stopped short 
of the Kentucky River. The Indians were terrible ; and it 
was known that they would surrender any other spot of earth 
in preference to Kentucky. The canes that were sujjposed 
to indicate the promised land — those canes of wondrous di- 
mensions, that shot up, as thick as tliey could stand, from a 
soil of inestimable fertility — were forever receding before 
tliose who sought them. One party after another returned to 
report, that, after incredible dangers and hardships, they had 
im t with no better fortune than that which had attended 
the efforts of their predecessors, .and that they had utterl}' 


failed to find the " canes." At last they were actually found 
by Simon Kenton, who stealthily planted a little patch of 
corn, to see how the stalk that bore the yellow grain would 
grow beside its" brother" of the wilderness. He was one 
day leaning against the steM of a great tree, watching his 
little assemblage of sprouts, and wondering at the strange 
fruitfuln-^s. of the earth which fed them, when he heard a 
footstep behind him. It was the great Daniel Boone's. They 
united their fortunes for the present, but subsequently each of 
them became the chief of a considerable st'tlement. Kenton's 
trail had been down the Ohio, Boone's from North Carolina ; 
and from both those directions soon came hunters, warriors, 
and settlers to join them. But the Indians had no thought 
of relinquishing their fairest hunting-grounds without a long 
and desperate struggle. The rich carpet of natural grasses 
which fed innumerable herds of buffalo, elk, and deer, all the 
year round ; the grandeur of its primeval forests, its pure foun- 
tains, and abundant streams, — made it even more desirable 
to them than to the whites. They had long contended for the 
possession of it ; and no tribe, or confederacy of tribes, had 
ever been able to hold it to the exclusion of the rest. Here, 
from time immemorial, the northern and southern, the eastern 
and western Indians had met each other in mortal strife, 
mutually shedding the blood which ought to have been 
husbanded for the more deadly conflict with a common foe. 
The character of this savage warftu-e had earned for Kentucky 
the appellation of " the dark and bloody ground ; " and, now 
that the whites had fairly begun their encroachments upon it, 
the Indians were resolved that the phrase should lose none 
of its old significance. White settlers might therefore count 
upon fighting for their lives as well as their lands. 

Boone did not make his final settlement till 1775. The 
Lincolns came about 1780. This was but a year or two 
after Clark's expedition into Illinois ; and it wa^ long, long 
before St. Clair's defeat and Wayne's victory. Nearly the 
whole of the north-west territory was then occupied by hostile 
Kentucky volunteers hatl yet before them many a day 


of hot and bloody work on the Ohio, the Muskingum, and 
:;be Miami, to say nothing of the continual surprises to which 
;bey were subjected at home. Every man's life was in his 
'land. From cabin to cabin, from settlement to settlement. 
Ids trail was dogged by the eager savage. If he went to 
plough, he was liable to be shot down between the handles ; 
Lt he attempted to procure subsistence by hunting, he was 
hunted himself. Unless he abandoned his " clearing " and 
ais stock to almost certain devastation, and shut up himself 
and his family in a narrow " fort," for months at a time, he 
might expect every hour that their roof would be given " to 
the flames, and their flesh to the eagles." 

To make matters worse, " the western country," and par- 
ticularly Kentucky, had become the rendezvous of Tories, 
runaway conscripts, deserters, debtors, and criminals. Gen. 
Butler, who went there as a Commissioner from Congress, 
to treat with certain Indian tribes, kept a private journal, in 
which he entered a very graphic, but a very appalling de- 
scr-ption of the state of affairs in Kentucky. At the princi- 
pal " points," as they were called, were collected hungry 
bpeculators, gamblers, and mere desperadoes, — these distinc- 
tions being the only divisions and degrees in society. Among 
other things, the journal contains a statement about land-job- 
liing and the traffic iu town lots, at Louisville, beside which 
the account of the same business in " Martin Chuzzlewit " is 
absolutely tame. That city, now one of the most superb in the 
Union, was then a small collection of cabins and hovels, in- 
habited by a cl?i.s of people of whom specimens might have 
been found a few months ago at Cheyenne or Promontory 
Point. Notwithstanding the high commissions borne by Gen. 
Butler and Gen. Parsons, the motley inhabitants of Louis- 
ville flatly refused even to notice them. They would proba- 
bly have sold them a " corner lot" in a swamp, or a " splendid 
business site " in a mud-hole ; but for mere civilities there 
vas no time. The whole population were so deeply engaged 
ill drinking, card-playing, and selling town lots to each other, 
tliat thej persistently refused to pay any attention to thi"ee 


men who were drowning in the river near b}- -i*^^— ■ '-*- ^^^ ■>ir 
dismal cries for help were distinctly heard c 


On the journey out, the Lineolns are said to have endured 
many hardships and encountered all the usual dangers, includ- 
ing several skirmishes with the Indians. They settled in 
Mercer County, but at what particular spot is uncertain. 
Their house was a rough log-cabin, their farm a little clearing 
in the midst of a vast forest. One morning, not long after 
their settlement, the father took Thomas, his youngest son, 
and went to build a fence, a short distance from the house ; 
while the other brothers, Mordecai and Josiah, were sent to 
another field, not far away. They were all intent about their 
work, when a shot from a party of Indians in ambush broke 
the " listening stillness "of the woods. The father fell dead ; 
Josiah ran to a stockade two or ihree miles off ; Mordecai, 
the eldest boy, made his way to the house, and, looldng out 
from the loophole in the loft, saw an Indian in the act of rais- 
ing his little brother from the ground. He took deliberate 
aim at a silver ornament on the breast of the Indian, and 
brought him down. Thomas sprang toward the cabin, and 
was admitted by his mother, while Mordecai renewed his fire 
at several other Indians that rose from the covert of the fence 
or thicket. It was not long until Josiah returned from the 
stockade with a party of settlers ; but the Indians had fled, 
and none were found but the dead one, and another who was 
wounded and had crept into the top of a fallen tree. 

When this tragedy was enacted, Mordeca' the hero of it, 
was a well-grown boy. He seems to have hated Indians ever 
after with a hatred which was singular for its intensity, even 
in those times. Many years afterwards, his neighbors be- 
lieved that he was in the habit of following peaceable In- 
dians, as they passed through the settlements, in order to get 
sun*eptitious shots at them ; and it was no secret that he had 
killed more than one in that way.^ 

immediately after the death of her husband, the widow 


abandoned the scene of her misfortunes, and removed to 
Washington County, near the town of Springfield, where she 
lived until the youngest of her children had grown up. Mor- 
decai and Josiah remained there until late in life, and were 
alwa3-3 numbered among the best people in the neighborhood. 
Mordecai was the eldest son of his father ; and under the law 
of primogeniture, which was still a part of the Virginia code, 
he inherited some estate in lands. One of the daughters 
\vedded a Mr. Krume, and the other a Mr. Brumfield. 

Tb.omas seems to have been the only member of the family 

•vhcse cl.r.icicter was not entirely respectable. He was idle, 

thriftless, poor, a Imntcr, and a rover. One year he wandered 

n.T^af off to bis uncle, oa the Holston, near the confines of 

; er year he wandered into Breckinridge 

•asj- good-nature was overcome by a huge 

... . . . :med the only remarkable'achievement of 

^.ls Ii.te, by .whipping him. In 1806, we find him in Hardin 
County, trying to learn the carpenter's trade. Until then, he 
could neither read nor write ; and it was only after his mar- 
riage that his ambition led him to seek accomphshments of 
'his sort. 

^1uo;ij:u' Lincoln was not tall and thin, like Abraham, but 
ccr. .->■:■ rat! vely short and stoat, standing about f;v..^ feci Ikd 
inches in his shoes. His hair v-as dark and -; 
•olesion brown, his face round and ful], his ev i 

^•lares he never eoiud iinc the poiacs of separauou oetween 

his libs, thorgh he ''eH fo" +hem of*-fr!- He w<i= a liMle 

stoop-choulJ . t 
he was sin, 

poslrtcn on-^ ._.....,.,, 1 

rough-and-tumbh;: tight. He t > i uiij 

01 Breckiarldg; Covxivy in thrt^ ±1 v>h- 
rrit a, sc^?^tob 


His vagrant career had supplied him with an inexhaustible 
fund of anecdotes, which he told cleverly and well. He loved 
to sit about at " stores," or under shade-trees, and " spin 
yarns," — a propensity which atoned for many sins, and made 
him extremely popular. In politics, he was a Democrat, — a 
Jackson Democrat. In religion he was nothing at times, and 
a member of various denominations b}^ turns, — a Free- Will 
Baptist in Kentucky, a Presbyterian in Indiana, and a Disci- 
ple — vulgarly called Campbellite — in Illinois. In this latter 
communion he seems to have died. 

It ought, perhaps, to be mentioned, that both in Virginia 
and Kentuck}' his name was commonly pronounced " Linck- 
horn," and in Indiana, " Linckhern." The usage was so gen- 
eral, that Tom Lincoln came very near losing his real name 
altogether. As he never wrote it at all until after his mar- 
riage, and wrote it then only mechanically, it was never 
spelled one way or the other, unless by a storekeeper here and 
there, who had a small account against him. Whether it was 
properly " Lincoln," " Linckhorn," or " Linckhern," M'as not 
definitely settled until after Abraham began to write, when, 
as one of the neighbors has it, " he remodelled the spelling 
and corrected the pronunciation." 

By the middle of 1806, Lincoln had acquired a very limited 
knowledge of the carpenter's trade, and set up on his own 
account ; but his achievements in this line were no better than 
those of his previous life. He was employed occasionally to 
do rough work, that requires neither science nor skill ; but 
nobody alleges that he ever built a house, or pretended to do 
more than a few little odd jobs connected with such an 
undertaking. He soon got tired of the business, as he did of 
every thing else that required application and labor. He was 
no boss, not even an average journe_yman, nor a steady hand. 
When he worked at the trade at all, he liked to make com- 
mon benches, cupboards, and bureaus ; and some specimens of 
his work of this kind are still extant in Kentucky and Indiana, 
and bear their own testimony to the quality of their woi'k- 


Some lime in the year 1806 lie married Nancy Hanks. It 
was in the shop of her uncle, Joseph Hanks, at Elizabethtown, 
in Hardin County, that he had essayed to learn the trade. 
We have no record of the courtship, but any one can readily 
imagine the numberless occasions that would bring together 
the niece and the apprentice. It is true that Nancy did not 
Live with her uncle ; but the Hankses were all very clannish, 
and she was doubtless a welcome and frequent guest at his 
house. It is admitted by all the old residents of the place 
that they were honestly married, but precisely when or how 
no one can tell. Diligent and thorough searches by the most 
competent persons have failed to discover any trace of the fact 
in the public records of Hardin and the adjoining counties. 
ITzs license and the minister's return in the case of Lincoln 
-d Sa;-dh Johnston, his second wife, were easily found in 
„-. ^y- , .ue law required them to be ; but of Nancy 

:i .^ : :ij.jr^e there exists no evidence but that of mutual 
acknowledgment and cohabitation. At the time of their 
mion, Thomas was twenty-eight years of age, and Nancy 
iiboTit twenty-three. 

Lincoln h.vd previously courted a girl .-.amed Sally Busa, 
'.-'uj Vved in the neighborhood of Eiizabetirown ; but his suit 
■■■_s lasuccessfuL and she became the wife of Johnsicc, uie 
U^er. Her reason for rejecting Lin&jln :■ -^ ' ' - 
n; TTords of her own ; but it is clear enoug;. 
of character, and the " bad luck," as tr. 
which always attended him. Sally Eush -^ :. ^c-Cr 
pious gill, in all things pure and decent. She wr.i 
neat in her personal appearance, and, beca ■ 
lar in the selection of her gowns and cott 
accounted a " proud body," who held he. 
folks. Even her own relatives seem to ^ 
this mean accusation ; and the decencT i> 
-Ad: appear to have miule her an .' 
backbiting. But she had a will r.. 
ctth. and she lived to make theni _,. 

neglected and (lLo....a... „^^. ... ..„,., ^j Hanks. Thomas Im- 

coln took another wife, but he always loved Sally Bush as 
much as he was capable of loving anybody ; and years after- 
wards, when her husband and his wife were both dead, he 
returned suddenly from the wilds of Indiana, and, represent- 
ing himself as a thriving and prosperous farmer, induced her 
to marry him. It will be seen hereafter what value was 
to be attached to his representations of his own pros- 

Nancy Hanks, who accepted the honor which Sally Bush 
refused, was a slender, symmetrical woman, of medium stature, 
a brunette, with dark hair, regular features, and soft, sparkling 
hazel eyes. Tenderly bred she might have been beautifn.' : 
but hard labor and hard usage bent her handsome foim, an... 
imparted an unnatural coarseness to her features long beto i 
the period of her death. Toward the close, her life and her 
face were equally sad ; and the latter habitually wore the wo- 
f ul expression which afterwards distinguished the countenance 
of her son in repose. 

By her family, her understanding was considered something 
wonderful. John Hanks spoke reverently of her " high and 
intellectual forehead," which he considered but the proper 
seat of faculties like hers. Compared with the mental pov- 
erty of her husband and relatives, her accomplishments were 
certainly very great ; for it is related by them with pride and 
delight that she could actually read and write. The possession 
of these arts placed her far above her associates, and after a 
little while even Tom began to meditate upon the importance 
of acquiring them. He set to work accordingly, in real ear- 
nest, having a competent mistress so near at hand ; and with 
much effort she taught him what letters composed his name, 
and how to put them together in a stiff and clumsy fashion. 
Henceforth he signed no more by making liis mark ; but it is 
nowhere stated that he ever learned to write any thing else, or 
to read either written or printed letters. 

Nancy Hanks was the daughter of Lucy Hanks. Her 
mother wrs one of four sisters, — Lucy, Betsy, Polly, •■.im] 


Nancy. Betsy married Thomas Sparrow; Polly marnedJesse 
Friend, and Nancy, Levi Hall. Lucy became the wife of 
Henry Sparrow, and the mother of eight children. Nancy 
the younger was early sent to live with her uncle and aunt, 
Thomas and Betsy SpaiTow. Nancy, another of the four 
sisters, was the mother of that Dennis F. Hanks whose name 
will be frequently met with in the course of this histor}'. He 
also was brought up, or was permitted to come up, in the 
family of Thomas Sparrow, where Nancy found a shelter. 

Little Nancy became so completely identified with Thomas 
and Betsy Sparrow that many supposed her to have been 
their child. They reared her to womanhood, followed her to 
Indiana, dwelt under the same roof, died of the same disease, 
at nearly the same time, and were buried close beside her. 
They were the only parents she ever knew ; and she must 
have called them by names appropriate to that relationship, 
for several persons who saw them die, and carried them to 
their graves, believe to this day that they were, in fact, her 
father and mother. Dennis Hanks persists even now in the 
assertion that her name was Sparrow ; but Dennis was pitiablj- 
weak on the cross-examination : and we shall have to accept 
the testimony of Mr. Lincoln himself, and some dozens of 
other persons, to the contrary. 

All that can be learned of that generation of Hankses to 
which Nancy's mother belonged has uow been recorded as 
fully as is compatible with circumstances. They claim that 
their ancestors came from England to Virginia, whence they 
migrated to Kentucky with the Lincolns, and settled nea:' 
them in Mercer County. The same, precisely, is affirmed of 
the Sparrows. Branches of both families maintainc 1 a more 
or less intimate connection with the fortunes of Thomas Lin- 
coln, and the early life of Abraham was closel}- interwoven 
with theirs. 

Lincoln took Nancy to live in a shed on one of the alleys 
of Elizabethtown. It was a very sorry building, aid nearly 
bare of furniture. It stands yet, or did stand in 18C6, to 


witness for itself the wretched poverty of its early inmates. 
It is about fourteen feet square, has been three times removed, 
twice used as a slaughter-house, and once as a stable. Here 
a daughter was born on the tenth day of February, 1807, who 
was called Nancy during the life of her mother, and after her 
death Sarah. 

But Lincoln soon wearied of Elizabethtown and carpenter- 
work. He thought he could do better as a farmer; and, 
shortly after the birth of Nancy (or Sarah), removed to a 
piece of land on the south fork of Nolin Creek, three miles 
from Hodgensville, within the present county of La Rue, and 
about thirteen miles from EUzabethtown. What estate he 
had, or attempted to get, in this land, is not clear from the 
papers at hand. It is said he bought it, but was unable to 
pay for it. It was very poor, and the landscape of which it 
formed a part was extremely desolate. It was then nearly 
destitute of timber, though it is now partially covered in 
spots by a young and stunted growth of post-oak and hick- 
ory. On every side the eye rested only upon weeds and low 
bushes, and a kind of grass which the present owner of the 
farm describes as "barren grass." It was, on the whole, as 
bad a piece of ground as there was in the neighborhood, and 
would hardly have sold for a dollar an acre. The general 
appearance of the surrounding country was not much better. 
A few small but pleasant streams ; — Nolin Creek and its trib- 
utaries — wandered through the valleys. The land was 
generally what is called "rolHng;" that is, dead levels in- 
terspersed by little hillocks. Nearly all of it was arable ; 
but, except the margins of the watercourses, not much of it 
was sufficiently fertile to repay the labor of tillage. It had 
no grand, unviolated forests to allure the hunter, and no great 
bodies of deep and rich soils to tempt the husbandman. 
Here it was only by incessant labor and thrifty habits that an 
ordinary living could be wrung from the earth. 

The family took up their residence in a miserable cabin, 
which stood on a little knoll in the midst of a barren glade. 


A few stones tumbled down, and lying about loose, still indi- 
cate the site of the mean and narrow tenement which shel- 
tered the infancy of one of the greatest political chieftains of 
modern times. Near by, a " romantic spring " gushed from 
beneath a rock, and sent forth a slender but silvery stream, 
meandering through those dull and unsightly plains. As it 
furnished almost the only pleasing feature in the melancholy 
desert through which it flowed, the place was called after 
it, " Rock Spring Farm." In addition to this single natural 
beauty, Lincoln began to think, in a little while, that a couple 
of trees would look well, and might even be useful, if judi- 
ciously planted in the vicinity of his bare house-yard. This 
enterprise he actually put into execution ; and three decayed 
pear-trees, situated on the " edge " of what was lately a -ye- 
field, constitute the only memorials of him ..• jiis family to 
be seen about the premises. Tliey were his sole permanent 

In that solitary cabin, on this desolate spot, the illustrious 
Abraham L-'ncoln was born on the twelfth day of Februaiy, 

The Lincolns remained on Nolin Creek until Abraham was 
four years old. They then removed to a place much more 
picturesque, and of far greater fertility. It was situated 
about six miles from Hodgensville, on Knob Creek, a very 
.lear stream, which took it.s rise in the gorges of Muldrew.s 
Hill, and fell into the Rolling Fork two m.ile? i. n-_ the pres- 
ent town of New Haven. T'le Rolling Fo^ ■■: mpticd into 
Salt River, and Salt River ir the Ohio, twenty-four miles 
l)"]ow Louisville. This farm was well timbered, and mere 
billy than the one on Nolin Creek. It contained .-Jomc rich 
valleys, which promised such excellent yields, that Lincoln 
bestirred himself most vigorously, and actually got into culti- 
vation the whole of six acres, lying advantageously up and 
down the branch. This, however, was not ail the work he 
did, for he still continued to pother occasionally at his trade ; 
but, no matter what he lurned his hand to, his gains were 


equally insignificant. lie was satisfied with indifferent shel- 
ter, and a diet of " corn-bread and milk " was all he asked. 
John Hanks naively observes, that " happiness was the end 
of life with him." The laud he now lived upon (two hun- 
dred and thirty-eight acres) he had pretended to buy from 
a Mr. Slater. The deed mentions a consideration of one hun- 
dred and eighteen pounds. The purchase must have been a 
mere speculation, with all the payments deferred, for the title 
remained in Lincoln but a single year. The deed was made 
to him Sept. 2, 1813; and Oct. 27, 1814, he conveyed two 
hundred acres to Charles Milton for one hundred pounds, leav- 
ing thirty-eight acres of the tract unsold. No public record 
discloses what he did with the remainder. If he retained any 
interest in it for the time, it was probably permitted to be sold 
for taxes. The last of his voluntaiy transactions, in regard to 
this land, took place two years before his removal to Indiana ; 
after which, he seems to have continued in possession as the 
tenant of Milton. 

In the mean time, Dennis Hanks endeavored to initiate 
young Abraham, now approaching his eighth year, in the 
mysteries of fishing, and led him on numerous tramps up and 
down the picturesque branch, — the branch whose waters 
were so pure that a white pebble could be seen in a depth 
of ten feet. On Nolin he had hunted ground-hogs with an 
older boy, who has since become the Rev. John Duncan, and 
betrayed a precocious zest in the sport. On Knob Creek, he 
dabbled in the water, or roved the hills and cHmbed the trees, 
with a little companion named Gallaher. On one occasion, 
when attempting to " coon " across the stream, by swinging 
over on a sycamore-tree, Abraham lost his hold, and, tumbling 
into deep water, was saved only by the utmost exertions of 
the other boy. But, with all this play, the child was often 
serious and sad. With the earliest dawn of reason, he began 
to suffer and endure ; and it was that peculiar moral training 
which developed both his heart and his intellect with such 
singular and astonishing rapidity. It is not likely that Tom 


lyinooln cared a straw abmit his edui.atiim. He had none 
liimself, and i> said to have admin-d •* iniisrli' " more tbaii 
mind. Nf'V'Ttli'.de.'i.*, a.s AbraharnV si.-lia wa.s gi'-iing In s(?hool 
for a fi-w da\s at a lime, lie was sent ali'iit;, a.s Denni-i Hanks 
io l"-ar her rr.nipany tlian witli any expeeta- 
iliat hi; -vvriuld learn much liiii.selt. One uf 
■ ,.-liariah Riiiey, taiiL.dit mar tlie LineoJu eahin. 
The ijiii' r. t al.'t) Hazel, kept his schonj nearly four miles 
av.-ay. nii Uv •• Friend " farm : and the hapless eliildren wfvc 
comp<'Ili;d Ui ttiidu'e that h.ri;.' ami weary <l'si;anee with .speji- 
in-^-lionk and -dinner." — the latter a lini.-!i of corn-hroa>I, 
Tom Lincoln's faverite dish. Hazel could te-.ieh readin;^- and 
writin<T, after a fa.shion, and a little arithnietie. But his great 
qualilieation for his office lay in the ,stren</ili of his arro, and 
his power and readiness to "whip the hie,' l^iys.'" 

But. as lime A\-ore on, the infelieitn-s of Lincoln's life in 
this neij^hhorhuod became insuppurtable. He wa.s paining 
neither riches nor credit ; and, being a wandei'cr Iw natural 
inclination, began to long for a change. His decision, how- 
ever, was hastened l>y certain tronliles which culminated in 
a desjierate combat between him and one Abraham Lnlow. 
''■' ' "' ■.(■■* ; bin Lincoln oVitained a signal and 

1 y biting off the nose of his antau'onist, 
• all the days of his life. an<l ]>ublished 
lii>. tiiiiiac'iiv and lis j>uiiishment wherever he showed his face. 
Hut (be affray, and the fame of it. made Lincoln more anxious 
than ever to escape from Kcmtncky. He resolved, therefore, 
to leave these scenes forever, and seek a roof-tree beyoud the 

It has pliMScd some of Mr. Lincoln's biographers to repre- 
sent this removal of his father as a flight from the taint of 
slaA'cry Not lung could lie further from the truth. There 
were at the time more than fifty slaves in all Hardin 
County, v.hich then composed a vast area of territory- It 
was practically a free community. Lincoln's more fortunate 
relatives in other i^arts of the State were slaveholders ; and 


there is not the slightest evidence that he ever disclosed any 
conscientious scruples concerning the " institution." 

The lives of his father and mother, and the liistorf and 
character of the family before their settlement 
were topics upon which Mr. Lincoln never spot: 
great reluctance and significant reserve. 

In his family Bible he kept a register of births, marriages, 
and deaths, every entry being carefully made in his own 
handwriting. It contains the date of his sister's birth and 
his own; of the marriage and death of his sister; of the 
death of his mother ; and of the birth and death of Thomas 
Lincoln. The rest of the record is almost wholly devoted 
to the Johnstons and their numerous descendants and con- 
nections. It has not a word about the Hankses or the Spar- 
rows. It shows the marriage of Sally Bush, first with Daniel 
Johnston, and then with Thomas Lincoln ; but it is entii-ely 
silent as to the marriage of his own mother. It does not 
even give the date of her birth, but barely recognizes her 
existence and demise, to make the vacancy which was speed- 
ily filled by Sarah Johnston.' 

An artist was painting his portrr. him for a 

sketch of his early life. He gave memoran- 

dum : "I was bom Feb. 12, 1809, in tns i.-.^u ruuuin County, 
Kentucky, at a point within the now county of La Rue, a 
mile or a mile and a half from where Hodgens Mill now is. 
My parents being dead, and my ov,-n memory not serving, 
I know of no means of identifying the precise locality. It 
was on Nolin Creek." 

To the compiler of the " Dictionary of Congress" he gav ; 
the following: "Born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, 
Kentucky. Education defective. Profession, a lawyer. 
Have been a captain of vcVictr-ers in the Black-Hawk War. 
Postmaster at a very - Four times a member 

of the Illinois Legislal, '. member of the Lower 

House of Congress." 

> The leaf of the Bible wMcb coataina these catriee is Ic the possessloa of Co!. 


^ ^rapher who applied for particulars of 

hjia ■ u.. ,j . oi.- 1 , . ^ .. ^oplied that they could be of no interest ; 
that they were but 

"'^' ' ' 'raple annals of the poor." 

" The chief ; to encounter," writes this latter 

gentleman, "was to ;!!diir;c him to communicate the homely 
facts and incidents of his early life. He seemed to be pain- 
fully impressed with the extreme poverty of his early sur- 
roundings, the utter absence of all romantic and heroic 
elements ; and I know he thought poorly of the idea of 
attempting a biographical sketch for campaign purposes. . . . 
Mr. Lincoln communicated some facts to me about his 
ancestry, which he did not wish published, and which I have 
never spoken of or alluded to before. I do not think, how- 
ever, that Dennis Hanks, if he knows any thing about these 
matters, would be very Ukely to say any thing about them." 


THOMAS LINCOLN was something of a waterman. In 
the frequent changes of occupation, which had hitherto 
made his life so barren of good results, he could not resist 
the temptation to the career of a flat-boatman. He had 
accordingly made one, or perhaps two trips to New Orleans, 
in the company and employment of Isaac Bush, who was 
probably a near relative of Sally Bush. It was therefore 
very natural, that when, in the fall of 1816, he finally deter- 
mined to emigrate, he should attempt to transport his goods 
by water. He built himself a boat, which seems to have 
been none of the best., and launched it on the Rolling Fork, 
at the mouth of Knob Creek, a half-mile from his cabin. 
Some of his personal prrperty, including carpenter's tools, 
he put on board, and the rest he traded for four hundred 
gallons of whiskey. With this crazy boat and this singular 
cargo, he puc out into the stream alone, and floating with 
the current down the Rolling Fork, and then down Salt 
River, r ;ached the Ohio without any mishap. Here his craft 
proved somewhat rickety when contending with the diffi- 
culties of the larger stream, or perhaps there was a lack of 
force in the management of her, or perhaps the single naviga- 
tor had consoled himself during the lonely voyage by too 
frequent applications to a portion of his cargo : at all 
events, the boat capsized, and the lading went to the bottom. 
He fished up a few of the tools " and most of the whiskey," 
and, lighting the little boat, again floated down to a landing 
at Thompson's Ferry, two and a half miles west of Troy, in 

Perry County, Indiana. Here eacherous boat, 

and, leaving his remaining propert>- in tnc care of a settler 
named Posey, trudged off on foot to select " a location " in 
the wilderness. He did not go far, but found a place that 
he thought would suit him only sixteen miles distant from 
the river. He then turned about, and walked all the way 
back to Knob Creek, in Kentucky, where he took a fresh 
start with his wife and her children. Of the latter there 
were only two, — Nancy (or Sarah), nine years of age, and 
Abraham, seven. Mrs. Lincoln had given birth to another 
son some years before, but he had died when only three days 
old. After leaving Kentucky, she had no more children. 

This time Lincoln loaded what little he had left upon two 
horses, and " packed through to Posey's." Besides clothing 
and bedding, they carried such cooking utensils as would be 
needed by the way, and would be indispensable when they 
reached their destination. The stock was not large. It con- 
sisted of " one oven and lid, one skillet and lid, and some 
tin-ware." They camped out during the nights, and of 
course cooked their own food. Lincoln's skill as a hunter 
must now have stood him in good stead. 

Where he got the horses used upon this occasion, it is im- 
possible to say ; but they were likely borrowed from his 
brother-in-law, Krume, of Breckinridge County, who owned 
such stock, and subsequently moved Sarah Johnston's goods 
to Indiana, after her marriage with Lincoln. 

When they got to Posey's, Lincoln hired a wagon, and, 
loading on it the whiskey and other things he had stored 
there, went on toward the place which has since become 
famous as the " Lincoln Farm." He was now making his 
way through an almost untrodden wilderness. There was no 
road, and for a part of the distance not even a foot-trail. 
He was slightly assisted by a path of a few miles in length, 
which had been " blazed out " by an earlier settler named 
Hoskins. But he was obliged to suffer long delays, and 
cut out a passage for the wagon with his axe. At length, 
after many detentions and difBculties he reached the point 

LIFE or ABRAHAM T.f:- 21 

where he intended to make his future n : situated 

between the forks of Big Pigeon and Little Pigeon Creeks, 
a mile and a half east of Gentryville, a village which grew 
up afterwards, and now numbers about three hundred in- 
habitants. The whole country was covered with a dense 
forest of oaks, beeches, walnuts, sugar-maples, and nearly all 
the varieties of trees that flourish in North America. The 
woods were usually open, and devoid of underbrush ; the 
trees were of the largest growth, and beneath the deep 
shades they afforded was spread out a rich greensward. 
The natural grazing was very good, and hogs found abundant 
sustenance in the prodigious quantity of mast. There was 
occasionally a little glade or prairie set down in the midst 
of this vast expanse of forest. One of these, not far from 
the Lincoln place, was a famous resort for the deer, arfd the 
hunters knew it well for its numerous " licks." Upon this 
prairie the militia " musters " were had at a later day, and 
from it the south fork of the Pigeon came finally to be 
known as the " Prairie Fork." 

Lincoln laid off his curtilage on a gentle hillock having a 
slope on every side. The spot was very beautiful, and the 
soil was excellent. The selection was wise in every respect 
but one. There was no water near, except what was collected 
in holes in the ground after a rain ; but it wss very foul, and 
had to be strained before using. At a later period we find 
Abraham and his step-sister carrying water from a spring 
situated a mile away. Dennis Hanks asserts that Tom Lin- 
coln " riddled his land like a honeycomb," in search of good 
water, and was at last sorely tempted to employ a Yankee, 
who came around with a divining-rod, aud declared that for 
the small consideration of five dollars itj cash, he would make 
his rod point to a cool, flowing spring beneath the surface. 

Here Lincoln built " a half-faced camp," — a cabin enclosed 
on three sides and open on the fourth. It was built, not of 
logs, but of poles, and was therefore denominated a " camp," 
to distinguish it from a " cabin." It was about fourteen feet 
square, and had no floor. It was no larger than the first house 


iie lived in at Elizabethtown, and on the whole not as good a 
sbeltor. But Lincoln was now under the influence of a tran- 
sient access of ambition, and the camp was merely prelimi- 
nary to something better. He lived in it, however, for a 
whole year, before he attained to the dignity of a residence 
in a cabin. " In the mean time he cleaned some land, and 
raised a small crop of corn and vegetables." 

lu the fall of 1817, Thomas and Betsy Sparrow came out 
from Kentucky, and took up their abode in the old camp 
vvhich the Liucolns had just deserted for the cabin. Betsy 
was the aunt who had raised Nancy Hanks. She had done 
the same in part for our friend Dennis Hanks, who was the 
offspring of another sister, and she now brought him with her. 
Dennis thus became the constant companion of young Abra- 
ham ; and all the other members of that family, as originally 
settled in Indiana, being dead, Dennis remains a most impor- 
tant witness as to this period of Mr. Lincoln's life. 

Lincoln's second house was a " rough, rough log " one : the 
1 iiut>ers were not hewed ; and until after the arrival of Sally 
Bush, in 1819, it had neither floor, door, nor window. It 
etood about forty yards from what Dennis Hanks calls that 
•' darned little half-faced camp," which was now the dwell- 
ing of the Sparrows. It was "right in the bush," — in the 
heart of a virgin wilderness. There were only seven or eight 
older settlers in the neighborhood of the two Pigeon Creeks. 
Lincoln had had some previous acquaintance with one of 
ihem, — a Mr. Thomas Carter; and it is highly probable 
that nothing but this trivial circumstance induced him to 
settle here.* 

The nearest town was Troy, situated on the Ohio, about 
half a mile from the mouth of Anderson Creek. Gentry- 
viUe had as yet no existence. Travelling was on horseback 
or on foot, and the only resort of commerce was to the pack- 
horse or the canoe. But a prodigious immigration was now 

I The principfti aothoriUc8 for this part of our narrative &-■: ii.jccasr.rlj Dennis n-id John 
Hants; bnt their statemenla have been carefttlly collated w!- Ji in 

KeatQcky and Indiana, 


sweeping into this inviting country. Harrison's victories over 
the Indians had opened it up to the peaceful settler; and 
Indiana was admitted into the Union in 1816, with a popu- 
lation of sixty-five thousand. The county in which Thomas 
Lincoln settled was Perry, with the county-seat at Troy ; but 
he soon found himself in the new county of Spencer, v/ith the 
court-house at Rockport, twenty miles south of him, and the 
thriving village of Gentryvilie within a mile and a half of 
his door. 

A post-office was established at Gentryvilie in 1824 or 
1825. Dennis Hanks helped to hew the logs used to build 
the first storeroom. The following letter from Mr. David 
Turnham, now of Dale, Spencer County, presents some inter- 
esting and perfectly authentic information regarding the vil- 
lage and the settlements around it in those early times : — 

" Yours of the 5th iust. is at hand. As you wish me to 
answer several questions, I will give you a few items of the 
early settlement of Indiana. 

" When my father came here in the spring of 1819, he set- 
tled in Spencer County, within one mile of Thomas Lincoln, 
then a widower. The chance for schooling was poor ; but, 
such as it was, Abraham and myself attended the same 

" We first had to go se jI ; and then it was a. 

hand-mill that would griu' nfteen bushels of corn 

in a day. There was but ubtie wheat grown at that time ; 
and, when we did have wheat, we had to grind it on the mill 
described, and use it without bolting, as there were no bolts 
in the country. In the course of two or three years, a man 
by the name of Huffman built a mill on Anderson River, 
about twelve miles distant. Abe and I had to do the milling 
on horseback, freqr ently going twice to get one grist. Then 
they began building horse-mills of a little better quality than 
the hand-mills. 

" The country was very rough, especially in the low lands, 
so thick with bush that a man could scarcely get through 
on foot. These places were called Roughs. The coimtry 

abounded in game, such as beare, deer, turkeys, and t^ie 
smaller game. 

" About the time Huffman built his mill, there was a road 
laid out from Corydon to Evansville, running by Mr. Lincoln's 
farm, and through what is now Gentryvillc. ' nas 

then the State capital. 

'• About the year 1823, there was another ro.ivi k..... •v., uom 
Rockport to Bloomington, crossing the aforesaid at right 
angles, where Gentryville now stands. James Gentry entered 
the land ; and in about a year Gideon Romine brought goods 
there, and shortly after succeeded in getting a post-office, by 
the numo of Gentryville Post-office. Then followed the laying 
" ui. of lots, and the selling of them, and a few were improved. 
I- at r'or some cause the lots all fell back to the original 
oT.'iier. The lots were sold in 1824 or 1825. Romine kept 
roods there a short time, and sold out to Gentry, but the place 
kept on increasing slowly. WiUiam Jones came in with a 
.:vore, that made it improve a little faster, but Gentry bought 
b .m out. Jones bought a tract of land one-half mile from 
GentryviUe, moved to it, went mto business there, and drew 
nearly all the custom. Gentry saw that it was ruining his 
town : hs compromised with Jones, and got him back to Gen- 
tryville ; and about '.he year 1847 or 1848 there was another 
siu-vey of '■' ■' • '■ ■ "- "' 

'= This ;f the rise of Gentryville as I 

can give, i si of the old settlers. 

" At thai- i,iLiio oueiu were a great many deer-licks ; and Alif; 
and myself would go to those licks sometimes, and watch of 
nights to kill do ' " " "" ^^ I 

""vvss. There v: J-ll 

prairie on the ■ _ , ^-'^r. 

Wood's (the man you caii ivioore). This gave icxne name of 
Prrdne Foi'k of Pigeon Crp°k 

'■ The people in the ■ - ;-7 

:-<:-.-y.i6lb'> k-nd, and accc 'k- 

■.-1M13SS and stealing ou u. v-^- ...- _■-.... ^. _. .,^. ,.....,, iess 
is;-,-:non,, less w^ll-ol/oed janfidence." 


'he steps taken by Lincoln to complete his title to the land 
upon which he settled are thus recited by the Commissioner 
of the General Land Office : — 

" In reply to the letter of Mr. W. H. Herndon, who is writ- 
ing the biography of the late President, dated June 19, 1865, 
herewith retui-ned, I have the honor to state, pursuant to the 
Secretary's reference, that on the 15th of October, 1817, Mr. 
Thomas Lincoln, then of Perry County, Indiana, entered 
under the old credit system, — 

" 1. The South-West Quarter of Section 32, in Township 
4, South of Range 5 West, lying in Spencer County, In- 

"2. Afterwards the said Thomas Lincoln relinquished to 
the United States the Uast half of said South- West Quarter ; 
and the amount paid thereon was passed to his credit to com- 
plete payment of the West half of said South-West Quarter 
of Section 32, in Township 4, South of Range 5 West ; and 
accordingly a patent was issued to said Thomas Lincoln for 
the latter tract. The patent was dated June 6, 1827, and 
was signed by John Quincy Adams, then President of the 
United States, and countersigned by George Graham, then 
Commissioner of the General Land Office." ' 

It will be observed, that, although Lincoln squatted upon 
the land in the fall of 1816, he did not enter it untH October 
of the next year ; and that the patent was not issued to hire. 
until June, 1827, but a little more than a year before he left it 
altogether. Beginning by entering a full quarter section, he 
was aftcv. -' '■■■'. with eighty acres, and took eleven 

years to sary payments upon that. It is very 

probable ' y which finally secured the patent war 

furnished by Gentry or Aaron Grigsby, and the title pass? ' 
out of Lincoln in the course of the transaction. Denni/, 
Hanks says, " He settled on a piece of government land, — 
eighty acres. This land he afterwards bought under the Twc- 
r),^;U,r /.Qfc; was to pay for it in instalments ; one-h?>if ^v r.vif' 

» The patent was issned to Thomas Llnoolii alias IJacklierr 


the other half he never paid, and finally lost the whole of the 

For two years Lincoln continued to live along in the old 
way. He did not like to farm, and he never got much of his 
land under cultivation. His principal crop was corn ; and this, 
with the game which a rifleman so expert would easily take 
from the woods around him, supplied his table. It does not 
appear that he employed any of his mechanical skill in com- 
pleting and furnishing his own cabin. It has already been 
stated that ihe latter had no window, door, or floor. But the 
furniture — if it may be called furniture — was even worse 
than the house. Three-legged stools served for chairs. A 
bedstead was made of poles stuck in the cracks of the logs in 
one corner of the cabin, while the other end rested in the 
crotch of a forked stick sunk in the earthen floor. On these 
were laid some boards, and on the boards a " shake-down " 
of leaves covered withuskins and old petticoats. The table was 
a hewed puncheon, supported by four legs. They had a few 
pewter and tin dishes to eat from, but the most minute inven- 
tory of their effects makes no mention of knives or forks. 
Their cooking utensils were a Dutch oven and a skillet. 
Abraham slept in the loft, to which he ascended by means of 
pins driven into holes in the wall. 

In the summer of 1818, the Pigeon-Creek settlements were 
visited by a fearful disease, called, in common parlance, " the 
rnilk-sickness." Itswept off the cattle which gave the milk, 
as well as the human beings who drank it. It seems to have 
prevailed in the neighborhood from 1818 to 1829 ; for it is 
given as one of the reasons for Thomas Lincoln's removal to 
Illinois at the latter date. But in the year first mentioned its 
ravages were especially awful. Its most immediate effects 
were severe retchings and vomitings ; and, while, the deltas 
from it were not necessarily sudden, the proportion of those 
who finally died was uncommonly large.' Among the num- 

' Tha peculiar disease which carried off so rainy of Abraham's famiiy, and induced 
remoral of tlie remaioder to liUsois, deseiTea more tiiec a passing allusion. The 


ber who were attacked by it, and lingci roe time 

in the midst of great sufferings, were Xiiomas and Betsj 

following, regarding its nature and treatment, is ft-om the pen of an eminent pliysiciaa of 
DanTille, Illinois : — 

Bear Sir, — Tour favor of the ITth Inst, has been roceived. You request me to present 
you with my theory In relation to the origin of the disease sailed " mllk-sioltness," and also 
a " general statement of the best treatment of the disease," and the proportion of fatal 

I have quite a number of cases of the so-called disease in Danville, HI., and its vlcin- 
ity ; but perhaps you arc not aware, that, between the great majority of the medical faculty 
in this region of country and myself, there Is quite a discrepancy of opinion. They believe 
in the existence of the disease In Vermilion County; while, on the contrary, I am firmly of 
opinion, that, instead of genuine milk-sickness, it is only a modified form of vmkiriai fever 
with which we here have to contend. Though sceptical of its existence in this part of the 
country, we have too much evidence from different intelligent sources to doubt, fbr a mo- 
ment, that, in many parts of the West and South-west, there is a distinct malady, witnessed 
more than fifty years ago, and different from every other heretofore recognized in any 
system of Nosology. 

In the opinion of medical men, as well as In that of the people in general, where milk- 
Biokness prevails, cattle, sheep, and horses contract the disease by feeding on wild pas- 
ture-lands ; and, when those pastures have been enclosed and cultivated, the cause entirely 
disappears. This has also been the observation of the farmers and physicians of Vermil- 
ion County, Illinois. From this it might be inferred that the disease had a vegetable 
origin. But it appears that it prevails as early in the season as March and April in some 
localities; and I am informed that, in an early day, say thirty-five or forty years ago, it 
showed itself in the winter-time in this county. This seems to argue that it may be pro- 
duced by water holding some mineral substance in solution. Even in this case, however, 
some vegetable producing the disease may have been gathered and preserved with the hay 
on which the cattle were fed at the time; for in that early day the farmers were in the 
habit of cutting wild grassfor their stock. On the whole, I am inclined to attribute the 
cause to a vegetable origin. 

The symptoms of what is called milk-sickness In this county — and they are similar to 
those described by authors who have written on the disease in other sections of the West- 
ern country — :irr :i whiiish coat on the tongue, burning sensation, of the stomach, severe 
vomii!ii_ nation of the bowels, coolness of the extremities, great restless- 

ness :!! ? rather small, somewhat more frequent than natural, and 

8lighi;i urse of the disease, the coat on the tongue becomes brownish 

and d. i, i,.. vuH..iti...,.tc dejected, and the prostration of the patient is great. A fatal 
termination may take place in sixty hours, or life may be prolonged for aperiod of fourteen 
days. These are the symptoms of the acute form of the disease. Sometimes it runs into 
the chronic form, or it may assume that form from the commencement ; and, after months 
or years, the patient may finally die, or recover only a partial degree of health. 

The treatment which I have found most successful is pills composed of calomel and 
opium, given at intervals of two, three, or four hours, so as to bring the patient pretty 
atrongly under the influence of opium by the time the second or third dose had been ad- 
ministered; some effenescing mixture, pro re nata; injections; castor oil, when the 
stomach will retain it; blisters to the stomach; brandy or good whiskey freely adminis- 
tered throughout the disease ; and quinine after the bowels have been moved. 

Under the above treatment, modified according to the circumstances, I would not ex- 
pect to lose more than one case In eight or ten, as the disease manifests itself in this 
county. . . . 

As ever, Theo. Lemon. 


Sparrow and Mrs. tikacy Lincoln. It was now found expe- 
dient to remove the Sparrows from the wretched " half-faced 
camp,' through which the cold autumn winds could sweep 
almost unobstructed, to the cabin of the Lincolns, which in 
truth was then very little better. Many in the neighborhood 
had already died, and Thomas Lincoln had made all their 
coffins out of "green lumber cut with a whip-saw." In the 
mean time the Sparrows and Nancy were growing alarmingly 
v/orse. There was no physician in the county, — not even a 
pretender to the science of medicine ; and the nearest regu- 
lar practitioner was located at Yellow Banks, Ky., over thirty 
miles distant. It is not probable that they eyer secured 
his services. They would have been too costly, and none of 
the persons who witnessed and describe these scenes speak 
of his having been there. At length, in the first days of 
October, the Sparrows died ; and Thomas Lincoln sawed up 
his green lumber, and made rough boxes to enclose tiie mortal 
remains of his wife's two best and < "ist friends. A day or 
two after, on the 5th of Octol>er, \ ^ancy Hanks Lincoln 

rested from her troubles. Thomas l^iu-oln took to his green 
wood again, and made a box for Nancy. There were about 
twenty persons at her funeral. They took her to the summit 
of a deeply-wooded knoll, about half a mile south-east of the 
cabin, and laid her beside the Sparrows. If there were anj- 
burial ceremonies, they were of the briefest. But it happened 
that a few months later an itinerant preacher, named David 
Elkin, whom the Lincolns had known in Kentucky, wan- 
dered into the settlement ; and he either volunteered or was 
employed to preach a sermon, which should commemorate the 
many virtues and pass in silence the few frailties of the poor 
woman who slept in the forest. Many years later the bodies 
of Levi Hall and his wife, Nancy Hanks, were deposited in 
the same earth with that of Mrs. Lincoln. The graves of 
two or three children belonging to a neighbor's familv are 
also near theirs. They are all crumbled in, sunicen, and 
covered with wild vines in deep and tangled mats. The 
great trees were originally cut away to make a small cleared 


space for this piii..,.,-. f,, -Lvard; but the young dog- 
woods have sprung up unopposed in great luxuriance, and in 
many instances the names oi pilgrims to the burial-place of 
the great Abraham Lincoln's mother are carved in their bark. 
With this exception, the spot is wholly unmarked. Her grave 
never had a stone, nor even a board, at its head or it-s foot ; and 
the neighbors still dispute as to which one of those unsightly 
hollows contains the ashes of Nancy Lincoln. 

Tliirteen months after the burial of Nancy Hanks, and nine 
or ten months after the solemnities conducted by Elkin, 
Thomas Lincoln appeared at Elizabethtown, Ky., in search 
of another wife. Sally Bush had married Johnston, the 
jailer, in the spring of the same year in which Lincoln had 
married Nancy Hanks. She had then rejected him for a bet- 
ter match, but was now a widow. In 1814 many persons in 
and about Elizabethtown had died of a disease which the peo- 
ple called the " cold plague," and among them the jailer. 
Both parties being free again, Lincoln came back, very unex- 
pectedly to Mrs. Johnston, and opened his suit in an exceed- 
ingly abrupt maimer. " Well, Miss Johnston," said he, " I 
have no wife, and you have no husband. I came a purpose to 
marry you : I knowed you from a gal, and you knowed me 
from a boy. I have no time to lose ; and, if you are willin', let 
it be done straight off." To this she replied, " Tommjs I 
know you well, and have no objection to marrying you ; but 
I cannot do it straight off, as I owe some debts that must first 
be paid." " The next morning," says Hon. Samuel Haycraft, 
the clerk of the courts and the gentleman who reports this 
quaint courtship, " I issued Ills license, and they were mar- 
ried straight off on that day, and left, and I never saw her 
or Tom Lincoln since." From the death of her husband to 
that day, she had been living, " an honest, poor widow," " in a 
round log-cabin," which stood in an " alley " just below Mr. 
Haycraft's house. Dennis Hanks says that it was only " on 
the earnest solicitation of her fiiends " that Mrs. Johnston 
consented to marry Lincoln. They all liked Lincoln, and it 
was with a member of her family that he had made several 


voyages to New Orleans. Mr. Selm, who at that time was 
doing business in his uncle's store at Elizabeth town, remarks 
that " life among the Hankses, the Lincolns, and the Enlows 
was a long ways below life among the Bushes." Sally was 
the best and the proudest of the Bushes ; but, nevertheless, 
she appears to have maintained some intercourse with the 
Lincolns as long as they remained in Kentucky. She had a 
particular kindness for httle Abe, and had him with her on 
several occasions at Helm's store, where, strange to say, he 
sat on a nail-keg, and ate a lump of sugar, " just like any 
other boy." 

Mrs. Johnston has been denominated a "poor widow ; " but 
she possessed goods, which, in the eyes of Tom Lincoln, were 
of almost unparelleled magnificence. Among other things, 
she had a bureau that cost forty dollars ; and he informed her, 
on their arrival in Indiana, that, in his deliberate opinion, it 
v-as little less than sinful to be the owner of such a thing, 
ilc demanded that she should turn it into cash, which she 
positively refused to do. She had quite a lot of other arti- 
cles, however, which he thought well enough in their Avay, 
and some of which were sadly needed in his miserable cabin 
in the wilds of Indiana. Dennis Hanks speaks with great 
rapture of the "large supply of household goods" ^vhich she 
brought out with her. There was " one fine bureau, one 
ta'ole, one set of chairs, one large clothes-chest, cooking uten- 
sils, knives, forks, bedding, and other articles." It was a glo- 
rious day for little Abe and Sarah and Dennis when this 
wondrous collection of rich furniture arrived in the Pigeon 
Creek settlement. But all this wealth required extraordinary 
means of transportation ; and Lincoln had recourse to his broth- 
er-in-law, Ralph Krume, who lived just over the line, in 
Breckinridge County. Krume came Vv^ith a four-horse team, 
and moved Mrs. Johnston, now Mrs. Lincoln, with her family 
and effects, to the home of her new husband in Indiana. When 
she got there, Mrs. Lincoln was much " surprised " at the 
contrast between the glowing representations which her bus- 


band had made to her before leaving Kentuckj' and the real 
poverty and meanness of the place. She had evidently been 
given to understand that the bridegroom had reformed his 
old Kentucky ways, and was now an industrious and prosper- 
ous farmer. She was .'scarceh' able to restrain the expression 
of her astonishment and discontent ; but, though sadly over- 
reached in a bad bargain, her lofty pride and her high sense 
of Christian duty saved her from hopeless and useless repin- 
ings. On the contrary, she set about mending what was 
amiss with all her strength and energy. Her own goods fur- 
nished tiie cabin with tolerable decency. She made Lincoln 
put down a floor, and hang windows and doors. It was in the 
depth of winter; and the children, as they nestled in the 
warm bods she provided them, enjoying the strange luxury of 
security from the cold winds of December, must have thanked 
her from the bottoms of their newly-comforted hearts. She 
had brought a son and two daughters of her own, — John, 
Sarah, and Matilda ; but Abe and his sister Nancy (whose 
name was speedily changed to Sarah), the ragged and hapless 
little strangers to her blood, were given an equal place in her 
affections. They were half naked, and she clad them from 
the stores of clothing she had laid up for her own. They 
were dirty, and she washed them ; they had been ill-used, and 
she treated them with motherly tenderness. In her own modest 
language, she " made them look a little more human." " In 
fact," says Dennis Hanks, "in a few weeks all had changed; 
and where every thing was wanting, now all was snug and 
comfortable. She was a woman of great energy, of remark- 
able good sense, very industrious and saving, and also very 
neat and tidy in her person and manners, and knew exactly 
how to manage children. She took an especial hking to 
young Abe. Her love for him was warml}' returned, and 
continued to the day of his death. But few children loved 
their parents as he loved his step-mother. She soon dressed 
him up in entire new clothes, and from that time on he 
appeared to lead a neiv life. He was encouraged by her to 


Study, and any wish on his part was gratified when it could 
be done. The two sets of children got along finely together, 
as if they had all been the cliildren of the same parents. 
Mrs. Lincoln soon discovered that young Abe was a boy 
of uncommon natural talents, and that, if rightly trained, 
a bright future was before him, and she did all in her 
power to develop those talents." When, in after years, Mr. 
Lincoln spolie of his " saintly mother," and of his " angel of 
a motlier," he referred to this noble woman,^ who first made 
him feel "like a human being." — whose goodness first touched 
his childish heart, and taught him that blows and taui ' -id 
degradation were not to be Ins only portion in the world. 

"When I landed in Indiiina," says Mrs. Lincoln, " Au 
was about nine years old, and the couutrj^ was wild and des'- 
laie."' It is certain enough t'.iat her presence took away 
much that was desolate m his lot. ,She clothed him decently, 
and had him sent to school as soon as there was a school to 
send him lo. But, notwithstanding her determination to do 
the best for liim, his advantages in this respect were very 
limited. lie had already had a few days", or pei'haps a few 
weeks" experience, under the discipline of Riney and Hazel, 
in Kentucky : and, as he was naturally quick in the acquisi- 
tion of any sort of kuowledge. it is hkely that liy this time 
be could read and ^1ib» a little. He v^-as now to have the 
benefit of a few months more of public instruction ; but the 
jjoverty of the family, and the necessity for his being made 
to work at home in the shop and rry the farm, or abroad as a 
hired boy, made his attendance at school, for any great length 
of time, a thing impossible. AcconUngly, all his school-days 
added together would not make a single year in the aggre- 

■ Th' •■ • • ■^■M heard him I...I.-0 the application. While he seldom, if ever, 

epnkc !■' ■ ' cl to dwell ■ ;■ thc bi'iiotiful character of Sally Bush. 

■' Tl : lier pcrao.'.ul appearance Is from the pen of Lcr grar.d- 

dauu'bi.- ^ 'Links. - 

•Hi - tail woman; straight as an Indian, fair com- 

plcxioii '■■ her, very handstvme. spriglitly, talkative, and 

prnud ■. '.ind-hcarted and very charitable, and also very 


Abraham began hi?, irregular attendr.nce at the nearest 
school Yery soon after he fell under the care of the second 
]\Irs. Lincoln. It was probably in the -.vinter of 1819, she 
having come out in the Deceml)er of that yi^ir. It has been 
seen that she was as much impressed by his mental precocity 
as by the good qualities of his heart. 

Hazel Dorsey was his first master.* He p-'esided in a small 
house near the Little Pigeon Creek meeting-Loa«e, a mile 
and a half from the Lincoln cabin. It was but-, of unhewn 
logs, and had " holes for windows,'' in which " greased 
paper " served for glass. The roof was just bigh enousih for 
a man to stand erect. Here he was taught reading, wrii"ag, 
and ciphering. They spelled iu classes, and "trapped " up 
and down. These juvenile contests were very exciting to 
the participants ; and it is said by the survivors, that Abe 
was even then the equal, if not the sui)erior, of any scholar 
in his class. 

The next teacher was Andrew Crawford. Mrs. Gentry 
says he began pedagogue in the neighborhood in the winter 
of 1822-3, whilst most of his other scliolars are unable to fix 
an exact date. He "kept" in the same little schoolhouso 
which had been the scene of Doi'sey's labors, and the win- 
dows were still adorned with the greased leaves of old copy- 
books that had come down from Dorsey's time. Abe was 
now in his fifteenth year, and began to exhibit symptoms of 
gallantrj' toward the weaker sex, as we shall presently dis- 
cover. He was growing at a tremendous rate, and two 3-ears 
later attained his full height of .six feet four inches. He was 
long, wiry, and strong ; while his big feet and hands, and the 
length of his legs and arms, were out of all proportion to his 
small trunk and head. His complexion was very swarthy, 
and Mrs. Gentry saA-s that his skin was shrivelled and yellow 
even then. He wore low shoes, buckskin breeches, linsey- 
woolsey shirt, and a caj} made of the skin of an opossum or 
a coon. The breeches clung close to his thighs and legs, but 

' Tlic account of the schools Is taken from the Grigsbys, Toniham, and others, who 
altcnacd »h«m aioisg with Abe, as well as from the members of his own family. 


failed by a large space to meet the tops of liis slioes. Twelve 
inches remained uncovered, and exposed that much of '• shin- 
boiic, sharp, blue, and narrow.'" ^ " lie would always come to 
school thus, good-humoredly and laughing," says his old friend, 
Nat Grigsliy. " He was always in good health, nevtr was sick, 
had an excellent constitution, and took care of it." 

Crawford taught '" manners." This was a feature of back- 
woods tducalion to which Dorsey had not aspired, and Craw- 
ford had doubtless introduced it as a refinement which \>'ould 
put to shame the humbler efforts of his predecessor. One 
of the scholars was required to retire, and re-enter as a po- 
lite gentleman is supposed to enter a drawing-room. lie was 
received at the door l)y another scholar, and conducted from 
bench to bench, uniil he had lieen introduced to all the 
"youug ladies and gcutlcmcu'" in the room. Abe went 
through the lU'deal countless times. If he took a serious 
view of the business, it must iiave put him to exquisite tor- 
ture ; for he ^vas conscious that he was not a perfect type of 
manly beauty, witli his long lego and blue sliiiis, his small 
head, his great ears, and shrivelled akin. If, Itowever, it 
struck him as at all fiiiuiy, it must have filled him with un- 
speakable mirth, and given lise to many antic tricks and sly 
jokes, as he was gravely led about, shamefaced and gawky, 
under the very eye of the precise Crawford, to be iutroducod 
to the boys and girls of his most ancient accjuaintancc. 

But, though Crawford inculcated manners, he by no means 
neglected spelling. Abe was a good speller, and liked to 
use his knowledge, not only to secure honors for himself, 
but to help his less fortunate schoolmates out of their trou- 
bles, and he was exceedingly ingenious in the selection of ex- 
pedients for conveying prohibited hints. One day Crawford 
gave out the diOiculi word defied. A large class w^as on the 
floor, but they all provokingly failed to spell it. D-e-f-i-d-e, 
said one ; d-e-f-y-d-e, said another ; d-e-f-3^-d, — d-e-f-y-e-d, 
cried another and another. But it was all wrong ; it was 

1 " They bml no woollcu clothing in the family until about the j .r l&ii.'- — nKSMS 


shameful, that, among all these big boys and girls, nobody 
could spell " dejied ; " and Crawford's wrath gathered in 
clouds over his terrible brow. He made the helpless culprits 
shake with fear. He declared he would keep the whole class 
in all day and all night, if " defied " was not spelled. There 
was among them a Miss Roby, a girl fifteen years of age, 
whom we must suppose to have been pretty, for Abe was 
evidently half in love with her. " I saw Lincoln at the win- 
dow," says she : " he had his finger in his eye, and a smile on 
his face ; I instantly took the hint, that I must change the 
letter y into an i. Hence I spelled the word, — the class let 
out. I felt grateful to Lincoln for this simple thing." 

Nat Grigsby tells us, with unnecessary particularity, that 
" essays and poetry were not taught in this school." " Abe 
took it (them) up on his own account." He first wrote short 
sentences against " cruelty to animals," and at last came for- 
ward with a regular " composition " on the subject. He was 
very much annoyed and pained by the conduct of the lioys, 
who were in the habit of catching terrapins, and putting 
coals of fire on their backs. " He would chide us," says Nat, 
" tell us it was wrong, and would write against it." 

The third and last school to which Abe went was taught 
by a Mr. Swaney, in 1826. To get there, he had to travel 
four and a half miles ; and this going back and forth so great 
a distance occupied entirely too much of his time. His at- 
tendance was therefore only at odd times, and was speedily 
broken off altogether. The schoolhouse was much like the 
other one near the Pigeon Creek meeting-house, except 
that it had two chimneys instead of one. The course of 
instruction was precisely the same as under Dorsey and Craw- 
ford, save that Swaney, like Dorsey, omitted the great depart- 
ment of " manners." " Here," says John Hoskins^the son of 
the settler who had " blazed out" the trail for Tom Lincoln, 
" we would choose up, and spell as in old times ever)'- Friday 
night." Hoskins himself tore down "''t^ r:,P\ schoolhouse" 
long since, and bruit a .stable with tl: '•.& now half 

sorry for his haste, and reverently t ilerndon a 


piece of the wood as a precious memento of his old friend 
Abe. An oak-tree, blackened and killed by the smoke that 
issued from the two chimneys, spreads its naked arms over 
the spot where the schoolhouse stood. Among its roots is a 
fine, large spring, over whose limpid waters Abe often bent 
to drink, and laughed at the reflection of his own homely 

Abe never went to school again in Indiana or elsewhere. 
Mr. Turnham tells us, that he had excelled all his masters, 
and it was " no use " for him to attempt to learn any thing 
from them. But he continued his studies at home, or wher- 
ever he was hired out to work, with a perseverance which 
showed that he could scarcely live without some species of 
mental excitement. He was by no means fond of the hard 
manual labor to which his own necessities and those of his 
family compelled him. Many of his acquaintances state this 
fact with strong emphasis, — among them Dennis Hanks and 
Mrs. Lincoln. His neighbor, John Romine, declares that Abe 
was "awful lazy. He worked for me; was always reading 
and thinking ; used to get mad at him. He worked for me 
in 1829, pulling fodder. I say Abe was awful lazy : he would 
laugh and talk and crack jokes and tell stories all the time ; 
didn't love work, but did dearly love his pay. He worked 
for me frequently, a few days only at a time. . . . Lincoln 
said to me one day, that his father taught him to work, but 
never learned him to love it." 

Abe loved to lie under a shade-tree, or up in the loft of the 
cabin,, and read, cipher, and scribble. At night he sat by the 
chimney "jamb," and ciphered, by the light of the fire, on 
the wooden fire-shovel. When the shovel was fairly covered, 
he would shave it off with Tom Lincoln's drawing-knife, and 
begin again. In the daytime he used boards for the same 
purpose, out of doors, and went through the shaving process 
everlastingly. His step-mother ^ repeats often, that " he read 

' Whenever Mrs. Sarah Lincoln speaks, we follow her implicitly. Regarding Abe's 
UabiU and conduct at home, her statement is a very full one. It is, however, c 
and supplemented by all the other members of the family who were alive In 1866. 

. JNCOLN. 37 

every book he c..;.... .... ..... ........ uu." She says, " Abe read 

diligently. ... He read every book he could lay his hands 

on ; and, when he came across a passage that struck him, he 
would write it down on boards if he had no paper, and keep 
It there until he did get paper. Then he would re-write it, 
look at it, repeat it. He had a copy-book, a kind of scrap- 
book, in which he put down all things, and thus preserved 

John Hanks came out from Kentucky when Abe was four- 
teen years of age, and lived four years with the Lincolns. 
We cannot describe some of Abe's habits better than John 
has described them for us: "When Lincoln — Abe and I — 
returned to tlie house from work, he would go to the cupboard, 
snatch a piece of corn-bread, take down a book, sit down on 
a chair, cock his legs up high as his head, and read. He and 
I worked barefooted, grubbed it, ploughed, mowed, and cra- 
dled together ; ploughed corn, gathered it, and shucked com. 
Abraham read constantly when he had an opportunity." 

Among the books upon which Abe " laid his hands " were 
" iEsop's Fables," " Robinson Crusoe," Bunyan's " Pilgrim's 
Progress," a " History of the United States," and Weems's 
"Life of Washington." All these he read many times, and 
transferred extracts from them to the boards and the scrap- 
book. He had procured the scrap-book because most of his 
literature was borrowed, and he thought it profitable to take 
copious notes from the books before he returned them. David 
Turnham had bought a volume of " The Revised Statutes of 
Indiana ; " but, as he was " acting constable " at the time, he 
could not lend it to Abe. But Abe was not to be baffled in 
his purpose of going through and through every book in th(^ 
neighborhood; and so, says Mr. Turnham, " he used to com ; 
to my house and sit and read it." ' Dennis Hanks would 
fain have us believe that he himself was the purchaser of chii 
book, and that he had stood as a sort of first preceptor to 
Abe in the science of law. " I had like to forgot," ivriten 

> He also read at Turnham's house Scott's Lessons and Sindbad the Sailor. 


Dennis, with his usual modesty, " How did Abe get his knowl- 
edge of law ? This is the fact about it. I bought the ' Stat- 
ute of Indiana,' and from that he learned the principles of 
law, and also myself. Every man should become acquainted 
of principles of law." The Bible, according to Mrs. Lin- 
ochi, was not one of his studies : " he sought more congenial 
books." At that time he neither talked nor read upon reli- 
gious subjects. If he had any opinions about them, he kept 
them to himself. 

Abraham borrowed Weems's " Life of Washington " from his 
neighbor, old Josiah Crawford, — not Andrew Crawford, the 
school-teacher, as some of his biographers have it. The 
-' Life " was read with great avidity in the intervals of work, 
and, ^vhen not in use, was carefully deposited on a shelf, made 
of a clapboard laid on two pins. But just behind the shelf 
there was a great crack between the logs of the wall ; and one 
night, while Abe was dreaming in the loft, a storm came up, 
and the rain, blown through the opening, soaked his precious 
book from cover to cover. Crawford was a sour and churlish 
fellow at best, and fiatly refused to take the damaged book 
back again. He said, that, if Abe had no money to pay for 
it, he could work it out. Of course, there was no alternative ; 
and Abe was obliged to discharge the debt by " pulling fod- 
der " three days, at twenty-five cents a day. Crawford after- 
words paid dearly for his churlishness. 

At home, with his step-mother and the children, he was the 
most agreeable fellow in the world. " He was always ready to 
do every tiling for everybody." When he was not doing some 
special act of kindness, be told stories or " cracked jokes." 
'•' He was as full of his yarns in Indiana as ever he was in 
IlUnois." Dennis Hanks was a clever hand at the same busi- 
ness, and so was old Tom Lincoln. Among them they must 
have made things very lively, during the long winter evenings, 
for John Johnston and the good old lady and the girls. 

Mrs. Lincoln was never able to speak of Abe's conduct to 
her without tears. In her interview with Mr. Herudon, when 






the sands of her life had nearly run out, she spoke with deep 
emotion of her own son, but said she thought that Alje was 
kinder, better, truer, than the other. Even the mother's in- 
stinct was lost as she looked back over those long j'cai-s of pov- 
erty and privation in the Indiana cabin, when Abe's grateful 
love softened the rigors of her lot, and his great heart and giant 
frame were always at her command. " Abe was a poor boy," 
said she ; " and I can say wliat scarcely one woman — a 
mother — can say in a thousand. Abe never gave me a cross 
word or look, and never refused, in fact or appearance, to do 
any thing I requested him. I never gave him a cross word in 
all my life. . . . His mind and mine — what little I had — 
seemed to run together. . . . He was here after lie Avas 
elected President." (At this point the aged speaker turned 
away to weep, and then, wiping her eyes with lier apron, went 
on with the storj^). " He was dutiful to me always. I 
think he loved me trul3^ I had a son, John, who was raised 
with Abe. Both were good boys ; but I must say, both now 
being dead, that Al)e was the best boy I ever saw, or expect 
to see. I wish I had died when my husband died. I did not ' 
want Abe to run for President ; did not want him elected ; 
was afraid somehow, — felt in my heart ; and when he came 
down to see me, after he was elected President, I still felt that 
something told me that something would befall Abe, and that 
I should see him no more." 

Is there an}^ thing in the language we speak more touching 
than that simple plaint of the woman whom we must regard 
as Abraham Lincoln's mother? The apprehension in her 
" heart " was well grounded. She " saw him no more." When 
Mr. Herndon rose to depart, her eyes again filled with tears ; 
and, wringing his hands as if loath to part with one who 
talked so much of her beloved Abe, she said, " Good-by, my 
good son's friend. Farewell." 

Abe had a very retentive memory. He frequently amused 
his young companions by repeating to them long passages 
from the books he had been reading. On Monday mornings he 
would mount a stump, and deliver, with a wonderful approach 


to exactness, the sermon lie had heard the day Ijcfore. His 
taste for pubUc speaking appeared to be natural and irresist- 
ible. His stcp-sistcr. Matilda Johnston, says he was an in- 
defatigable " preaeher." " Wlien father and mother would go 
to church, Abe would take down the Bible, read a verse, give 
out a hymn, and we would sing. Abe was about lii'teen }ears 
of age. lie preached, and we would do the crying. Some- 
times he would join in the chorus of tears. Cue day my 
brother, John Johnston, caught a land terrapin, brought it to 
the place where Alio was preaching, threw it against the tree, 
and crushed the shell. It suffered nuich, — quivered all over. 
Abe then preached against cruelty to animals, contending that 
an ant's life was as sweet to it as ours to us." 

But this practice of ■' preaching " and political speaking, 
into which Abe had fallen, at length became a great nuisance 
to old Tom. It distracted everybody, and sadly interfered 
with the work. If Abe had confined his discourses to Simday 
preacliing, while the old folks were away, it would not have 
been so objectionable. But he knew his power, liked to please 
everyl)ody, and would be sure to set up as an orator wherever 
he found tlie greatest number of people together. When it 
was announced tiiat Abe iiad taken the " stump " in the har- 
vest-field, there was an end of work. The hands flocked 
around liim, and listened to his curious speeches with infinite 
delight. " The sight of such a thing amused all," says Mrs. 
Lincoln ; though she admits that her husbajid was compelled 
to break it up with the strong hand ; and poor Abe was many 
luues dragged from the platform, and hustled otf to his woik 
in no gentle manner. * 

Abe worked occasionally with Tom Lincoln in the sliop ; 
but he did it reluctantly, and never intended to learn even 
so much of the trade as Lincoln was able to teach him. The 
rough work turned out at that shop was far beneath his am- 

1 W<>- arc told by Col. Cliapman that Abe's father habitually treated him with 
gnat barbarity. Dennis Hauks insist? that hi- loved him sincerely, but admits that he 
now and then kaocked him from the fence for merely answering traveller'! questions about 
the roads. 


bition, and he had made up his mind to lead a life as wholly 
unlike his father's as he could possibly make it. He therefore 
refused to be a carpenter. But he could not afford to be 
idle ; and, as soon as he was able to earn wages, he was hired 
out among the neighbors. He worked for many of them a 
few months at a time, and seemed perfectly willing to transfer 
his services wherever they were wanted, so that his fatlier 
had no excuse for persecuting him with entreaties about 
learning to make tables and cupboards. 

Abe was now becoming a man, and was, in fact, already 
taller than any man in the neighljorhood. He was a universal 
favorite, and his wit and humor made him heartily welcome 
at every cabin between the two Pigeon Creeks. Any family 
was glad wlien " Abo Linkern " was hired to work with them ; 
for he did his work well, and made them all merry while he 
■was about it. The women were especially pleased, for Abe 
was not above doing any kind of " chores " for them. He 
was always ready to make a fire, carry water, or nurse a baby. 
But what manner of people were these amongst whom he 
passed the most critical part of his life ? We must know them 
if we desire to know huu. 

There lived in the neighborhood of Gentryville a Mrs. 
Ehzabeth Crawford, wife to the novr celebrated Josiah with 
the sour temper and the blue nose. Abe was very fond of 
her, and inclined to '•• let himself out " in her company. She 
fortunately possessed a rare memory, and Mr. Herndon's rich 
collection of manuscripts was made richer still by her contri- 
butions. We have from her a great mass of valuable, and 
sometimes extremely amusing, information. Among it is the 
following graphic, although rude, account of the Pigeon Creek 
people in general : — 

" You wish me to tell you how the people used to go to 
meeting, — how far they went. At that time we thought it 
nothing to go eight or ten miles. The old ladies did not stop 
for the want of a shawl, or cloak, or riding-dress, or two 
horses, in the winter-time ; but they would put on their hus- 


bands" old overcoats, and ^^Trap up their little ones, and take 
one or two of them up on their beasts, and their husbands 
\voLild Avalk. and they would go to church, and stay in the 
peighborhood until the next day, and then go home. The old 
men would start out of their tiolds from their work, or out of 
the woo'ls i'lom hunting, with their guns on their shotilders, 
and go to ihureh. Some of them dressed in deer-skin jiants 
and !U'..ce;i^iii>. Imnting-sliirts with a rope or leather strap 
arcTind tlf iii. Tli'-y W'juid come in laughing, shake hands all 
around, ^ii ']"\vii and i.alk about their game they had killed, 
or some other work they had done, and smoke their pipe; to- 
gether with tlie old laibes. If in warm weather, they woidd 
kindle up a little fire out in the meeting-house yard, to light 
their [.ip^. If in winter-time, they would hold ehiireh in some 
of tile neiglil'ors' houses. At such times they were always 
treated with tlie utmost of kindness: a bottle of whiskey, a 
pitcher of water, sugar and glass, were set out, or a basket of 
apples, or tiuiiips. or some pies aud cakes. Apples were scarce 
them tim.-.-. Sometimes potatoes were used as a treat. (I 
must tell you that the first treat I ever received in old ilr. 
Linkern's liour^e, that was our President's father's house, was 
a plate of potatoes, was-hcd aud pared very nicely, and lianded 
round. It was somelhing new to me. for I never had seen a 
raw piitato eaten before. I looked to see how they made use 
of tlicra. The\ took off a potato, aud ate them like apples.) 
Thus they spent the time tdl time for preaching to commence, 
then they would all take their seats : the preacher would take 
his stand, draw his coat, open his sliirt-co'dar. commence ser- 
vice by singing and pra3-cr : take liis text and preach till the 
sweat wouM roll off in great ib'ops. Shaking hands and 
singing then ended the service. The people seemed to enjoy 
religion more in them days than they do now. They were 
glad to see each other, and enjoyed themselves better than 
they do now." 

Society about GentryviUe was little diiferent from that of 
any other backwoods settlement of the same day. The houses 


were scattered far apart ; but the inhabitants would travel 
long distances to a log-rolling, a house-raising, a wedding, or 
any thing else that might be turned into a fast and furious 
frolic. On such occasions the young women carried their shoes 
in their hands, and only put them on when about to join the 
company. The ladies drank whiskey-toddy, wliile the men 
. took it straight ; and both sexes danced the live-long night, 
barefooted, on puncheon floors. 

The fair sex wore " cornfield bonnets, scoop-shaped, flar- 
ing in front, and long though narrow behind." Shoes weri- 
the mode when entering the ball-room ; but it was not at all 
fashionable to scuff them out by walking or dancing in them. 
" Four yards of linsey-woolsey, a yai'd in width, made a dress 
for any woman." The waist was short, and terminated just 
under the arms, whdst the skirt was long and narrow. 
" Crimps and puckering frills " it had none. The coats of the 
men were home-made ; the materials, jeans or linsey-woolsey. 
The waists were short, like the frocks of the women, and the 
long " claw-hammer " tail was split up to the waist. This, 
however, was company dress, and the hunting-shirt did duty 
for every day. The breeches were of buck-skin or jeans ; the 
cap was of coon-skin ; and the shoes of leather tanned at home. 
If no member of the family could make slioes, the leather was 
taken to some one who could, and the customer paid the 
maker a fair price in some other sort of labor. 

The state of agriculture was what it always is where there 
is no market, either to sell or buy ; where the implements P'-e 
few and primitive, and where there are no regular mechanics. 
The Pigeon Creek farmer "tickled" two acres of ground in 
a day with his old shovel-plough, and got but half a crop. He 
cut one acre with his sickle, while the modern machine lays 
down in neat rows ten. With his flail and horse tramping, he 
threshed out fifteen bushels of wheat ; while the machine of 
to-day, with a few more hands, would turn out three hundred 
and fifty. He " fanned " and " cleaned with a sheet." When 
he wanted flour, he took his team and weiii - - ..oiH,' 


■?\'here he spent a whole day in converging fifteen busheis of 

The minds of these people were filled with superstitions, 
which most persons imagine to be, at least, as antiquated as 
^vitch-burning. They firmly believed in witches and all kind 
of witch-doings. They sent for wizards to cure sick cattle. 
Thoy shot the image of the witch with a silver ball, to break 
the spell she was supposed to have laid on a human being. 
If a dog ran directly across a man's path whilst he was liunt- 
ing, it was terrible " luck," unless he instantly hooked bis 
two little fingers together, and pulled with all his might, 
until the dog was out of sight. There were wizards who took 
charmed twigs in their hands, and made them point to springs 
of water and all kinds of treasure beneath the earth's surface. 
There were " faith doctors," who cured diseases b}"- perform- 
ing mysterious ceremonies and muttering cabalistic words. If 
a bird alighted in a window, one of the family would speedily 
die. If a horse breathed on a child, the child Avouid have 
the whooping-cough. Every thing must be done at certain 
" times and seasons," else it would be attended with " bad 
luck." They must cut trees for rails in the early part of the 
day, and in " the light of the moon." They must make fence 
in " the light of the moon ; " otherwise, the fence would sink. 
Potatoes and other roots were to be planted in the " dark of 
the moon," but trees, and plants which bore their fruits above 
ground, must be " put out in the light of the moon." The 
moon exerted a fearful influence, either kindly or malignant, 
as the good old rules were observed or not. It was even 
required to make soap " in the light of the moon," and, more- 
over, it must be stirred only one way, and by one person. 
Nothing of importance was to be begun on Friday. All 
enterprises inaugurated on that day went fatally amiss. A 
horse-colt could be begotten only " in the dark of the moon," 

> " Size of the fields from ten , twelve, sixteen, twenty. Raised corn mostly ; some wheat, — 
enough for a cake on Sunday morning. Hogj and venison hams were legal tender, and coon- 
ekins also. Wc raised sheep and cattle, bm they did not fetch much. Cows and calves 
were only worth six dollars; corn, ten cents; wheat, twenty-five cents at that time." — 
Denxis Hasks. 


and animals treated otlierw- -■ tbe signs 

in the almanac " were 

Such were the peor ^ manhood. 

With their sod> "s he wet.t to school. Upon 

their farms he cu .read by daily toil. From their 

conversation he lo..^>,.. ...c, .,,„iiest opinions of men and things, 
the world over. Many of their peculiarities became his ; and 
many of their thoughts and feelings concerning a multitude 
of subjects were assimilated with his own, and helped to create 
that unique character, which, in the eyes of a great host of 
the American people, was only less curious and air- ■ - ' ' 
it was noble and august. 

His most intimate companions were of course, ;- 
time, the members of his own family. The reader already 
knows something of Thomas Lincoln, and that pre-eminently 
good woman, Sally Bush. The latter, we know, washed, 
clothed, loved, and encouraged Abe in well-doing, from the 
moment he fell in her way. How much he owed to her good- 
ness and affection, he was himself never able to estimate. That 
it was a great debt, fondly acknowledged and cheerfully repaid 
as far as in him lay, there can be no doubt. His own sister, 
the child of Nancy Hanks, was warmly attached to him. Her 
face somewhat resembled his. In repose it had the gravity 
which they both, perhaps, inherited from their mother : but it 
was capable of being lighted almost into beauty by one of 
Abe's ridiculous stories or rapturous sallies of humor. She 
was a ■ modest, plain, industrious girl, and is kindly remem- 
bered by all who knew her. She was married to Aaron 
Grigsby at eighteen, and a year after died in child-bed. Like 
Abe, she occasionally worked out at the houses of the neigh- 
bors, and at one time was employed in Mrs. Crawford's 
kitchen, while her brother was a laborer on the same farm. 
She lies buried, not with her mother, but in the yard of the 
old Pigeon Creek meeting-house. It is especially pleasing to 
read the encomiums lavished upon her memory by the Grigs- 
bys ; for between the Grigsbys on one side, and Abe and his 
step-brother on the other, there once subsisted a fierce feud. 


Ah we liaye already learned from Dennis Hanks, the two 
femilies — the Johnstons and the Lincchis — "got along 
finely together." The affectionate relations between and 
his two step-sisters were the subject of common remark 
throughout the neighborhood. One of them married Dennis 
Hanks, and the other Levi Hall, or, as he is better known. 
Squire Hall, — a cousin of Abe. Both these women (the lat- 
ter now Mrs. Moore") furnished Mr, Herndon very valuable 
memoirs of Abe's life whilst he dwelt under the same roof 
with them : and they have given an account of him which 
shows that the ties between them were of the strongest and 
tenderest kind. But what is most remarkable in their state- 
ments is, that they never opened their lips without telling 
how worthy of everybody's love their mother was, and how 
Ahe revered her as much as they did. They were interesting 
girls, and became exemplary women. 

John D. Johnston, the only son of Mrs. Lincoln, was not 
the best boy, and did not grow to be the best man, in all the 
Pigeon Creek region. He had no positive vice, except idle- 
ness, andno special virtue but good temper. He was not a for- 
{junate man ; never made money ; was always needy, and alwaj-s 
clamoring for the aid of his-.friends. Mr. Lincoln, all through 
John's life, had much trouble to keep him on his legs, and 
succeeded indifferently in all his attempts. In a subsequent 
chapter a letter will be given from him, which indirectly por- 
trays his step-brother's character much better ttian it can be 
loi.;. '^""e. But, a,s youths, the intimacy bet v/een them was 
very cio.-r; ; and in another place it will appear that Abe 
ij'-.' ■; ..ok his second voyage to New Orleans only on condi- 
tion that John would go along. 

But the most constant of his conir .lions was his pWy 
cousin, Dennis Hanks. Of all the conu-ibutors to Mr. Hern- 
don's store of information, good, bad, and indifferent, con- 
cerning this period of Mr. Lincoln's life, Dennis is the most 
amusing, insinuating, and prolific. He would have it distinct- 
ly understood that the well of his memory is ths only proper 


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source whence any thing like truth may be di-awn.' He has 
covered countless sheets of paper devoted to indiscriminate 
laudations of Abe and all his kiudrel. But in all this he 
does not neglect to say a word for himself. 

At one place, " his cousin, Dennis Hanks," is said to have 
taught Abe to read and write. At another, he is represented 
as the benevolent purchaser of the volumes from which Abe 
(and Dennis too) derived a wonderfully clear and accurate 
conception of the science of law. In all studies their minds 
advanced pari j^a&su. Whenever any differences are noted 
(and they are few and slight), Dennis is a step ahead, benig- 
nantly extending a helping hand to the lagging pupil behind. 
But Dennis's heart is big and kind : he defames no one ; he 
is merely a harmless romancer. In the gallery of family por- 
traits painted by Dennis, every face looks down upon us with 
the serenity of innocence and virtue. There is no spot on 
the fame of any one of them. No famil}' could have a more 
vigorous or ciiivalrous defender than he, or one who repelled 
with greater scorn any rumor to their discredit. That Eulow 
story ! Dennis almost scorned to confute it .; but, M'hen he 
did get at it, he settled it by a magnificent exercise of inven- 

1 The following random selections from hl« writings leare ua no room to doubt Dennis's 
opinion of his own Toiue: — 

" William, let in, don't keep any thing back, for I am In for tta whole hog sure; for I 
Imow nobody can do any for you mnch. for all they know is ft-om me at last. Every thing 
you sec is IVom my notes, — this you can tell yourself. 

" I have In my possession a litlic book, the prlFate i.j'e of A. Lincoln, comprising a 
Tan life of his early years, and a succinct record of his career as statesraaa and President, 
by O. J. Victor, author of Lives of Garibaldi, Winfleld Scott, John Paul Jones. &c., Xcw 
York, licadic and Company, publishers. No. lis Williams St/iet. How, sir, I find a great 
many things pertaining to Abe Lincoln's life that is not true. If you would like to have 
the book, I will mail it to you. I will say this much to you : if you don't have ray name 
very frequently in your book, it won't go at all; fori have been East for two months, 
have seen a great many persons in that time, sli.^ing to them that there would be a book, 
' The Life of A. Lincoln.' published, giving a full account of the family, from England to 
this country. >'ow, William. If there be any thing you want to know, let me know : I will 
give you all the information I can. 

'■ I have seen a letter that you wrote to my daughter, Harriet Chapman, of iuqairy 
about some things. 1 thought you were iuformed all alwut them. I don't know what she 
has stated to you about your questions ; but you bad better consult nie about tliim. 

"Billy, it seems to me, from the letter.') that yon write to me asking questions, that 
you ask the same questions over several times. How is this? Do you forget, or are you 
like the lawyer, tr.ving to make me cross my path, or not ? Now, 1 mil. Look below for 
the answer." 


tive cTfniii?. He knew " this AUc Enlow" well, he said, and 
he had been dead precisely fifty-five years. But, whenever 
the truth ean he trdd without damage to the chaiaeter of a 
T.incoln or a Hanks, Dennis A\'ill tell it eandidly enough, pro- 
vided there is no temptation to magnify himself. His tC'-li- 
mony, however, has been sparingly used fhroughout these 
))ages ; and no statement has l>ecn taken from him nnkss it 
was more or loss direetly eorroborated by some one else. 
The lK;tir-r part of his evidence Mr. Herndon took the i)re- 
eaution of reading carefully to John Hanks, who jironounced 
it substantially true; and that cireumstance gives it undeni- 
able value. 

When Tliomas and Betsy Sparrow died in the fall of 1818, 
Dennis was taken from the "little half-faeed camp," and 
became one of the Lincoln family. Until Thomas Lincoln's 
second marriage, Dennis, Abe, and Sarah were all three poor, 
ragged, and miserable together, After Ihat. Dennis got along 
better, as well as the rest. He M-as a lively, volatile, symjia- 
thetie fellow, and Abe liked him wtll from the beginning. 
They fished, him ted, and worked in company; loafed at the 
grocery, where Dennis got drunk, and Abe told stori(>s ; talked 
polities with Col. Jones ; '• swapped jokes "' with Baldwin the 
blacksmith ; and faithfully attended the sittings of the nearest 
justice of the peace, where both had opportunities to correct 
and aruiotaie the law they thought they liad learned from the 
"Statute of Indiana." Dennis was kind, genial, lazy, brim- 
ming over with humor, and full of amusing anecdotes. He 
revelled in song, from the vulgarest ballad to the loftiest hymn 
of devotion ; '• from " The turbaned Turk, that scorns the 
\. orld," to the holiest lines of Doctor Watts. These ..iuahlies 
marked him wherever he went ; and in excessive good-nature, 
and in the -ase with which he passed from the extreme of 
rigor to the extreme of laxity, he was distinguished above the 
otliers uf his name. 

Ther' 'I'as one Hanks, however, who Aras not like Dennis, 
or any other Hanks we kno'\\'' any thing about: this was 
"old Joint, " as he is familiarly called in Illinois, — a sober, 


honest, truthful man, with none of the wit and none of the 
questionable accomplishments of Dennis. He was the son of 
Joseph, the carpenter with whom Tom Lincoln learned the 
trade. He went to Indiana to live with the Lincolns when 
Abe was fourteen years of age, and remained there four years. 
He then returned to Kentucky, and subsequently went to 
Illinois, -^here he was speedily joined by the old friends he 
had lefc in Indiana. When Abe separated from the family, 
and went in search of individual fortune, it was in company 
with "old John." Together they split the rails that did so 
much to make Abe President ; and « old John " set the ball 
in motion by carrying a part of them into the Decatur Con- 
vention on his own broad shoulders. John had nr> education 
whatever, except that of the muscles and the heart. He 
couli neither read nor write ; but his character was pure and 
respectable, and Lincoln esteemed him as a man, and loved 
him as a friend and relative. 

About six years after the death of the first Mrs. Lincoln, 
Levi Hall and his wife and family came to Indiana, and settled 
near the Lincolns. Mrs. Hall was Nancy Hanks, tho. mother 
of our friend Dennis, and the aunt of Nancy Hanks, the 
mother of Abraham Lincoln. She had numerous children by 
her husband. One of them, Levi, as already mentioned, mar- 
ried one of Abe's step-sisters, while Dennis, his half-brother, 
married the other one. The father and mother of the Halls 
speedily died of the milk-sickness, but Levi was for many 
years a constant companion of Abe and Dennis. 

In 1825 Abraham was employed by James Taylor, v): 
lived at the mouth of Anderson's Creek. He was paid k:;- 
dollars a month, and remained for nine months. His prinv..- 
pal business was the management of a ferry-boat which Mr. 
Taylor had plying across the Ohio, as well as Andereon's 
Creek. But, in addition to this, he was required to do ail 
sorts of farm-work, and even to perform sofne menial services 
about the house. He was hostler, ploughman, ferryman, out 
of doors, and man-of-all-work within doors. He ground 
corn with a hand-mill, or '•' grated " it when too young to be 


ground; rose early, built fires, put on the water in the kitchen, 
" fixed around generally," and had things prepared for cook- 
ing before the mistress of the house was stirring. He slept up 
stairs with young Green Taylor, who says that he usually read 
" till near midnight," notwithstanding the necessity for being 
out of his bed before day. Green was somewhat disposed 
to ill-use the poor hired boy, and once struck him with an 
ear of hard corn, and cut a deep gash over his eye. He makes 
no comment upon this generous act, except that " Abe got 
mad," but did not thrash him. 

Abe was a hand much in demand in " hog-killing time." 
He butchered not only for Mr. Taylor, but for John Woods, 
John Duthan, Stephen McDaniels, and others. At this he 
earned thirty-one cents a day, as it was considered " rough 

For a long time there was only one person in the neighbor- 
hood for whom Abe felt a decided dislike ; and that was Josiah 
Crawford, who had made him " pull fodder," to pay for the 
Weems's " Washington." On that score he was " hurt" and 
" mad," and often declared " he would have revenge." But 
being a poor boy, — a circumstance of which Crawford had 
already taken shameful advantage to extort three days' labor, 
— he was glad to get work any place, and frequently " hired 
to his old adversary." Abe's first business in his employ was 
daubing his cabiti, which was built of logs, unhewed, and with 
the bark on. In the lo£t of this house, thus finished by his own 
hands, he slept for many weeks at a time. He spent his 
evenings as he did at home, — writing on wooden shovels or 
boards with " a coal, or keel, from the branch." This family 
was rich in the possession of several books, udiich Abe read 
through time and agnin, according to his usual custom. One 
of them was the " Kentucky Preceptor," from which Mre. 
Crawford insists that he " learned his school orations, 
speeches, and pieces to write." She tells us also that " Abe 
was a sensitive lad, never coming where he was not wanted ;" 
that he always lifted his hat, and bowed, when he made his 


appearance ; and that " he was tender and kind," like his sister, 
who was at the same time her maid-of-all-work. His pay was 
twentj^-five cents a day ; "and, when he missed time, he would 
not charge for it." This latter remark of good j-Irs. Ci'awford 
reveals the fact that her husband was in the habit of docking 
Abe on his miserable wages whenever he happened to lose a 
few minutes from steady work. 

The time came, however, when Abe got his " revenge " for 
all this petty brutality. Crawford was as ugly as he was 
surly. His nose was a monstrosity, — long and crooked, with 
a huge, misshapen " stub " at the end, surmounted by a host 
of pimples, and the whole as " blue " as the usual state of 
Mr. Crawford's spirits. Upon this member Abe levelled his 
attack in rhyme, song, and " chronicle ; " and, though he could 
not reduce the nose, he gave it a fame as wide as to the Wa- 
bash and the Ohio. It is not improbable that he learned the 
art of making the doggerel rhymes in which he celebrated 
Crawford's nose from the study of Crawford's own " Ken- 
tucky Preceptor." At all events, his sallies upon this single 
topic achieved him great reputation as a " poet " and a wit, 
and caused Crawford intolerable anguish. 

It is likely that Abe was reconciled to his situation in this 
family by the presence of his sister, and the opportunity it 
gave him of being in the company of Mrs. Crawford, for whom 
he had a genuine attachment ; for she was nothing that her 
husband was, and every thing that he was not. According to 
her account, he split rails, ploughed, threshed, and did what- 
ever else he was ordered to do ; but she distinctly affirms that 
" Abe was no hand to pitch into his work like killing snakes." 
He went about it " calmly," and generally took the opportu- 
nity to throw " Crawford " down two or three times " before 
they went to the field." It is fair to presume, that, when Abe 
managed to inveigle his disagreeable employer into a tussle, 
he hoisted him high and threw him hard, for he felt that he 
had no reason to be careful of his bones. After meals Abe 
" hung about," lingered long to gossip and joke with the 


women ; aad these pleasant, stolen conferences were gen'erally 
broken up with the exclamation, " Well, this won't buy the 
child a coat ! " and the long-legged hired boy would stride 
away to join his master. 

In the mean time Abe had become, not only the longest, but 
the strongest, man in the settlement. Some of his feats almost 
surpass belief, and those who beheld them with their own 
eyes stood literally amazed. Richardson, a neighbor, declares 
that he could carry a load to which the strength of " three 
ordinary men " would scarcely be equal. He saw him quietly 
pick up and walk away with " a chicken-house, made of poles 
pinned together, and covered, that weighed at least six hun- 
dred, if not much more." At another time the Richardsons 
were building a corn-crib : Abe was there ; and, seeing three 
or four men preparing "sticks" upon which to carry some 
huge posts, he relieved them of all further trouble by shoul- 
dering the posts, single-handed, and walking away with them 
to the place where they were wanted. " He coidd strike 
with a mall," says old Mr. Wood. " a heavier blow than any 
man- . . . He could sink an axe deeper into wood than any 
man I ever saw." 

For hunting purposes, the Pigeon Creek region was one of 
the most inviting on earth. The uplands were all covered 
with an original growth of majestic forest trees,' whilst on the 
hillsides, and wherever an opening in the woods permit- 
ted the access of sunlight, there were beds of fragrant and 
beautiful wild-flowers, presenting, in contrast with the dense 
gi-een around them, the most brilliant and agreeable effects. 
Here the game had vast and secluded ranges, which, until 
very recently, had heard the report of no white man's gun. 
In Abe's time, the squirrels, rabbits, partridges, and other 
varieties of smaller game, were so abundant as to be a 
nuisance. They devastated grain-fields and gardens ; and 

1 *' Nnw about the tijnber : it vr&s black walnut and black oak. hickory and jack oak, 
elm and white oak, undergrowth, logwood in abundance, grape-vinea and shoe-make 
bushes, and milk-sick plenty. All my relations died of that disease on Little Pigeon Creek, 
Spencer Comity."—DENSis Hanks. 


wlule they were seldom shot for the table, the settlers fre- 
quently devised the most cunning means of destroying them 
in great quantities, in order to save the growing crops. Wild 
turkeys and deer were the principal reliance for food ; but be- 
sides these were the bears, the wild-cats, and the panthers.^ 
The scream of the latter, the most ferocious and bloodthirsty 
of the cat kind, hastened Abe's homeward steps on many a 
dark night, as he came late from Dave Turnham's, " Uncle " 
Wood's, or the Gentryville grocery. That terrific cry appeals 
not only to the natural fear of the monster's teeth and claws, 
but, heard in the solitude of night and the forest, it awakens 
a feeling of superstitious horror, that chills the heart of the 

Everybody about Abe made hunting a part of his business.'' 
Tom Lincoln and Dennis Hanks doubtless regaled him con- 
tinually with wonderful stories of their luck and prowess ; 
but he was no hunter himself, and did not care to learn. It is 
true, that, when a mere child, he made a fortunate shot at a 
flock of wild turkeys, through a crack in the wall of the 
" half-faced cabin ; " * and that, when grown up, he went for 
coons occasionally with Richardson, or watched deer-licks 
with Turnham ; but a true and hearty sportsman he never 
was. As practised on this wild border, it was a solitary, un- 
sociable way of spending time, which did not suit his nature ; 
and, besides, it required more exertion than he was willing to 
make without due compensation. It could not be said that Abe 
was indolent ; for he was alert, brisk, active, about every thing 
that he made up his mind to do. His step was very quick ; 
and, when he had a sufficient object in view, he strode out on 

> "No Indians there when T first went to Indiana : I say, no, none. I say this : bear, 
deer, turkey, and coon, wildcats, and other things, and frogs." — Dknuis Haxks. 

' " You say. What were some of the customs ? I suppose you mean talce us all to- 
gether. One thing I can tell you about : wc had to work very hard cleaning ground for to 
keep body and soul together ; and every spare time we had we picked up our rifle, and 
brought in a fine deer or turkey ; and in the winter-time we went a coon-hunting, for coon- 
skins were at that time considered legal tender, and deer-skins and hams. 1 tell you, H'lUy, 
I enjoyed myself better then tlian I ever have since." — Dknxis H\NK3. 

» " No doubt about the A. Lincoln's killing the turkey. He done it with his father's 
rifle, made by William Lutes, of Bullitt County, Kentucky. 1 have killed a hundred deer 
with her myself; turkeys too numerous to mention." — Dennis HASK3. 


his long, muscular legs, swinging his bony arms as he moved 
along, with an energy that put miles behind him before a lazy 
fellow like Dennis Hanks or John Johnston could make up 
his mind to start. But, when he felt that he had time to 
spare, he preferred to give it to reading or to " talk ; " and, 
of the two, he would take the latter, provided he could find 
a person who had something new or racy to say. He liked 
excessively to hear his own voice, when it was promoting fun 
and good fellowship ; but he was also a most rare and atten- 
tive listener. Hunting was entirely too " still " an occupation 
for him. 

All manner of rustic sports were in vogue among the Pigeon 
Creek boys. Abe was especially formidable as a wrestler ; and, 
. from about 1828 onward, there was no man, far or near, that 
would give him a match. " Cat," " throwing the mall," "• hop- 
ping and half-hammon" (whatsoever that may mean), and 
" four-corner bull-pen " were likewise athletic games in high 

All sorts of frolics and all kinds of popular gatherings, 
whether for work or amusement, possessed irresistible attrac- 
tions for Abe. He loved to see and be seen, to make sport 
and to enjoy it. It was a most important part of his educa- 
tion that he got at the corn-shuckings, the log-ro'lir.^-s, the 
shooting-matches, and the gay and jolly weddings i,f those 
early border times. He was the only man or boy within a 
wide compass who had learning enough to furnish the litera- 
ture for such occasions ; and those who failed to employ his 
talents to grace or commemorate the festivities they set on 
foot were sure to be stung by some coarse but humorous 
lampoon from his pen. In the social way, he would not suffer 
himself to be slighted with impunity ; and, if there were any 
who did not enjoy his -wit, they might content themselves 
with being the subjects of it. Unless he received some very 
pointed intimation that his presence was not wanted, he was 

' " You ask, What sort of plays ? What we called them at that time were ' bull-pen,' 
• corner and cat,' ' hopping and half-hammon ; ' playing at night ' old Sister Feby.' This 1 
tnow, for I took a hand myself ; and, wrestling, we could throw down anybody." — 



among the first and earliest at all the neighborhood routs ; and 
when his tall, singular figure was seen towering amongst the 
hunting-shirts, it was considered due notice that the fun was 
about to commence. " Abe Linkhern," as he was generally 
called, made things lively wherever he went: and, if Crawford's 
blue nose happened to have been carried to the assembly, it 
quickly subsided, on his arrival, into some obscure corner ; for 
the implacable " Linkhern " was apt to make it the subject 
of a jest that would set the company in a roar. But when a 
party was made up, and Abe left out, as sometimes happened 
through the influence of Crawford, he sulked, fumed, " got 
mad," nursed his anger into rage, and then broke out in songs 
or " chronicles," which were frequently very bitter, sometimes 
passably humorous, and invariably vulgar. 

At an early age he began to attend the "preachings " round- 
about, but principally at the Pigeon Creek church, with a view 
to catching whatever might be ludicrous in the preacher's air 
or matter, and making it the subject of mimicry as soon as he 
could collect an audience of idle bo3's and men to hear him. 
A pious stranger, passing that way on a Sunday morning, was 
invited to preach for the Pigeon Creek congregation ; but he 
banged the boards of the old pulpit, and bellowed and groaned 
so wonderfully, that Abe could hardly contain his mirth. This 
memorable sermon was a great favorite with him ; and he fre- 
quently reproduced it with nasal tones, rolhng eyes, and all 
manner of droll aggravations, to the great delight of Nat 
Grigsby and the wild fellows whom Nat was able to assemble. 
None that heard him, not even Nat himself (who was any 
thing but dull), was ever able to show wherein Abe's absurd 
version really departed from the original. 

The importance of Gentryville, as a " centre of business," 
soon began to possess the imaginations of the dwellers between 
the two Pigeon Creeks. Why might it not be a great place 
of trade ? Mr. Gentry was a most generous patron ; it was 
advantageously situated where two roads crossed ; it already 
had a blacksmith's shop, a grocery, and a store. Jones, it is 

trae. Lii GTicr ^oved i-^3~ is. a. sti'iV. b" llr. 'jreaTry s ice 

tCTii : " azid -o~, liii.:^ there "^is lirarillj iioiciiig: Iffr :o 
1^ -.lie -rar r'-Ture. 

.;5. inc in^oiis to c-e ?•:: 


but in his service he was never promoted to keeping accounts, 
or even to selling the finer goods across the counter.* But 
Mr. Jones was very fond of his " clerk," — enjoyed his company, 
appreciated his humor, and predicted something great for 
him. As he did not doubt that Abe would one day be a man 
of considerable influence, he took paius to give him correct 
views of the nature of American institutions. An ardent 
Jackson man himself, he imparted to Abe the true faith, a^ 
delivered by that great democratic apostle ; and the traces of 
this teaching were never wholly effaced from Mr. Lincoln's 
mind. Whilst he remained at Gentryville, his politics ac- 
corded with Mr. Jones's ; and, even after he had turned Wiiig 
in Illinois, John Hanks tells us that he wanted to whip a man 
for traducing Jackson. He was an eager reader of newspapers 
whenever he could get them, and Mr. Janes carefuUy put 
into his hands the kind he thought a raw youth should have. 
But Abe's appetite was not t& be satisfied by what Mr. Jones 
supplied; and he frequently borrowed others from "Uncle 
Wood," who lived about a mile from the Lincoln cabin, and 
for whom he sometimes worked. 

What manner of man kept the Gentryville grocery, we are 
not informed. Abe was often at his place, however, and 
would stay so long at nights, " telling stories " and " cracking 
jokes," that Dennis Hanks, who was ambitious in the same 
line, and probably jealous of Abe's overshadowing success, 
" got mad at him," and " cussed him." When Dennis found 
himself thrown in the shade, he immediately became virtuous, 
and wished to retire early. 

John Baldwin, the blacksmith, was one of Abe's spo: 
friends from his boyhood onward. Baldwin was a story-:e'Jcr 
and a joker of rare accomplishments ; and Abe, when a very 
little fellow, would slip off to his shop and sit and listen to 

> " Lincoln drove a. team, cat up pork, and sold goods fbr Jones. Jones told me that 
Lincoln read all his books, and I remember History of United States as one. Jones ofter 
said to me, that Lincoln wonid mate a great man one of these days, — had said so i j : 
before, and to other peofile, — said so as &r back as 1828-9."— DouoasBTr. 


him by the hour. As he grew up, the practice continued as 
of old, except that Abe soon began to exchange anecdotes 
with his clever friend at the anvil. Dennis Hanks says Bald- 
win was his ''particular friend," and that " Abe spent a great 
deal of his leisure time with him." Statesmen, plenipoten- 
tiaries, famous commanders, have many times made the White 
House at Washington ring with their laughter over the quaint 
tales of John Baldwin, the blacksmith, delivered second-hand 
by his inimitable friend Lincoln. 

Abe and Dave Turnham had one day been threshing wheat, — 
probably for Turnham's father, — and concluded to spend the 
evening at Gentrvville. They lingered there until late in the 
night, when, wending their way along the road toward Lin- 
coln's cabin, they espied something resembling a man lying 
dead or insensible by the side of a mud-puddle. They rolled 
the sleeper over, and found in him an old and quite respecta- 
ble acquaintance, hopelessly drunk. All efforts failed to rouse 
him to any exertion on his own behalf. Abe's companions 
were disposed to let him he in the bed he had made for him- 
self ; but, as the night was cold and dreary, he must have 
frozen to death had this inhuman proposition been equally 
agreeable to everybody present. To Abe it seemed utterly 
monstrous ; and, seeing he was to have no help, he bent his 
mighty frame, and, taking the big man in his long arms, car- 
ried him a great distance to Dennis Hanks's cabin. There he 
built a fire, warmed, rubbed, and nursed him through the 
entire night, — his companions of the road having left him 
alone in his merciful task. The man often told John Hanks, 
that it was mighty " clever in Abe to tote him to a warm fire 
that cold night," and was very sure that Abe's strength and 
benevolence had saved his life. 

