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Title: Abraham Lincoln, Volume 1 (of 2) - The True Story Of A Great Life
Author: Herndon, William H., Weik, Jesse W.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Abraham Lincoln, Volume 1 (of 2) - The True Story Of A Great Life" ***



By William H. Herndon And Jesse W. Weik

With An Introduction By Horace White

In Two Volumes, Vol. I





[Illustration: frontispiece]

From a photograph by Alexander Hesler, Chicago, 1868


A quarter of a century has well-nigh rolled by since the tragic death of
Abraham Lincoln. The prejudice and bitterness with which he was assailed
have disappeared from the minds of men, and the world is now beginning
to view him as a great historical character. Those who knew and walked
with him are gradually passing away, and ere long the last man who ever
heard his voice or grasped his hand will have gone from earth. With
a view to throwing a light on some attributes of Lincoln's character
heretofore obscure, and thus contributing to the great fund of history
which goes down to posterity, these volumes are given to the world.

If Mr. Lincoln is destined to fill that exalted station in history or
attain that high rank in the estimation of the coming generations which
has been predicted of him, it is alike just to his memory and the proper
legacy of mankind that the whole truth concerning him should be known.
If the story of his life is truthfully and courageously told-nothing
colored or suppressed; nothing false either written or suggested-the
reader will see and feel the presence of the living man. He will, in
fact, live with him and be moved to think and act with him. If, on the
other hand, the story is colored or the facts in any degree suppressed,
the reader will be not only misled, but imposed upon as well. At last
the truth will come, and no man need hope to evade it.

"There is but one true history in the world," said one of Lincoln's
closest friends to whom I confided the project of writing a history of
his life several years ago, "and that is the Bible. It is often said
of the old characters portrayed there that they were bad men. They are
contrasted with other characters in history, and much to the detriment
of the old worthies. The reason is, that the Biblical historian told
the whole truth-the inner life. The heart and secret acts are brought
to light and faithfully photographed. In other histories virtues are
perpetuated and vices concealed. If the life of King David had been
written by an ordinary historian the affair of Uriah would at most have
been a quashed indictment with a denial of all the substantial facts.
You should not forget there is a skeleton in every house. The finest
character dug out thoroughly, photographed honestly, and judged by that
standard of morality or excellence which we exact for other men is never
perfect. Some men are cold, some lewd, some dishonest, some cruel, and
many a combination of all. The trail of the serpent is over them all!
Excellence consists, not in the absence of these attributes, but in the
degree in which they are redeemed by the virtues and graces of life.
Lincoln's character will, I am certain, bear close scrutiny. I am not
afraid of you in this direction. Don't let anything deter you from
digging to the bottom; yet don't forget that if Lincoln had some faults,
Washington had more--few men have less. In drawing the portrait tell the
world what the skeleton was with Lincoln. What gave him that peculiar
melancholy? What cancer had he inside?"

Some persons will doubtless object to the narration of certain facts
which appear here for the first time, and which they contend should have
been consigned to the tomb. Their pretense is that no good can come from
such ghastly exposures. To such over-sensitive souls, if any such exist,
my answer is that these facts are indispensable to a full knowledge of
Mr. Lincoln in all the walks of life. In order properly to comprehend
him and the stirring, bloody times in which he lived, and in which he
played such an important part, we must have all the facts--we must be
prepared to take him as he was.

In determining Lincoln's title to greatness we must not only keep in
mind the times in which he lived, but we must, to a certain extent,
measure him with other men. Many of our great men and our statesmen, it
is true, have been self-made, rising gradually through struggles to the
topmost round of the ladder; but Lincoln rose from a lower depth than
any of them. His origin was in that unknown and sunless bog in which
history never made a foot-print. I should be remiss in my duty if I did
not throw the light on this part of the picture, so that the world
may realize what marvellous contrast one phase of his life presents to

The purpose of these volumes is to narrate facts, avoiding as much as
possible any expression of opinion, and leaving the reader to form his
own conclusions. Use has been made of the views and recollections of
other persons, but only those known to be truthful and trustworthy. A
thread of the narrative of Lincoln's life runs through the work, but
an especial feature is an analysis of the man and a portrayal of his
attributes and characteristics. The attempt to delineate his qualities,
his nature and its manifestations, may occasion frequent repetitions of
fact, but if truthfully done this can only augment the store of matter
from which posterity is to learn what manner of man he was.

The object of this work is to deal with Mr. Lincoln individually and
domestically; as lawyer, as citizen, as statesman. Especial attention is
given to the history of his youth and early manhood; and while dwelling
on this portion of his life the liberty is taken to insert many
things which would be omitted or suppressed in other places, where the
cast-iron rules that govern magazine-writing are allowed to prevail.
Thus much is stated in advance, so that no one need be disappointed in
the scope and extent of the work. The endeavor is to keep Lincoln
in sight all the time; to cling close to his side all the way
through--leaving to others the more comprehensive task of writing a
history of his times. I have no theory of his life to establish or
destroy. Mr. Lincoln was my warm, devoted friend.

I always loved him, and I revere his name to this day. My purpose to
tell the truth about him need occasion no apprehension; for I know that
"God's naked truth," as Carlyle puts it, can never injure the fame
of Abraham Lincoln. It will stand that or any other test, and at last
untarnished will reach the loftiest niche in American history.

My long personal association with Mr. Lincoln gave me special facilities
in the direction of obtaining materials for these volumes. Such were
our relations during all that portion of his life when he was rising to
distinction, that I had only to exercise a moderate vigilance in order
to gather and preserve the real data of his personal career. Being
strongly drawn to the man, and believing in his destiny, I was not
unobservant or careless in this respect. It thus happened that I
became the personal depositary of the larger part of the most valuable
_Lincolniana_ in existence. Out of this store the major portion of the
materials of the following volumes has been drawn. I take this, my
first general opportunity, to return thanks to the scores of friends in
Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and elsewhere for the information they have
so generously furnished and the favors they have so kindly extended me.
Their names are too numerous for separate mention, but the recompense of
each one will be the consciousness of having contributed a share towards
a true history of the "first American."

Over twenty years ago I began this book; but an active life at the bar
has caused me to postpone the work of composition, until, now, being
somewhat advanced in years, I find myself unable to carry out the
undertaking. Within the past three years I have been assisted in the
preparation of the book by Mr. Jesse W. Weik, of Greencastle, Ind.,
whose industry, patience, and literary zeal have not only lessened my
labors, but have secured for him the approbation of Lincoln's friends
and admirers. Mr. Weik has by his personal investigation greatly
enlarged our common treasure of facts and information. He has for
several years been indefatigable in exploring the course of Lincoln's
life. In no particular has he been satisfied with anything taken at
second hand. He has visited--as I also did in 1865--Lincoln's birthplace
in Kentucky, his early homes in Indiana and