Abe was fond of music, but was himself wholly unaMe to 
produce three harmonious notes together. He made ^ arious 
vain attempts to sing a few lines of " Poor old Ned," but they 
were all equally ludicrous and ineffectual. " Religious songs 
did not appear to suit him at all," says Dennis Hanks; but 


of profane ballads and amorous ditties he knew the words of 
a vast number. When Dennis got happy at the grocery, or 
passed the bounds of propriety at a frolic, be was in the habit 
of raising a charming carol in praise of the joys which enter 
into the Mussulman's estate on earth, — of which he has 
vouchsafed us only three lines, — 

" The turbaned Turk that scorns the world, 
An-i struts about with his whiskers curled, 
For no other man but himself to see." 

It was a prime favorite of Abe's ; and Dennis sang it with 
such appropriate zest and feeling, that Abe never forgot a sin- 
gle word of it while he lived. 
Another was, — 

" Hail Columbia, happy land 1 
If you ain't drunk, I'll be damned," — 

a song which Dennis thinks should be warbled only in the 
" fields ; " and tells us that they knew and enjoyed " all such 
[songs] as this." Dave Turnham was also a musical genius, 
and had a " piece " beginning, — 

" There was a Romish lady 
Brought up in popery," 

which Abe thought one of the best he ever heard, and in- 
sisted upon Dave's singing it for the delectation of old Tom 
Lincoln, who relished it quite as much as Abe did.' 

Mrs. Crawford says, that Abe did not attempt to sing much 

[ recollect some more : 

' Come, thou Fount of every blessing. 
Tune mjr heart to sing thy praise.' 

• How tedious and tasteless the hours.' 

* Oh ! to grace how great a debtor ! ' 

other little songs I won't say any thing about: they would not loolc weU in print; 
but I could ^ire them."— Dbknis Hanks. 

about the house : he was probably afraid to indulge in such 
offensive gayeties in the very habitation of the morose Craw- 
ford. According to Dennis Hanks, his melody was not of the 
sort that hath power to charm the savage ; and he was 
naturally timid about trying it upon Crawford. But, when 
he was freed from those chilling restraints, he put forth his 
best endeavors to render " one [song] that was called ' Wil- 
liam Riley,' and one that was called ' John Anderson's Lam- 
entations,' and one that was made about Gen. Jackson and 
John Adams at the time they were nominated for the 

The Jackson song indicated clearly enough Abe's steadiness 
in the poj't'cal views inculcated by Jones. Mrs. Crawford 
could recollect but a single stanza of it : — 

" Let auU acquaintance be forgot, 
And never brought to mind, 
And Jackson be our President, 
And Adams left behind." 

In the text of " John Anderson's Lamentations," — a most 
distressful lyric to begin with, — Abe was popularly supposed 
to have interpolated some lines of his own, which conclusively 
attested his genius for poetic composition. At ail events, he 
sang it as follows : — 

" sinners I poor sinners, take warning by me : 
The fruits of transgression behold now, and see ; 
My soul is tormented, my body confined, 
My friends and dear children left weeping behind. 

" Much intoxication my ruin has ' ; i 
And my dear companion hath i/^ slain : 
In yonder cold graveyard the body doth lie ; 
Whilst I am condemned, and shortly must die. 

" Remember John Anderson's death, and reform 
Before death overtakes you, and vengeance comes on. 
My grief's overwhelming ; in God 1 must trust : 
I am justly condemned ; my sentence is just. 


" I am waiting the summons in eternity to be hurled ; 
Whilst my poor little orphans are cast on the world. 
I hope my kind neighbors their guardeens will be, 
And Heaven, kind Heaven, protect them and me." 

In 1826 Abe's sister Nancy (or Sarah) was married to 
Aaron Grigsby ; and the festivities of the occasion were made 
memorable by a song entitled, " Adam and Eve's Wedding 
Song," which many believed Abe had himself composed" 
The conceits embodied in the doggerel were old before Abe 
was born ; but there is some intrinsic as well as extraneous 
evidence to show that the doggerel itself was his. It was 
sung by the whole Lincoln family, before Nancy's marriage 
and since, but by nobody else in the neighborhood. 


When Adam was created, he dwelt in Eden's shade, 
As Moses has recorded, and soon an Eve was made. 

Ten thousand times ten thousand 

Of creatures swarmed around 

Before a bride was formed. 

And yet no mate was found. 

The Lord then was not willing 
The man should be alone, 
B«t caused a sleep upon him. 
And took from him a bone, 

And closed the flesh in that place of; 
And then he took the same. 
And of it made a woman. 
And brought her to the man. 

Then Adam he rejoiced 
To see his loving bride, 
A part of his own body, 
The product of his side. 

This woman was not taken 
From Adam's feet, we see ; 
So he must not abuse her, 
The meaning seems to be. 


This woman was not taken 
From Adam's head, we know ; 
To show she must not rule him, 
'Tis evidently so. 

This woman she was taken 
From under Adam's arm ; 
So she must ho protected 
From injuries and harm. 

" It was considered at that time," says Mr. Richardson, 
" that Abe was the best penman iu the neighborhood. One 
day, while lie was on a visit at my mother's, I asked him to 
write some copies for me. He very willingly consented. He 
wrote several of them, but one of them I have never forgot- 
ten, although a boy at the time. It was this : — 

' Good boys who to their biwks apply 
Will all be great men by and by.' " 

Here are two original lines from Abe's own copy-book, 
probably the first he ever had, and which must not be con- 
founded with the famous scrap-book in \\hich his step-mother, 
lost in admiration of its contents, declares he " entered all 
things: " — 

" Abraham Lincoln, his hand and pea : 
He will be good, biu God knows wlien." 
Again, — 

" Abraham Lincoln is my name, 
And with uiy pen 1 write the same : 
I will be a good boy, but God !;"ows when." 

The same book eontaitis the following, written at a later 
day, and with nothing to indicate that any part of it was 
bon'owed : — 

" Time ! what an empty vaj or 'tis I 
And days how swift they are ! 
Swift as an Indian arrow. 
Fly on like a shooting-star. 
Tlie present moment just is here, 
Then slides away in haste. 
That we can never say they're ours, 
But only say they are past." 


Abe wrote many " satires " and " chronicles," which are 
only remembered in fragments by a few old persons in the 
neighborhood. Even if we had them in full, they were most 
of them too indecent for publication. Such, at least, was 
the character of "a piece" which is said to have been 
" exceedingly humorous and witty," touching a church trial, 
wherein Brother Harper and Sister Gordon were the parties 
seeking judgment. It was very coarse, but it served admira- 
bly to raise a laugh in the grocery at the expense of the church. 

His chronicles were many, and on a great variety of sub- 
jects. They were written, as his early admirers love to tell 
us, "in the scriptural style;" but those we have betray a 
very hmited acquaintance with the model. In these " chap- 
ters " was celebrated every event of importance that took 
place in the neighborhood: weddings, fights, Crawford's 
nose. Sister Gordon's innocence. Brother Harper's wit, were 
aU served up, fresh and gross, for the amusement of the 

Charles and Reuben Grigsby were married about the same 
time, and, being brothers, returned to their father's house with 
their brides upon the same day. The infare, the feast, the 
dance, the ostentatious retirement of the brides and grooms, 
were conducted in the old-fashioned way of aU ne\v countries 
in the United States, but a way which was bad enough to shock 
Squire Western himself. On this occasion Abe was not invited, 
and was very " mad " in consequence. This indignation found 
vent in a highly-spiced piece of descriptive writing, entitled 
" The Chronicles of Reuben," which are still in existence. 

But even " The Chronicles," venomous and highly success- 
ful as they were, were totally it- -s desire 
for vengeance on the Grigsbys t people 
about Gentryville, and the socia. ^..^... ...,,,• ...>.. i^'^ven him 

stung him bitterly. He therefore began on " Billy " in rhyme, 
after disposing of Charles ind Reribcn "in scriptural style." 
Mrs. Crawford attempteci se verses to Mr. Hern- 

don; but the good old la oeeded far, when she 

blushed very red, and, sayiji^ i.xiiu '.ncy were hardly decent. 


proposed to tell them to her daughter, who would tell them to 
her husband, who would write them down and send them to 
Mr. Herndon. They are probably much curtailed by Mrs. 
Crawford's modesty, but still it is impossible to transcribe 
them. We give what we can to show how the first steps of 
Abe's fame as a great writer were won. It must be admitted 
that the literary taste of the community in which these rhymes 
were popular could not have been very high. 

" I will tell you about Joel and Mary ; it is neither a joke 
or a story, for Reuben and Charles has married two girls, 
but Billy has married a boy." 

" The girls he had tried on every side. 
But none could lie get to agree : 
All was in vain ; he wect home again, 
And, since that, he is married to Natty. 

" So Billy rmd Natty agreed very well. 
And mamma's -well pleased at the match : 
The egg it is laid, but Natty's afraid 
Tiie shell is so soft it never will hj.tcb ; 
But Betsey she said, ' You c':;r3cd baid head, 
My suitor you never can be ; 
Besides ' " — 

Abs dropped " The Chronicles " at a point on the road 
whers he w^s sure one of the Grigsbys would find them. 
The stratagem succeeded, and that delicate " entire " produced 
the dssbed effect. The Grigsbys wer . ii:furi-Aced. — wild 
with a rage v/hich woulo ' ' ' ' " '- 

oiiovid be povrided into u 

by some member of the 1: _ _, ■ 

'hs 2'igi^on C"eek code, aemanaeo. thac somei:)a>jy r^aouid be 
' licked" in (i;'>;iia::ioa cf an outrage so gr:c7oa:i, —if not Abe, 
thon seme friend of Abe'2, whom be -J^-orild depute to stand 
'.iie brunr :n uh stead. " Jiilly," the elds'-t of tbe brothers, 
'YFT! seleoted tc challenge hitr.. Ate :.cct=pted gsnerally ■ 
: /; -J, r.5r:ed that ohsre should be a fi^ht about ihe matter 
'■' ;j^u3.^tton., Ic was &coordin;jly so crder/d : the ground v/as 
:ce^. r. ^.jili and a li^lf fiJGi G-eutrville, ?. rl-ic^ %7s? 


marked out, and the bullies for twenty miles around attended. 
The friends of both parties weie present in force, and excite- 
ment ran high. Wien the timt arrived for the champions to 
step into the ring, Abe displaye'' his .?'uvalry in a manner 
that must have struck the byslctTrlers with admiration. He 
announced, that whereas Billy was confessedly his inferior in 
size, shape, and talents, unable to hit with pen or fist with any 
thing like his power, therefore he would forego the advan- 
tage which the challenge gave him, and " turn over " his step- 
brother, John Johnston, to do battle in his behalf. If this 
near relative should be sacrificed, he would abide the issue : 
he was merely anxious to see a fair and honoi'able fight. 
This proposition was considere.' highly meritorious, and the 
battle commenced on those general terms. John started out 
with fine pluck and spirit ; but in a little while Billy got in 
some clever hits, and Abe began to exhibit symptoms of great 
uneasiness. Another pass or two, and John flagged quite 
decidedly, and it became evident that Abe was anxiously 
casting about for some pretext to break the ring. At length, 
when John was fairly down, and Billy on top, and all the 
spectators cheering, swearing, and pressing up to the very 
edge of the ring, Abe cried out that " Bill Boland showed foul 
play," and, bursting out of the crowd, seized Grigsby by the 
heels, and flung him off. Having righted John, and clecreu 
the battle-ground of all opponents, " he swung a whiskey- 
bottle over his head, and swore that he was the big I ek of 
the lick." It seems that nobody of the Grigsby faction, not 
one in that large assembly of bullies, eared to encounter the 
sweep of Abe's tremendously long and muscular arms ; and so 
he remained master of the " lick." He was not content, how- 
ever, with a naked triumph, but vaunted himself in the most 
offensive manner. He singled out the victorious but cheated 
Billy, and, making sundry hostile demonstrations, declared 
that he could whip him then and there. Billy meekly said 
" he did not doubt that," but that, if Abe would make things 
even between them by fighting with pistols, he would not be 
slow to grant him a meeting. But Abe replied that he -^s.-; 


not going " to fool away his life on a single shot ; " and so 
Billy was fain to put up with the poor satisfaction he had 
already received. 

At Gentryville " they had exhibitions or speaking meet- 
ings." " Some of the questions they spoke on were, The Bee 
and the Ant, Water and Fire : another was, Which had 
the most right to complain, the Negro or the Indian ? 
Another, " Which was the strongest. Wind or Water ? " ' 
The views which Abe then entertained on the Indian and the 
negro question would be intensely" interestiug now. But just 
fancy him discoursing on wind and water ! What treasures 
of natural science, what sallies of humor, he must have wasted 
upon that audience of bumpkins ! A little farther on, we shall 
see that Abe made pretensions to an acquaintance with the 
laws of nature which was considered marvellous in that day 
and generation. 

Dennis Hanks insists that Abe and he became leavaed men 
and expert disputants, not by a course of judicious reading, 
but by attending '• speech-makings, gatherings," &c. 

" How did Lincoln and yourself learn so much in Indiana 
under such disadvantages? " said Mr. Herndon to Dennis, on 
one of his two oral examinations. The question was art- 
fully put; for it touched the jaunty Dennis on the side of his 
vanity, and elicited a characteristic r-iply. '■ We learned," 
said he, " by sight, scent, and hearing. We iieard ail that was 
said, and talked over and over the questions heard ; wire 
them slick, greasy, and threadbare. Went to political a;-'! 
other speeches and gatherings, as you do now ; we would hear 
all sides and opinions, talk theni over, discuss them, agreeing 
or disagreeing. A' ■- as I said b.efore, was originally a Demo- 
crat after the order oi ' ' '\ so was his father, so we all 
were. . . . He preached, rn. s-;Hcohes, read for us, ex- 

.ijrciifcKiWicc, first, i 


plained to u^ &o ... Abe was a cheerful boy, a witty boy 
was humorous always; sometimes would get sad, not very 
ten. . . Lmcoln would frequently make political and 
other speeches to the boys : he was cahn, logical, and clear 
always He attended trials, went to court always, read the 
Rev.sed Statute of Indiana, dated 1824, heard law speeches 
and listened to law trials, &c. Lincoln was lazy, a verV 
lazy man. He was always reading, scribbling, writing cipher- 
ing, writing poetry, and the like. . . . In Gentryville, about 
one mxle west of Thomas Lincoln's farm, Lincoln would go 
and teU his jokes and stories, &c., and was so odd, ori- 
gma and humorous and witty, that all the people in town 
would gather around him. He would keep them thert tdl 
midnight. I would get tired, want to go home, cuss Abe most 
heartily. Abe was a good talker, a good reader, and was a 
iand 01 newsboy." 

Boonville was the court-house town of Warrick County 
and was situated about fifteen miles from GentryvHle. Thitl^er 
Abe walked whenever lie had time to be present at the sittings 
of the court, where he could learn something of public busi- 
ness, amuse himself profitably, and withal pick up items of 
news and gossip, which made him an interesting personage 
when he returned home. During one of these visits he 
watched, with profound attention, the progress of a murder 
trial, in which a Jlr. John Breckenridge was counsel for the de- 
tenee. At the conclusion of the latter's speech, Abe, who had 
listened, literally entranced, accosted the man of eloquence 
and ventured to compliment him on the success of his effort' 
" Breckenridge looked at the shabby boy " in amazement, and 
passed on his way. But many years afterwards, in 1862, 
when Abe was President, and Breckenridge a resident of 
Texas, probably needing executive clemency, they met a 
second time ; when Abe said, "It was the best speech that 
I up to that time had ever heard. If I could, as I then 
thought, make as good a speech as that, my soul would be 


It is n, curious fact, that through all Abe's childhood and 
boyhood, when he seemed to have as little prospect of the 
Presidency as any boy that ever was born, he was in the habit 
of saying, and perhaps sincerely believing, that that great 
prize would one day be his. When Mrs. Crawford reproved 
him for " fooling," and bedevilling the girls in her kitchen, 
and asked him " what he supposed would ever become of 
him," he answered that " he was going to be President of 
the United States." ' 

Abe usually did the milling for the family, and had the 
neighbor boy, Dave Turnham, for his companion. At first 
they had to go a long distance, at least tw:;lve or thirteen 
miles, to Hoffman's, on Anderson's Creek ; but after a while a 
Mr. Gordon (the husband of Sister Gordon, about whom the 
'■ witty piece " was written) built a horse-mill within a few- 
miles of the Lincolns. Here Abe had come one day with a 
grist, and Dave probably with him. He had duly hitched 
his " old mare," and started her with great impatience ; when, 
just as he was sounding another " cluck," to stir up her im- 
perturbable and lazy spirit, she let out with her heels, and laid 
Abe sprawling and insensible on the ground. He was taken 
up in that condition, and did not recover for many minutes ; 
but the first use made of returning sense was to finish the 
interrupted "cluck." He and Mr. Herndon had many learned 
discussions in their quiet little office, at Springfield, respecting 
this remarkable phenomenon, involving so nice a question in 
" psychology." 

Mr. William Wood, already referred to as " Uncle Wood," 
was a genuine friend and even a patron of Abe's. He lived 
onh"^ about a mile and a half from the Lincolns, and frequent- 
ly had both old Tom and Abe to work for him, — the one as 
a rough carpenter, and the other as a common laborer. He 
says that Abe was in the habit of carrying " his pieces " to 
him for criticism and encouragement. Mr. Wood took at 
least two newspapers, — one of them devoted to polities, and 

^ Ue frequently made use of eimilar expressions to several others. 


one of them to temperance. Abe borrowed them both, and, 
reading them faithfully over and over again, ^vas inspired with 
an ardent desire to write something on the subjects of which 
they treated. He nccordingly composed an article on temper- 
ance, which Mr. Wood thought " excelled, for sound sense, any 
thing that the paper contained." It was forwarded, through 
the agency of a Baptist preacher, to an editor in Ohio, by 
whom it was published, to the infinite gratification of Mr. 
Wood and his protSgS. Abe then tried his hand on " national 
politics," saying that " the American Government was the 
best form of government for an intelligent people ; that it 
ought to be kept sound, and preserved forever ; that general 
education should be fostered and carried all over the country : 
that the Constitution should be saved, the Union perpetuated, 
and the laws revered, respected, and enforced." This article 
was consigned, like the other, to Mr. Wood, to be ushered by 
him before the public. A lawyer named Pritchard chanced 
to pass that way, and, being favored with a perusal of Abe's 
"piece," pithily and enthusiastically declared, "The world 
can't beat it." " He begged for it," and it was p- ' -' ' 
some obscure paper; this new success causing il: 
most extraordinarj' access of pride and happiness. 

But in 1828 Abe had become very tired of his home. He 
was now nineteen years of age, and becoming daily more 
restive under the restraints of servitude which bound him. 
He was anxious to try the world for himself, and make his 
way according to his own notions. " Abe came to my house 
one day," says Mr. Wood, " and stood round about, timid and 
shy. I knew he wanted something, and said to him, 'Abe, 
what's your case ? ' He replied, ' Uncle, I want you to go 
to the river, and give me some recommendation to some boat.' 
I remarked, ' Abe, your age is against you : you are not 
twenty 3'et.' 'I know that, but I want a start,' said Abe. 
I concluded not to go for the boy's good." Poor Abe ! old 
Tom still had a claim upon him, which even Uncle Wooil 
would not help him to evade. He must wait a few wear,)- 


sTOOvhs more before he would be of age, and could say be was 
his own man, and go hia own way. Old Tom was a hard task- 
master to him, and, no doubt, consumed the greater part, if 
not all, of his. wages. 

In the beginning of March, 1828, Abe went to work for old 
Mr. Gentry, the proprietor of Gentryville. Early in the next 
month, the old gentleman furnished his son Allen with a boat, 
and a cargo of bacon and other produce, with which he was 
to go on a trading expedition to New Orleans, unless the 
stock was sooner exhausted. Abe, having been found faithful 
and efficient, was employed to accompany the young man as 
a " bo%v-hand," to work the " front oars." He was paid eight 
dollars per month, and ate and slept on board. Returning, 
Gentry paid his passage on the deck of a steamboat. 

While this boat was loading at Gentry's Landing, near 
Itockport, on the Ohio, Abe saw a great deal of the pretty 
Miss Roby, whom he had saved from the wrath of Crawford 
tlie schoolmaster, when si. , : I to spell "defied." She 
says, " Abe was th^n a long ■.^.^, legg)s gawky boy, dried up 
and shrivelled." This young lady subsequently became the 
wife of Allen Gentry, Abe's companion in the projected voy- 
age. She probably felt a deep interest in the enterprise in 
hand, for the very boat itself seems to have had attractions 
for her. " One evening," says she, " Abe and I were sitting 
on the banks of the Ohio, or ratl^er on the boat spoken of: I 
said to Abe that the s e' "g down. He said to me, 

' That's not so : it don . . j ;■■ go down ; it seems so. The 
*arth turns from west to east, and the revolution of the 
eWh cari'ies us under as it were : we do the sinking as you 
call it. The sun, as to us, is comparatively still ; the sun's 
sinking is only an appearance.' I replied, ' Abe, what a fool 
} ou are ! ' I know now that I was the fool, not Lincoln. I am 
now thoroughly satisfied that Abe knew the general laws of 
astronomj- and the movements of the heavenly bodies. He 
was better read then than the world knows, or is likely to 
know exactly. No man could tallc to me that night as he did, 


unless he had known something of geography as ^^"11 as 
astronomy. He often and often commented or tr' " 'co me 
about what he had read, — seemed to read it ou; oc the book 
as he went along, — did so to others. He was the learned 
boy among us unlearned folks. He took great pains to ex- 
plain ; could do it so simply. He was diffident then too." ' 

The trip of Gentry and Lincoln was a very profitable one, 
and Mr. Gentry, senior, was highly gratified by the result. 
Abe displayed his genius for mercantile affairs by handsomely 
putting off on the innocent folks along the river some coun- 
terfeit money which a shrewd fellow had imposed upon 
Allen. Allen thought his father would be angry with him for 
suffering himself to be cheated ; but Abe consoled him with 
the reflection that the " old man " wouldn't care how much 
bad money they took in the course of business if they only 
brought the proper amount of good money home.* 

At Madame Bushane's plantation, six miles below Baton 
Rouge, they had an adventure, which reads strangely enough 
in the life of the great emancipator. The boat was tied up 
to the shore, in the dead houi"s of the night, and Abe and 
Allen were fast asleep in the " cabin," in the stern, when they 
were startled by footsteps on board. They knew instantly 
that it was a gang of negroes come to rob, and perhaps to 
murder them. Allen, thinking to frighten the intruders, 
cried out, "Bring the guns, Lincoln; shoot them!" Abe 
came without a gun, but he fe'"' - the negroes with a 

huge bludgeon, and belabored tl. .ost cruelly. Not con- 

tent with beating them off the boat, he and Gentry followed 
them far back into the country, and then, running back to 

> "When ho appeared in company, the boys would gather and cluster arociid hita to 
hear Mm talk. . . . Mr. Lincoln n-as figurative in his speeches, talks, and conversations. 
He argued much from analogy, and !?xplained things hard for us to understand by stories, 
maxims, tales, and figures. He would almost always point his lesson or idea by some 
story that was plain and near us, that we might instantly -ce the force and bearing of 
what he said." — Nat Gkigsby. 

' " Gentry (Allen) was ft great personal friend of Mr. Lincoln. He was a Democrat, but 
voted for Lincoln, sacriflcing his party politics to his friendship. H« says that on that trip 
they sold some of their produce at a certain landing, and by accident or fraud the bill- was 
paid in counterfeit money. Gentry was grieving about it; but Lincoln said, ■ Never mind. 
Alien ; it will accidentally slip out of our fingers before we get to New Orleans, and then 
old Jim can't quarrel at us.' Sure enough, it all went off like hot cakes. 1 was told this in 
Indiana by niany people about Rockport." — Hebndon. It must be rercembered that coun- 
terfeit money was the principal currency along the river at. this period. 


their craft, hastily cut loose and made rapid time down the 
river, fearing lest they should return in greater numbers to 
take revenge. The victory was complete ; hut, in winning it, 
Abe received a scar which he carried with him to his grave/ 

" When he was eighteen years old, he conceived the project 
of building a little boat, and taking the produce of the Lin- 
coln farm down the river to market. He had learned the use 
of tools, and possessed considerable mechanical talent, as will 
appear in some other acts of his life. Of the voyage and its 
results, we have no knowledge; but an incident occurred 
before starting v/hich he related in later' life to his Secretary 
of State, Mr. Spward, that made a very marked and pleasant 
impression upon his mcraoiy. As he stood at the landing, a 
'■t-oamer approached, coming down the river. At the same 
ime two passengers came to the rivers bank who wished to 
be taken out to the packet with their luggage. Looking the boats at the landing, they singled out Abraham's, 
and asked him to scull them to the steamer. This he did ; 
and, after seeing them and their trunks on board, he had the 
pleasure of receiving upon the bottom of liis boat, before he 
shoved off; a silver half-dollar from each of his passengers. 
'I could scarcely believe my e3-es,' said Mr. Lincoln, in telling 
the story. 'You may think it was a very little thing.' con- 
tinued he, *bat it was a most in .... ,,. 
I eoulu scarcely believe that I, a 
in less than a day. The world s.' . 
I was a more hopeful and confident being from tiiat lune.' ' • 

.'.i Mr. Lincoln ever made Lhe statement for which Mr. 
Seward is given as authority, he drew upon Ijis imagination 
for the facts. He may have sculled passengers to a steamer 
■^■'hen he ^s'as ferryman for Taylor, but he never made a trip 
like the one described ; never built a boat until he went to 
Illinois ; nor did he c"cr sell produce on his father's account, 
for the good reason that h:s fother had none to sell. 


ABE and Gentry returned from New Oi-leans some time 
in June, 1828, having been : vdte thre- 

months. How much longer he rei • service of 

Gentry, or whether he remained at unable to 

say ; but he soon took up his old habits, and began to work 
around among his neighbors, or for his father, precisely as h? 
had done before he got his partial glimpse of the gi i 
down the river. 

In the fall of 1829, Mr. Wood saw him cutting ^.... , 
large tree in the woods, and whip-sawing it into planks. Abe 
said the lumber was for a new house his father was about 
to build ; but Tom. Lincoln changed his mind before the 
house was half done, and Abe sold his plank to Josiah Craw- 
ford, " the book man," who worked them into the south-east 
room of his house, where relic-seekers have since cut pieces 
from them to make canes. 

In truth, the continued prevalence of that dreadful disease, 
the milk-sickness, with which Nancy Hanks and the Spar- 
rows and the Halls had all died, was more than a sufficient 
reason for a new removal, now in contemplation by Thomas 
Lincoln. Every member of his family, from the firsi- s^.r,,!,-. 
ment in Indiana, except perhaps Abe and himself, ha- 
with it. The cattle, which, it is true, were of little ; 
value, and raised with great ease and little cost, vr 
away by it in great numbers throughout the whole 
hood. It was aii awiv; Pf-n-TM. ■n,-'> ..-,.;, ,,. 


tionr mover thirteen years to make up his mind to escape 
fror it.' 

Ii. '.he spring of 1830, before the winter had fairly broken 
up, he and Abe, and Dennis Hanks and Levi Hall, with their 
respective fr.milies, thirteen in all, took the road for Illinois. 
Dennis and Levi, as already stated, were married to the daugh- 
ters of Mrs. Lincoln. Hall had one son, and Dennis a con- 
siderable family of sons and daughters. Sarah (or Nancy) 
Lincoln, who had married Aaron Grig.sby, was now dead. 

John Hanks had gone to the new country from Kentucky in 
the fall of 1828, and settled near Decatur, whence he wrote 
Thomas Lincoln all about it, and advised him to come there. 
Dennis, whether because of the persuasions of John, or some 
observations made in a flying trip on his own account, was very 
full of the move, and would hear to no delay. Lincoln sold 
his farm to Gentry, senior, if, indeed, he had not done so be- 
fore, and his corn and hogs to Dave Turuham. The corn 
brought only ten cents a bushel, and, according to the price- 
list furnished by Dennis Hanks, the stock must have gone at 
figures equally mean. 

Lincoln took with him lo Illinois •' some stock-cattle, one 
horee, one bureau, one table, one clothes-chest, one set of 
chairs, cooking utensils, clothing," &c. The goods of the three 
families — Hanks, Hall, and Lincoln — were loaded on a wagon 
belonging to Lincoln. This wagon was " ironed," a noticeable 
fai;t in those primitive days, and •' was positively the first one 
chat he (Lincoln) ever owned." It was drawn uy four yoke 
of oxen, — two of them Liacolu's, and two of them Hanks's. 

■'■ What made Thomas Lincoln leave? ' 
"ii^ie called mitk-slck. I myself beiug the oldes 
conntr;. wiicre the milk-sick was not. I marri',f' 
concluuc(' tc go with rac. Billy, I was tolerab' 

-vas enoagb (ain't it ?) for leaving." — DENNIS H.VMKS. 


We have no particulars of the journey, except that Abe held 
the " gad," and drove the team ; that the mud was very deep, 
rjhat the spring freshets were abroad, and that in crossing 
the swollen and tumultuous Kaskaskia, the wagon and oxen 
were nearly swept aw-y ■ '• '^- 'V-st day of March, 1830, 
after fifteen days' tedu ■ travel, they arrived at 

John Hanks's house, fc;'' M-west of Decatur. Lm 

coin settled (if any thiug lie did may be called settling) at a 
point ten miles west of Decatur. Here John Hanks had cut 
some logs in 1829, which he now gave to Lincoln to build 
a house with. With the aid of John, Dennis, Abe, and Hall, 
a house was erected on a small bluff, on the north bank of 
the north fork of the Sangamon. Abe and John took the 
four yoke of oxen and " broke up " fifteen acres of land, and 
then spUt rails enough to fence it in. 

Abe was now over twenty-one. There was no " Uncle 
Wood to tell him that his age was against him : " he had done 
sometliing more than his duty by his father ; and, as that wor- 
thy was now again placed in a situation where he might do 
well if he chose, Abe came to the conclusion that it was time 
for him to begin life on his own account. It must have cost 
him some pain to leave his good step-mother ; but, beyond 
that, all the old ties were probably broken without a single 
regret. From the moment he was a free man, foot-loose, able 
to go where, and to do what, he pleased, his success in those 
things which lay nearest his heart — that is, public and social 
preferment — was astonishing to himself, as well as to others. 

It is with great pleasure that we dismiss Tom Lincoln, with 
his family and fortunes, from further consideration in these 
pages. After Abraham left him, he moved at least three times 
in search of a " healthy " location, and finally got himself 
fixed near Goose Nest Prairie, in Coles County, where he died 
of a disease of the kidneys, in 1851, at the ripe old age of 
seventy-three. The little farm (forty acres) upon which his 
days were ended, he had, with his usual improvidence, mort- 
gaged to the School Commissioners for two hundred dollars, — 


it-3 full value. Induced by love for his step-mother, Abraham 
had paid the debt, and taken a deed for the land, " with a 
reservation of a life-estate therein, to them, or the survivor of 
fchem." At the same time (1841), he gave a helping hand to 
John Johnston, binding himself to convey the land to him, or 
his heirs, after the death of " Thomas Lincoln and his wife," 
upon payment of the two hundred dollars, which was really 
advanced to save John's mother from utter penury. No mat- 
ter how ruuch the land might appreciate in value, John was 
to have it upon these terms, and no interest was to be paid 
by him, " except after the death of the survivor, as afore- 
said." This, to be sure, was a great bargain for John, but he 
made haste to assign his bond to another person for " fifty 
dollars paid in hand." 

As soon as Abraham got a little up in the world, ho began 
to send his step-mother money, and continued to do so until 
his own death ; but it is said to have " done her no good," 
for it only served to tempt certain persons about her, and with 
whom she shared it, to continue in a life of idleness. At 
the close of the Black Hawk War, Mr. Lincoln went to see 
them for a few days, and afterwards, when a lawyer, making 
the circuits with the courts, he visited tliem whenever the 
necessities of his practice brought him to their neighborhood. 
He did his best to serve Mrs. Lincoln and her son John, bat 
took little notice of his father, allhougli lie wrote him an 
exhortation to believe in God when he thought he was on his 

But in regard to the relations between tlie family and Abe, 
after the latter began to achieve fame and power, nobody can 
tell the truth more clearly, or tell it in a more interesting and 
suggestive style, than our friend Dennis, with whom we are 
now about to part forever. It will be seen, tluu, when informa- 
tion reached the " Goose Nest Prairie " that Abe was actually 
chosen President of the United States, a general itching for 
pubhc employment broke out among the Ilanlcses, and that 
an equally general disa25pointment was the result. Doubtless 


.... u. ..,.,,ii had expectations somewhat like Sancho Panza'3,, 
when he went to take the government of his island, and 
John Hanks, at least, would not have been disappointed but 
for the little disability which Dennis mentions in the follow- 
ing extract : — 

"Did Abraham LincoJji treat John D. Johnston well?" 
" I will say this much about it. I think Abe done more for 
John than he deserved. John thought that Abe did not do 
enough for the old people. They became enemies a while ou 
this ground. I don't want to tell all the things that Ltjiow : 
it would not look well in history. I say this: Abe treated 
John well." 

" What kind of a man was Johnston ? " — "I say this much : 
A kinder-hearted man never was in Coles County, Illinois, 
nor an honester man. I don't sa}- this because he was my 
brother-in-law : I say it, \ John did not love to 

work any the best. I flof ,ot working." 

"DidTiiomas Lincoln ueiu .i^uu cruelly?" — "He loved 
him. I never could tell whether Abe loved his father very 
well or not. I don't think he did, for Abe was one of those 
forward boys. I have seen his father knock him down off the 
fence when a stranger would ask the way to a neighbor's 
house. Abe always would have the first word. The old man 
loved his children." 

" Did any of the Johnston family ask for office ? " — " N"o ! 
Thomas Johnston went to Abe : he got this permit to take 
daguerrotypes in the army; this is all, for they are all dead 
except John's boys. They did not ask for any." 

"Did you or John Hanks ask Lincolnfor any office?" — "I 
say this : that John Hanks, of Decatur, did solicit him for an 
Indian Agency ; and John told me that Abe as good as told 
him he should have one. But John could not read or wnte. 
I think this was the reason that Abe did not give John the 

" As for myself, I did not ask Abe right out for an office, 
only this : I would like to have the post-office in Charleston ; 
this was my wife that asked him. He told her that much 


wfis understood, — as much as to say that I would get it. I did ' 
iiot care much about it." 

■■• Do you tiiink Liacoln cared much lor his rehuions ■* " — "I 
'tDI say this much : when he ■^'as with us, he seemed to think 
a great deal of us ; but I thought sometimes it was hypocriti- 
c:il, but I am not sure." 

Abe left the Lincoln family late in March, or early in April. 
lie did not go far away, but took jobs wiierevcr he conld get 
them, showing that he had separated himself from the family, 
not merely to rove, but to labor, and be an independent man. 
He made no engagement of a permanent character during this 
summer: his work was all done '-by the job." If he ever 
spilt rails for Kirkpatrick, over whom he was subsequently 
elected captain of a volunteer company about to enter the 
i.Uaclv Hawk War, it must have been at this time ; but the 
St. ry of his work for Kirkpatrick, like that of his making " a 
crap of corn" for Mr. ^ wn, is probably apocryphal.' All 
this while he clung clo.e to John Hanks, and either worked 
where he did, or not far away. In the winter following, he 
was employed by a Major Warrick to make rails, and walked 
daily three miles to his work, and three miles back again. 

" After Abe got to Decatur," says John Hanks, " or rather 
to :Macon (my country), a man 'by the name of Posey came 
into our neighborhood, and made a speech : it was a bad one. 
and I said Abe could beat it. I turned down a box, or ki-g, 
and Abe made his speech. The other man was a candidate. 
Abe wasn't. Abe beat him to death, his subject being the 
navigation of the Sangamon River. The man, after the speech 
was through, took Abe aside, and asked him where he had 
learned so much, and how he did so well. Abe replied, stat- 
ing his manner and method of reading, and what he had 
read. The man encouraged Lincoln to persevere." 

In February, 18-31, a Mr. Denton Offutt wanted to engage 
John Hanks to take a flatboat to New Orleans. John was 
not well disposed to the business ; but Offutt came to the 

' See Holland's Life of Linco'u, p 40. 


house, and would take no denial ; made much of John's fame 
as a river-man, and at length persuaded him to present the 
matter to Abe and John Johnsto "^ " so. The three 
friends discussed the question xv:< stness : it was 

no slight affair to them, for thej ..... .-. ,. .Jung and poor. 

At length they agreed to Offutt's proposition, and that agree- 
ment was the turning-point in Abe's career. They were each 
to receive fifty cents a day, and the round sum of sixty dol- 
lars divided amongst them for making the trip. These were 
wages such as Abe had never received before, and might have 
tempted him to a much more difficult enterprise. When he 
went with Gentry, the pay was only eight dollars a month, 
and no such company and assistance as he was to have now. 
But Offutt was lavish with his money, and generous bargains 
like this ruined him a little while after. 

In March, Hanks, Johnston, and Lincoln went down the 
Sangamon in a canoe to Jamesto (then Judy's Ferry), five 
miles east of Springfield. Thence taey walked to Springfield, 
and found Mr. Offutt comforting himself at " Elliott's tavern 
in Old Town." He had contracted to have a boat ready ax. 
the mouth of Spring Creek, but, not looking after it himself, 
was, of course, "disappointed." There was .only one way 
out of the trouble ; the three hands must build a boat. They 
went to the mouth of Spring Creek, five rai^ '.• "orth of Spring 
field, and there consumed two wf-e' 
" Congress land." In the mean 

Judy's Ferry, by way of Springfiei.j ■; it udwu oul. 

canoe which they had left at the ^ol plat^ The timber 
was hewed and scored, and then " rafted down to Sangamon- 
town." At the mouth of Spring Creek they had been com- 
pelled to walk a full mile for their meals ; but at Sangamon- 
town they built a shanty, and boarded themselves. " Abe 
was elected cook," and performed the duties of the office 
much to the satisfaction of the pai i --- "-'n:^. !,i;,!i;f:r w,is .i-t-VL-J 
at Kirkpatricfc's" mill, a mile f. ' 
Laboring under many dii-i.dvav.- 


to complete and launch the boat in about four weeks from the 
iiinc uf beginning. 

Offatc was with the part3-at this point. He " was a Whig, 
and so was Abe ; but he (Abe) could not hear Jackson 
^vrongfuily abused, especially where a lie and malice did the 
abuse." Out of this difference arose some disputes, which 
seivtd to enliven the camp, as well as to arouse Abe's ire, 
.aid keep him in practice in the way of debate. 

In those days Abe, as usual, is described as being "funny., 
jokey, full of yarns, stones, and rigs ; " as being ''long, tall, 
ivnd green," " frequent!}' quoting poetry," and " reciting prose- 
like orations." They had their own amusements. Abe ex- 
hucLpd a good deal of fun out of the cooking; took liis 
"clram ' when asked to, and played "seven up " at night, at 
wuich he made " a good game." 

A iugder gave an exhibition at Sangamontown, in the 
upper room of Jacob Carman's house. vVbe went to it, dressed 
iu -J. suit of rough blue jeans. He bad on ?hoes, but the 
brousers did not reach them by about twelve inches ; and 
the naked shin, which had excited John Romine's laughter 
ve;u's ago in Indiana, was still exposed. Be: la- 

bout and the waist of tlie trousers, there vide 

space uncovered; and, considering these de' .a's 

;:Uir8 wat; ihought to be somewh2,t inelegant, even lu tiiose 
times His hat. however, v-^as a gTeat improvement on coon- 
.ik' ns and opossum. It was woollen, broad-brimmed, and low- 
...lOiviiwd.. i.a this hat the " showman cooked eggs." Whilst 
;Vi)e ■^^•as est.-sdmg it up to him, after the mnu had long 
ivilieitcri ■ ..•imilar favor from the re:'- r-l ths audieucs, he 
rjuiark' ,, •■' Mist.'--, the reason ; 'dn't gi-/e vo" :y hat before 
yas o;ic of v-''- ..t to yovir egg. . ,jfc care for bat." 

Lo-'iccd w.'Cu barrii-poi'k, hoc,- nvd lorn, vhe boat set o-at 
t:oirL >r,nguraontowi!. as ficon a:i ti'i;;hcd. :\[r. Offuro was on 
joard .:o act as his own mef chant, ivi Sending to pick up addi- 
\ovii, z<: his cargo aiocg it'; bi.nks of the t^" l![ino;s rivers 
■-:0i'?;; ff hiob Li was abciit r;- pts^;. 'ja i.he .'SaXi of A'Dril 


they arrived at New Salem, a little village destined to be the 
scene of the seven eveutfrJ j'ears of Mr. Lincoln's life, which 
immediately followed the conclusion of the present trip. Just 
below New Salem the "'oat "stuck," for one night and the 
better part of a day on Rutledgc's mill-dam, — one end of it 
hanging over the dam, and the other sunk deep in the water 
behind. Here wa i a case for Abe's ingenuity, and he exer- 
cised it with effect. Quantities of water were being taken in 
at the alci-ji, the lading was sliding backwards, and every 
thing indicated that the rude craft was in momentary danger 
of breaking in two, or sinking outright. But Abe suggested 
some unheard-of expedient for keeping it in place while the 
cargo was shifted to a boi rowed boat, and then, boring a 
hole in that part of the buttom extending over the dam, he 
" rigged up " an equally strange piece of machinery for tilting 
and holding it while the water ran out. All New Salem 
was assembled on shore, watching the progress of this singular 
experiment, — and with one voice aiEi'm that Abe saved the 
boat ; although nobody is able to tell us precisely how.^ The 
adventure turned Abe's thoughts to the class of diflSculties, 
one of which he had just surmounted; and the result of hia 
reflections was " an improved method for lifting vessels over 
shoals."^ Offutt declared that when he got back from New 

• Many persons at New Sslrm (ie«rr<ho in fu!I .' hfV c<,inliict ou tUis < 

'"Occupyjni " • i . i a one of the show-cases in the 

targe hall of th. :■ , ,,ges to come, will be prized as 

atoncconeoftl.r , ; ,.e|i„ ;„ th&tvast museum of 

unique tim' |.ii ■ •iid;-! of a steamboat, rouehlv 

^"■^^i"^'- I'lte in imo. when llie 

»°^<!"' " ..lician of Central im- 

°°''- ' :;e as to prevent him 

*™'n t' ; ^l:t be of benefit to the 

world, and li' pr .lit o uiiimlf. 

" The design of this invention is suggestive of one phase of Abraham Lincoln's early 
life, when he went up and down the Mississippi aa a flat-boatman, and became familiar witii 
some of the dangers and inconveniences attending the navigation of the Western rivers. 


1 easy matter to transport v,-!sscls over shoals and snags, and 

sawyers. The main idea is that of an apparatus resembling a noiseless bellows, placed on 
«acb side of the hull of the craft, just below the water-line, and worked by an odd but not 
complicated system of ropes, valves, and pulleys. When the keel of the vessel grates 
against the sand or obstruction, these bellows are to be filled with air; and, thus buoyed 


Orleans, he would build a steamboat for the navigation of the 
Sangamon, and make Abe the captain ; he would })uild it 
with runnei-s for ice, and roUere for shoals and dams, for with 
"' Abe in command, by thunder, she'd have to go." 

Over the dam, and in the deep pool beyond, they reloaded, 
and floated down to Blue Bank, a mile above the mouth 
of Salt Creek, where Offutt bought some more hogs. But the 
hogs were wild, and refused to be driven. Abe again came 
to the rescue ; and, by his advice, their eyes were sewed up 
with a needle and thread, so that, if the animals fought any 
more, they should do it in the dark. Abe held their heads, 
and John Hanks their tails, while Offutt did the surgery. 1 iiey 
were then thrown into a cart, whence Abe took them, one 
by one, in his great arms, and deposited them on board. 

From this point they sped very rapidly down the Sanga- 
mon and the Illinois. Having constructed curious-looking 
sails of plank, " and sometimes cloth," they were a " sight to 
see," as they " rushed througli Beardstown," where " the 
people came out and laughed at them." They swept by 
Alton and Cairo, and other considerable places, without tying 
up, but stopped at Memphis, Vicksburg, and Natchez. 

In due time they arrived at New Orleans. " There it 
was," says John Hanks, " we saw negroes chained, mal- 

up, the ship is expectc . to fluat lightly and gayly over tlie shoal, whiub would otherwise 
have proved a serious ii-tcrruplion to her voyage. 

'• The model, which is about eighteen or twenty ifiohes long, and has the air of having 
been whittled with a kuile out of a sliiugle and a cigar-box, is built without any elabora- 
tion or ornament, or any extra apparatus beyond that necessary to show the operation 
of buoying the steamer over the obstructions. Herein it differs from very many of the 
models which share with it the shelter of the immense halls of the Patent Office, and 
whidi are fashioned with wonderful nicety and exquisite finish, as if much of the labor and 
thought and alTection of a lifetime had been devoted to their construction. This is a 
model of a different kind ; carved as one might imagine a retired rail-splitter would whit- 
tle, strongly, but not smoothly, and evidently made with a view solely to convey, by the 
i-implest possible means, to the minds of the patent authorities, an idea of the pur nse 
and plan of the simple invention. The label ou the steamer's deck informs us that (ue 
patent was obtained; but we do not learn that ilic navigation of the Western rivers was 
revolutionized by this quaint conception. The modest little model has reposed here six- 
teen years ; and, since it found its resting-place here on the shelf, the shrewd inventor haa 
found it his task to gidde the Ship of State over shoals more perilous, and obstructions 
more obstinate, than any prophet dreamed of when Abraham Lincoln wrote his bold 
sutograph on the prow of this miniature steamer." — Correspondent Boiton Advertucr, 


treated, whipped, and scourged. Lincoln saw it; hi? ' 
bled, said nothing much, was silent from feelin^^, vr • 
looked bad, felt bad, was thoughtful and abstracted. . ■ 

say, knowing it, that it was on this trip that he formed his. 
opmions of slavery. It run its iron in him then and there, — 
May, 1831. I have heard him say so often and often."' 

Some time in June the party took passage on a steamboat 
going up the river, and remained together until they reached 
St. Louis, where Offutt left them, and Abe, Hanks, and John- 
ston started on foot for the interior of Illinois. At Edwards- 
viUe, twenty-five miles out. Hanks took the road to Springfield, 
and Abe and Johnston took that to Coles County, where^Tom' 
Lincoln had moved since Abraham's departure from home. 

Abe never worked again in company with his friend and 
relative, good old John Hanks. Here their paths separated : 
Abe's began to ascend the heights, wliile John's continued 
along the common level. They were in the Black Hawk 
War during the same campaign, but not in the same division. 
But they corresponded, and, from 1833, met at least once a 
year, until Abe was elected President. Then Abe, delighting 
to honor those of his relatives who were worthy of it, invited 
John to go with him to see his step-mother. John also went 
to the inauguration at Washington, and tells, with pardonable 
pride, how he " was in his [Abe's] rooms several times." He 
then retired to his old home in Macon County, until the assas- 
sination and the great funeral, when he came to Springfield 
to look in the blackened face of his old friend, and witness 
the last ceremonies of his splendid burial. 

Scarcely had Abe reached Coles County, and begun to 
think what next to turn his hand to, when ho received a visit 
from a famous wrestler, one Daniel Needham, who regarded 
him as a growing rival, and had a fancy to try him a fall or 
two. He considered himself " the best man " in the country, 
and the report of Abe's achievements filled his big breast 
with envious pains. His greeting was friendly and hearty, 
but his challenge was rough and peremptory. Abe valued 
his popularity among " the boys " too highly to decUne it, 


and met him by public appointment in the "greenwood," at 
Wabash Point, where he threw him twice with io much ease 
that Needham's pride was more hurt than his body. ■' Lin- 
coln," said he, " you have thrown me twice, but you can't 
whip me." — " Needham," replied Abe, " are you satisfied that 
I can throw you ? If you are not, and must be convinced 
through a threshing, I will do that, too, for your sake." Need- 
ham had hoped that the youngster would shrink from the 
extremity of a fight with the acknowledged " buUy of the 
patch ; " but finding him willing, and at the same time mag- 
nanimously inclined to whip him solely for his own good, he 
concluded that a bloody nose and a black eye would be the 
reverse of soothing to his feelings, and therefore surrendered 
the field with such grace as he could command. 


ON the west bank of the Sangamon River, twenty miles 
north-west of Springfield, a traveller on his way to 
Havana will ascend a bluff one hundred feet higher than the 
low-water mark of the stream. On the summit he will find 
a solitary log-hut. The back-bone of the ridge is about two 
hundred and fifty feet broad where it overlooks the river; but 
it widens gradually as it extends westerly toward the remains 
of an old forest, until it terminates in a broad expanse of 
meadow. On either side of this hiU, and skirting its feet 
north and south, run streams of water in very deep channels, 
and tumble into the Sangamon almost within hearing. The 
hill, or more properly the bluff, rises from the river in an 
almost perpendicular ascent. " There is an old mill at the 
foot of the bluff, driven by water-power. The river washes 
the base of the bluff for aboirt four hundred yards, the hill 
breaking off almost abruptly at the north. The river along 
this line runs about due north : it strikes the bluff coming 
around a sudden bend from the south-east, the river being 
checked and turned by the rocky hUl. The mill-dam running 
across the Sangamon River just at the mill checks the rapidity 
of the water. It was here, and on this dam, that Mr. Lincoln's 
flatboat ' stuck on the 19th of April, 1831.' The dam is about 
eight feet high, and two hundred and twenty feet long, and, 
as the old Sangamon rolls her turbid waters over the dam, 
plunging them into the whirl and eddy beneath, the roar and 
hiss of waters, like the low, continuous, distant thunder, can be 
distinctly heard through the whole village, day and night, 


week-day and Sunday, spring and fall, or other high-water 
time. The river, at the base of the bluff, is about two hun- 
dred and fifty feet wide, the mill using up thirty feet, lea\dng 
the dam only about two hundred and twenty feet long." 

In every direction but the West, the country is broken into 
hills or bluffs, like the one we are attempting to describe, which 
are washed by the river, and the several streams that empty 
into it in the immediate vicinity. Looking across the river 
from bluff to bluff, the distance is about a thousand yards ; 
while here and there, on both banks, are patches of rich allu- 
vial bottom-lands, eight or nine hundred yards in width, en- 
closed on one side by the hills, and on the other by the river. 
The uplands of the eastern bank are covered witli original 
forests of immemorial age ; and, viewed from " Salem Hill," the 
eye ranges over a vast expanse of green foliage, the monotony 
of which is relieved by the alternating swells and depressions 
of the landscape. 

On the ridge of that hill, where the solitary cabin now 
stands, there was a few years ago a pleasant village. How it 
vanished like a mist of the morning, to what distant places 
its inhabitants dispersed, and what became of the dwellings 
they left behind, shall be questions for the local antiquarian. 
We have no concern with any part of the history, except that 
part which began in the summer of 1831 and ended in 1837, — 
the period during which it had the honor of sheltering a man 
■whose enduring fame contrasts strangely with the evanescence 
of the village itself. 

In 182!) James Rutledge and John Cameron built the mill 
on the Sangamon, and laid off the town on the hill. The 
place was then called Cameron's Mill ; but in process of time, 
as cabins, stores, and groceries were added, it was dignified by 
the name of New Salem. " I claim," says one of the gentle- 
men who established the first store, " to be the explorer and 
discoverer of New Salem as a business point. Mr. Hill (now 
dead) and myself purchased some goods at Cincinnati, and 
shipped them to St. Louis, whence I set out on a voyage of 

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discovery on the prairies of Illinois. ... I, however, soon 
came across a noted character who lives in this vicinity, by 
the name of Thomas Wadkins, who set forth the beauties 
and other advantages of Cameron's Mill, as it was then called. 
I accordingly came home, with him, visited the locality, con- 
tracted for the erection of a magnificent storehouse for the 
sum of fifteen dollars ; and, after passing a night in the prairie, 
reached St. Louis in safety. Othei-s soon followed." 

In 1836 New Salem contained about twenty houses, inhab- 
ited by nearly a hundred people ; but in 1831 there could not 
have been more than two-thirds or three-fourths that number. 
Many of the houses cost not more than ten dollars, and none 
of them more than one hundred dollars. 

When the news flew through the country that the mill-dam 
was broken, the people assembled from far and near, and made 
a grand frolic of mending it. In like manner, when a new 
settler arrived, and the word passed around that he wanted 
to put up a house, everybody came in to the " raising ; " and, 
after behaving like the best of good Samaritans to the new 
neighbor, they drank whiskey, ran foot-races, wrestled, fought, 
and went home. 

" I first knew this hill, or bluff," says Mr. Herndon, in his 
remarkable lecture on Ann Rutledge, " as early as 1829. I 
have seen it in spring-time and winter, in summer-time and 
fall. I have seen it in daylight and night-time ; have seen it 
when the sward was green, living, and vital ; and I have seen 
it wrapped in snow, frost, and sleet. I have closely studied 
it for more than five long years. . . . 

" As I sat on the verge of the town, in presence of its ruins, 
I called to mind the street running east and west through the 
village, the river eastward ; Green's Rocky Branch, with its 
hills, southward ; Clary's Grove, westerly about three miles ; 
Petersburg northward, and Springfield south-east ; and now 
I cannot exclude from my memory or imagination the forms, 
faces, voices, and features of those I once knew so well. In 
my imagination the village perched on the hill is astir with 
the hum of busy men, and the sharp, quick buzz of women ; 


and from the country come men and women on foot or on 
horseback, to see and be seen, to hear and to be heard, to 
barter and exchange what they have with the merchant and 
the laborer. There are Jack Armstrong and William Green, 
Kelso and Jason Duncan, Alley and Carman, IliU and McNa- 
mar, Herndon and Riitledge, Warburton and Sincho, Bale 
and Ellis, Abraham and Ann. Oh, what a history ! " 

In those days, which in the progressive West would be 
called ancient days, New Salem was in Sangamon County, 
with Springfield as the county-seat. Springfield itself was 
still a mere village, having a population of one thousand, or 
perhaps eleven hundred. The capital of the State was yet 
at Vandalia, and waited for the parliamentary tact of Abra- 
ham Lincoln and the "long nine" to bring it to Springfield. 
The same influence, which, after long struggles, succeeded in 
removing the capital, caused the new County of Menard to be 
erected out of Sangamon in 18-39, of which Petersburg was 
made the county-seat, and within which is included the bai-ren 
site of New Salem. 

In July or August, 1831, Mr. Lincoln made his second ap- 
pearance at New Salem. He was again in company with 
Denton Offutt, who had collected some goods at Beardstown, 
and now proposed to bring them to this place. Mr. Lincoln 
undoubtedly came there in the service of Offutt, but whilst the 
goods were being transported from Beardstown he seemed to 
be idling about without any special object in view. Many 
persons who saw him then for the first time speak of him as 
" doing nothing." He has given some encouragement to this 
idea himself by the manner in which he habitually spoke of 
his advent there, — describing himself as coming down the 
river after the winter of the deep snow, like a piece of " float- 
ing driftwood " borne along by the freshet, and accidentally 
lodged at New Salem. 

On the day of the election, in the month of August, as" 
Mintcr Graham, the school-teacher, tells us, Abe was seen 
loitering about the polling-place. It must have been but a 
few days after his aiiival in the town, for noljody knew that 


he could write. They were " short of a clerk " at the polls ; 
and, after casting about in vain for some one competent to fill 
the office, it occurred to one of the judges that perhaps the 
tall stranger possessed the needful qualifications. He there- 
upon accosted him, and asked if he could write. He repUed, 
"Yes, a little." — "Will you act as clerk of the election to- 
day ? " said the judge. " I will try," returned Abe, " and do the 
best I can, if you so request." He did try accordingly, and, 
in the language of the schoolmaster, " performed the duties 
with great facility, much fairness and honesty and impar- 
tiality. This was the first public official act of his life. I 
clerked with him," says Mr. Graham, swelling with his theme, 
" on the same day and at the same polls. The election-books 
are now in the city of Springfield, 111., where they can be 
seen and inspected any day." 

Whilst Abe was " doing nothing," or, in other words, wait- 
ing for Offutt's goods, one Dr. Nelson, a resident of New Sa- 
lem, built a flatboat, and, placing his family and effects upon 
it, started for Texas. But as the Sangamon was a turbulent 
and treaclierous stream at best, and its banks were now fidl 
to overflowing. Nelson needed a pilot, at least as far as Beards- 
town. His choice fell upon Abe, who took him to the mouth of 
the doubtful river in safety, although Abe often declared that 
he occasionally ran out into the prairie at least three miles 
from the channel. Arriving at Beardstown, Nelson pushed 
on down the Illinois, and Abe walked back to New Salem. 

The second storekeeper at New Salem was a Mr. George 
Warburton ; but, " the country not having improved his morals 
in the estimation of liis friends," George thought it advisable 
to transfer his storeroom and the remnant of his stock to 
Offutt. In the mean time, Offutt's long-expected goods were 
received from Beardstown. Abe unpacked them, ranged 
them on the shelves, rolled the barrels and kegs into their 
places, and, being provided with a brand-new book, pen, and 
ink, found himself duly installed as " first clerk " of the prin- 
cipal mercantile house in New Salem. A country store is an 


indescribable collection of miscellanies, — groceries, dry goods, 
hardware, earthenware, and stoneware, cups and saucers, 
plates and dishes, coffee and tea, sugar and molasses, boots 
and shoes, whiskey and lead, butter and eggs, tobacco and 
gunpowder, with an endless list of things unimaginable ex- 
cept by a housewife or a " merchant." Such was the store 
to the charge of which Abe was now promoted, — promoted 
from the rank of a common laborer to be a sort of brevet 

But Offutt's ideas of commerce were very comprehensive ; 
and, as " his business was already considerably scattered about 
the coimtry," he thought he would scatter a little more. He 
therefore rented the mill at the foot of the hill, from Cameron 
and Rutledge, and set Abe to overlooking that as well as the 
store. This increase of business, however, required another 
clerk, and in a few daj's Abe w<is given .i companion in the 
person of W. G. Green. They slept togetlier on the same 
cot in the store ; and as Mr. Green observes, by way of indi- 
cating the great intimacy that subsisted between them, " when 
one turned over, the other had to do so likewise." To com- 
plete his domestic arrangements, Abe followed the example 
of Mr. Offutt, and took boarding at John Caiperon's, one of 
the owners of the mill. 

Mr. Ofifutt is variously, though not differently, described as 
a " wild, harum-scarum, reckless fellow ; " a " gusty, windy, 
brain-rattling man ; " a " noisy, unsteady, fussj', rattle- 
brained man, wild and improvident." If anybod}' can im- 
agine the character indicated by these terms, he can imagine 
Mr. Offutt, — Abe's employer, friend, and patron. Since the 
trii) on the flatboat, his admiration for Abe had grown to be 
boundless. He now declared that " Abe knew more than any 
man in the United States ; " that " he would some day be 
President of the United States," and that he cquld, at that 
present moment, outrun, whip, or throw down any man in 
Sangamon County. These loud boasts were not wasted on 
the. desert air : they were bad seed sown in a rank soil, and 


speedily raised up a croj) of sharp thorns for both Abe and 
Offutt. At New Salem, honors such as Offutt accorded to 
Abe were to be won before they were worn. 

Bill Clary made light of Offutt's opinion respecting Abe's 
prowess ; and one day, when the dispute between them had 
been running high in the store, it ended by a bet of ten dollars 
on the part of Clary that Jack Armstrong was " a better man." 
Now, " Jack was a powerful twister," " square built, and 
strong as an ox." He had, besides, a great backing ; for he 
was the chief of the " Clary's Grove boys," and the Clary's 
Grove boys were the terror of the countryside. Although 
there never was under the sun a more generous parcel of 
ruffians than those over whom Jack held sway, a stranger's 
introduction was likely to be the most unpleasant part of his 
acquaintance with them. In fact, one of the objects of their 
association was to " initiate or naturalize new-comers," as 
they termed the amiable proceedings which they took by way 
of welcoming any one ambitious of admittance to the society 
of New Salem. They first bantered the gentleman to run a 
foot-race, jump, pitch the mall, or wrestle ; and, if none of 
these propositions seemed agreeable to him, they would 
request to know what he would do in case another gentleman 
should pull his nose, or squirt tobacco-juice in his face. If he 
did not seem entirely decided in his views as to what should 
properly be done in such a contingency, perhaps he would be 
nailed in a hogshead, and rolled down New-Salem hill ; per- 
haps his ideas would Tae brightened by a brief ducking in the 
Sangamon ; or perhaps he would be scoffed, kicked, and cuffed 
by a great number of persons in concert, until he reached the 
confines of the village, and then turned adrift as being unfit 
company for the people of that settlement. If, however, the 
stranger consented to engage in a tussle with one of his per- 
secutors, it was usually arranged that there should be " foul 
play," with nameless impositions and insults, which would 
inevitably change the affair into a fight ; and then, if the sub- 
ject of all these practices proved indeed to be a man of met- 
tle, he would be promptly received into " good society," and 


in all probabiiity would never have better friends on earth 
than the roystering fellows who had contrived his torments. 

Thus far Abe had managed to escape " initiation " at the 
hands of Jack and his associates. They were disposed to like 
him, and to take him on faith, or at least to rei^uire no further 
evidence of his manhood than that which rumor had already 
brought them. Offutt, with his busy tongue, had spread wide 
the report of his wondrous doings on the river ; and, better 
still, all New Salem, including many of the " Clary's Grove 
bovs," had witnessed his extraordinary feats of strength and 
ingenuity at Rutledge's mill-dam. It was clear that no i)ar- 
ticular person was "spoiling" for a collision with him ; and 
an exception to the rule might liave been made in his favor, 
but for the offensive zeal and confidence of his employer. 

The example of Offutt and Clary was followed 1)y all the 
" boys ; " and money, knives, whiskey, and all manner of 
things, were staked on the result of the wrestle. The little 
community was excited throughout, and Jack's partisans 
were present in great numbers ; while Offutt and Bill Green 
were about the only persons upon whom Abe could I'ely if the 
contest should take the usual turn, and end in a fight. For 
these, and many other reasons, he longed to be safely and 
honorably out of the scrape ; but Offutt's foliv had made it 
impossible for him to evade the conflict without incurring 
the imputation, and suffering the penalties, of cowardice. He 
said, " I never tussle and scuffle, and I will not : I don't like 
this wooling and pulling." But these scruples only served 
to aggravate his case ; and he was al last forced to take hold 
of Jack, which he did with a will and power that amazed the 
fellows who had at last baited him to the point of indigna- 
tion. They took " side holds," and stood struggling, each 
with tremendous but equal strength, for several minutes, 
without any perceptible advantage to either. New trips or 
unexpected twists were of no avail between two such experi- 
enced wrestlers as these. Presently Abe profited by his 
heiglit and the length of his arms to lift Jack clear off the 
ground, and, swinging him about, thought to land him on his 


back ; but this feat was as futile as the rest, aud left Jack 
standing as square and as firm as ever. " Now, Jack," said 
Abe, " let's quit : you can't throw me, and I can't throw 
you." But Jack's partisans, regarding this overture as a 
signal of the enemy's distress, and being covetous of jack- 
knives, whiskey, and " smooth quarters," cheered him on to 
greater exertions. Rendered desperate by these expectations 
of his friends, and now enraged at meeting more than his 
match. Jack resolved on " a foul," aud, breaking holds, he 
essayed the unfair and disreputable expedient of " ^egging." 
But at this Abe's prudence deserted him, aud righteous wrath 
rose to the ascendent. The astonished spectators saw him 
take their great bully by the throat, and, holding him out at 
arm's-length, shake him like a child. Then a score or two 
of the boys cried " Fight ! " Bill Clary claimed the stakes, 
and Offutt, in the fright and confusion, was about to yield 
them ; but " Lincoln said they had not won the monejs and 
they should not have it; and, although he was opposed to 
fighting, if nothing else would do them, he would fight Arm- 
strong, Clary, or any of the set." Just at this juncture James 
Rutledge, the original proprietor of New Salem, and a man 
of some authority, "rushed into the crowd," and exerted 
himself to maintain the peace. He succeeded ; but for a few 
moments a general fight was impending, and Abe was seen 
with his back against Offutt's store " undismayed " and " res- 
olute," although surrounded by enemies.' 

Jack Armstrong was no bad fellow, after all. A sort of 
Western John Browdie, stout and rough, but great-hearted, 
honest, and true : his big hand, his cabin, his table, and his 
purse were all at the disposal of a friend in need. He pos- 
sessed a rude sense of justice, and felt ao incredible respect 
for a man who would stand single-handed, stanch, and defi- 
ant, in the midst of persecutors and foes. He had never dis- 
liked Abe, and had, in fact, looked for very c'lver things from 
him, even before his title to respectability had been made so , 


mcontestab';y clear ; but his exhibition of pluck and muscle 
on this occasion excited Jack to a degree of admiration far 
beyond his power to conceal it. Abe's hand was hardly 
removed from his throat, when he was ready to grasp it in 
friendship, and swear brotherhood and peace between them. 
He declared him, on the spot, " the best fellow that ever 
broke into their settlement;" and henceforth the empire 
was divided, and Jack and Abe reigned like two friendly 
Cffisars over the roughs and bullies of Ncav Salem. If there 
were ever any dissensions between them, it was because Jack, 
in the abundance of his animal spirits, was sometimes inclined 
to be an oppressor, whilst Abe was ever merciful and kind ; 
because Jack would occasionally incite the "boys" to handle 
a stranger, a witless braggart, or a poor drunkard with a 
harshness that shocked the just and humane temper of his 
friend, who was always found on the .side of the weak and the 
unfortunate. On the whole, liowever, the harmony that sub- 
sisted between l.iom was wonderful. Wherever Lincoln 
worked. Jack "did his loafing; " and, when Lincoln was out 
of work, he spent days and weeks together at Jack's cabin, 
wliere Jack's jolly wife, " old Hannah," stuffed him with 
bread and honey, laughed ;.', is ugliness, and lo . ed him for 
hb goodness. 

Abe rapidly grew in favor with the people iu and around 
New Suk-Li, until nearly everybody thought quite as much of 
liim as Ish. Offutt did. He was decidedly the most popular 
man that ever lived there. He could do ruore to quell a riot, 
compromise a feud, and keep peace among the neighbors gen- 
erally, than any one else ; and these were of the class of 
duties which it api)ears to have been the most agreeable for 
him to perform. One day a strange man came into the set- 
tlement, and was straightway beset by the same fellows who 
had meditated a drubbing for Abe himself. Jack Armstrong, 
of course, •' had a difficulty with hira : " " called him a liar, 
coward," and various other names not proper for print; but 
the man, hnding himself taken at a disadvantage, " backed 
up to a woodpile," got a stick, and " struck Jack a blow 


that brought him to the ground." Beiug "as strong as 
two men, Jack wanted to whip the man badly," but Abe 
interfered, and, managing to have himself made "arbitrator," 
compromised the difficulty by a practical application of the 
golden rule. " Well, Jack," said he, " what did you say to 
the man ? " Whereupon Jack repeated his words. " Well, 
Jack," replied Abe, " if you were a stranger ia a strange 
place, as this man is, and you were called a d — 1 liar, &c., 
what would you do ? " — " Whip him, by God ! " — " Then this 
man has done no more to you than you would have done to 
him." — " Well, Abe," said the honest bruiser, " it's all right," 
and, taking his opponent by the hand, forgave him heartily, 
and " treated." Jack always treated his victim when he 
thought he had been too hard upon him. 

Abe's duties in Offutt's store were not of a character to 
monopolize the whole of his time,^ and he soon began to think 
that here was a fine opportunity to remedy some of the defects 
in his education. He could read, write, and cipher as well as 
most men ; but as his popularity was growing daily, and his 
ambition keeping pace, he feared that he might shortly be 
called to act in some public capacity which would require 
him to speak his own language with some regard to the rules 
of the grammar, — of which, according to his own confession, 
he knew nothing at all. He carried his troubles to the school- 
master, saying, " I have a notion to study English grammar." 
— " If you expect to go before the public in any capaciij," 
replied Mr. Graham, " I think it the best thing you can do." — 
" If I had a grammar," replied Abe, " I would commence 
now." There was no grammar to be had about New Salem ; 
but the schoolmaster, having kept the run of that species of 
propert} , gladdened Abe's heart by telling him that he knew 
where there was one. Abe rose from the breakfast at which 
he was sitting, and learning that the book -,/as at Vaner's, only 

-working for Offtatt, and hands being Bcarce, Lincoln tnroed In 
i>gh rails for Offutt to make a pen sufficiently la:go to coa- 
-raa built under Kew-Salem hill, close to the mill. ... I 
, are sound to-day."— Mister Obaiiam. 


six miles distant, set off a. cer it as hard as he could tramp. 
It seemed to Mr. Graham a ver^^ little vvliile until he returned 
and announced, with great pleasure, that he had it. " He 
then turned his immediate and most undivided attenuon " to 
the stud}- of it. Sometimes, when business was not particu- 
larly brisk, he would lie under a shade-tree in front of the 
store, and pore over the book ; at other times a customer 
would find him stretched on the counter intently engaged in 
the same way. But the store was a bad place for study; 
and he was often seen quietly slipping out of tli.; ■. iHage, 
as if he wished to avoid observation, when, if succt. sful 
in getting off alone, he would spend hours in the woods, 
"mastering a book," or in a state of profound ;ibstrac- 
tion. He kept up his old habit of sitting up late at i.ight; 
but, as lights were as necessar}' to his as lhe_' were 
expensive, the village cooper permitted him to sit in his shop, 
where he burnt the shavings, and kept a blazing fire to read 
by, when ever}' one else was in bed. The Greens lent him 
books ; the schoolmaster gave him instructions in the store, 
on the road, or in the meadows: every visitor to New Salem 
who made the least pretension to scholarship was waylaid by- 
Abe, and required to explain something which he could not 
understand. The result of it all was, that the village and 
the surrounding country wondered at his growth in knowl- 
edge, and he soon became as famous for the goodness of his 
understanding as for the muscular power of his body, and the 
unfailing humor of his talk. 

Early in the spring of 1832, some enterprising gentlemen 
at Springfield determined to tr}- whether the Sangamon was 
a navigable stream or not. It was a momentous question to 
the dwellers along the banks; and, when the steamboat "Tal- 
isman " was chartered to make the experiment, the popular 
excitement was intense, and her passage up and down was 
witnessed by great concourses of people on eitlier bank. It 
was thought that Abe's experience on this particular river 
would render his assistance very valuable ; and, in company 
with some others, he was sent down to Beardstown, to meet 


t^e " Talisman," aad pilot her up. With Abe at the helm, 
she ran with comparative ease and safety as far as the New- 
Sale:n dam, a part of which they were compelled to tear away 
in oj '-^ to let the steamer through. Thonce she went on as 
high u.. Bogue's mill ; but, havuig reached ihat point, the rap- 
idly-falling water admonished her captain and pilots, that, un- 
less they wished her to be left there for the season, they must 
promptly turn her prow down stream. For some time, on the 
return trip, she made not more than three or four miles a day, 
" on account of tht; high wind from the prairie." " I was 
sent for, being an old boatman," says J. R. Herndon, " and I 
met her some twelve or thirteen miles above New Salem. 
We got to Salem the second day after I went on board. When 
V-:- struck the dam, she hung. We then backed off, and threw 
tiie anchor over the dam, and tore away a part of the dam, 
and, raising steam, ran her over the first trial. As soon as she 
was over, the company that chartered her was done with her. 
I think the captain gave Mr. Lincoln forty dollars to run her 
down to Beardstown. I am sure I got forty dollars to con- 
tinue on her until we landed at Beardstown. We that went 
down with her v alked back to New Salem." 


IN the spring of 1832, Mr. Offutt's business had gone to 
ruin : the store was sold out, the mill was handed over to 
its owners, Mr. Oifutt himself departed for parts unknown, 
and his •' head clerk " was again out of work. Just about 
that time a governor's proclamation arrived, calling for vol- 
unteers to meet the famous chief Black Hawk and his war- 
riors, who were preparing for a grand, and, in all likelihood, 
a bloody foray, into their old hunting-grounds in the Rock- 
river country. 

Black Hawk was a large Indian, of powerful frame and 
commanding presence. He was a soldier and a statesman. 
The history of his diplomacy with the tribes he sought to con- 
federate shows that he expected to reaUze on a smaller scale 
the splendid plans of Pontiac and Tecumseh. In his own 
tongue he was eloquent, and dreamed dr,eams wluch, amongst 
the Indians, passed for prophecy. The prophet is an indis- 
pensable personage in any comprehensive scheme of Indian 
politics, and no chief has ever effected a combination of for- 
midable strength without his aid. In the person of Black 
Ilawk, the chief and the prophet were one. His power in 
both capacities was bent toward a single end, — the groat pur- 
pose of his life, — the recovery of his birthplace and the an- 
cient home of his people from the possession of the stranger. 

Black Hawk was born on the Rock River in Wisconsin, in 
the year 17G7. His grandfather lived near Montreal, whence 
his father Pyesa luid emigrated, but not until he had become 
thoroughly British in liis views and feelings. All his life 


long he made annual journeys to the councils of the tribes at 
Maiden where the gifts and persuasions of British a-^ents 
confirmed him in his inclination to the British interests. 
When Pyesa was gathered to his fathers, his son took his 
place as the chief of the Sacs, hated the Americans, loved the 
friendly Enghsh, and went yearly to Maiden, precisely as 
he thought Pyesa would have had him do. But Black 
Hawk's mind was infinitely superior to Pyesa's: his senti- 
ments were loftier, his heart more susceptible; he had the 
gift of the seer, the power of the orator, with the hi"-h cour- 
age and the profound policy of a born warrior and a natural 
ruler. He " had brooded over the early history of his tribe • 
and to his views, as he looked down the vista of years, the 
former times seemed so much better than the present, that 
the vision wrouglit upon his susceptible imagination, which 
pictured it to be the Indian golden age. He had some 
remembrance of a treaty made by Gen. Harrison in 1804 to 
which his people had given their assent; and his feelin-s were 
with difficulty controlled, when he was required to leave the 
Rock-river Valley, in compliance with a treaty made with 
Cxen. bcott. That valley, however, he peacefully abandoned 
with his tribe, on being notified, and went to the west of the 
Mississippi; but he had spent his youth in that locality, and 
the more he thought of it, the more determined he was to 
return thither. He readily enlisted the sympathies of the 
Indians, who are ever prone to ponder on their real or ima- 
gmary wrongs; and it may be readily conjectured that what 
Indian counsel could not accomplish, Indian prophecy 
would. He had moved when summoned to move, because 
he was then unprepared to fight; but he utterly denied that 
the chiefs who seemed to have ceded the lands long years 
before had any right to cede them, or that the tribe had ever 
willingly given up the country to the stranger and the aggres- 
sor. It was a fraud upon the simple Indians : the old treaty 
was a great lie, and the signatures it purported to have, made 
with marks and primitive devices, were not attached in good 

» Schoolcraft's History of the Indian Tribes. 


faith, and were not the names of honest Sacs. No : he would 
go over the river, he would have his own ; the voice of the 
Great Spirit was in the air wherever he went ; it was in Ids 
lodge through all the night-time, and it said " Go ; " and Black 
Hawk must needs rise up and tell the peoi)le what the voice 

It was by such arguments as these that Black Hawk easily 
persuaded the Sacs. But hostilities by the Sacs alone would 
be a hopeless adventure. He must find allies. He looked 
first CO their kindred, the Foxes, who had precisely the same 
cause of war with the Sacs, and after them to the Winne- 
bagoes, Sioux, Kickapoos, and many others. That Black 
Hawk was a wise and valiant leader, all the Indians con- 
ceded : and his proposals were heard by some of the tribes 
with eagerness, and by all of them witli respect. At one 
time his confederacy embraced nine tribes, — the most for- 
midable in the North-west, if we exclude the Sioux and the 
Chippewas, who were themselves inclined to accede. Early 
in 18-31, the first chief of the Chippewsis exhibited a minia- 
ture tomahawk, red with vermilion, which, having been 
accepted from Black Hawk, signified an alhance between 
them ; and away up at Leech Lake, an obscure but numerous 
band showed some whites a few British medals painted in 
imitation of blood, which meant that they were to follow the 
war-paths of Black Hawk. 

In 1831 Black Hawk had crossed the river in small force, 
but had retired before the advance of Gen. Gaines, commanding 
the United States post at Rock Island. He then promised, to 
remain on the other side, and to keep quiet for the future. But 
early in the spring of 1882 he re-appeared with greater num- 
bei-s, pushed straight into the Rock-river Valley, and said he 
had " come to plant corn." He was now sixty-seven years of 
age : he thought his great plots were all ripe, and his aUies fast 
and true. They would fight a few bloody battles, and then 
he would sit down in his old age and see the corn grow where 
he had seen it in his youth. But the old chief reckoned too 
much upon Indian fidelity: he committed the fatal error 


of trusting to their patriotism instead of their interests. 
Gen. Atkinson, now in command at Rock Island, set the 
troops in motion : the governor issued his call for volunteers ; 
and, as the Indians by this time had committed some fright- 
ful barbarities, the blood of the settlers was boiling, and the 
regiments were almost instantly filled with the best possible 
material. So soon as these facts became known, the allies 
of Black Hawk, both the secret and the open, fell away from 
him, and left him, with the Sacs and the Foxes, to meet his 

In the mean time Lincoln had enlisted in a company from 
Sangamon. He had not been out in the campaign of the 
previous year, but told his fi-iend Row Herndon, that, if he 
had not been down the river with Offutt, he would certainly 
have been with the boys in the field. But, notwithstanding 
his want of military experience, his popularity was so great, 
that he had been elected captain of a militia company on the 
occasion of a muster at Clary's Grove the fall before. He was 
absent at the time, but thankfully accepted and served. Very 
much to his surprise, his friends put him up for the captaincy 
of this company about to enter active service. They did not 
organize at home, however, but marched first to Beardstown, 
and then to Rushville in Schuyler County, where the election 
took place. Bill Kirkpatrick was a candidate against Lincoln, 
but made a very sorry showiug. It has been said that Lin- 
coln once worked for Kirkpatrick as a common laborer, and 
suffered some indignities at bis hands ; but the story as a 
whole is supported by no credible testimony. It is certain, 
however, that the planks for the boat built by Abe and his 
fi-iends at the mouth of Spring Creek were sawed at the mill 
of a Mr. Kirkpatrick. It was then, likely enough, that Abe 
fell in the way of this man, and learned to dislike him. At 
all events, when he had distanced Kirkpatrick, and was chosen 
his captain by the suffrages of men who had been intimate 
with Kirkpatrick long before they had ever heard of Abe, he 
spoke of him spitefully, and referred in no gentle terms to 
some old dispute. "Damn him," sa^' he to Green, "I've 


beat liim : he used me badly in our settlemeut for my 

Capt. Lincoln now made a very modest speech to his com- 
rades, reciting the exceeding gratification their partiality 
afforded him, how undeserved he thought it, and how wholly 
unexpected it was. In conclusion, " he promised very plainly 
that he would do the best he could to prove himself worthy 
of that confidence." 

The troops rendezvoused at Beardstown and Rushville 
were formed into four regiments and a spy battalion. Capt. 
Lincoln's company was attached to the regiment of Col. Sam- 
uel Thompson. The whole force was placed under the com- 
mand of Gen. Whiteside, who was accompanied throughout 
the campaign by the governor in person. 

On the 27th of April, the arm}- marched toward the mouth 
of Rock River, by way of Oquaka on the Mississippi. The 
route was one of difficulty and danger, a great part of it lying 
througli a country largely occupied by the enemj-. The men 
v»ere raw, and restive under discipline. In the beginning they 
had no more respect for the " rules and regulations " than for 
Solomon's Proverbs, or the Westminster Confession. Capt. 
Lincoln's company is said to have been a particularly "hard 
set of men," who recognized no power but his. They were 
fighting men, and but for his per.sonal authority would have 
kept the camp in a perpetual uproar. 

At the crossing of Henderson River. — a stream about 
fifty yards wide, and eigl. a- ten feet deep, with vtvy precip- 
itous banks, — they were compelled to make a bridge or cause- 
way with timbers cut by the troops, and a filling-iu uf bushes, 
earth, or any other available material. This was the work of 
a day and night. Upon its completion, the horses and oxen 
were taken from the wagons, and the latter taken over by 
liand. But, when the horses came to cross, many of them were 
killed in sliding down the steep banks. " While in camj) here," 
says a private in Capt. Lincoln's company, "a gevieral order 
was issued prohibiting the discharge of fue-arms within fifty 
steps of the camp. Capt. Lincoln disobeyed the order by 


firing his pistol within ten steps of the camp, and for this vio- 
lation of orders was put under arrest for that day, and his 
sword taken from him; but the next day his sword was 
restored, and nothing more was done in the matter." 

From Henderson River the troops marched to Yellow 
Banks, on the Mississippi. " While at this place," Mr. Ben 
F. Irwin says, " a considerable body of Indians of the Chero- 
kee tribe came across the river from the Iowa side, with the 
white flag hoisted. These were the first Indians we saw. 
They were very friendly, and gave us a genaral war-dance. 
We, in return, gave them a Sucker ho-down. All enjoyed 
the sport, and it is safe to say no man enjoyed it more than 
Capt. Lincoln." 

From Yellow Banks, a rapid and exhaustive march of a few 
days brought the volunteers to the mouth of Rock River, 
where " it was agreed between Gen. Whiteside and Gen. 
Atkinson of the regulars, that the volunteers should march 
up Rock River, about fifty miles, to the Prophet's Town, and 
there encamp, to feed and rest their horses, and await the 
anival of the regular tTOops, in keel-boats, with provisions. 
Judge William Thomas, who again acted as quartermaster to 
the volunteers, made an estimate of the amount of provisions 
required until the boats could arrive, which was supplied ; and 
then Gen. Whiteside took up his line of march." ' But Capt. 
Lincoln's company did not march on the present occasion with 
the alacrity which distinguished their comrades of other corps. 
The orderly sergeant attempted ^-^ « form company," but the 
company dechned to be formed , ^he men, oblivious of wars 
and rumors of wars, mocked at the word of command, and 
remained between their blankets in a state of serene repose. 
For an explanation of these signs of passive mutiny, we must 
resort again to the manuscript of the private who gave the 
story of Capt. Lincoln's first arrest. " About the — of April, 
we reached the mouth of Rock River. About three or four 
nights afterwards, a man named Rial P. Green, commonly 
called ' Pot Green,' belonging to a Green-county company, 

> Ford's History of Illinois, chap. ir. 


came to our company, and waked up the men, and proposed 
to them, that, if they would furnish him with a tomahawk 
and four buckets, he would get into the officers' liquors, and 
supply the men with wines and brandies. The desired articles 
were furnished him ; and, with the assistance of one of our 
company, he procured the liquors. All this was entirely 
unknown to Capt. Lincoln. In the morning, Capt. Lincoln 
ordered his orderly to form company for parade ; but when 
the orderly called the men to ' parade,' they called ' parade,' 
too, but couldn't fall into line. The most of the men were un- 
mistakably drunk. The rest of the forces marched off, and left 
Capt. Lincoln's company behind. The company didn't make 
a start until about ten o'clock, and then, after marching about 
two miles, the drunken ones lay down and slept their drunk 
off. They overtook the forces that night. Capt. Lincoln was 
again put under arrest, and was obliged to carry a wooden 
s^' ''Til for two dayb, and this although Capt. Lincoln was 
entu-ely blameless in the matter." 

When G^en. Whiteside reached Prophetstown, where he 
was to rest until the arrival of the regulars and the supplies, 
he disregarded the plan of operations concerted between him 
and Atkinson, and, burnincf the village to the gi'ound, pushed 
on towards Dixon's Ferry, forty miles farther up the river. 
^Tearing that -place, he left ii's baggage-wagons behind : the 
men threw away their allotments of provisions, or left them 
with the wagons ; and in that condition a forced march was 
made to Dixon. There Whiteside found two battalions 
of mounted men under Majors Stillman and Bailey, who 
clamored to be tkrown forward, where they might get up an 
independent but glorious "brush" with the enemy on com- 
paratively private account. The general had it not in his 
heart to deny these adventurous spirits, and they were 
promptly advanced to feel and disclose the Indian force sup- 
posed to be near at hand. Stillman accordingly moved up 
the bank of " Old Man's Creek " (since called " Stillman's 
Ran "), to a point about twenty miles from Dixon, where, just 
before nightfall, he went into camp, or was about to do so, 



when several Indians were seen hovering along some raised 
ground nearly a mUe distant. Straightway StiUman's gaUant 
fellows remounted, one by one, or two and two, and, without 
officers or orders, galloped away in pursuit. The Indians first 
shook a red flag, and then dashed off at the • - • ,. 
speed. Three of them were overtaken and k 
rest performed with perfect skill the errand up. . 
were sentj they led Sfcillman's coL.mand into an ambuscade 
where lay Black Hawk himself with seven hundred of hi^ 
wamors. The pursuers recoiled, and rode for tlieir lives : 
Black Hawk bore down upon StHlman's camp ; the fucrltives 
streaming back with fearful cries respecting the numbers and 
ferocity of the enemy, spread consternation through the entire 
force. Stillman gave a hasty order to fall back ; and the men 
fell back much faster and farther than he intended, for they 
never faced about, or so much as stopp : ? untU they reached 
Whiteside's camp at Dixon. The first of them reached Dixou 
about twelve o'clock; and others came straggling in all ni<^ht 
long and part of the next day, each party announcing the^k- 
selves as the sole survivors of that stricken field, escaped 
solely by the exercise of miraculous valor.» The affair is 

„.,'""'''"'' ""** * ''**°" Kentuckian, with a very loud voice, who was a colonel of the 
militia, but a p vate with Stillman. upon his arrival in camp, gave to Gen, WhitesTdo ani 
the wondering multitude the following glowing and bomb^tic account !?,heba«.e 
sirs, said he, our detachment was encamped amongst some scattcrinc timber nn fho 
north Side of Old Man's Creek, with the prairie from' the north ge:ti;!lpTng do" 
our encampment. It was just aiter twilight, in the gloaming of the evening, when we 
discovered Black Hawk-s army coming down upon us in solid column: they Sisplayed in 
the fonn of a crescent upon the brow of the prairie, and such accuracy and precision 
of Wei ZoT-'T ' ^"^""" "i'"^^^'^'* by '"^■'; <hcy were equal to the best troops 
displayed in the form of a crescent; and, what was most wonderful, there were larse 
squares of cavalry resting upon the points of the curve, which squares were supported 
again by other columns fifteen deep, e.Mending back through the woods, and over a 
swamp three-quarters of a mile, which agaiu rested upon the main bodv of Black Hawk's 
army bivouacked upon the banks of the Kishwakee. It was a terrible and a glorious 
sight to see the tawny warriors as they rode along our flanks attempting to outflank us 
with the gatteriug moonbeams glistening from U.eir poUshcd blades and burnished 
.pears. It was a sight well calculated to strike consternation into the stoutest and 
boldest heart ; and accordingly our men soon began to break in small squads for taU tim- 
ber. In a very Imle time the rout became general. The Indians were on our flanks, and 
hreatened the destruction of the entire detachment. About this time Miyor Stillman 
Col. Stephenson, Major Perkins, Capt. Adams, Mr. Hackelton, and mj-self, with some 
others, threw ourselves into the rear to rally the fugitives and protect the retreat But in 
a short time aU my companions fell, bravely Bghting hand to hand with the savage 


known to history as Stillman's Defeat." " Old John Hanks" 
was in it, and speaks of it with shame and indignation, 
attributing the disaster to "drunken men, cowardice, and 
folly," though in this case we should be slow to adopt his 
opinion. Of folly, there was, no doubt, enough, both on the 
part of Whiteside and Stillraau; but of drunkenness no 
public account makes any mention, and individual cowardice 
is never to be imputed to American troops. These men were 
as brave as any that ever wore a uniform, and some of them 
performed good service afterwards ; but when they went into 
this action, they were "raw miUtia," — a mere mob; and no 
mob can stand against discipline, even though it be but the 
discipline of the savage. 

The next day Whiteside moved with all possible celerity 
to the field of Stillman's disaster, and, finding no enemy, was 
forced to content himself with the melancholy duty of bury- 
ing the mutilated and unsightly remains of the dead. All of 
them were scalped ; some had their heads cut off, others had 
their throats cut, and others still were mangled and dishon- 
ored in ways too shocking to be told. 

The army was now suffering for want of provisions. The 
folly of the commander in casting off Itis baggage-train for 
the forced march on Dixon, the extravagance and improvi- 
dence of the men with their scanty rations, had exhausted the 
resources of the quartermasters, and, " except in the messes 

enemy, and I alone was left upon the field of battle. About thia time I discovered not far 
to the left, a corps of horsemen which seemed to be in tolerable order. I immcdiatcl}' 
deployed to the left, when, leaning down and placing ray body in a recumbent posture 
upon the mane of my horse, so as to bring the heads of the horsemen between my eye and 
the horizon. I discovered by the light of the moon that they were gentlemen who did 
not wear hats, by which token 1 knew they were no friends of mine. I theretorc made a 
retrograde movement, and recovered my former position, where X remained some time, 
meditating what further I could do in the service of my country, when a random ball came 
whistling by my ear, and plainly whispered to me, " Stranger, you have no further business 
here." Upon hearing this. I followed the example of my companions in arms, and broke 
for tall timber, and the way I run was not a little, and quit.' 

'■ This colonel was a lawyer just returning from the circuit, with a slight wardrobe and 
■ Chitty's t'leadings ' packed in his saddle-bags, all of which were captured by the Indians, 
ne afterwards related, with much vexation, that Block Hawk had decked himself out in 
his finery, appearing in the woods amongst his savage companions dressed in one of the 
colonel's ruffled shirts drawn over his deer-skin leggings, with a volume of 'Chltty's 
rieadings ' under each arm," — Ford's History of Illinois. 


of the most careful and experienced," the camp was nearly 
destitute of <^ood. " The n-ajority had been living on parched 
corn and c^See for two or three days ; " but, on the morn- 
ing of the last march from Dixon, Quartermaster Thomas 
had succeeded in getting a little fresh beef from the only 
white inhabitant of that country, and this the men were glad 
to eat without bread. " I can truly say I was often hungry," 
said Capt. Lincoln, reviewing the events of this campaign. 
He was, doubtless, as destitute and wretched as the rest, but 
he was patient, quiet, and resolute. Hunger brought with it a 
discontented and mutinous spirit. The men complained bit- 
terly of all they had been made to endure, and clamored loudly 
for a general discharge. But Capt. Lincoln kept the " even 
tenor of his way ; " and, when his regiment was disbanded, 
immediately enlisted as a private soldier in another company. 
From the battle-field Whiteside returned to his old camp 
at Dixon, but determined, before doing so, to make one more 
attempt to retrieve his ill-fortune. Black Hawk's pirogues 
were supposed to be lying a few miles distant, in a bend of 
the Rock River; and the capture of these would serve as some 
relief to the dreary series of errors and miscarriages which 
had hitherto marked the campaign. But Black Hawk had 
just been teaching him strategy in the most effective mode, 
and the present movement was undertaken with an excess of 
caution almost as ludicrous as Stillman's bravado. " To pro- 
vide as well as might be against danger, one man was started 
at a time in the direction of the point. When he would get 
a certain distance, keeping in sight, a second would start, and 
so on, until a string of men extending five miles from the main 
army was made, each to look out for Indians, and give the sign 
to right, left, or front, by hanging a hat on a bayonet, — erect 
for tiie front, and right or left, as the case might be. To raise 
men to go ahead was with difficulty done, and some tried hard 
to drop back ; but we got through safe, and found the place 
deserted, leaving plenty of Indian signs, — a dead dog and 
several scalps taken in Stillman's defeat, as M-e supposed them 
to have been taken." After this, the last of Gen. Whiteside's 


mtile attempts, he returned to the battle-field, and thence to 
Dixon, where he was joined by Atkinson with the regulars 
and the long-coveted and much-needed supplies. 

One day, during these many marches and countermarches, 
an old Indian found his way into the camp, weary, hungry, 
and helpless. He professed to be a friend of the whites ; and, 
although it was an exceedingly perilous experiment for one 
of his color, he ventured to throw himself upon the mercy of 
the Soldiers. But the men first murmured, and then broke 
out into fierce cries for his blood. " We have come out to 
fight the Indians," said they, " and by God we intend to do 
it I " The poor Indian, now, in the extremity of his distress 
and peril, did what he ought to have done before : he threw 
down before his assailants a soiled and crumpled paper, which 
he implored them to read before his life was taken. It was 
a letter of character and safe-conduct from Gen. Cass, pro- 
nouncing liim a faithful man, who had done good service in 
the cause for which this army was enlisted. But it was too 
late : the men refused to read it, or thought it a forgery, and 
were rushing with fury upon the defenceless old savage, when 
Capt. Lincoln bounded between them and their appointed 
victim. " Men," said he, and liis voice for a moment stilled 
the agitation around him, " this must not be done : he must not 
he shot and killed hy us." — " But," said some of them, " the 
Indian is a damned spy." Lincoln knew that his own life was 
now in only less danger than that of the poor creature that 
crouched behind him. During the whole of this scene Capt. 
Lincoln seemed to " rise to an unusual height " of stature. 
The towering form, the passion and resolution in his face, the 
phj-sical power and terrible will exhibited in every motion of 
his body, every gesture of his arm, produced an effect upon 
the furious mob as unexpected perhaps to him as to any one 
else. They paused, listened, fell back, and then sullenly 
obeyed what seemed to be the voice of reason, as well as 
authority. But there were still some murmurs of disap- 
pointed rage, and half-suppressed exclamations, which looked 
towards vengeance of some kind. At length one of the men, 


a little bolder than the rest, but evidently feeling that he spoke 
for the whole, cried out, " This is cowardly on youi- part, 
. Lincoln ! " Whereupon the tall captain's figure stretched 
a few inches higher again. He looked down upon these 
varlets who would have murdered a defenceless old Indian, 
and now quailed before his single hand, with lofty contempt. 
The oldest of his acquaintances, even Bill Green, who saw 
him grapple Jack Armstrong and defy the bullies at his back, 
never saw him so much " aroused " before. "If any man 
tliinks I am a coward, let him test it," said he. " Lincoln," 
responded a new voice, " you are larger and heavier than we 
are." — " This you can guard against : choose your weapons," 
returned the rigid captain. Whatever may be said of Mr. 
Lincoln's choice of means for the preservation of military 
discipline, it was certainly very effectual in this cai,c. There 
was no more disaffection in his camp, and the word "coward" 
was never coupled with his name again. Mr. Lincoln under- 
stood his men better than those who would be disposed to 
criticise his conduct. He has often declared himself, that his 
life and character were both at stake, and would probably 
have been lost, had he not at that supremely critical moment 
forgotten the officer and asserted the man. To have ordered 
the offenders under arrest would have created a formidable 
mutiny ; to have tried and punished them would have been 
impossible. They could scarcely be called soldiers: they 
we;-e merely armed citizens, with a nominal miUtary organiza- 
tion. They were but recently enlisted, and their term of 
service was just about to expire. Had he preferr'=d -harc^es 
against them, and offered to submit their different, 
of any sort, it would have been regarded as an ?• 
pusillanimity, and his efficiency would have been l; _ .>.., , „ , 
Lincoln was believed to be the strongest man in his regi- 
ment, and no doubt was. He was certainly the best wrestler 
in it, and after they left Beardstown nobody ever disputed the 
fact. He is said to have " done the wrestling for the compa- 
ny ; " and one man insists that he alwai/s had a handkerchief 
tied around his person, in readiness for the sport. For a while 


it was firmly believed that no man in the army could throw 
him down. His company confidently pitted him " against the 
field," and were willing to bet all they had on the result. At 
length, one Mr. Thompson came forward and accepted the 
challenge. He was, in fact, the most famous wrestler in the 
Western country-. It is not certain that the report of his 
achievements had ever reached the eai-s of Mr. Lincoln or his 
friends ; but at any rate they eagerly made a match with him 
as a champion not unworthy of their own. Thompson's 
j)0wer and skill, however, were as well known to certain per- 
sons in the army as Mr. Lincoln's were to others. Each side 
was absolutely certain of the victorj', and bet according to theii- 
faith. Lincoln's company and their sympathizers put up all 
their portable property, and some perhaps not their own, 
including " knives, blankets, tomahawks," and all the most 
necessary articles of a soldier's outfit. 

When the men first met, Lincoln convinced that he 
could throw Thompson; but, after tussling willi him a brief 
space in presence of the anxious assemblage, he turned to his 
f. J .iids and said, " This is the most powerful man I ever had 
hold of. He will throw me, and you will lose your all, unless 
I act on Die defensive." He managed, nevertheless, '• to hold 
him off for some time ; " but at last Thompson got the " crotch 
hoist" on him, and, although Lincoln attempted with aU his 
wonderful strength to break the hold by '• sliding " away, a 
few moments decided his fate : he was fairlj' thrown. As ,it 
lequired two oat of three falls to decide the bets, Thomp- 
son and he immediately came together again, and with very 
nearly tlie same result. Lincoln fell under, but the other 
man fell too. There was just enough of uncertainty about it 
to furnish a pretext for a hot dispute and a general fight. 
Accordingly, Lincoln's men instantly began the proper pre- 
liminaries to a fracas. "We were taken by surprise," says 
Mr. Gree J, " and, being unwiUing to give up our property 
and lose our bets, got up an excuse as to the result. We 
declared the fall a kind of dog-fall ; did so apparently angrily." 
The fight was coming on apace, and bade fair- to be a big and 


bloody one, when Lincoln rose up and said, " Boys, the man 
actually threw me once fair, broadly so ; and the second time, 
this very fall, he threw me fairly, though not so apparently 
so." He would countenance no disturbance, and his unex- 
pected and somewhat astonishing magnanimity ended all 
attempts to raise one. 

Mr. Lincoln's good fiiend, Mr. Green, the principal, though 
not the sole authority for the present account of his 
adventure in behalf of the Indian and his wrestle with 
Thompson, mentions one important incident which is found 
in no other manuscript, and which gives us a glimpse of Mr. 
Lincoln in a scene of another sort. " One other word in ref- 
erence to Mr. Lincoln's care for the health, welfare, and jus- 
tice to his men. Some oflQcers of the United States had 
claimed that the regular army had a preference in the rations 
and pay. Mr. Lincoln was ordered to do some act which he 
deemed unauthorized. He, however, obeyed, but went to 
the officer and said to him, ' Sir, you forget that we are not 
under the rules and regulations of the War Department at 
Washington ; are only volunteers under the orders and regu- 
lations of Illinois. Keep in your own sphere, and there will 
be no difficulty ; but resistance will hereafter be made to your 
unjust orders : and, further, my men must be equal in all par- 
ticulars, in rations, arms, camps, &c., to the regular army. 
The man saw that Mr. Lincoln was right, and determined to 
have justice done. Always after this we were treated 
equally well, and just as the regular army was, in every par- 
ticular. This brave, just, and humane act in behalf of the 
volunteers at once attached officers and rank to him, as with 
hooks of steel." 

When the army reached Dixon, the almost universal dis- 
content of the men had grown so manifest and so ominous, 
that it could no longer be safely disregarded. They longed 
"for the flesh-pots of Egypt," and fiercely demanded their 
discharge. Although their time had not expired, it was deter- 
mined to march them by way of Paw-Paw Grove to Ottawa, 
and there concede what the governor feared he had no powei 
to withhold. 


" While on our march from L.lou to Fox River," sa)-s Mr. 
Irwin, "one night while in camp, which was .ormed in a 
square enclosing about forty acres, oui horses, outside grazing, 
got scared about nine o'clock ; and a grand stampede took 
place. They ran right through our lines in spite of us, and 
ran over many of us. No man knows what noise a thousand 
horses make running, unless he had been there : it beats a 
young earthquake, especially among scared men, and certain 
they were scared theu. We expected the Indians to be on us 
that night. Fire was thrown, di-ums beat, fifes played, which 
added additional fright to the horses. We saw no real enemy 
that night, but a line of battle was formed. There were no 
eyes for sleep that night : we stood to our posts in line ; and 
what frighlened the horses is yet unknown." 

" During this short Indian campaign," continues the same 
gentleman, " we had some hard times, — often hungry ; but we 
had a great deal of sport, especially of nights, — foot-racing, 
some horse-racing, jumping, telling anecdotes, in which 
Lincoln beat all, keeping up a constant laughter and good- 
humor all the time ; among the soldiers some card-playing, 
and wrestling, in which Lincoln took a prominent part. 1 
think it safe to say he was never thrown in a wrestle. [Mr. 
Irwin, it seems, still regards the Thompson affair as " a dog- 
fall."] While in the army, ho kept a handkerchief tied around 
him near all the time for wrestling purposes, and loved the 
sport as well as any one could. He was seldom ever beat 
jumping. During the campaign, Lincoln himself was always 
ready for an emergency. He endured hardships like a good 
soldier: he never complained, nor did he fear danger. When 
fighting was expected, or danger apprehended, Lincoln was 
the first to saj"-, ' Let's go.' He had the confidence of every 
man of his company, and they strictly obeyed his orders at a 
word. His company was all young men, and full of sport. 

" One night in Warren County, a white hog — a young sow 
— carne into our lines, which showed more good sense, to my 
mind, tlian any hog I ever saw. This hog swam creeks and 


rivers, and went with as clear through to, I think, the mouth 
of Fo^ River ; and there the boys killed it, or it would doubt- 
less have come home with us. If it got behind in daylight 
as we were marching, which it did sometimes, it would follow 
on the track, and come to us at night. It was naturally the 
cleverest, friendly-disposed hog any man ever saw, and its 
untimely death was by many of us greatly deplored, for we 
all liked the bog for its friendly disposition and good manners ; 
for it never molested any thing, and kept in its proper place." 

On the 28th of May the volunteers were discharged. The 
governor had already called for two thousand more men to 
take their places ; but, in the mean time, he made the most 
strenuous efforts to organize a small force out of the recently 
discharged, to protect the frontiers until the new levies were 
ready for service. He succeeded in raising one regiment and a 
spy company. Many officers of distinction, among them Gen. 
Whiteside himself, enlisted as private soldiers, and served in 
that capacity to the end of the war. Capt. Lincoln became 
P"'vate Lincoln of the " Independent Spy Company," Capt. 
ILarly commanding ; and, although he was never in an engage- 
ment, he saw some hard service in scouting and trailing, as 
well as in caiTying messages and reports. 

About the .niddle of June the new troops were ready for 
the field, and soon after moved up to Rock River. Mean- 
while the Indians had overrun the cc intry. " They had scat- 
tered their war-parties all over th-; iSTorth from Chicago to 
Galena, and from the Illinois Riv i into the Territory of Wis- 
consin ; tiiey occupi,' ! every grov^ waylaid every road, hung 
aiound every set*:.. . ■.it, and a'^ia ,ked every party of white 
men that attenipi\ i to penetnte the country." There had 
been some desuLoiy fighting ; ' various points. Capt. Sny- 
der, in whose cor>pany Gen. ''hiteside was a private, had 
met the Indians at Burr Oak Grove, and had a sharp engage- 
ment ; ;'.ir. St. Vrain, an Indian agent, with a small party of 
assistants, had been treacherously murdered near Fort Arm- 
strong ; several men had been killed at the lead mines, and 
the Wisconsin volunteers under Dodge had signally punished 


the Indians that killed them ; Galena had been threatened 
and Fort Apple, twelve miles from Galena, had sustained a 
bloody siege of fifteen hours ; Capt. Stephenson of Galena 
had performed an act which "equalled any thing in modern 
warfare in daring and desperate courage," by driving a party 
of Indians larger than his own detachment into a dense 
thicket, and there charging them repeatedly until he was 
compelled to retire, wounded himself, and leaving three of 
his men dead on the ground. 

Thenceforward the tide was fairly turned against Black 
Hawk. Twenty-four hundred men, under experienced offi- 
cers, were now in the field against him ; and, although he suc- 
ceeded in eluding his pursuers for a brief time, every retreat 
was equivalent to a reverse in battle, and all his manoeuvres 
were retreats. In the latter part of July he was finall)^ over- 
taken by the volunteers under Henry, along the bluffs of the 
Wisconsin River, and defeated in a decisive battle. His ruin 
was complete : be abandoned all hope of conquest, and j)ressed 
in disorderly and disastrous retreat toward the Mississippi, in 
vain expectation of placing that barrier between him and his 

On the fourth day, after crossing the Wisconsin, Gen. 
Atkinson's advance reached the high grounds near the Mis- 
sissippi. Henrj' and his brigade, having won the previous 
victory, were placed at the rear in the order of march, with 
the ungenerous purpose of preventing them from winning an- 
other. But Black Hawk here resorted to a stratagem which 
very nearly saved the remnant of his people, and in the end 
completely foiled the intentions of Atkinson regarding Henry 
and his men. The old chief, with the high heart which even 
such a succession of reverses could not subdue, took twenty 
warriors and deliberately posted himself, determined to hold 
the army in check or lead it away on a false trail, while his 
main body was being transferred to the other bank of the 
river. He accordingly made his attack in a place where he 
was favored by trees, logs, and tall grass, which prevented 
the discovery of his numbers. Finding his advance engaged. 


Atkinson formed a line of battle, and ordered a charge ; but 
Black Hawk conducted his retreat with such consummate 
skill that Atkinson believed he was just at the heels of the 
Avhole Indian army, and under this impression continued 
the pursuit far up the river. 

When Henry came up to the spot where the fight had taken 
place, he readily detected the trick by various evidences about 
the ground. Finding the main trail in the immediate vicinity, 
he boldly fell upon it without orders, and followed it until he 
came up with the Indians in a swamp on the margin of the 
river, where he easily surprised and scattered them. Atkin- 
son, hearing the firing in the swamp, turned back, and arrived 
just in time to assist in the completion of the massacre. A 
few of the Indians had already crossed the river : a few had 
taken refuge on a little willow island in the middle of the 
stream. The island was charged, — the men wading to it in 
water up to their arm-pits, — the Indians were dislodged and 
killed on the spot, or shot in the water while attempting to 
swim to the western shore. Fifty prisoners only were taken, 
and the greater part of these were squaws and children. 
This was the battle of the Bad Axe, — a terrific slaughter, 
considering the numbers engaged, and the final ruin of Black 
Hawk's fortunes. 

Black Hawk and his twenty warriors, among whom was his 
own son, made the best of their way to the Dalles on the 
Wisconsin, where they seem to have awaited passively what- 
ever fate their enemies should contrive for them. There were 
some Sioux and Winnebagoes in Atkinson's camp, — men 
who secretly pretended to sympathize with Black Hawk, and, 
while acting as guides to the army, had really led it astray 
on many painful and perilous marches. It is certain that 
Black Hawk had counted on the assistance of those tribes ; 
but after the fight on the Wisconsin, even those who had 
consented to act as his emissaries about the person of the 
hostile commander not only deserted him, but volunteered to 
hunt him down. They now offered to find him, take him, and 
bring him in, provided that base and cowardly service should 


be suitably acknowledged. They were duly employed. Black 
Hawk became their prisoner, and was presented by them to 
the Indian agent with two or three shameless and disgusting 
speeches from his captors. He and his son were can-ied to 
Washington City, and then through the principal cities of the 
country, after which President Jackson released him from cap- 
tivity, and sent him back to his own people. He lived to be 
eighty years old, honored and beloved by his tribe, and after 
his death was buried on an eminence overlooking the Missis- 
sippi, with such rites as are accorded only to the most distin- 
guished of native captains, — sitting upright in war dress and 
paint, covered by a conspicuous mound of earth. 

We have given a rapid and perhaps an unsatisfactory sketch 
of the comparatively great events which brought the Black 
Hawk War to a close. So much at least was necessary, that 
the reader might understand the several situations in which 
Mr. Lincoln found himself during the short terra of his second 
enlistment. We fortunately possess a narrative of his indi- 
vidual experience, covering the whole of that period, from 
the pen of George W. Harrison, his friend, companion, and 
messmate. It is given in full ; for there is no part of it that 
would not be injured by the touch of another hand. It is an 
extremely interesting story, founded upon accurate personal 
knowledge, and told in a perspicuous and graphic style, admi- 
rably suited to the subject. 

" The new company thus formed was called the ' Indepen- 
dent Spy Company ; ' not being under the control of any 
regiment or brigade, but receiving orders directly from the 
commander-in-chief, and always, when with the army, camping 
within the lines, and having many other privileges, such as 
never having camp-duties to perform, di-awing rations as much 
and as often as we pleased, &c. Dr. Early (deceased) of 
Sjjringfield was elected captain. Five members constituted 
a tent, or ' messed ' together. Our mess consisted of Mr. 
Lincoln, Johnston (a half-brother of his), Fanchier, Wyatt, and 
myself. The ' Independent Spy Company ' was used chiefly 
to carry messages, to send an express, to spy the enemy, and 


to ascertain facts. I suppose the nearest we were to doing 
battle was at Gratiot's Grove, near Galena. The spy com- 
pany of Posey's brigade was many miles in advance of the 
brigade, when it stopped in the grove at noon for refreshments. 
Some of the men had turned loose their horses, and others 
still had theirs in hand, when five or six Sac and Fox Indians 
came near them. Many of the white men broke after them, 
some on horseback, some on foot, in great disorder and con- 
fusion, thinking to have much sport with their prisoners im- 
mediately. The Indians thus decoyed them about two miles 
from the little cabins in the grove, keeping just out of danger, 
when suddenly up sprang from the tall prairie grass two hun- 
dred and fifty painted warriors, with long spears in hand, and 
tomahawks and butcher-knives in their belts of deer-skin and 
buffalo, and raised such a yell that our friends supposed them 
to be more numerous than Black Hawk's whole clan, and, in- 
stantly filled with consternation, commenced to retreat. But 
the savages soon began to spear them, making it necessary 
to halt in the flight, and give them a fire, at which time they 
killed two Indians, one of them being a young chief gayly 
apparelled. Again, in the utmost horror, such as savage yells 
alone can produce, they fled for the little fort in the°grove. 
Having arrived, they found the balance of their company, 
terrified by the screams of the whites and the yells of the 
savages, closely shut up in the double cabin, into which 
they quicldy plunged, and found the much-needed respite. 
The Indians then prowled around the grove, shooting nearly 
aU the company's horses, and stealing the balance of them. 
There, from cracks between the logs of l^ -M.hir, r- ,-oc „. 
dians were shot and killed in the act of 
of bridles on horses. They endeav: 

bodies by trees in an old field which surroa.ided the fort; 
but, reaching with sticks for bridles, they exposed their heads 
and necks, and all of them were shot with two balls each 
through the neck. These three, and the two killed where 
our men wheeled and fired, make five Indians known to be 
killed ; and on their retreat from the prairie to the grove, five 

118 "" '" ■ "■■HAM LINCOLN. 

white men ^^ -ieces. The field of this action 

is the greatesb baltle-ground we saw. The dead still lay 
unburied until after we arrived at sunrise the next day. The 
forted men, fifty strong, had not ventui-ed to go out untU they 
saw us, when they rejoiced greatly that friends and not dreaded 
enemies had come. They looked hke men just out of cholera, 
— having passed through the cramping stage. The only part 
we could then act was to seek the lost men, and with hatchets 
and hands to bury them. We buried the white men, and 
traded the dead young chief where he had been drawn on the 
grass a half-mile, and concealed in the thicket. Those who 
traded tliis once noble warrior, and found him, were Lincoln, 
1 think, Wyatt, and myself. By order of Gen. Atkinson, our 
company started on this expedition one evening, travelled all 
night, and reached Gratiot's at sunrise. A few hours after, 
Gen. Posey came up to the fort with his brigade of nearly 
a thousand men, when he positively refused to pursue the In- 
dians, — being strongly solicited by Capt. Early, Lincoln, and 
others, — squads of Indians still showing themselves in a 
menacing manner one and a half miles distant. 

" Our company was disbanded at Whitewater, Wis., a short 
time before the massacre at Bad Axe by Gen. Henry ; and 
most of our men started for home on the following morning ; 
but it so happened that the night previous to starting on this 
long trip, Lincoln's horse and mine were stolen, probably by 
soldiers of our own army, and we were thus compelled to 
start outside the cavalcade ; but I laughed at our fate, and he 
joked at it, and we all started off merrily. But the generous 
men of our oompanji- walked and rode by turns with us ; and 
we fared about equal with the rest. But for this generosity, 
our legs would have had to do the better work : for in that 
day. this then dj-eary route furnished no horses to buy or to 
steal ; and, whether on horse or afoot, we always had company, 
for many of the horses' backs were too sore for riding. 

'■Thus we came to .Peoria: here we bought a canoe, in 
which we two paddled our way to Pekia. The other mem- 
bei-3 of our company, separating in various du-ections, stimu- 


lated by the proximity of home, could never have consented 
to travel at our usual tardy mode. At Pekin, Lincoln made 
an oar with which to row our Httle boat, while I went 
through the . town in order to buy provisions for the trip. 
One of us pulled away at the one oar, while the other sat 
astern to steer, or prevent circling. The river being very 
low was without current, so that we had to pull hard to make 
half the speed of legs on land, — in fact, we let her float all 
night, and on the next morning always found the objects still 
visible that were beside us the previous evening. The water 
was remarkably clear, for this river of plants, and the fish 
appeared to be sporting with us as we moved over or near 

" On the next day after we left Pekin, we overhauled a raft 
of saw-logs, with two men afloat on it to urge it on with 
poles and to guide it in the channel. We immediately pulled ' 
up to them and went on the raft, where we were made wel- 
come by various demonstrations, especially by that of an invi- 
tation to a feast on fish, corn-bread, eggs, butter, and coffee, 
just prepared for our benefit. Of these good things we ate 
almost immoderately, for it was the only warm meal we had 
made for several days. WhUe preparing it, and after dinner, 
Lincoln entertained them, and they entertained us for a 
couple of hours very amusingly. 

" This slow mode of travel was, at the time, a new mode, 
and the novelty made it for a short time agreeable. We 
descended the Illinois to Havana, where we sold ou'- '^'^•^*^ 
and again set out the old way, over the sand-ridges for / - ■ 
burg. As we drew near home, the impulse becarn': .s: . 
and urged us on amazingly. The long strid' 
often slipping back in the loose sand six incl; 
were just right for me ; and he was greatly div 
noticed me behind him stepping along in his 
from slipping. 

" About three days after leaving the ' 
we saw a battle in full operation about 
of us. Lincoln was riding a young h:; 


■was T'dincj a spri^litly animal belonging 

ill sight of the 

u three-fourths 

....... .^u ... ...., ,...v. ., ^ „„ .... ..„lf a mile behind 

company, and three or four on foot still behind 

ome .«ore-backed horses. But the owners of our 

ng back, and, meeting us all in full speed, 

i.s to dismount. We obeyed : they mounted, 

■i^j •.!. pit i.-.'u uu toward the conflict, — they on horseback, 

we on foot. In a few moments of hard walking and terribly 

close observation, Lincoln said to me, ' George, this can't be 

a very dangerous battle.' Reply : ' Much shooting, nothing 

faUs.' It was at once decided to be a sham for the purpose 

of training cavalry, inste;:' " " ' ' . ' ' " vv 

white soldiers, and a few ;, 

for the purpose of killing , 


THE volunteers from Sangamon returned to their homes 
shortly before the State election, at which, among 
other officers, assembly-men were to be chosen. Lincoln's 
popularity had been greatly enhanced by his service in the 
war, and some of his friends urged him with warm solicita- 
tions to become a candidate at the coming election. He pru- 
dently resisted, and declined to consent, alleging in excuse his 
limited acquaintance in the county at large, until Mr. James 
Rutledge, the founder of New Salem, added the weight of 
his advice to the nearly unanimous desire of the neighborhood. 
It is quite likely that his recent military career was thought 
to furnish high promise of usefulness in civil affairs ; but Mr. 
Rutledge was sure that he saw another proof of his great 
abilities in a speech which Abe was induced to make, just 
about this time, before the New-Salem Literary Society. The 
following is an account of this speech by R. B. Rutledge, the 
son of James: — 

" 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 he arose to speak, his tall form towered above 
the Httle 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 rela- 
tion of some humorous story. But he opened up the discus- 
sion in splendid style, to the infinite astonishment of his 
friends. As he warmed with his subject, his hands would 


forsake liis pockets and would enforce his ideas by awkward 
gestures, but would very soon seek their easy resting-places. 
He pui'sued the question with reason and argument so pithy 
and forcible that all were amazed. The president at his fire- 
side, 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. 
From that time Mr. Rutledge took a deeper interest in him. 

" Soon after Mr. Rutledge urged him to announce himself 
as a candidate for the Legislatui-e. This he at first declined 
to do, averring that it was impossible to be elected. It was 
suggested that a of the county would bring him 
prominently befojce the people, and in time would do him 
good. He reluctantly yielded to the solicitations of his friends, 
and made a partial canvass." 

In those days political animosities were fierce enough ; but, 
owing to the absence of nominating conventions, party lines 
were not, as yet, very distinctly drawn in Illinois. Candi- 
dates announced themselves ; but, usually, it was done after 
full consultation with influential friends, or persons of con- 
siderable power in the neighborhood of the candidate's resi- 
dence. We have already seen the process by which Mr. 
Lincoln was induced to come forward. There were often 
secret combinations among a number of candidates, secu-ing 
a mutual support ; but in the present case there is no trace 
of such an understanding. 

This (1832) was the year of Gen. Jackson's election. The 
Democrats stigmatized their opponents as " Federalists," while 
the latter were steadily struggling to shuffle off the odious 
name. For the present they called themselves Democratic 
Republicans ; and it was not until 1833 or 1834, that they 
formally took to themselves the designation of Whig. The 
Democrats were known better as Jackson men than as Demo- 
crats, and were inexpressibly proud of either name. Four or 
five years afterward their enemies invented for their benefit 
the meaningless and hideous word " Loeofoco." 



Since 1826 every general election ip mo ounc had resulted 
in a Democratic victory. The young men were mostly Dcnv: 
crats; and the most promising talents in the State xveiR 
devoted to the cause, which seemed destined to achieve suc- 
cess wherever th.'.re was a contest. In a new country largely 
peopled by adventurers from older States, there were neces- 
sarily found great numbers who would attach themselves to 
the winning side merely because it was the winnli:- sh;.; 

It is unnecessary to restate here the prevails: 
national poUtics, — Jackson's stupendous struu 
bank, " hard money," " no monopoly," internal improve n^^ents, 
the tariff, and nullification, or the personal and poUtical rela- 
tions of the chieftains, -Jackson, Clay, and Calhoun. Mr. 
Lincoln will shortly disclose in one of his speeches from the 
stump which of those questions were of special interest to 
the people of Illinois, and consequently which of them prm- 
cipaily occupied his own attention. 

The Democrats were divided into " whole-hog men and 
"nominal Jackson men;" the former being thoroughly 
devoted to the fortunes and principles of their leader, whde 
the latter were willing to trim a little for the sake of popular 
support. It is probable that Mr. Lincoln might be fairly 
classed as a "nominal Jackson man," although the precise 
character of some ot the views he then held, or is supposed 
to have held, on national questions, is involved in considerable 
doubt. He had not wholly forgotten Jones, or Jones's teach- 
in<^s He still remembered his high disputes with Offutt m 
the shanty at Spring Creek, when he effectually defended 
Jackson against the " abuse " of his employer. He was not 
Whic', but " Whiggish," as Dennis Hanks expresses it. It is 
not likely that a man who deferred so habituaUy to the p. pular 
sentiment around him would have selected the occasion of 
his settlement in a new place to go over bodUy to a hopeless 
political minority. At all events, we have at least three un- 
disputed facts, which make it plain that he then occupied an 
intermediate position between the extremes of all parties. 
First, he received tTie votes of aU parties at New Salem; sec- 


ond, he was the next year appointed postmaster by Gen. 
Jackson; and, third, the Democrats ran him for the legis- 
lature two years afterwards ; and he was elected by a larger 
majority than any other candidate. 

" Our old way of conducting elections," says Gov. Ford, 
" required each aspirant to announce liimself as a candidate, 
The most prudent, however, always consulted a little caucus 
of select, influential friends. The candidates then travelled 
around the county, or State, in proper person, making 
speeches, conversing with the people, soliciting votes, whis- 
pering slanders against their opponents, and defending them- 
selves against the attacks of their adversaries ; but it was 
not always best to defend against such attacks. A candidate 
in a fair way to be elected should never deny any charge 
made against him ; for, if he does, his adversaries will prove 
all that they have said, and much more. As a candidate did 
not offer himself as the champion of any party, he usually 
agreed with all opinions, and promised every thing demanded 
by the people, and most usually promised, either directly 
or indirectly, his support to all the other candidates at the 
same election. One of the arts was to raise a quarrel with 
unpopular men who were odious to the peojjle, and then try 
to be elected upon the unpopularity of others, as well as upon 
his own popularity. These modes of electioneering were not 
true of all the candidates, nor perhaps of half of them, very 
many of them being gentlemen of first-class integrity." 

That portion of the people whose influence lay in their 
fighting qualities, and who were prone to carr}^ a huge knife 
in the belt of the hunting-shirt, were sometimes called the 
" butcher-knife boys," and sometimes " the half-horse and 
half-alligator men." This class, according to Gov. Ford, 
" made a kind of balance-of-power party." Their favorite 
was sure of success ; and nearly all political contests were 
decided by " butcher-knife influence." " In al! elections and 
in all enactments of the Legislature, great pains v.-;ie taken 
by all candidates, and all men in office, to make their course 
and measures acceptable " to these knights of steel and muscle. 


At a later date they enjoyed a succession of titles, such as 
" barefoot boys," " the flat-footed boys," and " the big-pawed 

In those times, Gov. Ford avers that he has seen all the 
rum-shops and groceries of the principal places of a county 
chartered by candidates, and kept open for the gratuitous 
accommodation of the free and independent electors for sev- 
eral weeks before the vote. Every Saturday afternoon the 
people flocked to the county-seat, to see the candidates, to 
hear speeches, to discuss prospects, to get drunk and fight. 
" Toward evening they would mount their ponies, go reeling 
from side to side, galloping through town, and throwing up 
their caps and hats, screeching like so many infernal spirits 
broke loose from their nether prison; and thus they sepa- 
rated for their homes." These observations occur in Ford's 
account of the campaign of 1830, which resulted in the 
choice of Gov. Reynolds, — two years before Mr. Lincoln 
first became a candidate, — and lead us to suppose that the 
body of electors before whom that gentleiD.i 
himself were none too cultivated or refined. 

Mr. Lincoln's first appearfi'i", . -. '■. sfump, u. v.... ■.^■..^■^ 
of the canvass, was at Pa] . eleven miles west 

of Springfield, npon t>o ' -ablic sale by the 

firm of Poog speech-making was 

about to begjv .1 strong symptoms 

of inatteutioii m .ils tiuuiti l-: , ^w..^ ■:iu, taken that particular 
moment to engage in what Mr. James A. Hemdon pronounces 
" a general fight." Lincoln saw that one of his fric ds was 
suffering more than he liked in the milee ; and, step: ing into 
the crowd, he shouldered them sternly away from his man, 
until he met a fellow wbj refused to fall back : hiiu he seized 
by the nape of the neck and the seat of his breeches, and 
tossed him " ten or twelve feet easUy." After this episode, 
— as characteristic of him as of the times, — he mounted the 
platform, and delivered-, with awkward modesty, the follow- 
ing speech : — 

" Gentlemc CJitizens, I presume you all know 


who I am. I am humble Abraham Lincoln. I have been 
solicited by many friends to become a candidate for the Legis- 
lature. 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." 

In these few sentences Mr. Lincoln adopted the leading 
principles of the Whig party, — Clay's "American System " in 
full. In his view, as we shall see by another paper from him 
when again a candidate in 1834, the internal-improvement 
system required the distribution of the proceeds of the sales 
of the public lands amongst the States. He says nothing of 
South Carolina, of nullification, of disunion ; and on these 
subjects it is quite probable his views were like Mr. Webster's, 
and his sympathies with Jackson. The opinions announced 
in this speech, on all the subjects touched by the speaker, were 
as emphatically Whig as they could be made in words ; yet 
as far as they related to internal improvements, and indirectly 
favored the increase of bank issues, they wore such as most 
of tiic " nominal Jackson men " in Illinois professed to hold, 
and such as they united with the Whigs to enlbree, then and 
afterwards, in the State Legislature. The " whole-hog men " 
would have none of them, 3.r,d therpin lav ihc di-^tinction. 
Au. '^ uimerical 

m:- 'al men 

anu.>-. '..-,-. ..-.— --. . ... -- .- - ^ -jordance 

vvith Wmg doctrines. Even with such a record made and 
.making by them, the " nominal men " persisted in calling 
themselves Democrats, while Jackson was vetoing the Mays- 
ville Road Bill, gi'appling with the National Bank, and expos- 
ing -"■ of the Tv-^'' "■ -' '■ - in force, 

•v,:. 1 scale of d'. . -t enact- 

t!.,e: : -' 1816. It w, . , to run 

men iikc "uiciuoeivcs lor the State offices vvljeie Liie chances 
of a plain-spoksn Whig were hopeless ; and, by means of the 
' ■ noruinal " character of the candidate, secure enough Derao- 


cratic votes, united with the Whigs, to elect him. In the very 
next canvass Mr. Lincoln himself was taken up by such a com- " 
bination and triumphantly elected. Such things were made 
feasible by the prevalent mode of making nominations with- 
out the salutary intervention of regular party conventions 
and committees. We repeat that Mr. Lincoln's position was / 
midway between the extremes in local politics. 

His 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 he could not sit on it, —flax and tow 
linen pantaloons, and a straw hat. I think he wore a vest, 
but do not remember how it looked. He then wore pot-metal 

" I accompanied him on one of his electioneering trips to 
Island Grove ; and he made a speech which pleased his party 
friends very well indeed, though some of the Jackson men 
tried to make sport of it. He told several anecdotes in his 
speech, and applied them, as I thought, very well. He alsc 
told the boys several stories which drew them after him. I "^ 
remember them ; but modesty and my veneration for his mem- 
ory forbid me to relate them." 

Mr. J. R. Herndon, his friend and landlord, heard him 
make several speeches about this time, and gives us the fol- 
lowing extract from one, which seems to have made a special 
impression upon the minds of his auditors : " Fellow-citizens, 
I have been told that some of my opponents have said that it 
was a disgrace to the county of Sangamon to have such a look- 
ing man as I am stuck up for the Legislature. Now, I thought 
this was a free country : that is the reason I address you to- 
day. Had I have known to the contrary, I should not have 
consented to run ; but I will say one thing, let the shoe pinch 
where it may : when I have been a candidate before you some 
five or six times, and have been beaten every time, I will con- 
sider it a disgrace, and will be sure never to try it again ; but 
I am bound to beat that man if I am beat myself. Mark 
that ! " 


These \v _^ ^ -e 

of his piesent claims, but they 
inteUigible account. There ^^ .. 

felt himself peculiarly competent lu speak. — tlu; jiractical 
application of the " internal-improvement system " to the 
river which flowed by the doors of the constituency he 
addressed. He firmly believed in the right of the Legislature 
of the State or the Congress of the United States to appro- 
priate the public money to local improvements li. 
advantage of limited districts ; and that he believf 
policy to exercise the right, his subsequent contiia l m . n. 
Legislature, and an elaborate speech in Congress, are sufficient 
proof. In this doctrine he had the almost unanimous support 
of the people of Illinois. Almost every man in the Ptate was 
a speculator in town lots or lands. Even the farmers had 
taken up or held the very lands they tilled with a view to a 
speculation in the near future. Long alter the Democratic 
party in the South and East, leaving Mr. Calhoun in a state of 
isolation, had begun to inculcate different vie vfs of constitu- 
tional power and duty, it was a dangeroas thi g for a politi- 
cian in niinois to intimate his agreement with them. Mr. 
Lincoln knew well that the policy of local improvement at 
the general expense was at that moment decidedly the most 
popular platform he could mount ; but he felt that this was not 
enough for his individual purposes, since it was no invention 
of his, and belonged to nearly everybody else as much as to 
him. He therefore prudently ingrafted upon it a hobby of 
his own; '-The Improvement of the Sangamon River,"— a 
plan to straighten it by means of cuts, to clear out its obstruc- 
tions, and make it a commercial highway at the cost of the 
State. That the idea was nearly, if not quite impracticable, 
the trip of " The Talisman " under Mr. Lincoln's piloting, 
and the fact that the river remained unimproved during all 
the years of the " internal-improvement " mania, would seem 
to be pretty clear evidence. But the theme was agreeable to 
the popular ear, and had been dear to Lincoln from the 
rcoiaent he laid his eyes on the Sangamon. It was the great 

-. LINCOLN. 129 

topic of his speech against Posey and Ewing in Macon County, 
when, under the auspices of John Hanks, he " beat " those 
professional politicians so completely that they applauded him 
themselves. His experience in navigating the river was not 
calculated to make him forget it, and it had occupied his 
thoughts more or less from that day forward. Now that it 
might be turned to good use, where he was personally inter- 
ested, he set about preparing a written address on it, and on 
some other questions of local interest, upon which he bestowed 
infinite pains. The " grammatical errors " in the first draft 
were corrected by Mr. McNamar, the pioneer of New SaleiLi 
as a business point, and the gentleman who was destined to 
be Mr. Lincoln's i-iv^' in the most important love-affair of his 
life. He may have consulted the schoolmaster also ; but, if he 
had done so, it is hardly to be surmised that the schoohnaster 
would have left so important a fact out of his written remi- 
niscences. It is more probable that Mr. I.' ' , - - 
applications for assistance on this most ii 
the quarter where he could get lighten , 
grammar. However that may have been, the following is the 
finished paper : — 

To THE People of Sangamon County. 

Fellow- Citizens, — Having become a candidate for the 
honorable office of one of your Representatives in the next 
General Assembly of this State, in accordance with an estab- 
lished custom and the principles of true repubHcanin u, it 
becomes mv duty to make known to you, the people, whom 
I propose to . rpresent, my sentiments with regard to local 

Time and experiwiee have verified to a demonstration the 
pubUc utility of internal improvements. That the poorest and 
most thinly-populated countries would be greatly benefited by 
the opening of good roads, and in the clearing of navigable 
streams within their limits, is what no person will deny. ° Yet 
it is folly to undertake works of this or any other 1- i^.i --;' f. 
out first knowing that we ars able to finish thee 


finished work generally proves to be labor lost. There cannot 
justly be any objection to having railroads and canals, any 
more than to other good things, provided they cost nothing. 
The only objection is to paying for them ; r."^ " ' ~tion 
arises from the want of ability to pay. 

With respect to the County of Sangamoi. asy 

means of communication than it now possesses, for the purpose 
of facilitating the task of exporting the surplus products of its 
fertile soil, and importing necessary articles from abroad, are 
indispensably necessary. A meeting has been held of the 
citizens of Jacksonville and the adjacent country, for the 
purpose of deliberating and inquiring into the expediency 
of constructing a railroad from some eligible point on the 
Illinois River, through the town of Jacksonville, in Morgan 
County, to the town of Springfield, in Sangamon County. 
This is, indeed, a very desirable object. No other improve- 
ment that reason will justify us in hoping for can equal in 
utility the railroad. It is a never-failing source of communi- 
cation between places of business remotely situated from each 
other. Upon the railroad the regular progress of commercial 
intercourse is not interrupted hj either high or low water, or 
freezing weather, which arc the principal difficulties that 
render our future hopes of water communication precarious 
and uncertain. 

Yet however desiraWe an object the construction of a 
railroad through our country may be ; however high our 
imaginations may be heated at thoughts of it, — there is 
always a heart-appalling shock accompanying the account 
of its cost, which forces us to shrink from our pleasing antici- 
pations. The probable cost of this contemplated railroad is 
estimated at $290,000 ; the bare statement of which, in my 
opinion, is sufficient to justify the belief that the improvement 
of the Sangamon River is an object much better suited to our 
infant resources. 

Respecting this view, I think I may say, witliout the fear 
of being contradicted, that its navigation :: red 

completely practicable as high as the moa illi 


Fork, or probably higher, to vessels of from twenty-five to 
thirty tons' burden, for at least one-half of all common years, 
and to vessels of much greater burden a part of the time. 
From my peculiar circumstances, it is probable, that for the 
last twelve months I have given as particular attention to 
the stage of the water in this river as any other person in 
the country. In the month of March, 1831, in company with 
others, I commenced the building of a flatboat on the Sanga- 
mon, and finished and took her out in the course of the 
spring. Since that time I have been concerned in the mill at 
New Salem. These circumstances are sufiScient evidence that 
I have not been very inattentive to the stages of the water. 
The time at which we crossed the mill-dam being in the last 
days of April, the water was lower than it had been since 
the breaking of winter in February, or than it was for several 
weeks after. The principal difficulties we encountered in 
descending the river were from the drifted timber, which 
obstructions all know are not difficult to be removed. Know- 
ing almost precisely the height of water at that time, I 
believe I am safe in saying that it has as often been higher as 
lower since. 

From this view of the subject, it appears that my calcula- 
tions with regard to the navigation of the Sangamon cannot 
but be founded in reason ; but, whatever may be its natural 
advantages, certain it is, that it never can be practically useful 
to any great extent, without being greatly improved by art. 
The drifted timber, as I have before mentioned, is the most 
formidable barrier to this object. Of all parts of this river, 
none will require so much labor in proportion to make it 
navigable, as the last thirty or thirty-five miles ; and going 
with the meanderings of the channel, when we are this 
distance above its mouth we are only between twelve and 
eighteen miles above Beardstown, in something near a 
straight direction ; and this route is upon such low ground as 
to retain water in many places during the season, and in all 
parts such as to draw two-thirds or three-fourths of the river- 
water at all high stages. 


This route is on prairie land the whole distance ; so that it 
appears to me, by removing the turf a sufficieat width, and 
damming up the old channel, the whole river in a short time 
would wash its way through, thereby curtailing the distance, 
and increasing the velocity of the current, very considerably : 
whUe there would be no timber on the banks to obstruct its 
navigation in future ; and, being nearly straight, the timber 
which miglit float in at the head would be apt to go clear 
through. There are also many places above this where the 
river, in its zigzag course, forms such complete peninsulas, 
as to be easier to cut at the necks than to remove the obstruc- 
tions from the bends, which, if done, would also lessen the 

What the cost of this work would be, I am unable to say. 
It is probable, however, that it would not be greater than is 
common to streams of the same length. Finally, I believe 
the improvement of the Sangamon River to bo vastly important 
and highly desirable to the people of the county ; and, if 
elected, any measure in the Legislature having this for its 
object, which may appear judicious, will meet my appro- 
bation and shall receive my support. 

It appears that the practice of drawing money at exor- 
bitant rates of interest has already been opened as a field 
for discussion ; so I suppose I may enter upon it without 
claiming the honor, or riisking the danger, which may await its 
fii-st explorer. It seems as though we are never to have an 
end to this baneful and corroding system, acting almost as 
prejudicial to the general interests of the community as a 
direct tax of several thousand dollars annually laid on each 
county, for the benefit of a few individuals only, unless there 
be a law made fixing the limits of usury. A law for this 
purpose, I am of opinion, may be made, without materially 
injuring any class of people. In cases of extreme necessity, 
there could always be means found to cheat the law ; while 
in aU other cases it would have its intended effect. I would 
favor the passage of a law on this subject which might not be 
very easily evaded. Let it be such that the labor and diffi- 


calty of evading it could only be justifies 

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate 
any plan or system respecting it, I cau only say that I view 
it as the most important subject which we as a people can be 
engaged in. That every man may receive at least a moderate 
education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his 
own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate 
the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object 
of vital importance, even on this account alone, to say 
nothing of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from 
all being able to read the Scriptures and other works, both 
of a religious and moral nature, for themselves. 

For my part, I desire to see the time when education — and, 

by its means, morality, sobriety, enterj • stry 

shall become much more general than ai liould 

be gratified to have it in my power to contr;i)!ite something 
to the advancement of any measure which might have a 
tendency to accelerate t^e happy period. 

With regard to e: : , .^ laws, some alterations are thought 
to be necessary. Many respectable men have suggested that 
our estray laws — the law respecting the issuing of esecu- 
tions, the road-law, and some others — are deficient in their 
present form, and requii-e alterations. But, considering the 
great probability that the framers of those laws were wiser 
than myself, I should prefer not meddling with them, unless 
they were first attacked by others ; in which case I should 
feel it both a privilege and a duty to take that stand, which, 
in my view, might tend most to the advancement of justice. 

But, fellow-citizens, I shall conclude. Considering the 
great degree of modesty which should always attend youth, 

1 0ntU the year 1833 there bad been no legal limit to the rate of interest to be fi.Ted by 

'vintract. E':t ;i5v.r! had bion carrioa to such an unprecedented degree of e-^ctortioa and 

"■ ' ' :• enact severe usury laws, by which all interest 

;: had been no uncommon thing before this to 

-' fifty per cent, and sometimes two and three 

of interest, by contract, had been about fifty ntr 


it is probable 1 _ aing than 

becomes me. Hjwever, upon tiie subjects of which I have 
treated, I have spoken as I have thought. I may be wrong 
in regard to any or all of them ; but, holding it a sound 
maxim, that it is better only sometimes to be right than at 
all times wrong, so soon as I discover mj opinions to be erro- 
neous, I shall be ready to renounce them. 

Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether 
it be true or not, I can say, for one, that I have no other so 
great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow-men, by 
rendering myself worthy of their esteem. How far I shall 
succeed in gratif)dng this ambition is yet to be developed. I 
am young, and unknown to many of you. I was born, and 
have ever remained, in the most humble walks of life. I 
have no wealthy or popular relations or fhends to recommend. 
My case is thrown exclusively upon the independent voters 
of the county; and, if elected, they will have conferred a favor 
upon me, for which I shall be unremitting in my labors to 
compensate. But, if the good people in their wisdom shall 
see fit to keep me in the background, I have been too famil- 
iar with disappointments to be very much chagrined. 

Your Friend and Fellow-Citizen, 


New Saxem, March 9, 1832. 

Mr. Lincoln was defeated at the election, having four hun- 
dred and seventy votes less than the candidate who had the 
highest number. But his disappointment was softened by the 
action of his immediate neighbors, who gave him an almost 
unanimous support. With three solitary exceptions, he 
received the whole vote of his precinct, — two hundred and 
seventy-seven, — being one more than the v.'hole number cast 
for both the candidates for Congress. 


THE results of the canvass for the Legislature were pre- 
cisely such as had been predicted, both by Mr. Lincoln 
and Mr. Rutledge: he had been defeated, as he expected him- 
self ; and it had done " him much good," in the politician's 
sense, as promised by Mr. Rutledge. He was now somewhat 
acquainted with the people outside of the New Salem district, 
and generally marked as a young man of good parts and popu- 
lar manners. The vote given him at home demonstrated his 
local strength, and made his favor a thing of value to the 
politicians of all parties. 

Soon after his return from the army, he had taken quarters 
at the house of J. R. Herndon, who loved him then, aud 
always, with as much sincerity as one man can love another. 
Mr. Herndon's family likewise "became much attached to 
him." He "nearly always had one" of Herndon': children 
"around with him." Mr. Herndon says of h>-i further, 
that he was " at home wherever he wenl. •, " making himself 
wonderfully agreeable to the people he uved with, or whom 
he happened to be visiting. Among other things, "he was 
very kind to the widow and orphan, and chopped their 

Lincoln, as we have seen already, was not enamored of the 
life of a common laborer, — mere hewing and drawing. He 
preferred to clerk, to go to war, to enter politics,— any 
thing but that dreary round of daily toil and poor pay. But 
he was now, as he would say, "in a fix: " clerks were not 
wanted every day in New Salem, and he began to cast aboat 


for some independent business of his own, by which he could 
earn enough to pay board and buy books. In every commu- 
nity where he had lived, " the merchant " had been the prin- 
cipal man. He felt that, in view of his apprenticeship under 
liose great masters, Jones and Offutt, he was fully competent 
uO " run a store," and was impatient to find an opening in 
';hat line. 

Unfortunately for him, the circumstances of the business 
men of New Salem were just then peculiarly favorable to his 
views. At least three of them were as anxious to seU out as 
Lincoln was to buy. 

Lincoln, as abeady stated, was at this time living with 
" Row " Herndon. Row and his brother " Jim " had taken 
" a store down to New Salem early in that year." But Jim 
" didn't like the place," and sold out his interests to an idle, 
convivial fellow, named Berry. Six weeks later Row Hern- 
don grew tired of his new partner, and sold his interest to 
Lincoln. The store was a mixed one, — dry goods and gro- 

About the same time Mr. Radford, who kept one of the 
New Salem groceries, fell into disfavor with the " Clary's 
Grove Boys," who generously determined that he should 
keep a grocery no longer. They accordingly selected a con- 
venient night for breaking in his windows, and, in their own 
elegant phrase, " gutting his establishment." Convinced that 
these neighborly fellows were inclined to honor him with fur- 
ther attentions, and that his bones might share the fate of his 
windows, Radford determined to sell out with the earhest 
dawn of the coming day. The next day he was standing 
disconsolate in the midst of his wreck, when Bill Green rode 
up. Green thought he saw a speculation in Radford's dis- 
tress, and offered him four hundred dollars for the whole con- 
cern. Radford ; ....-,:'. i.;;^. ^j^^j^ j^ a few minutes 

Green owned ' rord was ready for the 

road to a more It is said that Green 

employed Liaeoki lo uiakc an iu./entory of the stock. At all 
events, Ll-icoln was satisfied that Green's bargain was a very 


good one, and proposed that he and Berry should take it off 
his hands (Sft a premium of two hundred and fifty dollars. 
Radford had Green's note for four hundred dollars ; but he 
now surrendered, it and took Lincoln & Berry's for the same 
amount, indorsed bv iirp,>.-, ■ while Lincoln' & Berry gave 
Green a note for > v M fifty dollars, the latter's 

profifc'in the trade. 

Mr. Rutledge " also owned a small grocery in the village ; " 
and this was speedily absorbed by the enterprising firm of 
Lincoln & Berry, who now had the field to themselves, being 
sole proprietors " of the only store of the kind in New Salem " 

Whether Mr. Lincoln sold Hquor by the dram over the 
counter of this shop remains, and will forever remain, an 
undetermined question. Many of his friends aver that he 
did, and as many more aver that he did not. When Doug- 
las, with that courtesy for which he distinguished himself in 
the debates with Lincoln, revived the story, Lincoln replied, 
that, even if it were true, there was but Httle difference 
between them; for, while he figured on one side of the 
counter, Douglas figured on the other. It is certain liquors 
were a part of the stock of aU the purchases of Lincoln & 
Berry. Of course they sold them by the quantity, and proba- 
bly by the drink. Some of it they ffave away, for no man 
could keep store without setting out the customary dram to 
the patrons of the place.' 

» Here is the evidence of James Davis, a Democrat, ■•.lEca sixt- " who j. willinfr 'o 
"give the Devil his due:"— ^ 

"Came to Clary's Grove in 1829; knew Lincoln well ; knew Jim and Row Herndon ■ 
they sold out to Berry, -one „ri!..?m dli: aftt.-naids llir oiliej 
store was a mixed on. ' ' 

Bolely kept for thvi 
The Herndons prob;; 
pepper, and suchlike 

sold to Berry & Li„co!„. L,„..,!n & Berry broke. Ber,y „„b:e,^uemly"kepra dogger'y, 
a whiskey saloon, as I do now, or did. Am a Democrat; never agreed in politics with 
Abe. He was an honest man. Give the Devil his due ; he never sold whiskey by the dram 
m New Salem I I was in town every week for years; knew, I think, all about it, I 
always drank my dram, and drank at Berry's often; ought to know. Lincoln got 
involved. I think, in the 8rst operation, Salem Hill was a barren." 

The difficulty of gathering authentic evidence on this subject is well iUustrated in the 
foUowing extract from Mr. George Spears of Petersburg : — 

" I took my horse this morning, and went over to New Salem, among the P s and 

to Lincoln. The 
&c., and whiskey 
— not otherwise, 
ery-store,- salt, 
and instantly 


All that Winter (1832-3) Lincoln struggled along with a 
bad partner, and a business which began wrong, and grew 
worse every day. Berry had no qualities which atoned for 
his evil habits. He preferred to consume the liquors on hand 
rather than to sell them, and exerted himself so successfully, 
that in a few months he had ruined the credit of the firm, 
squandered its assets, and destro}^ed his own health. The 
" store " was a dead failure ; and the partners were weighed 
down with a parcel of debts, against which Lincoln could 
scarcely have borne up, even with a better man to help him. 
At last they solcl out to two brothers named Trent. The 
Trents continued the business for a few months, when they 
broke up and ran away. Then Berry, encouraged by the 
example of the Trents, "cleared out" also, and, dying soon 
after, left poor Lincoln the melancholy task of settling up the 
affau-s of their ill-starred partnership. 

In all the preceding transactions, the absence of any cash 
consideration is the one thing very striking. It is a fair illus- 
tration of the speculative spirit pervading the whole people. 
Green bought from Radford on credit; Lincoln & Berry 
bought from Green on credit ; they bought from the Hern- 
dons on credit ; they bought from llutledge on credit ; and 
they sold to the Trents on credit. Those that did not die or 
run away had a sad time enough in managing the debts 
resulting from their connection with this unlucky grocery. 
Radford assigned Lincoln & Berry's note to a Mr. Van Bergen, 
who' got judgment on it, and swept away all Lincoln's httle 
personal property, including liis surveying instruments, — his 
very means of livelihood, as we shall see at another place. 
The Herndons owed E. C. Blankcnship for the goods they 
sold, and assigned Lincoln & Berry's note in payment. Mr. 
Lincoln struggled to pay, by slow degrees, this harassing 
debt to Blankenship, through many long and weary years. It 

A s, and made all the inquiries I could, but could learn notliing. The old ladies would 

begin to count up what bad happened in New Salem when such a one of their children 
was born, and such a one had a bastard ; but it all amounted to nothing. I could arrive at 
uo dates, only when those children were born. Old Mrs. Potter affirms that Linoolu did 
sell liquors in a grocery. I cau't tell whether be did or not." 


was not until his return from Congress, in 1849, that he got 
the last dollar of it discharged. He paid Green his note of 
two hundred and fifty dollars, in small instalments, beginning 
in 1839, and ending in 1840. The history of his debt to Rut- 
ledge is not so well known. . i was probably insignificant as 
compared with the others ; aad Mr. Rutiedge proved a gener- 
ous creditor, as he had always been a kind and considerate 

Certain that he had no abilities for trade, Mr. Lincoln 
took the best resolution he could have formed under the cii-- 
cumstances. He sat down to his books just \vhere he was, 
believing that knowledge would be power, and power profit. 
He had no reason to shun his creditors, for these were the 
men of all others who most applauded the honesty of his con- 
duct at the period of his greatest pecuniary misfortune. He 
talked to them constantly of the " old debt," " the national 
debt," as he sometimes called it, — promised to pay when he 
could, and they devoutly relied upon every word he said. 

Row Herndon moved to the country, and Lincoln was com- 
pelled to change his boarding-place. Me now began to hvv^ 
at a tavern for the first time in his life. It was kept by vari- 
ous persons during his stay, — first, it seems, by Mr. Rutiedge, 
then by Henry Onstatt, and last by Nelson Alley. It was a 
small log-house, covered with clapboards, and contained four 

Lincoln began to read law while he lived with Herndon. 
Some of his acquaintances insist that he began even earlier 
than this, and assert, by way of proof, that he was known to 
borrow a well-worn copy of Blackstone from A. T. Bogue, a 
pork-dealer at Beardstown. At all events, he now went to 
work in earnest, and studied law as faithfully as if he had 
never dreamed of any other business in life. As a matter of 
course, his slender purse was unequal to the purchase of the 
needful books : but this circumstance gave him little trouble ; 
for, although he was short of funds, he was long in the legs, 
and had nothing to do but to walk off to Springfield, where 
his friend, John T. Stuart, cheerfully supplied his wants. Mr, 


S'uucirt's partner, H. C. Dumirier, says, "He was an uncouth- 

ok'ncj jod, did not say much, but what he did say he said 
c.i.-i.rriit and sharp." 

• " " .d law," says Henry McHenry, "in 1832 or 

iS:; cated in the shade of a tree, and would 

^r-": 1 the shade, just opposite Berry's grocery- 

3t«re, a few ieet south of the door." He occasionally varied 
the attitude by lying flat on his back, and '■'■puttinj his feet up 
the tree,'' — a situation which might have been unfavorable to 
mental application in the case of a man with shorter extremi- 

" The first time T ever saw Abe with a law-book in his 
hand," says Squire Godbey, "he was sitting astride of Jake 
Bales's woodpile in New Salem. Says I, ' Abe, what are you 
studying ? ' — ' Law,' says Abe. ' Great God Almighty ! ' re- 
si)c.nded I." It was 'oo much for Godbey : he could not sup- 
prr^ss the blasphemy at seeing such a figui-e acquiring science 
■ J such an odd situation. / 

Minter Graham asserts that Abe did a little " of what we call 
sitting up to the fine gals of Illinois ; " but, according to other 
authorities, he always had his book with him " when in com- 
pany," and would read and talk alternately. He carried it 
along in his walks to the woods and the river ; read it in day- 
light under the shade-tree by the grocery, and at night by 
any friendly light he could find, — most frequently the one he 
kindled himself in the shop of his old benefactor, the cooper. 
■ Abe's progress in the law was as surprising as the intensity 
of his application to study. He never lost a moment that 
might be improved. It is e- en said that he read and recited 
to himself on the road and '• _; the wayside as he came down 
from Springfield with the books he had borrowed from Stu- 
art. The fii-st time he went up he had " mastered " forty 
pages of Blackstone before he got back. It was not long until, 
with his restless desire to be doing sometlnng practical, be 
began to turn his acquisitions to account in forwarding the 
business of his neighbors. He wrote deeds, contracts, notes, 
and other legal papers, for them, " using a small dictionary 


and an old form-book r ' " p. 3 the 

justice of the peace, and p- ■UDCtionary 

in the administration of jusi caefited his 

own clients. This species _- , v's " practice 

was entered upon very early, and kept up until long after he 
was quite a distinguished man in the Legislature. But in all 
this he was only trying himself: as he was not admitted to 
the bar until 1837, he did not regard it as legitimate practice, 
and never charged a penny for his services. Although this 
fact is mertioned by a great number of persons, and the gene- 
rosity of his conduct much enlarged upon, it is seriously to be 
regretted that no one has furnished us with a circumstantial 
account of any of his numerous cases before the magistrate. 

But Mr. Lincoln did not confine himself entirely to the law. 
He was not yet quite through with Kirkham nor the school- 
master. The " valuable copy " of the grammar " he delighted 
to peruse " is stiU in the possession of R. B. Rutledge, with 
the thumb-marks of the President all over it. " He also 
natural philosophy, chemistry, astronomy, &c. He 
^gular teacher, but perhaps received more assistance 
— .. .^... liter Graham than from any other person." 

He read with avidity aU the newspapers that came to New 
Salem, — cmefly "The Sangamon Journal," "The Missouri 
Republican," and " The Louisville Journal." ' The latter was 
his favorite : its wit and anecdotes were after his own heart ; 
and he was a regular subscriber for it through several years 
when he could ill afford a luxury so costly. 

Mr. Lincoln was never a profound historical student : if he 
happened to need historical facts for the purposes of apolitical 
n- legal discussion, he read them on the spur of theoccasior. 
For this reasoi ' ' ' affairs all through kis 

life were based ; observation and reflec- 

tioji than upon V : Tron; tl:f (■ .:i r; ;,^,.ce of 

■I. Yet at this time, wh rare 


keenly than ever after the want of a little learning to embel- 
lish the letters and speeches he was ambitious to ccmpose, he 
is said to have read Rollin's "Ancient History," Gibbon's 
" Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire," and similar works, 
with great diligence and care. The books were borrowed 
from William Green, Bowlin Greene, and other paHies in 
and about New Salem. 

But he greatly preferred literature of another sort, such as 
Mre. Lee Hentz's novels ; some of which he found among the 
effects of Mr. Ellis, at the time his companion and occ;\sional 
bedfellow. " He was very fond," Mr. Ellis declares, " of short 
stories, one and two columns long, — like ' Cousin Sally Dil- 
lard,' ' Becky Wilson's Courtship,' ' The Down-easter and 
the Bull,' ' How a bashful man became a married man, with 
five little bashful boys, and how he and his red-headed wife 
became Millerites, and before they were to ascend agreed to 
make a clean breast of it to each other ; ' and how, when the 
nld lady was through, the Down-caster earnestly wished that 
Gabriel might blow his horn withnnt dplav." One New Salem- 
iceinsists that Mr. Lincoln tol(l ■' ■ v "withembezzle- 
nie'its" (embellishments), am'' • firmly convinced 

that Mr. Lincobi "had a har.u - - ^, i.g it. The cata- 
logue of literature in which he particularly delighted at New 
Salem is completed by the statement of Mr. E.urJedge, that 
he took great pleasure in " Jack Downing's Letters." 

Mr. Lincoln still relished a popular song with a broad 
" point " or a palpable moral in it as much as he had ever 
enjoyed the vocal efforts of Dennis Hanks and his rollicking 
compeers of the Gentryville grocery. He even continued 
his own unhappy attempts, although with as little success as 
iJrforS, and quite as much to the amusement of his friends. 
^0 "he cho' -c ■-: '" " " ' "' ' ' ' in 

eiuoSk^u/'an- ■ 

ny,' with variations oy nimseir. iie was also singaia.ny fond 
of an Irish song, "• which tells how St. Patrick came to be 

ho.-n ■ :■. ihe. l'''tL dar of Marcli," 


" You ask me," says Mr. Ellis, " if I remember the first 
time I saw Mr. Lincoln. Yes, I do. ... I was out collect- 
ing back tax f ■ r Gen. James D. Henry. I went from the 
tavern down to Jacob Bales's old mill, and then T eisc ^h.t 
Mr. Lincoln. He was sitting on a saw-log talk 
and Rial Armstrong and a man by the name of 
I shook hands with the Armstrongs and Hoharamer, and was 
conversing with them a few minutes, when we were joined 
by my old friend and former townsman, George Warburton, 
pretty tight as usual ; and he soon asked me to tell him the 
old story about Ben Johnson and Mrs. Dale's blue dye, &c., 
which I did. And then Jack Armstrong said, ' Lincoln, tell 
Ellis the story about Gov. J. Sichner, his city-bred son, and 
his nigger Bob ; ' which he did, with several others, by Jack's 
calling for them. I found out then that Lincoln was a cousin 
to Charley Hanks of Island Grove. I told him I knew three 
of the boys, — Joe, Charley, and John, — and his uncle, old 
Billy Hanks, who lived up on the North Fork of the San- 
gamon River, afterwards near Decatur." ' 

This interview took place shortly after the Black Hawk 
War; but it was not until the next year (1833), the period at 
which we have now arrived, that Lincoln and Ellis became 
" intimate." At that time Ellis went there to keep a store, 
and boarded " at the same log-tavern " where Lincoln was. 
Lincoln, being " engaged in no particular business," merely 
endeavoring to make a lawyer, a surveyor, and a politician of 
himself, gave a great deal of his time to Ellis and Ellis's 
business. " He also used to assist me in the store," says this 

' " I myself knew old Billy Hanks, his mother's brother, and he was a very sensible 
old man. He was father to Mrs. Dillon, on Spring Creek; and Charley, Billy, jr., and 
John were his sons: they were all low-flnng,— could neither read nor write. Some of 
them used to live in Island Grove, Sangamon County. ... I reciembcr the time that Lin- 
coln and E. D. Baker ran in convention, to decide who should run for Congress In old 
Sangamon; that some of Baker's friends accused Mr. Lincoln of belonging to a proud 
and an aristocratic family, — meaning the Edwardses and Todds, I suppose ; and, when 
it came to Mr. Lincoln'* ears, he laughed heartily, and remarked, ' Well, that sounds 
strange to me: I do not remember of but one that evercauie to see me, and while lis 
was in town he was accused of stealing a Jew's-harp.' Josh Speed remembers his say- 
ing this. X think you ought to remember it. Beverly Powell and myself lived with Beil 
and Speed, and I think he said so in theU- store. After that a Miss Hanks came to spend 
the winter with Mrs. Lincoln." — A, T. Elli8, 


new friend, " on busy days, but he always disliked to wait on 
the ladies : he preferred trading with the men and boys, as 
he used to say. I also remember that he used to sleep in the 
store, on the counter, when they had too much company at 
the tavern. 

" I well remember how he was dressed : he wore flax and 
tow linen pantaloons, — I thought about five inches too short 
in the legs, — and frequently he had but one suspender, no 
vest or coat. He wore a calico shirt, such as he had in the 
Black Hawk War ; coarse brogans, tan color ; blue yarn socks, 
and straw hat, old style, and without a band. 

" Mr. Lincoln was in those days a very shy man of ladies. 
On one occasion, while we boarded at this tavern, there came 
a family, containing an old lady and her son and three stylish 
daughters, from xhe State of Virginia, and stopped there for 
xvv : or tl-.r-ee weeks ; and, during their stay, I do not remem- 
be: jf Mr. Lincoln ever eating at the same tabic when they 
did. I then thought it was on account of his awkward 
appear.- rice and his wearing apparel." 

There lived at New Salem at this time, and for some years 
afterward, a festive gentleman named Kelso, a school-teacher, 
a merchant, or a vagabond, according to the run of his some- 
77hat variable " luck." When other people got drunk at 
New Salem, was the usual custom to tussle and fight, and 
tramp each o oer's toes, and pull each other's noses; but, when 
iio:.-;:} got di unk, he astonished the rustic community with 
.■;j,-jiou3 q'lo'ations from Robert Brjns and William Shak- 
speare, — auihors little known to fame among the literary men 
of New Salem. Besides Shakspeare and Burns, Mr. Kelso 

'" ' ' '" v:!d catch his game 

Mr. Lincoln hated 

.J testimony of the 

couuiry-siuc, irom i-eiersuurg to Ibiana Grove, that Kelso 

' wire w Lincoln "'hvr bon. hv bis tfdi- : " tbaj. thev iiecaTne 


"Scotia's Bard," whom his friend mouthed in liis cups, or 
expounded more soberly in the intervals of fixing bait and 
dropping line. Finally he and Kelso boarded at°the same 
place ; and with another " merchant," named Sincho, of tastes 
congenial and wits as keen as Kelso's, they were "always 
found together, battling and arguing." Bill Green ventures 
the opinion, that Lincoln's incessant reading of Shakspeare 
and Burns had much to do in giving to his mind the "scep- 
tical " tendency so fully developed by the labors of his pen in 
1834-5, and in social conversations during many years of his 
residence at Springfield. 

Like Offutt, Kelso disappeared suddenly from New Salem, 
and apparently from the recollection of men. Each with a 
peculiar •'-lent of his own, kind-hearted, eccentric creatures, 
no man's enemy and everybody's prey, they stro'lcd out 
into the great world, and left this little village to perish behind 
them. Of Kelso a few faint traces have been found in Mis- 
souri ; but if he ever had a lodging more permanent than 
the wayside tavern, a haystack, or a hedge, no man was 
able to tell where it was. Of Offutt not a word was ever 
heard: the most searching and cunning inquiries have 
failed to discover any spot where he lingered for a single hour ; 
and but for the humble boy, to whom he was once a gentle 
master, no human being that knew him then v/ould bestow a 
thought upon his name. In short, to use the expressive lan- 
guage of JMr. Lincoln himself, he literally " petered out." 

Mr. Lincoln was often annoyed by " company." His quar- 
ters at the tavern afforded him little privacy, and the shade 
of the tree in front of the grocery was scarcely a sufficiently 
secluded situation for the purposes of an ardent studer.L 
There were too many people to wonder and laugh at a man 
studying law with "his feet up a tree; " too many to v/orry 
him for the stories and jokes which it was supposed he could 
furnish on demand. For these reasons it became necessary 
that he should " retire to the country occasionally to rest and 
study." Sometimes he went to James Short's on the Sand 
Ridge ; sometimes to Minter Graham's ; sometimes to Bowlin 


Greene's; sometimes to Jack Armstrong's, and as often, 
perhaps, to Abie's or Row IlcrnJon's. All of these men 
served him faithfully and signally at one time and anotlier, 
and to all of them he was sincerely attached. When Bowlin 
Greene died, in 1842, Mr. Lincoln, then in the enjoyment of 
great local reputation, undertook to deliver a funeral oration 
over the remains of his beloved friend ; but, when he rose to 
speak, his voice was choked with deep emotion : he stood a 
few moments, while his lips quivered in the effort to form the 
words of fervent praise he sought to utter, and the tears ran 
down his yellow and shrivelled cheeks. Some of those who 
came to hear him, and saw his tall form thus sway in silence 
over the body of Bowlin Greene, say he looked so helpless, 
so utterly bereft and pitiable, that every heart in the audience 
was hushed at the spectacle. After repeated efforts, he found 
it impossible to speak, and strode away, openly and bitterly 
sobbing, to the widow's carriage, in which he was driven from 
the scene. Mr. Ilerndon's papers disclose less than we 
should like to know concerning this excellent man: they 
give us only this burial scene, with the fact that Bowlin 
Greene had loaned Mr. Lincoln books from their earliest 
acquaintance, and on one occasion had taken him to his home, 
and cared for him with the solicitude of a devoted friend 
through several weeks of great suffering and peril. The cir- 
cumstances of the attempted eulogy are mentioned here to 
show the relations which subsisted between Mr. Lincoln and 
some of the benefactors we have enumerated. 

But all this lime Mr. Lincoln had a living to make, a run- 
ning board-bill to pay, and nothing to pay it with. He was, it 
is true, in the hands of excellent friends, so far as the greater 
part of his indebtedness was concerned ; but he was indus- 
trious by nature, and wanted to be working, and paying as he 
went. He would not have forfeited the good opinion of those 
confiding neighbors for a lifetime of ease and luxury. It was 
therefore a most happy thing for him, and he felt it to be so, 
when he attracted the attention of John Calhoun, the sur- 
veyor of Sangamon County. 


Calhoun was the t3-pe of a perfect gentleman, — brave, 
courteous, able, and cultivated. He was a Democrat then, 
and a Democrat when he died. All the world knows how he 
was president of the Lecompton Convention ; how he admin- 
istered the trust in accordance with his well-known convic- 
tions ; and how, after a life of devotion to Douglas, he Avas 
adroitly betrayed by that facile politician, and left to die in 
the midst of obloquy and disaster. At the time we speak 
of, he was one of the most popular men in the State of Illinois, 
and was one of the foremost chieftains of the political party 
which invariably carried the county and the district in which 
Mr. Lincoln lived. He knew Lincoln, and admired him. He 
was well assured that Lincoln knew nothing of surveying ; 
but he was equally certain that he could soon acquire it. Tiie 
speculative fever was at its height ; he was overrun with 
business : the country was alive with strangers seeking land ; 
and every citizen was buying and selling with a view to a great 
fortune in the " flush times " coming. He wanted a deputy 
with common sense and common honesty : he chose Lincoln, 
because nobody else possessed these qualities in a more eminent 
degree. He hunted him up ; gave him a book ; told him to 
study it, and said, that, as soon as he was ready, he should 
have as much work as he could do. 

Lincoln took the book, and " retired to the country ; " that 
is, he went out to Minter Graham's for about six weeks, in 
which time, by the aid of that good master, ho became an 
expert surveyor, and was duly appointed Calhoun's deputy. 
Of course he made some money, merely his pay for work ;, 
but it is a remarkable fact, that, with his vast knowledge of 
the lands in Sangamon and adjacent counties, he never made 
a single speculation on his own account. It was not long 
until he acquired a considerable private business. The 
accuracy of his surveys were seldom, if ever, questioned. 
Disputes regarding " corners " and "lines "were frequently 
submitted to his arbitration ; and the decision was invariably- 
accepted as final. It often happened that his business kept 
him away from New Salem, and his other studies, for weeks 


at a time ; but all this while he was gathering friends against 
the (lay of election. 

In after yeai-s — from 184-1 onward — it was his good or 
bad fortune frequently to meet Calhoun on the stump ; but 
he never forgot his benefaction to him, and always regarded 
him as the ablest and best man with wiiom he ever had crossed 
steel. To the day of Callioun's death they were warmly 
attached to each other. In the times when it was most 
fixshionable and profitable to denounce Calhoun and the Le- 
compton Constitution, when even Douglas turned to revile his 
old friend and coadjutor, Mr. Lincoln was never known to 
breathe a word of censure on his personal character. 

On the 7th of May, 1833, Mr. Lincoln was appointed post- 
master at New Salem. His political opinions were not 
extreme ; and the Jackson administration could find no man 
who was at the same time more orthodox, and equally com- 
petent to perform the duties of the office. lie was not able 
to rent a room, for the business is said to have been carried 
on in his hat ; but, from the evidence before us, we imagine 
that he kept the office in Mr. Hill's store, Mr. Hill's partner, 
McNamar, having been absent since 1832. lie held the 
place until late in 1836, when New Salem partially disap- 
peared, and the office was removed to Petersburg. For a 
little while before his own appointment, he is said to have 
acted as " deputy-postmaster " under Mr. Hill. 

The mail arrived duly once a week ; and the labors of dis- 
tributing and delivering it were by no means great. But Mr. 
Lincoln was determined that the dignity of the place should 
not suffer while he was the incumbent. He therefore made 
up for the lack of real business by deciphering the letters of 
the uneducated portion of the community, and by reading 
the newspapers aloud to the assembled inhabitants in front 
of Hill's store. 

But his easy good-nature was sometimes imposed upon by 
inconsiderate acquaintances ; and Mr. Hill relates one of the 
devices by which he sought to stop the abuse. " One El- 
more Johnson, an ignorant but ostentatious, proud man, used 


to go to Lincoln's post-office every da}-, — sometimes three or 
four times a da)-, if in town, — and inquire, ' Any tiling for 
me ? ' This bored Lincoln, yet it amused him. Lincoln 
fixed apian, — wrote a letter to Johnson as coming from a 
negi-ess in Kentucky, saying many good things about opos- 
sum, dances, corn - shuckings, &c. ; ' John's ! come and see 
me ; and old master won't kick you out of the kitchen any 
more ! ' Elmore took it out ; opened it ; couldn't read a 
word ; pretended to read it ; went away ; got some friends 
to read it : they read it correctly ; he thought the reader was 
fooling him, and went to others with the same result. At 
last he said he would get Lincoln to read it, and presented it 
to Lincoln. It was almost too much for Lincoln, but he -read 
it. The man never asked afterwards, ' Any thing here for 
me ? '" 

It was in the latter part of 1834 that Mr. Lincoln's personal 
property was sold under the hammer, and by due process of 
law, to meet the judgment obtained by Van Bergen on the 
note assigned to him by Radford. Every thing he had was 
taken ; but it was the surveyor's instruments which it hurt 
him most to part with, for by their use he was making a 
tolei-ablc living, and building up a respectable business. This 
time, however, rescue came from an unexpected quarter. 

When Mr. Lincoln first came to New Salem, he employed 
a woman to make him a pair of pantaloons, which, probably 
from the scarcity of material, were cut entirely too short, as 
bis garments usually were. Soon afterwards the woman's 
brother came to town, and she pointed Abe out to him as 
he walked along the street. The brother's name was James 
Short. " Without the necessity of a formal introduction," 
says Short, " we fell in together, and struck up a conversation, 
the purport of which I have now forgotten. lie made a 
favorable impression upon me by his conversation on first 
acquaintance through his intelligence and sprightliness, which 
impression was deepened from time to time, as I became better 
acquainted with him." This was a lucky " impression " for 
Abe. Short was a fast friend, and in the day of trouble a 


sure and able one. At the time the jivdgment was obtained, 
Short lived on the Sand Ridge, four miles from New Salem ; 
and Lincoln was in the habit of walking out there almos^ 
daily. Short was then unconscious of the main reason of 
Mr. Lincoln's remarkable devotion to him : there was a lady 
in the house whom Lincoln secretly but earnestly loved, and 
of whom there is much to be said at another place. If the 
host had known every thing, however, poor Abe would have 
been equally welcome ; for he made himself a strangely agree- 
able guest here, as he did everywhere else. In busy times 
he pulled off his roundabout, and helped Short in the field 
with more energy than any hired man would have displayed. 
" lie was," said Short, "the best hand at husking corn on 
the stalk I ever saw. I used to consider myself very good ; 
but he would gather two loads to my one." 

These visits increased Short's disposition to serve him ; and 
it touched him sorely when he heard Lincoln moaning about 
the catastrophe that hung over him in the form of Van Ber- 
gen's judgment. " An execution was issued," says he, " and 
levied on Lincoln's horse, saddle, bridle, compass, chain, and 
other surveyor's instruments. He was then very much dis- 
couraged, and said he would let the whole thing go by the 
board. He was at my house very much, — half the time. I 
did all I could to put him in better spirits. I went on the 
delivery-bond with him ; and when the sale came off, which 
Mr. Lincoln did not attend, I bid in the above property 
at a hundred and twenty dollars, and immediately gave it 
up again to liim. Mr. Lincoln afterwards repaid me when 
he had moved to Springfield. Greene also turned in on 
this judgment his horse, saddle, and bridle at a hundred 
and twenty - five dollars ; and Lincoln afterwards repaid 

But, after all, Mr. Lincoln had no friend more intimate 
than Jack Armstrong, and none that valued him more highly. 
Until he finally left New Salem for Springfield, he "rus- 
ticated" occasionally at Jack's hospitable cabin, situated 
" four miles in the country," as the polished metropolitans 


of New Salem would say. Jack's wife, Hannah, before 
alluded to, liked Abe, and enjoyed his visits not less than 
Jack did. " Abe would come out to our house," she says, 
" drink milk, eat mush, corn-bread, and butter, bring the 
children candy, and rock the cradle while I got him some- 
thing to eat. ... I foxed his pants ; made his shirts . . . He 
has gone with us to father's ; he would tell stories, joke 
people, girls and boys, at parties. He would nurse babies, 
— do any thing to accommodate anybody. ... I had no 
books about my house ; loaned him none. Wc didn't think 
about books and papers. We worked ; had to live. Lincoln 
has staid at our house two or three weeks at a time." 

If Jack had " to work to live," as his wife has it, he was 
hkcwise constrained to fight and wrestle and tumble about 
with his unhappy fellow-citizens, in order to enjoy the life he 
earned by labor. He frequently came " to town," where his 
sportive inclinations ran riot, except as they were checked and 
regulated by the amicable interposition of Abe, — the prince 
of his affections, and the only man who was competent to 
restrain him. 

" The children at school had made a wide sliding walk," 
from the top of Salem Hill to the river-bank, down which 
they rode on sleds and boards, — a distance of two hundred 
and fifty or three hundred j'ards. Now, it was one of the 
suggestions of Jack's passion for innocent diversion to nail 
up in hogsheads such of the population as incurred his dis- 
pleasure, and send them adrift along this frightful descent. 
Sol. Spears and one Seanlon were treated to an adventure 
of this kind ; but the hogshead in which the two were caged 
" leaped over an embankment, and came near killing Scan- 
Ion." After that the sport was considered less amusing, and 
was very much discouraged by that portion of the community 
who feared, that, in the absence of more convenient victims, 
" the boys " might light on them. Under these circum- 
stances. Jack, for once in his life, thought it best to abandon 
coeicion, and negotiate for subjects. He selected an elderly 
person of bibulous proclivities, and tempted him with a great 


temptation. ' Old man Jordan agreed to be rolled down the 
hill for a gallon of whiskey ; " but Lincoln, fulJy impressed 
with the brutality of the pastime, and the danger to the old 
sot, " stopped it." Whether he did it by persuasion or force, 
we know not, but probably by a judicious employment of 

" I remember once," says Mr. Ellis, " of seeing Mr. Lincoln 
out of temper, and laughing at the same time. It was at 
New Salem. The bo3's were having a jollification after an 
election. They hud a large fire made of shavings and hemp- 
stalks ; and some of the boys made a bet with a fellow that 
I shall call ' Ike,' that he couldn't run his little bob-tail pony 
through the fire. Ike took them up, and trotted his pouy 
back about one hundred yards, to give him a good start, as 
he said. The Loys all formed a line on either side, to make 
way for Ike and his pony. Presently here he come, full tilt, 
witli his hat off; and, just as he reached the blazing fire, Ike 
raised in his saddle for the jump straight ahead ; but pony 
was not of the same opinion, so he flew the track, and pitched 
poor Ike into the devouring element. Mr. Lincoln saw it, 
and ran to his assistance, saying, ' You have carried this thing 
far enough.' I could see he was mad, though he could not 
help laughing himself. The poor fellow was considerably 
scorched about the head and face. Jack Armstrong took 
him to the doctor, who shaved his head to fix him up, and put 
salve on the burn. I think Mr. Lincoln was a little mad at 
Armstrong, and Jack himself was very sorry for it. Jack 
gave Ike next morning a dram, his breakfast, and a seal-skin 
cap, and sent him home." 

One cold winter day, Lincoln saw a poor fellow named "Ab 
Trent " hard at work chopping up " a house," which Mr. Hill 
had employed him to convert into firewood. Ab was 
barefooted, and shivered pitifully while he worked. Lincoln 
watched him a few moments, and asked him what he was to 
get for the job. Ab answered, ' One dollar ; ' and, pointing 
to his naked and suffering feet, said that he wished to buy a 
pair of shoes. Lincoln seized the axe, and, ordering the 


boy to comfort himself at the nearest fire, chopped up ' the 
house' so fast that Ab and the owner were both amazed 
when they saw it done." According to Mr. Rutledge, " Ab 
remembered this act v/ith the livehest gratitude. Once he, 
being a cast-iron Democrat, determined to vote against his 
pai'ty and for Mr. Lincoln ; but the friends, as he afterwards 
said with tears in his eyes, made him drunk, and he liad voted 
against Abe. Thus he dia not even have an opportunity 
to return the noble conduct of Mr. Lincoln by this small 
measure of tlianks." 

We have given some instances of Mr. Lincoln's unfailing 
disposition to succor the weak and the unfortunate. He 
never seems to have hesitated on account of actual or fancied 
danger to liimself, but boldly espoused the side of the 
oppressed against the oppressor, whoever and whatever the 
latter might be. In a fisticuff or a rough-and-tumble fight, he 
was one of the most formidable men of the region in which 
he lived. It took a big bully, and a persevering one, to force 
him into a collision ; but, being in, his enemy found good rea- 
son to beware of him. He was cool, calculating, but swift in 
action, and terribly strong. Nevertheless, he never promoted 
a quarrel, and would be at infinite trouble any time to com- 
pose one. An unnecessary broil gave him pain ; and when- 
ever there was the slightest hope of successful mediation, 
whether by soft speech or by the strong hand, he was instant 
and fearless for peace. His good-nature, his humor, his fertility 
in expedients, and his Jiiance, offensive and defensive, with 
Jack Armstrong, made him .almost irresistible in his benevo- 
lent efforts to keep the ordinary ruifian of New Salem within 
decent bounds. If lie vas talldng to Squire Godbcy or Row 
Herndon (each of them give incidents of the kind), and he 
heard the sounds or saw the signs which betoken a row in 
the street, he would jump up, saying, " Let's go and stop it." 
lie would push through the " ring " which was generally 
formed around the combatants, and, aftr^r separating the 
latter, would demand a truce and "a talk;" and so soon as 
he got them to talking, the victory was his. If it happened to 


be rough Jack himself who was at the bottom of the disturb- 
ance, he usually became very much ashamed of his conduct, 
and offered to " treat," or do any thing else that would atono 
for his brutality. 

Lincoln has often been seen in the old mill on the river- 
bank to lift a box of stones weighing fi-om a thousand to 
twelve hundred pounds. Of course it was not done by a 
straight lift of the hands : he " was harnessed to the box with 
ropes and straps." It was even said he could easily raise a 
barrel of whiskey to Iiis mouth when standing upright, and 
take a drink out of the bung-hole ; but of course one cannot 
believe it. Frequent exhibitions of such strength doubtless 
had much to do with his unbounded influence over the 
rougher class of men. 

He possessed the judicial quality of mind in a degree so 
eminent, and it was so universally recognized, that he never 
could attend a horse-race without being importuned to act as 
a judge, or witness a bet without assuming the responsibility 
of a stakeholder. " In tlie spring or summer of 1832," saj's 
Henry IMcHenry, " I had a horse-race with George Warbur- 
ton. I got Lincoln, who was at the race, to be a judge of 
the race, mucli against his will and after hard persuasion. 
Lincoln decided correctly ; and the other judge said, ' Lincoln 
is the fairest man I ever had to deal with: if Lincoln is in 
this county when I die, I want him to be ray administrator, 
for he is the only man I ever met witii that was wholly and 
anselfishly honest.' " His ineffable purity in determining the 
result of a scrub-race had actuall}' set his colleague to thinking 
of his latter end. 

But Lincoln mdured another annoyance much worse than 
this. He was so generally esteemed, and so highly admired, 
that, when any of his neighbors had a fight in prospect, one 
of the parties was sure to insist upon his acting as his second. 
Lincoln was opposed to fights, but there were some figh;:3 that 
had tr be fought ; and these were " set," a day fixed, and the 
neighborhood notified. In these cases there was no room for 
the ofBces of a mediator ; and when the affair was pre-ordained, 


" and must come off," Mr. Liacoln had no excuse for denying 
the request of a friend. 

" Two neighbors, Harry Clark and Ben Wilcox," says Mr. 
Rutledge, " had had a lawsuit. The defeated declared, that, 
although he was beaten in the suit, he could whip his oppo- 
nent. This -was a formal challenge, and was at once carried 
to the ears of the victor (Wilcox), and as promptly accepted. 
The time, place, and seconds were chosen with due regu- 
larity ; Mr. Lincoln being Clark's, and John Brewer, Wilcox's 
second. The parties met, stripped themselves all but their 
breeches, went in, and Mr. Lincoln's principal was beautifully 
whipped. These combats were conducted with as much cere- 
mony and punctiliousness as ever graced the duelling-ground. 
After the conflict, the seconds conducted their respective 
principals to the river, washed off the blood, and assisted 
them to dress. During this performance, the second of the 
party opposed to Mr. Lincoln remarked, ' Well, Abe, my man 
has whipped yours, and I can whip you.' Now, this challenge 
came from a man who was very small in size. Mr. Lincoln 
agreed to fight, provided be would chalk out his size on Mr. 
Lincoln's person, and every blow struck outside of that mark 
should be counted foul. After this sally, there was the best 
possible humor, and all parties were as orderly as if they had 
been engaged in the most harmless amusement." 

In 1834 Lincoln was again a candidate for the Legislature, 
and this time was elected by a larger majority than any other 
man on the ticket. By this tims the party with which he 
acted in the future was " discriminated as Whig; " and he did 
not hesitate to call himself a Whig, although he sought and 
received the votes of a great many Democrats. Just before 
the time had arrived for candidates to announce themselves, 
he went to John T. Stuart, and told him " the Democrats 
wanted to run him." He made the same statement to Ninian 
W. Edwards. Edwards and Stuart were both his personal 
and political friends, and they both advised him to let the 
Democrats have their way. Major Stuart's advice was cer- 
tainly disinterested; for, in pursuance of it, two of the Whig 


candidates, Lincoln and Dawson, made a bargain with the 
Democrats wliich very nearly proved fatal to Stuart himself. 
He was at that time the favorite candidate of the Whigs for 
the Legislature ; but the conduct of Lincoln and Dawson so 
demoralized the party, that his vote was seriously diminished. 
JJp to this time Sangamon had been stanchly Democratic ; 
but even in this election of 183-4 we perceive slight evidences 
of that party's decay, and so early as 183G the county became 
thoroughly Whig. 

We shall give no details of this campaign, since we should 
only be repeating what is written of the campaign of 1832. 
But we cannot withhold one extract from the reminiscences 
of Mr. Row Herndon: — 

" He (Lincoln) came to my house, near Island Grove, dur- 
ing harvest. There were some thirty men in the field. lie 
got his dinner, and went out in the field where the men were 
at work. I gave him an introduction, and the boys said 
that the}' could not vote for a man unless he could make a 
baud. ' Well, boys,' said lie, ' if that is all, I am sure of your 
votes.' lie took hold of tiie cradle, and led the way all the 
round with perfect ease. The boys were satisfied, and I don't 
think he lost a vote in the crowd. 

" The next day was speaking at Berlin. He went from 
my house with Dr. Baruett, the man that had asked me who 
this man Lincoln was. I told him that he was a candidate 
for the Legislature. He laughed and said, ' Can't the party 
raise no better material than that ? ' I said, ' Go to-morrow, 
and hear all before you pronounce judgment.' When ho 
came back, I said, ' Doctor, what say you now ? ' ' Why, sir,' 
said he, ' he is a perfect take-in: he knows more than all of 
them put together.' " 

Lincoln got 1,37G votes, Dawson 1,370, Carpenter 1,170, 
Stuart 1,104. Lincoln was at last duly elected a Representa- 
tive by a very flattering majority, and began to look about for 
the pecuniary means necessary to maintain his new dignity. 
In this extremity he had recoui-se to an old friend named 
Coleman Smoot. 


One day in 1832, while lie was clerking for OfTutt, a stran- 
ger came into the store, and soon disclosed the fact that his 
name was Smoot. Abe was behind the counter at the mo- 
ment ; but, hearing the name, he sprang over and introduced 
himself. Abe had often heard of Smoot, and Smoot had often 
heard of Abe. They had been as anxious to meet as ever 
two celebrities were ; but hitherto they had never been able to 
manage it. " Smoot," said Lincoln, after a steady survey of 
his person, " I am very much disappointed in you : I expected 
to see an old Probst of a fellow." (Probst, it appears, was the 
most hideous specimen of humanity in all that country.) 
" Yes," replied Smoot ; " and I am equally disappointed, for 
I expected to see a good-looking man when I saw you." A 
few neat compliments like the foregoing laid the foundation 
of a lasting intimacy between the two men, and in his pres- 
ent distress Lincoln knew no one who would be more likely 
than Smoot to respond favorably to an application for money. 
"After he was elected to the Legislature," says Mr. Smoot, 
" he came to my house one day in company with Hugh Arm- 
strong. Says he, ' Smoot, did you vote for me ? ' I told him 
I didT ' Well,' says he, ' you must loan mc money to buy 
suitable clothing, for I want to make a decent appearance in 
the Legislature.' I then loaned him two hundred dollars, 
which he returned to me according to promise." 

The interval between the election and his departure for the 
seat of government was employed by Mr. Lincoln partly in 
reading, partly in writing. 

The community in which he lived was pre-eminently a 
community of free-thinkers in matters of religion ; and it was 
then no secret, nor has it been a secret since, that Mr. Lin- 
coln agreed with the majority of his associates in denying to 
the Bible the authority of divine revelation. It was his hon- 
est belief,— a belief which it was no reproach to hold at New 
Salem, Anno Domini 1834, and one which he never thought 
of concealing. It was no distinction, either good or bad, no 
honor, and no shame. But he had made himself thoroughly 
familiar with the writings of Paine and Volney,— the "Ruins" 


by one, and " The Age of Reason" by the other. His mind 
•was fall of the subject, and he felt an itching to write. Ho 
did write, and the result was a " little book." It was proba- 
bly merely an extended essay ; but it is ambitiously spoken of 
as " a book " by himself and by the persons who were made 
acquainted with its contents. In this work he intended to 
demonstrate, — 

" First, that the Bible was not God's revelation ; and, 
" Secondly, that Jesus Avas not the Son of God." 
These were his leading propositions, and surely they were 
comprehensive enough ; but tiie reader will be better able to 
guess at the arguments by which they were sustained, when he 
has examined some of the evidence recorded in Chapter XIX. 
No leaf of this little volume has survived. Mr. Lincoln 
carried it in manuscript to the store of Jlr. Samuel Hill, 
where it was read and discussed. Hill was himself an unbe- 
liever, but his son considered this book " infamous." It is 
more than probable that Hill, being a warm personal friend of 
Lincoln, feared that the publication of the essay would some 
day interfere with the political advancement of his favorite. 
At all events, he snatched it out of his hand, and thrust it into 
the fire, from which not a shred escaped. The sequel will 
show that even Mr. Hill's provident forethought was not alto- 
gether equal to the prevention of the injury he dreaded. 


THE reader is already familiar with the name of James 
Rutledge, the founder of New Salem, and the owner in 
part of the famous inill on the Sangamon. He was born in 
South CaroUna, and was of the illustrious Rutledge family 
of that State. From South Carolina he emigrated to Ken- 
tucky, and thence to Illinois. In 1828 he settled at New 
Salem, built the mill and laid out the village in conjunction 
with Mr. Cameron, a retired minister of the Cumberland 
Presbyterians. Mr. Rutledge's character seems to have been 
pure and high ; for wherever his name occurs in the volu- 
minous records before us, — in the long tallcs and the numerous 
epistles of his neighbors, — it is almost invariably coupled with 
some expression of genuine esteem and respect. 

At one time, and along with his other business, — which 
appears to have been quite extensive and various, — Mr. Rut- 
ledge kept the tavern, the small house with four rooms on the 
main street of New Salem, just opposite Lincoln's grocery. 
There Mr. Lincoln came to board late in 1832, or early in 
1833. The family consisted of the father, mother, and nine 
children, — three of th.em born in Kentucky and six in Illinois; 
three grown up, and the rest quite young. Ann, the princi- 
pal subject of this chapter, was the third child. She was 
born on the 7th of January, 1813, and was about nineteen 
years of age when Mr. Lincoln came to live in the house. 

When Ann was a little maiden just turned of seventeen, and 
still attending the school of that redoubtable pedagogue Min- 
ter Graham, there came to New Salem a young gentleman 


of singular enterprise, tact, and capacity for business. He is 
identical with the man whom we have already quoted as " the 
pioneer of New Salem as a business point," and who built 
the first storehouse there at the extravagant cost of fifteen 
dollars. He took boarding with Mr. Rutledge's friend and 
partner, James Cameron, and gave out his name as John 
McNeil. lie came to New Salem with no other capital than 
good sense and an active and plucky spirit; but somehow 
fortune smiled indiscriminately on all his endeavors, and very 
Boon — as early as the latter part of 1832 — he found him- 
self a well-to-do and prosperous man, owning a snug farm 
seven miles north of New Salem, and a half-interest in the 
largest store of the place. This latter property his partner, 
Samuel Hill, bought from him at a good round sum ; for 
McNeil now announced h j intention of being absent for a 
brief period, and his purpose was such that he might need all 
Lis available capital. 

In the mean time the partners, Hill o h1 McNeil, had both 
fallen in lovd with Ann Ilutledge, and boih courted her with 
devoted assiduity. But the contest had long since been 
decided in favor of McNeil, and Ann loved him with all her 
susceptible and sensitive heart. When the time drew near 
for McNeil to depart, he confided to Ann a strange story, — 
and, in the eyes of a person less fond, a very startling story. 
His name was not John McNeil at all, but John McNamar. 
His family was a highly re^oectablc one in the State of New 
York ; but a few years before his father had failed in business, 
and there was great distress at home. He (John) then con- 
ceived the romantic plan of running away, and, at some unde- 
fined place in the far West, making a sudden fortune with 
which to retrieve the famil}' disaster. He fled accordingly, 
changed his name to avoid the pursuit of his father, found 
bis way to New Salem, and — she knew the rest. He was 
now able to perform that great act of filial piety which he set 
out to accomplish would return at once to the relief of his 
parents, and, in all human probability, bring them back with 
him to his new home in Illinois. At all events, she mijrht 


look for his return as speedily as the journey could be made 
with ordinary diligence ; and thenceforward there should be 
no more partings between him and his fair Ann. She believed 
this tale, because she loved the man that told it ; and she 
would have believed it all the same if it had been ten times 
as incredible. A wise man would have rejected it with 
scorn, but the girl's instinct was a better guide ; and McNa- 
mar proved to be all that he said he was, although poor Ann 
never saw the proof which others got of it. 

McNamar rode away "on old Charley," an antiquated 
steed that had seen hard usage in the Black Hawk War. 
Charley was slow, stumbled dreadfully, and caused his rider 
much annoyance and some hard swearing. On this provok- 
ing anil. 4 McNamar jogged through the long journey from 
New Salem to New York, and arrived there after many 
delays, only to find that his broken and dispirited father was 
fast sinking into the grave. After all his efforts, he was too 
late : the father could never enjoy the prosperity which the 
long-absent and long-silent son had brought him. McNamar 
wrote to Ann that there was sickness in the family, and he 
could not return at the time appointed. Then there w^re 
other and still other postponements ; " circumstances over 
which he had no control" prevented his departure irom time 
to time, until years had rolled away, and Ann's heart had 
grown sick with hope deferred. She never quite gave him 
up, but continued to expect him until death terminated her 
melancholy watch. His inexplicable delay, however, the 
infrequency of his letters, and their unsatisfactory character, 
— these and something else had broken her attachment, and 
toward the last she waited for him only to ask a release from 
her engagement, and to say that she preferred another and a 
more ui-gent suitor. But without his knowledge and formal 
renunciation of his claim upon her, she did not like to marry ; 
and, in obedience to this refinement of honor, she postponed 
her union with the more pressing lover until Aug. 25, 
1835, when, as many persons believe, she died of a broken 


Lincoln's friend Short was in some way related to the Rut- 
ledges, and for a while Lincoln visited Ann two or three times 
a week at his house. According to him, " Miss Rutledge was 
a good-looking, smart, lively girl, a good housekeeper, with a 
moderate education, and without any of the so-called accom- 
plishments." L. M. Greene, who knew her well, talks about 
her as " a beautiful and very amiable young woman ; " and 
"Nult" Greene is even more enthusiastic. "This young 
lady," in the language of the latter gentleman, " was a woman 
of exquisite beauty ; but her intellect was quick, sharp, deep, 
and philosophic, as well as brilliant. She had as gentle and 
kind a heart as an angel, full of love, kindliness, and sympa- 
thy. She was beloved by everybody, aud everj'body respected 
and loved her, so sweet and angelic was she. Her charac- 
ter was more than good : it was positively noted throughout 
the county. She was a woman worthy of Lincoln's love." 
Mc'^^- ->ar, her unfortunate lover, says, " Miss Ann was a gen- 
tle, amiable maiden, without any of the airs of your city 
belles, but winsome and comely withal ; a blonde in complex- 
ion, with golden hair, cheny-red lips, aud a bonny blue eye." 
Even the women of the neighborhood united with the men to 
praise the name of this beautiful but unhappy girl. Mrs. 
Hardin Bale " knew her well. She had auburn hair, blue 
eyes, fair complexion ; was a slim, pretty, kind, tender, good- 
hearted woman ; in height about five feet three inches, and 
weighed about a hundred and twenty pounds. She was be- 
loved by all who knew her. McNamar, Hill, and Lincoln all 
counted her near the ^ame time. She died as it were of grief. 
Miss Rutledge was Lciutiful." Such was Ann Rutledge, the 
girl in whose grave Mr. Lincoln said, " My heart lies buried." 

When Mr. Lincoln first saw Ann, she was probably the 
most refined woman with whom he had then ever spoken, — a 
modest, delicate creature, fascinating by reason of the mere con- 
trast with the rude people by whom they were both sur- 
rounded. She had a secret, too, and a sorrow, — the unex- 
plained and painful absence of McNamar, — which no doubt 
made her aU the more interesting to him whose spirit was often 


even more melancholy than her own. It would be hard to 
trace the growth of such an attachment at a time and place so 
distant ; but that it actually grew, and became an intense and 
mutual passion, the evidence before us is painfully abundant. 
Mr. Lincoln was always welcome at the little tavern, at 
Short's on the Sand Ridge, or at the farm, half a mile fi-om 
Short's, where the Rutledges finally abode. Ann's father was 
his devoted friend, and the mother he called affectionately 
"Aunt Polly." It is probable that the family looked upon 
McNamar's delay with more suspicion than Ann did herself. 
At all events, all her adult relatives encouraged the suit which 
Lincoln early began to press ; and as time, absence, and ap- 
parent neglect, gradually told against McNamar, she listened 
to him with augmenting interest, until, in 1835, we find them 
formally and solemnly betrothed. Ann now waited only for 
the return of McNamar to marry Lincoln. David Rutledge 
urged her to marry immediately, without regard to any thing 
but her own happiness ; but she said she could not consent 
to it until McNamar came back and released her from her 
pledge. At length, however, as McNamar's re-appearance 
became more and more hopeless, she took a different view of 
it, and then thought she would become Abe's wife as soon as 
he found the means of a decent livelihood. " Ann told me 
once," says James M. in a letter to R. B. Rutledge, in com- 
ing from camp-meeting on Rock Creek, " that engagements 
made too far ahead sometimes failed; that one had failed 
(meaning her engagement with McNamar), and gave me to 
understand, that, as soon as certain studies were completed, 
she and Lincoln would be married." 

In the summer of 1835 Ann showed unmistakable symptoms 
of failing health, attributable, as most of the neighborhood 
believed, to the distressing attitude she felt bound to maintain 
between her two lovers. On the 25th of August, in that year, 
she died of what the doctors chose to call " brain-fever." In 
a letter to Mr. Herndon, her brother says, " You suggest that 
the probable cause of Ann's sickness was her conflicts, emo- 
tions, &c. As to this I cannot say. I, however, have my 


own private convictions. The character of her sickness was 
brain-fever." A fe>v days before her death Lincoln was sum- 
moned to her bedside. What happened in that solemn con- 
ference was known only to him and the dying girl. But 
when he left her, and stopped at the house of John Jones, on 
his way home, Jones saw signs of the most terrible distress in 
lus face and his conduct. When Ann actually died, and was 
buried, his grief became frantic : he lost all self-control, even 
the consciousness of identity, and every friend he hr.d in 
New Salem pronounced him insane, mad, crazy. " He was 
watched with especial vigilance," as William Green tells us, 
" during storms, fogs, damp, gloomy weather, for fear of an 
accident." At such times he raved piteously, declaring, 
among other wild expressions of his woe, ' I can never be 
reconciled to have the snow, rains, and storms to beat upon 
her grave ! ' " 

About three-quarters of a mile below New Salem, at the 
foot of the main bluff, and in a hollow between two lateral 
bluffs, stood the house of Cowlin Greene, built of logs and 
weather-boarded. Thither the friends of Lincoln, who appre- 
hended a total abdication of reason, determined to transport 
him, partly for the benefit of a mere change of scene, and 
partly to keep him within constant reach of his near and 
noble friend, Bowlin Greene. During this period of his dark- 
ened and wavering intellect, when "accidents" were mo- 
mentarily expected, it was discovered that Bowlin Greene pos- 
sessed a power to persuade and guide him proportioned to the 
affection that had subsisted between them in former and bet- 
ter times. Bowlin Greene came for him, but Lincoln was cun- 
ning and obstinate : it required the most artful practices of a 
general conspiracy of all his friends to " disarm his sr spicions," 
and induce him to go and stay with his most a-.xious and 
devoted friend. But at last they succeeded; aiid Lincoln 
remained down under the bluff for two or three weeks, the 
object of undisguised solicitude and of the strictest surveil- 
lance. At the end of that time his mind seemed to be restored, 
and it was thought safe to let him go back to his old haunts, — 


to the study of law, to the writing of legal papers for his 
neighbors, to pettifogging before the justice of the peace, and 
perhaps to a little surveying. But Mr. Lincoln was never 
precisely the same man again. At the time of his release he 
was thin, haggard, and careworn, — like one risen from the 
verge of the grave. He had always been subject to fits of 
great mental depression, but after this they were more frequent 
and alarming. It was then that he began to repeat, with a 
feeling which seemed to inspire every listener with awe, and 
to carry him to the fresh grave of Ann at every one of his 
solemn periods, the lines entitled, " Immortality ; or, Oh ! why 
should the spirit of mortal be proud ? " None lieard him but 
knew that he selected these curiously empty, yet wonderfully 
sad, impressive lines, to celebrate a grief which lay with con- 
tinual heaviness on his heart, but to which he could not with 
becoming delicacy directly allude. He muttered them as he 
rambled through the woods, or walked by the roaring San- 
gamon. He was heard to murmur them to himself as he 
slipped into the village at nightfall, after a long walk of 
six miles, and an evening visit to the Concord graveyard ; and 
he would suddenly break out with them in little social assem- 
blies after noticeable periods of silent gloom. They came 
unbidden to his lips, while the air of affliction in face and ges- 
ture, the moving tones and touching modulations of his voice, 
made it evident that every syllable of the recitation was 
meant to commemorate the mournful fate of Ann. The poem 
is now his : the name of the obscure author is forgotten, and 
liis work is imperishably associated with the memory of a 
great man, and interwoven with the history of his greatest 
sorrow. Mr. Lincoln's adoption of it has saved it from mer- 
ited oblivion, and translated it fi-om the " poet's corner " of 
the country newspaper to a place in the story of his own life, 
— a story that will continue to be written, or written about, 
as long as our language exists. 

Many years afterwards, when Mr. Lincoln, the best lawyer 
of his section, with one exception, travelled the circuit with th<? 
court and a crowd of his jolly brethren, he always rose early, be 


fore any one else was stirring, and, raking together a few glow- 
ing coals on the hearth, he would sit looking into them, musing 
and talking with himself, for hours together. One morning, 
in the year of his nomination, his companions found him in 
this attitude, when " Mr. Lincoln repeated aloud, and at 
length, the poem ' Immortality,' " indicating his preference for 
the two last stanzas, but insisting that the entire composition 
" sounded to him as much like true poetry as any thing that 
he had ever heard." 

In Carpenter's " Anecdotes and Reminiscences of President 
Lincoln," occurs the following passage : — 

" The evening of March 22, 1864, was a most interesting 
one to me. I was with the President alone in his office for 
several hours. Busy with pen and papers when I went in, 
he presently threw them aside, and commenced talking to me 
of Shakspeare, of whom he was very fond. Little ' Tad,' 
his son, coming in, he sent him to the library for a copy of 
the plays, and then read to me several of his favorite passages. 
Relapsing into a sadder strain, he laid the book aside, and, 
leaning back in his chair, said, — 

" ' There is a poem which has been a great favorite with me 
for years, which was first shown to me when a young man by 
a friend, and which I afterwards saw and cut from a news- 
paper, and learned by heart. I would,' he continued, ' give a 
great deal to know who wrote it ; but I have rever been able 
to ascertain.' 
" Then, half closing his eyes, he repeated the verses to me: — 

" ' Ob I why should the spirit of mortal be proud ? 
Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud, 
A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave, 
He passeth from life to his rest in the grave. 

The loavos of the oak and the willow sh.-U fade, 
Be scattered around, and togethe- be laid ; 
Ami the youug and the old, and the low and the high, 
Shall moulder to dust, and together shall lie. 


The infant a mother attended and lored ; 
The mother that infant's afTcction who proved ; 
The husband that mother and infant who blest, — 
Each, all, are away to their dwellings of rest. 

[The maid on whose cheek, on whose brow, in whose eye, 
Shone beauty and pleasure, her triumphs are by ; 
And the memory of those who loved her and praised, 
Are alike from the minds of the living erased.] 

The hand of the king that the sceptre hath borne, 
The brow of the priest that the mitre hath worn. 
The eye of the sage, and the heart, of the brave, 
Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave. 

The peasant whose lot was to sow and to reap, 
The herdsman who climbed with his goats up the steep, 
The beggar who wandered in search of his bread. 
Have faded away like the grass that we tread. 

[The saint who enjoyed the communion of Heaven, 
The sinner who dared to remain unforgiven. 
The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just. 
Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.] 

So the multitude goes, like the flower or the weed. 
That witliers away to let others succeed ; 
So the multitude comes, even those we behold, 
To repeat every tale that has often been told. 

For we are the same our fathers have been ; 
We see the same sights our fathers have seen ; 
We drink the same stream, we view the same sun, 
And run the same course our fathers have run. 

The thoughts we are thinking our fathers would think ; 
From the death we are shrinking our fathers would shrink ; 
To the life we are clinging they also would cHng; 
But it speeds irom us all like a bird on the wing. 

They loved, but the story we cannot unfold ; 
They scorned, but the heart of the haughty is cold ; 
They grieved, but no wail from their slumber will come ; 
They joyed, but the tongue of their gladness is dumb. 


They died, ay, they died : we things that are now, 
That walk on the turf that hes over their brow, 
And make in their dwellings a transient abode. 
Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road. 

Tea, liope and despondency, pleasure and pain. 
Arc mingled together in sunshine and rain ; 
And the smile and the tear, the song and the dirge, 
Still follow each other like surge upon surge. 

'Tis the wink of an eye, 'tis the draught of a breath, 
From the blossom of health to the paleness of death, 
From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud, — 
Oh ! why should the spirit of mortal be proud V ' " 

It wa.s only a year or two after the death of Ann Rutledge 
that Mr. Lincoln told Robert L. Wilson, a distinguished 
colleague in the Legislature, parts of whose letter will be 
printed in another place, that, although " he appeared to enjoy 
life rapturously," it was a mistake ; that, " when alone, he was 
so overcome by mental depression, that he never dared to 
carry a pocket-knife." And during all Mr. Wilson's extended 
acquaintance with him he never did own a knife, notwith- 
standing he was iuordiuately fond of whittling. 

Mr. Ilerndon saj's, " He never addressed another woman, 
in my opinion, ' Yours affectionately,' and generally and char- 
acteristicall)- abstained from the use of the word ' love.' That 
word cannot be found more than a half-dozen times, if that 
often, iu all his letters and speeches since that time. I have 
seen some of his letters to other ladies, but he never s.ays 
'love.' He never ended his letters with 'Yours affection- 
ately,' but signed his name, ' Your friend, A. Lincoln.' " 

After Mr. Lincoln's election to the Presidency, he one day 
met an old friend, Isaac Cogdale, who had known him inti- 
mately in tbe better da)'s of the Rutledges at New Salem. 
'• Ike," said !. ;, " call at my office at the State House about 
an hour l;y sundown. The company will then all be gone." 

Cogd?)e went according to request; "and sure enough," a.^ 
he expiE.^ ^ud it, " the company dropped o3" one by one, includ- 
ing L' ; jiu's clerk." 


" ' I want to inquire about old times and old acquaintances,' T 
began Mr. Lincoln. ' When we lived in Salem, there were i 
the Greenes, Potters, Armstrongs, and Rutledges. These 
folks have got scattered all over the world, — some are dead./ 
Where are the Ratledges, Greenes, &c. ? ' 

"After we had spoken over old times," continues Cogdaie, 
— "persons, circumstances, — in which he showed a won- 
derful memory, I then dared to ask him this question : — 

" ' May I now, in turn, ask you one question, Lincoln ? ' 

"'Assuredly. I will answer your question, if a fair one, 
with all my heart.' 

" ' Well, Abe, is it true that you fell in love and courted 
Ann Rutledge ? ' 

"'It is true, — true: indeed I did. I have loved the 
name of Rutledge to this day. I have kept my mind on their 
movements ever since, and love them dearly.' 

" ' Abe, is it true,' " still urged Cogdaie, " that you ran a 
little wild about the matter? ' 

" ' I did really. I ran off the track. It was my first. I 
loved the woman dearly. She was a handsome girl ; would 
have made a good, loving wife ; was natural and quite intel- 
lectual, though not highly educated. I did honestly and truly 
love the girl, and think often, often, of her now.' " 

A few weeks after the burial of Ann, McNamar returned 
to New Salem. He saw Lincoln at the post-office, and was 
struck with the deplorable change in his appearance. A short 
time afterwards Lincoln wrote him a deed, which he still has, 
and prizes highl}', in memory of his great friend and rival. 
His father was at last dead ; but he brought back with him 
his mother and her family. In December of the same year 
his mother died, and was buried in the same graveyard with 
Ann. During his absence. Col. Rutledge had occupied his 
farm, and there Ann died ; but " the Rutledge farm " proper 
adjoined this one to the south. " Some of Mr. Lincoln's cor- 
ners, as a surveyor, are still visible on lines traced by him on 
both farms." 

On Sunday, the fourteenth day of October, 1866, William 


IT. Herndon knocked at the door of John McNamar, at his 
residence, but a few feet distant from the spot where Ann 
Rutledge breathed her last. After some preliminaries not 
necessary to be related, Mr. Herndon says, " I asked him the 
question : — 

" ' Did you know Miss Rutledge ? If so, where did she 

" He sat by his open window, looking westerly ; and, 
pulling me closer to himself, looked through the window and 
said, ' There, by that,' — choking up with emotion, pointing 
his long forefinger, nervous and trembling, to the spot, — 
' there, by that currant-bush, she died. The old house in 
which she and her father died is gone.' 

" After further conversation, leaving the sadness to momen- 
tarily pass away, I asked this additional question : — 

" ' Where was she buried ? ' 

" ' In Concord burying-ground, one mile south-east of this 
place.' " 

Mr. Herndon sought the grave. " S. C. Berry," says he, 
*' James Short (the gentleman who purchased in ilr. Lincoln's 
compass and chain in 1834, under an execution against Lin- 
coln, or Lincoln & Berry, and gratuitously gave them back to 
Mr. Lincoln), James Miles, and myself were together. 

" I asked Mr. Berry if he knew where Miss Rutledge was 
buried, — the place and exact surroundings. He replied, 'I 
do. The grave of Miss Rutledge lies just north of her broth- 
er's, David Rutledge, a young lawyer of great promise, who 
died in 1842, in his twenty-seventh year.' 

" The cemetery contains but an acre of ground, in a beauti- 
ful and secluded situation. A thin skirt of timber lies on the 
east, commencing at the fence of the cemetery. The ribbon 
of timber, some fifty yards wide, hides the sun's early rise. 
At nine o'clock the sun pours all his rays into the cemetery. 
An extensive prairie lies west, the forest north, a field on the 
east, and timber and prairie on the south. In this lonely 
ground lie the Berrys, the Rutledges, the Clarys, the Arm- 


strongs, and the Joneses, old and respected citizens, — pioneers 
of an early day. I write, or rather did write, the original 
draught of this description in the immediate presence of the 
ashes of Miss Ann Rutledge, the beautiful and tender dead. 
The village of the dead is a sad, solemn place. Its very pres- 
ence imposes truth on the mind of the living writer. Ann 
Rutledge lies buried north of her brother, and rests sweetly 
on his left arm, angels to guard her. The cemetery is fast 
filling with the hazel and the dead." 

A lecture delivered by William H. Herndon at Springfield, 
in 1866, contained the main outline, without the minuter 
details, of the story here related. It was spoken, printed, and 
circulated without contradiction from any quarter. It was 
sent to the Rutledges, McNeeleys, Greenes, Short, and many 
other of the old residents of New Salem and Petersburg, with 
particular requests that they should correct any error they 
might find in it. It was pronounced by them all truthful and 
accurate ; but their replies, together with a mass of additional 
evidence, have been carefully collated with the lecture, and 
the result is the present chapter. The story of Ann Rut- 
ledge, Lincoln, and McNamar, as told here, is as well proved 
as the fact of Mr. Lincoln's election to the Presidency. 


}T^OLLOWING strictly the chronological order hitherto 
. observed in the course of this narrative, we should be 
compelled to break off the stor_v of Mr. Lincoln's love-affairs 
at Nev.' Salem, and enter upon his public career in the Legis- 
lature and before the people. But, while by that means we 
should preserve continuity iu one respect, we should lose it 
in another ; and the reader would perhaps prefer to take in at 
one view all of Mr. Lincoln's coui'tships, save only that one 
which resulted in marriage. 

Three-quarters of a mile, or nearly so, north of Bowlin 
Greene's, and on the summit of a hill, stood the house of 
Bennett Able, a small frame building eighteen by twenty 
feet. Able and his wife were warm friends of Mr. Lincoln ; 
and many of his rambles through the surrounding country, 
reading and talking to himself, terminated at their door, where 
he always found the latch-string on the outside, and a hearty 
welcome witliin. In October, 1833, Mr. Lincoln met there 
Miss Mary Owens, a sister of Mrs. Able, and, as we shall 
presently learn from his own words, admired her, although 
not extravagantly. She remained but four weeks, and then 
went back to her home in Kentucky. 

Miss Owens's mother being dead, her father married again ; 
and Miss Owens, for good reasons of her own, thought she 
would rather live with her sister than with her stepmother. 
Accordingly, in the fall of 1836, she re-appeared at Abie's, 
passing through New Salem on the day of the presidential 
election, where the men standing about the polls stared and 


wondered at her " beauty." Twenty eight or nine years of 
age, " she was," in the hxnguage of Mr. L. M. Greene, " tall 
and portly ; weighed about one hundred and twenty pounds, 
and had large blue eyes, with the finest trimming.; ' jver saw. 
She was jovial, social, loved wit and humor, had a liberal Eng- 
lish education, and was considered wealthy. Bill," continues 
our excellent friend, " I am getting old ; have seen too much 
trouble to give a lifelike picture of this woman. I won't try 
it. None of the poets or romance-writers has ever given to us 
a picture of a heroine so beautiful as a good description of 
Miss Owens in 18-36 would be." 

Mrs. Hardin Bale, a cousin to Miss Owens, says " she was 
blue-eyed, dark-haired, handsome, — not pretty, — was rather 
large and tall, handsome, truly handsome, matronly looking, 
over ordinary size in height and weight. . . . Miss Owens 
was handsome, that is to say, noble-looking, matronly seem- 

Respecting her age and looks, Miss Owens herself makes 
the following note, Aug. 6, 1866 : — 

" Born in the year eight ; fair skin, deep-blue eyes, with 
dark curling hair ; height five feet five inches, weighing alxiut 
one hundred and fifty pounds." 

Johnson G. Greene is Miss Owens's cousin ; and, whilst on 
a visit to her in 1866, he contrived to get her version of the 
Lincoln courtship at great length. It does not vary in any 
material part from the account currently received in the 
neighborhood, and given by various persons, whose oral or 
written testimony is preserved in Mr. Herndon's collection of 
manuscripts. Greene (J. G.) described her in terms about 
the same as those used by Mrs. Bale, adding that "she was a 
Qtrvous and ixiuscular woman," very "intellectual," — " the 
most intellectual woman he ever saw," — " with a forehead 
massive and angular, square, prominent, and broad." 

After Miss Owens's return to New Salem, in the fall of 1813, 
Mr. Lincoln was unremitting in his attentions ; and wherever 
^he went he was at her side. She had many relatives in the 
neighborhood, — the Bales, the Greenes, the Grahams : and, 


if she went to spend an afternoon or an evening with any of 
these, Abe was very likely to be on hand to conduct her 
home. He asked her to marry him ; but she prudently evaded 
a positive answer until she could make up her mind about 
questionable points of his character. She did not think him 
coarse or cruel ; but she did think him thoughtless, careless, 
not altogether as polite as he might be, — in short, "defi- 
cient," as she expresses it, " in those little links which make 
up the great chain of woman's happiness." His heart was 
Tood, his principles were high, his honor sensitive ; but still, 
in the eyes of this refined young lady, he did not seem to be 
quite the gentleman. " He was lacking in the smaller atten- 
tions;" and, iu fact, the whole affair is explained when she 
tells us that " his education was different from " hers. ^ 

One day Miss Owens and j\Irs. Bowlin Greene were making 
their way slowly and tediously up the hill to Abie's house, 
when they were joined by Lincoln. Mrs. Bowlin Greene 
was carrying " a great big fat child, heavy, and crossly dis- 
posed." Although the woman bent pitiably under her bur- 
den, Lincoln offered her no assistance, but, dropping behind 
with Miss Owens, beguiled the way according to his wishes. 
When they reached the summit, " Miss Owens said to Lin- 
coln laughingly, ' You would not make a good husband. 
Abe.' They sat on the fence; and one word brought ou 
another, till a split or breach ensued." 

Immediately after this misunderstanding, Lincoln went off 
toward Havana on a surveying expedition, and was absent 
about three weeks. Ou the first day of his return, one 0/ 
Abie's boys was sent up " to town " for th mail. Lincoln 
saw him at the post-office, and "asked if }:'---, Owens was ai 
Mr. Abie's." The boy said " Yes." — " Tr. her," said Lin- 
coln, " that I'll be down to see her in a fev iiiinutes." Now, 
.Miss Owens had determined to spend i.h^v evening at Min- 
cer Graham's; and when the boy gave v '.e report, "she 
thought a moment, and said to herself, ' If - ; ;)i draw Lincoln 
up there to Graham's, it will be all right.' " This scheme 
\Yas to operate as a test of Abo's love ; but it shared the fate 


of some of "the best-laid schemes of mice and men," and 
went "all agley." 

Lincoln, according to promise, went down to Abie's, and 
asked if Miss Owens was in. Mrs. Able replied that she had 
gone to Graham's, about one and a half miles from Abie's due 
south-west. Lincoln said, "Didn't she know I was com- 
ing ? " Mrs. Able answered, " No ; " but one of the children 
said, " Yes, ma, she did, for I heard Sam tell her so." Lin- 
coln sat a while, and then went about his business. " The 
fat was now in the fire. Lincoln thought, as he was extremely 
poor, and Miss Owens veiy rich, it was a fling on him on 
that account. Abe was mistaken in his guesses, for wealth 
cut no figure in Miss Owens's eyes. Miss Owens regrettecl 
her course. Abe would not bend ; and Miss Owens wouldn't. 
She said, if she had it to do over again she would play the 
cards differently. . . . She had two sons in the Southern 
army. She said that if either of them had got into diffi- 
culty, she would willingly have gone to old Abe for re- 

In Miss Owens's letter of July 22, 1866, it will be observed 
that she tacitly admitted to Mr. Gaines Greene " the circum- 
stances in connection with Mrs. Greene and child." Al- 
though she here denies the precise words alleged to have beer> 
used by her in the little quarrel at the top of the hill, she 
does not deny the impression his conduct left upon her mind, 
but presents additional evidence of it by the relation of 
another incident of similar character, from which her infer- 
en(^s were the same. 

Fortunately we are not compelled to rely upon tradition, 
however authentic, for the facts concerning this interesting 
episode in Mr. Lincoln's life. Miss Owens is still alive to tell 
her own tale, and we ha-\-e besides his letters to the lady her- 
self. Mr. Lincoln wrote his account of it as early as 1838. 
As in duty bound, we shall permit the lady to speak first. 
At her particular request, her present name and residence 
are suppressed. 


, May 1, 1966. 

Mb. W. II. IIerndon. 

Dear Sir, — After quite a struggle with my feelings, I have at last decided 
to send you the letters in my possession written by Mr. Lincoln, believing, as 
1 do, that you are a gentleman of honor, and will faithfully abide by all you 
have said. 

My associations with your lamented friend were in Menard County, whilst 
visiting a sister, who then resided near Petersburg. I have learned that my 
maiden name is now in your possession ; and you have ere this, no doubt, 
been informed that I am a native Kentuckian. 

As regards Mis« Rutled^c, I cannot tell you any thing, shi having died 
previous to my acquaintance with Mr. Lincoln ; :ind I do not now recollect 
of ever hearing him mention her name. Please return the letters at yom- 
•earliest convenience. 

Very respectfu."./ yours, 

M.A.RT S. . 

, May 22, 1866. 

Mk. W. H. IlEBNDOJi. 

Ml/ dear Sir, — Really you catechise me in true lawyer style ; but I feel 
you will have the goodness to excuse me if I decline answering all your 
questions in detail, being well assured that few women would have ceded as 
much as I have under all the circumstances. 

You say you have heard why our acquaintance terminated as it did. I, 
too, have lieard the same bit of gossip; but I never used the remark which 
Madam Humor says I did to Mr. Lincoln. 1 think I did on one occasion 
say to my sister, who was very anxious for us to be married, that I thought 
Mr. Lincoln was deficient in those little links which make up the chain of 
woman's happiness, — at least, it was so in my case. Not that I believed it 
proceeded from a lack of goodness of heart : but his training had been dif- 
ferent from mir. ; hence there was not that congeniality which would other- 
wise have existed. 

From his own showing, you perceive that his heart and hand were at my 
disposal ; and I suppose that my feelings were not sufficiently enlisted to 
have the matter consummated. About the beginning of the year 1S38 I left 
Illii;ols, at which time our acquaintance and correspondence ceaced with- 
out ever again being renewed. 

My father, who resided in Green County, Kentucky, was a gentleman of 
considerable means ; and I am persuaded that few persons placed a higher 
estimate on education than he did 

Respectfully yours, 

Maky S. 

, July 22, 1866. 

Mr. W. H. Herndon. 

Dear Sir, — 1 do not think that you arc pertinacious in asking the question 
relative to old Mrs. Bowlin Greene, because I wish to set you right on that 
question. Your information, no doubt, came through my cousin, Mr. Gaines 
Greene, who visited us last winter. Whilst here, he was laughing at me 
aham Mr. Lincoln, and among other things spoke about the circumstance in 
connection with Mrs. Greene and child. My impression is now that I tacitly 
admitted it, for it was a season of trouble with me, and I gave but little 
heed to the matter. We never had any hard feelings toward each other lliat 
1 know of. Ou no occasion did I say to Mr. Lincoln that I did not believe 
he would make a kind husband, because he did not tender his services to 
Mrs. Greene in helping of her carry her babe. As I said to you in a former 
letter, I thought him lacking in smaller attentions. One circumstance pre- 
sents itself just now to my mind's eye. There was a company of us going 
to Uncle BHly Greene's. Mr. Lincoln was riding with me ; and we had a 
very bad branch to cross. The other gentlemen were very officious in seeing 
that their partners got over safely. We were behind, he riding in, never 
looking back to see how 1 got along. When I rode up beside him, I 
remarked, " You are a nice fellow 1 I suppose you did not care whether my 
neck was broken or not." lie laughingly replied (I suppose by way of com- 
pliment) that he knew I was plenty smart to take care of myself. 

In many things he was sensitive, almost to a fault. He told me of an 
incident : that he was crossing a prairie one day, and saw before him " a hog 
tnired down," to use his own language. He was rather " fixed up ; " and 
he resolved that he would pass on without looking towards the shoat. After 
he had gone by, he said the feeling was irresistible ; and he had to look 
back, and the poor thing seemed to say wistfully, " There, now, my last hope 
is gone ; " that he deliberately got down, and relieved it from its difficulty. 

In many things we were congenial spirits. In politics we saw eye to eye, 
though since then we differed as widely as the South is from the North. 
But raethinks I hear you say, " Save me from a political woman ! " So saij I. 

The last message I ever received from him was about a year after we 
parted in Illinois. Mrs. Able visited Kentucky ; and he said to her in Spring- 
field, " Tell your sister that I think she was a great fool, because she did 
not stay here, and marry me." Characteristic of the man. 

Respectfully yours, 

Mary S. . 

Vasdalia, Dec. 13, 1836. 
Mary, — I hare been sick ever since my arrival, or I should have written 
sooner. It is but little difference, however, as I have very lidle even yet to 
write. And more, the longer I can avoid the mortification of looking in the 


post-office for your letter, and not finding it, the better. You see I am mad 
about that old le.lteT yet. I don't like very well to risk you again. I'll try 
you once more, anyhow. 

The new State House is not yet finished, and consequently the Legisla- 
ture is doing little or nothing. The Governor delivered an inflammatory 
political message, and it is expected there will be some sparring between the 
parties about it as soon as the two Houses get to business. Taylor delivered 
up his petitions for the new county to one of our members this morning. I 
am told he despairs of its success, on account of all the members from Mor- 
gan County opposing it. There are names enough on the petition, 1 think, 
to justify the members from our county in going lor it; but if the members 
from Morgan oppose it, which they say they will, the chance will be bad. 

Our chance to take the seat of government to Springfield is better than 1 
expected. An internal-improvement convention was held here since we met, 
which recommended a loan of several million of dollars, on the faith of the 
State, to construct railroads. Some of the Legislature are for it, and some 
against it : which has the majority 1 cannot tell. There is great strife and 
struggling for the office of the United States Senator here at tliis time. It is 
probable we shall case their pains in a few days. The opposition men have no 
candidate of their own; and consequently they will smile as complacently at 
the angry snarl of the contending Van-Buren candidates and their respective 
friends, as the Christian does at Satan's rage. You recollect that I men- 
tioned at the outset of this letter that I had been unwell. That is the fact, 
though I believe I am about well now; but that, with other things I cannot 
account for, have conspired, and have gotten my spirits so low that I feel 
that I would rather be any place in the world than here. I really cannot 
endure the thought of staying here ten weeks. Write back as soon as you 
get this, and, if possible, say something that will please me ; for really I have 
not been pleased since I left you. This letter b so dry and stupid that I 
am ashamed to send it, but with my present feelings I cannot do any better. 

Give my best respects to Mr. and Mrs. Able and family. 

Your friend, 


Sprinofiei.d, May 7, ia37. 
Miss Mary S. Owe.ns. 

Friend Marij, — I have commenced two letters to send you before this, 
both of wliich displeased me belore I got half done, and so I tore them up. 
The first I thought was not serious enough, and the second was on the other 
extreme. I shall semi this, turn out as it may. 

This thing of living in Springfield is rather a dull business, after all ; at 
least, it is so to me. I am quite as lonesome here as I ever was anywhere ia 
my life. I have been spoken to by but one woman since I've been here, and 
should not have been by her, if she could have avoided it. I've never been 


to clinrch yet, nor probably shall not be soon. I stay away because I am 
conscious I shoulil not know how to behave myself. 

I am often thinking about what we said of your coming to live at Sprincr. 
field. I am afraid you would not be satisfied. There is a great deal of flour- 
ishing about in carriages here, which it would be your doom to see without 
sharing it. You would have to be poor, without the means of hiding your 
poverty. Do you believe you could bear that patiently ? Whatever woman 
may cast her lot with mine, should any ever do so, it is my intention to do 
all in my power to make her hippy and contented ; and there is nothing 
I can imagine that would make me more unhappy than to fail in the effort, I 
know I should be much happier with you than the way I am, provided I saw 
no signs of discontent in you. What you have said to mc may have been 
in the way of jest, or I may have misunderstood it. If so, then let it be 
forgotten ; if otherwise, I much wish you would think seriously before you 
decide. For my part, I have already decided. What I have said I will 
most positively abide by, provided you wish it. My opinion is, that you had 
better not do it. You have not been accustomed to hardship, and it may be 
more severe than yo\i now imagine. I know you are capable of thinking 
correctly on any subject; and, if you deliberate maturely upon this before you 
decide, then I am willing to abide your decision. 

You must write me a good long letter after you get this. You have 
nothing else to do ; and, though it might not seem interesting to you after 
you have written it, it would be a good deal of company to me in this 
" busy wilderness." Tell your sister, I don't want to hear any more about 
selling out and moving, Tliat gives me the hypo whenever I think of it. 

Yours, &c., 


Springfield, Aug. 16, 1337. 
Fkien'd Mahy, — You will no doubt think it rather strange that I should 
write you a letter on the same day on which we parted ; and I can only 
account for it by supposing that seeing you lately makes me think of you more 
than usual ; while at our late meeting we had but few expressions of thoughts. 
You must know that I cannot see you, or think of you, with entire indiffer- 
ence ; and yet it may be that you arc mistaken in regard to what my real 
feelings toward you are. If I knew you were not, I should not trouble you 
with this letter. Perhaps any other man would know enough without further 
information ; but I consider it my peculiar right to plead ignorance, and your 
boundcn duty to allow the plea. I want in all cases to do right ; and most 
particularly so in all cases with women. I want, at this particular time, 
more than any thing else, to do right with you : and if I knew it would be 
doing right, as I rather suspect it would, to let you alone, 1 would do it. 
And, for the purpose of making the matter as plain as possible, I now say 


that you can now drop the suljject, dismiss your thoughts (if you ever had 
any) (Vom int' forever, and leave this letter unanswered, without oallin; forth 
one accusin;j; murmur from me. And I will even j;o further, and say, that, 
if it will add any thing to your comfort or peace of mind to do so, it is 
my sincere wish that you should. Dj not understand by this that I wish to 
cut your acquaintance. I mean no suuh thiu;^. What I da wish is, that 
our further acquaintance shall depend upon yourself. If such further ai;quainfc- 
ancc would constitute nothing to your happiness, I am sure it would not to 
mine. If you feel youv.self in any de^rea bouii 1 to me, I am now willing 
to release you, provided you wish it ; wliile, on the other hand. I am willing, 
and even an.xious, to bind you faster, if I can be convinced that it will, in 
any considerable decree, add to your h.ippinoss. Tliis, indeed, is the whole 
question with me. Nothing would make me more miserable thin to believe 
you miserable, — nothin:; more h.ippy than to Icnow you were so. 

In what I have now said, I think I cannot be misunderstood ; and to make 
myself understood is the only object of this letter. 

If it suits you best to not answer this, farewell. A lon'^ life and a 
merry one attend you. But, if you conclude to write back, speak as plainly 
as I do. There can be neither harm nor danger in saying to me any thing 
you think, just in tlic manner you think it. 

My resperts to your sister. Your friend, 


After his second meeting with Mary, Mr. Lincoln had little 
time to prosecute his addresses in person ; for early in Decem- 
ber he was called away to his scat in the Legislature ; ])ut, if 
his tongue was silent in the cause, his pen was busy. 

During the session of tlie Legislature of 180G-7, Mr. Lincoln 
made the acquaintance of Mrs. (~). IL Browning, whose lius- 
band was also a member. The acquaintance ripened into friend- 
ship, and tliat winter and the next Mr. Lincohi spent a great 
deal of time in social intercourse with the Brownings. Mrs. 
Browning knew nothing as yet of the affair with Miss Owens ; 
but as the latter progressed, and Lincohi became more and 
more involved, she noticed the ebb of his spirits, and often 
raUied him as the victim of .some secret but consuming pas- 
sion. With this for his excuse, Lincoln wrote her, after the 
adjournment of the Legislature, a full and connected account 
of the manner in which he had latterly been making " a fool 
of" himself. For many reasons the publication of this letter 
is an extremely painful duty. If it could be withheld, and 


the act decently reconciled to the conscience of a biographer 
professing to be honest and candid, it should never see the 
light in these pages. Its grotesque humor, its coarse exagger- 
ations in describing the person of a lady whom the writer was 
willing to marry, its imputation of toothless and weather- 
beaten old age to a woman really young and handsome, its 
utter lack of that delicacy of tone and sentiment which one 
natui-ally expects a gentleman to adopt when he thinks proper 
to discuss the merits of his late mistress, — aU these, and its 
defective orthography, it would certainly be more agreeable 
to suppress than to publish. But, if we begin by omitting 
or. mutilating a document which sheds so broad a light upon 
one part of his life and one phase of his character, why 
may we not do the like as fast and as often as the tempta- 
tions arise ? and where shall the process cease ? A biography 
worth writing at all is worth writing fully and honestly ; and 
the writer who suppresses or mangles the truth is no better 
than he who bears false witness in any other capacity. 

In April, 1838, Miss Owens finally departed from Illinois ; 
and in that same month Mr. Lincoln wrote Mrs. Browning ; — 

Spbingfield, April 1, 1833. 

De.\k Madam, — TTithout appologising for being egotistical, I shall make 
the history of so much of my life as has elapsed since I saw you the subject 
of this letter. Aud, by the way, I now discover, that, in order to give a full 
aud inteligible account of the things I have done and suffered since I saw 
you, 1 shall necessarily have to relate some that happened before. 

It was, then, in the autumn of 1836, that a married lady of my acquaint- 
ance, and who was a great friend of mine, being about to pay a visit to her 
father & other relatives residing . in Kentucky, proposed to me that on her 
return she would bring a sister of hers with her oil condition that I would 
engage to become her brother-in-law wiili all convenient dcspatoli. T, of 
course, accepted the proposal, for you know I could not have done other- 
• wise, had I really been averse to it; but privately, between you and me, 
1 was most confoundedly well pleased with the project. I had seen the 
said sister some three years before, thought her inteligent and agreeable, 
and saw no good objection to plodding life through hand in hand with her. 
Time passed on, the lady took her journey, and in due time returned, sister 
in company, sure enough. This astoni.shed me a little ; for it appeared to mc 
that her coming so readily showed that she was a trifle too willing; but, on 


refleotion, it ijccurred to me tliat sill! mi^it have becu prevailed on bv her 
married sister to come, witliout any thiu;; coiiocrniiiij me ever having been 
mentioucd to her ; and so T cuiiclule 1, that, ii' no other objection presented 
itself, I would consent to wave this. All this occurred to me on heariitg of her 
arrival in the neighborhood ; for, be it remembered, I had not yet seen her, 
except about three years previous, as above mentioned. In a few days we 
had an interview ; and, although I had seen her before, she did not look as 
my imagination had pictured her. I knew she was oversize, but she now 
appeared a lair matcli lor FalstalV. I knew she was called au " old maid," and 
I felt uo doubt of the truth of at least half of the appelation ; but now, 
when I beheld her, I could not for my life avoid thinking of my mother ; and 
this, not from withered feature.<, tor bar skin was too full of fat to permit of 
its contracting into wrinkles, but from her want of teetii, weather-beaten 
appearance in general, and from a kind of notion that ran in my liead that 
nothing could have commenced at the size of infancy and reacheil her pres- 
ent bulk ill loss than thirly-five or forty years; an 1, hi sh'jrt, 1 was not at 
all pleased with her. But what could I do? I had told her sister that I 
would take her for better or for worse ; and 1 made a jioint of honor and 
conscience in all things to stick to my word, especially if others had been 
induced to ajt on it, which in this case 1 had no doubt ihi-y had ; lor I was 
now fah-ly convinced that no other man on earth would have her, and lumce 
the conclusion that they were bent on holding me to my b.irgain. '• Well," 
thought I, "I have said it, and, bo the consc(iueaces what they may, it shall 
not be my fault if I fail to do it." At once 1 determined to consider her my 
wife: and, this done, all my powers of discovei'y were put to work in search 
of perfections in her which might be fairly sett oil' against her defects. I 
tried to imagine her handsome, which, but for her unfortunate corpulency, 
was actually true. E.xclusivc of this, no woman that I have ever seen has a 
fia(!r face. 1 also tried to convince niysell' that the mind was much more to 
be valued than the person ; and in this she was not inferior, as I could dis- 
covcT, to any with whom I had been ac([uainte<l. 

Shortly after this, without attempting to ceme to any positive understand- 
ing with her, I sat out for Vandalia, when and where you first saw me. Dur- 
ing my stay tlierc I had letters from her which did not change my opinion 
of either her intelect or intention, but, on the contrary, confirmed it in 

All this while, although 1 was fi-ted, " firm as the surge-repelling roi-k," in 
my resolution, I found 1 was continually repenting the rashness which had 
led me to make it. Through life, I have been in no bondage, either real or 
imaginary, from the thraldom of which I so much desired to be free. After 
my return home, I saw nothing to change my opinions of her in any particu- 
lar. She was the same, and so was I. I now spent ray time in planing how 
I might get along through life after my contemplated change of circumstances 
should have taken place, and how I might procrastinate the evil day for a 


time, which I really dreaded as much, perhaps more, than an Irishman does 
die halter. 

After all my suffering upon this deeply-interesting subject, here I am, 
wholly, unexpectedly, completely, out of the " scrape ; " and I now want to 
know if you can guess how I got out of it, — out, clear, in every sense of the 
term ; no violation of word, honor, or conscience. 1 don't believe you can 
guess, and so I might as well tell you at once. As the lawyer says, it was 
done in the manner following, to wit : After I had delayed the matter as 
long as I thought I could in honor do (which, by the way, had brought me 
round into the last fall), I concluded I might as well bring it to a consuma- 
tion without further delay ; and so I mustered my resolution, and made the 
proposal to her direct : but, shocking to relate, she answered, No. At first 
I supposed she did it through an affectation of modesty, which I thought 
but ill became her under the peculiar circumstances of her case ; but, on my 
renewal of the charge, I found she repeled it with greater firmness than 
before. I tried it again and again, but with the same success, or rather with 
the same want of success. 

I finally was forced to give it up ; at which I verry unexpectedly found 
myself mortified almost beyond endurance. I was mortified, it seemed to 
me, in a hundred diflerent ways. My vanity was deeply wounded by the 
reflection that I had so long been too stupid to discover her intentions, and 
at the same time never doubting that I understood them perfectly ; and also 
that she, whom I had taught myself to believe nobody else would have, had 
actually rejected me with all my fancied greatness. And, to cap the whole, 
I then, for the first lime, began to suspect that I was really a little in love 
with her. But let it all go. I'll try and ouilive it. Others have been made 
fools of by the girls ; but this can never with truth be said of me. I most 
emphatically, in this instance, made a fool of myself. I have now come to 
the conclusion never again to think of marrying, and for this reason : I can 
never be satisfied with any one who would be blockhead enough to have me. 

When you receive this, write me a long yarn about something to amuse 
me. Give my respects to Mr. Browning. 

Your sincere friend, 

A. Lincoln. 
Miis. 0. U. Brow.m.\o. 


THE majority of Mr. Lincoln's biographers — and they 
are many and credulous — tell us that he walked from 
New Salem to Vandalia, a distance of one hundred miles, 
to take his seat, for the first time, in the Legislature of 
the State. But that is au innocent mistake ; for he was 
resolved to appear with as much of the dignity of the senator 
as his circumstances would permit. It was for this very pur- 
pose that he had borrowed the two hundred dollars from Cole- 
man Smoot ; and, when the choice between riding and walking 
presented itself, he sensibly enough got into the stage, with 
his new clothes on, and rode to the scene of his labors. 

When he amved there, he found a singular state of affairs. 
Duncan had been chosen Governor at the recent August elec- 
tion by " the whole-hog Jackson men ; " but he was absent 
in Congress during the whole of the campaign ; and, now that 
he came to the duties of his office, it was discovered that he 
had been all the while an anti-Jackson man, and was quite 
willing to aid the ^Vhigs in furtherance of some of their worst 
schemes. These schemes were tlien just beginning to be 
hatched in great numbers ; but in due time they were enacted 
into laws, and prepared Illinois with the proper weigiits of 
pubhc debt and " rag " currency, to sink her deeper than her 
neighbors into the miseries of financial ruin in 18^17. The 
speculating fever was just reaching Illinois ; the land and 
town-lot business had barely taken shape at Chicago ; and 
State banks and multitudinous internal improvements were 
yet to be invented. But this Legislature was a very wise one 


in its own conceit, and was not slow to launch out with the 
first of a series of magnificent experiments. It contented 
itself, however, with chartering a State bank, with a capital 
of one million five hundred thousand dollars ; rechartering, 
with a capital of three hundred thousand dollars, the Shaw- 
neetown Bank, which had broken twelve years before ; and 
providing for a loan of five hundred thousand dollars, on the 
credit of the State, wherewith to make a beginning on the 
Illinois and JNIichigan Canal. The bill for the latter project 
was drawn and introduced by Senator James M. Strode, the 
gentleman who described with such moving eloquence the 
horrors of Stillman's defeat. These measures Gov. Ford con- 
siders " the beginning of all the bad legislation which followed 
in a few years, and which, as is well known, resulted in gen- 
eral ruin." Mr. Lincoln favored them all, and faithfully 
followed out the policy of which they were the inauguration 
at subsequent sessions of the same body. For the present, 
nevertheless, he was a silent member, although he was 
assigned a prominent place on the Committee on Public 
Accounts and Expenditures. The bank-charters were drawn 
by a Democrat who hoped to find his account in the issue ; 
all the bills were passed by a Legislature " nominally " Demo- 
cratic ; but the Board of Canal Commissioners was composed 
exclusively of Whigs, and the Whigs straightway assumed 
control of the banks. 

It was at a special session of this Legislature that Lincoln 
first saw Stephen A. Douglas, and, viewing his active little 
person with immense amusement, pronounced him " the least 
man he ever saw." Douglas had come into the State (from 
Vermont) only the previous year, but, having studied law 
for several months, considered himself eminentl}' qualified to_ 
be State's attorney for the district in which he lived, and 
was now come to Vandalia for that purpose. The place was 
already filled by a man of considerable distinction ; but the 
incumbent remaining at home, possibly in blissful ignorance 
of his neighbor's design, was easily supplanted by the supple 


It is the misfortune of legislatures ia general, as it was in 
those days the peculiar misfortune of the Legislature of Illi- 
nois, to be beset by a multitude of gentlemen engaged in the 
exclusive business of "log-rolling." Chief among the "roll- 
ers" were some of the most "distinguished" members, each 
assisted by an influential delegation from the district, bank, 
or " institution " to be benefited by the legislation proposed. 
An expert "log-roller," an especially wily and persuasive 
person, who could depict the merits of his scheme with rose- 
ate but delusive eloquence, was said to cM-iy " a gourd of 
'possum fat," and the unhappy victim of his art was said to be 
^^ greased and swalloivcd." 

It is not to be supposed that anybody ever succeeded in 
anointing a single square inch of Mr. Lincoln's person with 
the " fat " that deluded ; but historians aver that " the Long 
Nine," of whom he was the longest and cleverest, possessed 
"gourds" of extraordinary dimensions, and distributed 
"grease" of marvellous virtues. But of that at another 

In 1830 Mr. Lincoln was again a candidate for the Legisla- 
ture ; his colleagues on the Wliig ticket in Sangamon being, 
for Representatives, John Dawson, William F. Elkin, N. W. 
Edwards, Andrew McCormick, Dan Stone, and R. L. Wilson; 
and for Senators, A. G. Ilerndon and Job Fletcher. They 
were all elected but one, and he was beaten by John Calhoun. 

Mr. Lincoln opened the campaign by the following mani- 
festo : — 

New Salem, June 13, 1836. 
To THE Editor ok "The Journal." 

In your paper of last Saturday, I see a communication over the signature 
of "Many Voters," in which the candiJates who are announce<l in the 
" Journal " are called upon to " show their hands." Agreed. Here's mine. 

I go for all sharing the privilej;es of the government wlio assist in bearing 
its burdens. Consequently, I go for admitting all whiles to the right of 
BufTrage who pay taxes or bear arms (by no iiiKans exduding females) . 

If elected, I shall consider the whole people of Sangamon my constitu- 
ents, as well those that oppose as those that support me. 

While acting as their Representative, I shall be governed by their will on 
all subjects upon which I have the means of knowing what their will is; 


and upon all others I shall do what my own judgment teaches me will best 
advance their interests. Whether elected or not, I go lor distributing the 
proceeds of the sales of the public lands to the several States, to enable our 
State, ill common with others, to dig canals and construct railroads without 
borrowing money and paying the interest on it. 

If (dive on the first Monday in November, I shall vote for Hugh L. White 
for President. 

Very respectfully, 

A. Lincoln. 

The elections were held on the first Monday in August, 
and the campaign began about six weeks or two months 
before. Popular meetings were advertised in " The Sanga- 
mon Journal" and "The State Register," — organs of the re- 
spective parties. Not unfreqnently the meetings were joint, 
— composed of both parties, — when, as Lincoln would say, 
the candidates " put in their best licks," while the audience 
" rose to the height of the great argument " with cheers, 
taunts, cat-calls, fights, and other exercises appropriate to the 
free and untrammelled enjoyment of the freeman's boon. 

The candidates travelled from one grove to another on 
horseback ; and, when the " Long Nine " (all over six feet in 
height) took the road, it must have been a goodly sight to see. 

" I heard Lincoln make a speech," says James Gourly, " in 
Mechanicsburg, Sangamon County, in 1836. John Neal had 
a fight at the time: the roughs got on him, and Lincoln 
jumped in and saw fair play. AVe staid for dinner at 
Green's, close to Mechanicsburg, — drank whiskey sweetened 
with honey. There the questions discussed were internal 
improvements. Whig principles." (Gourly was a great friend 
of Lincoln's, for Gourly had -had a foot-race " with H. B. 
Truett, now of California," and Lincoln had been his 
"judge ; " and it was a remarkable circumstance, that nearly 
everybody for whom Lincoln "judged " came out ahead.) 

" I heard Mr. Lincoln during the same canvass," con- 
tinues Gourly. " It was at the Court House, where the State 
House now stands. The Whigs and Democrats had a general 
quarrel then and there. N. W. Edwards drew a pistol on 
Achilles Morris." But Gourly's account of this last scene is 


unsatisfactory, although the witness is willing ; and we turn 
to Lincoln's colleague, Mr. Wilson, for a better one. " The 
Saturday evening preceding the election 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 that N. W. Edwards, one of the candidates on 
the Whig side, deemed untrue. P^dwards climbed on a table, 
so as to be seen by Early, and by every one in the house, and 
at the top of liis voice told Early that the charge was false. 
The excitement that followed was intense, — so much so, that 
fighting men thought that a duel must settle the difficulty. 
Mr. Lincoln, by the programme, followed Early. He took 
up the subject in dispute, and handled it fairl}-, and with 
such ability that every one was astonished and jileased. So 
that difficulty ended there. Then, for the first time, devel- 
oped, by the excitement of the occasion, he spoke in that 
tenor intonation of voice that ultimately settled down into 
that clear, shrill monotone style of speaking that enabled his 
audience, however large, to hear distinctly the lowest sound 
of his voice." 

It was during this campaign, possibly at the same meet- 
ing, that Mr. Speed heard him reply to George Forquer. 
Forquer had been a leading Whig, one of their foremost men 
in the Legislature of 1834, but had then recently clianged 
sides, and thereuiion was appointed Register of the Land 
Office at Springfield. Mr. Forquer was an astonishing man : 
he not oidy astonished the i)eople by " changing his coat in 
politics," but by building the best frame-house in Springfield, 
and erecting over it the only lightning-rod the entire region 
could boast of. At this meeting he listened attentively to 
Mr. Lincoln's first speech, and was much annoyed b\- the 
transcendent power with which the awkward young man 
defended the principles he had himself so lately abandoned. 
" The speech " produced a profound i-npression, " especially 
upon a large number of Lincoln's friends and admirers, who 
had come in from the countiy " expressly to hear and ap- 
plaud him. 


"At the conclusion of Lincoln's speech'" (we quote from 
Mr. Speed), " the crowd was dispersing, when Forquer rose 
and asked to be heard. He commenced by saying that the 
young man would have to be taken down, and was sorry that 
the task devolved upon him. He then proceeded to answer 
Lincoln's speech in a style, whicli, while it was able and 
fair, yet, in his whole manner, asserted and claimed superi- 
ority. Lincoln stood near him, and watched him during the 
whole of his speech. When Forquer concluded, he took the 
stand again. I have often heard him since, in court and 
before the people, but never saw him appear so well as upon 
that occasion. He replied to Mr. Forquer with great dignity 
and force ; but I shall nevor forget the conclusion of that 
speech. Turning to Mr. Forquer, he said, that he had 
commenced his speech by announcing that ' this young man 
would have to be taken down.' Turning then to the crowd, 
he said, ' It is for you, not for me, to say whether I am up 
or down. The gentleman has alluded to my being a young 
man : I am older in years than I am in the tricks and trades 
of politicians. I desire to live, and I desire place and dis- 
tinction as a politician ; but I would rather die now, than, 
like the gentleman, live to see the day that I would have to 
erect a lightning-rod to protect a guilty conscience from an 
offended God.' " 

He afterwards told Speed that the sight of that same rod 
" had led him to the study of the properties of electricity and 
the utility of the rod as a conductor." 

Among the Democratic orators stumping the county at this 
time was Dick Taj'lor, a pompous gentleman, who went abroad 
in superb attire, ruffled shirts, ricli vest, and immense watch- 
chains, with shining and splendid pendants. But Dick was a 
severe Democrat in theory, made much of " the hard-handed 
yeomanry," and flung many bitiug sarcasms upon the aristo- 
cratic pretensions of the Whigs, — the "rag barons" and the 
manufacturing " lords." He was one day in the midst of a 
particularly aggravating declamation of this sort, " when Abe 
began to feel devilish, and thought he would take the wind out 


of Dick's sails bj- a little sport." He therefore " edged " slj'lj 
up to the speaker, and suddenly catching his vest bj' the 
lower corner, and giving it a sharp pull upward, it opened 
wide, and out fell upon the plalfomi, in full view of the aston- 
ished audience, a mass of rufiled shirt, gold watch, chains, 
seals, and glittering jewels. Jim iSIatbeny was there, and 
nearly broke his heart with mirth. " The crowd couldn't 
stand it, but shouted uproariously." It must have been then 
that Abe delivered the following speech, although Niniaii W. 
Edwards places it in 18-40 : — 

" While he [Col. Taylor] was making these charges against 
the Wliigs over the country, riding in line carriages, wearing 
ruffled shirts, kid gloves, massive gold watch-chains, with 
large gold seals, and flourishing a heavy gold-headed cane, he 
[Lincoln] was a poor boy, hired on a flatboat at eight dollars 
a month, and had only one pair of breeches to his back, and 
they Mere buckskin,— 'and,' said Lincoln, 'if you know the 
nature of buckskin, when wet and dried by the sun, they will 
shrink, — and mine kept shrinking, until they left several 
inches of m}' legs bare between the tops of my socks and the 
lower part of my breeches ; and, 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 j-ou call this aristocracy, I plead guilty to the charge.' " 

Hitherto Sangamon County had been uniformly Demo- 
cratic ; but at this election the Whigs carried it by an average 
majority of about four hundred, Mr. Lincoln receiving a 
larger vote than any other candidate. The result was in 
part due to a transitory and abortive attempt of the anti- 
Jackson and anti-Van-Buren men to build up a third party, 
with Judge White of Tennessee as its leader. This party was 
not supposed to be wedded to the "specie circular," was 
thought to be open to conviction on the bank question, clam- 
ored loudly about the business interests and general distrevs 
of the country, and was actually in favor of the distribution 
of the proceeds of the sales of the public lands. In the 
nomenclature of Illinois, its members niighi Lave been called 


"nominal Jackson men;" that is to say, men Tvho continued 
to act with the Democratic party, while disavowing its car- 
dinal principles, — traders, trimmers, cautions scliismatics who 
argued the cause of Democracy from a brief furnished by the 
enemy. The diversion in favor of White was just to the 
hand of the Whigs, and they aided it in every practicable 
way. Always for an expedient when an expedient would 
answer, a compromise when a compromise would do, the 
" hand " Mr. Lincoln " showed " at the opening of the cam- 
paign contained the " White " card among the highest of its 
trumps. " If alive on the first Monday in November, I shall 
vote for Hugh L. White for President." A number of local 
Democratic politicians assisting him to play it, it won the 
game in 1836, and Sangamon County went over to the 

At this election Mr. Douglas was made a Representative 
from Morgan County, along with Col. Hardin, from whom he 
had the year before taken the State's attorneyship. The 
event is notable principally because Mr. Douglas was nomi- 
nated by a convention, and not by the old system of self- 
announcement, which, under the influence of Eastern immi- 
grants, like himself, full of party zeal, and attached to the 
customs of the places whence they came, was gradually but 
surely falling into disfavor. Mr. Douglas served only one ses- 
sion, and then became Register of the Land Office at Spring- 
field. The next year he was nominated for Congress in the 
Peoria District, under the convention system, and in the same 
year Col. Stephenson was nominated for Governor in the 
same way. The Whigs were soon compelled to adopt the 
device which they saw marshalling the Democrats in a state 
of complete discipline ; whilst they themselves were disorgan- 
ized b}' a host of volunteer candidates and the operations of 
innumerable cliques and factions. At first " it was consid- 
ered a Yankee contrivance," intended to abridge the liberties 
of the people ; but the Whig "people " were as fond of vic- 
tory, offices, and power as their enemies were, and in due 
time they took very kindly to this effectual means of gaining 


them. A speech of Ebenezer Peck of Chicago, " Iwfore a 
great meeting of the lobby, during the special session of 
lSo.")-6 at Vandalia," being a production of special ingenuity 
and power, is supposed to have contributed largely to tlio 
introduction of the convention system into the middle and 
southern parts of the State. Mr. Peck was then a fervent 
Democrat, whom the Whigs delighted to malign as a Cana- 
dian monarchist ; but in after times he was the fast and able 
friend of tiieir great leader, Abi'aham Lincoln. 

One of the first and worst effects of the stricter organiza- 
tion of parties in Illinois, as well as in other States, was the 
strong diversion of public attention from State to Federal 
affairs. Individual candidates were no longer required to 
" show their hands : " they accepted '"platforms" when they 
accepted nominations; and without a nomination it was mere 
quixotisiu to stand at all. District, State, and national con- 
ventions, acting and re-acting upon one another, produced a 
concert of sentiment and conduct which overlaid local issues, 
and repressed independent proceedings. This improved party 
machinery supplied the readiest and most effective means of 
distributing the rapidly-increasing patronage of the Federal 
Executive ; and those who did not wish to be cut off from its 
enjoyment could do no less than re-afiBrra with becoming fer- 
vor, in their local asseiublages, the latest deliverance of the 
faith by the central authority. The promoters of heresies 
and schisms, the blind leaders who misled a county or a 
State convention, and seduced it into the declaration of 
principles of its own, had their seats contested in the next 
general council of the i^arly, were solemnly sat upon, con- 
demned, " delivered over to Satan to be buffeted," and cast 
out of the household of faith, to wander in the wilderness and 
to live upon husks. It was like a feeble African bishop im- 
puting heresy to the Christian world, with Rome at its head. 
A man like Mr. Lincoln, who earnestly " desired place and 
distinction as a politician," labored without hope while his 
party affinities remained the subject of a reasonable doubt. 
He nuist be " a whole-hog man " or nothing, a Whig or a 


Democrat. Mr. Lincoln chose his company with commenda- 
ble decision, and wasted no tender regrets upon his " nomi- 
nal" Democratic friends. For White against Harrison, in 
November, 1836, he led the Whigs into action when the Legis- 
lature met in December ; and when the hard-cider campaign 
of 1840 commenced, with its endless meetings and processions, 
its coon-skins and log-cabins, its intrigue, trickery, and fun, liis 
musical voice rose loudest above the din for " Old Tippeca- 
noe ; " and no man did better service, or enjoyed those memor- 
able scenes -nore, than he who was to be the beneficiary of a 
similar revival in 18G0. 

When this legislature met in the winter of 1836-7, the 
bank and internal-improvement infatuation had taken full 
possession of a majority of the people, as well as of the politi- 
cians. To be sure, " Old Hickory " had given a temporary 
check to the wild speculations in Western land by the specie 
circular, about the close of his administration, whereby gold and 
silver were made "land-ofiSce money;" and the Government 
declined to exchange any more of the public domain for the 
depreciated paper of rotten and explosive banks. Millions 
of notes loaned by the banks on insufficient security or no 
security at all were by this timely measure turned back into 
the banks, or converted to the uses of a more legitimate and 
less dangerous business. But, even if the specie circular had 
not been repealed, it would probably have proved impotent 
against the evils it was designed to prevent, after the passage 
of the Act distributing among the States the surplus (or 
supposed surplus) revenues of the Federal Government. 

The last dollar of the old debt was. paid in 1833. There 
were from time to time large unexpended and unappropriated 
balances in the treasury. What should be done with them ? 
There was no sub-treasury as yet, and questions concerning 
the mere safe-keeping of these moneys excited the most tre- 
mendous political contests. The LTnited States Bank had 
always had the use of the cash in the treasury in the form of 
deposits ; but the bank abused its trust, — used its enormous 
power over the currency and exchanges of the country to 


achieve political results in its own interest, and, l)j^ its mani- 
fold sins and iniquities, compelled Gen. Jackson to remove the 
dei)osits. Ultimately the bank took shelter in Pennsylvania, 
where it began a new fraudulent life under a surreptitious 
clause tacked to the end of a road law on its passage through 
the General Assembly. In due time the "beast," as Col. 
Benton loved to call it, died in its chosen lair a shameful 
and ignominious death, cheating the public with a show of 
solvency to the end, aud leaving a fine array of bill-holders 
and depositors to mourn one of the most remarkable delusions 
of modern times. 

Withdrawn, or rather withheld (lor they were never with- 
drawn), from the Bank of the United States, the revenues 
of the Federal Government were deposited as fast as they 
accrued in specie-paying State banks. They were paid in the 
notes of the thousand banks, good, bad, and indifferent, whose 
promises to pay constituted the paper currency of the day. 
It was this money which the Wliigs, aided by Democratic 
recusants, proposed to give away to the States. They passed 
an Act requiring it to be deposited with the States, — osten- 
sibly as a safe and convenient method of keeping it; but 
nobody believed that it would ever be called for, or paid if it 
was. It was simply an extraordinary largess ; and pending 
the very embarrassment caused by itself, when the govern- 
ment Imd not a dollar wherewith to pay even a pension, and 
the temporary expedient was an issue of treasury notes agaiust 
the better judgment of the party in power, the possibiiit}^ of 
withdrawing these deposits was never taken into the account. 
The Act went into effect on the 1st of January, 1837, and 
•was one of the immediate causes of the suspension and disas- 
ters of that year. "The condition of our deposit banks was 
desperate, — wholly inadequate to the slightest pressure on 
their vaults in the ordinary course of business, much less that 
of meeting the daily government drafts and the approaching 
deposit of near forty miUions with the States." Nevertheless, 
the deposits began at the rate of ten millions to the quarter. 
The deposit banks " blew up ; " and all the others, including 


that of the United States, closed their doors to customers and 
bill-holders, which gave them more time to hold public meet- 
in<rs, imputing the distress of the country to the hard-money 
policy of Jackson and Van Buren, and agitating for the 
re-charter of Mr. Biddle's profligate concern as the only 
remedy human ingenuity could devise. 

It was in the month previous to the first deposit with the 
States, — about the time when Gov. Ford says, "lands and 
town-lots were the only articles of export" from Illinois; 
when the counters of Western land-offices were piled high 
with illusory bank-notes in exchange for public lands, and 
when it was believed that the West was now at last about 
to bound forward in a career of unexampled prosperity, under 
the forcing process of public improvements by the States, with 
the aid and countenance of the Federal Government,— that Mr. 
Lincoln went up to attend the first session of the new Legisla- 
ture at Vandalia. He was big with projects : his real pubUc 
service was just now about to begin. In the previous Legis- 
lature he had been silent, observant, studious. He had 
improved the opportunity so well, that of all men in this new 
body of equal a^e in the service, he was the smartest parha- 
ment'arian and the cunningest "log-roller." He was tully 
determined to identify himself conspicuously with the "lib- 
eral " le-rislation in contemplation, and dreamed of a fame 
very different from that which he actually obtained as an 
antislavery leader. It was about this time that he told his 
friend, Mr. Speed, that he aimed at the great distinction of 
being called " the De Witt Chnton of IlUnois." 

Meetings with a view to this sort of legislation had been 
held in all, or nearly all, the counties in the State during the 
preceding summer and fall. Hard-money, strict-construction, 
uo-monopoly, anti-progressive Democrats were in a sad minor- 
ity. In truth, there was little division of parties about these 
matters which were deemed so essential to the prosperity of 
a new State. There was Mr. Lincoln, and there was Mr. 
Douglas, in perfect unison as to the grand object to be accom- 
plished, but mortally jealous as to which should take the lead 


in accomplishing it. A few days before the Legislature 
assembled, " a mass convention " of the people of Sangamon 
County " instructed '" their members " to vote for a general 
iysttim of internal improvements.'' The House of Representa- 
tives organized in the morning ; and in the evening its hall 
was surrendered lo a conveution of delegates from all parts 
of tlio State, which '' devised and recommended to the Legis- 
lature a system of internal improvements, the chief feature 
of wiiich was, that it should be commensurate with the wants 
of the people." Tliis result was arrived at after two daj's of 
debate, with '• Col. Thomas Mather, of the State Bank, as 

Mr. Lincoln served on the Committee on Finance, and was 
a most laborious member, instant in season and out of season, 
for the great measures of the Whig party. It was to his indi- 
vidual exertion that the Wliigs were indebted in no small 
degree for the complete success of their favorite schemes at 
this session. A railroad from Galena to the mouth of the 
Ohio was provided for ; another from Alton lo Shawncetown; 
another from Alton to Mount Carmel ; another from Alton 
to the eastern boundary of the State towards Terre Haute ; 
another from Qnincy hy way of Springfield to the Wabash ; 
another from Bloomington to Pekin ; another from Peoria to 
Wai-saw, — in all about thirteen hundred miles. But in this 
comprehensive "system," "commensurate witli the wants of the 
people," the rivers were not to be overlookcil ; and accordingly 
the Kaskaskia, the Illinois, the Great Wabasli, the Little Wa- 
bash, and the Rock rivers were to be duly improved. To set 
these little matters in motion, a loan of eight millions of dollars 
was authorized ; and, to complete the canal from Chicago to 
Peru, another loan of four millions of dollai-s was voted at the 
same session, — two hundred thousand dollars being given as 
a gratuity to those counties which seemed to have no special 
interest in any of the foregoing projects. Work on all these 
roads was to commence, not only at the same time, but at 
both ends of each road, and at all the river-crossings. There 
were as yet no surveys of any route, no estimates, no reports 


of engineers, or even unprofessional viewers. " Progress " 
was not to wait on trifles ; capitalists were supposed to be 
lying in wait to catch these precious bonds ; the money would 
be raised in a twinkling, and being applied with all the skill 
of " a hundred De Witt Clintons," — a class of gentlemen at 
that time extremely numerous and obti-usive, — the loan would 
build the railroads, the railroads would build cities, cities 
would create farms, foreign capital would rush to so inviting 
a field, the lands would be taken up with marvellous celerity, 
and the " land-tax " going into a sinking fund, that, with 
some tolls and certain sly speculations to be made by th<j 
State, would pay principal and interest of the debt without 
ever a cent of taxation upon the people. In short, everybody 
was to be enriched, while the munificence of the State in sell- 
ing its credit and spending the proceeds would make its empty 
coffers overflow with I'ead}' money. It was a dark stjoke of 
statesmanship, a mysterious device in finance, which, whether 
from being misunderstood, or from being mismanaged, bore 
from the beginning fruits the very reverse of those it had 

A Board of Canal Commissioners was already in existence ; 
but now were established, as necessarj- parts of the new "sys- 
tem," a Board of Fund Commissioners and a Board of Com- 
missioners of Public Works. 

The capital stock of the Sliawneetown Bank was increased 
to one million seven hundred thousand dollars, and that of the 
State Bank to three million one hundred thousand dollars. The 
State took the new stock, and proposed to pay for it " with the 
surplus revenues of the United States, and the residue by a sale 
of State bonds." The banks were likewise made fiscal agencies, 
to place the loans, and generally to manage the railroad and 
canal funds. The career of these banks is an extremely 
interesting chapter in the history of Illinois, — little less so 
than the nse and collapse of the great internal-improvement 
system. But, as it has already a place in a chronicle of wider 
scope and greater merit than this, it is enough to say that in 
due time they went the way of their kind, — the State lost 


by them, and they lost by the State, iu morals as well as in 

The means used in the Legislature to pass the " system " 
deserve some notice for the instruction of posterity. " First, 
a large portion of the people were interested in the success 
of the canal, which was threatened, if other sections of the 
State were denied the improvements demanded by them ; and 
thus the friends uf the canal were forced to log-roll for that 
work by supporting others whicli were to be ruinous to the 
country. Roads and improvements were proposed every- 
where, to enlist every section of the State. Tliree or four 
efforts were made to pass a smaller system ; and, wlien defeated, 
the bill would be amended by the addition of other roatls, 
until a majority was obtained for it. Those counties which 
could not be thus accommodated were to share iu the fund of 
two hundred thousand dollai-s. Tluee roads were appointed to 
terminate at Alton, before the Alton interest would agree to the 
system. The .seat of government was to be removed to Spring- 
field. Sangamon County, in which Springfield is situated, was 
then represented by two Senators and seven Representatives, 
called the ' Long Nine,' all Whigs but one. Amongst them 
were some dexterous jugglers and managers in politics, whose 
whole object was to obtain the seat of government for Spring- 
field. Tills delegation, from the beginning of the session, 
threw itself as a unit in support of, or iu opposition to, every 
local measure of interest, but never without a bargain for 
voles in return on the seat-of-govcrnment question. Most of 
the other counties were small, having but one Representative 
and many of them with but one for a whole representative 
district ; and this gave Sangamon County a decided prepon- 
derance in the log-rolling system of those days. It is worthy 
of examination whether any just and ec^ual legislation can 
ever be sustained where some of the counties are great and 
powerful, and others feeble. But by such means ' The Long- 
Nine ' rolled along like a snowball, gathering accessions of 
strength at every turn, until they swelled up a considerable 
party for Springfield, which party they managed to take 


almost as a unit in favor of the internal-improvement system, 
in return for which the active supporters of that system were 
to vote for Springfield to be the seat of government. Thus 
it was made to cost the State about six millions of dollars to 
remove the seat of government from Vandalia to Springfield, 
half of which sum would have purchased all the real estate 
in that town at three prices ; and thus by log-rolling on the 
canal measure ; by multiplying railroads ; by terminating three 
railroads at Alton, that Alton might become a great city in 
opposition to St. Louis ; by distributing money to some of the 
counties to be wasted by the county commissioners ; and by 
giving the seat of government to Springfield, — was the whole 
State bought up, and bribed to approve the mnrt senseless 
and disastrous policy which ever crippled the ecdrgies of a 
growing country-." ' 

Enumerating the gentlemen who voted for this combination 
of evils, — among them Stephen A. Douglas, John A. Mc- 
Clernand, James Shields, and Abraham Lincoln, — and re- 
citing the high places of honor and trust to which most of 
them have since attained, Gov. Ford pronounces " all of them 
spared monuments of popular wrath, evincing how safe it is 
to a politician, but how disastrous it may be to the country, to 
keep along with the present fervor of the people." 

" It was a maxim with many politicians just to keep along 
even with the humor of the people, right or wrong ; " and this 
maxim Mr. Lincoln held then, as ever since, in very high esti- 
mation. But the "humor" of his constituents was not only 
intensely favorable to the new scheme of internal improve- 
ments : it was most decidedly their " humor " to have the capi- 
tal at Springfield, and to make a great man of the legislator 
who should take it there. Mr. Lincoln was doubtless thor- 
oughly convinced that the popular view of all these matters was 
the right one ; but, even if he had been unhappily afflicted with 
individual scruples of his ovfn, he would have deemed it but 
simple duty to obey the almost unanimous voice of his con- 
stituency. He thought he never could serve them better than 

» Ford's History of Illinola. 


by giving them just what they wanted ; and that to collect 
the will of his people, and register it by his own vote, was the 
first and leading obligation of a representative. It happened 
that on this occasion the popular feeling fell in very pleas- 
antly with his young dream of rivalling the fame of Clinton ; 
and here, also, was a fine opportunity of repeating, in a higher 
strain and on a loftier stage, the ingenious arguments, which, 
in the very outset of his career, had proved so hard for 
" Posey and Ewing," when he overthrew those worthies in 
the great debate respecting the improvement of the San- 
gamon River. 

" The Internal-Improvement Bill," says Mr. Wilson (one 
of the " Long Nine "), " and a bill to permanently locate the 
seat of government of the State, were the great measures 
of the session of 1836-7. Vandalia was then the seat of gov- 
ernment, and had been for a number of years. A new state 
house had just been built. Alton, Decatur, Peoria, Jackson- 
ville, lUiapolis, and Springfield were the points seeking the 
location, if removed fron, Vandalia. The delegation from 
Sangamon were a unit, acting in concert in favor o*^ the per- 
manent location at Springfield. The bill was introduced at 
an early day in the session, to locate, by a joint vote of both 
Houses of the Legislature. The friends of the other points 
united to defeat the bill, as each point thought the postpone- 
ment of the location to some future period would give strength 
to their location. The contest on this bill was long and 
severe. Its enemies laid it on the table twice, — once on the 
table to the fourth day of July, and once indefinitely post- 
poned it. To take a bill from the table is always attended 
with difficulty ; but when laid on the table to a day beyond 
the session, or when indefinitely postponed, it requires a vote 
of reconsideration, which always is an intense struggle. In 
these dark hours, when our bill to all appearances was be- 
yond resuscitation, and all our opponents were jubilant over 
our defeat, and when friends could see no hope, Mr. Lincoln 
never for one moment despaired; but, collecting his col- 
leagues to his room for consultation, his practical common 


sense, his thorough knowledge of human nature, then made 
him an overmatch for his compeers, and for any man that I 
have ever known." 

" We surmounted all obstacles, passed the bill, and, by a 
joint vote of both Houses, located the seat of government 
of the State of Illinois at Springfield, just before the adjourn- 
ment of the Legislature, which took place on the fourth day 
of March, 1837. The delegation acting during the whole 
session upon all questions as a unit, gave them strength and 
influence, that enabled them to carry through their measures 
and give efficient aid to their friends. The delegation was 
not only remarkable for their numbers, but for their length, 
most of them measuring six feet and over. It was said at 
the time that that delegation measured fifty-four feet high. 
Hence they were known as ' The Long Nine.'' So that dur- 
ing that session, and for a number of years afterwards, all 
the bad laws passed at that session of the Legislature were 
chargeable to the management and influence of ' The Long 
Nine.' . . . 

" He (Mr. Lincoln) was on the stump and in the halls 
of the Legislature a readj' debater, manifesting extraordinary 
ability in his peculiar manner of presenting his subject. He 
did not follow the beaten track of other speakers and think- 
ers, but appeared to comprehend the whole situation of the 
subject, and take hold of its principles. He had a remarka- 
ble faculty for concentration, enabling him to present his 
subject; in such a manner, as nothing but conclusions were 

It was at this session of the Legislature, March 3, 1837, 
that Mr. Lincoln began that antislavery record upon which 
his fame through all time must chiefly rest. It was a very 
mild beginning ; but even that required uncommon courage 
and candor in the day and generation in which it was done. 

The whole country was excited concerning the doctrines 
and the practices of the Abolitionists. These agitators were 
as yet but few in numbers : but in New England they com- 
prised some of the best citizens, and the leaders were persons 


of high character, of culture ana socim mfluence ; while, in 
the Middle States, they were, for the most part, confined to 
the Society of Friends, or Quakers. All were earnest, active, 
and uncompromising in the propagation of their opinions ; and, 
believing slavery to be the " sum of all villanies," with the ut- 
most pertinacity they claimed the unrestricted right to dissemi- 
nate their convictions in any manner they saw fit, regardless 
of all consequences. They paid not the slightest heed to the 
wishes or the opinions of their opponents. They denounced 
all compromises with an unsparing tongue, and would allow 
no law of man to stand, in their eyes, above the law of God. 
George Thompson, identified with emancipation in the 
British West Indies, had come and gone. For more than a 
year he addressed public meetings in New England, the 
Central States, and Ohio, and contributed not a little to the 
growing excitement by his fierce denunciations of the slave- 
holding class, in language with which his long agitation in 
England had made him familiar. He was denounced, insulted, 
and mobbed ; and even in Boston he was once posted as an 
" infamous foreign scoundrel," and an offer was made of a hun- 
dred dollars to "snake him o; t" of a public meeting. In 
fact, Boston was not at all beliiad other cities and towns in 
its condemnation of the Abolitionists. A great meeting in 
Funeuil Hall, called by eighteen hundi'cd leading citizens, — 
Whigs and Democrats, — condennied their proceedings in lan- 
guage as strong and significant as Richard Fletcher, Peleg 
Spvague, and Harrison Gray Otis could write it. But Garrison 
still continued to publish " T^e Liberator," filling it with all 
the uncompromising aggressiveness of his sect, and distributing 
it throughout the Southern States. It excited great alarm in 
the slaveholding communities where its secret circulation, in 
the minds of the slaveholders, tended to incite the slaves to 
insurrections, assassinations, and running away ; but in the 
place where it was published it was looked upon with general 
contempt and disgust. When the Mayor of Baltimore wrote 
to the Mayor of Boston to have it suppressed, the latter (the 
eloquent Otis) replied, " that his ofiScers had ferreted out the 


paper and its editor, whose office was an obscure hole ; his 
only visible auxiliary a negro boy ; his suppoiters a few insig- 
nificant persons of all colors." 

At the close of the year 1835, President Jacksou had called 
the attention of Congress to the doings of these people in 
language corresponding to the natural wrath with which he 
viewed the character of their proceedings. " I must also," 
said he, " invite your attention to the painful excitements in the 
South by attempts to circulate through the mails inflammatory 
appeals addressed to the passions of slaves, in prints and vari- 
ous sorts of publications calculated to stimulate them to insur- 
rection, and to produce all the horrors of civil war. It is 
fortunate for the country that the good sense, the generous 
feeling, and deep-rooted attachment of the people of the non- 
slaveliolding States to the Union and their fellow-citizens of 
the same blood in the South have given so strong and im- 
pressive a tone to the sentiments entertained against the pro- 
ceedings of the misguided persons who have engaged in these 
unconstitutional and wicked attempts, and especially against 
the emissaries from foreign parts, who have dared to interfere 
in this matter, as to authorize the hope that these attempts 
will no longer be persisted in. ... I would therefore call the 
special attention of Congress to the subject, and respectfully 
suggest the propriety of passing such a law as will prohibit, 
under severe penalties, the circulation in the Southern States, 
through the mail, of incendiary publications, intended to 
instigate the slaves to insurrection." 

Mr. Clay said the sole purpose of the Abolitionists was to 
array one portion of the Union against the other. " With 
that in view, in all their leading prints and publications, the 
alleged horrors of slavery are depicted in the most glowing 
and exaggerated colors, to excite the imaginations and stimu- 
late the rage of the people of the Free States against the peo- 
ple of the slaveholding States. . . . Why are the Slave States 
wantonly and cruelly assailed ? Why does the abolition 
press teem with publications tending to excite hatred and 
animosity on the part of the Free States against the Slave 


States? . . . Why is Congress petitioned ? Is their purpose 
to appeal to oar understanding, and actuate our humauit}'-? 
And do ihey expect to accomplish that purpose by holding us 
up to the scorn and contempt and detestation of the people 
of the Free States and the whole civilized world ? . . . Union 
on the one side will beget union on the other. . . . One sec- 
tion will stand in menacing, hostile array against another; the 
collision of opinion will be quicldy followed by the clash of 

Mr. Everett, then (183G) Governor of Massachusetts, in- 
formed the Legislature, for the .admonition of these unsparing 
agitators against the peace of the South, that " every thing 
that tends to disturb the relations created by this compact 
[the Constitution] is at war witli its spirit ; and whatever, by 
direct and necessary operation, is calculated to excite an insur- 
rection among the slaves, has been held by highly respectable 
legal authority an ofifence against the peace of this Common- 
wealth, which may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor at common 
law." It was proposed in the Legislature to pass an act defin- 
ing the offence with more certainty, and attaching to it a 
severer penalty. The Abolitionists asked to be heard before 
the committee ; and Rev. S. J. May, Ellis Gray Loring, Prof. 
Charles FoUen, Samuel E. Sewell, and others of equal ability 
and character, spoke in their behalf. They objected to the 
passage of such an act in the strongest terms, and derided the 
value of a Union which could not protect its citizens in one 
of their most cherished rights. During the hearing, several 
bitter altercations took place between them and the chairman. 

In New York, Gov. Marcy called upon the Legislature " to 
do what may be done consistently with the great principles 
of civU liberty, to put an end to the evils which the AboUtion- 
ists are bringing upon us and the whole country." The 
*' character " and the " interests " of the State were equally at 
stake, and both would be sacrificed unless these furious and 
cruel fanatics were effectually suppressed. 

In May, 1836, the Federal House of Representatives re- 
solved, bv overwhelming votes, that Congress had no right 


to interfere with slavery in the States, or in the District of 
Columbia, and that henceforth all abolition petitions should 
be laid on the table without being printed or referred. And, 
one day later than the date of Mr. Lincoln's protest, Mr. Van 
Buren declared in his inaugural, that no bill abolishing slavery 
in the District of Columbia, or meddling with it in the States 
where it existed, should ever receive his signature. " There 
was no other form," says Benton, " at that time, in which 
slavery agitAtion could manifest itself, or place it could find 
a point to operate ; the ordinance of 1787 and the compro- 
mise of 1820 having closed up the Territories against it. 
Danger to slave property in the States, either by direct action, 
or indirectly through the District of Columbia, were the only 
points of expressed apprehension." 

Abolition agitations fared little better in the twenty-fifth 
Congress than in the twenty-fourth. At the extra session in 
September of 1887, Mr. Slade of Vermont introduced two 
petitions for the abolition of slavery in the District of Colum- 
bia ; but, after a furious debate and a stormy scene, they were 
disposed of by the adoption of the foUomng : — 

'■'■Besolved, That all petitions, memorials, and papers, touch- 
ing the abolition of slavery, or the buying, selling, or trans- 
ferring of slaves, in any State, District, or Territory, of the 
United States, be laid on the table, without being debated, 
printed, read, or referred ; and that no further action what- 
ever shall be had thereon." 

In lUinois, at the time we speak of (March, 1837), an Aboli- 
tionist was rarely seen, and scarcely ever heard of. In many 
parts of the State such a person would have been treated as a 
criminal. It is true, there were a few Covenanters, with whom 
hatred of slavery in any form and wherever found was an 
essential part of their religion. Up to 1824 they had steadily 
refused to vote, or in any other way to acknowledge the 
State government, regarding it as " ar. heathen and unbap- 
tized institution," because the Constitution failed to recognize 
" Jesus Christ as the head of the government, and the Holy 
Scriptures as the only rule of faith and practice." It was 


only when it was proposed to introduce slavery into Illinois 
by an alteration of that " heathen " Constitution, that the 
Covenanters consented to take part in public affairs. The 
movement which drew them out proved to be a long and 
unusually bitter campaign, lasting full eighteen months, and 
ending in the fall of 1824, with a popular majority of several 
thousand against calUng a convention for the purpose of 
making Illinois a Slave State. Many of the antislavery leaders 
in this contest — conspicuous among whom was Gov. Coles — 
were gentlemen from Shivc States, who had emancipated their 
slaves before removal, and were opposed to slavery, not upon 
religious or moral grounds, but because they believed it would 
be a material injury to the new country. Practically no other 
view of the question was discussed ; and a person who should 
have undertaken to discuss it from the "man and brother" 
stand-point of more modern times would have been set down 
as a lunatic. A clear majority of the people were against 
the introduction of slavery into their own State ; but that 
majority were fully agreed with their brethren of the minoritv, 
that those who went about to interfere with slavery in the 
most <listant manner in the places where it already existed 
were deserving of the severest punishment, as the common 
enemies of society. It was in those daA's a mortal offence to 
call a man an Abolitionist, for Abolitionist was synonymous 
with thief. Between a band of men who stole horses and a 
band of men who stole negroes, the popular mind made small 
distinctions in the degrees of guilt. They were regarded as 
rubber.s, disturbers of the peace, the instigators of arson, mur- 
der, poisoning, rape ; and, in addition to all this, traitors to the 
government under which tliey lived, and enemies to the Union 
wliich gave us as a people liberty and strength. In testimony 
of these sentiments, Illinois enacted a " black code " of most 
preposterous and cruel severity, — a code that would have 
been a disgrace to a Slave State, and was simply an infamy 
in a free one. It borrowed the pro\nsions of the most revolt- 
ing laws known among men, for exiling, selling, beating, be- 
devilling, and torturing negroes, whether bond or free. Under 


this law Gov. Coles, the leader of the antislavery party, who 
had emancipated his slaves, and settled them around him in 
his new home, but had neglected to file a bond with the con- 
dition that his freedmen should behave well and never be- 
come a charge upon the public, was fined two hundred dollars 
in each case ; and, so late as 1852, the writer of these pages^ 
very narrowly escaped the same penalty for the same offence^ 

In 1835-36 Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy had been publishing a 
moderatel}' antislavory paper at St. Louis. But the people 
of that city did not look with favor upon his enterprise ; and, 
after meeting with considerable opposition, in the summer of 
1836 he moved his types and press across the river to Alton, 
Til. Here he found an opposition more violent than that from 
which he had fled. His press was thrown into the river the 
night after its arrival ; and he was informed that no abolition 
paper would be allowed in the town. The better class of citi- 
zens, however, deprecated the outrage, and pledged them- 
selves to reimburse Mr. Lovejoy, in case he would agree net 
to make his paper an abolition journal. Mr. Lovejoy assured 
them it was not his purpose to establish such a paper in Alton, 
but one of a religious character : at the same time he would 
not give up his right as an American citizen to publish what- 
ever he pleased on any subject, holding himself answerable to 
the laws of his country in so doing. With this'general under- 
standing, he was permitted to go forward. He continued 
about a year, discussing in his paper the slavery question occa- 
sionally ; not, however, in a violent manner, but with a tone 
of moderation. This policy, however, was not satisfactory : it 
was regarded as a violation of his pledge ; and the contents of 
his office were again destroyed. Mr. Lovejoy issued an appeal 
for aid to re-establish his paper, which met with a prompt and 
generous response. He proposed to bring up another press, 
and announced that armed men would protect it : meantime, 
a committee presented him with some resolutions adopted at 
a large meeting of the citizens of Alton, remiuding him that 
he had previoasly given a pledge that in his paper he would 
refrain from advocating abolitionism, and also censuring him 


for not having kept his promise, and desiring to know if he 
intended to continue the publication of such doctrines in the 
future. His response consisted of a denial of the right of any 
portion of the people of Acton to prescribe what questions he 
should or should not discus, in his paper. Great excitement 
followed : another press was brought up on the 21st of Sep- 
tember, which shortly after followed the fate of its predeces- 
sors. Another arrived Nov. 7, 1837, and was conveyed to a 
stone warehouse by the riverside, where Mr. Lovejoy and a 
few friends (some of them not Abolitionists) resolved to 
defend it to the last. That night they vvere attacked. 
First there was a brief parley, ■ of stones, 

then an attempt to carry the ; assault. At 

this juncture a shot v^"as fired out ot a second-story win- 
dow, which killed a young man in the crowd. It was said 
to have been fired by Lovejoy ; and, as the corpse was borne 
away, the wrath of the populace knew no bounds. It was 
proposed to get poM'der from the magazine, and blow the 
warehouse up. Others thought the torch would be a better 
agent ; and, finally, a man ran up a ladder to fire the roof. 
Lovejoy came out of the door, and, firing one shot, retreated 
within, where he rallied the garrison for a sortie. In the 
mean time many shots were fired both by the assailants and 
the assailed. The house was once actually set on fire by one 
person from the mob, and saved by another. But the courage 
of Mr. T^ovejoy's friends was gradually smking, and they re- 
sponded but faintly to his strong appeals for action. As a last 
resource, he rushed to the door wiih a single companion, gun 
in hand, and was shot dead on the threshold. The other man 
was wounded in the leg, the warehouse w; 3 in flames, the mob 
grew more ferocious over the blood that had been shed, and 
riddled the doors and windows with voUeys from all sorts of 
fii-e-arms. The Abolitionists had fought a good fight; but see- 
ing now nothing but death before them, in that dismal, bloody, 
and burning house, they escaped down the river-bank, by 
twos and threes, as bes" they could, and their press was turn- 


bled after them, into the river. And thus end,.d the first 
attempt to establish an abolition paper in Illinois. The 
result was certainly any thing but encouraging, and indi- 
cated pretty cle' 'i- "'< <* • ^=' '""--e been the general state 
of public feelii ^ate in regard to slavsry 


In fact, no Stale was more alive to the necessity of repress- 
ing the Abolitionists than Illinois ; and accordingly it was pro- 
posed in the Legislature to take, some action similar to that 
which had been already taken, or was actually pending, in 
the legislatures of sister Commonwealths, from Massachusetts 
through the list. A number of resolutions were reported, and 
passed with no serious opposition. The record does not dis- 
close the precise form in which they passed ; but that is of 
little consequence now. That they were extreme enough may 
be gathered from the considerate language of the protest, and 
from the fact that such a protest was considered necessary at 
all. The protest was undoubtedly the product of M^. Lin- 
coln's pen, for his adroit directness is seen in every word of 
it. He could get but one man — his colleague, Dan Stone — 
to sign with him. 

Makch 3, ■'T. 

The following protest was presented to the House, which was read, . -d 
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 oi 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 

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

(Signed) Dan Stone, 

A. Lincoln, 
Hepresentatives from the County of SanQomon. 


Mr. Lincolu sajrs nothing here about slavery in the Terri- 
cories. The Missouri Compromise being in full force, and 
regarded as sacred by all parties, it was one of its chief 
effects that both sections were deprived of any pretext for 
the agitation of that question, from which every statesman, 
Federalist or Republican, Whig or Democratic, apprehended 
certain disaster to the Union. Neither would Mr. Lincoln 
suffer himself to be classed with the few despised Quakers, 
Covenanters, and Puritans, who were so frequently disturbing 
the peace of the country by abolition-memorials to Congress 
and other public bodies. Slavery, says the protest, is wrong 
in principle, besides being bad in economy; but "the promul- 
gation of abolition doctrines " is still worse. In the States 
which choose to have it, it enjoys a constitutional immunity 
beyond the reach of any " higher law ; " and Congress must not 
touch it, otherwise than to shield ;.nd protect it. Even in the 
District of Columbia, Mr. Lincolu and Dan Stone would leave 
it entirely to the will of the people. In fact, the whole paper, 
plain and simple as it is, seems to have been drawn with no 
object but to avoid the impuution of extreme views on either 
side. And from that day to the day of his inauguration, Mr. 
Lincoln never saw the time when he would have altered a 
word of it. He never sided with the Lovejoys. In his eyes 
their work tended " rather to increase than to abate " the 
evils of slavery, and was therefore unjust, as well as futile. 
Years afterwards he was the steady though quiet opponent 
of Owen Lovejoy, and declared that Lovejoy's nomination for 
Congress over Leonard Swett " almost turned him blind." 
When, in 1860, the Democrats called Mr. Lincoln an Aboli- 
tionist, and cited the protest of 1837 to support the charge, 
friends pointed to the exact language of the document as 
his complete and overwhelming refutation. 

On the 10th of May, the New York banks suspended specie 
payments, and two days afterwards the Bank of the United 
States and the Philadelphia banks did likewise. From these 
the stoppage and the general ruin, among business men and 
speculators alike, spread throughout the country. Neverthe- 


less, the Fund Commissioners of Illinois succeeded in liaeing 
a loan during the summer, and before the end of the year 
work had begun on many railroads. " Money was as plenty 
as dirt. Industry, in place of being stimulated, actually lar. 
guished. We exported nothing, and every thing was paid 
for by the borrowed money expended among us." And this 
money was bank-paper, such as a pensioner upon the Gov- 
ernment of the United States scorned to take in payment of 
his gratuity, after the deposit banks had si-rnended or broken, 
with thirty-two millions of Governmen'^ ncney iu their pos- 

The banks which had received such generous legislation 
from the Legislature that devised the internal-improvemenfi 
system were not disposed to see that batch of remarkable 
enterprises languish for want of their support. One of them 
took at par and sold nine hundred thousand dollars of bonds ; 
while the other took one million seven hundred and sixt3'-jfive 
thousand dollars, which it used as capital, and expanded its 
business accordingly. But the banks were themselves in 
greater danger than the internal-improvement system. If the 
State Bank refused specie payments for sixty days, its charter 
was forfeited under the Act of Assembly. But they were the 
main-stay of all the current speculations, pubUc and private ; 
and having besides large sums of public money in their hands, 
the governor was induced to call a special session of the Legis- 
lature iu July, 1837, to save them from impending dissolution. 
This was done by an act authorizing or condoning the sus- 
pension of specie payments. The governor had not directly 
recommended this, but he had most earnestly recommended 
the repeal or modification of the internal-improvement system : 
and that the Legislature positively refused. This wise body 
might be eaten by its own dogs, but it was determined not to 
eat them ; and in this direction there was no prospect of relief 
for two years more. According to Gov. Ford, the cool, 
reflecting men of the State anxiously hoped that their ruler;! 
might be able to borrow no more m^iuoy, but in this they 
were immediately and bitterly disapp^nnted. The United 


States Bank took some of their bonds. Some were sold at 
:-'•■■ In this country, and others at nine per cent discount in 

.''f. IS3S, a governor (Carlin) was elected -who was thought 

l.v ?jiaiiy to he secretly hostile to the " system ; " and a new 

r.^oirJatiire wgs chosen, from which it was thought something 

oln was again elected, with a 

by his activity and address in 

. ., :, ^ i time he was the candidate of 

bis party tor speaker, Ihe nomination, however, was a bar- 
'.ea honor, and known to be such when given. Col. Ewing 
%vas chosen by a plurality of one, — two Whigs and two 
Bemocrat^ scattering their votes. Mr. Lincoln kept his old 
olace on the Finance Committee. At the first session the 
g^overnor held his peace regarding the " system ; " and, far 
j'rom repealing it, the Legislature added a new feature to it, 
ar,d voted another §800,000. 

But the Fund Commissioners were in deep water and muddy 
water : they had reached the end of their string. The 
credit of the State was gone, and already were heard mur- 
inurs of repudiation. Bond County had in the beginning 
pronounced the sj-stem a swindle upon the people ; and Bond 
County began to have admirers. Some of the bonds had been 
lent to New York State banks to start upon ; and the banks 
had presently failed. Some had been sold on credit. Some 
were scattered about in various places on special deposit. 
Others had been sent to London for sale, where the firm that 
was selling them broke with the proceeds of a part of them 
o their hands. No expedients sufificed any longer. There 
ras no more money to be got, and nothing left to do, but to 
'• wind up the system," and begin the work of common sense 
by providing for the interest on the sums already expended. 
A special session of the Legislature in 1838-9 did the " wind- 
ing up," and thenceforth, for some j'^ears, there was no other 
question so important in Illinois State politics as how to pay 
the interest on the vast debt outstanding for this account. 
Many gentlemen discovered T-^t De Witt Clintons were rare. 


and in certain contingencies very precious. Among these 
must have been Mr. Lincoln. But being again elected to the 
Legislature in 1840, again the acknowledged leader and can- 
didate of his party for speaker, he ventured in December of 
that year to offer an expedient for paying the interest on the 
debt ; but it was only an expedient, and a very poor one, to 
avoid the obvious but unpopular resort of direct taxation. 

*' Mr. Lincoln moved to strike out the bill and amendment, 
and insert the following : — 

"An Act providing for the payment of interest on the 
State debt. 

" Section 1. — Be it enacted by the people of the State 
of Illinois represented in the General Assembly, that the 
governor be authorized and required to issue, from time to 
time, such an amount of State bonds, to be called the ' Il- 
linois Interest Bonds,' as may be absolutely necessary for the 
payment of the interest upon the lawful debt of the State, 
contracted before the passage of this Act. 

"Section 2. — Said bonds shall bear interest at the rate 
of per cent per annum, payable half-yearly at , and be 
re-'mbursable in years from their respective issuings. 

" Section 3. — That the State's portion of the tax here- 
aftei' arising from all lands which were not taxable in the 
year one 'onsand eight hundred and forty is hereby set 
apart as an exclusive fund for the payment of interest on the 
said ' Illinois Interest Bonds ; ' and the faith of the State is 
here .j pledged that said fund shall be applied to that object, 
and no other, except at any time there should be a surplus : 
in which case such surplus shall became a part of the general 
funds of the treasury. 

" Section 4. — That hereafter the ::i'Lii of thirty cents for 
each hundred dollars' worth of all taxable property shall be 
paid into the State treasury ; and no more than forty cents 
for each hundred dollars' worth of such taxable property 
shall be levied and collected for county purposes." 

It was a loose document. The governor was to determine 
the " amount " of bonds " necessary," and the sums for which 


they shoxild be issued. Interest was to be paid only upon 
the " lawful " debt ; and the governor was left to determine 
what part of it was lawful, and what unlawful. The last 
section lays a specific tax ; but the proceeds are in no way 
connected with the " interest bonds." 

" Mr. Lincoln said he submitted this proposition with great 
: '.fc Icnce. He had felt his share of the responsibility devolv- 
;; g upon us in the present crisis ; and, after revolving in his 
rtiiacl every scheme which seemed to afford the least prospect 
of relief, he -submitted this as the result of his own dehbera- 

" The details of the bill might be imperfect ; but he reUed 
Tipon the correctness of its general features. 

" By the plan proposed in the original bill of hjrpothecating 
oar bonds, he was satisfied we could not get along more than 
t^o or three months before some other step would be neces- 
srey : another session would have to be called, and new pro- 
• :sicRS made. 

"It might be objected that these bonds would not be 
■;a!fible, and the money ccakl not be raised in time. He was 
7io financier ; but he believed these bonds thus secured would 
be equal to the best in market. A perfect security was pro- 
vided for the interest ; and it was this characteristic that 
:•';.'. -ed confidence, and made bonds salable. If there was 
:l'v .::;jtnist, it could not be because our means of fulfilling 
•- 1 c iir^,-'? ws'-o distrusted. He believed it would have the 
;^e',t to :;'•': "iJi- o:hei bonds in market. 

" 'There ■'i'!'.- ?. nether objection to this plan, which applied 
to ohe original bill ; and that was as to the impropriety of 
borrowing- money to pav interest on borrowed money, — that 

aereoy mcurreu, taen tnis was not a good objection. If our 
Increasing means would justify us in deferring to a future 
ime the resort to taxation, then we had better pay compound 
'ntsrest than resort to t?.xj.":ion now. He W3.3 saticfied, that, 


by a direct tax now, money enough could not be collected to 
pay the accruing interest. The bill proposed to provide in 
this way for interest not otherwise provided for. It was not 
intended to apply to those bonds for the interest on which a 
security had already been provided. 

" He hoped the House would .seriously consider the propo- 
sition. He had no pride in its success as a measure of his 
own, but submitted it to the wisdom of the House, with the 
hope, that, if there was any thing objectionable in it, it would 
be pointed out and amended." 

Mr. Lincoln's measure did not pass. There was a large 
party in favor, not only of passing the interest on the State 
debt, which fell due in the coming January and July, but 
of repudiating the whole debt outright. Others thought the 
State ought to pay, not the full face of its bonds, but only 
the amount received for them ; while others still contended 
that, whereas, many of the bonds had been irregularly, ille- 
gally, and even fraudulently disposed of, there ought to be 
a particular discrimination made against these, and these 
only. " At last Mr. Cavarly, a member from Green, intro- 
duced a bill of two sections, authorizing the Fund Commis- 
sioners to hypothecate internal-improvement bonds to the 
amount of three hundred thousand dollars, and which con- 
tained the remarkable provision, that the proceeds were to be 
applied by that officer to the payment of all interest legally 
due on the public debt ; thus shifting from the General As- 
sembly, and devolving on the Fund Commissioner, the duty 
of deciding on the legality of the debt. Thus, by this happy 
expedient, conflietmg opinions were reconciled without direct 
action on the matter in controversy, and thus the two Houses 
were enabled to agree upon a measure to provide tempo- 
rarily for the interest on the public debt. The Legislature 
further provided, at this session, for the issue of interest 
bonds, to be sold in the market at what they would bring ; 
and an additional tax of ten cents on the hundred dollars' 
worth of property was imposed and pledged, to pay the in- 
terest on these bonds. By these contrivances, the interest 


for January and July, 1841, was paid. The Fund Com- 
missioner hypotliecated internal-improvement bonds for the 
money first due ; and his successor in office, finding no sale 
for Illinois stocks, so much had the credit of the State 
fallen, was compelled to h3^pothecate eight hundred and four 
thousand dollars of interest bonds for the July interest. On 
this hypothecation he was to have received three hundred 
and twenty-one thousand six hundred dollars, but was never 
paid more than two hundred and sixty-one thousand five 
hundred dollars. These bonds have never been redeemed 
from the holders, though eighty of them were afterwards 
repurchased, and three hundred and fifteen thousand dollars 
of them were received from the Shawneetown Bank for State 
stock in that institution."' 

This session (the session of 1840-1) had been called two 
weeks earlier than usual, to provide for the January interest 
on the debt. But the banks had important business of their 
own in view, and proceeded to improve the occasion. In 
]8C7, and every year since then, the banks had succeeded in 
getting acts of the Legislature which condoned their suspen- 
sion of specie payments. But, by the terms of the last act, 
their charters were forfeited unless they resumed before the 
adjournment of the next session. The Democrats, however, 
maintained that the present special session was a session in 
the sense of the law, and that, before its adjournment, the 
banks must hand out " the hard," or die. On the other hand, 
the Whigs held this session, and the regular session which 
began on the first Monday in December, to be one and the 
same, and proposed to give the banks another winter's lease 
upon life and rags. But the banks were a power in the 
land, and knew how to make tiiem-selves felt. They were the 
depositories of the State revenues. The auditor's warrants 
were drawn upon them, and the members of the Legislature 
paid in their money. The warrants were at a discount of fifty 
per cent ; and, if the banks refused to cash them, the members 
would be compelled to go home more impecunious than they 

' Ford'a History of Illinois. 


came. The banks, moreover, knew how to make " opportune 
loans to Democrats ; " and, with all these aids, they organized 
a brilliant and eventually a successful campaign. In the 
eyes of the Whigs they were " the institutions of the coun- 
try," and the Democrats were guilty of incivism in attacking 
them. But the Democrats retorted with a string of over- 
whelming slang about rag barons, rags, printed lies, bank 
vassals, ragocracy, and the " British-bought, bank, blue-light. 
Federal, Whig party." It was a fierce and bitter contest ; 
and, witnessing it, one might have supposed that the very 
existence of the State, with the right to life, liberty, and the 
pursuit of happiness, depended upon the result. The Demo- 
crats were bent upon carrying an adjournment sine die; 
which, according to their theory, killed the banks. To defeat 
this, the Whigs resorted to every expedient of parliamentary 
tactics, and at length hit upon one entirely unknown to any 
of the standard manuals : they tried to absent themselves in 
sufficient numbers to leave no quorum behind. "If the 
Whigs absented themselves," says Mr. Gillespie, a Whig 
member, " there would not be a quorum left, even with the 
two who should be deputed to call the ayes and noes. The 
Whigs immediately held a meeting, and resolved that they 
would all stay out, except Lincoln and me, who were to call 
the ayes and noes. We appeared in the afternoon : motion 
to adjourn sine die was made, and we called the ayes and 
noes. The Democrats discovered the game, and the ser- 
geant-at-arms was sent out to gather up the absentees. 
There was great excitement in the House, which was then 
held in a church at Springfield. We soon discovered that 
several Whigs had been caught and brought in, and that the 
plan had been spoiled ; and we — Lincoln and I — deter- 
mined to leave the hall, and, going to the door, found it 
locked, and then raised a window and jumped out, but not 
until the Democrats had succeeaed in adjourning. Mr. Grid- 
ley of McLean accompanied us in our exit. ... I think Mr. 
Lincoln always regretted that he entered into that arrange- 
ment, as he deprecated every thing that savored of the revo- 


In the course of the debate on the Apportionment Bill, 
Mr. Lincoln had occasion to address the House in defence 
of "The Long Nine," who were especially obnoxious to the 
Democrats. The speech concluded with the following char- 
acteristic passage: — 

" The gentleman had accused old women of being partial 
to the number nine ; but this, he presumed, was without foun- 
dation. A few years since, it would be recollected by the 
House, that the delegation from this county were dubbed by 
way of eminence ' The Long Nine,' and, by way of further 
distinction, he had been called 'The Longest of the Nine.' 
Now," said Mr. Lincoln, " I desire to say to my friend from 
Monroe (Mr. Bissell), that if any woman, old or young, ever 
thought there was any peculiar charm in this distinguished 
specimen of number nine, I have as yet been so unfortunate 
as rot to have discovered it." (Loud applause.) 

But this Legislature was full of excitements. Besides the 
questions about the public debt and the bank-charters, the 
Democrats proposed to legislate the Circuit judges out of 
of&ce, and reconstruct the Supreme Court to suit themselves. 
They did this because the Supreme judges had already 
decided one question of some political interest against them, 
and were now about to decide another in the same way. The 
latter was a question of great importance ; anJ, in order to 
avoid the consequences of such a decision, i ^ were 

eager for the extremest measures. 

The Constitution provided that all free while male inhabit- 
ants should vote upon six months' residence. This, the Demo- 
crats held, included aliens ; while the Whigs held the reverse. 
On this grave judicial question, parties were divided precisely 
upon the line of their respective interests. The aliens num- 
bered about ten thousand, and nine-tenths of them voted 
steadily with the Democracy. Whilst a great outcry concern- 
ing it was being made from both sides, and fierce disputes 
raged in the newspapers and on the stump, two Whigs at 
Galena frot up an amicable case, to try it in a quiet way 
!: ■ judge, who held the Circuit Courts in tteir 


neighborhood. The judge decided for . 

that he was. The Democrats found it out, and raisea a popu- 
lar tumult about it that would have put Demetrius the silver- 
smith to shame. They carried the case to the Supreme Court, 
where it was argued before the Whig majority, in December, 
1839, by able and distinguished counsellors, — Judge Douglas 
being one of them ; but the only result was a continuance 
to the next June. In the mean time Judge Smith, the only 
Democrat on the bench, was seeking favor with his party 
friends by betraying to Douglas the secrets of the consulta- 
tion-room. With his aid, the Democrats found a defect in 
the record, which sent the case over to December, 1840, and 
adroitly secured the alien vote for the great elections of that 
memorable year. The Legislature elected then was over- 
whelmingly Democratic ; and, having good reason to believe 
that the aliens had small favor to expect from this court, they 
determined forthwith to make a new one that would be more 
reasonable. There were now nine Circuit judges in the 
State, and four Supreme judges, under the Act of 1835. 
The ofiBces of the Circuit judges the Democrats concluded 
to abolish, and to create instead nine Supreme judges, who 
should perform circuit duties. This they called " reforming 
the judiciary; " and " thirsting for vengeance," as Gov. Ford 
says, they went about the work with all the zeal, but with 
very little of the disinterested devotion, which reformers are 
generally supposed to have. Douglas, counsel for one of the 
litigants, made a furious speech " in the lobby," demanding 
the destruction of the court that was to try his cause ; and for 
sundry grave sins which he imputed to the judges he gave 
Smith — his friend Smith — as authority. It was useless to 
oppose it: this " reform " was a foregone conclusion. It was 
called the " Douglas Bill ; " and Mr. Douglas was appointed 
to one of the new oiBces created by it. But Mr. Lincoln, E. 
D. Baker, and other Whig members, entered upon the journal 
the following protest: — 

" For the reasons thus presented, and for others no less 
apparent, the undersigned cannot assent to the passage of the 


bill, or permit it to become a law without this evidence of 
their disapprobatioa ; and they now protest against the 
re-organization of the judiciary : Because 

"]st. It violates the great principles of free government 
by subjecting the judiciary to the Legislature. 

''2d. It is a fatal blow at the independence of the judges 
and the constitutional term of their offices. 

" 3d. It is a measure not asked for, or wished for, by the 

'•■ 4th. It will greatly increase the expense of our courts, 
or else greatly diminish their utility. 

" 5th. It will give our courts a political and partisan char- 
acter, thereby impairing public confidence in their decisions. 

" 6th. It will impair our standing with other States and the 

" 7th. It is a party measure for party purposes, from which 
no practical good to the people can possibly arise, but which 
may be the source of immeasurable evils. 

" The undersigned are well aware that this protest will be 
altogether unavailing with the majority of this bodj*. ^he 
blow has already fallen ; and we are coi-ipelled to stand by, 
the mournful spectators of the ruin it will cause." 

Mr. Lincoln was elected in 1840, to serve, of course, until 
the next election in Ai^gust, 1842 ; but for reasons of a private 
nature, to be explained hereafter, he did not appear during 
the session of 1841-2. 

In concluding this chapter, taking leave of New Salem, 
Vaudalia, and the Legislature, we cannot forbear another 
quotation from Mr. Wilson, Lincoln's colleague from Sanga- 
mon, to whom we are already so largely in debt : — 

"In 18-38 many of the Long Nines were candidates 'o, 
re-election to the Legislature. A question of the division of 
the county was one of the local issues. Mr. Lincoln and my- 
self, among others, residing in the portion of the county sought 
to be organized into a new county, and opposing the division, 
it became necessary that I should make a special canvass 
through the north-west part of the county, then known as 


Sand Ridge. I made the canvass ; Mr. Lincoln accompanied 
me ; and, being pereonally well acquainted wibh every one, we 
called at nearly every house. At that time it was the univer- 
sal custom to keep some whiskey in the house, for private 
use and to treat friends. The subject was always mentioned 
as a matter of etiquette, but with the remark to Mr. lyineoln, 
' You never drink, but maybe your friend would like to take ■■ 
little.' I never saw Mr. Lincoln drink. He often told me he 
never drank ; had no desire for drink, nor the companionship 
of drinking men. Candidates never treated anybody in those 
times unless they wanted to do so. 

" Mr. Lincoln remained in New Salem until the spring of 
1837, when he went to Springfield, and went into the laT7- 
office of John T. Stuart as a partner in the practice of law, 
and boarded with William Butler. 

" During his stay in New Salem he had no property other 
than what was necessary to do his business, until after he 
stopped in Springfield. He was not avaricious to accumulate 
property, neither was he a spendthrift. He was almost 
always during those times hard up. He never owned laud. 

" The first trip he made around the cii'cuit after he com- 
menced the practice of law, I had a horse, saddle, and bridle, 
and he had none. I let him have mine. I think he must 
have been careless, as the saddle skinned the horse's back. 

" While he lived in New Salem he visited me often. Pie 
would stay a day or two at a time : we generally spent the 
time at the stores in Athens. He was very fond of company : 
telling or hearing stories told was a source of great amuse- 
ment to him. He was not in the habit of reading much, — 
never read novels. Whittling pine boards and shingles, talk- 
ing and laughing, constituted the entertainment of the days 
and evenings. 

" In a conversation with him about that time, he told me 
that, although he appeared to enjoy life rapturously, still he 
was the victim of terrible melancholy. He sought company, 
and indulged in fun and hilarity without restraint, or stint 
as to time ; but when by himself, he told me that he was so 


overcojre by mental depression that I 

a knife in his pocket ; and as long -i v 

acquainted with him, previous to his comuieucement uf the 
practice of the law, he never carried a pocket-knife. Still 
he was not misanthropic : he was kind and tender-hearted in 
his treatment to others. 

" In the summer of 1837 the citizens of Athens and vicinity 
gave the delegation then called the ' Long Nine ' a public 
dinner, at which Mr. Lincoln and all the others were present. 
He was called out by the toast, ' Abraham Lincoln, one of 
Nature's noblemen.' I have often thought, that, if any man 
was entitled to that compliment, it was he." 


UNDER the Act of Assembly, due in great part to Mr. 
Lincoln's exertions, the removal of the archives and 
other public property of the State from Vandalia to Spring- 
field began on the fourth day of July, 18-39, and was speedily 
completed. At the time of the passage of the Act, in the 
winter of 1836-7, Mr. Lincoln determined to follow the 
capital, and establish his own residence at Springfield. The 
resolution was natural and necessary ; for he had been study- 
ing law in all his intervals of leisure, and wanted a wider 
field than the justice's court at New Salem to begin the 
practice. Henceforth Mr. Lincoln might serve in the Legis- 
lature, attend to his private business, and live snugly at home. 
In addition to the State courts, the Circuit and District Courts 
of the United States sat here. The eminent John McLean 
of Ohio was the justice of the Supreme Court who sat ?n this 
circuit, with Judge Pope of the District Court, from 1839 to 
1849, and after that with Judge Drummond. The first terms 
of these courts, and the first session of the Legislature at 
Springfield, were held in December, 1839. The Senate sat in 
one church, and the House in another. 

Mr. Lincoln got his license as an attorney early in 1827, 
" and commenced practice regularly as a lawyer in the town 
of Springfield in March " of that year. His first case was 
that of Hawthorne vs. Wooldridge, dismissed at the cost of 
the plaintiff, for whom Mr. Lincoln's name was entered. 
There were then on the list of attorneys at the Springfield 
bar many names of subsequent renown. Judge Stephen T. 


Logan was on the bench of the Circuit Court under tlic Act 
of 183o. Stephen A. DougUis had made his appearance as 
the public prosecutor at the Marcli term of 183G ; and at the 
same term E. D. Baker had been admitted to practice. Among 
the rest were John T. Stuart, C3-rus Walker, S. II. Treat, 
Jesse B. Thomas, Gcorj::;e Forquer, Dan Stone, Niiiiau W. 
Edwards, John J. Hardin, Schuyler Strong, A. T. BlccLsoe, 
and Josiah Lamborn. 

By thi.s time Mr. Lincoln enjoyed considerable local fame 
as a politician, but none, of course, as a lawyer, lie there- 
fore needed a partner, and got one in the perso)i of John T. 
Stuart, an able and distinguished Whig, who had relieved his 
poverty years before by the timely loan of books with which 
to study law, and'who had from the first promoted his politi- 
cal fortunes wiih zeal as disinterested as it was effective. 
The connection promised well for Mr. Lincoln, and no doubt 
did well during the short period of its existence. The court- 
room was in Iloffman'.s Row ; and the oflSce of Stuart & 
Lincoln was in the second story above the court-room. It 
was a " little room," and generally a " dirty one."' It con- 
tained '• a small dirty bed," — on which Lincoln lounged and 
iilept, — a buffalo-robe, a chair, and a bench. Here the junior 
partner, when disengaged from the cares of politics and the 
Legislature, was to be found pretty much all the time, " read- 
ing, abstracted and gloomy." Springfield was a small vil- 
lage, containing between one and two thousand inhabitants. 
There wore no pavements : the street-crossings were made 
of "chunks," stones, and sticks. Lincoln boarded with Hon. 
William Butler, a gentleman who possessed in an eminent 
degree that mysterious power which guides the delil)erations 
of party conventions and legislative bodies to a foregone 
conclusion. Lincoln was very poor, worth nothing, and in 
debt, — circumstances which are not often alleged in behalf 
of the modern legislator ; but " Bill Butler " was his friend, 
and took him in with little reference to board-bills and the 
settlement of accounts. According to Dr. Jayne, lie "fed 
and clothed him for vears ; " and this signal service, rendered 


at a very critical time, Mr. Lincoln forgot wholly when he was 
in Congress, and Butler wanted to be Register of the Land 
Office, as well as when he was President of the United States, 
and opportunities of repayment were multitudinous. It is 
doubtless all true ; but the inference of personal ingratitude 
on the part of Mr. Lincoln will not bear examination. It will 
be shown at another place that Mr. Lincoln regarded all public 
offices within his gift as a sacred trust, to be administered 
solely for the people, and as in no sense a fund upon which 
he could draw for the payment of private accounts. He 
never preferred his friends to his enemies, but rather the 
reverse, as if fearful that he might by bare possibUity be 
influenced by some unworthy motive. He was singularly 
cautious to avoid the imputation of fidelity to his friends at 
the expense of his opponents. 

In Coke's and Blackstone's time the law was supposed to be 
"• a Jealous mistress ; " but in Lincoln's time, and at Spring- 
field, she was any thing but exacting. Politicians courted her 
only to make her favor the stepping-stone to success in other 
employments. Various members of that bar have left great 
reputations to posterity, but none of them were earned solely 
by the legitimate practice of the law. Douglas is remem- 
bered as a statesman, Baker as a political orator, Hardin as a 
soldier, and some now living, like Logan and Stuart, although 
eminent in the law, will be no less known to the history of 
the times as politicians than as lawyers. Among those who 
went to the law for a living, and to the people for fame and 
power, was Mr: Lino . He was still a member of the Legis- 
lature when he £... -c- at Springfield, and would probably 
have continued to run for a seat in that body as often as his 
time expired, but for the unfortunate results of the " internal- 
improvement system," the hopeless condition of the State 
finances, and a certain gloominess of mind, which arose from 
private misfortunes that befell him about the time of his 
■"'jement. We do not say positively that these were the 
.v,..sons why Mr. Lincoln made no effort to be re-elected to 
the Le 'slature of 1840 ; but a carefid study of all the circum- 


stances will load any reasonable man to believe that they 
were. He was intensely ambitious, longed ardently for place 
and distinction, and never gave up a prospect which seemed 
to him good when he was in a condition to pursue it with 
honor to himself and fairness to others. Moreover State poli- 
tics were then rapidly ceasing to be the high-road to fame and 
fortune. Although the State of Illinois was insolvent, unable 
to pay the interest on her public debt, and many were talk- 
ing about repn<liiiting the principal, the great campaign of 
1840 went off upon national issues, .and little or nothing was 
said about questions of State policy. Mr. Lincoln felt and 
obeyed this tendency of the public mind, and from 1837 
onward his speeches — that were printed and those that 
were not — were devoted cliiefly, if not exclusively, to Federal 

In January, 1837, he delivered a lecture before the Spring- 
field Lyceum on the subject of the '■'Perpetuation of our Free 
Institutions." As a mere declamation, it is unsurpassed in 
the annals of the West. Although delivered in mid-winter, 
it is instinct with the jieculiar eloquence of the most fervid 
Fourth of July. 

" In the great journal of things," began the orator, " hap- 
pening 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 cUmate. 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 arc a 
legacy bequeathed us by a once hard)'', brave, and patriotic, 
but note 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 arid 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 tlie world to know. This 
task, gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to pos- 
terity, — all imperatively require us faithfully to perform. 

" How, then, shall we perform it? At what point shall we 
ex[>ect the approach of danger? Shall we expect some trans- 
atlantic 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 ex- 
cepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a com- 
mander, could not, by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or 
make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand j-ears ! 

" At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be ex- 
pected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst 
us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, 
we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of 
freemen, 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 increas- 
ing disregard for law which pervades the country, the grow- 
ing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions in 
lieu of the sober judgment of courts, and the worse than sav- 
age mobs for the executive ministers of justice. This disposi- 
tion 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. The}^ 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. 
Thej'- are not the creature of climate ; neither arc they con- 
fined to the slaveholding or non-slaveholding States. Alike 
they spring up among the pleasure-hunting masters of 
Southern slaves and the order-lovincr citizens uf the land of 


stead)' habits. Whatever, then, their cause may be, it ia 
common to the whole country." 

The orator then a<lverts to the doings of recent mobs in 
various parts of the country, and insists, that, if tlie spirit that 
produced them continues to increase, the la\ys and the govern- 
ment itself must fall before it: bad citizens will be encour- 
aged, and good ones, having no protection against the lawless, 
will be glad to receive an individual master who will be 
able to give them the peace and order they desire. That will 
bo the time when the usiu-per will put down his heel on the 
neck of the people, and batter down the " fair fabric " of free 
institutions. '' Many great and good men," he says, " suffi- 
ciently qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever 
be found, whose ambition would aspire to nothing beyond a 
seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or a presidential chair; but 
$uch belong not to the family of the lion or the tribe of the eagle} 
What ! Think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, 
a CiBsar, or a Napoleon? Never ! Towering genius disdains 
a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. It sees 
no distinction in adding story to stor)' upon the monuments 
of fame erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is 
glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread 
in the foots-teps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It 
thirsts and burns for disliuciion ; and, if possible, it will have 
it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves or enslaving 
freemen. . . . Another reason which once ivas, but which, to 
the same extent, is noiv no more, has done much in maintain- 
ing our institutions thus far. I mean the powerful influence 
which the interesting scenes of the Revolution had upon the 
passions of the people as distinguished from their judgment." 
This influence, the lecturer maintains, was kept alive by the 
presence of the surviving soldiers of the Revolution, who were 
in some sort "living histories,'" and concludes with this 
striking peroration : — 

" But those histories are gone. They can be read no more 
forever. They iiicre a fortress of strength ; bat what invading 

' The italics are the orator's, 


foeman could never do, the silent artilleiy of time has done, 
— the levelling of its walls. They are gone. They were a 
forest of giant oaks ; but the all-resistless hurricane has swept 
over them, and left only here and there a lonely trunk, de- 
spoiled of its verdure, shorn of its foliage, unshading and 
unshaded, to murmur in a few more gentle breezes, and to 
combat with its mutilated limbs a few more rude storms, then 
to sink and be no more. They were the pillars of the temjile 
of liberty ; and now that they have crumbled away, that tem- 
ple must fall, unless we, the descendants, supply their places 
with other pillars hewn from the same solid quarry of sober 
reason. Passion has helped us, but can do so no more. It 
will in future be our enemy. Reason — cold, calculating, 
unimpassioued reason — must furnish all the materials for 
our future support and defence. Let those materials be 
moulded into general intelligenee, sound morality, and, in par- 
ticular, a reverence for the Constitution and the laws ; and that 
we improved to the last, that we revered his name to the 
last, that during his long sleep we permitted no hostile foot 
to pass or desecrate his resting-place, shall be that which to 
learn the last trump shall awaken our Washington. Upon 
these let the proud fabric of freedom rest as the rock of its 
basis, and as truly as has been said of the only greater insti- 
tution, ' The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' " 

These extracts from a lecture carefully composed by Mr. 
Lincoln at the mature age of twenty-eight, and after consid- 
erable experience in the public service, are worthy of atten- 
tive perusal. To those familiar with his sober and pure style 
at a later age, these sophomoric passages will seem incredi- 
ble. But they were thought " able and eloquent " by the 
"Young Men's Lj^ceum" of Springfield : he was "solicited 
to furnish a copy for publication," and they were duly printed 
in " The Sangamon Journal." In the mere matter of rhetoric, 
they compare favorably with some of his other productions 
of nearly the same date. This was what he would have 
called his " growing time ; " and it is intensely interesting to 
witness the processes of such mental growth as his. In time. 


gi-adually, but still rapidly, his style changes completely : the 
constrained and unnatural attempts at striking and lofiy 
metaphor disappear, and the (jualities which produced the 
Gettysburg address— -that model of unadorned eloquence — 
begin to be felt. He finds the people understand him better 
when he comes down from his stilts, and talks to them from 
their own level. 

Political discussions at Springfield were apt to run into 
lieated and sometimes unseemly personal controvei-sies. When 
Douglas and Stuart were candidates for Congress in 18:38, 
they fought like tigers in Herndon's grocery, over a floor that 
was drenched with slops, and gave up the struggle only when 
both were exhausted. Then, as a further entertainment to 
the populace, Mr. Stuart ordered out a •' barrel of whiskey 
and wine." 

On the election-day in 1840, it was reported to Mr. Lin- 
coln that one Radford, a contractor on the railroad, had 
brought up his men. and taken full possession of one of the 
polling-places. Lincoln started off to the precinct on a slow 
trot. Radford knew him well, and a little stern advice 
i-eversed proceedings without any fighting. Among other 
remarks, Lincoln said, '' Radford, you'll spoil and blow if you 
live much longer." He wanted to hit Radford, but could get 
no chance to do so, and contented himself with confiding his 
intentions to Speed. '• I intended just to knock him down, 
and leave him kicking." 

The same year, Col. B<aker was making a speochto a promis- 
cuous audience in the court-room, — "a rented room in Hoff- 
man's Row." It will be remembered that Lincoln's office 
was just above, and ho was listening to Baker through a 
large hole or trap-door in the ceiling. Baker warmed with 
his theme, and, growing violent and personally offensive, de- 
clared at length. " that wherever there was a land-office, 
there was a Democratic newspaper to defend its corruptions." 
" This." sa3-s John B. Webber, '' was a personal attack on 
my brother, George Webber. I was in the Court House, and 
in my anger ciied, ' Pull him down ! ' " A scene of great con- 


fusion ensued, threatening to end in a general riot, m whicli 
Baker was likelj' to suifer. But just at the critical moment 
Lincoln's legs were seen coming through the hole ; and 
directly his tall figure was standing between Baker and the 
audience, gesticulating for silence. " Gentlemen," said he, 
" let us not disgrace the age and country in which we live . 
This is a land where freedom of speech is guaranteed. Mr 
Baker has a right to speak, and ought to be permitted to do 
so. I am here to protect him, and no man shall take him 
from this stand if I can prevent it." Webber only recollects 
that "some one made some soothing, kind remarks," and that 
he was properly " held until the excitement ceased," and the 
affair " soon ended in quiet and peace." 

In 1838, or 1840, Jesse B. Thomas made an intemperate 
attack upon the " Long Nine," and especially upon Mr. Lin- 
coln, as the longest and worst of them. Lincoln was not 
present at the meeting ; but being sent for, and informed 
of what had passed, he ascended the platform, and made a 
reply which nobody seems to remember, but which every- 
body describes as a "terrible skinning" of his victim. Ellis 
says, that, at the close of a furious personal denunciation, he 
wound up by "mimicking" Thomas, until Thomas actually 
cried with vexation and auger. Edwards, Speed, Ellis, Davis, 
and many others, refer to this scene, and, being asked whether 
Mr. Lincoln could not be vindictive upon occasion, generally 
respond, " Remember the Thomas skinning." 

The most intimate friend Mr. Lincoln ever had, at this or 
any other time, was probably Joshua F. Speed. In 1836 he 
settled himself in Springfield, and did a thriving business as 
a merchant. Ellis was one of his clerks, and so alsn was 
William H. Herndon, Mr. Lincoln's future partner. This 
store was for years Lincoln's familiar haunt. There he came 
to while away the tedious evenings with Speed and the con- 
genial company that naturally assembled around these choice 
spirits. He even slept in the store room as often as he slept 
at home, and here made to Speed the most confidential com- 
munications he ever made to mortal man. If he had on 


earth "a bosom crony," it was Speed, and that deep and 
abiding attachment subsisted unimpaired to the day of Mr. 
Lincoln's death. In truth, there were good reasons why he 
should think of Speed with affection and gratitude, for 
through life no man rendered him more important ser- 

One night in December, 1839, Lincoln, Douglas, Baker, and 
some other gentlemen of note, were seated at Speed's hospita- 
ble fire in the store. " They got to talking politics, got warm, 
hot, angry. Douglas sprang up and said, " Gentlemen, this is 
no place to talk politics : we will discuss the questions publicly 
with you," and much more in a high tone of banter and defi- 
ance. A few days afterwards the Whigs had a meeting, at 
which Mr. Lincoln reported a resolution challenging the Dem- 
ocrats to a joint debate. The challenge was accepted ; and 
Douglas. Calhoun, Lamborn, and Jesse B. Thomas were de- 
puted by the Democrats to meet Logan, Baker, Browning, 
and Lincoln on the part of the Whigs. The intellectual 
encounter between these noted champions is still described by 
those who witnessed it as " the great debate." It took place 
in the Second Presbyterian Church, in the hearing of as many 
people as could get into the building, and was adjourned from 
night to night. When Mr. Lincoln's turn came, the audience 
was very thin ; but, for all that, his speech was by many per- 
sons considered the best one of the series. To this day, there 
are some who believe he had assistance in the preparation of 
it. Even Mr. Herndon accused Speed of having " had a hand 
in it," and got a flat denial for his answer. At all events, the 
speech was a popular success, and was written out, and pub- 
lished in " The Sangamon Journal," of March 6, 1840. The 
exordium was a sort of complaint that must have hsul a very 
depressing effect upon both the spenker and his hearers : — 

^'Fellow-Citizens, — It is peculiarly embarrassing to me to 
attempt a continuance of the discussion, on this evening, which 
has been conducted in this haU on several preceding ones. 
It is so, because on each of these evenings there was a much 
fuller attendance than now, without any reason for its being 

LIFE OP ABEA^*>' r-,-^-'r-.r^ 233 

SO, except the greater intere.^' /uty feel m the 

speakers who addressed them then, th.m Caey do in him who 
is to do so now. I am, indeed, apprehensive that the few 
who have attended have done so more to spare me of mortifi- 
cation, than in the hope of being interested in any thing I 
may be able to say. This circumstance casts a damp upon 
my spirits which I am sure I shall be unable to overcome 
during the evening. 

" The subject heretofore and now to be discussed is the 
Sub-Treasury scheme of the present administration, as a means 
of collecting, safe-keeping, transferring, and disbursing the 
revenues of the nation, as contrasted with -^ National Bank 
for the same purposes. Mr. Douglas has said that we (the 
Whigs) have not dared to meet them (the Locos) in argu- 
ment on this question. I protest against this assertion. I 
say we have again and again, during this discussion, urged 
facts and arguments against the Sub-Treasury which they 
have neither dared to deny nor attempted to answer. But 
lest some may be led to believe that we really wish to avoid 
tlie question, I now propose, in my humble way, to urge these 
arguments again ; at the same time begging the audience to 
mark well the positions I shall take, and the proofs I shall offer 
to sustain them, and that they will not again allow Mr. Doug- 
las or his friends to escape the force of them by a round and 
groundless assertion that we dare not meet them in argument. 

" Of the Sub-Treasury, then, as contrasted with a National 
Bank, for the before-enumerated purposes, I lay down the 
following propositions, to wit : — 

" 1st. It will injuriously affect the community by its opera- 
tion on the circulating medium. 

" 2d. It will be a more expensive fiscal agent. 

"3d. It will be a less secure depository for the public 

Mr. Lincoln's objections to the Sub-Treasury were those 
commonly urged by its enemies, and have been somewhat 
conclusively refuted by the operation of that admirable insti- 
tution from the hour of its adoption to the present. " The 


extravagant expeuditures o£ Mr. Van Buren's admiiiistra- 
tion, however, was a standaid topic of the Whigs in those 
days, and, shding gracefully off from the Sub-Treasury, Mr. 
Lincoln dilated extensively upon this more attractive subject. 
This part of his speech was entirely in reply to Mr. Douglas. 
But, when he came to answer Mr. Lamborn's remarks, he " got 
in a hard hit " that must have brought down the house. 

" Mr. Lamborn insists that the difference between the Van 
Bui-en party and the Whigs is, that, although the former some- 
times err in practice, they are always correct in principle, 
whereas the latter are wrong in principle ; and, the better to 
impress this proposition, he uses a figurative expression in these 
words : ' The Democrats are vulnerable in the heel, but they 
are sound in the heart and head.' The first branch of the fig- 
ure, — that is, that the Democrats are vulnerable in the heel, — 
I admit is not merely figuratively but literally true. Who that 
looks but for a moment at their Swartwouts, their Prices, their 
Harringtons, and their hundreds of others, scampering away 
with the public money to Texas, to Europe, and to every spot of 
the earth where a villaii aay hope to find refuge from justice, 
can at all doubt that they are most distressingly affected in 
their heels with a species of ' running itch.' It seems that 
this malady of their heels operates on the sound-headed and 
honest-hearted creatures very much like the cork-leg in the 
comic song did on its owner, which, when he had once got 
started on it, the more he tried to stop it, the more it would run 
away. At the hazard of wearing this point threadbare, I will 
relate an anecdote which seems to be too strikingly in point to 
be omitted. A witty Irish soldier who was always boasting 
of his bravery when no danger was near, but who invariably 
retreated without orders at the first charge of the engagement, 
being asked by his captain why he did so, replied, ' Captain, 
I have as brave a heart as Julius Caesar ever had, but some- 
how or other, whenever danger approaches, my cowardly legs 
will run away w'th it.' So with Mr. Lamborn's party. They 
take the public money into their hands for the most laudable 
purpose that wise heads and honest hearts can dictate ; but, 


before they can possibly get it out again, their rascally vulner- 
able heels will run away with them." 

But, as in the lecture before the Lyceum, Mr. Lincoln re- 
served his most impressive passage, his boldest imagery, and his 
most striking metaphor, for a grand and vehement peroration. 

" Mr. Lamborn refers to the late elections in the States, and, 
from their results, confidently predicts every State in the Union 
will vote for Mr. Van Buren at the next presidential election. 
Address that argument to cowards and knaves : with the free 
and the brave it will affect nothing. It may be true : if it 
must, let it. Many free countries have lost their liberty, and 
ours may lose hers; but, if she shall, be it my proudest plume, 
not that I was the last to desert, but that I never deserted her. 
I know that the great volcano at Washington, aroused and 
directed by the evil spirit that reigns there, is belching forth 
the lava of political corruption in a current broad and deep, 
which is sweeping with frightful velocity over the whole 
length and breadth of the land, bidding fair to leave un- 
scathed no green spot or living thing; while on its bosom are 
riding, like demons on the wave of i. 11, the imps of that evil 
spirit, and fiendishly taunting all those who dare to resist its 
destroying course with the hopelessness of their efforts ; and, 
knowing this, I cannot deny that all may be swept away. 
Broken by it, I, too, may be ; bow to it, I never will. The 
probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter 
us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. It 
shall not deter me. If ever I feel the soul within me elevate 
and expand to those dimensions, not wholly unworthy of its 
almighty Architect, it is when I contemplate the cause of 
my country, deserted by all the world beside, and I standing 
up boldly, alone, hurling defiance at her victorious oppressors. 
Here, without contemplating consequences, before Heaven 
and in face of the world, I swear eternal fealty to the just 
cause, as I deem it, of the land of my life, my liberty, and my 
love. And who that thinks with me w'^l not fearlessly 
adopt that oath that I take ? Let none falter who thinks he 
is right, and we may succeed. But if, after all, we shall fail, 


fte it so : we still shall have tbe proud consolation of saying 
to our consciences, and to the departed shade of our country's 
freedom, that the cause approved of our judgment and adored 
of our hearts, in disaster, in chains, in torture, in death, we 
never faltered in defending." 

Considering that the titaes were extremely peaceful, and 
that the speaker saw no bloodshed except what flowed from 
the noses of belligerents in the groceries about Springfield, 
the speech seems to have been unnecessarily defiant. 

In 1840 Mr. Lincoln was a candidate for presidential 
elector on the Harrison ticket, and stumped a large part of 
the State. He and Douglas followed Judge Treat's court all 
around the circuit, " and spoke in the afternoons." The 
Harrison club at Springfield became thoroughly familiar 
with his voice. But these one-sided affairs were not alto- 
gether suited to his temper : through his life he preferred 
" joint discussion, and the abler the man pitted against him, 
the better he liked it. He knew lie shone in retort, and 
sought every opportunity to practise it. From 1838 to 1858, 
he seems to have followed up Douglas as a regular business 
during times of great political excitement, and only on one 
or two occasions did he find the " Little Giant " averse to a 
conflict. Here, in 1840, they came in collision, as they did in 
1S39, and as they continued to do through twenty or more 
years, until Lincoln became President of the United States, 
and Douglas's disappointments were buried with his body. 
Once during this Harrison campaign they had a fierce discus- 
sion before a meeting assembled in the market-house. In 
the course of his speech, Lincoln imputed to Van Buren the 
great sin of having voted in the New York State Convention 
for negro suffrage with a property qualification. Douglas 
denied the fact; and Lincoln attempted to prove his state- 
ment by reading a certain passage from Holland's " Life of 
Van Buren," containing a letter from Van Buren to one Mr. 
Fithian. Whereupon " Douglas got mad," snatched up the 
book, and, tossing it into the crowd, remarked sentcntiously, 
although not conclusivelv, " Damn such a book I " 


" He was very sensitive," says Mr. Gillespie, " where he 
thought he had failed to come up to the expectations of his 
friends. I remember a ease. He was pitted by the Whigs, 
in 1840, to debate with Mr. Douglas, the Democratic cham- 
pion. Lincoln did not come up to the requirements of the 
occasion. He was conscious of his failure ; and I never saw 
any man so much distressed. He begged to be permitted to 
try it again, and was reluctantly indulged ; and in the next 
effort he transcended our highest expectations. I never 
heard, and never expect to hear, such a triumphant vindica- 
tion as he then gave of Whig measures or policy. He never 
after, to my knowledge, fell below himself." 

It must by this time be clear to the reader that Mr. Lincoln 
was never agitated by any passion more intense than his won- 
derful thirst for distinction. There is good evidence that it 
furnished the feverish dreams of his boyhood ; and no man 
that knew him well can doubt that it governed all his cor- 
duct, from the hour when he astonished himself by his oratori- 
cal success against Posey and Ewing, in the back settlements 
of Macon County, to the day when the assassin marked him 
as the first hero of the restored Union, re-elected to his great 
office, surrounded by every circumstance that could minister 
to his pride, or exalt his sensibilities, — a ruler whose power 
was only less wide than his renown. He never rested in the 
race he had determined to run; he was ever ready to be 
honored ; he struggled incessantly for place. There is no 
instance where an important office seemed to be within his 
reach, and he did not try to get it. Whatsoever he did in 
politics, at the bar, in private life, had more or less reference 
to this great object of his Kfe. It is not meant to be said that 
he was capable of any shameful act, any personal dishonor, 
any surrender or concealment of political convictions. In 
these respects, he was far better than most men. It was not 
in his nature to run away from the fight, or to desert to the 
enemy ; but he was quite willing to accept his full share of 
the fruits of victory. 

Bom in ^"hp '-,.•.-, „o=r ^.,ta-v- = -nees, uneducated, poor, 


acquainted with flatboats and groceries, but a stranger to the 
drawing-room, it was natural that he should seek in a matri- 
monial alliance those social advantages which he felt were 
necessary to his political advancement. This was, in fact, his 
own view of the matter ; but it was strengthened and en- 
forced by the counsels of those whom he regarded as friends. 

In 1839 Miss Mary, daughter of Hon. Robert S. Todd of 
Lexington, Ky., came to live with her sister, Mrs. Ninian \V. 
Edwards, at Springfield. Like Miss Owens, Miss Todd had 
a stepmother, with whom she failed to " agree," and for that 
reason the Edwardses offered her a home with them. She 
was 3^oung, — just twenty-one, — her family was of the best, 
and her connections in Illinois among the most refined and dis- 
tinguished people. Her mother having died when she was 
a little girl, she had been educated under the care of a French 
lady, " opposite Mr. Clay's." She was gifted with rare talents, 
had a keen sense of the ridiculous, a ready insight into the 
weaknesses of individual character, and a most fiery and un- 
governable temper. Her tongue and her pen were equally 
sharp. High-bred, proud, brilliant, witty, and with a will 
tha-t bent every one else to her purpose, she took Mr. Lin- 
coln captive the very moment she considered it expedient 
to do so. 

Mr. Lincoln was a rising politician, fresh from the people, 
and possessed of great power among them : Miss Todd was 
of aristocratic and distinguished family, able to lead through 
the awful portals of "good society" whomsoever they chose 
to countenance. It was thought that a union between them 
could not fail of numerous benefits to both parties. Mr. 
Edwards thought so -, Mrs. Edwards thought so ; and it ^vas 
not long before Slary Todd herself thought so. She was 
very ?vmhitious, and even before she left Kentucky an- 
nounced her belief that bhe was ■' destined to be the wife of 
some fut'are President. " For a little while she was courted 
by Doughas as well as by Lincoln - but she is said to have 
refused the '• Little Giant," " on account of his bad morals," 
GpiniT a.<^ked which of them sl:e rotSTled to have, she an- 


swered, " The one that has the best chance of being Presi- 
dent." She decided in favor of Lincoln, and, in the opinion 
of some of her husband's friends, aided to no small extent in 
the fulfilment of the prophecy which the bestowal of her 
hand implied. A friend of Miss Todd was the wife of an 
elderly but wealthy gentleman ; and being asked by one of 
the Edwards coterie why she had married " such an old, 
dried-up husband, such a withered-up old buck," she an- 
swered that " He had lots of horses and gold." But Mary 
Todd spoke up in great surprise, and said, " Is that.true? I 
would rather marry a good man, a man of mind, with hope 
and bright prospects ahead for position, fame, and power, than 
to marry all the horses, gold, and bones in the world." 

Mrs. Edwards, Miss Todd's sister, tells us that Mr. Lin- 
coln " was charmed with Mary's wit and fascinated with her 
quick sagacity, her will, her nature and culture." " I have 
happened in the room," she says, " where they were sitting 
often and often, and Mary led the conversation. Lincoln 
would listen, and gaze on her as if drawn by some superior 
power, — irresistibly so : he listened, but never scarcely said a 
word. . . . Lincoln could not hold a lengthy conversation 
with a lady, — was not sufficiently educated and intelligent 
in the female Hne to do so." 

Mr. Lincoln and Mary were engaged, and their marriage was 
only a question of time. But Mr. Lincoln's love-affairs were 
destined never to run smoothlj-, and now one Miss Matilda 
Edwards made her " sweet appearance," and brought havoc 
in her train. She was the sister of Ninian W. Edwards, and 
came to spend a year with her brother. She was very fair, 
and soon was the reigning belle. No sooner did Lincoln know 
her than he felt his heart change. The other affair, accord- 
ing to the Edwardses, according to Stuart, according to Hern- 
d J, according to Lincoln and everj'body else, was a " policy 
match ; " but this was love. For a while he evidently tried 
hard to go on as before, but his feelings were too strong to be 
concealed. Mr. Edwards endeavored to reconcile matters by 
getting bis "ister to marry Speed ; but the rebellious beauty 


refused Speed incontinently (as she did Dourjlas too), and 
married Mr. Schuyler Strong. Poor Lincoln never whispered 
a word of his passion to her: his high sense of honor pre- 
vented that, and perhaps she would not have listened to him 
if it had been otherwise. 

At length, after long reflection, in great agony of spirit, 
Mr. Lincoln concluded that duty required him to make a can- 
did statement of his feelings to the lady who was entitled to 
h'i ' d. He wrote her a letter, and told her gently but 
J. . hat he did not love her. He asked Speed to deliver 
it ; but Speed advised him to burn it. " Speed," said Mr. Lin- 
coln, " I always knew you were an obstinate man. If votv 
', ^. 't delivR'- it, I'll get some one else to do it." But Sped 
now Lad the, .etter in his hand ; and, emboldened by the warm 
frier dship that existed between them, replied, "I shall not 
deliver it, nor give it to you to be delivered. Words are 
forgotten, misunderstood, passed by, not noticed in a private 
conversation ; but once put your words in writing, and they 
stand fis a living and eternal monument against you. If y-u 
think you have ivill and manhood enough to go and see her, and 
speak to her what you say in that letter, you may do that." 
T.incoln went to see her forthwith, and reported to Speed. 
He said, that, when he made his somewhat startling commu- 
nication, she rose and said, " ' The deceiver shall be deceived : 
woe is me ! ' alluding to a young man she had fooled." Mary 
told him she knew the reason of his change of heart, and re- 
leased him from his engagement. Some parting endearments 
took place between them, and then, ao ihe natural result of 
those endearments, a reconciliation. 

We quote ag-'in from Mrs. Edwards : — 

" Lincoln and Mary were engaged ; every thing was ready 
and prepared for the marriage, even to the supper. Lin- 
coln failed to meet his engagement. Cause, insanity ! 

" In his lunacy he declared he hated Mary and loved Miss 
Edsvards. This is true, yet it was not >'s real feelings. A 
crazy man hates those he loves when at himself. Often, 
often, is this the case. The world had it that Mr. Lincoln 


backed out, and t>iis nlaced Mary in a peculiar situation ; and 
to set herself right, and free Mr. Lincoln's mind, she wrote a 
letter to Mr. Lincoln, stating that she would release him from 
his engagement. . . . The whole of the year was a crazy 
spell. Miss Edwards was at our house, say a year. I asked 
Miss Edwards if Mr. Lincoln ever mentioned the subject of 
his love to her. Miss Edwards said, ' On my word, he never 
mentioned suoh a subject to me: he never even stooped to 
pay me a compliment.' " 

In the language of Mr. Edwards, " Lincoln went as crazy as 
a loon," and was taken to Kentucky by Speed, who kept him 
"until he recovered." He "did not attend the Legislature 
in 1841-2 for this reason." 

Mr. Herndon devoutly believes that Mr. Linci..a's insanity 
grew out of a most extraordinary complication of feelings, — 
aversion to the marriage proposed, a counter-attachment to 
Miss Edwards, and a new access of unspeakable tenderness for 
the memory of Ann Rutledge, — the old love struggling with 
a r^w one, and each sending to his heart a sacrificial pang as 
he thought of his solemn engagement to marry a third person. 
In this opinion Mr. Speed appears to concur, as shown by his 
letter below. At all events, Mr. Lincoln's derangement was 
nearly, if not quite, complete. " We had to remove razors 
from his room," says Speed, " take away all knives, and other 
dangerous things. It was terrible." And now Speed deter- 
mined to do for him what Bowlin Greene had done on a simiL ■ , 
occasion at New Salem. Having sold out his store on the Itc 
of Januar}', 1841, he took Mr. Lincoln with him to his home 
in Kentucky, and kept him there during most of the summer 
and fall, or until he seemed sufficiently restored to be given 
his liberty again at Springfield, when he was brought back 
to his old quarters. During this period, " he was at times very 
melancholy," and, by his own admission, "almost contemplated 
self-destruction." It was about this time that he wrote some 
gloomy lines under the head of "Suicide," which were pub- 
lished in " The Sangamon Journal." Mr. Herndon remembered 
something about them ; but, when he went to look for them 


in the office-file of the " Journal," he found them neatly cut 
out, — " supposed to have been done," sa3's he, " by Lincoln." 
Speed's mother was much pained by the " deep depression " 
of her guest, and gave him a Bible, advising him to read it, 
to adopt its precepts, and pray for its promises. He acknowl- 
edged this attempted service, after he became President, by 
■sending her a photograph of himself, with this inscription : 
' ■ To my very good friend, Mrs. Lucy G. Speed, from whose 
pious hands I received an Oxford Bible twenty years ago." 
But Mrs. Speed's medicine, the best ever offered for a mind 
diseased, was of no avail in this case. Among other things, 
he told Speed, referring probably to his inclination to commit 
suicide, " that he had done nothing to make any human being 
remember that he had lived, and that to connect his name 
with the events transpiring in his day and generation, and so 
impress himself upon them as to link his name with something 
that would redound to the interest of his fellow-man, was 
what he desired to live for." Of this conversation he point- 
ecMy reminded Speed at the time, or just before the time, he 
i.-isued the Emancipation Proclamation. 

What took place after his return to Springfield cannot be 
better told than in the virords of the friends of both parties. 
" Mr. Edwards and myself," says Mrs. Edwards, " after the 
first crash of things, told Mary and Lincoln that they had 
better not ever r-arry ; that their natures, minds, education, 
raising, &c., were so different, that they could not live happy 
as man and wife ; had better never think of the subject 
again. All at once we heard that Mr. Lincoln and Mary had 
secret meetings at Mr. S. Francis's, editor of ' The Springfield 
.Journal.' Mary said the reason this was so, the cause why it 
was, was that the world, woman and man, were uncertain 
and slippery, and that it was best to keep the secret court- 
ship from ail eyes and ears. Mrs. Lincoln told Mr. Lincoln, 
that, though she had released him in the letter spoken of, yet 
she would hold the question an open one, — that is, that she 
had not changed her mind, but felt as always. . . . The 
marriage of Mr. Lincoln and Mary was quick and sudden, — 


one or two hours' notice." How poor Mr. Lincoln felt about 
it, may be gathered from the reminiscences of his friend, J. H. 
Mathenj, who says, "that Lincoln and himself, in 1842, 
were very friendly ; that Lincoln came to him one" evening 
and said, ' Jim, I shall have to mai-ry that girl.' " He was 
married that evening, but Matheny says, "he looked as 
if he was going to the slaughter," and that Lincoln " had 
often told him, directly and individually, that he was driven 
into the marriage ; that it was concocted and planned by the 
Edwards family ; that Miss Todd — afterwards Mrs. Lincoln 
— was crazy for a week or so, not knowing what to do ; 
and that he, loved Miss Edwards, and went to see her, and 
not Mrs. Lincoln." 

The license to marry was issued on the 4th- of November, 
1842, and on the same da}' the marriage was celebrated by 
Charles Dresser, " M.G." With this date carefully borne in 
mind, the following letters are of surpassing interest. They 
are relics, not only of a great man, but of a great agony. 

The first is from Mr. Speed to Mr. Herndon, and explains 
the circumstances under which the correspondence took 
place. Although it is in part a repetition of what the reader 
already knows, it is of such peculiar value, that we give it 
in full : — 

LOOISVILLE, Nov. 30, 1866. 

W. H. Hekndon, Esq. 

Dear Sir, — I enclose you copies of all the letters of any interest from 
Mr. Lincoln to me. 

Some explanation may be needed, that you may rightly understand their 

In the winter of 1840 and 1841 he was unhappy about his engagement to 
his wife, — not being entirely satisfied that his heart was going with his 
hand. How much he suffered then on that account, none know so well as 
myself: he disclosed his whole heart to me. 

In the summer of 1841 I became engaged to my wife. He was here on a 
visit when I courted her ; and, strange lo say, something of the same feeling 
which I regarded as so foolish in him took possession of me, anu kept me 
■very unhappy from the time of my engagement until I was married. 

This will ex{>Iain the deep interest he manifested in his letters on my 


If you use the letters (and some of them are perfect gems) do it care- 
fully, so as not to wound the feelings of Mrs. Lincoln. 

One thing is plainly discernible : if I had not been married and happy, 
— far more happy than I ever expected to be, — he iToiild not have 

I have erased a name which I do not wish published. If! have failed 
to do it anywhere, strike it out when you come to it. That is the word . 

I thank you for your last lecture. It is all new to me, but so true to my 
appreciation of Lincoln's character, that, independent of my knowledge 
of you, 1 would almost swear to it. 

Lincoln wrote a letter (a long one, which he read to me) to Dr. Drake, 
of Cincinnati, descriptive of !iis case. Its date would be in December, 1840, 
or early in January, 1841. I think that he must have informed Dr. D. 
^f his early love for Miss Rutledge, as there was a part of the letter 
which he would not read. 

It would be wortli much to you, if you could procure the original. 

Charles D. Drake, of St. Louis, may have his liither's papers. The date 
which I give you will aid in the search. 

I remember Dr. Drake's reply, which was, that he would not undertake 
to prescribe for him without a personal interview. I would advise you to 
make some effort to get the letter. 

Your friend, &c., 

J. F. Speed. 

The first of the papers fioir. Mr. Lincoln's pen is a letter 
of advice and consolation to his friend, for whom he appre- 
hends the terrible things through which, by the help of that 
friend, he has himself just passed. 

My DE.A.R Speed, — Feeling, as you know I Jo, the deepest solicitude for 
the success of the enterprise you are engaged in, I adopt this as the last 
method I can invent to aid you, in case (which God forbid) you shall need 
any aid. I do not place what I am going to say on paper, because I can say 
it better in that way than I could by word of mouth; but, were I to say it 
orally before we part, most likely you would forget it at the very time when 
it might do you some good. As I think it reasonable that you will feel very 
badly sometime between this and the final consummation of your purpose, it 
is intended that you shall read this just at such a time. Why I say it is 
reasonable that you will feel very badly yet, is because of three special causes 
added to the general one which I shall mention. 

The weneral cause is, that you are naturally of a nervous temperament, 
and this I say from what I have seen of you personally, and what you have 


told me concerning your mother at various times, and concerning youl 
brother William at the time his wife died. The first special cause is your 
exposure to bad weather on your journey, which my e.xperience clearly proves 
to be very severe on defective nerves. The second is the absence of all busi- 
ness and conversation of friends, which might divert your mind, give it occa^ 
sionai rest from the intensity of thought which will sometimes wear the 
sweetest idea threadbare, and turn it to the bitterness of death. 

The third is the rapid and near approach of that crisis on which all your 
thoughts and feelings concentrate. 

If from all these causes you shall escape, and go through triumphantly, 
without another " twinge of the soul," I shall be most happily but most 
cgregiously deceived. If, on the contrary, you shall, as I expect you will at 
some time, be agonized and distressed, let mc, who have some reason to 
speak with judgment on such a subject, beseech you to ascribe it to the 
causes I have mentioned, and not to some false and ruinous suggestion of the 

" But," you will say, " do not your causes apply to every one engaged in 
a like undertaking V " By no means. The particular causes, to a greater or 
less extent, perhaps, do apply in all cases ; but the general one, — nervous 
debility, which is the key and conductor of all the particular ones, and 
without which they would be utterly harmless, though it does pertain to 
you, — does not pertain to one in a thousand. It is out of this that the pain- 
ful difference between you and the mass of the world springs. 

I know what the painful point with you is at all times when you are 
unhappy: it is an apprehension that you do not love her as you should. 
What nonsense 1 How came you to court her ? Was it because you thought 
she deserved it, and that you had given her reason to expect it ? If it was 
for that, why did not the same reason make you court Ann Todd, and at 
least twenty others of whom you can think, and to whom it would apply with 
greater force than to her ? Did you court her lor her wealth ? Why, you 
know she had none. But you say you re;i3oned yourself into it. What do 
you mean by that? Was it not that you found yourself unable to reason 
yourself out of it ? Did you not think, and partly form the purpose, of court- 
ing her the first time you ever saw her or heard of her ? What had reason 
to do with it at that early stage? There was nothing at that time for 
reason to work upon. Whether she was moral, amiable, sensible, or even 
of good character, you did not, nor could then know, except, perhaps, you 
might inler the last from the company you found her in. 

All you then did or could know of her was her personal appearance and 
deportment ; and these, if they impress at all, impress tlie heart, and not the 

Say candidly, were not those heavenly block eyes the whole basis of all 
your early reasoning on the subject? After you and I had once been at the 
residence, did you not go and take me all the way to ' ingtou and back, foi 


no other purpose but to get to see her again, on our return on that CTening 
to take a trip for that express object? 

What earthly consideration would yon take to find her scouting and 
despising you, and giving herself up to another?. But of this you 
have no apprehension ; and therefore you cannot bring it home to your 

I shall be so anxious about you, that I shall want you to write by every 
mail. Your friend, 

' Lincoln. 

Spbinofield, III., Feb. 3, 1842. 
Dear Speed, — Yo-.~ iitt-r or the 25th January came to hand to-day. 
You well know that I do - '" ,' wy own sorrows much more keenly than I 
do yours, when I know of them ; '•••d yet I assure you I was not much hurt by 
what you wrote me of your e.^iessively bad feeling at the time you -(vrote. 
Not that I am less capable of sympathizing with you now than ever, not that 
I am less your friend than ever, but because I hope and believe that your 
present anxiety and distrfess about ker health and her life must and will for- 
aver banish horrid doubts which I know you sometimes felt as to the 
truth of your atfeciion for her. If they can once and forever be removed 
(and I almost feel a presentiment that the Almighty has sent you. present 
affliction expressly for that object), surely, nothing can come in their stead to 
(ill their immeasurable measure of misery. The death-scenes of those we 
love are surely painful enough ; but these we are prepared for and expect to 
see •■ they happen to all, and all know they must happen. Painful as they 
are, they are not an unlooked-for sorrow. Should she, as you fear, be des- 
tined to an early grave, it is indeed a great consolation to know that she is 
so well prepared t" meet it. Her religion, which you once disliked so much, 
1 will venture you now prize most highly. 

But I hope your melancholy bodings as to her early death are not well 
founded. I even hope that ere this reaches you, she will have returned with 
improved and still-improving health, and that you will have met her, and 
forgotten the sorrows of the past in the enjoyment of the present. I would 
sav more if I could, but it seems thiit i have said enough. It really appears 
[O me Uiat you yourself ought to rejoice, and net soitow, at this indubitable 
e^ndeiice o^ v.-.i'l r.--1--'--: atfectiou for her. 

Why, not love her, although you nught not wish her 

death, yo inly be resigned to it. Perhaps this point is no 

longer a u ' ,■.;/ ^,^r'h\?^:n:r:l dwelling upon it is a i-ude 

intrusioii ' I'jn me. You know the 

belllii;!., .liuuponit. You know 

I do nat I!' 'i;,;,o since you left, even 

better Uu'-ti :. v,-a.-. aloug iji cLe i-ii. ^ Lav.; -'-Cii bu: OEce. She seemed 

Tsry '''\?e. f i ,;ud so I said cotiir.g to her about what we fpoke of. 


Old Uncle Billy Herndon is dead, and it is said this evening that Uncle 
Ben Ferguson will not live. This, I believe, is all the news, and enough at 
that, unless it were better. 

Write me immediately on the receipt of this. 

Your fiiend as ever, 

Springfield, III., Feb. 13, 1842. 

Dbae Speed, — Yours of the 1st inst. came to hand three or four days 
ago. When this shall reach you, you will have been Fanny's husband several 
days. You know my desire to befriend you is everlasting; that I will never 
cease while I know bow to do any thing. 

But you will always hereafter be on ground that I have never occuj^ed, 
and consequently, if advice were needed, I might advise wrong. I do fondly 
hope, however, that you will never again need any comfort from abroad. 
But, should I be mistaken in this, should excessive pleasure still be accom- 
panied with a painful counterpart at times, still let me urge you, as I have 
ever done, to remember, in the depth and even agony of despondency, that 
very shortly you are to feel well again. I am now fully convinced that you 
love her as ardently as you are capable of loving. Your ever being hr.ppy 
in her presence, and your intense anxiety about her health, if there were 
nothing else, would place this beyond all dispute in my mind. I incline to 
think it probable that your nerves will fail you occasionally for a while ; but 
once you get them firmly graded now, that trouble is over forever. 

I think if I were you, in case my mind were not exactly right, I would 
avoid being idle. I would immediately engage in some business, or go to 
making preparations for it, which would be the same thing. 

If you went through the ceremony calmly, or even with sufficient com- 
posure not to excite alarm in any present, you are safe beyond question, and 
in two or three months, to say the most, will be the happiest of men. 

I would desire you to give my particular respects to Fanny; but perhaps 
you will not wish her to know you have received this, lest she should desire 
to see it. Make her write me an answer to my last letter to her ; at any rate, 
I would set great value upon a note or letter "rom her. 

Write me whenever you have leisure. 

Yours forever, 

A. Lincoln. 

P. S. — I have been quite a man since you left. 

Speisgfield, Feb. 2.5, 1842. 

Dear Speed, — Yours of the 16th inst., announcing that Miss Fanny 

and you are "no more twain, but one flesh," reached rae this morning. I 

have no way of telling how much happiness I wish you both, though I 

believe you both can conceive it. I feel somewhat jealous of both of you 


now : you will be so exclusively concerned for one another, that I shall be 
forgotten entirely. My acquaintance with Miss Fanny (I call her this, lest 
you should think I am speaking of your mother) was too short for me to rea- 
sonably hope to long be remembered by her ; and still I am sure I shall not 
forget her soon. Try if you cannot remind her of that debt she owes r ;, — 
and be sure you do not interfere to prevent her paying it. 

I regret to loam that you have resolved to not return to Illinois. I shall 
be very lonesome without you. How miserable things seem to be arranged 
in this world ! If we have no friends, we no pleasure ; and, if we have 
them, we are sure to lose them, and be doubly pained by the loss. I did 
hope she and you would make your home here ; but I own I have no right to 
insist. You owe obligations to her ten thousand times more sacred than you 
can owe to others, and in that light let them be respected and observed. It 
is natural that she should desire to remain with her relatives and friends. 
As to friends, however, she could not need them anywhere : she would have 
them in abundance here. 

Give my kind remembrance to Mr. Williamson and his family, particu- 
larly Miss Elizabeth ; also to your mother, brother, and sisters. Ask little 
Eliza Davis if she will ride to town with me if I come there again. 

And, finally, give Fanny a double reciprocation of all the love she sent me. 
Write me often, and believe me 

Yours forever, 


P. S. — Poor Easthouse is gone at last. lie died a while before day this 
morning. They say he was very loath to die. 

Spbingfield, Feb. 25, 1842. 

Dear Speed, — I received yours of the r2th, written the day you went 
down to William's place, some days since, but delayed answering it till I 
should receive the promised one of the 16lh, which came last ..ight. I opened 
Ac letter with intense ar.xiety and trepidation ; so much, that, although it 
turned out belter than I expected, I have hardly yet, at the distance of ten 
hours, become calm. 

I tell you. Speed, our forebodings (for wliich you and I are peculiar) are 
all the worst sort of nonsense. I fancied, from the time I received your letter 
of Saturday, that the one of Wednesday was never to come, and yet it did 
come, and, what is more, it is perfectly clear, both from its tone and hand- 
writing, that you were much happier, or, if you think the term preferable, less 
miserable, when you wrote it, than when you wrote the last one before. You 
had so obviously improved at the very time I so much fancied you would 
have grown worse. You £ .y that something i ;<!o.-cribably horrible and 
alarming still haunts you. You will not say that v^■■•<;•- irontlis from now, I 
will venture. When your nerves once get steady now, Ui3 v h jle trouble will 


be over forever. Nor should you become impatient at their being even very 
slov? in becoming steady. Again you say, you much fear that tliat Elysium 
of which you have dreamed so much is never to be realized. Well, if it 
shall not, I dare swear it will not be the fault of her who is now your wife. 
I no"- have no doubt, that it is the peculiar misfortune of both you and me to 
dream dreams of Elysium far exceeding all that any thing earthly can realize. 
Far short of your dreams as you may be, no woman could do more to realize 
them than that same black-eyed Fanny. If you could but contemplate her 
through my imagination it wo: '.d appear ridiculous to you that any one 
should for a moment think of being unhappy with her. My old father used 
to have a saying, that, " If you make a bad bargain, hug it all the tighter ; " 
and it occurs to me, that, if the bargain you have just closed can possibly be 
called a bad one, it is certainly the most pleasant one for applying that maxim 
to which my fancy can by any effort picture. 

I write another letter, enclosing this, which you can show her, if she desires 
it. I do this because she would think strangely, perhaps, should you tell her 
that you received no letters from me, or, telling her you do, refuse to let her 
see them. 1 close this, entertaining the confident hope that every successive 
letter I shall have from you (which I here pray may not be few, nor far 
between) may show you possessing a more steady hand and cheerful heart 
than the last preced.jg it. 

As ever, your friend, 


Sprikofield, March 27, 1842. 

DE.A.R Speed, — Yours of the 10th inst. was received three or four days 
since. You know I am sincere when I tell you the pleasure its contents 
gave me was and is inexpressible. As to your farm matter, I have no sym- 
pathy with you. / have no farm, nor ever expect to have, and consequently 
have not studied the subject enough to be much interested with it. I can 
only say that I am glad you are satisfied and pleased with it. 

But on that other subject, to me of the most intense interest whether in 
joy or sorrow, I never had the power to withhold my sympathy from you. 
It cannot be told how it now thrills me with joy to hear you say you are 
"'far happier than you ever expected to he." That much I know is enough. 
I know you too well to suppose your expectations were not, at least, some- 
times extravagant, and, if the reality exceeds them all, I say. Enough, dear 
Lord. I am not going beyond the truth when I tell you, that the short space 
it took me to read your last letter gave me more pleasure thau the total sum 
of all I have enjoyed since that fatal 1st of January, 1841. Since then it 
seems to me I should have been entirely happy, but for the never-absent 
idea that there is one still unhappy whom I have contributed to make so. 
That still kills my souL I cannot but reproach myself for even wishing to 


be happy while she is otherwise. She accompanied a large party on the 
railroad cars to Jacksonville last Monday, and on her return spoke, so that I 
heanl of it, of having enjoyed the trip e-xceedingly. God be praised for 

You know wiih what sleepless vigilance I have watched you ever since 
the commenceoient of your affair; and, although I am almost confident it is 
useless, I cannot forbear once more to say, that I think it is even yet possible 
for your spirits to flag down and leave you miserable. If they should, don't 
fail to remember that they cannot long remain so. One thing I can tell you 

which I know you will be glad to hoar, and that is that I have seen and 

scrutinized her feelings as well as I could, and am fully convinced she is far 
happier now than she has been for the last fifteen months past. 

You wiU see by the last " Sangamon Journal " tUat I have made a tem- 
perance speech on the 22J of February, which I claim that Fanny and you 
shall read as an act of charity to me ; for I cannot learn that anybody else has 
read it, or is likely to. Fortunately, it is not very long, and I shall deem it 
a sufficient compliance with my request if one of you listens while the other 
reads it. 

As to your Lockridge matter, it is only necessary to say that there has 
been no court since you left, and that the next commences to-morrow morn- 
ing, during which 1 suppose we cannot fail to get a judgment. 

I wish you would learn of Everett what he would take, over and above a 
discharge, for all trouble we have been at, to take his business out of our 
hands and give it to somebody else. It is impossible to coflect money on 
that or any other claim here now, and, although you know I am not a very 
petulant man, I declare I am almost out of patience with Mr. Everett's end- 
less importunity. It seems like he not only writes all the letters he can him- 
self, but gets everybody else ia Louisville and vicinity to be constantly writing 
to us about his claim. I have always said that Mr. Everett is a very clever 
fellow, and I am very sorry he cannot be obliged ; but it does seem to me he 
ought to know we are interested to collect his claim, and therefore would do 
it if we could. 

I am neiiher joking aor in a pet when I say wc would tliank him to 
transfer his business to some other, without any compensation for what we 
have done, provided he will see the court cost paid, for which we are security. 

The sweet violet you enclosed came safely to hand, but it was so dry, and 
mashed so flat, that it crumbled to dust at the first attempt to handle it. 
The juice that mashed out of it stained a place in the letter, which I mean 
to preserve and cherish for the sake of her who procured it to be sent. My 
renewed good wishes to her in particular, and generally to all such of your 
relations who know me. 

As ever, 



Speinofield, III., July 4, 1842. 

Dear Speed, — Yours of the 16th June was received only a day or two 
since. It was not mailed at Louisville till the 25th. You speak of the 
great time that has elapsed since I wrote you. Let me explain that. Your 
letter reached here a day or two after I had started on the circuit. I was 
gone five or six weeks, so that I got the letters only a few weeks before 
Butler started to your country. I thought it scarcely worth while to write 
you the news which he could and would tell you more in detail. On his 
return, he told me you would write me soon, and so 1 waited for your letter. 
As to my having been displeased with your advice, surely you know better 
than that. I know you do, and therefore will not labor to convince you. 
True, that subject is painful to me ; but it is not your silence, or the silence 
of all the world, that can make me forget it. I acknowledge Jie correct- 
ness of your advice too ; but, before I resolve to do the one aing or the 
other, I must gain my confidence in my own ability to keep my resolves 
when they are made. In that ability you know I once prided myself, as the 
only or chief gem of my character : that gem I lost, how and where you 
know too well. I have not yet regained it ; and, until I do, I cannot trust 
myself in any matter of much importance. I believe now, that, had you 
understood my case at the time as well as I understood yours afterwards, by 
the aid you would have given me I should have sailed through clear ; but 
that does not now afford me sufficient confidence to begin that or the like 
of that again. 

You make a kind acknowledgment of your obligations to me for your 
present happiness. I am much pleased with that acknowledgment. But a 
thousand times more am I pleased, to know that you enjoy a degree of hap- 
piness worthy of an acknowledgment. The truth is, I am not sure that there 
was any went with me in the part I took in your difficulty : I was drawn to 
it as by fate. If I would, I could not have done less than I did. I always 
was superstitious : I believe God made me one of the instruments of bring- 
ing your Fanny and you together, ..i 'jh union I have no doubt he had 
fore-ordained. Whatever he designs, he \. ill do for me yet. " Stand still, and 
see the salvation of the Lord " is my text just now. If, as you say, you have 
told Fanny all, I should have no objection to her seeing this letter, but for 
its reference to our friend here : let her seeing it depend upon whether she 
has ever known any thing of my affaire; and, if she has not, do not let her. 

I do not think I can come to Kentucky this season. I am so poor, and 
make so little headway in the world, that I drop back in a month of idleness 
as much as I gain in a year's sowing. I should like to visit you again. 1 
should like to see that " sis " of yours that was absent when I was there, 
though I suppose she would run away again, if she were to hear I was 

My respects and esteem to all your friends there, and, by your permis- 
sion, my love to your Fanny. Ever yours, Lincoln. 


Springfield, Oct. 5, 1842. 
Deae Speed, — You have heard of my duel with Shields, and I have now 
to inform you that the duelling business still rages in this city. Day before 
yesterday Shields challenged Butler, who accepted, and proposed fighting 
next morning at sunrising in Bob Allen's meadow, one hundred yards' dis- 
tance, with rifles. To this Whitesides, Shields's second, said " no," because 
of the law. Thus ended duel No. 2. Yesterday Whiteside chose to con- 
sider himself insulted by Dr. Merryman, so sent him a kind of ^uasi-chal- 
lenge, inviting him to meet him at the Planter's House in St. Louis, on 
the next Friday, to settle their difficulty. Merryman made me his friend, 
and sent W. a note, inquiring to know if he meant his note as a chal- 
lenge, and, if so, that he would, according to the law in such case made and 
provided, prescribe the terms of the meeting. W. returned for answer, 
that, if M. would meet him at the Planter's House as desired, he would 
challenge him. M. replied in a note, that he denied W.'s right to dictate 
time and place, but that he (M.) would waive the question of time, and 
meet him at Louisiana, Mo. Upon my presenting this note to W., and 
stating verbally its contents, he decUned receiving it, saying he had busi- 
ness in St. Louis, and it was as near as Louisiana. Merryman then 
directed me to notify Whiteside that he should pubUsh the correspondence 
between them, with such comments as he thought fit. This I did. Thus 
it stood at bedtime last night This morning Whiteside, by his friend 
Shields, is praying for a new trial, on the ground that he was mistaken 
in Merryman's proposition to meet him at Louisiana, Mo., thinking it 
was the Slate of Louisiana. This Merryman hoots at, and is preparing 
his publication ; while the town is in a ferment, and a street-fight somewhat 

But I began this letter, not for what I have been writing, but to say 
something on that subject which you know to be of such infinite soUcitude to 
me. The immense sufferings you endured from the first days of September 
till the middle of February you never tried to conceal from me, and 1 well 
understood. You have now been the husband of a lovely woman nearly 
eij;ht months. That you are happier now than the day you married her, I 
well know ; for without you could not be living. But I have your word 
for it, too, and the returning elasticity of spirits which is manifested in your 
letters. But I want to ask a close question, " Are you now in feeling, as 
well as judgment, glad you are married as you are ? " From anybody but 
me this would be an impudent question, not to be tolerated ; but I know 
you will rdon it in me. Please answer it quickly, as I am impatient to 

I have sent my love to your Fanny so often, I fear she is getting tired 
of it. However, I venture to tender it again. 

Yours fore^'er, 



In the last of these letters, Mr. Lincoln refers to his " duel 
with Shields." That was another of the disagreeable couse- 
quences which flowed from his fatal entanglement with Mary. 
Not content with managing a timid, although half-frantic 
and refractory, lover, her restless spirit led her into new 
fields of adventure. Her pen was too keen to be idle in 
the political controversies of the time. As a satirical writer, 
she had no rival of either sex at Springfield, and few, we ven- 
ture to say, anywhere else. But that is a dangerous talent: 
the temptations to use it unfairly are numerous and strong; 
it inflicts so much pain, and almost necessarily so much injus- 
tice, upon those against whom it is directed, that its possessor 
rarely, if ever, escapes from a controversy without sufi^ering 
from the desperation it provokes. Mary Todd was not dis- 
posed to let her genius rust for want of use ; and, finding no 
other victim handy, she turned her attention to James Shields, 
" Auditor." She had a friend, one Miss Ja3'ne, afterwards 
Mrs. Trumbull, who helped to keep her literary secrets, and 
assisted as much as she could in worrying the choleric Irish- 
man. Mr. Francis, the editor, knew very well that Shields 
was "a fighting-man;" but the "pieces" sent him by the 
wicked ladies were so uncommonly rich in point and humor, 
that he yielded to a natural inclination, and printed them, one 
and all. Below we give a few specimens: — 


Lost Town-ships, Ang. 27, 1842. 
Dear Mn. Printer, — I see you printed that long letter I sent you a 
spell ago : I'm quite encouraged by it, and can't keep from writing again. 
I think the printing of my letters will be a good thing all round, — it will 
give me the benefit of being known by the world, and give the world the 
advantage of knowing what's going on i" the Lost Townships, and give your 
paper respectability besides. So here ci. nes anothei-. Yesterday afternoon 
I hurried through cleaning up the dinner- dishes, and stepped ovc ^ Neigh- 
bor S , to see if his wife Peggy was as well as niought be e.xpected, and 

hear what they called the baby. Well, when I got there, and just turned 
round the corner of bis log-cabin, there he was setting on the doorstep 
reading a newspaper. 


" How arc you, Jeff? " saj-s I. He sorter starteJ when he heard me, fo« 
he hadn't seen me before. 

" Why," says he, " I'm mad as the devil, Aunt 'Beeca ! " 

" What about ? " says I : " ain't i ts hair the right color ? None of that non- 
sense, Jfff: there ain't an honester woman in the Lost Townships than" — 

" Than who? " says he : " what the mischief are you about ? " 

I began to see I was running the wrong trail, and so says I, " Oh ! nothing : 
I guess I was mistaken a little, that's all. But what is it you're mad about ? " 

" Why," says he, " I've been tugging ever since harvest getting out wheat 
and hauling it to the river, to raise State-Bank paper enough to pay my tax 
this year, and a little school-debt I owe ; and now, just as I've got it, here I 
open this infernal ' Extra Register,' expecting to find it full of ' Glorious 
Democratic Victories ' and ' High-Comb'd Cocks,' when, lo and behold 1 I find 
a set of fellows calling themselves officers of Slate have forbidden the tax-col- 
lectors and .school-commissioners to receive State paper at all ; and so here it 
is, dead on my hands. I don't now believe all the plunder I've got will 
fetch ready cash enough to pay my taxes and that school-debt." 

I was a good deal thunderstruck myself; for that was the first I had heard 
of the proclamation, and my old man was pretty much in the same fix with 
Jeff. We both stood a moment staring at one another, without knowing what 

to say. At last says I, " Mr. S , let me look at that paper." He handed 

ii to mo, when I read the proclamation over. 

" There, now," says he, " did you ever see such a piece of impudence and 
imposition as that ? " I saw Jeff was in a good tune for saying some ill-na- 
tured things, and so I tho't I would just argue a little on the contrary side, 
and make him rant a spell if I could. 

'■ A\'hy," says I, looking as dignified and thoughtful as I could, " it seems 
pretty tough, to be sure, to have to raise silver where there's none to be 
raised ; but then, you see, ' there will be danger of las/: ' if it ain't done." 

" Loss, damnation ! " says he. " I defy Daniel Webster, I defy King Solo- 
mon, I defy the world, — I defy — I defy — \es, I defy even you, Aunt 'Beeca, 
to show how the people can lose any thing by paying their taxes in State 

" Well," says I, " you see what the officers of State say about it, and they 
are a desarnin' set of men. But," says I, "I guess you're mistaken about 
what the proclamation says. It <lon't say the people will lose any thing by 
the paper money being taken for taxes. It only says ' there will be danger 
of loss ;' and though it is tolerable plain that the people can't lose by paying 
their taxes in something they can get easier than si'ver, instead of having to 
pay silver; and though it is just as pl.iin that the State can't lose by taking 
State-Bank paper, however low it may be, while she owes the bank more 
than the whole revenue, and can pay that paper over on her debt, dollar for 
dollar, — still there is danger of loss to the ' officers of State ; ' and you know, 
IflT. vra can't get along without officers of State." 


"Damn officers of State 1" says lie: "that's what you Wliigs are always 
Iinrrahing for." 

"Kow, don't swear so, Jeff," says I: "you know I belong to the meetin', 
and swearin' hurts my feelins'." 

" Bffr pardon. Aunt 'Becca," says he ; " but I do say it's cnouitli to make 
Dr. Goildard swear, to liave tax to pay in silver, for notliing only that Ford 
may get his two thousand a year, and Shields his twenty-four hundred n year, 
and Carpenter his sixteen hundred a year, and all without 'danger of loss' 
by takini? it in State paper. Yes, yes : it's plain enough now what these 
officers of Slate mean by ' danger of loss.' Wash, I s'i)Osc, actually lost fifteen 
hundred dollars out of the three thousand that twoof these ' officers of State ' 
let him steal from the treasury, by being compelled to take it in State paper. 
Wonder if we don't have a proclamation before long commanding us to make 
up this loss to Wash in silver." 

And so he wont on till his breath run out, and he had to stop. I couldn't 
think of any thing to say just then; and so I begun to look over the paper 
again. " Ay ! here's another proclamation, or something like it." 

" Another! " says JetT; " and whose egg is it, pray ? " 

I looked to the bottom of it, and read aloud, " Your obedient servant, Jas. 
Shields, Auditor." 

" Aha ! " says Jeff, " one of them same three fellows again. Well, re-ad it, 
and let's hear what of it." 

I read on till I came to where it says, " The object of this measure is to 
suspend the collection of the revenue for the current year." 

" Now stop, now stop 1 " says he : " that's a lie a'ready, and I don't want 
to hear of it." 

" Oh I maybe not," says I. 

" I say ft — xs — a — lie. Suspend the collection, indeed I Will the collect- 
ors, that have taken their oaths to make the collection, dare to suspend it? 
Is there any thing in the law requiring them to perjure themselves ut the 
bidding of James Shields? WUl the greedy gullet of tlie penilentiary be 
satisfied with swallowing him instead of all Mem, if they should venture to 
obey hira ? And would he not discover some ' danger of loss,' and be off, 
about the time it came to taking their places ? 

" And suppose the people attempt to suspend, by refusing to pay, what 
then ? Tlie collectors would just jerk up their horses and cows, and the 
like, and sell them to the highest bidder for silver in hand, without valuation 
or redemption. Wliy, Shields didn't believe tliat story himself: it was 
never meant for the truth. If it was true, why was it not writ till five days 
after the proclamation ? Why didn't Carlin and Carpenter sign it as well 
as Shields ? Answer me that, Aunt 'Becca. I say it's a lie, and not a well- 
told one at that. It grins out like a copper dollar. Shields is a fool as well 
as a liar. With him truth is out of the question ; and^ as for getting a good 
bric;ht passable lie out of him, you might as well try to strike fire from a 
cake of tallow. 1 stick to it, it's all an infernal Whig lie I " 


" A Whig lie I IIi;;lily tighty ! " 

" Yes, a Whig lie: and it's just like every thing the cursed British Whigs 
do. First they'll do some divilment, aud then they'll tell a lie to hide it. 
Ami they rlon't care how plain a lie it is : they think they can cram any 
soil ot" a one down the throats of the ignorant Locofocos, as they call the 

'• Why, Jet}', you're crazy : you don't mean to say Shields is a Whig I " 

" }>.<;/. /o."' 

" Why, look here I the proclamation i.s in } our own Democratic paper, as 
yon call it," 

•' I know it ; an<l what of that ? They only printed it to let us Democrats 
sec the deviltry the Whigs are at." 

" Well, but Shields i.s the audit<ir of this Loco — I mean this Democratic 

'■ So he is, and Tyler apjwinteil him to otEce." 

'' Tyler ap|x>intod him '? " 

"Yes (if ynu must chaw it over), Tyler appointed hira ; or, if it wasn't 
him, it was old Granny Harrison, and that's all one. I tell you. Aunt 'Becca 
there's no mistake alK>ut his being a Whig. Why, his very looks shows ii, — 
every ihii-.g about him .--hows it : if J deaf and blind, J could tell hira by 
the smell. I seed him when I was down in Springfield last winter. They 
had a sort of a gatherin' there one night among the grandees, they called a 
fair. All the gals abnut town was there; and all the handsome widows and 
married women, finiekin' about, trying to look like gals, tied as tight in the 
miiidlc, ami pulled nut at b.nh ends, like Immlles of fodder that hadn't been 
stalked yet, but wanted sti< kin' jiretiy bad. And then tliey had tables all 
round the house kivend over with [ ] caps, and pincushions, and ten 

thousand such little knick-kiuieks, tryin' to sell 'em to the fellows that were 
bowin' and serapin' and kungeerin' about 'em. They v/ouldn't let no Demo- 
crats in. for fear they'd di.sgu-c the ladies, or scare the little gais, or dirty 
the floor. 1 looked in at the window, and there was tliis same fellow Shields 
floatin' about on the air, without hefl or cirthly substance, just like a lock 
of catrfur where cats had been tightin'. 

" lie was paying his money to this one, and that one. and t'other one, and 
sufferin' great loss because it wasn't silver instead of State paper; and the 
sweet distress he seemed to be in, — his very features, in the ecstatic agony 
of his soul, spoke audibly and distinctly, ' Dear girls, it is dislreiisinij, but 
I cannot marry you all Too well I know how much you suffer ; but do, do 
remember, it is not my fault that I am .50 handsome and so interesting.' 

" As tl'.is last was expressed l\v a most exquisite contortion of his face, 
he seizi'd hold of one of their hands, and sfjueezed, and held on to it about 
a quarter of an hour. ' O my good fellow ! ' says I to mysell', ' if that vf as one 
of our Democratic gals in the Lost Tnwnshi[is, the way you'd get a brass pin 
let into you, would be about up to the head.' lie a Democrat I Fiddle- 


Sticks I T tell you, Aunt 'Becca, he's a Whig, and no mistake • nobody but 
a Whig could make such a conceity dunce of himself." 

" Well," says I, " maybe he is ; but, if he is, I'm mistaken the worst sort. 
Maybe so, maybe so ; but, if I am, I'll suffer by it ; I'll be a Democrat if it 
turns out that Shields is a Whig ; considerin' you shall be a Whig if he turns 
out a Democrat." 

" A barg.^in, by jingoes ! " says he ; " but how will we find out V " 

" Why," says I, " ire'U just write, and ax the printer." 

" Agreed again I " says he ; " and, by thunder I if it does tnm out that 
Shields is a Democrat, I never will " — 

" Jefl'erson, — Jefferson " — 

" What do you want, Peggy ? " 

" Do get through your everlasting clatter sometime, and briug me a gourd 
of water : the child's been crying for a drink this live-long hour." 

" Let it die, then : it may as well die for water as to be taxed to death to 
fatten -officers of State." 

Jeff run off to get the water, though, just like he hadn't been sayin' any 
thing spiteful : for he's a raal good-hearted follow, after all, once you get at 
the foundation of him. 

I walked into the house, and " Why, Peggy," says I, " I declare, we like to 
forgot you altogether." 

" Oh, yes ! " says she, " when a body can't help themselves, everybody 
soon forgets 'em ; but, thauk God ! by day after to-morrow I shall be well 
enough to milk the cows, and pen the calves, and wring the contrary ones' 
tails for 'cm, and no thanks to nobody." 

" Good-evening, Peggy," says I ; and so I sloped, for I seed she was mad 
at me for making Jeff neglect her so long. 

And now, Mr. Printer, will you bo sure to let us know in your next paper 
whether this Shields is a Whig or a Democrat ? I don't care about it for 
myself, for I know well enough how it is already ; but I want to convince 
Jeff. It may do some good to let him, and others like him, know who and 
what those officers of Stale are. It may help to send the present hypocritical 
set to where they belong, and to fill the places they now disgrace with men 
who will do more work for less pay, and take a fewer uirs while they are 
doing it It ain't sensible to think that the same men who get us into trouble 
will change their course ; and yet it's pretty plain, if some change for the 
better is not made, it's not long that either Peggy or I, or any of as, will 
have a cow left to milk, or a calf s tail to wring. 

Yours, truly, 

Rebecca' . 

Lost Townships, Sopt. 8, 1842. 
Dear Mr. Printer, — I was a-standin' at the spring yesterday a-washin' 
Dut butter, when I seed Jim Snooks a-ridin' up towards the house for very life 


like, when, jist as T was a wonderin" wha' on airth was the matter with 
him, he stoj.s suddenly, and ses he, " Aunt Becca, here's sometliiu' ibr you ; " 
and with that he hands out your letter. Well, you sec I step? out towards him, 
not thinkin' that I had both hands full of butter ; and seein' I couldn't t;dcc the 
letter, you know, without greasin' it, I ses, " Jim, jist you open it, and read it for 
me." Well, Jhn opens it, and reads it ; and would you believe it, Mr. Editor ? I 
was so completely dumibunded, and turned into stone, that there 1 stood in 
the sun. a-workin' the butter, and it a-runnin' on the ground, while he road the 
letter, that 1 never thunk what I was about till the hidl on't run melted on 
the ground, and was lost. Now, sir, it's not for the butter, nor the price of the 
butter, but, the Lord have massy on us, I wouUn't have sich another fright for 
a whole firkin of it. Why. when 1 found out that it was the man what Jeff 
seed down to tlie fiir that had demanded the author of my letters, threatnin' 
to take personal satisfaction of the writer, I was so skan that 1 tho't I should 
quill-wheel right where I was. 

You say tliat Mr. S. is ofl'etided at being compared to eai's fur, and is as 
mad as a March 'narc (tliat ain't /'ur), because I told about the sipctaiin'. J*ow, 
I want you to tell Mr. S, that, rather than fight, I'll make any apolofry ; and, 
if he wants personal satisf.iction, let him only come here, and he may squeeze 
my hand as hard as I squeeze the butter, and, if that ain't personal satisfac- 
tion, I can only s.iy that he is the fust man that was not satisfied with 
pqueezin' my hand. If this shouid not answer, there is one thing more 
that I would do rather than get a lickin". I have all along expected to die a 
willow ; but, as Mr. S. is rather good-looking than otherwise, I must say I 
don't care if we compromise the matter by — really, Mr. Printer, I can't help 
blushin' — but I — it must come out — I — but wide've<l modesty — well, if I 
must, I must — wouldn't he — maybe sorter, let the old grudge ilrap if 1 was 
to consent to be — be — h-i-s w-i-l-c '.■' I know he's a lighlia' man, and would 
rather fight than eat; but isn't marryin' better tlian figlitin", though it does 
sometimes run into it'? And I don't think, upon the whole, that I'd be sich 
a bad match neither : I'm not over sixty, and am just four feet three la my 
bare feet, and not much more round tlie girth ; and for color, I wouldn't turn 
my back to nary gal in the Lost Townships. But, after all, maybe I'm 
countin' my chiikins before they're hatched, and dreaniin' of matrimonial 
bliss when the only idternaiivc reserved lor me may be a lickin'. Jeff tells 
me the way these fire-eaters do is to give the challenged party choice 
of weapons, &c., which bein' the case, I'll tell you in confidence that I never 
fights with any thing but broomsticks, or hot water, or a shovelful of coals, 
or some such thing ; the former of which being somewhat like a shillalah, may 
not be very objectionable to him. I will give him choice, however, in one 
thing, and that is, wliether, when we fight, I shall wear breeches or he petti- 
coats ; for I presume that change is suffii.ient to place us on an equality. 

Yours, &c. 

Kececc.v . 


P. S. — Jist siiy to your friend, if he concludes to marry rather than fight, I 
shall only inforce one condition : that is, if he should ever happen to gallant 
any young gals home of nights from our house, he must not squeeze their 

It is by no means a subject of wonder that these publica- 
tions tiirew Mr. James Shields into a state of wrath. A 
thin-skinned, sensitive, high-minded, and high-tempered man, 
tender of his honor, and an Irishman besides, it M'ould have 
been strange indeed, if he had not felt like snuflSng blood. 
But his rage only afforded new delights to his tormentors ; and 
when it reached its height, "Aunt 'Becca" transformed her- 
self to " Cathleen," and broke out in rhymes like the following, 
which Miss Jayne's brother " Bill " kindly consented to 
'■ r!von ■• r,-,v ti,.. -irniable ladies. 

[For The Journal.] 

Yc JoH-'s-harps awake I The A s won : 

Rebecca the widow has gained Erin's son ; 
The pride of the North from Emerald Isle 
Has been wooed and won by a woman's smile. 
The combat's relinquished, old loves all forgot : 
To the widow he's bound. Oh, bright be his lot ! 
In the smiles of the conquest so lately achieved, 
Joyful be his bride, " widowed modesty " relieved. 
The footsteps of time tread lightly on flowers, 
May the cai'es of this world ne'er darken his hours I 
But the pleasures of life are fickle and coy 
As the smiles of a maiden sept off to destroy. 
Happy groom ! in sadness, far distant from thee, 
The Fair girls dream only of past times of glee 
Enjoyed in thy presence ; whilst the soft blarnied store 
Will be fondly remembered as relics of yore, 
And hands that in rapture you oil would have prest 
^ . prayer will be clasped that your lot may be blest. 


It TTus too bad. Mr. Shields could stand it no longer. He 
sent Gen. Whiteside to Mr. Francis, to demand the name 
of the person who wrote the letters from the " Lost Town- 
ships j" and Mr. Francis told him it was A. Lincoln. This 


information led to a challenge, a sudden scampering off of 
parties and friends to Missouri, a meeting, an explanation, 
and a peaceful return. 

Abraliam Lincoln in the field of honor, sword in hand, 
manoeuvred by a second learned i"n the duello, would be an 
attractive spectacle under any circumstances. But with a 
celebrated man for an antagonist, and a lady's humor the 
occasion, tlie scene is one of transcendent interest; and the 
documents wliich describe it are well entitled to a place in 
his history. The letter of Mr. Shiclds's second, being first 
in date, is first in order. 

Sprinofield, Oct. 3, 1842. 
To THE Editor op " Tue Sangamon Journal." 

Sir. — To prevent inisrppro.-Ji'ntation of the recent affair between Messrs. 
ShieMs iirul Liiicolii. I think it jiroper to give a brief narrative of the facts 
of the case, as they came within my knowloiljjc; for the truth of which I 
hohl myseh' responsible, and recjuest you to give the same publication. An 
offensive article in relation to Mr. Shields appeared in " The .Sangamon 
Journal" of the id September last ; and, on demamiing the author, -Mr. Lin- 
coln was given up by the editor. Mr. Shichls, previous to this demand, made 
arrangements to go to Quincy on public business ; and before his return Mr. 
Lincoln had lull for Tremont, to attend the court, with the intention, as we 
learned, of remaining on the circuit several weeks. Mr. Shielils, on his return, 
requested me to accompany him to Tremont ; and, on arriving there, we found 
that Dr. Merrynian and Mr. Butler had passed us in the night, and got there 
before us. We arrived in Tremont on the 1 7tli ult. ; and Mr. Shields addressed 
a note to Mr. Lincoln immediately, infornun2 him that In; was given up as 
the author of some articles that appeared in - The Sangamon Journal " (one 
more over the signature having made it.s appearamc this time), and 
requesting him to retract the ofl'ensivt allusions contained in said articles in 
relation to his private character. Mr. Shields handcil this note to me to 
deliver to Mr. I.incoln, and directed me, at the same time, not to enter into 
any verbal communication, or be the bearer of any verbal e.xplanalion, as 
sucii were always Viable to tnisapprehension. This note was delivered by me 
to Mr. Ijincolri, slating, at the same time, that 1 wouM call at his conve- 
nience for an answer. Mr. Lincoln, in the evening of the same day, handed 
mo a letter addressed to Mr. Shields. In this he gave or offered no cxpla- 
niViion, but stated therein that ho could not submit to answer further, on the 
ground that Shields's note contained an assumption of facts and also a men- 
ace. Mr. Shields then addressed him another note, in which he disarowed 
all intention to menace, and requested to know whether he (Mr. Lincoln) 


was the author of either of the articles which appeared in " The JournnI," 
headed " Lost Townships," and signed " Rebecca ; " and, if so, he repeated his 
request of a retraction of the offensive matter in relation to his private char- 
acter ; if not, his denial would be held sufficient. This letter was returned 
to Mr. Shields unanswered, with a verbal statement "that there could be no 
further negotiation between them until the first note was witlidrawn." Mr. 
Shields thereupon sent a note designating me as his frientl, to which Mr. 
Lincoln replied by designating Dr. Morryman. These three last notes passeil 
on Jlonday morning, the 19th. Dr. Merryman handed me Mr. Lincoln's last 
note when by ourselves. I remarked to Dr. Merryman that the matter was 
now submitted to us, and that I would propose that he and myself should 
pledge our words of honor to each other to try to agree upon terms of amica- 
ble aiTangement, and compel our principals to accept of them. To this he 
reailily assented, and we shook hands upou the pledge. It was then mutu- 
ally agreed that we should adjourn to Springfield, and there procrastinate the 
matter, for the purpose of effecting the secret arrangement between him and 
myself All this I kept concealed from Mr. Shields. Our horse had got a 
little lame in going to Tremont, and Dr. Merryman invited me to take a seat 
in his buggy. I accepted the invitation the more readily, as I thought, that 
leaving Mr. Shields in Tremont until his horse would be in better condition 
to travel would facilitate the private agreement between Dr. Merryman and 
myself. I travelled to Springfield part of the way with him, and part with 
Mr. Lincoln ; but nothing passed between us on the journey in relation to the 
matter in hand. AVe arrived in Springfield on Monday night. About noon 
on Tuesday, to my astonishment, a proposition was made to meet in Missouri, 
within three miles of Alton, on the next Thursday I Tlie weapons, cavalry 
broadswords of the largest size ; the parties to stand on each side of a bar- 
rier, and to be' confined to a limited space. As I had not been consulted at 
all on the subject, and considering the private understanding between Dr. 
Merryman and m)self, and it being known that Mr. Shields was left at Tre- 
mont, such a proposition took me by surprise. However, being determined 
not to violate the laws of the State, I declined agreeing upon the terms until 
we should meet in Missouri. Immediately after, I called upon Dr. Merry- 
man, and withdrew the pledge of honor between him and myself in relation 
to a secret arrangement. I started after this to meet Mr. Shields, and met 
him about twenty miles from Springfield. It was late on Tuesday night 
when we both reached the city, and learned that Dr. Merryman had left for 
Missouri, Mr. Lincoln having left before the proposition was made, as Dr. 
Merryman liad himself informed me. The time and place made it neces- 
sary to start at once. We left Springfield at eleven o'clock on Tuesday night, 
travelled all night, and arrived in Hillsborough on Wednesday morning, 
where we look in Gen. Ewiag. From there we went to Alton, where we 
arrived on I'hursday ; and, as the proposition required three friends on each 
side, I was joined by Gen. Ewing and Dr. Hope, as the friends of Mr. Shields;. 


Wc then crossed to Missouri, where a propofition was made by Gen. Hardin 
and Dr. English (whu had arrivi'<l there in the mean time as mutual triends) 
to refer the matter to, 1 think, (bur friends for a settlement. This I believed 
Mr. Shields would, and declined seeing him ; but Dr. Hope, who con- 
ferred with him upon the subjeet, returned, and stated that Mr. Shields declined 
settling the matter through any other than the friends he had selected to 
stand by him on that occasion. The friends of boih rbe parties finally agreed 
to withdraw the jjajiors (tenii)oraril} ) to give the friends of Mr. Lincoln an 
opportunity to explain. Whereupon the friends of Mr. Lincoln, to wit, 
Messrs. Merrynian, Bleds'X!, and Butler, made a full and .satisfactory expla- 
nation in relation to the article which appeared in -'The Sangamon Journal " 
of the 2d, the only one written by him. This was all done without the knowl- 
iiiilX<-' or couscnl of Mr. Shields ; and he refused to aeeedo to it until Dr. Hope, 
Gen. I'win'T, and myself declared the apoloir)- sufficient, and that we could 
not sustain him In going further. I think it necessary to state further, that 
no exi, -..r apology had been previously offered on the part of Mr. Lin- 
coln to Mr. Sliiild*, and that none was ever cotnminiicated l>y me to him, nor 
was any ever ofli lO'l lo me, unless a paper read to me by Dr. Merryman al\er 
he had handed me the broadswonl proposition on Tnesilay. I heard so little 
of the readuig of the paper, that I do not know fully what it purported to be ; 
and I was the less inclined to inquire, as Mr. Lincoln was then gone to Mi.s- 
BOuri, and Mr. Sluelds not yet arriied from Tremoiit. In fact, I could not 
enterlain any olVer of the kind, unless upon my own resjionsibility ; and that 
I was not disposed to do afler what had already transpired. 

I make this statement, as 1 am about lo be absent for some time, and I 
think it due to all c<'ncerned to give a true version of the matte; before 
1 leave. 

Your obedient servant, 

John D. Whiteside. 

To whicli -Air. Merrynian replied : — 

SrEi.soFiELD, Oct, 8, IS42. 
EorroRS of •• Thb Journal." 

Ofnls, — By jour pajier of Friday, I discover that Gen. Whiteside has 
jjublished his ver.sion of the late aflair between Jlessrs. Shields and Lincoln. 
I now bespeak a hearing of my version of the sam(! affair, which shall be 
true and full as to all material faetji. 

On Friday evening, the Itith of September, I learned that Mr. Shields 
iukI Gen. Whiteside liad started in pursuit of Mr. Lincoln, who was at 
Treioont, attending court. I knew that Mr. Lincoln was whuliy unpractised 
both as to the diplomacy and weapons commonly einplojed in similar affairs ; 
and 1 to!t it my duty, as a friend, to be with him. and, .so far as in my power, 
to prevent any advantage being taken of him as to cilhcr his honor or his 
life. Accordingly, Mr. Butler and myself started, passed Shields and While- 


fide in the night, and arrived at Tremont ahead of them on Saturday morn- 
ing. I told Mr. Lincoln what was brewing, and asked him what course he 
proposed to himself. He stated that he was wholly opposed to duelling, and 
would do any thing to avoid it that might not degrade him in the estimation 
of himself and friends : but, if such degradation or a jiyht were the only 
alternative, he would fight. 

In the afternoon vShields and Whiteside arrived, and very soon the former 
sent to Mr. Lincoln by the latter the following note or letter : — 

Tremont, Sept. 17, 1842. 

A. Lincoln, Esq. — I regret that my absence on public business compelled me to 
postpone a matter of private consideration a little longer than T coold have desired. It 
will only be necessary, however, to account for it by informing you that I have been 
to Quincy on business that would not admit of delay. I will now state briefly the 
reasons of my troubling you with this communication, the disagreeable nature of which 
I regret, as I had hoped to avoid any difficulty with any one in Springfield while resid- 
ing there, by endeavoring to conduct myself in such a way amongst both my politi- 
cal friends and opponents, as to escape the necessity of any. Whilst thus abstaining 
from giving provocation, I have become the object of slandci, vituperation, and personal 
abuse, which, were I capable of submitting to, I would prove myself worthy of the whole 
of it. 

In two or three of the last numbers of" The Sangamon .Journal," articles of the most 
personal nature, and calculated to degrade me, have made their appearance. On in- 
quiring, I was informed by the editor of that paper, through the medium of my friend. 
Gen. Whiteside, that you are the author of those articles. This information satisfies 
me that ! have become, by some means or other, the object of your secret hostility. I 
will not take the trouble of inquiring into the reason of all this; but I will take the 
liberty of requiring a full, positive, and absolute retraction of all offensive allusions used 
by you in these communications, in relation to my private character and standing as a 
man, as an apology for the insults conveyed in them. 

This may prevent consequences which no one will regret more than myself. 

Your ob't serv't, 
[Copy.] Jas. Shields. 

About sunset Gen. Wliiteside called again, and received from Mr. Lin- 
coln the following answer to Mr. Shields's note : — 

Tbbmost, Sept. 17, 1S« 
Jas. Shielps, Es<j. — Your note of to-day was handed me by Gen. Whiteside. In 
that note, you say you have been informed, through the medium of the editor of " The 
Journal," that I am the author of certain articles in that paper which you deem per- 
sonally nbtisive of you ; and, without stopping to inquire whether I really am the author, 
or to point out what is offensive in them, you demand an unqualified retraotiou of all 
that is offensive, and then proceed to hint at consequences. 

Now, sir, there is in this so much assumption of facts, and so much of menace as to 
consequences, that I cannot submit to answer that note any further than I have, and to 
add, that the consequence to which I suppose you allude would be matter of as groat 
regret to me as it possibly could to you. Bespectfully, 

A. Luicour. 


In about an hour Gen. Whiteside called again with another note from Mr. 
Shields ; but after conferring with Mr. Butler for a long tiuio, say two 
or three hour,*, returned without presenting the note to Mr. Lincoln. Tliis 
was in conse<iuonce of an assurance from Mr. Butler that Mr. Lincoln could 
not receive any communication frotu Mr. Shields, unless it were a withdrawal 
of his first note, or a challenge. Mr. Butler further stated to Gen. White- 
side, that, on the withdrawal of the first note, and a proper and gentlemanly 
request fur an explanation, he had no doubt one would be given. Gen. 
Whiteside admitted that that was the course Mr. Shields ought to pursue, 
but deplored that his furiou.« and intractable temper prevented his having 
any influence with him to that end. Gen. W. then requested us to wait 
with hira until Monday morning, that he might endeavor to bring Mr. Sliields 
to reason. 

On Monday morning he called and presented Mr. Lincoln the same note 
as, Mr. Butler says, he had brought on Saturday evening. It waa as fol- 
lows : — 

Trkmont, Sept. 17, 1842. 

A. Lincoln, Ksq. — In your reply to my note of this liato, you intimate that I assume 
facts and menace consequences, and th,it yon cannot submit to answer it further. As 
now, sir, you (!e«irc it, [ will lie a little more particular. The editor of " The Sangamon 
Journal " gave me to understand that you are the author of an article which appeared, 
I think, in that paper of the 2d September inst., headed " The Lost Townships," and 
signed Kebecca or 'Bccca. 1 would therefore take the liberty of a.sking whether you are 
Che author of .said article, or any other over the same signature which has appeared in 
any of the late numbers of that paper. If so, I repeat my request of an absolute retraction 
of all offensive allusion contained therein in relation to my private character and stand- 
ing. If yon are not the author of any of the articles, your denial will be sufficient. I 
will say further, it is not my intention to menace, but to do myself justice. 

Your ob't serv't, 
[Copy.] Ja3. Shiklds. 

This Mr. Tyincoln perused, and returned to Gen. Whiteside, telling him 
verbally, that he did not think it consistent with his iionor to negotiate (or 
peace with Mr. Sliields, unless Mr. Shields would withdraw his former oflen- 
Bive letter. 

In a very short time Gen. Whiteside called with a note from Mr. Sliields, 
designating Gen. Whiteside as his friend, to which Mr. Lincoln instantly re- 
plied, designating me as his. On meeting Qcn. Whiteside, he pro])Osed that 
we should ple<lge our honor to each other that we would endeavor to settle 
the matter amicably ; to which I agreed, and stated to him the only con- 
ditions on which it could be so settlcl ; viz., the withdrawal of Mr. Shields's 
first note ; which he appeared to think reasonable, and regretted that the note 
had been written, — saying, however, that he had endeavored to prevail 
on Mr. Shields to write a milder one, but had not succeeded. He addeil. 
too, that I must promise not to mention it, as he would not dare to let Mr. 
Shields know that he was negotiating peace ; for, said he, " He would chal 


lengc me next, and as soon cut my throat as not." Not willing that he should 
suppose my principal less dangerous than his own, I promised not to men. 
tion our pacific intentions to Mr. Lincoln or any other person ; and we started 
for Springfield forthwith. 

We all. except Mr. Shields, arrived in Springfield late at night on Mon- 
day. We discovered that the affair had, somehow, got groat publicity in 
Springfield, and that an arrest was probable. To prevent this, it was agreed 
by Mr. Lincoln and myself that he should leave early on Tuesday morniuT. 
Accordingly, he prepared the following instructions for my guide, on a sut- 
gestion from Mr. Butler that he had reason to believe that an attempt would 
be made by the opposite party to have the matter accommodated : — 

In case Whiteside shall signify a wish to ai^just this affair without further difficulty, 
let him know, that, if the present papers be withdrawn, and a note from Mr. Shields ask- 
ing to know if I am the author of the articles of which he complains, and asking that I 
shall make him gentlemanly satisfaction if I am the autlnr, and this without menace or 
dictation as to what that satisfaction shall be, a plcige is made that the following answer 
shall be given : — 

" I did write the ' Lost Township ' letter which appeared in the ' .lonrnal ' of the 2d 
inst., but had no participation in any form in any other article alluding to you. I wrote 
that wholly for political effect. 1 had no intention of injuring your personal or private 
character, or standing ao a man or a gentleman : and I did not then think, and do not now 
think, that that article could produce, or has produced, that effect ag.iinst you ; and, had 
1 anticipated such an effect, would have forborne to write it. And I will add, that your 
conduct towards me, so far as I knew, h'l.d always been gentlemanly, and that I had no 
personal pique against you, and no cause for any." 

If this should be. done, I leave it with you to manage what shall and what shall not 
be published. 

If nothing like this is done, the preliminaries of the fight are to be: — 

1st, Wk.^poss. — Cavalry broadswords of the largest size, precisely equal in all 
respects, and such as now U3e<l by the cavalry company at .Jacksonville. 

2d, Position. — A plank ten feet long, and from nine to twelve inches broad, to be 
firmly fi.ted on edge on the ground as the line between us, which ueither is to pass his 
foot over upon forfeit of his life. Next, a line drawn on the ground on either side of 
said plank and parallel with it, each at the distance of the whole length of the sword and 
three feet additional from the plank ; and the passing of his owj> such line by either 
party during the fight shall be deemed a surrender of the contest. 

3d, Time. — On Thursday evening at 5 o'clock, if you can get it so; but in uo case 
to be at a greater disfctnce of time than Friday evening at 5 o'clock. 

4th, Place. — Wichi i three miles of Alton, on the opp.isite side of the river, the 
paiticular spot to be agreed on by you. 

Any preliminary details coming within the above rules, you are at liberty to make 
at your discretion; but you arc iii no case to swerve itoeu these rules, or to pass beyond 
then: limits. 

In the course of the forenoon I met Gen. Whiteside, and he again inti- 
mated a wish to adjust the matter amicably. I then read to him Mr. Lin- 
coln's instructions to an adjustment, and the terms of the hostile meeting, if 
there must be one, both at the same time. 


He replied that it was uso'ess to talk of an afijustment, if it ooul.l only 
be effected by the toUhdrainal oi Mr. Shields's paper, for such withdrawal Mr. 
Shields would never con.sent to: addia-^, that he would as soon think' of ask- 
m% Mr. Shields to "bnit his brains out against a brick wall as to withdraw 
that paper." lie proceeded: '• I see but one course, — that is a desperate 
remedy : 'tis to tell them, if they will not make the matter up, they must 
fight us." I replied, that, if he chose to fight Mr. Shields to compel him 
to do right, he might do so : but as for Mr. Lincoln, he was on the defensive, 
and, I believed, in the right, and I should do nothing to compel him to do 
wrong. Such witlidrawal having been made indis[iensablc by Mr. Lincoln, 
I cut the matter short as to an adjust.nsnt, an 1 propose 1 to Gen. Whiteside 
to accept the terms of the fight, which ha refuse! to dj until Mr. SlilolJs's 
arrival in town, but agreed, verbally, that Mr. Lincnln's friends should pro- 
cure the broadswords, and take them to the ground. In the afternoon he 
came to me, saying that some persons were swearing out affidavits to have us 
arrested, and that he intended to meet Mr. Shields immediately, and proceed 
to the plaie dv'signiitcd : lamenting, however, that I would not delay the time, 
that he might pr.icuru the interference of Gov. Ford and Gen. Ewing to 
mollity Mr. Shields. I told him that an art^ommodation, except upon the 
terms I mentioned, was out of the question : that to delay the meeting was 
to facilitate our arrest: and, as I was determined not to be arrested, I should 
leave town in filVi;eu minutes. 1 then pressed his acceptance of the prelimi- 
naries, which he disclaimed upon the ground that it would iiitL-rfere with his 
oath of office as Fund Commissioner. I then, with two other fi-iends, went 
to Jacksonville, where we joined Mr. Lincoln about 11 o'idoek on Tuesday 
night. ^V'eilnesday morning we procureil the broadsword-;, and proceeded 
to Alton, where we arrived about 11, A..M., on Thursday. The other party 
were in town before us. We cro.ssed the river, and they soon followed. 
Shortly after, Gen. Hardin and Dr. English presented to Gen. Whiteside and 
myself the following note : — 

Alto.n, Sept. 22, 1842. 
Messes. WniTEstnE> Mekkyman. — As the mutual pcrsoaal friends of Jlessrs. 
Shields and Lincoln, but without authority from eitlier, we earnestly desire to see a 
reconciliation of the misunderstanding which exists between them. Such dilBculties 
should alway.i bo arranged amicably, if it i? possible to do so with honor to both parties. 
Believiiii; ourselves, that such an arraniroincnt can possibly be effected, we respect- 
fully, but earnestly, submit the following proposition for your consi.leration : — 

Let the whole difficulty he submitted to four or moro gentlemen, to be selected by 
yourselves, who shall consider the affair, and report thereupon for your causidera- 

.Ions .1. Hardin. 
K. W. English. 

To this proposition Gen. AVliiteside agreed : I declined doing so without 
eonstdting Mr. Lincoln. Mr. Lincoln remarked, that, as they had accepted 


the proposition, he would do so, but directed that his friends should make no 
terms except those first proposed. Whether the adjustment was finally made 
upon these very term'^ ?<"■' ' ■■ -'i" - '-t the following documents attest: — 

MissouEi, Sept. 22, 1842. 
Gestlemen, — AU pai the matter in controversy between Jfr. 

Shields and Mr. Lincoln having bceu withdrawn hy the friends of the parties concerned, 
the friends of Mr. Sliields ask the friends of Mr. Lincoln to explain all oflensive matter 
in the articles which appeared in " The Sangamon Journal " of the 2d, 9tli, and IGth of 
September, under the signature of " Rebecca," and headed "Lost Townships." 

It is due to Gen. Hardin and Mr. English to state that their interference was of the 
most courteous and gentlemanly character. 

Jons D. Whiteside. 
Wm. Lee D. Ewino. 
T. M. Hope. 

Missouri, Sept. 22, 1B42. 
Gentcemkk, — All papers in relation to the matter in controversy between Mr. Lin- 
coln and Mr. Shields having been withdrawn by the friends of the parties concerned, 
we, the nndersigned, friends of Mr. Lincoln, in accordance with your request that expla- 
nation of Mr. Linoohi's publication in relation to Mr. Shields in " The Sangamon Jour- 
nal" of the 2d, 9th, and 16th of September be made, take pleasure in saying, that, 
although Mr. Lincoln was the writer of the article signed "Rebecca" in the "Journal" 
of the 2d, and that only, yet he had no intention of injuring the personal or private char- 
acter or standing of Mr. Sliields as a gentleman or a man, and that Mr. Lincoln did not 
think, nor does he now think, that said article could produce such an effect; and, had 
Mr. Lincoln anticipated such an cflect, he would have forborne to write it. We will 
further state, that said article was written solely for polilical otfcot, and not to gratify 
any personal piqne against Mr. Shields, lor he had none, and knew of no cause for any. 
It is duo to Gen. Hardin and Mr. Kuglish to say that their interference was of the most 
courteous and gentlemanly character. 

E. n. Mekrysiak. 

A. T. Bledsoe. 

Wm. Bdtlek. 

Let it be observed now, that Mr. ShielJs's friends, after agreeing to the 
arbitrament of four disinterested gentlemen, declined the contract, saying 
that Mr. Shields wished his own friends to act for him. They then pro- 
posed that we should explain without any withdrawal of papers. This was 
promptly and firmly refused, and Gen. Whiteside himself pronounced the 
papers withdrawn. They then produced a note requesting us to "diiavoto" 
all offensive intentions in the publications, &c., &c. This we declined 
answering, and only responded to the above request for an explanation. 

These are the material facts in relation to the matter, and 1 think present 
the case in a very different light from the garbled and curtailed statement 
of Gen. AVhiteside. Why he made that statement I know not, unless he 
■wished to detract from the honor of Mr. Lincoln. This was ungenerous, 
more particularly as he on the ground requested us not to make in our 

explanation any quotaiions from ilic '• Kiibecoa papers ; " also not to make 
public Ihe lemis of reconcilialion, and to unite with them in defending the 
honorable character of the adjustment. 

Gen. W., in his publication, says, " 'flic fiiends of both parties agreeil to 
withdraw the papers (temporarily) to give the frierul.s of Mr. Lincoln an 
opportunity to explain " This I deny. I say the papers were withdrawn 
to enable !Mr. Shield.^'s friends to ask an explanation; and I appeal to tlie 
documeuts for proof of my position. 

l)y looking; over these documents, it will be seen that Mr. Shields had not 
before asked for an explanation, but had all the time been diciatorily insist- 
ing on a retraction. 

(!en. Whiteside, in his ciminiunication, brings to li;.;ht mueh of Mr. Shields's 
manif(^stations of bravery behind the scenes. I can do notliin;; of the kind 
for Mr. Lincoln. He took liis stand when I mot him at Trcaiont, and 
maintained it calmti/ to the last, without dilUculty or dilVercnce between 
himself and his friends. 

I earmot close tliis article, lengthy as it is, without testifying to the honor- 
able and gentlemanly conduct of Gen. Ewing and Dr. Hope, nor indeed can 
I say that 1 saw any thing objectionable in the course of Gen. Whiteside up 
to the time of his communication. This i« so replete with prevarication 
and misrepresentation, that I cannot a<-cord to th<' General candor which 
I once supposed him to posress. He complains that I did not procrastinate 
lime according to agreement. He forgets that by his own act he cut me olf 
from that chance in inducing me, by promise, not to communicate our secret 
contract to Mr. Lincoln. Moreover, I could see no consistency in wishing 
for an extension of time at that stage of the affair, when in the outset they 
were in so precipitate a hurry, that they could not wait three days for Mr. 
Lincoln to rctui'n from Tremont, but must hasten there, ajiparcntly with 
the inteniioa of brin;;in^ the matter to a speedy issue. He compl.iiiis, too, 
that, after inviting him to take a scat in my buggy, I never br.iarlied the 
subject to him on onr route here. Kut wa.s I, the defendant in ijic case, with 
a challenge hanging over me, to make advances, and beg a reconciliation ? 
Absurd ! Moreover, the valorous general forgets that he beguiled the tedium 
of the journey Iiy recounting to me his exploits in many a wcll-fbught battle, — 
dangers by " flood and field " in which I don't believe he ever pariicipated, 
— doubtless with a view to produce :> talutary ellect on my nerves, and 
impress me with a proper notion of his iJr -.ating propensities. 

One more main point of his argumcn., and I have done. The General 
seems to be troubled with a convenient shortness of memory on some occa- 
sions. He does not remember that any explanations were ofT'ered at any 
time, imless it were a paper read when the '• bioadsword proposition " was 
tendered, when his mind was so confu.sed by the anticipated clatter of 
broadswords, or somclhiitr/ )!xe, that he did '• not know fully what it pur- 
ported to be." The truth i.<, that by unwisely refraining from mentioning it 


to his principal, he placed himself in a dilemma which he is now cudearor- 
ing to shuffle out of. By his inefficiency, and want of knowledge of those 
laws which govern gentlemen in matters of this kind, he has done great 
injustice to his principal, a gentleman who I believe is ready at all times to 
vindicate his honor manfully, but who has been unfortunate in the selection 
of his friend ; and this fault he is now trying to wipe out by doing an act of 
still greater iiiiusiict- to Mr. Lincoln. 

E. H. Mekkyman. 

And so .ui LiULuiii acknowledged himself to have been 
the author of one of the " Lost Township Letters." Whether 
he was or not, was known only perhaps to Miss Todd and 
himself. At the time of their date, he was having secret 
meetings with her at Mr. Francis's house, and endeavoring 
to nerve himself to the duty of marr3ing her, with what 
success the letters to Speed are abundant evidence. It is 
probable that Mary composed them fresh from these stolen 
conferences ; that some of Mr. Lincoln's original conceptions 
and peculiarities of style unwittingly crept into them, and 
that here and there he altered and amended the manuscript 
before it went to tlie printer. Such a connection with a 
lady's productions made it obligatory upon him to defend 
them. But why avow one, and disavow the rest ? It is 
more than likely that he was determined to take just enough 
responsibility to fight upon, provided Shields should prove 
incorrigible, and not enough to prevent a peaceful issue, if the 
injured gentleman should be inclined to accept an apology. 

After his marriage, Mr. Lincoln took up his residence at 
the " Globe Tavern," where he had a room and boarding for 
man and wife for the moderate sum of four dollars per week. 
But, notwithstanding cheap living, he was still as poor as ever, 
and gave " poverty " as one of his reasons for not paying a 
fi-iendl^- visit which seemed to be expected of him. 

At the bar and in political affairs he continued to work 
with as much energy as before, although his political prospects 
seem just now to have suffered an unexpected eclipse. In 
1843, Lincoln, Hardi' , and Baker were candidates for the 
Whig congressional nomination ; but between Hardin and 


Baker there was ''bitter hostility," and between Balccr and 
Lincoln " suspicion and dislike." The contest was long 
and fierce ; but, before it was over, Lincoln reluctantly with- 
drew in favor of Baker. He had had a hard time of it, and 
had been compelled to meet accusations of a very strange 
character. Among other things, he was charged with being 
an ariscoerat ; witli having deserted his old fi-ieuds, the people, 
by marrying a proud woman on account of her blood and 
family. This hurt iiira keenly, and he took great pains to 
disprove it : but this was not all. He was called an infidel 
by some, a Presbyterian here, an Episcopalian there ; so that 
by turns he incurred the hostility of all ihc most powerful 
religious societies in the district. 

On the 24th of March, he wrote to Mr. Speed as follows : — 

Sprisgfield, March 24, 184.3. 
Dkab .Speed, — . . . We had a meeting of the WhijK; of the county here 
(in la^^t Monclav to appoint delegates to a distriit convention : and B.akorbeat 
me, and ;^ot the detegrition instructed to go for him. The meeting, in spite 
of my attempt to decline it. appointed me one of the deU'gate? ; so that, in 
jrcttin;^ Baker the, T shall be fi.xed a <rood deal like a fellow who 
is in.ade a ^roonism in to a man that has cut liim out. and i.5 marrrinj his 
own dear " gal." About the prospects of your having a namcs.ike at our 
town, can't say exactly yet. 

A. Lincoln. 

He was now a Baker delegate, pledged to get hira the 
nomination if he could ; and yet he was far from giving up 
the contest in his own behalf. Only two days after the letter 
to Speed, he wrote to Mr. Mon-is : — 

Sprixgfielp, Ili. , March 26. 184'3. 
Fi'.iF.ND Moiiiiis, — Your letter of the SSd was received on yesterday 
morMliiir- and for which (instead of an excuse, wliich you thought proper to 
ask) 1 tender yon my sincere thanks. It ia truly gratifying to me to loam, 
(hat, while the people of Sangamon have cast me off. my old friends of 
Menard, who h.ive known rae longest and best, stick to me. It would aston- 
ish, if not artiuse, the older citizens (a stranger, friendless, uneducated, penni- 
less boy, working on a at ten dollars per month) to learn that I 
have been put down here as the candidate of pride, wealth, and aristocratic 
family distinction. Yet so. chiefly, it was. 'Diere was, too, the .-tran'^est 


combination of church-influence against me. Baker is a CampbcUite ; and 
therefore, as I suppose, with few exceptions, got all that churcb. 

My wife has some relations in the Presbyterian churches, and some with 
the Episcopal churches ; and therefore, wherever it would tell, I was set 
down as either the one or the other, while it was eTcrywherc contended that 
no Christian ought to go for mc, because I belonged to no church, was sus- 
pected of being a deist, and had talked about fighting a duel. With all 
these things, Baker, of course, had nothing to do. Nor do I complain of 
them. As to his own church going for him, I think that was right enough ; 
and as to the influences I have spoken of in the other, though they were very 
strong, it would be grossly untrue and unjust to charge that they acted upon 
them in a body, or were very near so. I only mean that those influences 
levied a tax of a considerable per rent upon my strength throughout the 
religious controversy. But enough of this. 

You say, that, in choosing a candidate for Congress, you have an equal 
right witli Sangamon ; and in this you are undoubtedly earnest. In agieeing 
♦o withdraw if the Wliigs of Sangamon should go against me, I did not 
mean that they alone were worth consulting, but that if she, with her heavy 
delegation, should be against me, it would be impossible for mc to succeed ; 
and therefore I had as well decline. And in relation to Jlenaid having 
rights, permit me fully to recognize them, and to express the opinion, that, 
if she and Mason act circumspectly, they will in the convention be able so fai- 
to enforce their rights as to decide absolutely which one of the candidates shall 
be successful. Let me show the reason of this. Hardin, or some other Mor- 
gan candidate, will get Putnam, Marshall, Woodford, Tazewell, and Logan, 
— make sixteen. Then you and Mason, having three, can give the victory 
to either side. 

You say you shall instruct your delegates for me, unless I object. I cer- 
tainly shall not object. That Avould be too pleasant a compliment for me to 
tread in the dust. And besides, if any thing should happen (which, however, 
is not probable) by which Baker should be thrown out of the fight, I would 
be at liberty to accept the nomination if I could get it. I do, however, feel 
myself bound not to hinder him in any way from getting the nomination. I 
shoidd despise myself were I to attempt it. 1 think, then, it would be proper 
for your meeting to appoint three dckgates, and to instruct them to go for 
some one as 2^ first choice, some one else as a second, and perhaps some one 
as a third; and, if in those instructions I were named as the first choice, it 
would gratify me very much. 

If you wish to hold the balance of power, it is important for you to attend 
to and secure the vote of Mason also. You should be sure to have men 
appointed delegates that you know you can safely confide in. If yourself 
and James Short were appointed for your county, all would be safe ; but 
whether Jim's woman aflair a year ago might not be in the way of his ap- 
pointment is a question. I don't know whether you know it, but 1 know him 


to be a? honorable a man as there is in the world. You have my permission, 
and even request, to show this letter to Short ; but to no one else, unless it 
be a very particular friend, who you know will not speak oi it. 

Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 
P. S. — Will you write me again ? 

To .M.MtTi.N M. Morris, Petersburg, III. 

And finally to Speed on the same subject: — 

Springfield, May IS, 184.3. 
Dear Speed, — Yours of the 9th inst. is duly received, which I do not 
meet as a ■• bore," but as a most welcome visitor. I will answer the business 
part of it first. 

In relation to our Con^^refs mattur here, you were right in supposing I 
would support the nominee. Neither Baker nor I, Iiowever. is the man, but 
Hardin, so far as T can judge from present appearances. We shall have no 
split or troui)le about the matter, — all will be harmony. In relation to the 
"coming events " about which Butler wrote you, I bad not heard one word 
before I got your Utter; but I have so much confidence in the judgment of a 
Butler on such a subject, that I incline to think there may be some reality 
in it. Wliat day does Butler app<jiut ? By the way, how do "events" of 
the same sort come on in your family? Are you possessing houses and 
land-i, and o.ten and asses, and men-servants and maid-servants, and beget- 
ting sons and daughters '? We are not keeping house, but boarding at the 
Globe Tavern, which is very well kept now by a widow lady of the name of 
Beck. Our room (the same Dr. Wallace occupied there) and boarding only 
costs us four dollars a week. Ann Todd was married something more than 
a year since to a fellow by the name of Campbell, and who, Mary says, is 
pretty much of a •■ dunce," though he has a little money and property. They 
live in Boonville, Mo., and have not been heard from lately enough for me to 
say any thing about her health. I reckon it will scarcely be in our power 
to visit Kentucky this year. Besides poverty and the necessity of attending 
to business, those •• coming events." I suspect, would be somewhat in the way. 
I most heartily wish you and your Kanny would not fail to come. Just 
let us know the time, and wc will have a room provided for you at our house, 
and all be merry together for a while. Be sure to give my respects to your 
mother and family : assure her, that, if I ever come near her, I will not fail 
to call and see her. Mary joins in sending love to your Fanny and you. 

Yours as ever, ^ 

A. LmcOLN. 


After the " race," still smarting from the mortification of 
defeat, and the disappointment of a cherished hope, he took 
his old friend Jim Mathcny away off to a solitary place in the 
woods, " and then and there," " with groat emphasis," pro- 
tested that he had not grown proud, and was not an aristocrat. 
" Jim," said he, in conclusion, " I am now, and always shall 
be, the same Abe Lincoln that I always was." 


IN 1844 Jlr. Lincoln was again a candidate for elector on 
the Whig ticket. Mr. Clay, as he has said himself, was 
his " heau-ideal of a statesman," and he labored earnestly 
and as effectually as any one else for his election. For the 
most part, he still had liis old antagonists to meet in the Spring- 
field region, chief among wliom this year was John Calhoun. 
With him and others he had joint debates, running through 
several nights, which excited much popular feeling. One of 
his old friends and neighliors, who attended all tliesi; discus- 
sions, speaks in very enthusiastic terms of Mr. Calluiuu, and, 
after enumerating his many noble gifts of head and lieart, 
concludes tliat " Calhoun came nearer of whipping Lincoln in 
debate than Douglas did." 

Mr. Lincoln made many speeches in Illinois, and finally, to- 
wards the close of the campaign, he went over into Indiana, and 
there continued " on the stump '" until the end. Among other 
places he spoke at Rockport on tlie Oiiio. — where he had first 
embarked for New < jrleans with Gentry, — at Gcntryville, and 
at a place in the country about two miles from tlie cabin 
where his fatliei' had lived. Wiiile he was in the midst of 
his speecli at Gcntryville, his old friend, Nat Grigsby, entered 
the room. Lincoln recognized him on the instant, and, stop- 
ping short in his remarks, cried out, " There's Nat ! " With- 
out the slightest regard for the proprieties of the occasion, he 
suspended iiis address totally, and, striding from the j)latform, 
began scrambling Ihrougli the audience and over the benches, 
toward the modest Nat, who stood near the door. When he 


reached him, Lincoln shook his hand " cordially ; " and, after 
felicitating himself sufficiently upon the happy meeting, he 
returned to the phitform, and finished his speech. When that 
was over, Liiicohi could not raaice up his mind to part with 
Nat, but insisted that they must sleep together. Aceordiagl}-, 
tliey wended their way to Col. Jones's, where that fine old 
Jackson Democrat received his distinguished " clerk " with 
all the honors he could show him. Nat says, that in the 
night a cat " began mewing, scratching, and making a fuss 
generally." Lincoln got up, took the cat in his hands, and 
stroking its back " gently and kindly," made it sparkle for 
Nat's amusement. He then " gently " put it out of the door, 
and, returning to bed, " commenced telling stories and talk- 
ing over old times." 

It is hardly necessary to say, that the result of the canvass 
was a severe disappointment to Mr. Lincoln. No defeat but 
his own could have given him more pain ; and thereafter he 
seems to have attended quietly to his own private business 
until the Congressional canvass of 1846. 

It was thought for many years by some persons well in- 
formed, that between Lincoln, Logan, Baker, and Hardin, — 
four very conspicuous Whig leaders, — there was a secret per- 
sonal understanding that they four should " rotate " in Con- 
gress until each had had a term. Baker succeeded Hardin in 
1844 ; Lincoln was elected in 1846, and Logan was nominated, 
but defeated, in 1848. Lincoln publicly declined to contest 
the nomination with Baker in 1844 ; Hardin did the same for 
Lincoln in 1846 (although both seem to have acted reluctant- 
ly), and Lincoln refused to run against Logan in 1848. Col. 
Matheny and others insist, Avith great show of reason, that 
the agreement actually existed ; and, if such was the case, it 
was practically carried out, altliough Lincoln was a candidate 
against Baker, and Hardin against Lincoln, as long as either 
of tiiem thought there was the smallest prospect of success. 
They might have done this, however, merel}^ to keep other and 
less tractable candidates out of the field. That Lincoln would 
cheerfully have made such a bargain to insure himself a seat 

in Congress, there can be no doubt ; but the supposition that 
he did do it can scarcely be reconciled with the feeling dis- 
played by him in the conflict with Baker, or the persistency 
of Hardiu, to a very late hour, in the contest of 184G. 

At all events, Mr. Lincoln and Gen. Hardin were the two, 
and the only two, candidates for the Whig nomination in 
184G. The contest was much like the one with Baker, and 
Lincoln was assailed in much the same fashion. lie was 
called a deist and an infidel, both before and after his nomi- 
nation, and cncouutered in a less degree the same opposition 
from the members of certain religious bodies that had met him 
before. But with Ilardin he maintained personal relations 
the most friendly. The latter proposed to alter the mode of 
making tlie nomination ; and, in the letter conveying tliis desire 
to Mr. Lincoln, he also offered to stipulate that each candidate 
should remain within the limits of his own county. To this 
Mr. Lincoln replied, •' As to your proposed stipulation that 
all the candidates shall remain in their own counties, and re- 
strain tlieir friends to the same, it seems to me, that, on reflec- 
tion, you will see the fact of your having been in Congress 
has, in various ways, so spread your name in the district as to 
give you a decided advantage in smh a stipulation. I appre- 
ciate your desire to keep down excitement, and I promise you 
to 'keep cool' under the circumstances.'' 

On the 2Gth of February, 184(1, '-The .Journal "" contained 
Gen. Hardin's card declining to be " longer considered a can- 
didate," and in its editorial comments occurred the following : 
" We have had, and now have, no doubt that lie (Hardin) 
has been, and now is. a great favorite with the Whigs of the 
district. He states, in substance, tliat there was never any 
understanding on his part that liis name was not to be pre- 
sentetl in the of 1844 and 1846. This, we believe, 
is strictly true. Still, the doings of the Pekin Cfonvention 
did seem to point that way; and the general's voluntary dec- 
lination as to the canvass of 1844 was by many construed 
into an acquiescence on his part. These things had led many 
of his most devoted friends to not expect him to be a candi- 


date at this time. Add to this the relation that Mr. Lincohi 
bears, and has borne, to the party, and it is not strange that 
man)' of those who are as stroncfly devoted to Gen. Hardin 
as they are to Mr. Lincoln should prefer the latter at this 
time. We do not entertain a doubt, that, if we could reverse 
the positions of the two men, that a very large portion of 
those who now have sui)ported Mr. Lincoln most warmly 
would have supported Gen. Hardin quite as warmly." This 
article was admirably calculated to soothe Gen. Hardin, and 
to win over his friends. It was wise and timely. The editor 
was Mr. Lincoln's intimate friend. It is marked by Mr. Lin- 
coln's style, and has at least one expression which was pecu- 
liar to him. 

In its issue of May 7, "The Journal" announced the nom- 
ination as having been made at Petersburg, on the Friday 
previous, and said further, " This nomination was, of course, 
anticipated, there being no other candidate in the field. Mr. 
Lincoln, we all know, is a good Whig, a good man, an able 
speaker, and richly deserves, as he enjoys, the confidence of 
the Whigs of this district and of the State." 

Peter Cartwright, the celebrated pioneer Methodist preach- 
er, noted for his piety and combativeness, was Mr. Lincoln's 
competitor before the people. We know already the nature 
of the principal charges against Mr. Lincoln's personal charac- 
ter; and these, with the usual criticism upon Whig policy, 
formed the staple topics of the campaign on the Democratic 
side. But Peter himself did not escape with that impunity 
which might have been expected in the case of a minister of 
the gospel. Rough tongues circulated exaggerated stories of 
his wicked pugnacity and his worldly-mindedness, whilst the 
pretended servant of the Prince of peace. Many Democrats 
looked with intense disgust upon liis present candidacy, and 
believed, that, by mingling in politics, he was degrading his 
office and polluting the Church. One of these Democrats told 
Mr. Lincoln what he thought, and said, that, althougli it was 
a hard thing to vote against his party, he would do it if it 
should be necessary to defeat Cartwright. Mr. Lincoln told 


liiiii, that on the day of the election he would give him u 
candid opinion as to whether the vote was needed or not. 
Accordin;^!y. on that day, ho called upon the gentleman, 
and said, " I have got the preacher, . . . and don't want 
your vote.' 

Clay's majority in this district in 1844 had been but nine 
hundred and fourteen ; wliereas it now gave Mr. Lincoln a 
majoriiy of lifteen hundred and eleven, in a year which had 
no Presidential excitements to bring out electors. In 1848 
Gen. Taylor's majority was smaller by ten, and the same year 
the Wliig candidate for Congress was defeated by a hundred 
and si.'c. 

In the following letter to ^Ir. Speed, he intimates that the 
first sensations of pleasure atteiuling his new distinction were 
not of long duration ; at least, that there were moments in 
which, if he did not forget his greatness, it afforded him 
little joy. 

Springfield, Oct. 22, 1S46. 
Dkak Speed, — 

You no doubt a-ssign the suspension of our correspondence to the true 
philosopliif cause ; though it must be confessed by both of us, that tliis is 
rather a colJ reason for allowing a friendship such as ours to die out by 
degrees. 1 propose now, that, upon receipt of this, you shall be considered 
in my debt, and under obligations to pay soon, and that neither shall remain 
long in arrears hereafter. Are you agreed ? 

Being elected to Congress, though I am very grateful to our friends for 
having done it, has not pleased me as suuch as I expected. 

We have another boy, born the lOlh of March. He is very much such a 

child a'i Bob was at his age, rather of a longer order. Bob is " short and 

low," and c.tpect always will be. He talks very plainly, — almost as plainly 

as anybody. He is quite smart enough. I sometimes fear he is one of the 

little rare-ripe sort, that are smarter at about five than ever after. He has 

a groat deal of that sort of mischief that is the offspring of much animal 

spirits. Since I began this letter, a messenger came to tell me Bob was 

lost ; but by the time I reached the house his mother had found him, and had 

him whipped ; and by now, very likely, he is run away again. Mary has 

road your letter, and wishes to be rememlxjred to Mrs. S. and you, in which 

1 most sincerely join her. . 

' •* As ever yours, 

A. Lincoln-. 


At the meeting of the Thirtieth Congress Mr. Lincoln took 
his seat, and went about the business of his ofiBcc with a 
strong determination to do something memorable. He was 
the only Whig member from Illinois, and would be carefully 
watched. His colleagues were several of them old acquaint- 
ances of the Vaudalia times. They were John MeClernand, 
O. B. Ficklin, William A. Richardson, Thomas J. Turner, 
Robert Smith, and John Wentworth (Long John). And at 
this session that alert, tireless, ambitious little man, Stephen 
A. Douglas, took his seat in the Senate. 

The roll of this House shooe with an array of great and 
brilliant names. Robert C. Winthrop was the Speaker. On 
the Whig side were John Quincy Adams, Horace Mann, 
Hunt of New York, Collamer of Vermont, Ingersoll of I'enn- 
sylvania, Botts and Goggin of Virginia, Morehead of Ken- 
tucky, Caleb B. Smith of Indiana, Stephens and Toombs 
of Georgia, Gentry of Tennessee, and Vinton and Schenck 
of Ohio. On the Democratic side were Wilmot of Penn- 
sylvania, McLane of Maryland, ilcDowell of Virginia, Rhett 
of South Carolina, Cobb of Georgia, Boyd of Kentucky, 
Brown and Thompson of Mississippi, and Andrew Johnson 
and George W. Jones of Tennessee. In the Senate were 
Webster, Calhoun, Benton, Berrien, Clayton, Bell, Hunter, 
and William R. King. 

The House organized on the 6th ; and the day previous to 
that Mr. Lincoln wrote to his friend and partner, William 
H. Herndon : — 

Washington, Dec. 5, 1847. 

Dear William, — You may remember that about a year a^o a man by 
tbe name of Wilson (James Wilson, I tbink) paid us twenty dollars as an 
advance lee to attend to a case in the Supreme Court for liim, against a 
Mr. Campbell, the record of which case was in the hands of Mr. Dixon of 
St. Louis, who never furnished it to us. When I was at Bloomington last 
fall, I met a friend of Wilson, who mentioned the subject to me, and induced 
me to write to Wilson, telling him that I would leave the ten dollars with 
you which had been left with me to pay lor making abstr.icts in the case, so 
that the case may go on this winter ; but I came away, and forgot to do it. 
AVhat 1 want now is to send you the money to be used accordingly, if any 
one comes on to start the case, or to be retained by you if no one does. 


Tliere is nothin'^ of consequence new here. Congress is to organize 
to-morrow. Lust ni.-ht we heW a Wlii;.^ caucus for the House, and nominated 
Wintlirop of Massachiisflts for Speaker, Sarjrent of Penn.sylvania for Ser- 
}reant-at-arrns, Homer of New Jersey Doorkeeper, and McCormick of Dis- 
trict of Columbia Postmaster. Tlie Whig majority in the Uou.^ie is so small, 
lliut, together with some little dissatisfaction, leaves it doubtful whether we 
will elect them all. 

This paper is too thick to fold, which is the reason 1 send only a half- 

Yours as ever, 


Again on the loth, to the same gentleman : — 

W,\8nmGTO.v, Dec. 13, 184". 

Dear Willia.m, — Your letter advising me of tlic rei:eipt of our fee in 
the bank-case is Jni^t received, and 1 don't expect to hear another as good a 
piece of news from Springfield while 1 am away. I am under no obligations 
to the hank ; and 1 therefore wish you to buy bank certificates, and pay my 
debt tliere. so as to pay it with the least money possible. 1 would as soon 
you should buy them of Mr. Kidgely, or any other person at the bank, as of 
any orie else, provided you can get them as cheaply. I suppose, after the 
bank-debt shall he paid, there will be some money left, out of which I would 
like to have you pay Lavely and Stout twenty dollars, and Priest and some- 
body (oil-makers) ten dollars, for materials got for house-painting. If there 
shall still be any left, keep it till you see or hear from me. 

I shall begin sending documents so soon as I can get them. I wrote you 
yesterday .about a " Congressional Globe." As you are all so anxious for me 
to distinguish myself, I have concluded to do so before long. 

Yours truly. 

A. LiNOf>r,N. 

Mr. Lincoln was a member of the Committee on Postr 
offices and Post-roads, and in tlial eajiacity had occasion to 
study the chiim of a mail-contractor wiio had appealed to 
Congress against a decision of the Department. Mr. Lincoln 
made a speech on the case, in which, being his first, he evi- 
dently felt some pride, and reported progress to his friends at 
home : — 

Washington, Jan. 8, 1 84S. 
Deau Wii.i.lAM, — Your letter of Dec. 27 was received a day or two 
ago. I am much obliged lo you lor the trouble you have taken, and promise 
to take, in my little business tliere, jVs to speech-niakiug, by wa)- of gctiiug 


the hang of the House, I made a little speech two or three days ago, on a 
post-office question of no general interest, I find speaking here and elsewhere 
about the same thing. I was about as badly scared, and no worse, as 1 am 
when I speak in court I expect to make one within a week or two, in which 
I hope to succeed well enough to wish you to see it. 

It is very pleasant to me to learn from you that tliere are some who desire 
that I should be re-elected. I most heartily thank them for the kind par- 
tiality ; and I can say, as Mr. Clay said of the annexation of Tfxas, that 
"personally I would not object " to a re-election, although 1 thought at the 
' time, and still think, it would be quite as well for me to return to the law at 
the end of a single term. I made the declaration, that I would not be a can- 
didate again, more from a wish to deal fairly with others, to keep peace among 
our friends, ami to keep the district from going to the enemy, than for any 
cause personal to myself; so that, if it should so happen that nnbody else 
vAshes to he elected, I could not refuse the people the right of sending me 
again. But »o enter myself as a competitor of others, or to authorize any 
one so to enter me, is what my word and honor forbid. 

I get some letters intimating a probability of so much difficulty amongst 
our friends as to lose ns the district ; but I remember such letters were writ- 
ten to Baker when my own case was under consideration, and I trust there is 
no more ground for such apprehension now than there was then. 

Kemember I am always glad to receive a letter from you. 

Most truly your friend, 

A. Lincoln. 

Thoroughly hostile to Polk, and hotly opposed to the war, 
Mr. Lincoln took an active, although not a leading part in 
the discussions relating to the commencement and conduct 
of the latter. He was politician enough, however, to go with 
the majority of his party in voting supplies to the troops, and 
thanks to the generals, wliilst censuring the President by sol- 
emnly declaring that the "war was unnecessarily and uncon- 
stitutionally begun by the President of the United States." 
But his position, and the position of the Whigs, will be made 
sufficiently apparent by the productions of his own pen. 

On the 22d of December, 1847, Mr. Lincoln introduced a 
preamble and resolutions, which attained great celebrity in 
Illinois under the title of " Spot Resolutions," and in all 
[irobabilily lost the party a great many votes in the Spring- 
field district. They were as follows : — 

Whereas, Tlie President of the United States, in his Message of May 
11, 1816, has declared that "the Mexican Governraunt not only refused to 
receive him [llie envoy of the United States], or listen to his propositions, 
but,aller a long-continued series of menaces, has at last invaded our ((.'rn'torj;, 
and she<l the blood of our fellow-citizens on our own soil ; " 

And again, in his Alessage of Dec. 8, 181G, that " we had ample cause of 
war against Mexico long before Uie breaking out of hostilities ; but even 
then we forbore to take redress into our own hands until Mexico herself be- 
(:;inie the aggressor, by invading our soil iu hostile array, and sheilding the 
blood of our citizens; " 

And yet again, iu his Message of Dec. 7, 1847, that "the Mexican Gov- 
crnmeiu refused even to hear the terms of adjustment which he [our minis- 
tor of peace] was authorized to propose, and finally, umler wholly unjustifiable 
pretexts, involved the two countries in war, by inv.iding the territory of the 
State of Texas, striking the first blow, and shedding the blood of our citizens 

Wni:i!F..\s, This House is desirous to obtain a full knowledge of all the 
fiicts which go to establish whether the particular spot on which the blood of 
our citizens was so shed was or was not at that time "our own soil;" there- 

Rcsolrei! by the House of Represenlaliues, Tliat the President of the United 
States be re?[)cctlully requested to inform this House, — 

1st. Whether the sp:>t on which the liloo 1 of our citizens was shed, as in 
his Messages declared, was or was not wiihin the territory of Spain, at least 
alter the treaty of 1819, until the Mexican revolution. 

2d. Whether that spot is or is not within the teiTitory which was wrested 
from Spain by tluc revolutionary government of Mexico. 

3d. Whether that spot is or is not wiihln a settlement of people, which 
settlement has existed ever since long before the Texas revolution, and until 
its inhabitants lied before the approach of the United States army. 

4th. Whether that settlement is or is not isolated from any and all other 
.settlements by the Gulf and the Rio Grande on the south and west, an<l by 
wide, iiiiiuliubited regions on the north and east. 

oth. ^Vh..■lher the people of that settlement, or a m:ijority of them, or any 
of them, have ever submitted themselves to the government or laws of Texas 
or of the United States,, by consent or by compulsion, either by a(!ceptiiig 
ofBce, or voting at elections, or paying tax, or serving on juries, or having 
process served upon them, or in any other way. 

tJth. Wliether the people of that settlement did or did not ilee from the 
approach of the United States army, leaving unprotected their homes and 
their growing crops, hefore the blood was shed, as in the Messages stated ; 
and whether the first blood, so shed, wa.s or was not shed within the enclosure 
of one of the people who had thus fled from it. 

7th. Whether our citizens, whose blood was shed, as in liis Messages 


declared, were or were not at that time armed officers and soldiers, sent into 
that settlement by the military order of the President, through the Secretary 
of War. 

8th. Whether the military force of the United States was or was not so 
sent into that settlement after Cron. Taylor had more than once 'ntimated 
to the War Department, that, in his opinion, no such movement was neces- 
sary to the defence or protection of Texas. 

Mr. Lincoln improved the first favorable opportunity (Jan. 
12, 1848), to address the House in the spirit of the " Spot 

Tn Committee of the Whole House, Jan. 12, 1848. 

Mr. Lincoln addressed the Committee as follows : — 

Mr. Chairman, — Some, if not at all, of the gentlemen on the othnr 
side of the House, who have addressed the Committee within the last tiro 
days, have spoken rather complainingly, if I have rightly understood them, 
of the vote given a week or ten days ago, declaring that the war with SIcxico 
was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President. I 
admit that such a vote should not be given in mere party wantonness, and 
that the one given is justly censurable, if it have no other or better foun- 
dation. 1 am one of those who joined in that vote, and did so under my 
best impression of the truth of the case. How I got this impression, and 
how it may possibly be removed, I will now try to show. W'hen the war 
begATi, it was my opinion that all those who, because of knowing too little, 
or because of knowing too much, could not conscientiously approve the 
conduct of the President (in the beginning of it), should, nevertheless, as 
good citizens and patriots, remain silent on that point, at least till the war 
should be ended. Some leading Democrats, including ex-President Van 
Buren, have taken this same view, as I understand them ; and I adhered 
to it, and acted upon it, until since I took my seat here ; and 1 think I should 
still adhere to it, were it not that the President and his friends will not allow 
it to be so. Besides the continual effort of the President to argue every 
silent vot« given for supplies into an indorsement of the justice and wisdom 
of his conduct ; besides that singularly candid paragraph in his late Mes- 
sage, in which he tells us that Congress, with great unanimity (only two in 
the Senate and fourteen in the House dissenting), had declared thaf by the 
act of the llepublic of Mexico a state of war exists between that govern- 
ment and the United States ; " when the same journals that informed him 
of tliis also informed him, that, when that declaration stood disconnected 
from the question of supplies, sixty-seven in the House, and not fourteen 
merely, voted against it ; besides this open attempt to prove by telling the 


truth what lie could not prove b_v telling the whole truth, rto.mrindinj of all 
who will not submit to be misrepresented, in justice to themselves, to sj)eak 
out ; besides all this, one of my colleagues [Mr. Richardson], at a very early 
day in the .session, brought in a set of resolutions expressly indorsing the 
original justice of the war on the part of the President. Upon these reso- 
lutions, when they shall be put on their passage, I shall be compelled to vote ; 
so that 1 cannot be silent if I would. Seeing this, I went about preparing 
myself to give the vote under.?tandingly when it should come. I carefully 
examined the President's Messages, to ascertain what ho himself had said 
and proved upon the point. Tlie result of this examination was to make 
the impression, that, t.aking for true all the President states as facts, he falls 
(ar short of proving his justification ; and that the President would have 
gone further with his proof, if it had not been for the small matter that the 
tnith would not permit him. Under the impression thus made, I gave the 
vot<! before mentioned. I propose now to give concisely the process of 
the examination I made, and how I reached the conclusion I did. 

The Pri sident, in liis first Message of May, 184C, dcchares that the soil 
was cure on which hostilities were commenced by Mexico; and he repeats 
that declaration, almost in the same language, in each successive annual 
Message, — thus showing that he esteems that point a highly essential one. 
In the importance of that point T entirely agree with the President. To 
my judgment, it is the vcnj point upon which he should be justified or con- 
demned. In his Message of December, 18-46, it seems to have occurred to 
him, as is certainly true, that title, ownership to soil, or any thing el.«e, is not 
a simple fact, but is a conclusion (bUowing one or more simple facts ; and 
that it was incumbent upon him to present the fivcts from which he concluded 
the soil was ours on which the first blood of the war was shiid. 

Accordingly, a little below the middle of page twelve, in the Message 
Last referred to, he enters upon that task; forming an issue and introducing 
testimony, extending the whole to a little below tlic middle of page fourteen. 
Now, I propose to try to show that the whole of this, issue and evidence, 
is, from beginning to end, the sheerest deception. The issue, as he pre- 
sents it, is in these words : " But there are those who, conceding all this to 
be true, assume the ground th it the true western boundary of Texas is the 
Nueces, inst(!ad of the Rio Grande ; and that, therefore, in marching our 
army to the east bank of the latter river, we passed the Texan line, and in- 
vaded the Territory of Jie.Kico." Now, this issue is made up of two afHrm- 
ativcs, and no negative. The main deception of it is, that it assumes as 
true, that one river or the other is necessarily the boundary, and cheats the 
superficial thinker entirely out of the idea that possibly the boundary is 
somewhere between the two, and not actually at either. A further deception 
is, that it will let in evidence which a true issue would exclude. A true 
issue made by the President would be about as follows : " I say the soil won 
ours on which the first blocxl was shed ; there are those who say it not." 


I now proceed to examine tlie President's evidence, as applicable to such 
an issue. When that evidence is analyzed, it is all included in the following 
propositions : — • 

1. That the Rio Grande was the western boundary of Louisiana, as we 
purchased it of France in 1803. 

2. That the Republic of Texas always claimed the Rio Grande as her 
western boundary. 

3. That, by various acts, she had claimed it on paper. 

4. That Sanu Anna, in his treaty with Tcxivs, recognized the Rio 
Grande as her boundary. 

3. That Toxas before, and the United States afler annexation, had exer- 
cised jaiUilUdon beyond the Nueces, hetuieen the two rivers. 

e. That our Congress understood the boundary of Texas to extend beyond 
the Kueces. 

Now for each of these in its turn : — 

Ilis fu-st item is, that the Rio Grande was the western boundary of Loui- 
siana, as wc purchased it of France in 1803; and, seeming to expect this 
to be disputed, he argues over the amount of nearly a page to prove it true ; 
at the end of which, he lets us know, that, by the treaty of 1819, we sold to 
Spain the whole country, from the Rio Grande eastward to the Sabine. 
Now, admitting ior the present, that the Rio Grande was the boundary of 
Louisiana, what, under Heaven, had that to do with the present boundary 
between us and Mexico ? How, Mr. Chairman, the line that once dividel 
your land from mine can still be the boundary between us afler I have sold 
my land to you, is, to me, beyond all comprehensioQ. And how any man, 
with an honest purpose only of proving tlie truth, could ever have thought 
of introducing such a fact to prove such an issue, is equally incomprehen- 
sible. The outrage upon commoa right, of seizing as our own what we have 
once sold, merely because it was ours be/ore we sold it, is ouly equalled by 
the outrage oa common sense of any attempt to justify it. 

The President's next piece of evidence is, that " The Republic of Texas 
always claimed this river (Rio Grande) as her western boundary." That is 
not true, in fact. Texas has claimed it, but she ha.s not a'.ivays claimed it. 
There is, at least, one distinguished e.xception. Her State Constitution — 
the public's most solemn and well-considered act, that which may, without 
impropriety, be called her last will and testament, revoking all others — 
makes no such claim. But suppose she had always claimed it. Has not 
Mexico always claimed the contrary ? So that there is but claim against 
claim, leaving nothing proved until we get back of the claims, and find 
which has the better /oun</a/(on. 

Tliouirh not in the order in which the President presents his evidence, I 
now consider that class of his statements which are, in substance, nothing 
more than that Texas has, by various acts of her Convention and Congress, 
claimed the Rio Grande as her boundary — on paper. I mean here what 


he says about the fixing of the Rio Grande as her boundar}' in her old con- 
stitution (not her State Constitution), about forrain;i conoressional districts, 
counties, &o. Now, all this is but naked claim ; and what I have already said 
about claims is strictly applicable to this. If I should claim your land by 
word of mouth, thiit certainly would not make it mine ; and if I were to 
claim it by a deed which I had made myself and with wliich you ha<l 
nothing to do, the claim would be quite the same in substance, or rather in 
utter nothingness. 

1 next con.'^ider the President's statement that Santa Anna, in his treati/ 
with Texas, recognized the Rio Grande as the western boundary of Texas. 
Besides the position so often taken that Santa Anna, while a prisoner of 
war, a captive, could not bind Mexico by a treaty, which I deem con- 
clusive, — besides this, I wish to say something in relation to this treaty, so 
called by the President, with Santa Anna. If any man woidd Uke to be 
amused by a sight at that lUtle thing, which the President calls I y that big 
name, he can have it by turning to " Niles's Register," vol. 1. p. 336. 
And if any one should suppose that " Niles's Register " is a curious reposi- 
tory of so mighty a document as a solemn treaty between nations, I can 
only say that I learned, to a tolerable dciree of certainty, by inquiry at the 
State Department, that the President himself never saw it anywhere else 
B)' tlix' way, I believe I should not cit if I were to declare, that, during the 
first ten years of tin: existence of that document, it was never by anybody 
called A treaty ; that it was never so called till the President, in his ex- 
tremity, attempted, by so calling it, to wring something from it in justification 
of himself in connection with the Mexican war. It has none of the dis- 
tinguishing features of a treaty. It does not call itself a treaty. Santa 
Anna does not therein assume to bind Mexico : he assumes only to act as 
president, commander-in-chief of ilu) Mexican army .and navy ; stipulates 
that the then present hostilities should cease, and that he would not himself 
take up arms, nor influence the Mexican people to take up arms, against 
Texas during the e.vistonco of the war of independence. He did not rec- 
ognize the independence of Texas ; he did not assume to put an end to the 
war, but clearly indicated liis expectation of its continuance ; he did not 
say one word about boundary, and most probably never thought of it. It is 
stipulated therein the Mexican forces should evacuate the Territory of 
Taxa.s, pamim/ lo the o'lier side of the Rio Grande; and in another article it 
is stipulated, that, to prevent eollisiotis between the armies, the Texan array 
should not approach nearer than within five leagues, — of what is not said; 
but clearly, from the object stated, it is of the Rio Grande. Now, if this 
is a treaty recognizing the Rio Grande as the boundary of Texas, it con- 
tains the singular feature of stipulating that Texas shall not go within five 
leagues of ker oicn boundary. 

Next comes the evidence of Texas before annexation, and the United 
States afterwards, exercising jurisdiction beyond the Nueces, and heticcep 


the two rivers. This actual exercise (if jurisdictioa is the very class or 
quaUty of evidence we want. It is excellent so far as it goes ; but docs it 
go far erjugh? He tells us it went beyond the Nueces ; but he does not tell 
us it went lo the Rio Grande. He tells us jurisdiction was exercised 
between the two rivers ; but he docs not toll us it was exercised over all the 
territory between them. Some simple-minded people think it possible to 
cross one river and go beyond it, without going all the way to the next ; 
that jurisdiction may bo exercised between two rivers without covering all 
the country between them. I know a man, not very unlike myself, who 
exercises jurisdiction over a piece of land between the Wabash and the Mis- 
sissippi ; and yet so far is this a-oin being all there is between those rivers, 
that it is just a hundred and fifty-two feet long by fifty wi<Ie, and no part 
of it much within a hundred miles of either. He has a neighbor between 
him and the Missis.^ijipi, — that is, just across the street, in that direction, — 
whom, I am sure, he could neither /)ereu<j</e nor force to give up his habita- 
tion ; but which, nevertheless, he could certainly annex, if it were to be 
done by merely standing on his own side of the street and claiming it, or 
even sitting down and writing a deed for it. 

But next, the Pi-esidcnt tells us, the Congress of the United States unc/cr- 
stuod the State of Texas they admitted into the Union to extend beyond the 
Nueces. Well, I suppose they did, — I certainly so understand it, — but 
howybr beyond ? That Congress did not understand it to extend clear to 
the Rio Grande, is qidte certain by the fact of their joint resolutions for 
admission, expressly leaving all questions of boundary to future adjustment. 
And it may be added, that Texas herself is proved to have had the same 
understanding of it that our Congress had, by the fact of the exact con- 
foiraity of her new Constitution to those resolutions. 

I am now through the whole of the President's evidence ; and it is a 
singular fact, that, if any one should declare the President sent the army 
into the midst of a settlement of Alexicau people, who had never submitted, 
by consent or by force, to the amhority of Texas or of the United States, 
and that there, and therehy, the first blood of the war was shed, there is not 
one word in all the President has said which would either admit or deny 
the declaration. In this strange omission chiefly consists the deception of 
the President's evidence, — an omission which, it does seem to me, could 
scarcely have occurred but by design. My way of living leads me to be 
about the courts of justice ; and there I have sometimes seen a good lawyer, 
struggling for his client's neck in a desperate case, employing every ai'tiCce 
to work round, befog, and cover up with many words, some position pressed 
upon him by the prosecution, which he dared not admit, and yet could not 
deny. Party bias may help to make it appear so ; but, with all the allowance 
I can make for such bias, it still does appear to me that just such, and trom 
just such necessity, are the President's struggles in this ease. 

Some time after my colleague (Mr. Richardson) introduced the resolutious 


I have mentioned. T introduced a preamble, resolution, and interroiratoriep, 
intended to draw the President out, if possible, on this hitherto untrodden 
ground. To show their relevancy, I propose to state my understanding of" 
the true rule for ascertaining the boundary between Texas and Mexico. It 
is, that, wherever Texas was exercising jurisdiction was hers ; and wherever 
Mexico was exercising jurisdiction was hers; and that whatever separated 
the actual exercise of juris<liction of the one from that of the other was 
the true boundary between them. If, a? is probably true, Texas was exer- 
cising jurisdiction along the western bank of the Nueces, and Mexico was 
exercising it along the eastern bank of the liio Grande, then neither river 
was the boundary, but the uninhabited country between the two was. The 
extent of our territory in tliat region depended, not on any trcalij-jixtdhoun- 
dary (for no treaty had atteraj)ted it), but on revolution. Any people any- 
where, being inclined and having the power, have the right to ri a up and 
shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits thera 
better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right, — a ri'.;ht which, we 
hope and believe, is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to 
cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose 
to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can may revolutionize, and 
make their nwn of so much of the territory as they inhabit. More than this> 
a major?.!) of any portion of such people may revolutionize, putting down a 
minority, intenningled with or npar about them, who may oppose their 
movements. Such minority was precisely the case of the Tories of our own 
Revolution. It is a quality of revolutions not to go by old lines or ohl 
laws, but to break up both, and make new ones. As to the country now 
in question, we bought it of France in 180.3, and sold it to Spain in 1819, 
according to the President's statement. Alter this, all Mexico, including 
Texas, revolutionized against Spain; and, still later, Texas revolutionized 
against Mexico. In my view, just so far as slie carried her revolution, by 
obtaining the ac?U'ji, willing or unwilling, submission of the people, .«o _/ar 
the country was hers, and no farther. 

Now. sir, for the purpose of obtaining the very best evidence :is to whether 
Texas had actually carried her revolution to the place wh'-re the hostilities 
of the present war commenced, let the President answer the interrogatories 
I proposed, as Ijclbre mentioned, or some other similar ones. Let him 
answer fully, lairly, and candidly. Let him answer with fuels, and not 
with arguments. Let him remember he sits where Washington sat; and, 
so remembering, let him answer as Washington would answer. As a nation 
should not, and the Almighty mil not, be evaded, so let him attempt no 
evasion, no equivocation. And if, so answering, he can show that the soil 
was ours where the first blood of the war was shed ; that it was not within 
an inhabited cout^try, or, if within such, the inhai)itants had submitted 
themselves to the civil authority of Texas, or of the United States, and that 
the same is true of the site of Fort Brown, then I am with him for hi.s 


justification. In that case, T shall be most happy to reverse the vote I "ave 
the other day. I have a selfish motive for desirinj; that the President may 
do this : I expect to give some votes, in connection with the war, which, 
without his so doing, will be of doubtfiil propriety, in my own judgment, 
but which will be free from the doubt if he docs so. But if he cannot or 
will not do this, — if, on any pretence, or no pretence, he shall refuse or omit 
it, — then I shall be fully convinced of what I more than suspect already, — 
that he is deeply conscious of being in the wrong ; that he feels the blood 
of tliis war, like the blood of Abel, is crying to Heaven against him ; that 
he ordered Gen. Taylor into the midst of a peaceful Mexican settlement, 
purposely to bring on a war ; that, originally having some strong motive — 
what I will nnf^Titop now to give my opinion concerning — to involve the 
two countries in a war. and trusting to escape scrutiny by fixing the public 
gaze upon 'he exceeding brightness of military glory, — that attractive rain- 
bow that rises in showers of blood, that serpent's eye that charms to 
destroy, — he plunged into it, and has swept on and on, till, disappointed in 
his calculation of the ease with which Mexico might be subdued, he now 
finds himself he knows not where. IIow like the half-insane mumbling of a 
fever-dream is the whole war part of the late Message I At one time telling us 
that Mexico has nothing whatever that we can get but territory ; at another, 
showing us how wo can support the war by levying contributions on Mexico. 
At one time urging the national honor, the security of the future, the pre- 
vention of foreign interference, and even the good of Mexico lierscif, as 
among the objects of the war ; at another, tolling us that, " to reject indem- 
nity by refusing to accept a cession of territory, would be to abandon all 
our just demands, and to wage the war, bearing all its expenses, without 
a purpose or definite object" So, then, the national honor, security of the 
future, and every thing but territorial indemnity, may be considered the no 
purposes and indefinite objects of the war I But having it now settled that 
territorial indemnity is the only object, we are urged to seize, by legislation 
here, all that he was content to take a few months ago, and the whole 
province of Lower California to boot, and to still carry on the war, — to take 
all we are fighting for, and still fight on. Again, the President is resolved, 
under all circumstances, to have full territorial indemnity for the expenses of 
the war ; but he forgets to tell us how we are to get the excess allcr those 
expenses shall have surpassed the value of the whole of the Mexican ter- 
ritory. So, again, he insists that the separate national existence of Mexico 
shall be maintained ; but he docs not tell us how this can be done after wc 
shall have taken <dl her territory. Lest the questions I here suggest be con- 
sidered speculative merely, let me be indulged a moment in trying to show 
they are not. 

The war has gone on some twenty months ; for the expenses of which, 
together with an inconsiderable old score, the President now claims about 
one-half of the Mexican territorj-, and that by far the better half, so far as 


concerns our ability to make any thing out of it. It is comparatively unin- 
LaliiteJ ; so that we coulJ establish laud-oflices in it, and raise some money 
in that way. But the other hall' is already inhabited, as I understand it, 
tolerably densely liir the nature of the country ; and all its lands, or all that 
are valuable, already appropriated as private property, llow, then, are we 
to make any thing out of these lands with this encumbrance on them, or 
how remove the encumbrauee V I suppose no one will say wo should kill 
the people, or drive them out, or make slaves of them, or even confiscate 
their property V How, then, can v,e make much out of this pan of the ter- 
ritory ? If the prosecution of the war has, in expenses, already equalled 
the hetter half of the country, how long its future prosecution will be in 
equalling the less valuable half is not a qjcctdiitive but a pracucat question, 
pressing closely upon us ; and yet it is a question which the President seems 
never to have iliuught of. 

As to the mode of terminating the war ami securing peace, the President 
is equally wandering and indefinite. Tirst, it is to be done by a more vigor- 
ous prosecution of the w:.r in the vital partes of the enemy's country; and, 
after ajiparently talking himself tired on this point, the President drop* 
down into a hall-despniring tone, and tells as, that " with a i)eo[>le distracted 
and divided by contending factions, and a government subject to constant 
changes, by .successive revolutions, the canlinued success of our arms may fail 
to obtain a sallxfnctory peace." Then he suggests the ])roiiriety of wlicedling 
the ile.\ican people to desert the counsels ot their own leaders, and, trusting 
in our protection, to set up a government from which we cau seciure a satis- 
factory peace, telling us that, ■' (his ma<j become the uuly mod:' nf obtaining. iuch 
apeace." But soon he falls into doubt of this, too, and then drops back on 
to the alreaily half-abainloned ground of " more vigorous prosecuiion." All 
this shijws that the President is in no wise satisfied with his own positions. 
First, he lakes up one, and, in attempting to argue us into it, he argues 
himself out of it ; then seizes another, and goes througli the same process; 
and then, confused at being able to think of nothing new, he snatches up 
the old one again, which he has some time before cast off. His mind, tasked 
bevoud its power, is runniug hither and thither, like some torlnred creature 
on a burning surface, finding no position on which it can settle down and be 
at ease. 

Again, it is a singular omission in this Message, that it nowhere intimates 
uhtn the President e.\pects the war to terminate. At its beginning. Gen. 
Scott was, by this same President, driven into disfavor, if not disgrace, for 
intimating that peace could not be conquered in less than three or four 
months. But now at the end of about twenty months, during which time 
our ai-ms have given us the most splendid successes, — every ilepartment, 
and every part, land and water, officers and ])rivates, regulars aud volun- 
teers, doing all that men could do, and hundreds of things which it had ever 
before been thought that men could not do, — after all this, this same Presi- 


(lent gives us a long Message without showing us that, ax to Oie end, he has 
himself even an imaginary conception. As I have before said, he knows 
not where he is. He is a bewildered, confounded, and miserably perplexed 
man. God grant he may be able to show that there is not something about 
his conscience more painful than all his mental perplexity. 

This speech lie hastened to send home as soon as it was 
printed ; for, wlille throughout he trod on unquestionable 
Whig ground, he had excellent reasons to fear the result. 
The following is the first letter to Mr. Herndon after the 
delivery of the speech, and notifying him of the fact : — 

W.iSHiNOTOS, Jan. 19, 1848. 
Dear William, — Enclosed you find a letter of Louis W. Candler. 
WTiat is wanted is, tliat you shall ascertain ivlictlier the claim upon the note 
described has received any dividend in the Probate Court of Christian 
County, where the estate of Mr. Overton Williams has been administered 
on. If nothing is paid on it, withdraw the note and send it to me, so that 
Candler can see tlic indorser of it. At all events, write me all about it, till 
1 can somehow get it olT hands. I have already been bored more than 
enough about it ; not the least of which annoyance is his cursed, unread- 
able, and ungodly handwriting. 

I have made a speech, a copy of which I will send you by next mail. 
Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

About the last of January, or the first of February, he 
began to hear the first murmurs of alarm and dissatisfaction 
from his district. He was now on the defensive, and com- 
pelled to write long and tedious letters to pacify some of the 
Whigs. Of this character are two extremely interesting 
epistles to Mr. Herndon : — 

Wasbinoton, Feb. 1, 1848. 
Dear William, — Tour letter of the 19th ult. was received last night, 
and for which I am much obliged. The only thing in it that I wish to talk 
to you about at once is, that, because of my vote for Ashmun's amendment, 
you fear that you and 1 disagree about the war. I regret this, not because 
of any fear we shall remain disagreeil after you have read this letter, but 
because if jou misunderstand, I fear other good friends may also. That vote 
affirms, that the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced 
by the President ; and I will stake my life, that, if you had been in my place, 
you would have voted just as I did. Would you have voted what you felt 


and knew to be a lie ? I know you would not. Would you have gone out 
of tlic House, — skulked the vote ? I expect not. If you had skulked one 
vote, you would have had to skulk many more before the end of the session. 
Ricbirdson's resolutions, introduced before I made any move, or gave any 
vote upon the subject, make the direct question of the juslico of the war; so 
that no man can be silent if lie would. You arc compelled to speak ; and 
your only alternative is to tell the truth or teli a lie. I cannot doubt which 
you would do. 

This vole has nothing to do in determining my votes on the questions of 
supplies. I have always intended, and still intend, to vote supplies ; perhaps 
not in the precise form recommended by the President, but in a better form 
fur all jjurposes, except Locofoco parly purposes. It is in this particular you 
seem mistaken. The Loco.s arc untiring in their efforts to make the impres- 
sion th:it all who vote supplies, or take part in the war, do, of ncfesaity, a])- 
prove the President's conduct in the beginning of it ; but the Whigs have, 
from the beginning, male an<l kept the distinction between the two. In the 
very first act nearly all the Whigs voted againsl the preamble declaring that 
war existed by t' c act of Mexico ; and yet; nearly all of them voted ybr the 
supplies. As to the Whig men who have participated in tlie war, so far as 
they have spoken to my hearing, they do not hesitate to denounce as unjust 
the President's conduct in the beginning of the war. They do not suppose 
that such denunciation is directed by undying hatred to them, a? ''Tlie 
Register" would have it believed. Tliere are two such Whigs on this floor 
(Col. Maskell and Major Jaoies). The former fought as a colonel by the side 
of Col. Baker, at Cerro Gonlo, and stands side by side with me in the vote 
that you seem dissatisfied with. Tlie latter, the history of whose capture with 
Cassius Clay you well know, had not arrived here when that vote given ; 
but, as I understand, he stands ready to give just such a vote whenever an 
occasion shall present. Baker, too, who is now here, says the truth is un- 
doubtedly that way , and, whenever he sliall speak out, he will say so. Col. 
Donaphin, too, the favorite Whig of Missouri, and who overrun all Northern 
Mexico, on his return homo, in a public speech at St. Louis, eondeuined the 
administration in relation ty the war, if I remember. G. T. M. Davis, who 
has been through almost the whole war, declares in favor of Mr. Clay ; from 
which I infei' that he adopts tlie sentiuients of Mr. Clay, generally at least. 
On the otlwr hand, I have heard of but one Wliig who lias been to the war 
attempting to justify the President's conduct. That one was Capt. Bishop; 
editor of " The Charleston Courier," and a very clever fellow. I do not 
mean this letter for the public, but for you. Before it reaches you, you will 
have seen and read my pamphlet speech, and, perhaps, scared anew by it. 
After you get over your scare, read it over again, sentence by sentence, and 
tell me honestly what you think of it. I condensed all I could for fear of 
being cut off by the hour rule ; and, when I got through, I had .spoken but 
forty-five minutes. Yours forever, 

A. Lincoln. 


Washington, Feb. 15, 1848. 

Dear William, — Your letter of the 29th January was received last 
night. Being exclusively a constitutional argument, I wish to submit some 
reflections upon it in the same spirit of kinJness that I know actuates you. 
Ijet me first state what I understand to be your positifin. It is. that, if it 
shall become necessary to repel invasion, the President maj', without violation 
of the Constitution, cross the line, and invade the territory of another coun- 
try ; and that whether such necessity exists in any given case, the President 
is the sole judge. 

Before going farllier, consider well whctlier this is, or is not, your position. 
If it iii, it is a position that neither the President himself, nor any iriend of 
liis, so far as I know, has ever t:iken. Their only [jositions are, first, that 
the soil was ours where the hostilities commenced ; and second, that, whether 
it was rightfully ours or not, Congress had annexed it, and the President, for 
that reason, was bound to defend it, both of which are as clearly proved to 
be false in liict as you can prove that your house is mine. That soil was 
not ours ; and Congress did not annex, or attempt to annex it. But to re- 
turn to your position. Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation 
whenever he shall deem it necessary to repul an invasion, you allow him 
to do so whenever he matj choose to say he deems it necessary for such pur- 
pose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix 
any limit to his power in this respect, after having given liim so much as you 
propose. If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade 
Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him V 
You may say to hmi, " I see no probability of the Britislj invading us ; " but 
he will say to you, " Be silent : I see it, if you don't." 

The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Con- 
gross was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons : kings had 
always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending 
generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This 
our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppres- 
sions ; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should 
hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys 
the Avhole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood. 

Write soon again. 

Yours trulj', 

A. Lincoln. 

But the Whig National Convention to nominate a candidate 
for tlie Presidency was to meet at Phihtdelphia on the 1st of 
June, and Mr. Lincoln was to be a member. He was not a 
Clay mau : he wanted a candidate that could be elected ; and 


he was for " OIJ Rough," as the only avuilaljle material at 
hand. But let lura explain himself : — 

AVasuingtov, April 30, 1548. 

Dear Wii.HAMS, — I have not seen in the ]>ai)er!> any evidence of a 
movement to semi .i delegate from your oireuit to tlie June Convention. I 
wisli to say that I think it all important that a delegate should he sent. Mr. 
Clay's chance for an election is just no chance at all. He might get New 
York ; and thai would have elected in 1S14. hut it will not now.-because 
he must now, at the least, lose Tennessc-e. wjuch he ha<l then, and in aiWi- 
tion the fifteen neu; votes of Florida, Texas, Iowa, anil Wiscousiu. I know 
our good friend Browning i.s a great admirer of Mr. Cla)-, and I therefore 
fear he is favoring his nomination. If he is, ask him to discard feeling, and 
try if he can possihly, as a matter of judgment, count tlie votes necessary to 
elect him. 

In my judgment we can elect nobody but Gen. Taylor; and we citnnot 
elect him without a nomination. Therefore don't fail to send a delegate. 
Your friend as ever, 


To Archibald Williams, Esq. 

Washixotox, June 12, 1S4S. 

Deah ■Wit.t.iams, — On my return from Tliiladelphia, where I had been 
attendin'.; the nomination of " Old Rough," I found your letter in a mass of 
others which had accumulated in my absence. By many, and often, it had 
been said they would not abide the nomination of Taylor ; but, ^^nce the 
deed has been done, they are fast falling in, and in my opinion we shall lune 
a most overwhelming, glorious triumph. One unmistakable sign is, that ivll 
the odds and ends are with as, — Bamlmrners, Native Araerieans, Tyler 
men. disappointed, olBcc-seeking Locofooos, ami the Lord knows what. This 
is important, if in nothing else, in showing which way the wind blows. Sonic 
of the sanguine men here set down all the States as certain for T.iylor but 
Illinois, and it is doubtful. Cannot s<jinething be done even in Illinois '? 
Taylor's nomination takes the Locos on the blind side. It turns the war 
thunder against them. The war is now to thi'm the gallows of Ilanijiu, which 
they built for us, and on which they are doomed to be hanged themselves. 

Excuse this short letter. I have so many to write that I cannot devote 
much time to any one. 

Yours as ever, 

A. Ltxcoi.y. 

But hi> younj^ partner in the law gave him a great deal of 
annoyanct'. Mr. Herndon seems"to have been troubled b)- 
patriotie scruples. He could not understand how the war had 


been begun unconstitutionally and unnecessarily by President 
Polk, nor Jiow the Whigs could vote supplies to carry on the 
war without indorsing the war itself. Besides all this, he 
sent news of startling defections ; and the weary Representa- 
tive took up his pen again and again to explain, defend, and 
advise : — 

■Washington, June 22, 1848. 

Dear William, — Last night I was attending a sort of caucus of the 
^^^li^ members, held in relation to the coniiuGj Presiilential election. The 
whole field of the nation was scanned ; and all is high hope and confidence. 
Illinois is expected to better her condition in this race. Under those circum- 
stances, judge how heart-rending it was to come to my room and find and 
read your discouraging letter of the 1 .5th. We have made no gains, but have 
lost " II. R. Robinson, Turner, Campbell, and four or five more." Tell Arney 
to reconsider, if he would be saved. Baker and I used to do soraetliing, but 
I think viiu attach more importance to our absence than is just. There is 
another cause : in 1840, for instance, we had two Senators and five Repre- 
sentatives in Sangamon ; now, we have part of one Senator and two Repre- 
sentatives. With quite one-third more people than we had then, we have 
only half the sort of offices which are sought by men of the speaking sort of 
talent. This, I think, is the chief cause. Now, as to the young men. You 
must not wait to be brought forward by the older men. For instance, do 
you suppose that I should ever have got into notice if I had waited to be 
hunted up and pushed forward by older men. You young men get together 
and form a Rough and Ready Club, and have regular meetings and speeches. 
Take ill cvorvbody that you can get. Harrison, Giimsley, Z. A. Enos, Lee 
Kimball, and C. W. JIatheny will do to begin the thing ; but, as you go 
along, gather up all the shrewd, wild boys about town, whether ju.>it of age or 
a little under age, — Chris. Logan, Redilick Ridgely, Lewis Zwizler, and 
hundreds such. Let every one play the part he can play best, — some speak, 
some sing, and all hollow. Your meetings will bo of evenings ; the older 
men, and the women, will go to hear you ; so that it will not only contribute 
to the election of " Old Zack," but will be an interesting pastime, and im- 
proving to the intellectual faculties of all engaged. Don't fail to do this. 

You ask me to send you all tlie speeches made about " Old Zack," the 
war, &c., &c. Now, this makes mo a little impatient. I have regularly sent 
you " The Congressional Globe" and "Appendix," and you cannot have exam- 
ined thein, or you would have discovered that they contain every speech made 
by every man in both Houses of Congress, on every subject, during the session. 
Can I send any more ? Can I send speeches that nobody has made ? Think- 
ing it would be most natural that the newspapers would feel interested to give 
at least some of the speeches to their readers, I, at the beginning of the session, 
made arrangements to have one copy of " The Globe " and "Appendix " 


regtilarly sent to each TVliig paper of the district. And yet, irith the excep- 
tion of my own little speech, which was published in two only of the then 
five, now four, Wliig papers, I do not remomber Iiaving seen a single speech, 
or even extract from one, in any single one of those papers. With equal 
and full means on both sides, I will venture that "The State Register" has 
thrown before its readers more of Loeofoco speeches in a month than all the 
Whig papers of the district have done of Whig speeches during the session. 

If you wish a full understanding of tlic war. 1 repeat what I beUevc I s.aid 
to you in a letter once before, that the whole, or nearly so, is to be found in 
the speech of Dixon of Connecticut, This I sent you in pamphlet, as well, 
as in " The Globe." Exauiiue and study every sentence of that speech 
thorouglily, and you will understand the whole subject. 

You ask how Congress came to declare that war had existed by the act 
of Mexico. Is it possible you don't understand that yet ? You have at least 
twenty speeches in your possession that fully explain it. 1 will, however, 
try it once more. The news reached Washington of the commencement 
of hostilities on tlie Kio Grande, and of the great peril of Gen. Taylor's 
army. Everyliody, Wliigs and Democrats, was for sending them aid, in men 
and money. It was necessary to pass a bill lor this. The Locos had a 
majority in both Houses, and they brought in a bill with a preamble, saying, 
WliRreoi, War exists by the act of Mexico, thereibre wo send Gen. Taylor 
money. The Whigs moveil to strike out the preamble, so that they could 
vote to send the men and money, without saying any thing about how the war 
commenced; but, being iii the minority, they were voted down, and the pre- 
amble was retained. Then, on the passage of the bill, the (question came 
upon them, •' Shall wo vote /or preamble and bill both together, or against 
both together?" They did not want to vote ar/ainst sending help to Gen. 
Taylor, and therefore they voted for botli together. Is there any dilliculty 
in understanding this? Even my little speech sliows how this was; and, if 
you will go to the library, you may get " The tlournal " of 18-15-4t;, in which 
you can find the wliolc lor yourself. 

We have nothing published yet with special reference to the Taylor race : 
but we soon will have, and then I will send them to everybody. I ma<le an 
internal-improvement spoecli day before yesterday, whieli 1 shall send home 
as soon as I can get it written out and printed, — and which I suppose 
nobody will read. Your friend as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

■Washington, July 10, 1848. 

Dear William, — Your letter covering the newspaper slips was received 

last night. The subject of that letter is exceedingly painful to me; and I 

cannot but think there is some mistake in your impression of the motives 

of the old mer. I suppose I am now one of the old men ; and I dccl.ore, on 


my veracity, which I think is good with you, that nothing could afford me 
more satisfaction than to learn that you and others of my young friends at 
home were doing battle in the contest, and endearing themselves to the 
people, and taking a stand far above any I have ever been able to reach in 
their admiration. I cannot conceive that other old men fcel differently. 
Of course, I cannot demonstrate what I say ; but I was young once, and I 
am sure I was never ungenerously thrust back. I hardly know what to 
say. The way for a young man to rise is to improve himself every way he 
can, never suspecting that anybody wishes to hinder liim. Allow me to 
assure you that suspicion and jealousy never did help any man in any situa- 
tion. There may sometimes be ungenerous attempts to keep a young man 
down; and they will succeed, too, if he allows his mind to be diverted from 
its true channel, to brood over the attempted injury. Cast about, and see 
if tliis feeling has not injured every person you have ever known to fall 
into it. 

Now, in what I have said, I am sure you will suspect nothing but sincere 
friendship. I would save you from a fatal error. You have been a labori- 
ous, studious young man. You are far better informed on almost all subjects 
than I have ever been. You cannot fail in any laudable object, unless you 
allow your mind to be improperly directed. 1 have some the atlvantage 
of you in the world's experience, merely by being older; and it is this that 
induces me to advise. 

You still seem to be a little mistaken about " The Congressional Globe " 
and " Apj)endix." They contain all of the speeches that are published in any 
way. My speech and Dayton's speech, which you say you got in pamphlet 
form, are both, word fur word, in the " Appendix." I repeat again, all are 

Your friend, as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

The "internal-improvement" speech to which Mr. Lincohi 
alludes in one of these letters was delivered on the 20th of 
June, and contained nothing remarkable or especially charac- 
teristic. It was in the main merely the usual Whig argument 
in favor of the constitutionality of Mr. Clay's " American 

But, after the nominations at Baltimore and Philadelphia, 
everybody in either House of Congress who could compose 
any thing at all " on his legs," or in the closet, felt it incum- 
bent upon him to contribute at least one electioneering speech 
to the political literature of the day. At last, on the 27th 
of July, Mr. Lincoln found au opportunity to make his. Few 


like it have ever been heard ia either of those venerable 
chambers. It is a common remark of those who know nothing 
of the subject, that Mr. Lincoln was devoid of imagination ; 
Vjut the reader of this speech will entertain a different opin- 
ion. It opens to ns a mind fertile in images sufficiently rare 
and striking, but uf somewhat questionable taste. It must 
have been heard in amazement by those gentlemen of the 
House wlio had never known a Hanks, or seen a New Salem. 



Mr. Sl'i.AKEi:. — Our DciiKKratii' friinils ?(i?m to be in great distress 
because they think our eamliihite ibr the IVesiiK'ney ilon't suit us. Most of 
them caniKit fiml out that (ien. Taylor has any principles at all; some, 
however, have diseovcreil that he has one, but that that one is entirely 
wrong. This one principle is his position on the veto power. Tiie gentle- 
man from Tennessee (Mr. Stanton), who has just taken his seat, indeeil, has 
said there is very little, if any, difference on this question between Gen. Tay- 
lor and all ihe Presidents ; and he seems to think it sufficient detraction from 
Gen. Taylor's position on it, that it has nothing new in it. But all others 
wlioni I have heard speak assail it furiously. A new member from Kentucky 
(Mr. Clarke) of very ability, was in particular concern about 
it. lie thought it altogether novel and unprecedented for a President, or a 
Prcsideniial i Mtididate, to think of approving bills wdiose constitiitiouality 
mav not be entirely clear to his own mind. He tidnks the ark of our safety 
is gone, unless Pre>idents shall always veto such bills as, in their judgment, 
miy be of ihidif/ul constitutionality. However clear Congress may lie of iheir 
authority to pass any particular act, the gentleman from Kentucky thinks 
the President must veto it if he has doubts about it. Now, I have neither 
time nor inclination to ar'ne with the gentleman on the veto power as an 
original question ; but I wish to show that Gen. Taylor, and not he, agrees 
with the earliest statesmen on this question. When the bill chartering the 
first Piank of the United States passed Congress, its constitutionality was 
questionCMl ; Mr. Madis'm, then in the House ot' Representatives, as well as 
others, had opposed it on that groun<l. Gen. Washington, as President, wa.s 
called on to ajiprove or reject it. He sought and obtained, on the constitu- 
tional question, the .separate written opinions of JetFerson, Hamilton, and 
Edmund Uandoliih: they then being respectively Secretary of State, Secre- 
tary of the Ti-easury, and Attorney-General. Hamilton's opinion was for 
the power; while Randolph's and Jefferson's were both against it. Ml. 
Jefferson, in his letter dated Feb. 15, i:91, after giving his opinion decid- 


edly against the constitutionality of that bill, closed with the paragraph 
which I now read : — 

" It must lie admitted, however, that, unless the President's mind, on a 
view of every thini; which is urged for and against this bill, is tolerably clear 
that it is unauthori7,ed by the Constitution; if the pro and the eon ban" so 
even as to balance his judgment, a just respect for the wisdom of the Legis- 
lature would naturally decide the balance in favor of their opinion ; it is 
chiefly for cases where they are clearly misled by error, ambition, or inter- 
est, that the Constitution has placed a check in the negative of the Presi- 

Gen. Taylor's opinion, as expressed in his Allison letter, is as 1 now 
read : — 

" The power given by the veto is a high conservative power, but, in my 
opinion, shoulil never he exercised, except in cases of clear violation of the 
Constitution, or manifest haste and want of consideration by Congress. 

It is here seen, that, in Mr. Jefferson's opinion, if, on the constitutionality 
of any given bill, the President doubts, he is not to veto it, as the gen- 
tleman from Kentucky would have him to do, but is to defer to Congress, and 
approve it. And if wo compare the opinions of Jefferson and Taylor, as ex- 
pressed in these paragraphs, we shall find them more exactly alike than we 
can often find any two expressions having any literal difference. None but 
interested fault-finders can discover any substantial variation. 

But gentlemen on the other side are unanimously agreed that Gen. T.aylor 
has no other principle. They are in utter darkness as to his opinions on any 
of the questions of policy which occupy tlie public attention. But is there 
any doubt as to what he will do on the prominent (juesiion, if elected ? Not 
the least. It is not possible to know what he will or would do in every 
imaginable case, because many questions have passed away, and others 
doubtless will arise, which none of us have yet tliought of; but on the promi- 
nent questions of currency, tariff, internal improvements, and Wilmot Pro- 
viso, Gen. Taylor's course is at least as well defined as is Gen. Cass's. Why, 
in their eagerness to get at Gen. Taylor, several Democratic members 
here have desired to know whether, in case of his elecuon, a bankrupt-law 
is to be establi-'hed. Can tlw.y tell us Gen. Cass's ojunion on this ques- 
tion'? (Some member answered, ''He is against it.") Ay, how do you 
know he is ? There is nothing about it in the platform, nor elsewhere, that 
I have seen. If the gentleman knows any thing which I do not, he can show 
it. But to return : Gen. Taylor, in his Allison letter, says, — 

" I'pon the subject of the tariff, the currency, the improvement of our 
great highways, rivers, lakes, and harbors, the will of the people, as ex- 
pressed through their Representatives in Congress, ought to be respected and 
carried out by the Executive." 

Now, this is the whole matter : in substance, it is this : The people say 
to Gen. Ta\ lor. •' If vou are elected, shall we have a national bank V " lie 


answers, " Your will, gentlemen, not mine." — "'NVLat about the tariff? " 

" Say yourselves." — " Shall our rivers and harbors be improved?" — " Just 
as you please." — " If you desire a bank, an alteration of the tariff, internal 
impi-ovcments, any or all, I will not hinder you : if you do not desire them, 
I will not attempt to force them on you. Send up your members of Congress 
from the various districts, with opinions according to your own, and if they 
are for these measures, or any of them, I shall have nothing to oppose : if 
they are not ibr them, 1 shall not, by any appliances whatever, attempt to 
dragoon them into their adoption." Now, can there be any difficulty in 
understanding this? To you. Democrats, it may not seem like principle ; 
but surely you cannot fail to perceive the position plain enough. The dis- 
tinction between it and the position of your candidate is broad and obvious, 
and I admit you have a dear right to show it is wrong, il you can ; but you 
have no right to i)rctcnd you cunnot see it at all. We see it, and to us it 
appears like principle, and the best sort of principle at that, — the principle 
of allowing the people to do as they please with their own business. My 
friend from Indiana (Mr. C. B. Smith) liiis aptly asked, " Are you willing to 
trust the peojile ? " Somi! of you answered substantially,," We are willing 
to trust the people ; but the President is as much the representative of the 
people as Congress." In a certain sense, and to a certain extent, he is the 
representative of the people. He is elected by them as well as Congress is. 
But can he, in the nature of ihinL's, know the wants of the jHiople as well 
as three hundred other men coining from all the various localities of the 
nation ? II' so, where is the propriety of having a Congress ? That the 
Constitution gives the Pre^ident a negative on legislation, all know ; but 
that this negative should lie so comiiined with platforms and other appli- 
ances as to enable him. and, in fact, almost compel him, to take the whole of 
legislation into his own hands, is what we object to, is what Gen. Taylor 
objects to, and is what constitutes the Broad distinction between you and 
us. To thus transfer legislatioti is clearly to take it Irom those who under- 
stand with minuteness the interests of the people, and give it to one who 
does not and cannot so well understand it. I understand your iriea, — that 
if a Presidential candidate avow his opinion upon a given cpiestion, or rather 
upon all questions, and the people, with full knowledge of this, elect him, 
they thereby di-tiiicily approve all those opinions. This, though plausible, 
is a most pernicious dece|)tion. By means of it, measures are adopted or 
rejected contrary to the wishes of the whole of one party, and often nearly 
half of the other. The process is this : Tlircc, four, or half a dozen ques- 
tions are prominent at a given time ; the parly selects its candidate, and he 
takes his position on each of these questions. On all but one his positions 
have already been indorsed at Ibrmer elections, and his party fully commit- 
ted to them ; but that one is new, and a large portion of tliera are against 
it. But what arc they to do ? The whole are strung together, and they 
must take all or reject all. ITiey caonot take what they like, and leave thp 


rest. What they are already committed to being the majority, they sliut 
their eyes and gulp the whole. Next election, still another is introduced in 
the same way. II' we run our eyes along the line of the past, we shall see 
that almost, if not quite, all the articles of the present Democratic creed 
have been at first forced upon the party in this very way. And just now, 
and just so, opposition to internal improvements is to be established if Gen. 
Cass shall be elected. Almost half the Democrats here are for improve- 
ments, but they will vote for Cass ; and, if he succeeds, their votes will have 
aided in closing the doors against improvements. Now, this is a process 
wliich we lliink is wrong. We prefer a candidate, who, like Gen. Taylor, 
will allow the people to have their own way, regardless of his private opin- 
ion ; and I should think the internal-improvement Democrats, at least, ought 
to prefer such a candidate. He would force nothing on them which they 
don't want; and lie would allow them to have improvements which their 
own candidate, if elected, will not; 

Mr. Speaker, I have said Gen. Taylor's position is as well defined as is 
that of Gen. Cass. In saying this, I admit I do not certainly know what he 
would do on the Wilmot Proviso. I am a Northern man, or, rather, a West- 
ern Free State man, with a constituency 1 believe to be, and with personal 
feelings I know to be, against the «.\tcnsion of slavery. As such, and with 
what information I have, I hope and beliere Gen. Taylor, if elected, would 
not veto the proviso ; but I do not ^now it. Yet, if I knew he would, I still 
would vote for him. I should do so, because, in my judgment, his election 
alone can defeat Gen. Cass ; and because, should slavery thereby go into the 
territory we now have, just so much will certainly happen by the election of 
Cass, and, in addition, a course of policy leading to new wars, new acqui- 
sitions of territory, and still fartlier extensions of slavery. One of the two 
is to be President ; which is preferable ? 

But there is as much doubt of Cass on improvements as there is of Taylor 
on the proviso. I have no doubt myself of Gen. Cass on this question, but 
I know the Democrats differ among themselves as to his position. My inter- 
nal-improvement colleague (Mr. AVentworth) stated on this floor the other 
day, that he was satisfied Cass was for improvements, because he had voted 
for alt the bills that he (Mr. W.) had. So far, so good. But Mr. Polk vetoed 
some of these very bills ; the Baltimore Convention passed a set of resolu- 
tions, among other things, approving these vetoes ; and Cass declares, in his 
letter accepting the nomination, that he has carefully read these resolutions, 
and that he adheres to tliem as firmly as he approves them cordially. In 
other words. Gen. Cass voted for the bills, and thinks the President did 
right to veto them ; and his friends here are amiable enough to consider him 
as being on one side or the other, just as one or the other may correspond 
with their own respective inclinations. My colleague admits that the plat- 
form declares against the constitutionality of a general system of improve- 
ment, and that Gen. Cass indorses the platform ; but he still thinks Gen. 


Cass is in tavor of some sort of improvements. Well, vrliat are they ? As 
Ik- is asainst general object?, those he is for must be jnvtkular and local. 
Xow, this is talking the subjeet precisely by the wrong eoJ. Parlicudarity — 
expinding the money of the !fAo/« people for an object which will benefit 
only a portion of them — is the greatest real objection to improvements, and 
liris b.'en so held by Gen. Jackson, Mr. Polk, and all others, I believe, till 
now. But now. behold, the objects most general, nearest free from this 
objection, are to be reiected, while those most liable to it are to be embraced. 
To return : I cannot help believing that trcn. Cass, when he wrote his let- 
ter of acceptance, well understood he was to be claimed by the advocates of 
both sides of this question, and that he then closed the door against all fur- 
ther expressions of opinion, jmrposcly to retain the benefits of that double 
position. Mis subsei|uent eijuivocation at Cleveland, to my mind, proves 
such to have heeu the case. 

One word more, and I shall have done with this branch of the subject. 
You Demoerats and your candid.ile, in the main, arc in favor of laying down 
in advance a platform, — a set of party positions, as a unit : and then of 
enforcing the people, by every sort of appliance, to raiily them, however 
un]ialatal)le some of them may be. ^Ve and our eaudi<late are in favor of 
making rresidenlial elections and the legislation of llu- country distinct 
matters ; so that the peopio can elect whom they please, and afterward legis- 
late just (i-v they please, without any hinderanee, save only so much as may 
guard a'2.aiust iufi-actions of the Constitution, undue haste, and want of con- 
sideration. The dilferenee between us is clear as noonday. That we are 
ri'.'ht, we cannot doubt. We hold the true republican position. In leaving 
the people's business in their hands, we cannot be wr.on'.'. We are willing, 
and even anxious, to <ro to the people on this issue. 

But I suppose I cannot reasonably hope to convince \rni that we have 
any principles. Tlie most I can expect is, to assure you that we think we 
have, and are quite contented with them. The other day. one of the gentle- 
men from Georgia (Mr. Iverson). an eloquent man, and a man of learning, 
so far as I c^aii judge, not beinir learned myself, came down upon us astonish- 
ingly, lie spoke in what " The Baltimore American " calls the '• scathing 
and withcriii,' style." At the end of his second severe llash I was struck 
blind, and fomid myself feeling with my fiuiicrs for an a,-^surance of my con- 
tinued I'liysieal existence. A little of the Ijone was lel\. ami 1 gradually re- 
vived. He eulogized ilr. Clay in high and beautiful terms, and tln^n declared 
that we had deserted all our principles, and had turned Henry C lay out, like 
an old horse, to root. This is terribly severe. It cannot be answered by 
argument; at least, I cannot so .answer it. I merely wish to ask the gentle- 
man if the Whigs are the only party ho can think of, who sometimes turn 
old hordes out to root ? Is not a eertiiin Jlariin Van Buren an old horse 
which your own i>arty have turned out to root ? and is he not rooting a little 
to your discomfort about now ? But, in not nominating JtL\ Clay, we 


deserted our principles, you say. All ! in what ? Tell us, ye men of princi- 
ples, -n-hat principle wc violated ? We say you did violate principle in dis- 
carding Van Buren, and we can tell you bow. You violated the primary, 
the cardinal, the one great living principle of all Demoi-ratic representative 
government, — the principle that the rcpreseutative is hound to carry out 
the known will of his constituents. A large majority of the Baltimore Con- 
vention of 1844 were, by their constituents, instructed to procure Van Buren's 
nomination if they could. In violation, in utter, glaring conlcm)it of this, 
you rejected him, — rejected him, as the gentleman from New York (Mr. 
Birdsall), the other day expressly admitted, for amHiibiiU>i. — that same 
'• general availability " which you charge upon us. and daily cliew over here, 
as something exceedingly odious and unprincipled. Bnt the gentleman from 
Georgia (Mr. Iverson) gave us a second speech yesterday, all well consid- 
ered and put down in writing, in which Van Buren was scathed and withered 
a " few " for his present position and movements. I cannot remember the 
gentleman's precise language, but I do remember he put Van Buren down, 
down, till he got him where he was finally to " slink " and " rot." 

Mr. Speaker, it is no business or inclination of mine to defend Martin 
Van Buren. In the war of extermination now waging between him and his 
old admirers, I say, Devil take the hindmost — and the foremost. But there 
is no mistaking the origin of the breach ; and, if the curse of " stinking " and 
" rotting " is to fiill on the first and greatest violators of principle in the 
matter, I disinterestedly suggest, that the gentleman from Georgia and Lis 
present co-workers are bound to take it upon themselves. 

While I have Gen. Cass in hand, I wish to say a word about his political 
principles. As a specimen, I take the record of his progress on the Wilmoi; 
Proviso. In " The AVashington Union " of March 2, 1847, there is a report 
of the speech of Gen. Cass, made the day before iii the Senate, on the Wil- 
mot Proviso, during the delivery of which, Mr. Miller of New Jersey is 
reported to have interrupted him as follows, to wit : — 

" Mr. Miller expressed his great surprise at the change in the sentiments 
of the Senator from Michigan, who had been regarded as the great champion 
of freedom in the North-west, of which he was a distinguisiie<l ornament. 
Last year the Senator from Michigan was understood to be deciiledly in favor 
of the Wilmot Proviso; and, as no reason had been stated for the change, 
he (Mr. :Miller) could not refrain from the expression of his extreme sur- 

To this. Gen. Cass is reported to have replied as follows, to wit : — 

" Mr. Cass said, that the course of the Senator from New Jersey was most 
extraordinary. Last year he (Mr. Cass) should have voted for the proposi- 
tion had it come up. But circumstances had altogether changed. The hon- 
orable Senator then read several passages from the remarks as given above 
which he had committed to writing, in order to refute such a ehar^'e as that 
o'i the Senator from New Jersey." 


In the "remarks above committed to writing," is one numbered 4, as fol- 
lows, to wit : — 

•'4th. Legislation would now be wholly imperative, because no territory 
hi-reafV'r to be ae<juired can be rjoverned without an act of Congress pro- 
vi llui; fur its gavernment. And such an act, on its passage, would open the 
whole sii1ijvi;t, and leave the Congress called on to pass it free to exercise 
its own discretion, entirely uncontrolled by any declaration found in the 

Ill '^ Niles'9 Register," vol. Ixxiii., p. 293, there is a letter of Gen. Cass 
to A. O. P. Nieliolson of Nashville, Tenn., dated Dec. 24, 1847, from which 
the following are correct extracts: — 

" The Wilmot Proviso has been before the country some time. It has 
b.'cn repeatedly discussed in Congress, and by the public press. I am strongly 
impressed with the opinion that a great change has been going on in the 
puljlic miml upon this subject, — in my own as well as others ; and that doubts 
are resolving themselves into convictions, that the principle it involves 
should be kept out of the national Legisk'ure, and left to the people of the 
Confederacy in their respective local governments. 

" Briefly, then, I am opposed to the exercise of any jurisdiction by Con- 
(jress over this matter ; and I am in favor of leaving the people of any terri- 
tory which may be hereafter ac(]uired, the right to regulate it themselves, 
under the general principles of the Constitution. Because, 

" 1. I do not see in the Constitution any grant of the requisite power to 
Congress ; and I am not disposed to extend a doubtful precedent beyond its 
necessity, — the establishment of territorial governments when needed, — 
leaving to the inhabitants all the rights compatible with the relations thev 
bear to the Confederation." 

These extracts show, that, in l84fi, (5en. Cass was for the Proviso at once ; 
that, in March, 184 7, he was still for it, but not Just then : and that in Decem- 
ber, 1847. he was (•i7a/»i.<( it altogether. This is a true index to the whole 
man. When tlie nueslion was raised in 1816, he was in a blustering hurry 
to take ground for it. lie sought to be in advance, and to avoi'' the uninter- 
esting position of a mere fijUower; but soon he began to sec glimpses of the 
great Democratic ox-gad waving in his face, and to hear indistinctly a voice 
saying, '' Back ! " " B.ack, sir ! " •' ISack a little I " He sh.akes his head, and bats 
his eyes, and blunders back to his position of March, 184 7 ; but still the gad 
waves, and the voice grows more distinct, and sharper still. — " Back, sir ! " 
" Back, I say ! " " Further back I " and back he goes to the position of Decem- 
ber, 1847; at which the gad is still, and the voice soothingly says, '• Sol" 
" Stand still at that." 

Have no fears, gentlemen, of your candidate : he exactly suits you, and 
we congratulate you upon it. However much you may be liistressed about 
our candidate, you have all cause to be contented and happy with your own. 
If elected, he may not maintain all, or even any, of his po.sition3 previotisly 


taken ; but he will be sure to do whatever the party exigency, for the time 
being, may require ; and that is precisely what you want. He and Van 
Buren are the same " manner of men ; " and, like Van Buren, he will never 
desert you till you first desert him. 

[After referring at some length to extra " charges" of Gen. Cass upon the 
Treasury, Mr. Lincoln continued : — ] 

But I have introduced Gen. Cass's accounts here chiefly to show the won- 
derful physical capacities of the man. They show that he not only did the 
labor of several men at the same time, but that he often did it, at several 
places many hundred miles opart-, at the same time. And at eating, too, his 
capacities arc shown to be quite as wonderful. From October, 1821, to Alay, 
1822, he ate ten rations a day in Michigan, ten rations a day h«re in Wash- 
ington, and nearly five dollars' worth a day besides, partly on the road be- 
tween the two places. And then there is an important discovery in his exam- 
ple, — the art of being paid for what one cats, instead of having to pay for it. 
Hereafter, if any nice young man shall owe a bill which he cannot pay in 
any other way, he can just board it out. Mr. Speaker, we have all heard 
of the animal standing in doubt between two stacks of liay, and starvin;r to 
death : the like of that worild never happen to Gen. Cass. Place the stacks 
a thousand miles apart, he would sUnd stock-?till, midway between them, 
and eat them both at once ; and the green grass along the line would be apt 
to suffer some, too. at the same time. By all means make him President, 
gcnilcmen. He will feed you bounteously — if -r- if -r- there is any left after 
he shall have helped himself. 

Cut as Gen. Taylor is, par excellence, the hero of the Mexican War, and 
as you Democrats say wc Whigs have always opjiosed the war, you think it 
luisl be very awkward and embarrassing for us to go for Gen. Taylor. The 
declaration that we have always opposed the war is true or false accordingly 
aa one may understand the term '• opposing the war." If to say '' the war 
w.aa unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President," be 
opposir.^' the war, then the AVhigs have very generally opposed it. When- 
ever they have spoken at all, they have said this ; and tliey have said it on 
what has appeared good reason to them : tlie marching an army into tlie midst 
of a peaceful Mexican settlement, Irightenin;.; the inhabitants away, leaving 
their growing crops and other property to destruction, to i/ou may a|)pear a 
pciiectly amiable, peaceful, unpro\okiiig procedure; but it does not ai);)ear so 
tc «*'. Sf> to call such an act, to us a[)pears no other than a naked, impudent 
absurdity, and we speak of it accordingly. But if when the war had begun, 
and bad become the cause of the country, the giving of our money and our 
blood, in common with yours, was support of the war, then it is not true that 
we have always opposed the war. With few individual exceptions, you have 
constantly had our votes here for all the nccossaiy supp'.irs. And, more than 
this, you have had the services, the blood, and the lives of our political breth- 
ren in every trial, and on every field. The beardless boy and the matui-o 


man, the humble ami the distinguished, — j-ou have had them. Through 
suffc!nn<j and death, by disease and in battle, they have endured and fought 
and fallen with you. Clay and AVebster each gave a son, never to bo re- 
turned. From the State of my own residence, besides other worthy but less 
known Whig names, we sent Marshall. Morrison, Baker, and Hardin: the^ 
ali fought, and one fell, and in the fall of that one we lost our best Whig 
man. Nor were the Whigs few in number, or laggard in the day of danger. 
In that fearftd. bloody, breathless struggle at Buena Vista, where each man's 
hard task was to beat back live toes or die himself, of the five higli officers 
who perished, four were AVhigs. 

In s[)eaking of this, I mean no odious comparison between the lion-hearted 
Whii's and Democrats who fought there. On other occasions, and among 
the lower officers ami privates on that occasion, I doubt not the proportion 
was difFercnt. I wish to do justice to all. I think of all those brave men as 
Americans, in whose proud fame, as an American, 1, too, have a share. Many 
of t'leni, Whigs and Democrats, are my constituents and personal friends; 
and 1 thank theui, — more than tliank them, — one and all, for the high, 
impi'rishable honor they have conferred on our common State. 

But the distinction between the cause of the Pr>:siik>it in begin ^ng the 
war, and tlie cause of the country after it was begun, is a distinction which 
you cannot perocive. To you, the President and the country seem to be all 
one. You are interested to see no distinction between them; and I venture 
to sug'iest that j>n.<sihly your interest blinds you a little. We see the distinc- 
tion, as wc tliiiik, clearly enough: and our friends, who have fought in the 
w:ir. have no dillioulty in seeing it also. 'What those who have fallen would 
s;iy, were they alive and here, of course we can never know ; but wiih those 
who have returned there is no dilliculty. Col. Haskell and Major Oaines, 
mcnbers here, both fought in the war; and one of them underwent CKtraordi- 
nary perils and hardships ; still they, like all oilier AV'higs here, vote on the 
record that the war was unnecessarily ,ind unconstitutionally commenced by 
the President. And even Gen. Taylor liimself. the noblest Roman of them 
all, has declared that, as a citizen, and particularly as a soldier, it is sufficient 
(or him to know that his country is at war with a foreian nation, to do all in 
his power to bring it to a speedy and honorable termination, by the most 
vigorous and energetic operations, without inquiring about its justice, or any 
thing else connecteil with it. 

Mr. Speaker, let our Democratic friends be comforted with the assurance 
that we are content with our position, content with our company, and con- 
tent with our candidate ; and that although they, in their generous sympa- 
thy, think we ought to be miserable, we really are not, and that they may 
dismiss the great anxiety they have on our account.' 

I Ttio following passage liM generally been omitted from this speech, as published ia 
the -■ Lives of Liaeolii." Ibe rctoon for the omiision is quite obvious. 

"But the gentleman from Georgia further says, we have deserted all our priociples, and 


Congress adjourned on the 14th of August; but Mr. Lin- 
coln went up to New England, and made various campaign 

taken shelter under Gen. Taylor's military coat-tail ; and he seems to think this is exceed- 
ingly degrading. Well, as liis faiih is. so be it unto him. But can he remember no other 
military coat-tail, under which a certain other party have beenshclteringfornearacjuarter 
of a century.' lias he no acquaintance with the ample military coat-tail of Gcu. Jackson? 
Does he not know that his own party have run the last five Presidential races under that 
coat-lail ? and that they are now running the sixth under the same cover? Yes, sir, that 
coat-tail was used, not only for Gen. Jackson himself, but has been clung to with the grip 
of death by every Democratic candidate since. You have never ventured, and dare not now 
venture, ftom under it, Yourcampaign papers have constantly been ' Old Hickories,' with 
rude likenesses of the old general upon them; hickory poles and hickory brooms your 
never-ending emblems. Mr. Polk himself was ' Young Hickory.' • Little Hickor;-,' or some- 
thing so ; and oven now your campaign paper here is proclaiming that Cass and Butler are 
of the ' Hickory stripe.' So, sir, you dare not give it up. Like a horde of hungry ticks, 
you have stuck to the tail of the Hermitage lion to the end of his life; and you are still 
sticking to it. and drawing a loathsome sustenance from it. after he is dead. A fellow once 
advertised that he had made a discovery by which he could make a new man out of an old 
one, and have enough of the stulf left to make a little yellow dog. Just such a discovery 
has Gcu. Jackson's popularity been to you. You not only twice made President of him out 
of it, but you have enough of the etulT left to make Presidents of several comparatively 
small men since ; and it is your chief reliance now to make still another. 

" Mr. Speaker, old horses and military coat-tails, or tails of any sort, arc not figures of 
speech such as! would be the first to introduce into discussions here; but. a.'i the gentleman 
G-ora Georgia has thought fit to iutroduce them, he and you are wticome to all you have 
made, or can make, by them. If you have any more old horses, trot them out ; any more 
tails, just cock them, and come at us. 

'■ I repeat, I would not introduce this mode of discussion here ; but I wish gentlemen on 
the other side to understand, that the use of degrading figures Is a game at which they 
may find themselves unable to take all the winnings. [•• We give it up."] Ay. you give it 
up. and well you may ; but for a very different reason flrom thot which you would have us 
un<lcrstand, Ttie point — tlic power to liurt — of all figures, consists in the truth/ulnesi of 
their application ; and. understaading this, you may well give it up. They are weapons 
which hit you, but miss us. 

"But, in my hurry, I was very near closing on this subject of military tails before I was 
done with it. There is one entire article of the sort I have not discussed yet; I moan the 
military tail you Democrats are now engaged in dovetailing on to the great Michigauder. 
Y'os, sir, all his blogi-nphers (and they are legion) have him in hand, tying him to a military 
tail, like so many mischievous boys tying a dog to a bladder of beans. True, the material 
is very limited, but tliey arc at it might and main. He iuvaded Canada witliout resistance, 
and he ou/vaded it without pursuit. As he did both under orders, I suppose there was, to 
him, neither credit nor discredit; but they are made to constitute a large part of the tail. 
He was not at Hull's surrender, but he was close by; he was volunteer aid to Gen. Harri- 
son on the day of the battle of the Thames ; and, as you said in 1840 Harrison was picking 
whortleberries two miles off while the battle was fought, I suppose it is ajust conclusion, 
with you. to say Cass was aiding Harrison to pick whortleberries. This is about all, except 
the mooted question of the broken sword. Some authors say he broke it; some say he 
threw it away; and some others, who ought to know, say nothing about It. Perhaps it 
would be a fair historical compromise to say, if he did not break it. he did not do any thing 

" By the way, Mr. Speaker, did you know I am a military hero ? Yes, sir : in the days 
of the Black-Hawk War, I fought, bled, and came away. Speaking of Gen. Cass's career 
reminds me of my own, I was not at Stillman's deftat, 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 I did not break my sword, for I had none to break ; but I bent my musket pretty 


speeches before he returned home. They were not pre- 
served, and were prolmbly of little importance. 

Soon after his return to Wasliington, to take his seat at the 
second session of the Thirtieth Congress, he reeoiv d a letter 
from his father, which astonished and perhaps amused him. 
Ilia reply intimates grave doubts concerning the verii(;ity of 
his correspondent. 

TVASniNCTOS, Di?c. 24, 184S. 

IMtdear FathkI!. — Your letter of the 7tli was roceivfl ni;lii he.tbre 
last. 1 very cliecrfully scud you tLe twtrfy dollars, wbkh suni vou sav is 
necessary tx) save your laud from sale. It is singular that you should have 
ibn;otten a judjment a^'ainst you : and it is more singular that the plain- 
tilT should have let you forget it so lon^r ; particularly as I suppose you 
.Thvays had property enou;^h to saiisfy a judgment of that amount. Before 
yon pay it, it would be well to be sure you have not paid, or at least that you 
ctmnot prove you have paid it. 

Give my love to mother and all the connections. 

AtToctionatcly your son, 


The second session was a quiet one. Mr. Lincoln did 
nothing to attract public attention in any marked dL-gree. lie 
attended diligently and unobtrusively to the ordinary duties 
of his oilice, and voted generally with the Whig majority. 
One Mr. Gott, however, of New York, offered a resolution 
looking to the abolition of the slave-trade in the District 
of Columbia, and ^Ir. Lincoln was one of only three or four 
Northern Whigs who voted to lay the resolution on the table. 
At anotlicr titne, however, Mr. Lincoln proj>osed a substitute 
for the Gott resolution, providing for gradual and compen- 
sated emancipation, wirh the consent of tiie peojilc of the 
District, to be ascertained at a general election. Tlii.s meas- 

y on one occasion. If Cass brokr- his sword, (he iii< ;i . j 

tlif; murkot bv accident. If Geo. Cass went ijimlv;, 
t'sa I sur[.asseil him in charges upon the wild'ofl^us 1 

.11 was ni'jre lliail I diil, bul I li.Ki a gooil many blooi 

althou.-h I never fainted from loss of iJood. I cin trui; .-a; I « ., ■ji:- !. -, • rj imiii-ry. 

.Mr. Speaker, if ever I sliould conclude to doll" wli.'iiever our Democratic friends may 
.ose fiieic i.s (if black-cockade Federalism about me.and, thereupon, they shall take me 
3 ilieir candidate for the Presidency. I protest thai they hhnll not make fun of me, as 

have of Gen. Cass, by attempting to write me into a military hero."' 


ure he evidently abandrmeJ, and it died a natural death 
among the rubbish of "unfinished business." His record on 
the Wilmot Proviso has been thoroughly exposed, both by 
himself aad IMr. Douglas, and in the Presidential campaign 
by his friends and foes. He said himself, that he had voted 
for it "about fort^'-two times." It is not likely that he had 
counted the votes when he made this statement, but spoke 
according to the best of his " knowledge and belief." 

The following letters are printed, not because they illus- 
trate the author's character more than a thousand others 
would, but because they exliibit one of the many perplexities 
of Congressional life. 

Sprixofield, April 25, 1849. 
Deak Thompson, — A tirade is still kept up against me here for recom- 
mending T. R. King. This morning it is openly avowed that my supposed 
influence at Washington shall be broken down generally, and King's pros- 
pects deteated in particular. Now, what I have done in this matter, I have 
done at the request of you and some other friends in Tazewell ; and I there- 
fore ask you to either admit it is wrong, or come forward and sustain 
me. If the truth will permit, I propose that you sustain me in the following 
manner : copy the enclosed scrap in your own handwriting, and get every- 
body (not three or four, but three or four hundred) to sign it, and then send 
it to me. Also, have six, eight, or ten of our best known Whig friends there 
to write me individual letters, stating the truth in this matter as they 
understand it. Don't neglect or delay in the matter. I understand informa- 
tion of an indictment having been found against kirn about three years ago 
for gaining, or keeping a gaming-house, ha? been sent to the Department. 1 
shall try to take care of it at the Department till your action can be had 
and forwarded on. 

Youi-s as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

■WASHlNOTOif, Juno 5, 1849. 

Dear William, — Your two letters were received last night. I have 
a great many letters to write, and so cannot write very long ones. There 
must be some mistake about AValter Davis saying I promised him the Post- 
office. I did not so promise him. 1 did tell him, that, if the distribution 
of the offices should foil into my hands, he should have something ; anil, if I 
sh.all be convinced he has said any more than this, 1 shall be disappointed. 

I said this much to him, because, as I understand, he is of good charac- 

3K> life of ABRAHAM LIN-COLX. 

tiT, is one of the yoMng men. is of the mec%anici. and always faiAfvi, and 

i^-Lv : 'r u'l - .;i ?. "^.'j :i:.1 '^ -, "M; •"..■■ = ,; . -t " a widQW-moLlier 

•iiLT. li' ihese 
'.inly n:t been 
:_ain5L me and 

L'T !;_:.■- r. 

Tours as btct, 

A. LtscoLX. 

P. S. — L«t the alove be confidential 


LIKE most other public men in .- Lincoln 

made his bread by the practice of iii:i proie^sicn, and the 
better part of his fame by the achievements of the politician. 
He was a lawyer of some note, and, compared with the crowds 
who annually take upon themselves the responsible office 
of advocate and attorney, he might very justly have been 
called a good one ; for he regarded his office as a trust, and 
selected and tried his cases, not with a view to personal gain, 
but to the administration of justice between suitors. And 
here, midway in his political career, it is well enough to 
pause, and take a leisurely survey of him in his other char- 
acter of country lawyer, from the time he entered the bar at 
Springfield until he was translated from it to the Presidential 
chair. It is unnecessary ' ' 'he reader (for by this 

time it must be obvious the aim of the writer 

is merely to present facts . ^ raneous opinions, with 

as little comment as possible. 

In the courts and at the bar-meetings immediately succeed- 
ing his death, his professional brethren poured out in volumes 
their testimony to his worth and abilities as a lawyer. 
But, in estimating the value of this testimony, it is fair 
to consider the state of the public mind at the time it was 
given, — the recent triumph of the Federal arms under 
his direction ; the late overwhelming indorsement of lA?, 
administration ; the unparalleled devotion of the people t - 
his person as exhibited at the polls ; the fresh and bitter 
memories of the hideous tragedy that took him off ; the furi - 


ous and deadly passions it inspired in the one party, and 
the awe, indignation, and terror it inspired in the other. It 
was no time for nice and critical examinations, either of his 
mental or his moral character ; and it might have been attended 
with personal danger to attempt them. For days and nights 
together it was considered treason to be seen in public with a 
smile on ths lace. Men who spoke evil of the fallen chief, or 
even ventured a doubt concerning the inefi^ble parity and 
saintliness of his life, were pursued by mobs, were beaten to 
death with paving-stones, or strung up by the neck to lamp- 
posts. If there was any rivalrj-, it was as to who should be 
foremost and fiercest among his avengers, who should canon- 
ize him in the most solemn words, who should compare >iim 
to the most sacred character in all history, sacred and pro- 
fane. He was prophet, priest, and king : he was Washington ; 
he was iloses ; and there were not wanting even those who 
likened him to the God and Redeemer of all the earth. These 
latter thought they discovered in his lowly origin, his kindly 
nature, his benevolent precepts, and the homely anecdotes in 
which he taught the people, strong points of resemblance 
between him and the divine Son of Mary. Even at this day, 
men are not wanting in prominent positions in life, who knew 
Mr. Lincoln well, and who do not hesitate to make such a >» 
cumpari>on. ^ 

For many years, Judge David Davis was the near friend 
and the intimate associate of Mr, Lincoln. He presided in 
l'x^ court where Lincoln was oftenest heard: year in and 
ye>ir out ther travelled together from town to town, from 
couixiy to couniy, riding frequently in the same conveyance, 
and lodging in the same room. Although a judge on the 
bench, Ml-. Davis watched the p-'alical course of his friend 
■•'hi"" and more than Dnce interposed 

liis fortua.-3 \Yhen Mr. Lincoln 
liSjtjtL ; . it was wfii understood that no 

.man enjoveu more conuuencial relatioas with him than Judge 
Da-^is. At the first opportunity, be comaiissioned Judge Davis 
an Associate J'ostice cf that august tribunal, the Supreme 


Court of the Uuited States ; and, upon his death, Judge Davis 
administered upon his estate at the request of his famil}-. Add 
to this the fact, that, among American jurists, Judge Davis's 
fame is, if not peerless, at least not excelled by that of any 
man wliose reputation rests upon his labors as they appear in 
the books of Reports, and we may very fairly consider him a 
competent judge of the professional character of Mr. Lincoln. 
At Indianapolis, Judge Davis spoke of him as follows : — 

" I enjoyed for over twenty years the pei-sonal friendship of Mr. Lincoln. 
We were admitted to the bar about the same time, and travelled for many 
years what is known in Illinois as the Eighth Judicial Circuit. In 1848, 
when I first went on the bench, the circuit embraced fourteen counties, and 
Mr. Lincoln went with the court to every county. Railroads were not then 
in use, and our mode of travel was either on horseback or in buggies. 

" This simple life he loved, preferring it to the practice of the law in a 
city, where, although the remuneration would be greater, the opportunity 
would be less for mixing with the great body of the people, who loved him, 
and whom he loved. Mr. Lincoln was transferred from the bar of that circuit 
to the office of President of the United States, having been without official 
position since he left Congress in 1849. In all the elements that constitute 
the great lawyer, he had few equals. He was great both at nmprius and 
before an appellate tribunal. He seized the strong points of a cause, and 
presented them with clearness and great compactness. His mind was logical 
and direct, and he did not indulge in extraneous discussion. Generalities 
and platitudes had no charms for him. An unfailing vein of humor never 
deserted him; and he was always able to chain the attention of court and 
jury, when the cause was the most uninteresting, by the appropriateness of 
his anecdotes. 

" His power of comparison was large, and he rarely failed in a legal discus- 
sion to use that mode of reasoning. The framework of his mental and moral 
being was honesty, and a wrong cause was poorly defended by him. The 
ability which some eminent lawyers possess, of explaining away the bad 
points of a cause by ingenious sophistry, was denied him. In order to bring 
into full activity his great powers, it was necessary that he should be con- 
vinced of the right and justice of the matter which he advocated. Wien so 
convinced, whether the cause was great or small, he was usually successful. 
He read law-books but little, except when the cause in hand made it neces- 
sary ; yet he was usually self-reliant, depending on his own resources, and 
rarely consulting his brother lawyers, either on the management of his case 
or on the legal questions involved. 

" Mr. Lincoln was the fairest and most accommodating of practitioners, 


granting all favors which he could do consistently with his duty to his client, 
and rarely availing himself of an unwary oversight of his adversary. 

" He hated wrong and oppression everywhere ; and many a man whose 
fraudulent conduct was undergoing review in a court of justice has writlieiJ 
under his terrific indignation and rebukes. He was the most simple anc 
unostentatious of men in his habits, having few wants, and those easily sup- 
plied. To his honor be it said, that he never took from a client, even when 
the cause was gained, more than he thought the service was worth and the 
client could reasonably afford to pay. The people where he practised law 
were not rich, and his charges were always small. 

" When he was elected President, I question whether there was a lawyer 
in the circuit, who had been at the bar as long a time, whose means were not 
larij;er. It did not seem to be one of the purposes of his life to accumulate a 
fortune. In fact, outside of his profession, he had no knowledge of the way 
to make money, and he never even attempted it. 

" Mr. Lincoln was loved by his brethren of the bar ; and no body of men 
will grieve more at Ids death, or pay more sincere tributes to his memory. 
His presence on the circuit was watc;hed for with interest, and never failed 
to produce joy and hilarity. AVhen casually absent, the spirits of both bar 
and people were depressed. He was not fond of controversy, and would 
compromise a lawsuit whenever practicable." 

More or other evidence than this majs perhaps, be superflu- 
ous. Such an eulogium, from such a source, is more than suffi- 
cient to determine the place Mr. Lincoln is entitled to occupy 
in the histor}-, or, more properlj'' speaking, the traditions, of 
the Western bar. If Sir Matthew Plale had spoken thus of 
any lawyer of his day, he would have insured to the subject 
of his praise a place in the estimation of men only less con- 
spicuous and honorable than that of the great judge himself. 
At the risk, however, of unnecessary accumulation, we ven- 
ture to record an extract from Judge Drummond's address at 
Chicago : — 

" With a probity of character known to all, with an intui- 
tive insight into the human heart, with *a clearness of state- 
ment which was in itself an argument, with uncommon power 
and felicity of illustration, — often, it is true, of a plain and 
homely kind, — and with that sincerity and earnestness of 
manner which carried conviction, he was, perhaps, one of the 
most successful jury lawyers we ever had iu the State. He 


always tried a case fairly and honestly. He never inten- 
tionally misrepresented the evidence of a witness, nor the 
argument of an opponent. He met both squarely, and, if he 
could not explain the one or answer the other, substantially 
admitted it. He never misstated the law, according to his 
own intelligent view of it. Such was the transparent candor 
and integrity of his nature, that he could not well, or strongly, 
argue a side or a cause that he thought wrong. Of course, 
he felt it his duty to say what could be said, and to leave the 
decision to others ; but there could be seen in such cases the 
inward struggles of his own mind. In trying a case, he 
might occasionally dwell too long upon, or give too much im- 
portance to, an inconsiderable point ; but this was the excep- 
tion, and generally he went straight to the citadel of the cause 
or question, and struck home there, knowing, if that were 
won, the outworks would necessarily fall. He could hardly 
be called very learned in his profession, and yet he rcrely 
tried a cause without fully understanding the law applicable 
to it ; and I have no hesitation in saying he was one of the 
ablest lawyers I have ever known^^ If he was forcible before 
a jury, he was equally so with the court. He detected, with 
unerring sagacity, the weak points of an opponent's argument, 
and pressed his own views with overwhelming strength. His 
efforts were quite unequal ; and it might happen that he would 
not, on some occasions, strike one as at all remarkable. But 
let him be thoroughly roused, — let him feel that he was light, 
and that some principle was involved in his cause, — and he 
would come out with an eai'nestness of conviction, a power 
of argument, and a wealth of illustration, that I have never 
seen surpassed." 

Mr. Lincoln's partnership with John T. Stuart began ca 
the 27th of April, 1837, and continued until the 14th of April, 
1841, when it was dissolved, in consequence of Stuart's 
election to Congress. In that same year (1841), Mr. 
Lincoln united in practice with Stephen T. Logan, late 
presiding judge of the district, and they remained together 
until 1845. 


Soon afterwards he formed a copartuership with William 
H. Herndon, his friend, familiar, and, we may almost say, 
biographer, — a connection which terminated only when the 
senior partner took an affectionate leave of the old circuit, 
the old office, home, friends, and all familiar things, to return 
no more until he came a blackened corpse. " He lonce told 
me of you," says Mr. Whitney in one of his letters to Mr. 
Herndon, " that he had taken you in as partner, supposing 
that you had a system, and would keep things in order, but 
that he found that you had no more system than he had, 
but that you were a fine lawyer ; so that he was doubly 
disappointed." i 

As already stated by Judge Davis, Mr. Lincoln was not " a 
great reader of law-books ; " but what he knew he knew well, 
and within those limits was self-reliant and even intrepid. He 
was what is sometimes called " a case-lawyer," — a man who 
reasoned almost entirely to the court and jury from analagous 
causes previously decided and reported in the books, and not 
from the elementary principles of the law, or the great under- 
lying reasons for its existence. In consultation he was cau- 
tious, conscientious, and painstaking, and was seldom pre- 
pared to advise, except after careful and tedious examination 
of the authorities. He did not consider' himself bound to 
take every case that was brought to him, nor to press all the 

1 Tlie following letter exhibits tho character of his early practice, and gives us a glimpse 
into his social and political life : — 

SPRUiCFlELD, Dec. 23, 1839. 

Dear — -, — Dr. Henry will write you all the political news. I write this about some 
little matters of business. You recollect you told me you had drawn the Chicago Masack 
money, and sent it to the claimants. A d— — d hawt-bilied Yankee Is hero besetting me at 
every turn I take, saying that Kobert Kenzie never received the eighty dollars to which ho 
was entitled. 

Can you tell any thing about tho matter? Again, old Mr. Wright, who lives up South 
Fork somewhere, is teasing me continually about some de.€ds, which he says he left with 
you, but which I can find nothing of. Can you tell where they are ? The Legislature is in 
session, and has suffered the bank to forfeit its charter without benefit of clergy. There 
seems but liltle disposition to resuscitate it. 

Whenever a letter comes from you to Mrs. , 1 carry it to her, and then I see Betty ; 

she is a tolerable nice feUtnv now. Maybe I will write again when I get more time. 

Your friend as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

P. 8. — The Democratic giant Is here, but ho is not now worth talking about. 


points in favor of a client who in the main was right and 
entitled to recover. He is known to have been many times 
on the vei-ge of quarrelling with old and valued friends, be- 
cause he could not see the justice of their claims, and, there- 
fore, could not be induced to act as their counsel. Henry 
McHenry, one of his New-Salem associates, brought him a 
case involving the title to a piece of land. McHenry had 
placed a family in a cabin which Mr. Lincoln believed to be 
situated on the other side of the adversary's line. He told 
McHenry that he must move the family out. " McHenry 
said he should not do it. ' Well,' said Mr. Lincoln, ' if you 
do not, I shall not attend to the suit.' McHenry said he did 
not care a d — n whether he did or not ; that he (Lincoln) 
was not all the lawyer there was in town. Lincoln studied 
a while, and asked about the location of the cabin, . . . and 
then said, ' McHenry, 3^ou are right: I will attend to the suit,' 
and did attend to it, and gained it ; and that was all the harsh 
word that passed." 

" A citizen of Springfield," says Mr. Herndon, " who vis- 
ited our office on business about a year before Mr. Lincoln's 
nomination, relates the following : — 

" ' Mr. Lincoln was seated at his table, listening very atten- 
tively to a man who was talking earnestly in a low tone. After 
the would-be client had stated the facts of his case, Mr. Lincoln 
replied, " Yes, there is no reasonable doubt but that I can gain 
your case for you. I can set a whole neighborhood at logger- 
heads; lean distress a widowed mother and her six fatherless 
children, and thereby get for you six hundred dollars, which 
rightfully belongs, it appears to me, as much to the woman 
and her children as it does to you. You must remember t'nat 
some things that are legally right are not morally right. I 
shall not take your case, but will give you a little advice, for 
which I wHl charge you nothing. You seem to be a sprightly, 
energetic man. I would advise you to try your hand at 
making six handied dollars in some other way." ' " 

In the st:----- r of 1841, Mr. Lincoln was engaged in a curi- 
rcumstances impressed him very deeply with 


the insufficiency and danger of " circumstantial evidence ; " 
so mucli so, that he net only wrote the following account of 
it to Speed, but another more extended one, which was printed 
in a newspaper puldished at Quincy, 111. His mind was full 
of it : he could think of nothing else. It is apparent that in 
his letter to Speed he made no pause to choose his words : 
there is nothing constrained, and nothing studied or deliberate 
about it ; but its simplicit3s perspicuit}'-, and artless grace 
make it a model of English composition. What Goldsmith 
once said of Locke may better be said of this letter : " He 
never says more nor less than he ought, and never makes use 
of a word that he could have changed for a better." 

Springfield, June 19, 1841. 
Dear Speed, — We have had the highest state of excitement here for 
a -viiek past that our community h".s ever witnessed ; and althoujjh the 
public fueling is somewhat a'.layed, the carious affair which aroused it is 
.cry tar from being over yet, cleared of mystery. It would take a quire of 
paper to give you any thing like a full account of it, and I therefore only 
propose a brief outline. The chief personages in the drama are Archibald 
Fisher, supposed to be murdered, and Archibald Trailer, Henry Trailor, and 
William Trailor, supposerl to have murdered him. The three Trailors are 
brothers : the first. Arch., as you know, lives in town ; the second, Henry, in 
Cliiy'3 Grove; and tho third, William, in Warren County, and Fisher, the 
,. irji_.osr(i ni'trdered, being without a family, had made his home with William. 
On '-^i.tiirday evening. bcir:cr the ^O^h of May, Fisher and William came to 
il'r.r> >■• iri a one-horse dc ' staid over Sunday, and on 
.Monday all three came t.; on horseback), and joined 
ArtLiivaiu at Myers's, the I . 'Vhat cvnninj at ^-ij.prr Pisher 
wa; mis.«:ng, and so next r. bim ; 

and on Tuesday, at 1 o'cl vith- 

oat him. Tk .-. i.y ' :•••• righ- 

bors canni' i the 

p3.Der3. ' ' and 

here it drn,- '.tter 

from the postaiUoCii .'J Vv'.incu Cv .ome, 

and was telling a very mysterious :.■ jiear- 

auce of Fisher, which induced the oeen 

(iixioscd oi' utifairly. Keys made . ■ set 

tho wlioie town atd adjoining cour.. until 

yesterday. The mass o! the people . — .■ ■. v. „....: , or the 


dead body, while Wickersbam was despatched to arrest llcnry Trailor at the 
Grove, ami Jim Maxcy to Warren to arrest William. On Monday last. Henrj 
was broujiht iu, and showed an evident inclination to in.sinuatc that he knew 
Fisher to be dead, and that Arch, and William had killed him. IIo said he 
guessed the body could be ibund in Spring Creek, between the Beardstown 
Road and Hiekox's mill. Away the people swept like a herd of buiTalo, 
and cut down ITicknx's mill-<lam nolens volens, to draw the water out of 
the pond, and then went up and down, and down and up the creek, fisliiuj 
and raking, and raking and ducking, and diving for two days, and, after all, 
no dead body found. In the moan time a sort of a scuffling-ground had been 
found in the brush in the angle, or point, where the road leading into the woods 
past the brewery, and the one leading in past the brick grove meet. From 
the scuflie-groand was the sign of something about the size of a man having 
been dragged to the edge of the thicket, where ji:)ined the ti-ack of some 
small wheeled carriage drawn by one horse, aa shown by the road-tracks. 
Tlic carriage-track led olT toward Sjiring Creek. Near this drag-trail Dr. 
Merryraan found two hairs, which, after a long scientific examination, he 
pronounced to be triangular human hair, which term, he says, includes within 
it the whiskers, the hair growing under the arms, and on oihcr parts of the 
body ; and he judged that these two were of the whiskers, because the ends 
were cut, showing that they had flourished in the neighborhood of the razor's 
o|)erat!ons. On 'I'linrsday last Jim Maxcy brought in William Trailor from 
Warren. On the same day Arcli. was arrested, and put in jail. Yesterday 
(Friday) William was put upon his examining trial before May and Lavely. 
.\rchibald and lleniy were both present Lamborn prosecuted, and Logan, 
Baker, and your humble servant defended. A great many witnesses were in- 
troduced and examined, but I shall only mention those whose testimony seemed 
most important. The fir; : of these was Capt. Ransdell. He swore, that, when 
William and Henry left Springfield for home on Tuesday before mentioned, 
they did not take the direct route, — which, you know, leads by the butcher- 
.shop, — but, that they followed the street north until they got opposite, or near- 
ly opposite. May's new house, after which he could not see them from where he 
stood ; and it was afterwards prov('d, that, iu about an hour alter they started, 
they came into the street by the butcher's shop from towards the briik-yar<l. 
Dr. -Mcrryman and others swore to what is stated about the scuftle-giound, 
drag-trail, whiskers, and carriage-tracks. Henry was tlion introduced by the 
prosecution. lie swore, that, when they started ibrhome, they went out north, 
as Sansdell stated, and turned down west by tiie brick -yard into ihe woods, 
and there met Are)iil>ald ; that ihcy proceeded a small distance farther, 
when he was placed as a sentinel to watch for and announce the approach of 
any one that might happen that way ; that William and Arch, took the 
dearborn out of the roa<l a small distance to the edge of the thicket, where 
they stopped, and he saw them hft the body of a man into it ; that Uiey then 
moved off with the carriage in the direction of Hickox's mill, and he loitered 


about n.r somoiLin- liki; an lio-.r, wl.en William rcuirnca w,..U <li c^.rria-.r, 
but «ii!iou[ An-h., and faid Uiov !i:i.l pu;, /,(:/( i.i a falb phi.x' ; ihnt iIj^v wmt 
Botiuliow, Ik- iliJ iK't know fxai-ilv liow, iiMo ihc road clore to tliL- bn- .voi v. 
and iiroci(d( d on to Clarv's I .rovu. Utt also stated tk,u ;oiiif tiiiio duiiii.u 

tlic da V \V 

ibiani told him that 1 

.e and Ar.'h. ha 

d killed 


her the e>en- 

ill- bc'lo.-.' 

; tliat the wav ih.y .li 

A it M hini 



kno.king him 

<!own will, 

adub, and AyrU. ii,v, 

1 . bokin- b,m to 



...Id ,nan Irom 

Warn;... ca 

lied Dr. Gih.iove. was 

then inti.Mbrcl ( 

:.ti the ]y.. 

rt 1 

<\ li.c delenec. 

II.' f wore that li.; had kM.,«n Ir 

^ll.'rior =.\>i-al n 

ears, th. 


Fisher had re- 

sided at hi; 

■ hou>e a ion.,' inue at e 

■u.ho; iw... uiiien 

enl 5i.„!l,- 



built a ban 

1. !.,rhim. and once »; 

.ii^: he was .toet. 

.,cd lor I 


.e .•iironi..: dis- 

ease ; that 

two or three yeai-s ag. 

1 l-"i-hcr had a sc' 

rio^^ ton 

•1 i. 

n hi> bead by 

tJio bur.tir 

i;.' of a gun, since whi 

..h be had been 



eontinnc'l bad 

health and 

o.<.asional aberration 

ofmuid. Ihal^ 


I on l.iM Tues- 

day, being 

the same day that .Max 

. ■^ aneu..l \\ do; 

im li-a.;. 



was liom \i< 

anie in the early i-ari oi 


li..- n_-n;ri 

j..nt 1 1 ./.•l.x..k. 

tbttnd Tisher at his liuuse in bed, 


crv ia^.* 


th;!t he ask..;d 

him how h( 

s had eouni li-om Si>i i 

nglleld; th.i! Fls 

he^- said 


had come by 

iVoria. an. 

d aL-o told ..I' several 

other [..a. es he 

iLid bee 

n a 

,t, more in tiie 


f Peoria, which showe, 

d thut he at the 

iha-; .,f 


aUug did not 

know wher 

e he had been wandej- 

ing .about in a ^i 

late of li 


nieinent. lie 

(Urther Stai 

led, that in tib.-.iit two 

h,.o,> h.. rec. ivod 

a n.te 1 

.-. n 

1 one .j! J rail- 

or's ilien,l> 

:, .advising bin, of his ai 

•rest, and re<ine>ti 

,1.2 bio, 1 


)on to ^j,Wng- 

field as a « 

iiness. to te.tiiyas tot 

he state of l-i>hc 



1 former times; 

tLat he iini 

iiediately sa ol'i; eallin 

g np two . I'hi-n 



.-..niiKU.y, and, 

ridin- nil e 

venin,' and all ni.d.t. 

overtook .Ma.-^.-y 

and AVil 

■ iai 

11 at L.wiston 

in Fulton 

Connty, That Ma.xe 

y refusing to di 



;ii!or upon his 


bis two neighbors retni 

;-tied, and he came on to .^ 


nglitld. Some 

(juestion bt 

•ing made as to wheth. 

■r the doctor's st. 

jry «as 

a litbrieation, 

several ae.- 

inaintanoes of his (:ui 

iiong whom was 

the sani. 

■ ■' 

..stmaster who 

■wrote to Ki 

■ys, as birfore mentione 


■il as '.ort 


who swore 

that thev knew the doctor to be <•( good ehar.l. 


veracity, and generally of good character in every way. Here the tes- 
timony ended, and the Trailors were discharged. Arch, and Widi.itu exjiress- 
in.g, both in word and manner, their entire coufnience that F: Jicr would be 
found alive at the doctor's by Galloway, .Uilbiry, and Jlyers, «ho a day be- 
fore had beeu despatched for that purpose ; while Henry still ))rotested (hat 
no |)0wer on earth could ever show Fi.-hcr alive. Thus stands this curious 
afl'air. When the iloctor's story was first made public, it amusing to 
scan and contemplate the countenances, and hear the remarks, of thosi' •vbo been actively engaged in the search for the dead body: some looked 
quizzical, some melancholy, and some furiously angry. Porter, wlio had 
been very active, swore he always knew the man was not deail. and that he 
had not stirred an inch to hunt for him : Langford, who had taken the le;ul 


in cutting down Hickox's mill-dam, and wanted to hang Hickox for object- 
ing, looked most awfully woebegone ; he seemed 'be " wictim of hunrequited 
affectum." as represented in the comic almanacs we used to laugh over. And 
Hart, the little drayman that hauled Molly home once, said it was too damned 
bad to have so much trouble, and no banging, after all. 

I commenced this letter on yesterday, since which I received yours of the 
13th. 1 stick to my promise to come to Louisville. Nothing new here, ex- 
cept what I have written. I have not seen since my last trip ; and I am 

going out there as soon as I mail this letter. 

Yours forever, 


On the 3d of December, 1839, Mr. Lincoln was admitted 
to practice in the Circuit Court of the United States ; and on 
the same day the names of Stephen A. Douglas, S. II. Treat, 
Schuyler Strong, and two other gentlemen, were placed on 
.the same roll. The " Little Giant " is always in sight I 

The first speech he delivered in the Supreme Court of the 
State was one the like of which will never be heard again, 
and must have led the judges to doubt the sanity of the new 
attorney. We give it in the form in which it seems to be 
authenticated by Judge Treat : — 

" A case being called for hearing in the Court, Mr. Lincoln 
stated that he appeared for the appellant, and was ready 
to proceed with the argument. He then said, ' This is the 
first case I have ever had in this court, and I have therefore 
examined it with great care. As the Court will perceive, 
by looking at the abstract of the record, the only question in 
the case is one of authority. I have not been able to find 
any authority sustaining my side of the case, but I have found 
several cases directly in point on the other side. I will now 
give these cases, and then submit the case.' " 

The testimony of all the lawyers, his contemporaries and 
rivals, is in the same direction. " But Mr. Lincoln's love of 
justice and fair play," says J\Ir. Gillespie, " was his predomi- 
nating trait. I have often listened to him when I thought 
he would certainly state his case out of Court. It was not 
in his nature to assume, or to attempt to bolster up, a false 
position. He would abandon his case first. He did so in the 



case of Buckmaster for the use of Denham vs. Beenes and 
Arthur, in our Supreme Court, in which I happened to be 
opposed to him. Au(jther gentleman, less fastidious, took 
Mr. Lincoln's place, and gained the case." 

lu the Patterson trial — a case of murder which attained 
some celebrity — in Champaign County, Fieklin and Lamon 
prosecuted, and Lincoln and Swctt defended. After hearing 
the testimony, Mr. Lincoln felt himself morally paralyzed, 
and said, " Swett, the man is guilty : you defend liim ; I 
can't." They got a fee of five hundred or a thousand dollars ; 
of which Mr. Lincobi declined to take a cent, on the ground 
that it justly belonged to Swett, whose ardor, cooiage, and 
eloquence had saved the guilty man from justice. 

It was probably Lis deep sense of natural justice, his ii-re- 
sistible propensity to get at the equities of the matter in 
hand, that made him so utterly impatient of all arbitrary or 
technical rules. Of these lie knew very little, — less than an 
average student of six months : " Hence,'' says Jud;.re Davis, 
" a child could make use of the simple and technical rules, 
the means and mode of getting at justice, better than Lincobi 
could." " In this respect,"' says Mr. Herndon, •• I really 
think he was very deficient." 

Sangamon County was originally in tlie First Judicial Cir- 
cuit ; but under the Constiuuion of 1848, and sundry changes 
in the Judiciary Acts, it became the Eighth Circuit. It was ia 
1848 that Judge Davis came on the bench for the lirst *-ime. 
The circuit was a very large one, containing fourteen co^-n- 
ties, and comprising the central portion of the State. Lin- 
coln travelled all over it — first with Judge Treat and then 
with Judge Davis — twice every year, and was thus absent 
from Sjiringfield and home nearly, if not quite, six months 
out of every twelve. " In my opinion," says Judge Davis, 
" Lincoln was as happy as he could be, on this circuit, and 
happy in no other jjlace. Tixis was his place of enjoyment. As 
a general ride, of a Saturday evening, when all the lawyers 
would go home [the judge means those who were close 
enough to get there and back by the time their cases were 


called] and see their families and friends, Liacoln would 
refuse to go." "It was on tliis circuit," we ai'e told by an 
authority equally high, " that he shone as a nisi prius law- 
yer; it was on tliis circuit Lincoln thought, spok^, and 
acted; it was on this circuit that the people met, greeted, 
and cheered on the man; it was on this circuit that he 
cracked his jokes, told his stories, made his money, and was 
happy as nowhere in the world beside." When, in 1857, 
Sangamon County was cut off from the Eighth Circuit by 
the act creating the Eighteenth, " Mr. Lincoln would still 
continue with Judge Davis, first finishing his business in 

On his return from one of these long journeys, he found 
that Mrs. Lincoln had taken advantage of his absence, and, 
with the connivance and assistance of his neighbor, Gourly, 
had placed a second story and a new roof on his house. 
Approaching it for the fii-st time after this rather startling 
alteration, and pretending not to recognize it, he called to a 
man on the street, " Stranger, can you teU. me where Lincoln 
lives ? He used to live here." 

When Mr. Lincoln first began to " ride the circuit," he was 
too poor to own horseflesh or vehicle, and was compelled to 
borrow from his friends. But in due time he became the pro- 
prietor 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. But the lawyers were always glad to see him, and 
the landlords hailed his coming w^ith pleasure. Yet lie was 
one of those peculiar, gentle, uncomplaining men, whom 
those servants of the public who keep " hotels " would gene- 
rally put off with the most indifferent accommodations. It was 
a very significant remark of a lawyer thoroughly acquainted 


with his habits and disposition, that " Lincohi was never 
sealed next the landlord at a crowded table, and never got a 
chicken liver or the best cut from the roast." 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, and never went 
home -without reluctance. 

From Mr. S. C. Parks of Lincoln, himself a most reputable 
lawyer, we have two or three anecdotes, which we give in 
his own language : — 

" I have often said, that, for a man who was for the quarter 
of a century hofJi a lawyer and a poUtieian, he was the most 
honest man I ever knew. He was not only morally honest, 
but intellectually so. He could not reason falsely : if he 
attempted it, he failed. In politics he never would try to 
mislead. At the bar, when he thought he wa.s MTong, he was 
the weakest lawyer I ever saw. You know this lietter than 
I do. But I will give you an example or two wliieh occurred 
in this county, and Avhich you may not remember, 

" A man was indicted for larceny : Lincoln, Young, and 
myself defeiidod him. Lincoln was satisfied by the evidence 
that he was guilty, and ought to be convicted. He called 
Young and myself aside, and said, ' If you can say any thing 
for the maij, do it. I can't : if I attempt, the jury M-ill see 
that I thiul: he is guilt}-, and convict him, of course.' The case 
was submitted by us to the jury without a word. The jury 
failed to agree ; and before the next term the man died. Lin- 
coln's honesty undoubtedly saved him from the [lenitentiary. 

" In a elosely-contested civil suit, Lincoln had proved an 
account for his client, who was, though he did not kuow it 
at the time, a very slippery fellow. Tlie opposing attorney 
then proved a receipt clearly covering the entire cause of 
action. By the time he was through, Lincoln was' missing. 
The court sent for him to the hotel. ' Tell the judge,' .said 
he, 'that I can't comer my hands are dirfy ; and I came over 
to clean them ! ' 


" In the case of Harris and Jones vs. Buckles, Harris wanted 
Lincoln to assist you and myself. His answer was character- 
istic : ' Tell Harris it's no use to waste money on me in that 
case : he'll get beat.' " 

Mr. Lincoln was prone to adventures in which pigs were 
the other party. The reader has already enjoyed one from 
the pen of Miss Owen ; and here is another, from an incor- 
rigible humorist, a lawyer, named J. H. Wickizer : — 

" In 1855 Mr. Lincoln and myself were travelling by buggj' 
from Woodford County Court to Bloomiugton, 111. ; and, in 
passing through a little grove, we suddenly heard the terrific 
squealing of a little pig near by us. Quick as thought Mr. 
Lincoln leaped out of the buggy, seized a club, pounced upon 
the old sow, and beat her lustily : she was in the act of eat- 
ing one of her young ones. Thus he saved the pig, and then 
remarked, ' By jlng ! the unnatural old brute shall not 
devour her own progeny ! ' This, I think, was his fii-st proc- 
lamation of freedom." 

But Mr. Wickizer gives us another story, which most hap- 
pily illustrates the readiness of Mr. Lincoln's wit : — 

" In 1858, in the court at Bloomingtou, Mr. Lincoln was 
engaged in a case of no great importance ; but the attorney 

on the other side, Mr. S , a young lawyer of fine abilities 

(now a judge of the Supreme Court of the State), was always 
very sensitive about being beaten, and in this case manifested 
unusual zeal and interest. The case lasted until late at night, 

when it was finally submitted to the jury. Mr. S spent a 

sleepless night in anxiety, and early next morning learned, to 
his great chagrin, that he had lost the case. Mr. Lincoln met 
him at the Court House, and asked him what hail become of 
his case. With lugubrious countenance and melan.'holy tone, 

Mr. S said, 'It's gone to hell.' — 'Oh. well!' replied 

Lincoln, ' then 3'ou'll see it again I ' " 

Although the liumble condition and disreputable character 
of some of his relations and connections were the subject of 
constant annoyance and most painful reflections, he never 
tried to shake them oif, and never abandoned them when 

XZrS. CtT ^^tli^^-gf IZSCOaJS. 

-^a,x ~;.~. ci~ -A. ~^~ iC r ^ X3SS£:-iCCCiiaa2. »i rir.r. 

.^^TSiilr H. 

-ii:^:i~ » tzrx 

;^:^i^_-.*.|»"■ =r:v t^- 

-cClFir-r H: 

t^as'-- 2on - r£ eun^ vans -vrzu. £s iue ; xaz. 


strokes, cut it in two before the raau could reco%'er from his 

It was this free life that charmed him, and reconciled him 
to existence. Here he forgot the past, with all its cruelties 
and mortifications : here were no domestic afflictions to vex 
his weary spirit and to trj' his majTiianimous heart. 

" After he had returned from Congress," says Judge Davis, 
" and had lost his practice,' Goodrich of Chicago proposed to 
him to open a law-office in Chicago, and go into partnership 
with. him. Goodrich had an extensive practice there. Lin- 
coln refused to accept, and gave as a reason, that he tended 
to consumption ; that, if he went to Chicago, he would have 
to sit down and study hard, and it would kill him ; that he 
would rather go around the circuit — the Eighth Judicial 
Circuit — than to sit down and die in Chicago." 

In the summer of 1867, at a camp-meeting in Mason Coun- 
ty, one Metzgar was most brutally murdered. The affray took 
place about half a mile fi-om the i^lace of woi-ship, near some 
wagons loaded with liquors and provisions. Two men, James 
H. Norris and William D. Armstrong, were indicted for the 
crime. Norris was tried in Mason County, con^•icted of man- 
slaughter, and sentenced to the penitentiary for the term of 
eight years. But Armstrong, the poi>ular feeling being very 
high against him in Mason, "took a change of venue to Cass 
County," and was there tried (at Beardslown) in the spring 
of 1858. Hitherto Armstrong had had the services of two 
able counsellors, but now their efforts were supplemented by 
those of a most determined and zealous volunteer. 

Armstrong was the son of Jack and Hannah Armstrong of 
New Salem, the child whom Mr. Lincoln had rocked in the 
cradle while Mrs. Armsti'ong attended to other household 
duties. His life was now in imminent peril : he seemed 
clearly guilty; and, if he was to be saved, it must be by 
the interposition of some power which could deface that 
fatal record in the Norris trial, refute the senses of wit- 
nesses, and make a jury forget themselves and their oaths. 
Old Hannah liad one friend whom she devoutly believed could 


accomplish tliis. She wrote to Mr. Lincoln, and ho, replied 
that he would defend the boy. (She says she has lost liis 
letter.) Afterwards she visited him at Springfield, and pre- 
pared him for the event as well as she could, with an under- 
standing weakened by a long strain of severe and almost 
hopeless reflection. 

When tlie trial came on, Mr. Lincoln appeared for the 
defence. His colKnigiie, Mr. Walker, had possessed him of 
the record in tlie Norris case ; and, upon close and anxious 
examination, he was satisfied that the witnesses could, by a 
well-sustained and judicious cros.s-examination, be }uadc to 
contradict each other in some important particulars. Mr. 
Walker " handled '" the victims of this friendly design, while 
Mr. Lincoln sat by and suggested (questions. Nevertheless, to 
the unskilled mind, thi^ testimony seemed to be absolutely con- 
clusive against the prisoner, and every word of it fell like a 
new sentence of death. Norris had beaten the murdered man 
with a club from behind, while Armstrong had pounded him 
in the face with a slung-shot deliberately prepared for the 
occasion ; and, according to the medical men, either would 
have been fatal without the other. But the witness whose 
testimony bore liardest upon Armstrong swore that the crime 
Wivs conmiitte<l about eleven o'clock at night, and that he saw 
the blows struck l)y the light of a moon nearly full, and stand- 
ing in the lieavens about whjfe're the sun would stand at ten 
o'clock in the morning. It is (Misy to pervert and even to 
destroy evidence like this ; and liere Mr. Lincoln saw an 
opportunity whicfi nobody had dreamed of on the Norris trial. 
He handed to an officer of tlie court an almanac, and told him 
to give it back to him when he siiould call for it in presence 
of the jury. It was an almanac of the year previous to the 

"Mr. Lincoln," says Mr. Walker, "made the closing argu- 
ment for the defence. At first lie spoke slowly, and carefully 
reviewed the whole testimony, — picked it all to pieces, and 
showed tliat liie man had not received his wounds at the 
place or time named by the witnesses, Awt afterwards, and at 


the hands of some one else." " The evidence bore heavily upon 
his client," says Mr. Shaw, one of the counsel for the prosecu- 
tion. " There were many witnesses, and each one seemed to 
add one more cord that seemed to bind him down, until Mr. 
Lincoln was something in the situation of Gulliver after his 
firet sleep in Lilliput. But, when he came to talk to the jury 
(that was always his forte), he resembled Gulliver again. He 
skilfully untied here and there a knot, and loosened here and 
there a peg, until, fairly getting warmed up, he raised him- 
self in his full power, and shook the arguments of his oppo- 
nents from him as if they were cobwebs." In due time he 
called for tiie almanac, and easily proved by it, that, at the time 
the main witness declared the moon was shining in great splen- 
dor, there was, in fact, no moon at all, but black darkness 
over the whole scene. In the " roar of laughter " and undis- 
guised astonishment succeeding this apparent demonstration, 
court, jurj', and counsel forgot to examine that seemingly con- 
clusive almanac, and let it pass without a question concerning 
its genuineness.' 

In conclusion, Mr. Lincoln drew a touching picture of Jack 
Armstrong (whose gentle spirit alas ! had gone to that place 
of coronation for the meek), and Hannah, — this sweet-faced 

> Mr.E. .1 ' - ■ ■ *■■■■► in charge of the " Nautical Almanac" office, Washington, 

D.C., undur -^lys,— 

"Kefcri Almanac' for 1857, 1 find, that, between the hours of ten 

and eleven " i the L*9th of August, 11^?, the moon was within one hour 

of setting. 

'■ The computed time of its setting on that night is 11 h. 57 m., — three minutes before 

" The moon was only two days past its first quarter, and could hardly be mistaken for 
' nearly fuU.' " 

" In the case of the People vs. Armstrong, I was assisting prosecuting counsel. The 
prevailing belief at that time, and I may also say at the present, In Cass County, was 
as follows : — 

" Mr. Lincoln, previous to the trial, handed an almanac of the year previous to the mur- 
der to an officer of the court, stating that lie might call for one during the trial, and, if he 
did, to send him that one. An important witness for the People had fi.ted the time of the 
murder to be in the night, near a camp-meeting; ' that the moon was about in the same 
place that the sun would be at ten o'clock in the morning, and was nearly full,' therefore he 
could sec plainly. &c. At the proper time, Mr. lyincoln called to the officer for an alma- 
nac ; and the one prepared for the occasion was shown by Mr. Lincoln, lie reading from it 
at the time referred to by the witness ' The moon had already tet ; ' that in the roar of laugh- 
ter the jury and apposing counsel forgot to the date. Mr. Carter, a lawyer of this 


old iadr with liie silver locks. — •welcoming to tbeir humble 
cabin a scrtin^ze aad wnniJess hoy. to whom Jack, with that 
Chrisiim ";x;ner;..cnce 'P-hi-h di^tlagaiihed him through life, 
becam':- a^ a father, a:id the zuiieie^s Hannah even more than 
a mother. The c<>v. he said, stixxi t-tfor*- them pleading for 
the life of hli benefactors' son. — the siadf of the widow's 
declining years- 

•• The ia«t nfteen minutes of Ms speech." his colleague 

deolarej. is •- ''.'>~".'yn' n? I "^ ?r h-^vrd : and such the 

jower :< ' that jory, that 

aU ^c 

igh. fcund relief 

" - 

y storm." say? one 

:~ in ilr. Lincoln's eyes 

i. His sympathies were 

ru.'.v ,-i..^:.^ L .:. !-.■ 

r^in. and his terrible sin- 

ccritv c-ula n.;: h-li 

-ame passion in the jury. 

--as Lincoln's tpi^ch that 

5." In the iangnage of 

r told the stories about 

our nist ac>4uaiai.iave. 

. — WLusi I did for him- and how I did 

it : '" and -he -hmVi it 

-• wa~ trth, r;.>^ueii:.'" 


.^h. •• Linccln said to me. 

• Hitit^ 

tore s-ondown.' He and 

rheotL . .. 

^ . and closed the case. / 

s-.-nr ■] ■■■'■it a' I 

-. ; M.»tor c-ame to me, and told 

me s-x-n that 

- ire'i and a free man. I went 

tier. s3d C'^:- ^i iht y^As prerrjcj . ti 

• HiXBT Shaw. 


up to the Court Hoiise : the jury shook hands with me, so did 
the Court, so did Lincoln. We were all affected, and tears 
streamed do\ra Lincoln's eyes. He then remarked to me, 
' Hannah, what did I tell you ? I pray to God that William 
may be a good boy hereafter; that this lesson may prove in 
the end a good lesson to him and to all.' . . . After the trial 
was over, Lincoln came down to where I was in Beardstown. 
I asked him what he charged me ; told him I was poor. He 
said, ' Why, Hannah, I sha'n't charge you a cent, — never. 
Any thing I can do for you I wiU do for you willing and fi-eely 
without charges.' He wrote to me about some land which 
some men were trying to get from me, and said, ' Hannah, 
they can't get your land. Let them try it in the Circuit 
Court, and then you appeal it ; bring it to Supreme Court, 
and I and Herndon will attend to it for nothing.' " 

This boy William enlisted in the Union army. But in 1863 
Hannah concluded she " wanted " him. She does not say that 
William was laboring under any disability, or that he had any 
legal right to his discharge. She merely " wanted " him, and 
wrote Mr. Lincoln to that effect. He replied promptly by 
telegraph : — 

Septembeb, 1863. 

Mrs. Hannah Armstrong, — I have just ordered the discharge of your 
boy William, as you say, now at Louisville, Ky. 

A. Lincoln. 

For many years Mr. Lincoln was the attorney of the Illi- 
nois Central Railway Company ; and, having rendered in 
some recent causes most important and laborious services, 
he presented a bill in 1857 for five thousand doUars. He 
pressed for his money, and was referred to some under-official 
who was charged with that class of business. Mr. Lincoln 
would probably have modified his bill, which seemed exorbitant 
as charges went among country lawyei-s, but the company 
treated him with such rude insolence, that he contented him- 
self with a formal demand, and then immediately instituted 
suit on the claim. The case was tried at Bloomington before 
Judge Davis; and, upon affidavits of N. B. Judd, 0. H. 


Browning, S. T. Logan, and Archy Williams, respecting the 
value of the services, was decided in favor of the plaintiff', and 
judgmcut given for five thousand dollars. This was much 
more money than Mr. Lincoln had ever had at one time. 

In the summer of 1859 Mr. Lincoln went to Cincinnati to 
argue the celebrated McCormick reaping-machine case. Mr. 
Edwin M. Stanton, whom he never saw before, was one of 
his colleagues, and the leading counsel in the case ; and 
although tlie other gentlemen engaged received him with 
jiroper respect, Mr. Stanton treated him with such marked 
and habitual discourtesy, that he was compelled to withdraw 
from the case. When he reached home he said that he had 
" never been so brutally treated as by that man Stanton ; " 
and the facts justified the statement. 


WE have seen already, from one of his letters to Mr. 
Herndon, that Mr. Lincoln was personally quite will- 
ing to be a candidate for Congress the second time. But 
his " honor " forbade : he had given pledges, and made private 
arrangements with other gentlemen, to prevent " the district 
from going to the enemy." Judge Logan was nominated in 
his place ; and, although personally one of the most popular 
men in Illinois, he was sadly beaten, in consequence of the 
record which the Whig party had made " against the war." 
It was Avell as it was ; for, if Mr. Lincoln had been the candi- 
date, he would have been still more disastrously defeated, 
since it was mainly the votes he had given in Congress which 
Judge Logan found it so difficult to explain and impossible 
to defend. 

Mr. Lincoln was an applicant, and a very urgent one, for 
the office of Commissioner of the General Land-Office in the 
new Whig administration. He moved his friends to urge him 
in the newspapers, and wrote to some of his late associates in 
Congress (among them Mr. Schenck of Ohio), soliciting their 
support. But it was all of no avail ; Mr. Justin Butterfield 
(also an Illinoisian) beat him "in the race to Washington," 
and got the appointment. It is said by one of Mr. Lincoln's 
numerous biographers, that he often laughed over his failure 
to secure this great office, pretending to think it beneath his 
merits ; but we can find no evidence of the fact alleged, and 
have no reason to believe it. 

Mr. Fillmore subsequently offered him the governorship of 


Oregon. Tiie news reached bim whilst away at court at 
Tremont or Bloomuigton. j\Ir. Siiiart and otliers '-coaxed 
him to take it ; " the former insisting that Oregon would soon 
become a State, and be one of its senators. Mr. Lincoln saw 
it all, and said he would acce]>t " if his wife would consent." 
But his wife ''refused to do so;" and time has shown that 
she was riglit, as she usually was \vheu it came to a question 
of jiraclical politics. 

From ihe time of his retirement from Congress to 1854, 
when tlic repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas- 
Nebraslca Bill In'oke tlie hollow truce of 1856, which Mr. Clay 
and his compeers fondly regarded as a peace, Mr. T>incoln's 
life was one of comparative poHtical inactivii -. He did not 
believe that the sectional agitations could be pennanently 
stilled by tlie devices which then seemed effectual to the fore- 
most statesnien of either party and of both sections. But he 
was not disposeil to lie f irward in the renewal of them. He 
probably hoped agamst conviction (iiat time would allay the 
animosities which endangered at once the Union and the 
juiueiples of free go\ernmen:, which had thus far preserved a 
precarious existence aniong the North American States. 

Cu.-uing home to Springfield from the Tremont court in 
18.>U in company with Mr. Stuart, he said, " The time will 
come when \vc must all be Democrats or Abolitionists. 
Wlien that time comes, my mind is made up. The * slavery 
qttcstion ' can't be compromised." — "So is my mind made 
up," rejilicd his etpially firm companion ; and at that moment 
neither doubted on which side he would find the other when 
the great struggle took place. 

The Whig party everywhere, in Congress and in their con- 
ventions, local and national, accepted the compromise of 1850 
under the leadership of Mr. Clay and Mr. Webster. Mr. 
Lincoln did the same ; for, from the hour that party lines were 
distinctly and closely drawn in his State, he was an unswerv- 
ing party man. But although ho said nothing against those 
measures, and much in favor of them, it is clear that he 
accepted the result with reluctance. He spoke out his disap- 


proval of the Fugitive Slave Law as it was passed, believing 
and declaring wherever he went, that a negro man appre- 
hended as a slave should have the privilege of a trial by jury, 
instead of the summary processes provided by the law. 

" Mr. Lincoln and I were going to Petersburg in 1850, I 
think," says Mr. He. ndon. " The political world was dead : 
the compromises ol 1850 seemed to settle the negro's fate. 
Things were stagnant ; and all hope for progress in the line 
of freedom seemed to be crushed out. Lincoln was speculat- 
ing with me about the deadness of things, and the despair- 
which arose out of it, and deeply regretting that his human 
strength and power were limited by his nature to rouse and 
stir up the world. He said gloomily, despairingly, sadly, 
' How hard, oh ! how hard it is to die and leave one's coun- 
try no better than if one had never lived for it ! The ^vorld 
is dead to hope, deaf to its own death-struggle, maJe known 
by a universal cry. What is to be done ? Is any thir: " ' 
done ? Who can do any thing ? and how is it to !• 
Did you ever think of these things ? ' " 

In 1850 Mr. Lincoln again declined to be 
Congress ; and a newspaper called " The Ta; , 
persisting in naming him for the place, he published a iet^ 
ter, refusing most emphatically to be considered a candidate. 
The concluding sentence alleged that rVi r.> vi^n- many men 
among the Whigs of the district whc: ikely as 

he to bring " the district right side up. 

Until the death of his excellent step-mother, Sarah Bush 
Lincoln, Mr. Lincoln never considered himself free for a 
moment from the obligation to look after and care for her 
family. She had made herself his mother ; and he regarded 
her and her children as near relatives — much nearer than 
any of the Hankses. 

The limit of Thomas Lincoln' : 
Mrs. Chapman, his step-daughter, ■'?,'rotc sn j,.'.n_.oin to t.i.iC 
effect; and so did John Johnston. Hs began to fear tiiat 
the straitened cirnniiiKLE:,ricoa :.f the hoa.iehoI'J mifrut :^ ..:■= 
them think twico : 


other comfort- nch he needed, per- 

haps, more lli >y to visit the dying 

man, but sent him ;i kind message, and directed the family 
to get hatever was wanted upon his credit. 

Spbingpield, Jan. 12, 1851. Brother, — On the day before yesterday I received a letter from 
Harriet, written at Greenup. She says she has just returned from your 
house, and that father is very low, and will hardly recover. She also says 
that you have wi-itten me two letters, and that, although you do not expect 
me to come now, you wonder that I do not write. I received both your let- 
ters ; and, although I have not answered them, it is not because I have for- 
gotten them, or not been interested about them, hut because it appeared to me 
I could write nothing which could do any good. You already know I desire 
that neither father nor mother shall be in want of any comfort, either in health 
or sickness, while they live ; and I feel sure you have not failed to use my name, 
if necessary, to procure a doctor or any thing else for father in his present 
sickness. My business is such that I could hardly leave home now, if it 
werr not, as it is, that my own wife is sick a-bed. (It is a case of baby sickness, 
and, J suppose, is not dangerous.) I sincerely hope father may yet recover 
his health ; but, at all events, tell him to remember to call upon and confide 
in our great and good and merciful JIakcr, who will not turn .iway from him in 
a;iy extremity. He notes the fall of a sparrow, and numbers the hairs of 
uur heads ; and he will not forget the dying man who [luts his trust i.i him. 
Say to him, that, if we could meet now, it is doubtful whether it would not 
be more painful than pleasant; but that, if it be his lot to go now, he will 
coon have a joyous meeting with loved ones gone before, and where the 
rest of us, "^hrough the help of God, hope ere long to join them. 

Write mfa again when you receive this. 



Before and after the death of Thomas Lincohi, -John Johns- 
ton and Mr. Lincoln had a somewhat spirited corrcspoutience 
regarding John's present necessities and future plans. John 
was idle, thriftless, penniless, and ■ s much disposed to rove as 
poor oM Tom had been in his earliest and worst days. This 
lack of character and enterprise on John's part added seriously 
to Mr. Lincoln's anxieties concerning bis step-mother, and 
greatly embarrassed his attempts to provide for her. At 
length he wrote John the following energetic exhortation, 


coupled ■<"ith a most magnanimous pecuniary offer. It is the 
letter promised in a previous chapter, and makes John an 
intimate acquaintance of the reader : — 

Dear Johnston, — Your request for eighty dollars, I do not think it 
best to comply with now. At the various times when I have helped you a 
little, you have said to me, " We can get along very well now ; " but in a very 
short time 1 find you in the same difficulty again. Now, this can only happen 
by some defect in your conduct. What that defect is, I think I know. You are 
not lazy, and still you are an idler. J doubt whether, since I saw you, you 
have done a good whole day's work in any one day. You do not very much 
dislike to woik, and still you do not work much, merely because it does rot 
seem to you that you could get much for it. This habit of uselessly wasting 
time is the whole difficulty ; and it is vastly important to you, and still more 
so to your children, that you should break the habit. It is more important 
to them, because they have longer to live, and can keep out of an idle habit 
before they are in it easier than they can get out after they are in. 

You are now in need of some money ; and what I propose is, that you 
shall go to work, " tooth and nail," for somebody who will igive you money 
for it. Let father and your boys take charge of things at home, p-, ;are for 
a crop, and make the crop, and you go to work for the best mo: -y-wages, 
or in discharge of any debt you owe, that you can get; and, to ---ure you a 
fair reward for your labor, I now jjromise you, that, for every dollar you will, 
between this and the fi- rf next May, get for your own labor, either in 
money or as your own in edness, I will then give you one other dollar. 
By this, if you hire yourself at ten dollars a month, from me you will get 
ten more, making twenty dollars a month for your work. In this I do not 
mean you shall go off to St. Louis, or the lead-mines, or the gold-mines in 
California ; but I mean for you to go at it for the best wages you can get close 
to home, in Colo's County. Now, if you will do this, you will be soon out of 
debt, and, what is better, you will have a habit that will keep you from get- 
ting in debt again. But, if I should now clear you out of debt, next year 
you would be just as deep in as ever. You say you would almost give your 
place in heaven for $70 or $80. Then you value your place in heaven very 
cheap ; for I am sure you can, with the offer I make, get the seventy or eighty 
dollars for four or five months' work. You say, if I will furnish you the money, 
you will deed mo the land, and, .i' you don't pay the money back, you will 
deliver possession. Nonsense ! If you can't now live with the land, how 
will you then live without it ? You have always been kind to me, and I do 
not mean to be unkind to you. On the contrary, if you will but follow my 
advice, you will find it worth more than eighty times eighty doll irs to you. 
Affectionately your brother, 

A. Lincoln 


Again he wrote : — 

Shelbtville, Nov. 4, 1851. 
Dear Buother, — When I came into Charleston day before yesterday, 
I learned that you are anxious to sell the land where you live, and move to 
Missouri. I have been thinking of this ever since, and cannot but think such 
■A notion is utterly foolish. What can you do in Missouri better than here ? 
Is the land any richer ? Can you there, any more than here, r.aise corn and 
wheat and oats without work V Will anybody there, any more than here, 
do your work for you ? If you intend to go to work, there is no better place 
than right where you are : if you do not intend to go to work, you cannot 
get along anywhere. Squirming and crawling about from place to place 
can do no good. You have raised no crop this year ; and what you really 
want is to sell the land, get the money, and spend it. Part with the land 
you have, and, my life upon it, you will never after own a spot b;g enough to 
bury you in. Half you will get for the land you will spend in moving to 
Missouri, and the other half you will eat and drink and wear out, and no 
foot of land will be bought. Now, I feel it is my duty to have no hand in 
such a piece of foolery. I feel that it is so even on your own account, and 
particularly on mother's account. The eastern forty acres I intend to keep for 
mother while she lives : if you will not cultivate it, it will rent for enough to 
support her ; at least, it will rent for something. Her dower in the other two 
forties she can let you have, and no thanks to me. Now, do not misundci^ 
stand this letter : I do not write it in any unkindness. I write it in order, 
if possible, to get you to face the truth, which truth is, you are destitute 
because you have idled away all your time. Your thousand pretences for 
not getting along better are all nonsense : they deceive nobody but yourself. 
Go to tcork is the only cure for your case. 

A word to mother. Chapman tells me he wants you to go and live with 
him. If I were you, I would try it a while. If you get tired of it (as I think 
you will not), you can return to your own home. Chapman feels very kindly 
to you ; and I have no doubt he will make your situation very pleasant. 
Sincerely your son, 


And again : — 

Shelbtville, Nov. 9, 1851. 

Dear Brother, — When I wrote you before, I hml not received your 
letter. I still think as I did ; but if the land can be sold so that I get three 
hundred dollars to put to interest for mother, I will not object, if she does 
not. But, before I will make a deed, the money must be had, or secured 
beyond all doubt, at ten per cent. 

As to Abram, I do not want him, on my own account ; but I under- 
stand he wants to live with me, so that he can go to school, and get a fair 


Btait in the world, ■which I very much -wish him to have. When I reach 
home, if I can make it convenient to take, I will take him, provided tJiere is r^ 
no mistake between us as to the object and terms of my taking him. 

In haste as ever, 

A. LiNCOl-S. 

On the 1st of July, 1852, Mr. Lincoln was chosen by a 
public meeting of his fellow-citizens at Springfield to deliver 
in their hearing a eulogy upon the life and character of Henry 
Clay ; and on the 16th of the same month he complied with 
their request. Such addresses are usually called orations ; 
but this one scarcely deserved the name. He made no effort 
to be eloquent, and in no part of it was he more than ordi- 
narilj' animated. It is true that he bestowed great praise 
upon Mr. Clay ; but it was bestowed in cold phrases and a 
tame style, wholly unlike the bulk of his previous composi- 
tions. In truth, Mr. Lincoln was never so devoted a follower ^ 
of Mr. Clay as some of his biographers have represented 
him. He was for another man in 1838, most probably for 
another in 1840, and very ardently for another in 1848. Dr. 
Holland credits him with a visit to Mr. Clay at Ashland, 
and an interview wliich effectually cooled his ardor in behalf 
of the brilliant statesman. But, in fact, Mr. Lincoln never 
troubled himself to make such a pilgrimage to see or hear any 
man, — much less Mr. Clay. None of his friends — Judge 
Davis, Mr. Herndon, Mr. Speed, or any one else, so far as we 
are able to ascertain — ever heard of the visit. If it had been 
made at any time after 1838, it could scarcely have been con- 
cealed from Mr. Speed ; and we are compelled to place it 
along with the multitude of groundless stories which have 
found currency with Mr. Lincoln's biographers. 

If the address upon Clay is of any historical value at all, it 
is because it discloses Mr. Lincoln's unreserved agreement 
with Mr. Clay in his opinions concerning slavery and the 
proper method of extinguishing it. They both favored grad- ^ 
ual emancipation by the voluntary action of the people of the 
Slave States, and the transportation of the whole negro popu- 
lation to Africa as rapidly as they should be freed from ser- 


vice to their masters : it was a favorite scheme with Mr. 
Lincoln then, as it was long after he became President of the 
United States. " Compensated " and " voluntary emancipa- 
tion," on the one hand, and " colonization " of the freedmen 
on the other, were essential parts of every " plan " which 
sprung out of his own individual mind. On this occasion, 
after quoting Mr. Clay, he said, " This suggestion of the pos- 
sible ultimate redemption of the African race and African con- 
tinent was made twenty-five years ago. Every succeeding 
year has added strength to the hope of its realization. May 
it indeed be realized ! Pharaoh's country was cursed with 
plagues, and his hosts were drowned in the Red Sea, for striv- 
ing to retain a captive people who had already served them 
more than four hundred years. May like disasters never 
befall us ! If, as the friends of colonization hope, the present 
and coming generations of our countrymen shall by any 
means succeed in freeing our land from the dangerous pres- 
ence of slavery, and at the same time restoring a captive 
people to their long-lost fatherland, with bright prospects for 
the future, and this, too, so gradually that neither races nor 
iiidividu. s shall have suffered by the change, it will indeed 
be a glorious consummation. And if to such a consummation 
the efforts of Mr. Clay shall have contributed, it will be what 
he most ardently wished ; and none of his labors will have 
been more valuable to his country and his kind." 

During the campaign of 1852, Judge Douglas took the 
stump for Pierce " in twenty-eight States out of the thirty- 
one." His first speech was at Richmond, Va. It was pub- 
lished extensively throughout the Union, and especially in 
Illinois. Mr. Lincoln felt an ardent desire to answer it, 
and, according to his own account, got the " permission " of 
the " Scott Club " of Springfield to make the speech under 
its auspices. It was a very poor effort. If it was distin- 
guished by one quality above another, it was by its attempts 
at humor ; and all those attempts were strained and affected, 
as well as very coarse. He displayed a jealous and petulant 
temper from the first sentence to the last, wholly beneath 


tlie dignity of the occasion and the importance of the topic. 
Considered as a whole, it may be said that none of his public 
performances was more unworthy of its really noble authoi 
than this one. The reader has doubtless observed in the 
course of this narrative, as he will in the future, that Mr. 
Douglas's great success in obtaining place and distinction was 
a standing offence to Mr. Lincoln's self-love and individual 
ambition. He was intensely jealous of him, and longed to 
pull him down, or outstrip him in the race for popular favor, 
which they united in considering " the chief end of man." 
Some of the first sentences of this speech before the " Scott 
Club " betray this feeling in a most unmistakable and pain- 
ful manner. " This speech [that of Mr. Douglas at Rich- 
mond] has been published with high commendations in at 
least one of the Democratic papers in this State, and I sup- 
pose it has been and will be in most of the others. When I 
first saw it and read it, I was reminded of old times, when 
Judge Douglas was not so much greater man than all the rest 
of us, as he is now, — ■ of the Harrison campaign twelve years 
ago, when I used to hear and try to answer many of his 
speeches ; and beUeving that the Richmond spee^*^, though 
marked with the same species of ' shirks and quirks ' as the 
old ones, was not marked with any greater ability, I was 
seized with a strange inclination to attempt an answei 
and this inclination it was that prompted me to seek t; 
ilege of addressing you on this occasion." 

In the progress of his remarks, Mr. Lincoln emphatically 
indorsed Mr. Douglas's great speech at Chicago in 1850, in 
defence of the compromise measures, which Mr. Lincoln 
pronounced the work of no part}', but which " for praise or 
blame," belonged to Whigs and Democrats ^like. The rest 
of the address was devoted to a humorous critique upon Mr. 
Douglas's language in the Richmond speech, to ridicule of 
the campaign biographies of Pierce, to a description of 
Gens. Shields pnd Pierce wallowing in the ditch in the 
midst of a battle, and to a most remarkable account of a 
militia muster which might have been seen at Springfield 


a fcT years previous. Mr. Douglas had expressed great confi- 
dence in the sober judgment of the people, and at the same 
time had, rather inconsistently as well as indecently, declared 
that Providence had saved us from one military administra- 
tion by the timely removal of Gen. Taylor. To this Mr. 
Lincoln alluded in his closing paragraph, which is given as a 
fair sample of the whole : — 

•' Let us stand by our candidate as faithfully as he has 
always stood by our country, and I much doubt if we do not 
perceive a slight abatement in Judge Douglas's confidence in 
Providence, as well as in the people. I suspect that confidence 
is not more firmly fixed with the judge than it was with the old 
woman whose horse ran away with her in a buggy. She said 
jho ' trusted in Providence till the britchin' bi'oke, and then 
she didn't know what on airth to do.' The chance is, the judge 
will see the 'britchin' broke ; ' and then he can at his leisure 
bewail the fate of Locofocoism as the victim of misplaced 

On the 4th of January, 1854, Mr. DouoJas, Chairman of 
the Committee on Territories, of the Senate of the United 
States, rejyorted a bill to establish a territorial government in 
Nebraska. This bill contained nothing in relation to the 
Missouri, which still remained upon the statute- 
bc>ok, although the principle on which it was based had been 
viob'pd m the Compromise legislation of 1850. A Whig 
Senator from Kentucky gave notice, that, when the Commit- 
tee s bill carae 'ucfore the Senate, he would move an amend- 
iTent rypjaiiag tlie Missouri Compromise. With this admo- 
•lition in mind, tiie Committee instructed Mr. Douglas tc 
report a ."ubstitate, which he did on ^jie •P.Sd of the same 
month. The substitute made tv/a Territories out of Nebraska, 
and called one of them Kansas. It annulled the Missouri 
Oomproniise, l'orbo,i:Ie it;- ••ippbcation tc Kansas. Nebraska, or 
any othar territory, and, as amended and finally passed, fixed 
the fcilowi:>g rules; . . . "It beins' the true intent and 
^'ae.&iiing of this act not to legislate slavery into any Terri- 
■:.Ci-7 or Scats., nor to exclude it therefrom., but to leave tlie 


people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their 
domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the 
Constitution of the United States." Mr. Douglas had long 
since denounced liis imprecations upon " the ruthless hand " 
that should disturb that ancient compact of peace between 
the sections ; and now he put forth his own ingenious hand 
to do the deed, and to take the curse, in both of which he 
was eminently successful. Not that the Missouri Act may 
not have been repugnant to the Constitution, for no court 
had ever passed upon it ; but it was enacted for a holy pur- 
pose, was venerable in age, was consecrated in the hearts of 
the people by the unsurpassed eloquence of the patriots 
of a previous generation, and having the authority of law, 
of reason, and of covenant, it had till then preserved the 
Union, as its authors designed it should ; and, being in truth 
a sacred thing, it was not a proper subject for the " ruthless " 
interference of mere politicians, like those who now devoted 
it to destruction. If, upon a regularly heard and decided 
issue, the Supreme Coui-t should declare it unconstitutional, 
the recision of the compact could be attributed to no party, — 
neither to slavery nor to antislavery, — and the peace of the 
country might still subsist. But its repeal by the party that 
did it — a coai^u; n of Southern Whigs and Democrats with 
Northern Democrats — was evidence of a design to carry 
slavery into the region north of 36° 30' ; or the legislation was 
without a purpose at all. It was the first aggression of the 
South ; but be it remembered in common justice, that she 
was tempted to it by the treacherous proffers of a restless but 
powerful Northern leader, who asked no recrmTiRn^e> Imi. her 
electoral votes. In due time he opened the 

nature of the fraud; and, if he carried tl. : isas- 

Nebraska Act to catch the votes of the SouLh iu IboG, it cost 
him no inconvenience to give it a false and startling con- 
struction to catch the votes of the North in 1860. In the 
repeal of the Compromise, the Northern Democrats submitted 
with reluctance to the dictation of Douglas and the South. It 
was the great error of the party, — the one disastrous error of 


all its history. The party succeeded in 1856 only by the nomi- 
natiou of Mr. Buchanan, who was out of the country when the 
Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed, and who was known to have 
opposed it. But the questions which grew out of it, the false 
and disingenuous construction of the act by its author, the 
slavery agitations in Kansas and throughout the country, 
disrupted the party at Charleston, and made possible Mr. 
Lincoln's election by a minority of the votes cast. And to the 
Whig party, whose Senators and Representatives from the 
South voted for the Douglas Bill in a body, the renewal 
of the slavery agitation, invited and insured by their action, 
was the signal of actual dissolution. 

Up to this date, Mr. Lincoln's views of slavery, and how 
they were formed, are as well known to the reader as they 
can be made known from the materials left behind for a history 
of them. It is clear that his feel'ntgs on the subject were 
inspired by individual cases of apparent hardship which had 
come under his observation. John Hanks, on the last trip to 
New Orleans, was struck by Lincoln's peculiarly active sym- 
pathy for the servile race, and insists, that, upon sight of their 
wrongs, " the iron entered his heart." In a letter to Mr. 
Speed, which will shortly be presented, Mr. Lincoln confesses 
to a similar experience in 1841, and speaks with great bitter- 
ness of the pain which the actual presence of chained and 
manacled slaves had given him. Indeed, Mr. Lincoln was 
not an ardent sympathizer with sufiferings of any sort, which 
he did not witness with the eye of flesh. His compassion 
might be stirred deeply by an object present, but never by 
an object absent and unseen. In the former case he would 
most likely extend relief, with Utile inquiry into the merits 
of the case, because, as he expressed it himself, it " took a 
pain out of his own heart ; " and he devoutly believed that 
every such act of charity or mercy sprung from motives 
purely selfish. None of his public acts, either before or after 
he became President, exhibits any special tenderness for the 
African race, or any extraordinary commiseration of their 
lot. . On the contrary, he invariably, in word,; and deeds, 


postponed the interests of the blacks to the interests of the 
whites, and expressly subordinated the one to the other. 
When he was compelled, by what he deemed an overruling 
necessity, founded on both military and political considera- 
tions, to declare the freedom of the public enemy's slaves, 
he did so with avowed reluctance, and took pains to have 
it understood that his resolution was in no wise affected 
by sentiment. He never at any time favored the admission 
of negroes into the body of electors, in his own State or in 
the States of the South. He claimed that those who were 
incidentally liberated by the Federal arms were poor-spirited, 
lazy, and slothful ; that they could be made soldiers only by 
force, and willing laborers not at all ; that they seemed to have 
no interest in the cause of their own race, but wei-e as docile 
in the service of the Rebellion as the mules that ploughed 
the fields or drew the baggage-trains; and, as a people, were 
useful only to those who were at the same time their masters 
and the foes of those who sought their good. With such 
views honestly formed, it is no wonder that he longed to 
see them transported to Hayti, Central America, Africa, 
or anywhere, so that they might in no event, and in no way, 
participate in the government of his country. Accord- 
ingly, he was, from the beginning, as earnest a coloniza- 
tionist as Mr. Clay, and, even during his Presidency, zealously 
and persistently devised schemes for the deportation of the 
negroes, which the latter deemed cruel and atrocious in the 
extreme. He believed, with his rival, that this was purelj'' 
a " white man's government ; " but he would have been per- 
fectly willing to share its blessings with the black man, had 
he not been very certain that the blessings would disappear 
when divided with such a partner. He was no Abolitionist 
in the popular sense ; did not want to break over the safe- 
guards of the Constitution to interfere with slavery where it 
had a lawful existence ; but, wherever his power rightfully 
extended, he was anxious that the negro should be protected, 
just as women and chUdren and unnaturalized men are pro- 


tected, in life, limb, property, reputation, and every thing that 
nature or law makes sacred. But this was all : he had no 
notion of extending to the negro the privilege of governing 
him and other white men, by making him an elector. That 
was a poliiical trust, an office to be exercised only by the 
superior race. 

It was therefore as a white man, and in the interests of 
white men, that he threw himself into the struggle to keep 
the blacks out of the Territories. He did not want them 
there either as slaves or fi-eemen ; but he wanted them less 
as slaves than as freemen. He perceived clearly enough the 
motives of the South in repealing the Missouri Compromise. 
It did, in fact, arouse hi .a " like a lire-bell in the night." He 
fek that a great conflict impended ; and, although he had 
as yet no idea that it was an " in-epressible conflict between 
opposing and enduring forces,"' which must end in making 
all free or all slave, he thought it was serious enough to 
demand his entire mind and heart ; and he freely gave them 

Mr. Gillespie gives the substance of a conversation with 
him, which, judging from the context, must have taken place 
about tliis time. Prefacing with the remark that the slavery 
question was the only one " on which he (Mr. Lincoln) 
wo.-ld become excited," he says, — 

•• I recollect meeting with him once at ShelbyvUle, when 
he remarked that something must be done, or slavery would 
overrun the whole country. He said there were about 
six hundred thousand non-slaveholding whites in Kentucky 
to about thirt^^-three thousand slaveholdei"s ; that, in the 
convention then recently held, it was expected that the dele- 
gates would represent these classes about in proportion to 
their respective numbers ; but, when the convention assem- 
bled, there was not a single representative of the non- 
slaveholding class: every one was in tlie interest of the 
slaveholders ; ' and,' said he, ' the thing is spreading like 
wildfire over the country. In a few years we will be ready 
to accept the institution in Illinois, and the whole country 


will adopt it.' I asked him to what he attributed the change 
that was going on in public opinion. He said he had 
put that question to a Kentuckian shortly befoi'e, who an- 
swered by saying, ' You might have any amotlnt of land, 
money in your pocket, or bank-stock, and, while travelling 
around, nobody would be any wiser ; but, if you had a darkey 
trudging at your heels, everybody would see him, and know 
that you owned a slave.' 'It is the most glittering, osten- 
tatious, and displaying property in the world; and now,' 
says he/, ' if a young man goes courting, the only inquiry is, 
how many negroes he or she owns. The love for slave prop- 
erty was swallowing up every other mercenary possession. 
Its ownership betokened, not only the possession of wealth, 
but indicated the gentleman of leisure, who was above and 
scorned labor.' These things Mr. Lincoln regarded as highly 
seductive to the thoughtless and giddy-headed young men 
who looked upon work as vulgar and ungentlemanly. Mr. 
Lincoln was really excited, and said, with great earnestness, 
that this spirit ought to be met, and, if possible, checked ; 
that slavery was a great and crying injustice, an enormous 
national crime, and that we could not expect to escape 
punishment for it. I asked him how he would proceed in his 
efforts to check the spread of slavery. He confessed he did 
not see his way clearly. I think he made up his mind from that 
time that he would oppose slavery actively. I know that Mr. 
Lincoln always contended that no man had any right other 
than mere brute force gave him to a slave. He used to say 
that it was singular that the courts would hold that a man 
never lost his right to his property that had been stolen from 
him, but that he instantly lost his right to himself if he was 
stolen. Mr. Lincoln always contended that the cheapest way 
of getting rid of slavery was for the nation to buy the slaves, 
and set them free." 

If the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill awakened 
Lincoln from his dream of security regarding the slavery 
question, which he hoped had been put to rest by the com- 
promises of 1820 and 1850, it did the same with all like- 


miaded people in the North. From that moment the 
AboUtionists, on the one hand, discerned a hope, not only 
of restricting slavery, but of ultimate emancipation ; and the 
Southern Disunionists, on the other, who had lately met with 
numerous and signal defeats in their own section, perceived 
the means of inflaming the popular heart to the point of dis- 
union. A series of agitations immediately began, — incessant, 
acrimonious, and in Kansas murderous and bloody, — which 
destroyed the Whig party at once, and continued until they 
severed the Democratic party at Charleston. All other issues 
were as chaff to this, — slavery or no slavery in the Terri- 
tories, — while the discussion ranged far back of this prac- 
tical question, and involved the much broader one, whether 
slavery possessed inherent rights under the Constitution. The 
Whigs South having voted for the repeal of the compromise, 
and the Whigs North against it, that party was practically no 
more. Some of its members went into the Know-Nothing 
lodges; some enlisted under the Abolition flag, and others 
drifted about and together until they formed themselves into 
a new organization, which they called Republican. It was a 
disbanded army ; and, released from the authority of discipline 
and part}' tradition, a great part of the members engaged for 
a while in political operations of a very disreputable charac- 
ter. But the better class, having kept themselves unspot- 
ted from the pollution of Know-Nothingism, gradually but 
speedily formed the Republican party, which in due time 
drew into its mighty ranks nearly all the elements of opposi- 
tion to the Democracy. Such a Whig was Mr. Lincoln, who 
lost no time in taking his ground. In Illinois the new party 
was not (in 1854) either Abolitionist, Republican, Know- 
Nothing, Whig, or Democratic, for it was composed of odds 
and ends of all ; but simply the Anti-Nebraska party, of 
which Mr. Lincoln soon became the acknowledged leader. 

Returning from Washington, Mr. Douglas attempted to 
speak at Chicago ; but he was not heard, and, being hissed 
and hooted by the populace of the city, betook himself to 
more complaisant audiences in tlie country. Early in October, 


the State Fair being in progress there, he spoke at Spring- 
field. His speech was ingenious, and, on the whole, able : 
but he was on the defensive ; and the consciousness of the 
fact, both on his own part and that of the audience, made 
him seem weaker than he really was. By common consent 
the Anti-Nebraska men put up Mr. Lincoln to reply ; and he 
did reply with such power as he had never exhibited before. 
He was not the Lincoln who had spoken that tame address 
over Clay in 1852, or he who had deformed his speech before 
the " Scott Club " with petty jealousies and gross vulgarisms, 
but a new and greater Lincoln, the like of whom no one in 
that vast multitude had ever heard before. He felt that he 
was addressing the people on a living and vital question, not 
merely for the sake of speaking, but to produce conviction, 
and achieve a great practical result. How he succeeded in 
his object may be gathered from tlie following extracts from 
a leading editorial in " The Springfield Journal," written by 
Mr. Herndon: — 

" This Anti-Nebraska speech of Mr. Lincoln was the pro- 
foundest, in our opinion, that he has made in his wliole life. 
Pie felt upon his soul the truths burn which he uttered, and 
all present felt that he was true to his own soul. His feelings 
once or twice swelled within, and came near stifling utterance. 
... He quivered with emotion. The whole house was as 
still as death. 

" He attacked the Nebraska Bill with unusual warmth and 
energy ; and all felt that a man of strength was its enemy, and 
that he intended to blast it if he could by strong and manly 
efforts. He was most successful, and the house approved the 
glorious triumph of truth by loud and continued huzzas. Wo- 
men waved their white handkerchiefs in token of woman's 
silent but heartfelt assent. Douglas felt the sting : the animal 
within was roused, because he frequently interrupted Mr. 
Lincoln. His friends felt that he was crushed by Lincoln's 
powerful argument, mT,nly logic, and illustrations from nature 
around us. The Nebraska Bill was shivered, and, like a tree 
of the forest, was torn and rent asunder by hot bolts of truth. 


. . . Mr. Lincoln exhibited Douglas in all the attitudes 
he could be placed in a friendly debate. He exhibited the 
bill in all its aspects to show its humbuggery and falsehood ; 
and, when thus torn to rags, cut into slips, held up to the 
gaze of the vast crowd, a kind of scorn and mockery was 
visible upon the face of the crowd and upon the lips of the 
most eloquent speaker. ... At the conclusion of this 
speech, every man, woman, and child felt that it was un- 
answerable. ... He took the heart captive, and broke like 
a sun over the understanding." 

Mr. Douglas rose to reply. He was excited, angry, im- 
perious in his tone and manner, and his voice loud and shrill. 
Shaking his forefinger at the Democratic malecontents with 
furious energy, and declaiming rather than debating, he occu- 
pied to little purposs the brief interval remaining until the 
adjournment for supper. Then, promising to resume his ad- 
dress in the evening, he went his way ; and that audience 
" .saw him no more." Evening came, but not the orator. 
I\Iany fine speeches were made during the continuance of 
that fair upon the one absorbing topic, — speeches by the 
ablesi men in Illinois, — Judge Trumbull, Judge Breese, 
Col. Taylor (Democratic recusants), and Stephen A. Douglas 
and John Calhoun (then Surveyor-General of Nebraska). 
But it Is no shame to any one of these, that their really 
impressive speeches were but slightly appreciated, nor long 
remomriered, beside Mr. Lincoln's splendid and enduring 
I.cjfoiiuance, — enduring in ihe memor}' of his auditors, al- 
(l.ougli pieserved upon no written or printed page. 

Among those whom the State Fair brought to Springfield 
for political purposes, were some who were neither Whigs, 
Democrats, Know-Nothiiigs, nor yet mere Anti-Nebraska men : 
there were the restless leader.^ of ir 3 then insignificant Aboli- 
tion faction. Chief among tho.n was Owen Lovejoy; and 
second to him, if second to aay, " -',s William H. Herndon. 
But the position of this latter gerii:'ie'::;,a was one of singular 
eu/):.'r;;assment. According to himself, he was an Abolitionist 
.^rac before he was born," and hitherto he had made hi's 


" calling and election sure " by every word and act of a life 
devoted to political philanthropy and disinterested political 
labors. While the two great national parties divided the 
suffrages of the people, North and South, every thing in his 
eyes was " dead." He detested the bargains by which those 
parties were in the habit of composing sectional troubles, 
and sacrificing the " principle of freedom." When the Whig 
party " paid its breath to time," he looked upon its last ago- 
nies as but another instance of divine retribution. He had 
no patience with time-servers, and regarded with indignant 
contempt the " policy " which would postpone the natural 
rights of an enslaved race to the success of parties and poli- 
ticians. He stood by at the sacrifice of the Whig party in 
Illinois with the spirit of Paul when he " held the clothes of 
them that stoned Stephen." He believed it was for the best, 
and hoped to see a new party rise in its place, great in the 
fervor of its faith, and animated by the spirit of Wilberforce, 
Garrison, and the Lovejoys. He was a fierce zealot, and 
gloried proudly in his title of " fanatic ; " for it was his con- 
viction that fanatics were at all times the salt of the earth, 
with power to save it from the blight that follows the wicked- 
ness of men. He believed in a God, but it was the God of 
nature, — the God of Socrates and Plato, as well as the God 
of Jacob. He believed in a Bible, but it was the open scroll 
of the universe ; and in a religion clear and well defined, but 
it was a religion that scorned what he deemed the narrow 
slavery of verbal inspiration. Hot-blooded, impulsive, brave 
morally and physically, careless of consequences when moved 
by a sense of individual duty, he was the very man to receive 
into his inmost heart the precepts of Mr. Seward's '* higher 
law." If he had pledged faith to slavery, no peril of life 
or body could have induced him to violate it. But he held 
himself no party to the compromises of the Constitution, nor 
to any law which recognized the justice of human bondage ; 
and he was therefore free to act as his God and nature 

Now, Mr. nemdon had determined to make an Abolitionist 


out of Mr. Lincoln when the proper time sliould arrive ; and 
tliat time would be onlj' when Mr. Lincoln could change front 
and " come out " without detriment to his personal a»pirations. 
For, although Mr. Herndon was a zealot in the cause, he 
loved his partner too dearly to wish him to espouse it while 
it was unpopular and politically dangerous to belong to it. 
•' I cared nothing for the ruin of myself," said he ; " but I did 
not wish to see Mr. Lincoln sacrificed." He looked forward 
to a better day, and, in t!»e mean time, was quite willing that 
Mr. Lincoln should be no more than a nominal Whig, or a 
strong Anti-Nebraska man ; being quite sure, that, when the 
auspicious moment arrived, lie would be able to present him 
to his brethren as a convert over whom there would surely 
be great joy. Still, there was a bare chance that he might 
lose him. Mr. Lincoln was beset by warm friends and by 
old coadjutors, and besought to pause in his antislavery 
course while there was yet time. Among these there was 
none more earnest or persuasive than John T. Stuart, who 
was but the type of a class. Tempted on the one side to be 
a Know-Nothing, and on the other side to be an Abolitionist, 
1" T. Lincoln said, as if in some doubt of his real position, " I 
Jiink I am still a Whig." But Mr. Herndon was more than 
a match for the full array against him. An earnest man, in- 
stant in season and out of season, he spoke with the eloquence 
of ; pparent truth and of real personal love. Moreover, Mr. 
Lincoln's preconceptions inclined him to the way in which 
Mr. Herndon desired him to walk ; and it is not surprising 
that in time he was, not only almost, but altogether, persuaded 
by a friend an '' partner, whose opportunities to reach and 
convince his w. ering mind were daily and countless. "From 
1854 to I860,' says Mr. Herndon, " I kept putting in Lin- 
coln's hands tl\3 speeches and sermons of Theodore Parker, 
the speeches of Phillips and Beecher. I took ' The Anti- 
slavery Standard * for years before 1856, ' The Chicago Tri- 
bune,' and ' The New York Tribune ; ' kept them in my 
ofSce, kept them purposely on rjy table, and would read to 
Lincolr good, sharp, and solid things well put. Lincoln was a 



natural antislavery man, as I think, and yet lie needed watch- 
ing, — needed hope, faith, energy ; and I think I warmed 
him. Lincoln and I were just the opposite one of another. 
He was cautious and practical ; I was spontaneous, ideal, and 
speculative. He arrived at truths by reflection ; I, by intui- 
tion ; he, by reason ; I, by my soul. He calculated ; I went 
to toil asking no questions, never doubting. Lincoln had great 
faith in my intuitions, and I had great faith in his reason." 

Of course such a man as we have described Mr. Herndon 
to be could have nothing but loathing and disgust for the 
secret oaths, the midnight lurking, and the prosci'iptive spirit 
of Know-Nothingism. " A number of gentlemen from Chi- 
cago," says he, " among them the editor of ' The Star of the 
West,' an Abolitionist paper published in Chicago, waited on 
me in my office, and asked my advice as to the policy of going 
into Know-Nothing Lodges, and ruling them for freedom. I 
opposed it as being wrong in principle, as well as a fraud on 
the lodges, and wished to fight it out in open daylight. Lm- 
coln was opposed to Know-Nothingism, but did'liot say much 
in 1854 or 1855 (did afterwards). I told Lincoln what was 
said, and argued the question with him often, insisting that, 
as we were advocating /reec^om /or the slave in tendency under 
the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, it was radically wrong to enslave 
the religious ideas and faith of men. The gentlemen who 
waited on me as before stated asked me if I thought that 
Mr. Lincoln could be trusted for freedom. I said to them, 
' Can you trust yourselves ? If you can, you can trust Lin- 
coln forever.' " 

With this explanation of the political views of Mr. Hern- 
don, and his personal relations to Mr. Lincoln, the reader will 
more easily understand what follows. 

" This State Fair," continues Mr. Herndon, " called thou- 
sands to the city. We Abolitionists all assembled here, taking 
advantage of the fair to organize and disseminate our ideas. 
As soon as Lincoln had finished his speech, Lovejoy, who 
had been in the hall, rushed up to the stand, and notified the 
crowd that there would be a meeting there in the evening : 


subject, Freedom. I had been with the Abolitionists that 
day, and knew their intentions: namely, to force Lincoln 
with our organization, and to take broader and deeper and 
more radical views and ideas than in his speech, which was 
simply Historic Kansas. ... He (Lincoln) had not then 
announced himself for freedom, only discussed the inexpe- 
diency of repealing the Missouri Compromise Line. The 
Abolitionists that day determined to make Lincoln take a 
stand. I determined he should not at that time, because the 
time had not yet come when Lincoln should show his hand. 
When Lovejoy announced the Abolition gathering in the 
evening, I rushed to Lincoln, and said, ' Lincoln, go home ; 
take Bob and the buggy, and leave the county : go quickly, 
go right off, and never mind the order of your going.' Lin- 
coln took a hint, got his horse and buggy, and did leave 
quickly, not noting the order of his going. He staid away 
till all conventions and fairs were over." 

But the speech against the repeal of the Compromise sig- 
nally impressed all parties opposed to Mr. Douglas's late 
legislation, — Whigs, Abolitionists, and Democratic Free- 
soilers, — who agreed with perfect unanimit}', that Mr. Lincoln 
should be pitted against Mr. Douglas wherever circumstances 
admitted of their meeting. As one of the evidencr-^: of this 
sentiment, Mr. William Butler drew up a paper addressed to 
Mr. Lincoln, req.'.esting and " urging hira to follow Douglas 
up until the election."' It was signed by Mr. Butler, William 
Jayne, P. P. Eads, John Cassadv. ■'. F Irwin, and many 
others. Accordingly, Lincoln " folio .. jh ' Douglas to Peoria, 
where the latter had an appc' tment, and again replied to 
him, in much the same spirit, and with the same arguments, as 
before. The speech was really a great one, almost perfectly 
adapted to produce conviction upon a doubting mind. It 
ought to be carefully read by every one who desires to know 
Mr. Lincoln's power as a debater, after his intellect was 
matured and ripened by years of hard experience. On the 
general subject of slavery and negroes in the Union, he spoke 
as follows : — 


" Before proceeding, let me say, I think I have no preju- 
dice against the Southern people: they are just what we 
would be in their situation. If slavery did not now exist 
among them, they would not introduce it : if it did now 
exist amongst us, we should not instantly give it up. This I 
believe of the masses North and South. Doubtless there are 
individuals on both sides who would not hold slaves under 
any circumstances, and others would gladl3' introduce slavery 
anew if it were out of existence. We know that some 
Southern men do free their slaves, go North, and become 
tip-top Abolitionists; while some Northern men go South, 
and become cruel slave-masters. 

" When Southern people tell us they are no more respon- 
sible for the origin of slavery than we, I acknowledge the 
fact. When it is said that the institution exists, and that 
it is very difficult to get rid of it in any satisfactory way, I can 
understand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame 
them for not doing what I should not know hoio to do myself. 
If all earthly power were given me, I should not knoiv what to 
do as to the existing institution. My first impulse would be 
to free all the existing slaves, and send the"i to Liberia, — to 
their own native land ; but a moment's reflection would con- 
vince me that whatever of high hope (as I think there is) 
there may be in this, in the long run, its sudden execution is 
impossible. If they were all landed there in a day, they 
would all perish in the next ten days ; and there are not sur- 
plus shipping and surplus money enough in the world to 
carry them there in many times ten days. What then? 
Free them all, and keep them among us as underlings ? Is it 
quite certain that this betters their condition ? I think I 
would not hold one in slavery at any rate, 3'et the point is not 
clear enough to me to denounce people upon. What next? 
Free them, and make them politically and socially our equals ? 
My own feelings will not admit- of this ; and, if mine would, 
we all know that those of the great mass of white people 
would not. Whether this feeling accords with justice and 
sound judgment i-; i\tP. sole question, if, indeed, it is any 


part of it. A universal feeling, whether well or ill founded, 
cannot be safely disregarded. We cannot, then, make them 
equals. It does seem to me that systems of gradual emanci- 
pation might he adopted; but for their tardiness in this T 
will not undertake to judge our brethren of the South. When 
they remind us of their constitutional rights, I acknowledge 
them, not grudgingly, but fully and fairly ; and I would give 
them any legislation for the reclaiming of their fugitives which 
ahould not in its stringency he more likely to carry a free man 
into slavery than our ordinary criminal laws are to hang an 
innocent one. 

" But all this, to my judgment, furnishes no more excuse 
for permitting slavery to go into our own free territory than 
it would for reviving the African slave-trade by law. The 
law which forbids the bringing of slaves from Africa, and 
that which has so long forbidden the taking them to Nebraska, 
can hardly be distinguished on any moral principle ; and the 
repeal of the former could find quite as plausible excuses as 
that of the latter. 

" But Nebraska is urged as ; ■ measure. 

Well, I, too, go for saving f : as I hate 

slavery, I would consent to the extension of it, rather than 
see the Union dissolved, just as I would consent to any great 
evil to avoid a greater one. But, when I go to Union-saving, 
I must believe, at least, that the means I employ have adapta- 
tion to the end. To my mind, Nebraska has no such adaptation. 
' It hath no relish of salvation in it.' It is an aggravation, 
rather, of the only one thing whiih ?ver endangers the Union. 
When it came upon us, all was :- •?» ind quiet. The nation 
was looking to the forming of )nds of Union, and a 

long course of peace and prosperity seemed to lie before us. 
In the whole range of possibility, there scarcely appears to 
me to have been any thing out of which the slavery agitation 
could have been revived, except the project of repealing the 
Missouri Compromise. Every inch of territory we owned 
already had a definite settlement of the slavery question, and 


by which all parties were pledged to abide. Indeed, there 
was no uninhabited country on the continent which we could 
acquire, if we except some extreme Northern regions, which 
are wholly out of the question. In this state of the case, the 
Genius of Discord himself could scarcely have invented a way 
of getting us by the ears, but by turning back and destroying 
the peace measures of the past. 

" The structure, too, of the Nebraska Bill is very peculiar. 
The people are to decide the question of slavery for them- 
selves ; but when they are to decide, or how they are to 
decide, or whether, when the question is once decided, it is 
to remain so, or is to be subject to an indefinite succession 
of new trials, the law does not say. Is it to be decided by 
the first dozen settlers who arrive there, or is it to await 
the arrival of a hundred ? Is it to be decided by a vote of the 
people, or a vote of the Legislature, or, indeed, on a vote 
of any sort? To these questions the law gives no answer. 
There is a mystery about this ; for, when a member proposed 
to give the Legislature express authority to exclude slavery, 
it was hooted down by the friends of the bill. This fact is 
worth remembering. Some Yankees in the East are sending 
emigrants to Nebraska to exclude slavery from it ; and, so far 
as I can judge, they expect the question to be decided by 
voting in some way or other. But the Missourians are 
awake too. They are within a stone's-throw of the contested 
ground. They hold meetuigs and pass resolutions, in which 
not the slightest allusion to voting is made. They resolve 
that slavery already exists in the Territory; th"'- —— -i- •' 
go there ; and that they, remaining in Missouri, v 
and that Abolitionists shall be hung or driven awn; 
all this, bowie-knives and six-shooters are seen plainly eaough, 
but never a glimpse of the ballot-box. And really, what is 
the result of this ? Each party within having numerous and 
determined backers without, is it not probable that the con- 
test will come to blows and bloodshed ? Could there be a 
more apt invention to bring about a collision and violence on 


the slavery question than this Nebraska project is ? I do not 
charge or believe that such was intended by Congress ; but 
if they had literally formed a ring, and placed champions 
within it to fight out the controversy, the fight could be no 
more likely to come off than it is. And, if this fight should 
begin, is it likely to take a very peaceful, Union-saving turn ? 
Will not the first drop of blood so shed be the real knell 
of the Union?" 

No one in Mr. Lincoln's audience appreciated the force of 
this speech more justly than did Mr. Douglas himself. He 
.'nvited the dangerous orator to a conference, and frankly pro- 
posed a truce. What took place between them was explicitly 
set forth by Mr. Lincoln to a little knot of his friends, in the 
office of Lincoln & Herndon, about two days after the elec- 
tion. We quote the statement of B. F. Irwin, explicitly 
indoi-sed by P. L. Harrison and Isaac Cogdale, all of whom 
are already indifferently well known to the reader. " W. H. 
Herndon, myself, P. L. Harrison, and Isaac Cogdale were 
present. What Lincoln said was about thu? : that the day 
after the Peoria debate in 1854, Douglas came to him (Lin- 
jolu), and flattered him that he (Lincoln) understood the 
Territorial question from the organization of the government 
better than all the opposition in the Senate of the United 
States ; and he did not see that he could make any thing by 
debating it with him: and then reminded him (Lincoln) of 
the trouble they had given him, and remarked that Lincoln 
had given him more trouble than all the opposition in the 
Senate combined ; and foUo-.ved up with the proposition, that 
he would go home, and speak no more during the campaign, 
if Lincoln wou"!d do the sanTJ : tr> which proposition Lincoln 
acceded." This, according to M:: "" ■r/'- view of the thing, 
was running Douglas "into i.w i.-.le," and making " hira 
hoilei; Enough,"' 

H;.indbills sml other advertisements announced that -Judge 
Douglas 7i-:j iid address the people of Lacon the day following 
the Peuj;;: encounter; and the Lacon Anti-Nebraska people 
■•::_•: . .:. a\r:ii.tt3e to F<: :li, tc secire Mr. Lincoln for a speech 


in reply. He readily agreed to go, and on the way said not 
a word of the late agreement to the gentleman who had him 
in charge. Judge Douglas observed the same discreet silence 
among his friends. Whether they had both agreed to go to 
Lacon before this agreement was made, or had mutually con- 
trived this clever mode of deception, cannot now be deter- 
mined. But, when they arrived at Lacon, Mr. Douglas said 
he was too hoarse to speak, although, " a large portion of the 
people of the county assembled to hear him." Mr. Lincoln, 
with unheard-of magnanimity, " informed his friend-, that he 
would not like to take advantage of the judge's indisposition, 
and would not address the people." His friends could not 
see the affair in the same light, and " pressed him for a 
speech ; " but he persistently and unaccountably " refuocd." 

Of course, Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas met no more during 
the campaign. Mr. Douglas did speak at least once more 
(at Princeton), but Mr. Lincoln scrupulously observed the 
terms of the agreement. He came home, wrote out his 
Peoria speech, and published it in seven consecutive issues of 
" The Illinois Dail/ Journal ; " but he never spoke nor 
thought of speaking again. When his friends insisted upon 
having a reason for this most unexpected ' ' ' -,ave 
the answer already quoted from Mr. Irwin. 

The election took place on the 7th of Nr u;o 

his absence, Mr. Lincoln had been announced as u 
for the House of Representatives of the Illinois . . 
William Jayne took the responsibility of making lum a, can- 
didate. Mrs. Lincoln, however, " saw Francis, the editor, and 
had Lincoln's name taken out." When Mr. Lincoln returned, 
Jayne (Mrs. Lincoln's old friend " Bill ") went to see him. 
" I went to see him," says Jayne, " in order to get his con- 
sent to run. This was at his house. He was then the saddest 
man I ever saw, — the gloomiest. He walked up and down 
the floor, almost crying ; and to all my persuasions to let his 
name stand in the paper, he said, ' No, I can't. You don't 
know all. I say you don't begin to know one-half, and that's 
enough.' I did, however, go and have his name re-instated ; 


and there it stood. He and Logan were elected by about six 
hundred majority." Mr. Jayne had caused originally both 
Judge Logan and Mr. Lincoln to be announced, and they were 
both elected. But, after aU, Mrs. Lincoln was ri^ht, and 
Jajne and Lincoln were both wrong. Mr. Lineo i was a 
well-known candidate for the United States Senai in the 
place of Mr. Shields, the incumbent, who had voted for the 
Kansas-Nebraska Bill; and, when the Legislature met and 
showed a majority of Anti-Nebraska men, he thought it a 
necessary preliminary of his candidacy that he should resign 
his seat in the House. He did so, and Mr. Jayne makes the 
following acknowledgment : " Mr. Lincoln resigned his seat, 
finding out that the Republicans, the Anti-Nebraska men, 
had carried the Legislature. A. M. Broadwell ran as a Whig 
Anti-Nebraska man, aad was badly beaten. " The people of 
Sangamon County was down on Lincoln, — hated him." 
None can doubt that even the shame of taking a woman's 
advice might have been preferable to this ! 

But Mr. Lincoln " had set his heart on going to the United 
States Senate." Counting in the Free-soil Democrats, who 
had revolted against Mr. Douglas's leadership, and been 
largely supported by the Whigs in the late elections, there 
was now on joint ballot a clear Anti-Nebraska majority of 
two. A Senator was to be chosen to succeed Mr. Shields ; 
and Mr. Lincoln had a right to expect the place. He had 
fairly earned the distinction, and nobody in the old Whig 
party was disposed to withhold it. But a few Abolitionists 
doubted his ^delity to their extreme views ; and five Anti-Ne- 
braska Senators and Representatives, who had been elected 
as Democrats, preferred to vote for a Senator with antecedents 
like their own. The latter selected Judge Trumbull as their 
candidate, and jlung to him manfully through the whole 
struggle. They -vere five ouly in number ; but in the situa- 
tion of affairs t.-ifu existing they were the covereign five. 
Th.y were men r conceded integrity, of good abilities in de- 
bate, and extrao; : ary political sagacity. Their names ought 
to be knoAvTi to posterity, for their unfriendliness at this junc- 


ture saved Mr. Lincoln to the Republicans of Illinois, to be 
brought forward at the critical moment as a fresh and original 
candidate for the Presidency. They were J add of Cook 
County, Palmer of Macoupin, Cook of La Salle, Baker and 
Allen of Madison. They called themselves Democrats, and, 
with the modesty peculiar to bolters, claimed to be the only 
" Simon-pure." " They could not act with the Democrats from 
principle, and would not act with the Whigs from policy ; " but, 
holding off from the caucuses of both parties, they demanded 
that all Anti-Nebraska should come to them, or sacrifice the 
most important fruits of their late victory at the polls. But 
these were not the only enemies Mr. Lincoln could count in 
the body of his party. The Abolitionists suspected ■Min, and 
were slow to come to his support. Judge Davis went to 
Springfield, and thinks he " got some " of this class " to go 
for " him ; but it is probable they were " got " in another 
way. Mr. Lovejoy was a member, and required, as the con- 
dition of his support and that of his followers, that Mr. 
Lincoln should pledge himself to favor the exclusion of 
slavery from all the Territories of the United States. This 
was a long step in advance of any that Mr. Lincoln bad pre- 
viously taken. He was, as a matter of course, opposed to 
the introduction of slavery into the Territories north of the 
line of 36° 30' ; but he had, up to this time, regarded all south 
of that as being honestly open to slavery. The villany of 
obliterating that line, and the necessity of iis immediate 
restoration, — in short, the perfect sanctity o' the Missouri 
settlement, — had formed the burden of all his speeches in the 
preceding canvass. But these opinions by n:> means suited 
the Abolitionists, and they required him to chf .ige them forth- 
with. He thought it would be wise to do sc considering the 
peculiar circumstances of his case ; but, before committing him- 
self finally, he sought an understanding w.tU Judge Logan. 
He told the judge what he was disposed *>; do, and said he 
would act upon the inclination, if the judge vould not regard 
it as " treading upon his toes." The |udge said he was 
opposed to the doctrine proposed; but, for the sake of the 


cause in hand, he would cheerfully risk his ' -o 

the Abolitionists were accommodated: Mr. J ^ ly 

made the pledge, and they voted for him. 

On the eighth day of February, 1855, the two Houses met 
in convention to choose a Senator, On the fii-st ballot, Mr. 
Shields had forty-one votes, and three Democratic votes were 
scattered. Mr. Lincoln had fort3^-five, Mr. Trumbull five, and 
Mr. Koerner two. On the seventh ballot, the Democrats left 
Shields, and, with two exceptions, voted for Gov. Matte- 
son. In addition to the party strength, Matteson received 
also the votes of two of the anti-Nebraska Democrats. That 
stout little knot, it was apparent, was now breaking up. For 
many reasons the Whigs detested Matteson most heartily, 
and dreaded nothing so much as his success. But of that 
there, now appeared to be great danger ; for, unless the Whigs 
abandoned Lincoln and went for Trumbull, the five Anti- 
Nebraska men would unite on Matteson, and elect him. Mr. 
Gille.spie went to Lincoln for advice. " He said unhesitat- 
ingly, ' You ought to drop me, and go for Trumbull : that is 
the only way you can defeat Matteson.' Judge Logan came 
up about that time, and insisted on running Lincoln still ; but 
the latter said, ' If you do, you will lose both Trumbull and 
myself ; and I think the cause, in this case, is to be preferred 
to men.' We adopted his suggestion, and turned upon Trum- 
bull, and elected liim, although it grieved us to the heart to 
give up Mr. Lincoln. This, I think, shows that Mr. Lincoln 
was capable of sinking himself for the cause in which he was 
engaged." It was with great bitterness of spirit that the 
Whigs accepted this hard alternative. Many of them accused 
the little squad of Anti-Nebraska Democrats of " ungenerous 
and selfish " motives. One of them, "Mr. Waters of McDon- 
ough, was especially indignant, and utterly refused to vote 
for Mr. Trumbull at all. O:: .the last ballot he threw away 
his ballot on Mr. Williacia." 

" Mr. Lincoln was very much disappointed," says Mr. 
Parks, a member of the Legislature, and one of Mr. Lincoln's 
special friends ; " for I think, that, at that time, it was the 


height of his ambition to get into the United States Senate. 
He manifested, however, no bitterness towards Mr. Judd, or 
the other Anti-Nebraska Democrats, by whom politically he 
was beaten, but evidently thought that their motives were 
right. He told me several times afterwards, that the 
election of Trumbull was the best thing that could have 

In the great campaign of 1858, Mr. Douglas on various 
occasions insisted, that, in 1854, Mr. Lincoln and Judge Trum- 
bull, being until then political enemies, had farmed a secret 
agreement to abolitionize, the one the Whig, and the other 
the Democratic party ; and, in order that neither might go 
unrewarded for a service so timely and patriotic, Mr. Trum- 
bull had agreed on the one hand that Mr. Lincoln should 
have Shields's seat in the United States Senate (in 1855) ; 
and Mr. Lincoln had agreed, on the other, that Judge Trum- 
bull should have Douglas's seat (in 1859). But Mr. Douglas 
alleged, that, when the first election (in 1854) came on. Judge 
Trumbull treated his fellow - conspirator with shameful 
duplicity, and cheated himself into the Senate just four years 
in advance of his appointed time ; that, Mr. Lincoln's friends 
being greatly incensed thereat, Col. James H. Matheny, Mr. 
Lincoln's " friend and manager for twenty years," exposed 
the plot and the treachery ; that, in order to silence and 
conciliate the injured party, Mr. Lincoln was promised the 
senatorial nomination in 1858, and thus a second time became 
a candidate in pursuance of a bargain more than half corrupt. 
But it is enough to say here, that Mr. Lincoln explicitly and 
emphatically denied the accusation as often as it was made, 
and bestowed upon the character of Judge Trumbull encomi- 
ums as lofty and as warm as he ever bestowed upon any con- 
temporary. With the exception of Col. Matheny, we find 
none of Mr. Lincoln's peculiar friends complaining of Judge 
Trumbull ; but as many of them as have spoken in the rec- 
ords before us (and they are numerous and prominent) speak 
of the purity, devotion, and excellence of Judge Trumbull in 
the most unreserved and unaffected manner. In fact and in 


truth, be did literally nothing to advance his own interest : 
he soHcited no vote, and got none which did not come to him 
by reason of the political necessities of the time. His elec- 
tion consolidated the Anti-Nebraska party in the State, and, 
in the language of Mr. Parks, his " first encounter with Mr. 
Douglas in the Senate filled the people of Illinois with admi- 
ration for his abilities; and the ill feeling caused by his elec- 
tion gradually passed away." 

But Mr. Douglas had a graver charge to make against Mr. 
Lincoln than that of a simple conspiracy with Trumbull to 
dispose of a great office. He seems to have known nothing of 
Mr. Lincoln's secret understanding with Lovejoy and liis asso- 
ciates ; but he found, that, on the day previous to the election 
for Senator, Lovejoy had introduced a sei'ies of extreme anti- 
slavery resolutions ; and with these he attempted to connect 
Mr. Lincoln, by showing, that, with two exceptions, every 
member who voted for the resolutions on the 7th of Feb- 
ruary voted also for Mr. Lincoln on the 8th. The first 
of the resolutions favored the restoration of the prohibi- 
tion of slaver)' nortli of 36^ 30', and also a similar prohibition 
as to "aZZ territory which now belongs to the United States, 
or which may hereafter come under their jurisdiction." 
The second resolution declared against the admission of 
any Slave State, no matter out of what Territory, or in what 
manner formed ; and the tliird demanded, first, the uncon- 
ditional repeal of the Fugitive-Slave Law, or, failing that, 
the right of habeas corpus and trial by jur^' for the person 
claimed as a slave. The first resolution was carried by a 
strict party vote; while the second and third were de- 
feated. But Mr. Douglas asserted that Mr. Lincoln was 
committed in favor of all three, because the members that 
supported them subsequently supported him. Of all this 
Mr. Lincoln took no further notice than to say that Judge 
Douglas might find the Republican platform in the resolu- 
tions of the State Convention of that party, held at Bloom- 
ingtou in 1856. In fact, he maintained a singular reticence 
about the whole affair, probably dreading to go into it too 


deeply, lest his rival should unearth the private pledge to 
Lovejoy, of which Judge Logan has given us the history. 
When Judge Douglas produced a set of resolutions which he 
said had been passed by the Abolitionists at their Conven- 
tion at Springfield, during the State Fair (the meeting alluded 
to by Mr. Herndon), and asserted that Mr. Lincoln was one 
of the committee that reported them, the latter replied with 
great spirit, and said what he could say with perfect truth, — 
that he was not near Springfield when that body met, and 
that his name had been used without his consent. 


MR. LINCOLN predicted a bloody conflict in Kansas 
as the immediate effect of the repeal of the Missouri 
restriction. He had not long to wait for the fulfilment of his 
prophecy : it began, in fact, before he spoke ; and if blood 
had not actuall}' flowed on the plains of Kansas, occurrences 
were taking place on the Missouri border which could not 
avoid that result. The South invited the struggle by repealing 
a time-honored compromise, in such a manner as to convince 
the North that she no longer felt herself bound by any Congres- 
sional restrictions upon the iustitution of slavery; and that 
she intended, as far as her power would permit, to push its 
existence into all the Territories of the Union. The North- 
ern States accepted the challenge promptly. The people of 
the Free States knew how to colonize and settle new Terri- 
tories. The march of their westward sett' ■"' '-■ ' -•' "or 

years assumed a steady tread as the pop-' 
Sia':e:-. augmented, and the facility for emicr 


, therefore, th 

e Soo 


threw do 

wn tl^e ^.liviers 


had fo 

r thirty years 


ted all th 

e Territories north 


06^ GO 

.' CO frse" labor, ai!' 

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li-irom tor ■} 

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the riortli r-s 


her command lo tiac 

ov-,- int. 

i; t 

a« ej.por.s 

!'j. r-jjjion; 

= settle. 

i'S \ 



org:ar.i3e i'Vc 


.cries in the 


nf frPf^ 



The '■ 

irrepressible ■; 


; •' 

was ther? 


s, with the f 

^or's i 




tators of, the contest. As participants, each section aided its 
representatives. The struggle opened in Kansas, and in favor 
of the South. During the passage of the bill organizing the 
Territory, preparations had been extensivel}- made along the 
Missouri border, by " Blue Lodges" and " Social Bands," for 
the purpose of getting control of its Territorial government. 
The -whole eastern border of the Territory was open to these 
marauders ; and they were not slow to embrace the opportunity 
of meeting their enemies with so many advantages in their favor. 
Public meetings Avere held in many of the frontier counties 
of ]\Iissouri, in which the people were not only advised to go 
over and take early possession of the Territory, but to hold 
themselves in readiness to remove all emigrants who should 
go there under the auspices of the Northern Aid Societies. 
It was with these " Border Ruffians," and some volunteer's 
from Alabama and South Carolina, with a few vagabond " col- 
onels" and "generals" froin the Slave States generally, that 
the South began the struggle. Of course, the North did not 
look with complacency upon such a state of things. If the 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise startled the people of the 
Free States from their sense of security, the manner of apply- 
ing " popular sovereignty," as indicated at its first introduction, 
was sufficient to arouse public sentiment to an unwonted 
degree. Kansas became at once a subject of universal inter- 
est. Societies were formed for throwing into her borders, 
with the utmost expedition, settlers who could be relied upon 
to mould her government in the interest of freedom. At the 
same time there was set in train all the political machinery 
that could be used to agitate the question, until the ciy of 
" Bleeding Kansas " was heard throughout the land. 

It is not necessary in this connection to set down, in order, 
the raids, assassinations, burnings, robberies, and election 
frauds which followed. Enough if their origin and character 
be understood. For this present purpose, a brief summary- 
only will be given of what occurred during the long strug- 
gle to make Kansas a Slave State ; for upon the practical 
issues which arose during the contest followed the discussions 


between Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Dous^las, upon the merits of 
which the former was canied into tlie Presidential office. 

The first Territorial governor appointed under the pro- 
vi.sions of the Kansas-Nebraska Act was Andrew H. Reeder 
of Pennsylvania. He was appointed by President Pierce. 
He reached Kansas in the autumn of 1854, and proceeded to 
establish a Territorial Government. The first election was 
for a dclejcate to Congress. By the aid of the people of Mis- 
souri, it resulted in favor of the Democrats. The governor 
then ordered an election for a first Territorial Legislature, to be 
held on the 31st of March, 1855. To this election the Mis- 
sourians came in greater force than before ; and succeedfd in 
electing proslavery men to both Houses of the Legislature, with 
a single exception in each house. The governor, a proslavery 
man, set aside the returns in six districts, as being fraudulent ; 
whereiii>on new elections were held, which, with one excep- 
tion, resulted in favor of the Free-State men. These parties, 
however, were refused their seats in the Legislature ; while 
the persons chosen at the previous election were accepted. 

The Legislature thus organized proceeded to enact the 
most hostile measures against the Free-State men. Many of 
these acts were promptly vetoed by the governor. The 
Legislature then petitioned the President for his removal. 
Their wishes were complied with ; and Wilson G. Shannon 
of Ohio was appointed in his stead. In the mean time, the 
Free-State men entirel}- repudiated the Legislature, and re- 
fused to be bound by its enactments. 

Such was the situation in Kansas when Mr. Lincoln ad- 
dressed to Mr. Speed the following letter : — 

Springfield, Ang. 24, 1855. 
Dear Spekd, — You know what a poor correspondent I am. Kver since 
I received your very agreeable letter of the 22(1 of May, I have been 
intending to write you an answer to it. You suggest that in political action 
now you and I would differ. I suppose we would ; not quite as much, how- 
ever, as you may think. You know I dislike slavery ; and you fully admit 
the abstra(-t wrong of it. So far there is no cause of difference. But you 
say, that, sooner than yield your legal right to the slave, — especially at tlio 


bidding of those who are not themselves interested, — 3'ou would see the 
Union dissolved. I am not aware that any one is bidding you yield that 
right : very certainly / am not. I leave that matter entirely to yourself. I 
also acknowledge your rights and my obligations under the Constitution in 
reganl to your slaves. I confess I hate to see the poor creatures hunted 
down, and caught and carried back to their stripes and unrequited toils ; 
but I bite my lip, and keep quiet. In 1841 you and I had together a tedious 
low-water trip on a steamboat from Louisville to St. Louis. You may 
remember, as I well do, that, from Louisville to the mouth of the Ohio, there 
were on board ten or a dozen slaves shackled together with irons. That 
sight was a continued torment to me ; and I see something like it every 
time I touch the Ohio, or any other slave border. It is not fair for you to 
assume that I have no interest in a thing which has, and continually exer- 
cises, the power of making me miserable. You ought rather to appreciate 
how much the great body of the Northern people do crucify their feelings, in 
order to maintain their loyalty to the Constitution and the Union. I do 
oppose the extension of slavery because my judgment and feeling so prompt 
rae ; and I am under no obligations to the contrary. If for this you and I 
must differ, differ we must. You say, if you were President, you would send 
an army, and hang the leaders of the Missouri outrages upon the Kansas 
elections : still, if Kansas fairly votes herself a Slave State, she must he 
admitted, or the Union must be dissolved. But how if she votes herself a 
Slave State unfairly, — that is, by the very means for which you say you 
would hang men? Must she still be admitted, or the Union dissolved? 
That will be the phase of the question when it first becomes a practical one. 
In your assumption that there may be a fair decision of the slavery question 
in Kansas, I plainly see you and I would differ about the Nebraska law. I 
look upon that enactment, not as a law, but a violence from the beginning. 
It was conceived in violence, is maintained in violence, and is being executed 
in violence. I say it was conceited in violence, because the destruction of 
the Missouri Compromise, under the circumstances, was nothing less than 
violence. It was passed in violence, because it could not have passed at all 
but for the votes of many members in violence of the known will of their 
constituents. It is maintained in violence, because the idections since clearly 
demand its repeal ; and the demand is openly disregarded. 

You say men ought to be hung for the way they are executing that law ; 
and / say the way it is being e.'cecuted is quite as good as any of its antece- 
dents. It is being executed in the precise way which was intended from the 
first ; else why does no Nebraska man express astonishment or condemna- 
tion ? Poor Reeder is the only public man who has been silly enough to 
believe that any thing like fairness was ever intended ; and he has been 
bravely undeceive<l. 

That Kansas will form a slave constitution, and with it will ask to be 
admitted into the Union, I take to be already a settled question, and so 


settled by the very moans you so pointciily condemn. By every principle 
of law evoi- h«ld by any court, North or South, every negro talcen to Kansas 
is free : vot, in utter disregard of this, — in tlie spirit of violence merely, — 
that btuutilul Legislature gravely passes a law to hang any man who .shall 
venture to inform a negro of his legal rights. This is the substance and 
real object of the law. If, like Ilaman, they should hang upon the gallows 
of their own building, I shall not be among the mourners for tlieir fate. In 
my bumble sphere, 1 shall advocate the restoration of the Missouri Compro- 
mise so long as liansas remains a Territory ; and when, by all these foul 
means, it seeks to come into the Union as a Slave State, I shall oppose it. 
I am very loath, in any case, to withhold my assent to the enjoyment ot 
property acquired or located in good faith ; but I do uot admit that good fa'Uli 
in t. king a negro to Kansas to be held in slavery is a probability with any 
man. Any n):in who has sense enough to be the controller of his own prop- 
erty hi> too much sense to misunderstand the outrageous character of the 
•whole Ncci-aska business. But I digress. In my opposition to the adrnLs- 
sion of Kansas, I shall liave sonic company; but we may be beaten. If we 
are, I shall not, on that account, attempt to dissolve the Union. I think it 
probable, however, we shall be beaten. Standing as a unit among yourselves, 
you can, directly and indirectly, bribe enough of our men to carry the day, 
as you could on the open proposition to establish a monarchy. Get hold of 
some man iu the JCorth whose position and ability is such that he can make 
the support of your measure, whatever it may be, a Democratic party neces- 
sity, and the thing is done. Apropos of this, let me tell you an anecdote. 
Douglas introduced the Nebraska Bill in January. In February atVerwards, 
there was a called session of the Illinois Legislature. Of the one hundred 
members composing the two branches of that body, about seventy were 
Democrats. These latter held a caucus, iu which the Nebraska Bill was 
talked of, if not formally discussed. It was thereby discovered tliat just 
three, and no more, were in favor of the measure. In a day or two Douglas's 
orders came on to have resolutions passed approving the bill; and they were 
passed by large majorities ! ! 1 The truth of this is vouched for by a bolting 
Democratic member. The masses, too. Democratic as well as Whig, were even 
nearer unanimous against it ; but, as soon as the party necessity of supporting 
it Ixscaine apparent, the way the Detnocracy began to see the wisdom and 
justice of it was perfectly astonishing. 

You say, that, if Kansas fairly votes herself a Free State, as a Christian you 
will rather rcyoice at it. All decent slaveholders InUc that way ; and I do 
not doubt their candor. But they never vote tliat way. Although in a pri- 
vate letter, or conversation, you will express your preference iha' Kansas 
shall be free, you would vole for no man for Congress who would say the 
same thing publicly. No such man could be elected from any district in a 
Slave State. You think Stringfellow & Co. ought to be hung ; and yet, at the 
next Presidential election, you will vote for the exact type and representative 


of Stringfellow. The elave-breedcrs and slave-traders arc a small, odious, and 
detested class among you ; and yet in polities they dictate the course of all 
of you, and are as completely your masters as you are the master of your 
own negroes. You inquire where I now stand. Tliat is a disputeil point. 
I think I am a Whig ; but others say there are no Whigs, and that I am an 
Abolitionist. When I was at Washington, I voted for the Wilmot Proviso as 
good as forty times ; and I never heard of any one attempting to iinwhig me 
for that. 1 now do no more than oppose the extension of slavery. I am not 
a Know-Nothing : that is certain. How could I be ? How can any one who 
abhors the oppression of negroes be in favor of degrading classes of while 
people 'I Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As 
a nation, we began by declaring that '• all men are created equal." We now 
practically read it " all men are created equal, except negroes." When the 
Know-Notliings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except 
negroes and fcireigners and Catholics." When it comes to this, I should pre- 
fer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving 
liberty, — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and 
without the base alloy of hypocrisy. 

Mary will probably pass a day or twain Louisville in October. My kind- 
est regards to Mrs. Speed. On the leading subject of this letter, I have 
more of her sympathy than I have of }'ours ; and yet let mc say I am 
Your friend forever, 

A. Lincoln. 

Gov. Shannon arrived in the Territory Sept. 1, 1855. On his 
way thither, he declared himself in favor of making Kansas 
a Slave State. He found affairs in a turbulent condition, 
v^hich his policy by no means tended to mitigate or assuage. 
The Free-State party held a mass-meeting at Big Spiings 
in the early part of September, at which they distinctly 
and earnestly repudiated the legislative government, which 
claimed to have been elected in March, as well as all laws 
passed by it; and they decided not to participate in an 
election for a delegate to Congress, which the Legislature 
had appointed to be held on the 1st of October following. 
They also held a Delegate Convention at Topeka, on the 
19th of September, and appointed an Executive Committee 
for the Territory ; and also an election for a Delegate to Con- 
gress, to be held on the second Tuesday in October. These 
two rival elections for a congressional delegate took place 
on different days ; at the former of which, Whitfield, repre- 


sentins^ the proslavcry party, was elected ; while at the other, 
Gov. Ileeder, representing the Free-State party, was chosen. 
On the 23d of October, the Free-State party held a oousti- 
tutionul Convention at Topeka, and formed a State consti- 
tntiou in their interest, under the provisions of which they 
sul)seqnentiy acted, and also asked for admission into the 

Wiiile we are upon this phase of the Kansas question, it 
may not be amiss to postpone the relation of some interme- 
diate events, in order to give the reader the benefit of an 
cxpic ssion of Mr. Lincoln's views, which thus far has found 
place iu no printed record. 

Sometime in 18JG an association of Abolitionists was 
formed in Illinois to go to Kansas and aid the Free-State men 
in otiposing the Government. The object of those engaged 
in tiiis work was, in their opinion, a very laudable one, — no 
otlier than the defence of freedom, which they thought foully 
menaced in tiiat far-off region. Among these gentlemen, and 
one of the most courageous and disinterested, was William II. 
llerndon. lie st.ys, — 

•' ^Ir. Lincoln was informed of our intents l^y some means. 
Probably the idea of resistance was more known than I now 
remember. He took the first opportunity lie could to dissuade 
us from our partially-formed purpose. We sjjoke of liberty, 
justice, and (jod's higher law, and invoked the spirit of these 
as our holiest inspiration. Iu I80G he addressi;d us on thi.s 
very subject, substantially in these words : — 

" • Friends, I agree witli you in Providence ; but I believe 
in the providence of the most men, the largest purse, and the 
longest cannon. You are iu the minority, — in a sad minority ; 
and you can't hope to succeed, reasoning from all humau 
experience. You would rebel against the Government, and 
redden your hands in the blood of your countrymen. If you 
arc in the raiuority, as you are, you cant succeed. I say again 
and again, against the Government, with a great majority of 
its best citizens backing it, and when they have the most men, 
the longest purse, and the biggest cannon, you can't succeed. 


If you have the majority, as some of you say you have, you 
can succeed with the ballot, throwing away the bullet. You 
can peaceably, then, redeem the Government, and preserve the 
liberties of mankind, through your votes and voice and moral 
inQuence. Let there be peace. In a democracy, where the 
majority rule by the ballot through the forms of law, these 
phj'sical rebellions and bloody resistances are radically wrong, 
unconstitutional, and are treason. Better bear the ills you 
have than fly to those j'^ou know not of. Our own Declara- 
tion of Independence says, that governments long established, 
for trivial causes should not be resisted. Revolutionize through 
the ballot-box, and restore the Government once more to the 
affections and hearts of men, by making it express, as it was 
intended to do, the highest spirit of justice and libert}^ Your 
attempt, if there be such, to resist the laws of Kansas by 
force, is criminal and wicked; and all your feeble attempts 
will be follies, and end in bringing sorrow on your heads, and 
ruin the cause you would freely die to preserve ! ' 

" This little speech," continues Mr. Herndon, " is not in 
print. It is a part of a much longer one, likewise not in print. 
This speech squelched the ideas of physical resistance, and 
directed 6ur energies through other more effective channels, 
which his wisdom and coolness pointed out to us. This little 
speech, so timely and well made, saved many of us from great 
follies, if not our necks from the halter. The man who uttered 
it is no more ; but this little speech, I hope, shall not soon be 
forgotten. Mr. Lincoln himself, after this speech, subscribed 
money to the people of Kansas under conditions^ which I will 
relate in other ways. He was not alone in his gifts : I signed 
the same paper, I think, for the same amount, most cheer- 
fully ; and would do it again, only doubling the sum, adding 
no conditions, only the good people's wise discretion." 

Early in 1856 it became painfully apparent to Mr. Lincoln 
that he must take a decisive stand upon the questions of the 
day, and become a Know-Nothing, a Democrat, a Republican, 
or an Abolitionist. Mere " Anti-Nebraska " would answer no 
longer : the members of that ephemeral coalition were seek- 


iii'T more permanent organizations. If interrogated concern- 
ing his position, he would probably have answered still, " I 
think I am a Whig." With the Abolition or Liberty party, 
he had thus far shown not a particle of sympathy. In 1S40, 
1841, 1S48, and 18.V2, the Abolitionists, Liberty-men, or 
I^'i-eo-Soilers, ran candidates of their own for the Presidency, 
and made no liltle noise and stir in the politics of the coun- 
try ; but they were as yet too insignificant in number to 
claim the adhesion of a practical man like i\Ir. Lincoln. In 
fact, his partner, one of the uaost earnest of them all, had 
not up to tliis time desired his fellowship. But now Mr. 
Herndon thought the hour had arrived when his hero should 
declare himself in unmistakable terms. He found, how- 
ever, one little difficulty in the way : he was not precisely 
certain of his hero. Mr. Lincoln might go that way, and he 
might go the other way : his mind was not altogether made 
up ; and there was no telling on which side the decision 
would fall. '' He was button-holed by three ideas, and by 
men belonging to each class: first, he was urged to remain a 
Whig ; secondly, he was urged to become a Know-Nothing, 
Say-Xothing, Do-Nothing ; and, thirdly, he was urged to be 
baritlzcd in Abolitionism : and in my imagination I can see 
Lincoln strung out three ways. At last two cords were 
snapped, he Hying to Freedom." 

And this is the way the cords were snapped : Mr. Herndon 
drew up a paper to be signed by men of his class in politics, 
calling a county convention to elect delegates to the State 
convention at Bloomington. " Mr. Lincoln was then back- 
ward,"" sa's ^Ir. Herndon, " dodge-y, — so and so. I was 
determined to make him take a stand, if he would not do it 
willingly, which he might have done, as he was naturally 
inclined Abolilioi.ward. Lincoln was absent when the call 
was signed, and circulated here. I signed Mr. Lincoln's name 
without autliovity ; had it published in " The Journal." John 
T. Stuart was keeping his eye on Lincoln, with the view of 
keeijing liim on his side, — the totally-dead conservative side. 
Mr Stuart saw the published call, and grew mad ; rushed 


into my office, seemed mad, horrified, and said to me, 
' Sir, did Mr. Lincoln sign that Abolition call which is pub- 
lished this morning ? ' I answered, ' Mr. Lincoln did not sign 
that call.' — ' Did Lincoln authorize you to sign it ? ' said Mr. 
Stuart. ' No : he never authorized me to sign it.' — ' Then 
do you know that you have ruined Mr. Lincoln? ' — ' I did not 
know that I had ruined Mr. Lincoln ; did not intend to do so ; 
thought he was a made man by it ; that the time had come 
when conservatism was a crime and a blunder.' — 'You, then, 
take the responsibility of your acts ; do you ? ' — 'I do, most 

" However, I instantly sat down and wrote to Mr. Lincoln, 
who was then in Pekiu or Tremont, — possibly at court. He 
received my letter, and instantly replied, either by letter or 
telegraph, — most likely by letter, — that he adopted in toto 
what I had done, and promised to meet the radicals — Love- 
joy, and suchlike men — among us." 

At Bloomington Lincoln was the great figure. Beside him 
all the rest — even the oldest in the faith and the strongest 
in the work — were small. Yet he was universally regarded 
as a recent convert, although the most important one 
could be made in the State of Illinois. " We met at Bloom- 
ington ; and it was there," says Mr. Herndon in one of his 
lectures, " that Mr. Lincoln was baptized, and joined our 
church. He made a speech to us. I have heard or read all 
Mr. Lincoln's great speeches ; and I give it as my opinion, 
on my best judgment, that the Bloomington speech was the 
grand effort of his life. Heretofore, and up to this moment, 
he had simply argued the slavery question on grounds of 
policy, — on what are called the statesman's grounds, — never 
reaching the question of the radical and the eternal right. 
Now he was newly baptized and freshly born : he had the 
fervor of a new convert ; the smothered flame broke out ; en- 
thusiasm unusual to him blazed up ; his eyes were aglow with 
an inspiration ; he felt justice ; his heart was alive to the 
right ; his sympathies, remarkably deep for him, burst forth, 
and he stood before the throne of the eternal Right, in pies- 


cnce of his God, and then and there unburdened liis peni- 
tential and fired soul. This speech was fresh, new, genu- 
ine, odd, original ; filled with fervor not unmixed with a 
divine entluisiasm ; his head breathing out through his tender 
heart its truths, its sense of right, and its feeling of the 
good and for the good. This speech was full of fire and 
energ}- and force : it was logic ; it was pathos ; it was enthusi- 
asm ; it was justice, equity, truth, right, and the good, set ablaze 
by the divine fires of a soul maddened by the wrong ; it was 
hard, heavy, knotty, gnarly, edged, and heated. I attempted 
for about fifieen minutes, as was usual with me then, to take 
notes ; but at the end of that time I threw pen and paper to 
the dogs, and lived only in the inspiration of the hour. If 
Mr. Lincoln was six feet four inches high usually, at Bloom- 
i-ngton Iw. was seven feet, and inspired at that. From that 
day to the day of his death, he stood firm on the right. He 
felt his great cross, had his great idea, nursed it, kept it, tavight 
it to others, and in his fidelity bore witness of it to his death, 
and finally sealed it with his precious blood."' 

If any thiug in the foregoing description by Mr. Herndon 
seems extravagant to the reader, something must be pardoned 
to the spirit of a patient friend and an impjatient teacher, who 
saw in this scene the first fruits of his careful hu.sbandry, and 
the end of his long vigil. He appears to have participated 
even then in the belief which i\Ir. Lincoln himself avowed, — 
that the latter was designed by the Dispenser of all things to 
occupy a great place in the world's history ; and he felt that 
that day's doings had fixed his political character forever. 
The Bloomington Convention was called " Republican," and 
the Ile{)ublican party of Illinois was there formed : but the 
most noted Abolitionists were in it, the spirit of the Lovejoys 
was present ; and Mr. Herndon had a right to say, that, if Mr. 
Lincoln was not an Abolitionist, he was tending " Abolition- 
ward " so surely that no doubt could be entertained of his 
ultimate destination. But, after all, the resolutions of the 
convention were very "moderate." Tlic}"^ merely denounced 
the administration for its course regarding Kansas, stisfmatized 



the repeal of the Missouri Compromise as an act of bad faith, 
and opposed " the extension of slaveiy ioto Territories here- 
tofore free." It was surely not because Mr. Lincoln was 
present, and aiding at the passage of such resolutions, that 
Mr. Herndon and others thereafter regarded him as a " new- 
born " Abolitionist. It must have been the general warmth 
of his speech against the South, — his manifest detestation of 
slaveholders and slaveholding, as exhibited in his words, — 
which led them to believe that his feelings at least, if not his 
opinions, were similar to theirs. But the reader will see, 
nevertheless, as we get along ia our history, that the Bloom- 
ington resolutions were the actual standard of Mr. Lincoln's 
views ; that he continued to express his determination to main- 
tam the rights of the Slave States under the Constitution, and 
to make conspicuously plain his abhorrence of negro suffrage 
and negro e<iuality. He certainly disliked the Southern poli- 
ticians very much ; but even that sentiment, growing daily 
more fierce and ominous in the masses of the new party, was 
in his case counterbalanced by his prejudices or his caution, 
and he never saw the day when he would willingly have 
clothed the negroes with political privileges. 

Notwithstanding the conservative character of the resolu- 
tions, the proceedings of the Bloomington Convention were 
alarming to a portion of the community, and seem to have 
found little favor with the people of Springfield. About five 
days after its adjournment, Herndon and Lincoln bethought 
them of holding a ratification meeting. Mr. Herndon got out 
huge posters, announcing the event, and employed a band of 
musicians to parade the streets and " drum up a crowd." As 
the hour of meeting drew near, he " lit up the Court House 
with many blazes," rung the bells, and blew a horn. At seven 
o'clock the meeting should have been called to order, but it 
turned out to be extremely slim. Tliere was nobody present, 
with all those brilliant lights, but A. Lincoln, W. H. Hern- 
don, and John Pain. " When Lincoln came into the court- 
room," says the bill-poster and horn-blower of this great 
demonstration, " he came with a sadness and a sense of the 


ludicrous on his face. He walked to the stand, mounted it 
in a kind of mockery, — mirth and sadness all combineil, — 
and .said, ' Gentlemen, tlits meeting is larger than I knew it 
would be. I knew that Ilerndon and m3-self would come, 
but I did not know that any one else would be here ; and yet 
another has come, — you, John Pain. Tliese are sad times, 
and seem out of joint. All seems dead, dead, dead : but the 
age Ls not yet dead ; it liveth as sure as our Maker liveth. 
Under all this seeming want of life and motion, the world 
does move nevertheless. Be hopeful. And now let us ad- 
journ, and appeal to the people.' 

" This sj)eech is in substance just as he delivered it, and 
substantially in the same sad liut determined spirit ; and so we 
did udjouru, did go out, and did witness t])e fact that ' the 
world was not dead.' " 

The Bloomington Convention sent delegates to the general 
Republican Convention, which was to be held at Philadelphia 
in June. That body was to nominate candidates for the 
I'residency and Viee-Pi'csidency, and high hopes were enter- 
tained of their success. But much remained to be done be- 
fore such a revolution in sentiment could be expected. The 
.\merican or Know-Nothing party — corrupt, hideous, and 
delusive, but still powerful — had adopted the oUl Whig plat- 
form on the several slavery questions, and planted itself de- 
cisively against the agitations of the Anti-Nebraska men and 
the Republicans. A " National Council " had taken this posi- 
tion for it the year previous, in terms beside which the reso- 
lutions of the Whigs and Democrats in 18.32 were mild and 
ine.Kiiressive. Something, therefore, must be done to get this 
great organization out of the way, or to put its machinery 
under " Republican " control. We have seen a party of gen- 
tlemen from Chicago proposing to go into the lodges, and 
" rule them for freedom." Mr. Ilerndon and Mr. Lincoln re- 
jected the plot with lofty indignation ; but a section of the 
Free-Soil politicians were by no means so fastidious. They 
were for the most part bad, insincere, trading men, with 
whom the profession of pi-inciples of any kind was merely a 


convenient disguise, and who could be attached to no party, 
except from motives of self-interest. As yet, they were not 
quite certain whether it were possible to raise more hatred in 
the Northern mind against foreigners and Catholics than 
against slaveholders ; and they prudently determined to be in 
a situation to try either. Accordingly, they went into the 
lodges, took the oaths, swore to stand by the platform of the 
" National Council" of 1855, and were perfectly ready to do 
that, or to betray the organization to the Republicans, as the 
prospect seemed good or bad. Believing the latter scheme to 
be the best, upon deliberation, they carried it out as far as in 
them lay, and then told the old, grim, honest, antislavery 
men, with whom they again sought association, that they had 
joined the Know-Xothings, and sworn irrevocable oaths to 
proscribe foreigners and Catholics, solely that tliey might 
rule the order " for freedom ; " and, the Republicans stand- 
ing in much need of aid just then, the excuse was con- 
sidered very good. But it was too shameless a business 
for Lincoln and Herndon ; and they most righteously de- 
spised it. 

In February, 1856, the Republicans held what Mr. Greeley 
styles their " first National Convention," at Pittsburg ; but 
they made no nominations there. At the same time, a Know- 
Nothing American " National Council " was sitting at Phila- 
delphia (to be followed by a nominating convention) ; and the 
Republicans at Pittsburg had not adjourned before they got 
news by telegraph, that the patriots who had entered tlie 
lodges on false pretences were achieving a great success : the 
American party was disintegrating, and a great section of it 
falling away to the Republicans. A most wonderful political 
feat liad been performed, and the way was now apparently 
clear for a union of the all-formidable anti-Democratic ele- 
ments in the Presidential canvass. 

On the 17th of June the National Republican Conven- 
tion met at Philadelphia, and nominated John C. Fremont for 
President, and William L. Dayton for Vice-President. Mr. 
Williams, Chairman of the Illinois Delegation, presented to 


the convention the name of Abraham Lincoln for the latter 
office ; and it was received with great enthusiasm b\' some of 
the Western delegates. He received, however, but 110 votes, 
against 239 for Mr. Dayton, and ISO scattered; and Mr. Day- 
ton was immediately thereafter unanimously declared the 

Wliilc this convention was sitting, Mr. Lincoln was attend- 
ing court at Urbana, in Cliampaign County. When the 
news reached that place that Mr. Dayton had been nomi- 
nated, and" Lincoln had received 110 votes," some of the law- 
yers insisted tluit the laiter must have been " our [their] 
Lincoln:" but he said. " Xo, it could not be: it must have 
been the (p-cat Lincoln from JIassachusetts." He utterly 
refused to believe in the reality of this unexpected distinction 
until lie saw the proceedings in full. He was just then in one 
of his melancholy moods, his sjiirits depressed, and his heart 
suffering the miseries of a raorbiU mind. 

With an indorsement of the "self-evident truths" and 
" inalienable rights " of the Declaration of Independence, the 
Republican Convention adopted the following as the practical 
and essential features of its platform: — 

" IhsoliH-d, . . . Tiiat we deny tiie authority of Congress, 
of a territorial Legislature, of any individual, or association 
of individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any Terri- 
tory of the United States while the present Constitution shall 
be mainiaincd. 

" Ilcschuid. That the Constitution confers upon Congress 
sovereign power over the Territories of the United States for 
their government ; and that, in the exercise of this power, it 
is both the right and the duty of Congress to prohibit in the 
Territories those twin relics of barbarism, — polygamy and 

The National Democratic Convention had already placed 
in nomiiintion Buciianan and Breckenridge. Their platform 
denounced as sectional the principles and purposes of their 
opponents: re-affirmed " the principles contained in the or- 
ganic laws establishing the Territories of Kansas and Ne- 


braska, as embodying the only sound and safe solution of the 
slavery question," and declared further, — 

" That by the uniform application of Democratic principles 
to the organization of Territories and the admission of new- 
States, with or without slavery as they may elect, the equal 
rights of all the States will be preserved intact, the original 
compacts of the Constitution maintained inviolate, and the 
perpetuity and expansion of the Union insured to its utmost 
capacity of embracing, in peace and harmony, every future 
American State that may be constituted or annexed with a 
republican form of government." 

Mr. Lincoln was again a candidate for the office of Presi- 
dential elector, and made a thorough and energetic canvass. 
Some of his speeches were very striking ; and probably no man 
in the country- discussed the main questions in that campaign 
— Kansas, and slavery in the Territories — in a manner more 
original and persuasive. From first to last, he scouted the 
intimation that the election of Fremont would justify a di.sso- 
lution of the Union, or that it could possibly become even the 
occasion of a dissolution. In his eyes, the apprehensions of 
disunion were a " humbug ; " the threat of it mere bluster, 
and the fear of it silly timidity. 

In the heat of the canvass, Mr. Lincoln wrote' the following 
perfectly characteristic letter, — marked " Confidential : " — 

SiT.iNOFiELD, Sept. 8, 1856. 
Hakrisos M.vltbt, Esq. 

Dear Sir, — • I understand you are a Fillmore man. Let me prove to you 
that every vote withbolil from Fremont and given to Fillmore in Otis State 
actually lessens Fillmore's clianee of being President. 

Suppose Buchanan gets all the Slave States and Pennsylvania, and ani/ 
other one State besides ; then lie is elected, no matter who gets all the rest. 

But suppose Fillmore gets the two Slave States of Maryland and Ken- 
tueky ; then Buchanan is not elected: Fillmore goes into the House of Repre- 
sentatives, and may be made President by a compromise. 

But suppose, again, Fillmore's friends throw away a few thousand votes on 
him in Indiana and Illinois : it will inevitably give these States to Buchanan, 
which will more than compensate him for the loss of Maryland and Ken- 
tucky ; will elect him, and leave fillmore no chance in the II. K., or out of it. 


Tills is as plain as adding up the wei<;hts of three small hogs. As Mr. 
Fillmore has no possible chance to carry Iliinois /or luinself, it is plainly to 
his interest to let Fremont take it, and thus keep it out of the hands of 
Buchanan. Be not deceived. Buchanan is the hard horse to beat in this 
race. Let him have Illinois, and nothing can beat him ; ami lie will get Illi- 
nni-' if men persist in throwing away votes upon Mr. Fillmore. Does some 
one persuade you that Sir. Fillmore can carry Illinois? Nonsense I There 
are over sevent} newspapers in lUinriis opposing Buchanan, only three or 
four of which support Mr. Fillmore, all the rest going for Fremont. Arc not 
these newspapers a fair index of the proportion of the votes ? If not, tell me 

Ajain, of these three or four Fillmore newspapers, («'0, at least, arc sup- 
ported in part by the Buchanan men, as 1 understand. Do not they know 
where the .shoe pinches? They know the Fillmore movement helps tAem, 
and therefore they Itdp it. 

Do think these things over, and then act according to your judgment. 
Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

This letter was clLscovered liy the Buchanan men, printed 
in their newspapers, and pronounced, as its author anticipated, 
"a mean trick." It was a dangerous document to tlieni, and 
was calcuhitcd to undermine the very citadel of their strength. 

Mr. Lincoln was still in imperfect fellowship — if, indeed, 
in any fellowship at all — with the extreme Abolitionists. 
He had met with Lovejoy and his followers at Bloomington, 
and was apparently co-operating with them for the same party 
purposes : but the intensity of his opposition to their radical 
views is intimated very strongly in this letter to Mr. Whit- 
ney ; — 

Springfield, July 9, 1856. 
iJrAii Whitney, — I now expect to go lo Chicago on the 15th, and 
I prnbali'y shall n main there or thereabout for about two weeks. 

It turned me blind when I first heard Swett was beaten and Lovejoy 
noiiiin.Tted ; but, after much anxious reflection, I really believe it is best to 
let it stand. This, of course, I wish to be confidential. 

Lamon did get your deeds. I went with him to the oflice, got them, and 
put them in his hands myself. 

Yours very truly, 



In June, 1857, Judge Douglas made a speech at Spring- 
field, in whicii he attempted to vindicate the wisdom and fair- 
ness of the law under which the people of Kansas were about 
to choose delegates to a convention to be held at Lecompton to 
frame a State constitution. lie declared with emphasis, that, 
if the Free-State partj' refused to vote at this election, they 
alone would be blamable for the proslavery constitution 
which might be formed. The Free-State men professed to 
have a vast majorit}', — " three-fourths," " four-fifths," " nine- 
tenths," of the voters of Kansas. If these wilfully staid away 
from the polls, and allowed the minority to choose the dele- 
gates and make the constitution, Mr. Douglas thouglit they 
ought to abide the result, and not oppose the constitution 
adopted. Mr. Douglas's speech indicated clearly that he 
himself would countenance no opposition to the forthcoming 
Lecompton Convention, and that he would hold the Republi- 
can politicians responsible if the result failed to be satisfactory 
to them. 

Judge Douglas seldom spoke in that region without pro- 
voking a reply from his constant and vigilant antagonist. Mr. 
Lincoln heard tliis speech with a critical ear, and then, wait- 
ing only for a printed report of it, prepared a reply to be 
delivered a few weeks later. The speeches were neither of 
them of much consequence, except for the fact that Judge 
Douglas seemed to have plainly committed himself in ad- 
vance to the support of the Lecompton Constitution. Mr. 
Lincoln took that much for granted ; and, arguing from sundry 
indications that the election would be fraudulently conducted, 
he insisted that Mi-. Douglas himself, as the author of the 
Kansas-Nebraska Bill, and the inventor of " popular sover- 
eignty," had made this " outrage " possible. He did not 
believe there were any "Free-State Democrats" in Kansas 
to make it a Free State without the aid of the Republicans, 
whom lie held to be a vast majority of the population. The 
latter, he contended, were not all registered; and, because all 
were not registered, he thought none ought to vote. But Mr. 
Lincoln advised no bloodshed, no civil war, no roadside assas- 


sinatioiis. Even if an incomplete registry might justify a 
majority of the people iii an obstinate refusal to participate 
in the regulation of their own affairs, it certainly would not 
justify them in taking up arms to oppose all government 
in the Territory ; and Mr. Lincoln did not say so. We have 
seen already how, in the " little speech " reported by Mr. Ilern- 
don, he deprecated "all physical rebellions" in this country, 
and a])plicd his views to this ease. 

Mr. Lincoln also discussed the Dred-Scott Decision at some 
lengtli ; and, while doing so, disclosed his firm belief, that, in 
some respects, such as " life, liberty, and the pursuit of hap- 
piness," the negroes were made l)y the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence the equals of whice men. liut ii did not follow 
from this tliat ho wms in favor of political or social equality 
with them. " There is," said he, -'a natural disgust in the 
minds of nearly all the white people to the idea of an indis- 
criminate amalgamation of the white and black races ; and 
Judge Douglas evidently is basing liis chief hope upon the 
chances of his being able to appropriate the benefit of this 
disgust to liimself. If he can, by mucii drumming and re- 
peating, fasten the odium of that idea upon his adversaries, 
he tliiidis he can struggle through the storm. He therefore 
clings to his hope, as a drowning man to the last plank. He 
makes an occasion for lugging it in from the opposition to the 
Dred-Scott Decision. He finds the Republicans insisting that 
the Declaration of Independence includes ai.t. men, — black as 
well as white ; and forthwith lie boldly denies that it includes 
negroes at all, and proceeds to argue gravely, that all who 
contend it does, do so only because they want to vote, eat, 
sleep, and marry with negroes. Now, I protest against the 
counterfeit logic which concludes, that, because I do not 
want a black woman for a slave, I must necessarily want her 
for a wife. I need not have her for either. I can just leave 
her alone. In some respects, she certainly is not my equal ; 
but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her 
own hands, without asking leave of any one else, she is my 
equal, and the equal of all others." 


These speeches were delivered, the one early and the other 
late, in the month of June : they present strongly, yet guard- 
edly, the important issues which were to engage Mr. Lincoln 
and Mr. Douglas in the famous campaign of 1858, and leave 
us no choice but to look into Kansas, and observe what had 
taken place and what was happening there. 

Violence stUl (June, 1857) prevailed throughout the Territory. 
The administration of President Pierce committed itself at 
the first in support of the proslavery party. It acknowl- 
edged the Legislature as the only legal government in the 
Territory, and gave it military assistance to enforce its enact- 
ments. Gov. Shannon, having by his course only served 
to increase the hostility between the parties, was recalled, and 
.John W. Geary of Pennsylvania was appointed his successor. 
Gov. Geaiy, while adopting the policy of the administration, 
so far as recognizing the Legislative party as the only legally 
organized government, was yet disposed to see, that, so far 
as the two parties could be got to act together, each should 
be fairly protected. This policy, however, soon brought him 
into collision with some of the proslavery leaders in the Ter- 
ritory; and, not being sustained by Mr. Buchanan's admin- 
istration, which had in the mean time succeeded the adminis- 
tration of President Pierce, he resigned his office. Hon. 
Robert J. Walker of Mississippi was appointed his successor, 
with Hon. F. P. Stanton of Tennessee as secretary. Both 
were strong Democrats ; and both were earnest advocates of 
the pohcy of the administration, as expressed in the recent 
presidential canvass, and in Mr. Buchanan's inaugural Mes- 
sage, — the absolute fi'eedom of the people of the Territories 
to form such governments as they saw fit, subject to the pro- 
visions of the Constitution. Gov. Walker and his secre- 
tary earnestly set themselves to work to carry out this policy. 
The governor, in various addresses to the people of the Ter- 
ritory, assured all parties that he would protect them in the 
free expression of their wishes in the election for a new Ter- 
ritorial legislature ; and he besought the Free-State men to 
give up their separate Territorial organization, under which 


thev had already appli'^d for admissiou into the Union, and 
hy virtue of which they claimed still to have an equitable 
lesjal existence. The governor was so earnest in his poUcy, 
and so fair-uiLiidod in liis purposes, that he soon drew upon 
liimself the opposition of the proslavery party of the Terri- 
torv, now in a small minoritj-, as well as the enmity of that 
l>arty in the Sutes. lie assured the people they shoidd have 
a fair election for the new Legislature to he chosen in October 
Q18.57), and wliich would come into power in January follow- 
ing. The people took him at his word : and he kept it. 
Enormous frauds were discovered in two districts, which were 
promptly set aside. The triumph of the Free-State party 
was complete : they elected a legislature in their interest by 
a handsome majority. And now hegau another phase of the 
struggle. The policy of the Governor and tiie Secretary was 
repudiated at Washington : the former resigned, and the lat- 
ter was removed. Meanwhile, a convention held under the 
auspices of the old Legislature liad formed a new constitu- 
tion, known as the Lecompton C'oustirulion. which the old 
Legislature proposed to submit to the people for ratilication 
on the 2181 of December. ' The manner of submitting it was 
singtdar, to say the least. The people were i-cquired to vote 
either for the constitution ivith slavery, or the constitution 
without slavery. As without slavery the constitution was in 
some of its provisions as objectionable as if it upheld slavery, 
the Free-State men refused to participate in its ratitieation. 
The vote on its submission, therefore, stood 4,206 for the con- 
stitution with slavery, and 567 withuut slavery; and it was 
this constitution, thus submitted and thus adopted, that Mr. 
Buchanan submitted to Congress on the 2d of February, 1858, 
as the free expression of the wishes of the people of Kansas ; 
and its support was at once made au administration measure. 
Meantime the new Legislature elected by tlie people of the 
Ten-itory in October submitted this same Lecompton Consti- 
tution to the people again, and in this manner : votes to be 
given for the constitution with slavery and without slavery, and 
also against tlie constitution entirely. The latter manner pre- 


vailed ; the vote against the constitution in any form being 
over ten thousand. Thus the proslavery party in the Terri- 
tory was overthrown. Under the auspices of the new Free- 
State Legislature, a constitutional convention was held at 
Wyandotte, in March, 1859. A Free-State constitution was 
adopted, under which Kansas was subsequently admitted into 
the Union. 

Before leaving this Kansas question, there is one phase of 
the closing part of the struggle which it is worili while to- 
note, particularly as it has a direct bearing upon the fortunes 
of Judge Douglas, and indirectly to the success of Mr. Lin- 
coln. Douglas always insisted that his plan of " popular 
sovereignty " would give to the people of the Territories the 
utmost freedom in the formation of theu' local governments. 
When Mr. Buclianan attempted to uphold the Lecompton 
Constitution as being the free choice of the people of Kcnsas, 
Judge Doftglas at once took issue with the administration on 
this question, and the Democratic party was split in twain. 
Up to the time of the vote of the people of the Territory on 
the constitution, Douglas had been an unswerving supporter 
of the administration policy in Kansas. His speech at Spring- 
field, in the June previous, could not be misunderstood. He 
held all the proceedings which led to the Lecompton issue 
to be in strict accordance, not only with the letter, but the 
spirit, of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and witl) the faith of 
the Democratic party as expounded by himself. But a few 
weeks later it became manifest that hi.s opinions had un- 
dergone a change. Ominous ntmors of a breach with the 
administration began to circulate among his fi'iends. It was 
alleged at length that Mr. Douglas's delicate si>use of justice 
had been shocked by the unfairness of certain elections in 
Kansas : it was even intimated that he, too, considered the 
Lecompton affair an " outrage " upon the sovereign people of 
-Kansas, and that he would speedily join the Republicans — 
the special objects of his indignation in the June speech — in 
denouncing and defeating it. The Kansas-Nebraska BiU had 
borne its aniiroDnate fruits, — the fruits all along predicted by 


Mr. Lincoln, — and Mr. Douglas commended them to any- 
bod3'.s eating but his own. His desertion was sudden and 
astonishing; Imt there was method in it, and a reason for it. 
The next year Illinois was to choose a senator to fill the 
vacancy created by the expiration of lus own term ; and the 
choice lay 1 jet ween the author of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill 
and its most cinspicuous opponent in that State. The news- 
papers were not yet done publishing Mr. Lincoln's speech, in 
wliicli occurred the following paragraph : — 

" Three years and a half ago Judge Douglas brought for- 
ward his famous Nebraska Bill. The country was at once in 
a blaze, lie scorned all opposition, and carried it through 
Congress. Since then he has seen himself superseded in a 
Presidential nomination by one indorsing the general doc- 
trine of his rnoasure, but at the same time standing clear of 
the odium of its untimely agitation and its gross breach of 
national faith ; and he has seen the successful rival constitu- 
tionally ckcted, not by the strength of friends, but by the 
division of his adversaries, being in a popular minority of 
nearly four hundred thousand votes. He has seen his chief 
aids in his own State, Sliields and Richardson, politically 
speaking, succe.ssively tried, convicted, and executed for an 
offence not their own, but his. And now he sees his own 
case standing next on the docket for trial." 


ALTHOUGH primarily responsible for all that had taken 
place in Kansas, Mr. Douglas appeared to be suddenly 
animated by a new and burning zeal in behalf ot the Free- 
State party in the Territory. It struck him very forcibly, 
iustwhen he needed most to be struck by a new idea, that 
the Lecompton Constitution was not "the act and deed of 
the people of Kansas." 

■ Accordingly, Mr. Douglas took his stand agamst Lecomp- 
ton at the first note of the long conflict in Congress. We 
shall make no analysis of the debates, nor set out the votes 
of senators and representatives which marked the lnter^^al3 
of that fierce struggle between sections, parties, and factions 
which followed. • It is enough to say here, that Mr. Douglas 
was found speaking and voting with the Republicans upon 
every phase of the question. He had but one or two lol- 
lowers in the Senate, and a mere handful in the House; 
yet these were faithful to his lead until a final conference 
committee and the English BUI afforded an opportunity for 
some of them to escape. For himself he scorned all com- 
promises, voted against the English Bill, and returned to 
Illinois to ask the votes of the people upon a winter s record 
whoUy and consistently anti-Democratic. The fact is men- 
tioned, not to obscure the fame of the statesman, nor to 
impugn the honesty of the politician, but because it had an 
important influence upon the canvass of the ensuing summer. 
Durin- the winter Mr. Douglas held fi-equent consultations 
with the leaders of the RepubUcan party. Their meeUngs 


were scret, and for that reason the more siscnific-ant. By 
this ineaiij;. iunmoay of" action was secured for the pres- 
ent, and sonuthing provided for the future. Mr. Douglas 
covertly announced himself as a convert to the Kepublicans, 
declared liis nticornpromising enmity to " the slave power," 
and said that, however he might he distrusted then, he would 
he seen •• fiulning their battles in 1800 ; " hut for the time he 
thought it \\i.'-<> lo conceal his ultimate intentions. He could 
manage ihe Democracy more efiectually by remaining with 
them until better opportunities should occur. "He insisted 
that he would never be driven from the party, but would 
remain iu it nn(il he exposed the administration and the 
Disunioiiists ; and, when he went out, he would go of his own 
accord. He was in the habit of remarking, that it was policy 
for hii»i ti. remain iu the party, in order to hold certain of the 
rank-and-rd(; ; so tliat, if he went over from tlie Democracy 
to any oilier jiai-ty, he would be able to take the crowd along 
with him : and, when he got them all over, he would cut 
down tile I'ririges, and sink the boats." When asked if he 
knew pieeiscly where his present course was taking him, he 
answcnil repeatedly, " I do ; and I have checked all my bag- 
gage, and taken a through ticket." 

Ho was a proselyte not to be despised : his weight might 
be siini'iciit to turn the scale in the Presidential election. 
The Ue|iililicaiu- were naturally pleased with his protesta- 
tions of iVieudship, and more than pleased willi his proffers of 
active servi.c ; hut he was not content v/ith this alone. He 
contrivfd to ciMivince ratiny of his late opponents that the 
Kansas-Xilira.ska Bill itself was actually conceived in the 
interests of antislavcry, and that the device was the most 
cunning of p')liLical tricks, intended to give back to " free- 
dom " all the va-^t expanse of territory whieli tlie Missouri 
line had dedicated forever to slavery. " Mr. Douglas's plan 
for de.strex iiig the Missouri line," said one Jlepublican, " and 
tlierel>y ci'eninL; the way for the march of frecdtjm beyond 
the limits forever prohibited by that line, and the opening 
uj) oi' Free States in territory which it was conceded be- 


longed to the Slave States, and its march westward, embra- 
cing the whole line of the Pacific from the British possessions 
to Mexico, struck me as the most magnificent scheme ever 
conceived b}' the human mind. This character of conver- 
sation, so frequentl}- emploved by Mr. Douglas with those 
with whom he talked, made the deepest impression upon their 
minds, enlisted them in his behalf, and changed, in almost 
every instance, their opinion of the man." In support of 
this view, Mr. Douglas could point to Kansas, where the 
battle under his bill was bciug fought out. The Free-State 
men had, perhaps from the very beginning, been in a majoi-ity, 
and could take possession of the Territory or the new State, as 
the case might be, whenever they could secure a fair vote. The 
laboring classes of the North were the natural settlers of the 
western Territories. If these failed in numbers, the enormous 
and increasing European immigration was at their back ; aud, 
if both together failed, the churches, aid societies, and anti- 
slavery organizations were at hand to raise, arm, and equip 
great bodies of emigrants, as they would regular forces for a 
public purpose. The South had no such facilities : its social, 
political, and material conditions made a sudden exodus of 
its voting population to new countries a thing impossible. 
It might send here a man with a few negroes, and there an- 
other. It might insist vehementl)' upon its supposed rights 
in the common Territories, and be ready to fight for them ; 
but it could never cover the surface of those Territories with 
cosey farmsteads, or crowd them with intelligent and muscular 
white men ; and yet these last would inevitabh'-give political 
character to the rising communities. Such clearly were to 
be the results of " popular sovereignty," as Mr. Douglas had 
up to that time maintained it under the Nebraska Bill. 

It signified the riglit of the people of a Territory " to form 
and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way " 
when, and not before, they came to frame a State constitution. 
The Missouri line, on the contrary, had been a sort of con- 
vention, which, by common consent, gave all north of it to 
freedom, and all south of it to slavery. But popular sover- 


eignty disregarded all previous compacts, all ordinauces, and 
all laws. With this doctrine in practice, the North were sure 
to be victors in every serious contest. But when Mr. Douglas 
changed ground again, and popular sovereignty became squat- 
ter sovereignty, he had reason to boast himself the most effi- 
cient, although the wiliest and coolest, antislavery agitator on 
the continent. T!ie new doctrine implied the right of a hand- 
ful of settlers to determine the slavery question in their 
first Legislature. It made no difference whether they did 
this by direct or " unfriendly legislation : " the result was 
the same. 

" Popular sovereignty ! popular sovereignty ! " said Mr. 
Lincoln. " Let us for a moment inquire into this vast mat- 
ter of popular sovereignty. What is popular sovereignty ? 
We recollect, that, in an early period in the history of this 
struggle, there was another name for the same thing, — 
squatter sovereignti/. It was not exactly popular sovereignty, 
— squatter sovereignly. What do these terms mean ? What 
do those terms mean when used now ? And vast credit 
is taken by our friend, the Judge, in regard to his support 
of it, when he dechu-es the last years of his life have 
been, and all the future years of his life shall be, devoted to 
this matter of popular sovereignty. Wliat is it ? Why, it 
is the sovereignty of the people I What was .sijuatter sover- 
eignty ? I suppose, if it had any significance at all, it was the 
right of the people to govern themselves, to be sovereign in 
their own affairs while they were squatted down in a country 
not their own, while they had squatted on a territory that did 
not belong to them ; in the sense that a State belongs to the 
people who inhabit it, when it belongs to the nation. Such 
right to govern themselves was called 'squatter sover- 
eignty.' " 

Again, and on another occasion, but still before Mr. Doug- 
las had substituted "squatter" for "popular" sovereignty, — 
a feat wliich was not performed until September, 1859, — Mr. 
Lincoln said, — 

" I suppose almost every one knows, that in this contro- 


versy, whatever lias been said has had reference to negro 
slavery. We have not been in a controversy about the right 
of the people to govern themselves in the ordinary matters 
of domestic concern in the States and Territories. Mr. Bu- 
chanan, in one of his late messages (I think when he sent up 
the Lecompton Constitution), urged that the main point to 
which the public attention had been directed was not in 
regard to the great variety of small domestic matters, but it 
was directed to negro slavery ; and he asserts, that, if the 
people had had a fair chance to vote on that question, there 
was no reasonable ground of objection in regard to minor 
questions. Now, while I think that the people had not had 
given them, or offered them, a fair chance upon that slavery 
question, still, if there had been a fair submission to a vote 
upon that main question, the President's proposition would 
have been true to the uttermost. Hence, when hereafter I 
speak of popular sovereignty, I wish to be undei'stood as 
applying what I say to the question of slavery only, not to 
other minor domestic matters of a Territory or a State. 

" Does Judge Douglas, when he says that several of the 
past years of his life have been devoted to the question of 
popular sovereignty, and that all the remainder of his life 
shall be devoted to it, — does he mean to say, that he has been 
devoting his life to securing to the people of the Territories 
the right to exclude slavery from the Territories ? If he 
means so to say, he means to deceive ; because he and every 
one knows that the decision of the Supreme Court, which he 
approves, and makes an especial ground of attack upon me 
for disapproving,' forbids the people of a Territory to exclude 
slavery. This covers the whole ground, from the settlement 
of a Territory till it reaches the degree of maturity entitling 
it to form a State constitution. So far as all that ground 
is concerned, the judge is not sustaining popular sovereignty, 
but absolutely opposing it. He sustains the decision which 
declares that the popular will of the Territories has no consti- 
tutional power to exclude slavery during their territorial 
existence. This being so, the period of time fiom the first 


settlement of a territory till it reaches the point of forming a 
State constitution is not the thing that the Judge has fought 
for, or is fighting for ; but, on tlie contrary, he has fought for, 
and is fighting for, the thing that annihilates and crushes out 
that same popular sovereignty." 

It is i)robaljle, that, in the numerous private conferences 
held by Mr. Douglas with Republican leaders in the winter 
of liSoT-S, he managed to convince them that it was, after 
all, not popular sovereignty, but squatter sovereignty, that 
he meant to advance as his final and inevitable deduction 
from " the groat principles " of the Nebraska Bill. This he 
knew, and tlie}' were sure, would give antislavery an un- 
broken round of solid victories in all the Territories. The 
South feared it much more than they did the Republican 
theory : it was, in the language of their first orator, " a short- 
cut to all the ends of Sewardism." 

Hut Mr. Douglas's great difficulty was to produce any 
belief in his .sincerity. At home, in Illinois, the Republicans 
distrusted him almost to a man ; and at Washington, among 
his peers in the Senate and the House, it seemed necessary 
for him to repeat his plans and promises very often, and to 
mingle with them bitter and passionate declamations against 
the Soutli. At last, however, he succeeded, — partially, at 
least. Senator Wilson believed him devoutly ; Mr. Burlin- 
game said his record was " laid up in light; " Mr. Colfax, Mr. 
Blair, and Mr. Covode were convinced ; and gentlemen of the 
press began industriously to prepare the way for his entrance 
into tlie Republican party. Mr. Greeley was thoroughly pos- 
sessed by the new idea, and went about propagating and en- 
forcing it with all his raiglit. Among all the grave counsellors 
employed in furthering Mr. Douglas's defection, it is singular 
that only one man of note steadily resisted his admission to 
a place of leadershij^ in tlie Republican ranks: Judge Trum- 
bull could not be persuaded ; he had no faith in the man who 
proposed to desert, and had some admonitions to deliver, 
based upon the history of recent events. lie was willing 
enough to take him " on probation," but wholly opposed to 


giving him any power. Covode was employed to mollify 
Judge Trumbull ; but he met with no success, and went away 
without so much as delivering the message with which Mr. 
Douglas had charged him. The message was a simple prop- 
osition of alliance with the home Republicans, to the effect, 
that, if they agreed to return him to the Senate in 1858, he 
would fight their Presidential battle in 1860. Judge Trum- 
bull did not even hear it, but he was well assured that Mr. 
Douglas was " an applicant for admission into the Republican 
party." " It was reported to me at that time," said he, " that 
such was the fact ; and such appeared to be the universal 
understanding among the Republicans at Washington. I will 
state another fact, — I almost quarrelled with some of my 
best Republican friends in regard to this matter. I was will- 
ing to receive Judge Douglas into the Republican party on 
probation ; but I was not, as these Republican friends were, 
willing to receive him, and place him at the head of our 

Toward the latter part of April, 1858, a Democi-atic State 
Convention met in Illinois, and, besides nominating a ticket for 
State officers, indorsed Mr. Douglas. This placed him in the 
field for re-election as an Anti-Lecompton Democrat ; but it 
by no means shook the faith of his recently acquired Repub- 
lican friends : they thought it very natural, under the circum- 
stances, that his ways should be a little devious, and his policy 
somewhat dark. He had alwa3s said he could do more 
for them l>y seeming to remain within the Democratic part)' ; 
and they looked upon this latest proceeding — his practical 
nomination by a Democratic convention >^ as the foundation 
for an act of stupendous treason between that time and the 
Presidential election. They continued to press the Republi- 
cans of Illinois to make no nomination against him, — to vote 
for him, to trust him, to follow him, as a sincere and mani- 
festly a powerful antislavery leader. These representations 
had the effect of seducing away, for a brief time, Mr. Wash- 
burne and a few others among the lesser politicians of the 
State ; but, when they found the party at large irrevocably 


opposed to the scheme, they reluctantly acqxiiesced in what 
they could not prevent, — Mr. Lincoln's nomination. But 
the plot made a profound impression on Mr. Lincoln's mind : 
it proved the existence of personal qualities in Mr. Douglas, 
which, to a simpler man, were unimaginable and inexplicable. 
A gentleman once inquired of Mr. Lincoln what he thought 
of Douglass chances at Charleston. "Well," he replied, 
" were it not for certain mattei-s that I know transpired, which 
I regarded at one time among the impossibilities, I would say 
he stood no possible chance. I refer to the fact, that, in the 
Illinois contest with myself, he had the sympathy and sup- 
port of Greeley, of Burhngame, and of Wilson of Massa- 
chusetts, and other leading Republicans ; that, at the same 
time, he received the support of Wise, and the influence of 
Breckinridge, and other Southern men ; that he took direct 
issue with the administration, and secured, against all its power, 
one hundred and twenty-five thousand out of one hundred 
and tliiity thousand Democratic votes cast in the State. A 
man iliat can bring such iulluenee to bear with his own exer- 
tions may play the devil at Charleston." 

From about the 7th to the l(3th of June, 1858, Mr. Lincoln 
was busily engaged writing a speech : he wrote it in scraps, — 
a sentence now, and another again. It was originally scat- 
tered over numberless little pieces of paper, and was only 
reduced to consecutive sheets and connected form as the 
hour for its delivery drew near. It was to be spoken on or 
about the 16th, when the Republican State Convention would 
assemble at Springfield, and, as Mr. Lincoln anticipated, 
would nominate him for senator in Congress. 

About the 13th of June, Mr. Dubois, the State auditor, 
entered the office of Lincoln & llerndon, and found Mr. Lin- 
coln deeply intent upon the speech. " Hello, Lincoln ! what 
are you writing ? " said the auditor. " Come, tell me." — "I 
sha'n't tell you," said Lincoln. "/( is none of your business, 
Mr. Auditor. Come, sit down, and let's be jolly." 

On the 16th, the convention, numbering, with delegates 
and alternates, about a thousand men, met, and passed unani- 
mously the following resolution : — 


" That Hon. Abraham Lincohi is our first and only choice 
for United States senator to fill the vacancy about to be cre- 
ated by the expiration of Mr. Douglas's term of office." 

That evening Mr. Lincoln came early to his office, along 
with Mr. Herndon. Having carefully locked the door, and 
put the key in his own pocket, he pulled from his bosom the 
manuscript of his speech, and proceeded to read it slowly 
and distinctly. When he had finished the first paragraph, he 
came to a dead pause, and turned to his astounded auditor 
with the inquiry, " How do you like that ? What do you 
think of it ? " — "I think," returned Mr. Herndon, " it is true ; 
but is it entirely politic to read or speak it as it is written ? " 
— " That makes no difference," Mr. Lincoln said. " That 
expression is a truth of all human experience, — ' a house 
divided against itself cannot stand ; ' and ' he that runs may 
read.' The proposition is indisputably true, and has been 
true for more than six thousand years ; and — I will deliver it 
as written. I want to use some universally known figure, 
expressed in simple language as universally known, that may 
strike home to the minds of men, in order to rouse them to 
the peril of the times. I would rather be defeated with this 
expression in the speech, and it held up and discussed before 
the people, than to be victorious without it." 

It may be questioned whether Mr. Lincoln had a clear 
right to indulge in such a venture, as a representative party 
man in a close contest. He had other interests than his own 
in charge : he was bound to respect the opinions, and, if pos- 
sible, secure the success, of the party which had made him 
its leader. He knew that the strange doctrine, so strikingly 
enunciated, would alienate many well-affected voters. Was 
it his duty to cast these away, or to keep them ? He was not 
asked to sacrifice any principle of the party, or any opinion 
of his own previously expressed, but merely to forego the 
trial of an experiment, to withhold the announcement of a 
startling theory, and to leave the creed of the party as it came 
from the hands of its makers, without this individual supple- 
ment, of which they had never dreamed. It is evident that 


he had not yl\va}-s been insensible to tlie force of tliis reason- 
ing. At tlie Bloomington Convention lie had uttered the 
same ideas in ahnost the same words ; and their novelty, 
their lendency, tlieir recognition of a state of incipient civil 
war in a counny for the most part profoundly peaceful, — 
tliese, and the bloody work which might come of their accejjt- 
ance by a great party, had tilled the minds of some of his 
hearers with the most painfid apprehensions. The theory 
was eiiiudly shocking to them, whether as partisans or as 
patriots. Among them was Hon. T. Lyle Dickey, who 
sought yiv. Lincoln, and begged him to suppress them in 
future, lie viu.Ucated his speech as he has just vmdicated 
it in tlie interview with Mr. Herndon ; but, after much persua- 
sion, he promised at length not to repeat it. 

It was now Mr. Herndon"s turn to be .surprised : the pupil 
had oiustiipped the teacher. He was intensely anxious for Mr. 
Lincoln's election: he feared the effect of this speech; and 
yet it was so exactly in accordance with his own faith, that 
he could nut advise him to suppress it. It might be heresy 
to many others, but it was orthodo.xy to liiui ; and he was in 
the habii of telling the whole truth, without regard to conse- 
quences, if it cost a single defeat now, lie was sure that its 
potency would one day be felt, and the wisdom of its present 
utterance acknowledged. He therefore urged Mr. Lincoln to 
speak it as he had written it, and to treat with the scorn of 
a prophet those who, having ears, would not hear, and, having 
eyes, would not see. The advice was not unacceptable, but 
Mr. Lincoln thought he owed it to other fiieuds to counsel 
with them also. 

About a dozen gentlemen were called to meet in the Libra- 
ry Room in the State House. " After seating them at the 
round table," says John Armstrong, one of the number, " he 
read that (;lause or section of his speech which reads, ' a 
house divided against itself cannot stand,' &c. He read it 
slowly and cautiou.sly, so as to let each man fully understand 
it. After he had finished the reading, he asked the opinions 
of h:s friends as to the wisdom or policy of it. Every man 


among them condemned the speech in substance and spirit, 
and especially that section quoted above. They unanimously 
declared that the whole speech was too far in advance of the 
times ; and they all condemned that section or part of his 
speech alreadj'^ quoted, as unwise and impolitic, if not false. 
William II. Herndon sat still while they were giving their 
respective opinions of its unwisdom and impoHcy : then he 
sprang to his feet and said, 'Lincoln, deliver it just as it 
reads. If it is in advance of the times, let us — you and I, if 
no one else — lift the people to the level of this speech now, 
higher hereafter. The speech is true, wise, and poUtic, and 
will succeed now or in the future. Nay, it will aid you, if it 
will not make you President of the United States.' 

" j\Ir. Lincoln sat still a short moment, rose from his chair, 
walked backwards and forwards in the hall, stopped and said, 
' Friends, I have thought about this matter a great deal, have 
weighed the question well from all corners, and am thorough- 
ly convinced the time has come when it should be uttered ; 
and if it must be that I must go down because of this speech, 
then let me go down linked to truth, — die in the advocacy 
of what is right and just. This nation cannot live on injus- 
tice, — ''a house divided against itself cannot stand," I say 
again and again.' This was spoken with some degree of emo- 
tion, — the effects of his love of truth, and sorrow from the 
disagreement of his friends with himself." 

On the evening of the 17th this celebrated speech — known 
since as " Tlie House-divided-against-itself Speech " — was 
delivered to an immense audience in the hall of the House 
of Representatives. Mr. Lincoln never penned words which 
had a more prodigious influence upon the public mind, or 
which more directly and powerfully affected his own career. 
It was as follows : — 

Gentlemen of the Convention, — If wo couui ursi know where 
we are, and wliither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, 
and how to do it. We are now far on into the fifth year since a policy waa 
initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to 


slaverj' airitation. Under the operation of that policy, that acitation had 
not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will 
not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. " A house 
divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this Governmt i oannotendure 
permaneuily half slave and half free. I do not expect the Uiiio.i to be dis- 
solved, — I do not expect the house to fall ; but 1 do expect it will cease 
to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the 
opponents of slavery will arrest the farther spread of it, and place it where 
the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in course of ultimate extinc- 
tion, or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in 
all the States, — old as well as new, North as well as South. 

Have we no tendency t » the latter condition? Let any '^•le who doubts 
carefully contemplate that now almost complete Ic^al combination, — piece 
of machinery, so to speak, — compounded of the Nebraska doctrine and the 
Dred-Scott Decision. Let him consider, not only what work the machinery 
is adapted to do, and how well adapted, but also let him study the liistory of 
its construction, and trace, if he oau, or rather fail, if he can, to trace, the 
evidences of design and concert of action among its chief master-workers 
from the beginning. 

But so far Congress only had acted ; and an indorsement by the people, 
real or apparent, was indispensable, to save the point already gained and 
give chance for more. The New Year of 1851 found slavery excluded from 
more than half the Suites by State constitutions, and from most of the 
national territory by congressional jirohibition. Four days later commenced 
the struggle which ended in repealing tliat congressional prohibition. This 
opened all the national territory to slavery, and was the first point gained. 

This necessity had not been overlooked, but had been provided for, as 
well as might be, in the notable argument, oi' " squatter soatreignly," nthnTviise 
called "Kdi-red right of self-government ; " which latter phrase, though expres- 
sive of the only rightful basis of any government, was so perverted in this 
attempted use of it as to amount to just this: that, if any one man choose to 
enslave another, no third man shall be allowcil to obicct. Tliat argument 
was incorporated into the Nebraska Bill itself, in the language which fol- 
lows : " It being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate 
slavery into any Territory or Slate, nor exclude it therefrom, but to leave 
the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their d-micstic insti- 
tutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United 

Then opened the roar of loose declamation in favor of " squatter sover- 
eignty " and " sacred right of self-government." 

" But," said opposition members, " let us be more specific, — let us amend 
the bill so as to expressly declare that the people of the Territory inay 
exclude slavery." — " Not we," said the frienda of the measure ; and down 
they voted tlie amendment. 


While the Nebraska Bill was passing through Congress, a law-case 
involving the question of a negro's freeJom, hy reason of his owner having 
voluntarily taken him first into a Free State, and then a Territory covered 
by the congressional prohibition, and held him as a slave, — for a long time 
in each av%.- passing through the United-States Circuit Court for the 
District of Missouri ; and botli the Nebraska Bill and lawsuit were brought 
to a decision iu the same month of May, 1854. The negro's name was Dred 
Scott, which name now designates the decision finally made in the case. 

Before the then next Presidential election, the law-case came to, and 
was argued in, the Supreme Court of the United States ; but the decision of 
it was deferred until qfier the election. Still, before the election, S<»nator 
Trumbull, on the floor of the Senate, requests the leading advocate of the 
Nebra'^V Jill to state Ms opinion whether a people of a Territory can con- 
stitutionally exclude slavery from their limits ; and the latter answers, " That 
is a question for the Supreme Court." 

The election came. Mr. Buchanan was elected, and the indorsement, 
such as it was, secui'ed. That was the second point gained. The indorse- 
ment, however, fell short of a clear popular majority by nearly foui- hundred 
thousand votes ; and so, perhaps, was not overwhelmingly reliable and satis- 
factory. The outgoing President, iu his last annual Message, as impressively 
as possible echoed back upon the people the weight and authority of the 

The S-'preme Court met again ; did not announce their decision, but 
ordered p re-argument. The Presidential inauguration came, and still no 
decision < the court; but the incoming President, in his inaugural address, 
fervently exhorted the people to alndc by the forthcoming decision, whatever 
it might be. Then, in a few days, came the decision. 

This was the third point gained. 

The reputed uthor of the Nebraska Bill finds an early occasion to make 
a speech at this Uapitol indorsing the Drcd-Scott Decision, and vehemently 
denouncing all opposition to it. The new President, too, seizes the early 
occasion of the Silliman letter to iniiorse and strongly construe that decision, 
and to express his astonishment that any diflerent view had ever been enter- 
tained. At length a sqjabble springs up between the President and the 
author of the Nebraska Bill, on the mere question of fact whether tlie Lc- 
compton Constitution was, or ■n^s not, in any just sense, made by the people 
of Kan ■ 111 t%-t f jo lole, the latter declares that all he wants is a 

fair voce lor Uae people, and that he car^s not whether slavery be voted down 
or voted up. I do not understand his declaration, that he cares not whether 
slavery be voted down or voted up, to be intended by him other than as an 
apt definition of the policy he would impress upon the public mind, — the 
principle for which he d"dares he suffered much, and is ready to suffer 
to the end. 

And well may he cli..- to that principle 1 If he has any parental feel- 


iti^', well may ho clinii to it! That principle is the only shred left of his 
ori'^iinal Nebraska doctrine. Uii<U'.r the Dred-Seott Deoision, squatter sover- 
eignty squatted out of esistence, — tumViled down like temporary seattbl'ding; 
like the mould at the foundery, served through one bhist, and fell back into 
loose sand; helped to carry an election, and then was kicked to the winds. 
His late joint struggle with the Republicans against the Lecompton Consti- 
tution involves nothing of the original Nebraska doctrine. Tljat struggle 
was made on a point — the right of a people to make their own constitution 
— upon which be and the Kepublicans have never differed. 

The several points of the Dred-Scott Decision, iu connection with Sena- 
tor Douglas's " care-not " policy, constitute the piece of machinery in its 
yiresent state of advancement. The working-points of that maclxinery are, — 

First, That no negro slave, imported a^ such from Africa, and no descend- 
ant of such, can ever be a citizen of any State, in the sense of that term as 
used in the Constitution of the United States. 

This point is made in order to deprive the negro, in every possible 
event, of the benefit of this provision of the United States Constitution, 
which declares that "The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the 
privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States." 

Secondly, That, "subject to the Constitution of the United States," nei- 
ther Congress nor a Territorial Legislatiu'e can exclude slavery from any 
United States Territoi-y. 

This point is made in order that individual men may fill up the Terri- 
tories with slaves, without danger of losing them as j>roperty, and thus to 
enhance the chances of permanency to the institution through all the future. 

Thirdly, That whether the holding a negro in actual slavery in a Free 
State makes him free, as agmiist the holder, the United States courts will 
not decide, but will leave it to be decided by the courts of any Slave State 
the negro may be forced into by the master. 

This point is made, not to be pressed immediately : but if acquiesced in 
for a while, and apparently indorsed by the jieople at an election, then to 
sustain the logical conclusion, that, what Dred Scott's master might lawfully 
do with Dred Scott in the free State of Illinois, every other master may 
lawfully <lo with any otlier one or one thousand slaves in Illinois, or in any 
other Free State. 

Auxiliary to all this, and working hand in hand with it, the Nebraska 
doctrine, or what is left of it, is to educate and mould public opinion, at least 
Kortheru public opinion, not to care whether slavery is voted down or voted 

This shows exactly where we now arc, and partially, also, whither we are 

It will throw additional light on the latter to go back and run the mind 
over the string of historical facts already stated. Several things will now 
appear less dark and mysterious than they did when they were transpiring. 


The people were to be left "perfectly free," "subject only to the Constitu- 
tion." What the Constitution had to do with it, outsiders could not then see. 
Plainly enough now, it was an exactly fitted niche for the Dred-Scott Decis- 
ion afterward to come in, and declare that perfect freedom of the people to 
be just no freedom at all. 

Why was the amendment expressly declaring the right of the people to 
exclude slavery voted down ? Plainly enough now : the adoption of it would 
have spoiled the niche for the Dred-Scott Decision. 

Why was the court decision held up ? Why even a senator's individ- 
ual opinion withheld till afler the Presidential election? Plainly enough 
now : the speaking out then would have damaged the " perfectly free " argu- 
ment upon which the election was to be carried. 

■RTiy the outgoing President's felicitation on the indorsement? Why 
the delay of a rc-argument? Why the incoming President's advance exhor- 
tation in favor of the decision ? These things look like the cautious patting 
and petting of a spirited horse preparatory to mounting him, when it is 
dreaded that he may give the rider a fall. And why the hasty after-indorse- 
ments of the decision by the President and others ? 

We cannot absolutely know that all these exact adaptations are the 
result of preconcert. But when we see a lot of framed timbers, different 
portions of wliich we know have been gotten out at difliiTcnt times and 
places, and by different workmen, — Stephen, Franklin, Roger, and James, 
for instance, — and when we see these timbers joined togethi-r, and see they 
exactly make the frame of a house or a mill, all the teuc-5 and mortises, ex- 
actly fitting, and all the lengths and proportions of the different pieces 
exactly adapted to their respective places, and not a piece too many or too few, 
— not omitting even scaffolding — or, if a single piece be lacking, we can 
see the place in the frame exactly fitted and prepared to yet bring such piece 
in, — in such a ease, we find it impossible not to believe that Stephen and 
Franklin and Roger and James all understood one another from tlie begin- 
ning, and all worked upon a common plan or draft drawn up before the first 
blow was struck. 

It should not be overlooked, that, by the Nebraska Bill, the people of a 
State as well as Territory were to be left " perfectly free," " suhjecl only to the 
Constitution." Why mention a State ? They were legislating for Territories, 
and not for or about States. Certainly the people of a State .ire and ought 
to be subject to the Constitution of the United States ; but why is mention 
of this lugged into this merely territorial law ? Why are the people of a 
Territory and the people of a State therein lumped together, and theh- rela- 
tion to the Constitution therein treated as being precisely the same? 

While the opinion of the court by ChiefVJustice Taney, in the Dred- 
Scott case, and the separate opinions of all the concurring judges, expressly 
declare that tlie Constitution of the United States neither permits Congress 
nor a Territorial Legislature to exclude slavery fkim any United States 


TfiiTiton-, they all omit to ileelare whether or not the same Constitution per- 
mits a Stato, or the people of a State, to exclude it. Pofsibly, this was a 
mere omission ; but who can be cjuite sure, if McLean or Curtis had sought 
to get into the oi>iniou a declaration of unlimited power in tlie people of a 
State to exclude slavery from their limits, just as Chase and Jlaee sought to 
get such declaration, in behalf of the people of a Territory, into the Ne- 
braska Bill. — I ask. who can be quite sure that it would not have been voted 
down in the one ease as it had been in the other ? 

The nearest appioacU to the point of declaring the power of a State 
over slavery is made by Judge Xelson. He approaches it more than 
once, using the i>recisc idea, and almost the language too, of the Ne- 
braska Acu On one ocasion his exact language is, "Except in cases 
wh(!re the fwwer is restrained by the Constitution of the United States, 
the law ol' the State is supreme over the subject of shiTcry within its juris- 

In wliat cases the power of the State is so restrained by the United 
States Constitution is left an open question, precisely as the same question, 
as to the restraint on the power of the Territories, was left open In the 
Nebraska Act. Put ihiit and that together, and we have anotlicr nice little 
niche, which we m.'iy ere long see filled wiih another Supreme Court decis- 
ion, declaring that the Constitution of the United Stiiles does uot pcrndt a 
State to exclude .slavery from its limits. And this may especially be 
expected if the doctrine of -care not whether slavery be voted down or 
voted up " shall gain upon the public mind sullicieuily to give pnimise that 
such a decision ran be m.iintaincd when made. 

Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawlid in all 
the State>. AN'elcome or unwelcome, such decision is probably coming, and 
will soon bf upon u~, unless die power of the present poliiieal dynasty shall 
be met and i/verOnnvn. We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the 
people of Jlissouri are on tlie verge of making their State free : and we shall 
awake to the reality, instead. ;hat the Supreme Court has made Illinois a 
Slave State. 

To meet and overthrow the power of that dynasty is the work now 
before ail those who would prevent that consuramaiion. That is what we 
have to do. But how can wo best do it ? 

There .are those who ileuomice us openly to iheu- own friends, and yet 
whisper softly, that Siuutor Douglas is the aptesi instrument there is with 
which to ellect that obje.l. They do not tell us, nor has lie t.jld us, that he 
wishes any such object to be elVected. Tliey wish us to infer all, from the 
facts that he now has a little rjuarrcl with the present head of the dynasty; 
and that lie has regularly voted with us, on a single point, npon which he 
and we have never differed. 

They remind us that he is a very great man, and that the largest of us 
are very small ones. Let this be granted. But " a living dog is better than 


a dead lion." Judge Douglas, if not a dead lion for this work, is at least a 
caged and loothlesx one. How can he oppose the advancee of slavery ? He 
don't care any thing about it. His avowed mission is impressing the " public 
heart " to care nothing about it, 

A leading Douglas Democrat newspaper thinks Douglas's superior tal- 
ent will be needed to resist the revival of tlie African slave-trade. Does 
Douglas believe an effort to revive tliat trade is approaching ? lie has not 
said so. Does he realli/ think so ? But, if it is, how can he resist it ? For 
years he has labored to prove it a sacred right of white men to take negro 
slaves into the new Territories. Can he possibly show that it is leas a sacred 
right to buy them where they can be bought cheapest ? And unquestion- 
ably tliey can be bought cheaper in Africa than in Virginia. 

He has done all in his power to reduce the whole question of slavery to 
one of a mere right of property ; and as such, how can he oppose the for- 
eign slave-trade, — how can he refuse that trade in that '• property '' shall be 
" perfectly free," — unless he does it as a protection to the home production ? 
And, as iJie home producers will probably not ask the protection, he will be 
wholly without a ground of opposition. 

Senator Douglas holds, we know, that a man may rightfully be wiser 
to-day than he was yesterday: that he may rightfully change when 
he finds himself wrong. But can we for that reason run ahead, and infer 
that he will make any particular chanse, of which he himself has given 
no intimation ? Can we safely base our action upon any such vague infer- 
ences ? 

Now, as ever, I wish not to misrepresent Judge Douglas's position, ques- 
tion his motives, or do aught that can be personally offensive to him. When- 
ever, if ever, he and we can come together on pj-inciple, so that our groat 
cause may have assistance from his great ability, I hope to have interposed 
no adventitious obstacle. 

But clearly he is not now with us; he does not pretend i 
does not promise ever to be. Our cause, then, must be intrusted t 
ducted by, its own undoubted friends, — those wbo^t liriuls ai'.- ; 
hearts are in the work, who do care for the resuit 

Two years ago the RepubUcaus of tlie nai) 
hundred thousand strong. We did this under tl- 
ance to a common danger, with every external <ir 
strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, >•. 
winds, and formed and fought the battle through, u. .^ . 
of a disciplined, proud, and pampered enemy. Did w^- 
falter now? — noiu, when that same enemy is waverii 
btUigprent '! 

The re-uir, is not doubtful. We shall not fail, — if ■ 
shall not fail. Wise coumek may accelerate or mintakes t/. 
or later, the victory is sure to come. 


The speech produceil a profouud improssion upon men of 
all pail ics: the Democrats rejoiced in it, and reprobated it; 
the eon^.-rviuive Republicans received it coldly, and saw in 
it the siirn of certain defeat. In the eyes of the latter it was a 
dis]iearte!iin:r mistake at the outset of a momentous campaign, 
— a IbtaJ error, >\hich no jiolicy or exertion conld retrieve. 
.Alone of all thooe directly afl'ected liy it, the Abolitionists, 
the compaulnts of Mr. Ilerndon, heard in it the voice of a 
fearless leader, who liad the wisdom to comprehend an un- 
weleunie fact, and the courage to proclaim it at the moment 
wtJi b the ;<chisiun of fancied security and peace was most 
genornlly aiirl fondly entertained. It was the " irrepressible 
conllict " which ^Ir. Seward had been prea'diing-, and to 
which the one party luid given almost as little credit as the 
otlier. Except a few ultraists hero and there, nobody as yet 
had actually prepared his armor for this imaginary conflict, 
to wliicli ihe nation was so persistently summoned, — and, 
indeed, none but those few seriously believed in the possi- 
bility of its existence. The Republican party had heretofore 
disavowed the doctrine witli a unanimity neailj' as great as 
that exliil'itcd by the little council of -Mr. Lincoln's imme- 
diate fncuds. It was therefore to be expected, that, when a 
slow, eauiious. moderate man like 'Sir. Lincohi came forward 
with it in this startling fashion, it would carry dismay to his 
followers, and a cheering asstirance to his enemies. But 
Mr. Liiii:oln was looldng farther than this canipaign : he 
was nuietly dnaming of the Presidency, and edging himself 
<o a [ line m aiivance, where he thought the tide might takf 
hiui np 'n I'^iji). lie was sure that sectional animosities, fai 
I ion I -iibvuliiig, would grow deeper and stronger with timej 
.-''i! fij; liiat reason the next nominee of the exclusively 
ivortlieiii ! -irry must be a man of radical views. "I think," 
siys I\l; . Ucratlou, ■' the speech was intended to take the 
v.-ii)d (.nt .il :^e'ward's sails;"' and Mr. Herndon is not alone 
>: h!s -pin-.n. 

A •:]:!■ .->i two after Mr. Lincoln spoke, one Dr. Long came 
i.-tto JilS oii'ee. .ir-.i ueUs'eved to him a foretaste of the remarks 


he was doomed to hear for several months. " Well, Lincoln," 
said he, "that foolish speech of yours will kill you, — will 
defeat you in this contest, and probably for all offices for all 
time to come. I am sorry, sorry, — very sorry : I wish it was 
wijsed out of existence. Don't you wish it, now ? " Mr. Lin- 
coln had been writing during the doctor's lament ; but at the 
end of it he laid down his pen, raised his head, lifted his 
spectacles, and, with a look half quizzical, half contemptuous, 
replied, "• Well, doctor, if I had to draw a pen across, and 
erase my whole life from existence, and I had one poor gift 
or choice left, as to what I should save fiom the wreck, I 
should choose that speech, and leave it to the world un- 

Leonard Swett, than whom there was no more gifted man, 
nor a better judge of political affairs, in Illinois, is convinced 
that " the lirst ten lines of that speech defeated him." " The 
sentiment of the ' house divided against itself ' seemed wholly 
inappropriate," says Mr. Swett. " It was a speech made at 
the commencement of a campaign, and apparently made for 
the rTiiiipaign. Viewing it in this light alone, nothing could 
have been more unfortunate or inappropriate. It was saying 
first the wrong thing; yet he saw that it was an abstract 
truth, and standing by the speech would ultimately find him 
in the right place. I was inclined at the time to believe 
these words were hastily and inconsiderately uttered ; but 
subsequent facts have convinced me they were deliberate and 
had been matured ... In the summer of 1859, when he 
was dining with a party of his intimate friends at Blooming- 
ton, the subject of his Springfield speech was discussed. We 
all insisted that it was a great mistake ; but he justified him- 
self, and finally said, ' Well, gentlemen, you may think that 
speech was a mistake ; but I never have believed it was, and 
you will see the day when you wiU consider it was the wisest 
thing I ever said.' " 

John T. Stuart was a family connection of the Todds and 
Edwardses, and thus also of Lincoln. Mr. C. C. Brown mar- 
ried Mr. Stuart's daughter, and speaks of Mr. Lincoln as " our 


relative." This gentleman says, " The Todd-Stuart-Edwards 
family, wiih preacher and priest, dogs and servants, got mad 
at j\Ir. Lincoln because he made ' The House-divided-against- 
itself Speech.' He flinched, dodged, said he would explain, 
and did explain, in the Douglas debates."' 

But it was difficult to explain : explanations of the kind are 
generally more hurtful tliau the original offence. Accorchngly, 
Mr. Ilerndon reports in his broad, blunt way, that " 3Ir. Lin- 
coln met with many cold shoulders for some time, — nay, 
during the whole canvass with Douglas." At the great pub- 
lic meetings which characterized that campaign, " j'ou could 
liear, from all quarters in the crowd, Republicans saying, 
' Damn that fool speech I it will be the cause of the death of 
Lincoln and the Republican party. Such folly ! such non- 
sense I Dauui iti ' " 

Since 1840 Lincoln and Douglas had appeared before the 
people, almost as regularly as the elections came round, to 
discuss, the one against tiie other, the merits of parties, can- 
didates, and principles. Thus far Mr. Lincoln had been in a 
certain sense the pursuer : he had lain in wait for Mr. Doug- 
las ; lie had caughi liini at unexpected turns and upon sharp 
points ; he had .mercilessly improved tiie advantage of Mr. 
Douglas's long record in Congress to pii'k apart and to criti- 
cise, while his own was so much more humble and less exten- 
sive. But now at last they were abreast, candidates for the 
same office, with a fair field and etjual opportunities. It was 
the great crisis in the lives of both. Let us see what they 
thought of each other ; and, in the extracts wiiich convey the 
information, we may also get a better idea of the character of 
each for candor, generosity, and trutlifulness. 

Dr. Holland quotes from one of Mr. Lincoln's unpublished 
manuscripts as follows : — 

" Twenty-two years ago, Judge Douglas and I fii-st be- 
came acquainted: we were both young then, — he a trifle 
younger than L Even then we were both ambitious, — I, per- 
haps, quite as much so as he. With me the race of ambition 
has been a failure, — a flat fadure ; with liira it has been one 


of splendid success. His name fills the nation, and is not 
unknown even in foreign lands. I affect no contempt for the 
high eminence he ha^ reached, — so reached that the oppressed 
of my species might liave shared with me in the elevation, I 
would rather stand on that eminence than wear the richest 
crown that ever pressed a monarch's brow." 

Again, in the pending campaign, Mr. Lincoln said, " There 
is still another disadvantage under which we labor, and to 
which I will invite your attention. It arises out of the rela- 
tive positions of the two persons who stand before the State 
as candidates for the Senate. Senator Douglas is of world- 
wide renown. All the anxious politicians of his pai-ty, or who 
had been of his party for years past, have been looking upon 
him as certainly, at no distant day, to be the President of the 
United States. They have seen, in his round, jolly, fruitful 
face, post-ofhces, land-offices, marshalsliips, and cabinet ap- 
pointments, chargtjships and foreign missions, bursting and 
sprouting out in wonderful exuberance, ready to be laid hold 
of by their greedy hands. And as they have been gazing 
upon this attractive picture so long, they cannot, in the lit- 
tle distraction that has taken place in the party, bring them- 
selves to give up the charming hope ; but, with greedier 
anxiety, they rush about him, sustain him, and give him 
marches, triumphal entries, and receptions, beyond what, even 
in the days of his highest prosperity, they could have brought 
about ■ in his favor. On the contrary, nobody has ever 
expected me to be President. In my poor, lean, lank face, 
nobody lias ever seen that any cabbages were sprouting out. 
These are disadvantages, all taken together, that the Repub- 
licans labor under. We have to fight this battle upon princi- 
ple, and principle alone." 

Now hear Mr-. Douglas. In their first joiut debate at Ot- 
tawa, he said, " In the remarks I liave made on this plat- 
form, and the position of Mr. Lincoln upon it, I mean noth- 
ing personally disrespectful or unkind to that gentleman. I 
have known him for nearly twenty-five years. There were 
many points of sympathy between us when we first got 


acquainted. We were both comparatively boys, and both 
struggling with poverty in a strange land. I was a school- 
teacher in the town of Winchester, and he a flom-ishing gro- 
cery-keeper in the town of Salem. He was more successful 
in his occupation than I was in mine, and hence more fortu- 
nate in this world's goods. Lincoln is one of those peculiar 
men wlio perform with admirable sldll every thing which they 
undertake. I made as good a school-teacher as I could ; and, 
when a cal)inet-maker, I made a good bedstead and tables, 
althoui^h my old boss said I succeeded better with bureaus 
and si'<-n'larii:s than with any thing else ; but I believe that 
Lincoln was always move successful in business than I, for his 
business enabled him to get into the Legislature. I met him 
thei'c, however, and had a sympathy with him, because of the 
up-hill struggle wc both had in life. Ho was tlien just as good 
at telling an anecdote as now. He could beat any of the 
bovs wrestling, or running a foot-race, in pitching quoits, or 
tossing a copper; could ruin more liquor than all of the boj^s 
of the town together ; and the dignity and impartiality with 
which he jiresided at a horse-race or fist-fight excited the 
admiration and won the praise of everybody that was present 
and part ieij 111 ted. I sympathized with him because he was 
struggling witli difficulties ; and so was L Mr. Lincoln served 
witli me in the Legislature in 1836, when we both retired, 
and he subsided, or became submerged ; and he was lost sight 
of a.*; a public man for some years. In 1846, when Wilmot 
introduced his cck'brated proviso, and the abolition tornado 
swept over the country, Lincoln again turned up as a mem- 
ber of Congress from tlie Sangamon district. I was then in 
the Senate of the United States, and was glad to welcome 
my old friend and companion. Whilst in Congress, he dis- 
tinguisliod himself by his opposition to the Mexican War, 
taking the side of the common enemj- against his own coun- 
try; and, when he I'eturned home, he I'ound that the indig- 
nation of the people followed him everywhere, and he was 
again submerged, or obliged to retire into private life, for- 
gotten by his former friends. He came up again in 18o4, just 


in time to make this abolition or Black Republican platform, 
in company with Giddings, Lovejoy, Chase, and Fred. Doug- 
las, for the Republican party to stand upon. Trumbull, too, 
•was one of our own contemporaries." 

Previous pages of this book present fully enough for our 
present purpose the issues upon which this canvass was made 
to turn. The principal speeches, the joint debates, with 
five separate and independent speeches by Mr. Lincoln, and 
three by Mr. Douglas, have been collected and published 
under Mr. Lincoln's supervision in a neat and accessible vol- 
ume. It is, therefore, unnecessar}-, and would be unjust, to 
reprint them here. They obtained at the time a more exten- 
sive circulation than such productions usually have, and 
exerted an influence which is very surprising to the calm 
reader of the present day. 

Mr. Douglas endeavored to prove, from Mr. Lincoln's 
Springfield speech, that he (Mr. Lincoln) was a self -declared 
Disunionist, in favor of reducing the institutions of all the 
States " to a dead uniformity," in favor of abolishing slav- 
ery everywhere, — an old-time abolitionist, a negropolist, an 
amalgamationist. This, with much vaunting of himself for 
his opposition to Lecompton, and a loud proclamation of 
" popular sovereignty," made the bulk of Mr. Douglas's 

Mr. Lincoln denied these accusations ; he had no " thought 
of bringing about civil war," nor yet uniformity of institu- 
tions : he would not interfere with slavery where it had a 
lawful existence, and was not in favor of negro equality or 
miscegenation. He did, however, believe that Congress had 
the right to exclude slavery from the Territories, and ought 
to exercise it. As to Mr. Douglas's doctrine of popular sov- 
ereignty, there could be no issue concerning it ; for every- 
body agreed that the people of a Territorj' might, when they 
formed a State constitution, adopt or exclude slavery as they 
pleased. But that a Territorial Legislature possessed exclu- 
sive power, or any power at all, over the subject, even Mr. 
Douglas could not assert, inasmuch as the Dred-Scott Deci.s- 


ion was plain and explicit the other way ; and I\Ir. Doug- 
las IxKisteil that decision as the rule of his political conduct, 
and sought to impose it upon all parties as a perfect defi- 
nition of the rights and duties of government, local and 

At Ottawa, Mr. Douglas piit to Mr. Lincoln a series of 
questions, which, upon their next meeting (at Freeport), Mr. 
Lincoln answered as follows : — 

I have supposed mysell", since the or<ranization of the Repubhcan party 
at I'looojin'.'ton, in May, 1S56, bound as a pjirty man by the platt'orms of the 
pariy, ihon and ^ince. If, in any iuterrogatories wliich I shall an.<wer, I go 
boyond the si'ojje of what is within theso platloi-nis, it will be perceived that 
no one is responsible but myself. 

Having said thus much, I will take up the judge's interrogatories as I 
find theiu printed in " ITie Chicago 'J'ime^," and answer them seriatim. In 
order tliat there may lie no niistidce .about it, 1 have copied the interrogatories 
in writing, iuid also my answers to them. The fii-st one of these interroga- 
tories is in these wnnls ; — 

Qu(:-:U<j» I . — "I desire to know whelher Lincoln to-day stands, as he did 
in ISJl, in favor of the unconditional repeal of the Fugitive- Slave Law." 

An^irci: — I do not now, nor ever did, .stand in favor of the unconditional 
repeal of the Fugitive-Slave Law. 

C'. 2. — -I desiie him to an.swer whether he stands pledged to-day, as he 
did in 1S.54, against the admission of any more Slave States into the Union, 
even if the i)iople want them." 

A. — "I do not now, nor ever did. stand pledged against the admission 
of any more Slave St.ates into the L^nion. 

Q. "J. — •' I want to know whether he stands pledged against the admis- 
sion of a new State into the Union with such a constitution as the people of 
that Slate may see lit to make." 

A. — I do not stand jjledged against the admission of a new State into the 
Unii.n, with such a constitution as the peoj)le of that State may see fit to 

Q. 4. — •' I want to know whether he st,ands to-dtiy pledged to the aboli- 
tion of slavery in lite District of Columbia." 

-t. — I do not stand to-day pledged to the abolition of slavery in the Dis- 

Q. 5. — "I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to the prohi- 
bition o( the slave-trade between the different States." 

A. — 1 do not stand pledged to the prohibition of the slave-trade between 
the ditlerent States. 


Q. 6. — "I desire to know whether he stands pledged to prohibit slavery 
in all the Territories of the United States, noith as well as south of the 
Missouri Compromise line." 

A. — I am impliedly, if not expressly, pledged to a belief in the right 
and duty of Congress to prohibit slavery in all the United States Territories. 
[Great appLiuse.] 

Q 7. — "I desire him to answer whether he is opposed to the acquisition 
of any new territory unless slavery is first prohibited therein." 

A. — I am not generally opposed to honest acquisition of territory ; and, 
in any given case, 1 would or would not oppose such acquisition, accordingly 
as I might think such acquisition would or would not agitate the slavery 
question among ourselves. 

Now, my friends, it will be perceived, upon an examination of these 
questions and answers, that so lar I have only answered that I was not 
pledged to this, that, or the other. The judge has not framed his interroga- 
tories to ask me any tiling more than this, and I have answered in strict 
accordance with the inten-ogatorics, and have answered truly that I am not 
pledged at all upon any of the points to which I have answered. But I am 
not disposed to hang upon tJie exact form of his interrogatory. I am rather 
disposed to take up at least some of these questions, and state what I really 
think upon them. 

As to the first one, in regard to the Fugitive-Slave Law, I have never 
hesitated to say, and I do not now hesitate to say, that I think, under the 
Constitution of the United States, the people of the Southern States are 
entitled to a congressional slave law. BL^ving said that, I have had nothing 
to say in regard to the existing Fugitive-Slave Law, further than that I think 
it should have been framed so as to be free from some of the objections that 
pertain to it, without lessening its efficiency. And inasmuch as w^e are not 
now in an agitation in regard to an alteration or modification of that law, I 
would not be the man to introduce it as a new subject of agitation upon the 
general question of slavery. 

In regard to the otlier question, of whether I am pledged to the admission 
of any more Slave States into the Union, I state to you very frankly, that I 
would be exceedingly sorry ever to be put in a position of having to pass 
upon that question. I should be exceedingly glad to know that there would 
never be another Slave State admitted into the Union ; but I miist fad, tliat, 
if slavery shall be kept out of the Territories during the Temtorial existence 
of any one given Territory, and then the people sliall, having a fair chance 
and a clear field, when they come to adopt the constitution, do such an 
extraordinary thing as to adopt a slave constitution, uninfluenced by the 
actual presence of the institution among them, I see no alternative, if we own 
the countr)', but to admit them into the Union. [Applause.] 

The third interrogatory is answered by the answer to the second, it being, 
as I conceive, the same as the second. 


The fourth one is in regard to the abolition of slavery in the District of 
Columbia. In relation U> that, I have my mind very distinctly made up. I 
should be Kxeeedingly glad to see slavery abolished in the District of Colum- 
bia. I believe that Congress possesses the eonstitutional power to alx)!ish 
it. Yet, as a member of Congress, 1 should not, with my present views, be 
in tiivor of endeavoring to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, unless 
it would be upon these conditions : FtrM, that the abolition should be grad- 
ual ; .So('i/i</, That it should be on a vote of the majority of cjualilied voters 
in the Di.-lri<t : and Third, That compensation should be made to unwilling 
owners. ^Vith these three conditions. I confess I would be exceeilingly ulad 
to see C"nj;ress abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, and, in the lan- 
guage ot Ueury Clay, "sweep from our capital that foul blot upon our 

In regard to Che fifth interrogatory, I must say lierc, that as to the ques- 
tion of the al.iolition of the slave-traiic between the diflercnt States, I can 
truly answer, as 1 have, that I am plcdi/.id to nothing about it. It is a sub- 
ject to which I have not given that mature consideration tliat would make 
me tccl authorized to state a position so as to liolil myself entirely bound by 
it. In other words, that question has never in en prominently enough before 
me to induce me to investigate whether wc really Ixave the constitutional 
power to dii It. I could investigate it if I hud siilHcient time to bring myself 
to a conclusion ujion that subject ; hut I have not done so, and I say so 
frankly to you here and to Judge Douslas. I must say, however, that, if I 
should be of opinion that Congress does possess tlie constitutional power to 
abolish sl;^yc-trading among the different SMtcs, I should still not be in favor 
of the exercise of power unless upon some conservative principle as I 
conceive it, akin to what I have said in relation to the abolition of slavery 
in the liistrict of Columbia. 

My answer as to whether I desire that slavery should be prohibited in all 
Territoritrs of the United States is full and explicit within itself, and can- 
not be made clearer liy any coninienis of mine. So 1 suppose, in regard to 
the question whether 1 am opposed to the acquisition of any more territory 
unless slavery is first prohibited therein, my answer is such that I could add 
nothing by way of illustration, or making myself better understood, than 
the answer which I have placed in writing. 

Now, in all this the Judge has me, and he has mc on the record. I sup- 
pose lie had flattered himself that I was really entertaining one set of opin- 
ions tor oni' place, and another set for another place, — that I was afraid to 
say at one place what I uttered at another. What I am saying here I sup- 
pose I say to a vast audience as strongly tending to abolitionism as any 
audience in the State of Illinois ; and I believe I am saying that which, if 
it would be ofTensive to any persona, ami render them enemies to myself, 
would be offensive to persons in this audience. 


Mr. Douglas had presented Iiis interrogatories on the 21st 
of August, and Mr. Lincoln did not answer tlieni until the 
27th. They had no meetings between those days ; and Mr. 
Lincoln had ample time to ponder his replies, and consult his 
friends. But he did more : he improved the opportunity to 
prepare a series of insidious questions, which he felt sure Mr. 
Douglas coidd not possibly answer without utterly ruining his 
political prospects. Mr. Lincoln struggled for a great prize, 
unsuspected by the common mind, but the thought of which 
was ever present to his own. Mr. Douglas was a standing 
candidate for the Presidency ; but as yet Mr. Lincoln was a 
very quiet one, nursing hopes which his modesty prevented him 
from obtruding upon othere. He was wise enough to keep the 
fact of their existence to himself, and in the mean time to dig 
pitfalls and lay obstructions in the way of his most formidable 
competitors. His present purpose was not only to defeat Mr. 
Douglas for the Senate, but to " kill him," — to get him out 
of the way finally and forever, li he could make him evade 
the Dred-Scott Decision, and deny the right of a Southern 
man to take his negroes into a Territory, and keep them there 
while it was a Territory, he would thereby sever him from 
the body of the Democratic party, and leave him the leader of 
merely a little half-lieartcd autislavery faction. Under such 
circumstances, Mr. Douglas could never be the candidate of 
the party at large ; but he might serve a very useful purpose 
by running on a separate ticket, and dividing the great major- 
ity of conservative votes, which would inevitably elect a single 

Mr. Lincoln went to Chicago, and there intimated to some 
of his fiiends what he proposed to do. They attempted to 
dissuade him, because, as they insisted, if Mr. Douglas should 
answer that the Dred-Scott Decision might be evaded by the 
people of a Territory, and slavery prohibited in the face of it, 
the answer would draw to him the sympathies of the anti- 
slavery voters, and probably, of itself, defeat Mr. Lincoln. 
But, so long as Mr. Douglas held to the decision in good faith, 
he had no hope of more aid from that quarter than he had 


akeady received. It was therefore the part of wisdom to let 
him alone as to that point. I\Ir. Lincoln, on the contrary, 
looked forward to 1860, and was determined that the South 
should understand the antagonism between Mr. Douglas's 
latest conception of " squatter sovereignty," on the one hand, 
and the Dred-Scott Decision, the Nebraska Bill, and all pre- 
vious platforms of the party, on the other. Mr. Douglas 
taught strange doctrines and false ones ; and Mr. Lincoln 
tliought tlie faithful, far and near, should know it. If Mr. 
Douglas was a schismatic, there ought to be a schism, of 
which the Republicans would reap the benefit ; and therefore 
he insisted upon his questions. " That is no business of 
yours," .said his friends. " Attend exclusively to your sena- 
torial race, and let the slaveholder and Douglas fight out that 
question among themselves and for themselves. If jou put 
the question to him, he will answer that the Dred-Scott Decis- 
ion is simply an abstract rule, having no practical applica- 
tion." — "If he answers that way. he's a dead cock in the pit," 
responded Mr. Lincoln. '■ But that," said they, " is none of 
your business: you are concerned only about the senator- 
ship." — " No," continued Mr. Lincoln. " not alone exadl;/ : I 
am killing larger game. The great balMe of 1860 is worth 
a thousand uf this senatorial race." 

He did accordingly propound the interrogatories as fol- 
lows : — 

1. If tile people of Kansas shall, by means entirely unob- 
jectionable in all other respects, adopt a State constitution, 
and ask admission inti) the Union under it, before they have the 
requisite number of inhabitants according to the English Hill, 
— some ninet^'-tiiree thousand, — will you vote to admit 
them ? 

2. Can the people of a United States Temtory, in any 
lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of the United 
States, exclude slavery from its limits ? 

8. If the Supreme Court of the United States shall decide 
that States cannot exclude slavery from their limits, are you 
in favor of acquiescing in, .adopting, and following such decis- 
ion as a rule of political u.ctiou ? 


4. Are you in favor of acquiring additional territory, in 
disregard of how such acquisition may affect the nation on 
the slavery question ? 

The first and fourth questions Mr. Douglas answered sub- 
stantially in the affirmative. To the third he replied, that no 
judge would ever be guilty of the " moral treason " of making 
such a decision. But to the second — the main question, to 
which all -the others were riders and make- weights — he 
answered as he was expected to answer. '' It matters not," 
.said he, " what way the Supreme Court may hereafter decide 
as to the abstract question whether slavery may or may not 
go into a Territory under the Constitution : the people have 
the lawful means to introduce it or exclude it, as they please, 
for the reason that slavery cannot exist a day or an hour 
apywhere, unless it is supported by local police regulations. 
Those police regulations can only be established by the local 
Legislature ; and, if the people are opposed to slavery, they 
will elect representatives to that body who will, by unfriend- 
ly legislation, effectually prevent the introduction of it into 
their midst." 

The reply was more than enough for Mr. Lincoln's pur- 
pose. It cut Mr. Douglas off from his party, and put him in 
a state of perfect antagonism to it. He firmly denied the 
power of Congress to restrict slavery ; and he admitted, that, 
under the Dred-Scott Decision, all Territories were open to 
its entrance. But he held, that, the moment the slaveholder 
passed the boundary of a Territory, he was at the mercy 
of the squatters, a dozen or two of whom might get to- 
gether in a legislature, and rob him of the property which 
the Constitutiou, the Supreme Court, and Mr. Douglas him- 
self said he had an indefeasible right to take there. Mr. Lin- 
coln knew that the Southern people would feel infinitely safer 
in the hands of Congress than in the hands of the squatters. 
If they regarded the Republican mode of excluding slavery 
as a barefaced usui-pation, they would consider Mr. Douglas's 
system of confiscation by " unfiiendly legislation " mere plain 
stealing. The Republicans said to them, " We will regulate 


the whole subject by general laws, which 3-011 participate with 
us in passing;" but Mr. Douglas oft'ored them, as sovereign 
judges and legislators, the territorial settlers themselves, — 
squatters they might be, — whom the aid societies rushed into 
the new Territories for the very purpose of keeping slavery 
away. The new doctrine was admirably calculated to alarm 
and incense the South ; and, following so closely Mr. Doug- 
las's conduct in the Lecoui])t0!i affair, it was very natural 
that he should now be universally regarded by his late 
followers as a dangerous heretic and a faithless turncoat. 
The result justified Mr. Lincoln's anticipations. Mr. Douglas 
did not fully develop his new theory, nor personally promul- 
gate it as the fixed tenet of his faction, until the next year, 
when he embodied it in the famous arliclo contributed by 
him to " Harper's Magazine." But it did its work effectu- 
ally ; and, when parties began to marshal for the great strug- 
gle of 18(30, Mr. Douglas was found to bt', not precisely what 
he had promised, — a Republican, " fighting their battles," — 
but an independent candidate, upon an independent platform, 
dividing the opposition. 

Mr. i^incoln pointed out on the spot the wide diiference 
between I\lr. Douglas's present views and those he hud pre- 
viously maintained with such dogged and dogmatic persist- 
ence. '• The new state of the case " had induced " the Judge 
to sheer away from his original ground." The new theory 
was false in law, and could have no practical application. 
±'he history of the (;ountry showed it to be a naked humbug, 
a demagogue's imposture. Slavery was established in all 
this country, without " local police regulations " to jiroteet 
it. Dred Scott himself was held in a Territory, not only 
without " local police regulations " to favor his bondage, but 
in defiance of a general law which proliibiled it. A man 
who believed that the Dred-Scott Decision was the true inter- 
pretation of the Constitution could not refuse to negro slav- 
ery whatever protection it needed in the Territories with- 
out incurring the guilt of perjury. To say that slave property 
might be constitutionally confiscated, destroyed, or driven 


away from a place where it was constitutionally protected, 
was such an absurdity as Mr. Douglas alone in this evil 
strait was equal to ; the proposition meaning, as he said on a 
subsequent occasion, "no less than that a thing may law- 
fully be driven away from a place where it has a lawful right 
to be." 

" Of that answer at Freeport," as Mr. Hemdon has it, 
Douglas " instantly died. The red-gleaming Southern toma- 
hawk flashed high and keen. Douglas was removed out 
of Lincoln's way. The wind was taken out of Seward's sails 
(by the House-divided Speech), and Lincoln stood out 

The State election took place on the 2d of November, 1858. 
Mr. Lincoln had more than four thousand majority of the 
votes cast; but this was not enough to give him a majority 
in the Legislature. An old and inequitable apportionment 
law was still in operation ; and a majority of the members 
chosen under it were, as it was intended by the law-makers 
they should be. Democrats. In the Senate were fourteen 
Democrats to eleven Republicans ; and in the House, forty 
Democrats to thirty-five Republicans. Mr. Douglas was, of 
course, re-elected, and Mr. Lincoln bitterly disappointed. 
Some one asked Mr. Lincoln how he felt when the returns 
came in. He replied, '• that he felt like the hoy that stumped 
his toe, — ' it hurt too bad to laugh, and he was too big to 
ciy ! ' " 

In this canvass Mr. Lincoln earned a reputation as a popu- 
lar debater second to that of no man in America, — certainly 
not second to that of his famous antagonist. He kept his 
temper ; he was not prone to personalities ; he indulged in 
few anecdotes, and those of a decent character ; he was fair, 
frank, and manly ; and, if the contest had shown nothing else, 
it would have shown, at least, that " Old Abe " could behave 
like a well-bred gentleman under very trying circumstances. 
His marked success in these discussions was probably no 
surprise to the people of the Springiield District, who knew 
him as well as, or better than, they did Mr. Douglas; But 


in the greater part of the State, and throughout the Union 
the scries of brilliant victories suceessivel}- won by an obscure 
man over an orator of such wide experience and renown was 
received with exckmations of astonishment, alike by listeners 
and readei"s. It is true that many believed, or pretended to 
believe, that he was privately tutored and " crammed " by 
politicians of greater note than himself; and, when the 
speeches were at last collected and printed together, it was 
alleged that Mr. Lincoln's had been re-written or extensively 
rexised by Mr. Judd, Judge Logan, Judge Davis, or some 
one else of great and conceded abilities. 


IN the winter of 1858-9, Mr. Lincoln, having no political 
business on hand, appeared before the public in the char- 
acter of lecturer, having prepared himself with much care. 
His lecture was, or might have been, styled, " All Creation is a 
mine, and every man a miner." He began with Adam and Eve, 
and the invention of the " fig-leaf apron," of which he gave a 
humorous description, and which he said was a " joint oper- 
ation." The invention of letters, writing, printing, of the 
application of steam, of electricity, he classed under the com- 
prehensive head of " inventions and discoveries," along with 
the discovery of America, the enactment of patent-laws, and 
the "invention of negroes, or the present mode of using 
them." Part of the lecture was humorous ; a very small, 
part of it actually witty ; and the rest of it so commonplace 
that it was a genuine mortification to his friends. He deliv- 
ered it at two or three points, and then declined all further 
invitations. To one of these he replied, in March, as fol- 
lows : " Your note, inviting me to deliver a lecture in Gales- 
burgh, is received. I regret to say I cannot do so now ; I 
must stick to the courts a while. I read a sort of a lecture 
to three different audiences during the last month and this ; 
but I did so under circumstances which made it a waste of 
no time whatever." 

From the Douglas discussion many of the leaders of the 
Republican party believed, and the reader will agree had some 
foundation for the belief, that Mr. Lincoln was one of the 
greatest and best men in the party. It was natural, therefore, 


that many e.yes should be turned towards him for the coming 
Presidential nomination. He had all the requisites of an 
available candidate : be had not been suiEcieutly prominent in 
national polities to excite the jealousies of powerful rivals ; 
he was true, manly, able ; he was pre-eminently a man of the 
people ; be bad sprung from a low family in the lowest class of 
society : he had l>een a rail-splitter, a flat-boatman, a grocery- 
keeper, — every thing that could commend him to the "popu- 
lar heart." His manners, his dress, bis stories, and his popular 
name and style uf - Honest Old Abe," pointed to him as a man 
beside whose " running qualities " those of Taybu- and Harrison 
•were of slight comparison. That he knew all this, and thought 
of it a groat deal, no one can doubt; and in the late cam- 
paign be bad most adroitly opened the way for the realization 
of bis hopes. P.ut be knew very well tliat a becoming mod- 
esty in a •• new man "' was about as needful as any thing else. 
Accordingly, when a Mr. Pickett wrote him on the subject 
in March, IS,")!), he repbed as follows: '-Yours of the 2d 
instant, inviting me to deliver my lecture on ' Inventions ' in 
Rock Island, is at hand, and I regret to be uual)le from press 
of business to emnply therewith. In regard to the oilier 
matter you speak of, I beg that you will not give it a 
further mention. I do not think I am lit for the Presi- 

But in April the project began to be agitated in his own 
town. On the 2Ttb of that montli. he was in the office of 
"The C'eiural Illinois (Tiizette,"' when the editor suggested his 
name. Mr. Lincoln. '• with characteristic modesty, declined." 
But the oduor estimated bis " No " at its proper value ; and 
he '• was biought out in the next issue, May 4." Thence 
the movement spiead rapidly and strongly. Many Republi- 
cans weieomed it, and, appreciating the pre-eminent fitness of 
the nomination, saw in it the assurance of certain victory. 

The West was rapidly filling with Germans and other in- 
habitants of foieign birth. Dr. Canisius, a German, foresee- 
ing Mr. Lincoln's strength in tlie near future, wrote to inquire 
what be ibought about the restrictions upon naturalization 


recently adopted in Massachusetts, and whether he favored 
the fusion of all the opposition elements in the next canvass. 
He replied, that, as to the restrictions, he was wholly and 
unalterably opposed to them ; and as to fusion, he was ready 
for it upon " Republican grounds," but upon no other. He 
would not lower " the Republican standard even by a hair's 
breadth." The letter undoubtedly had a good effect, and 
brought him valuable support from the foreign population. 

To a gentleman who desired his views about the tariff ques- 
tion, he replied cautiously and discreetly as follows : — 

Clinton, Oct, 11, 1859. 
Dr. Edward Wallace. 

My dear Sir, — 1 am here just now attending court. Ycstcrflay, before 
I left Springfield, your brother, Dr. William S. Wallace, showed me a letter 
of yours, in which you kindly mention my name, inquire for my tariff- 
views, and sag<!;est the propriety of my ^vriting a letter upon the subject. 
I was an old Henry-Clay Tariff Whig, In old times 1 made more speeches 
on that subject t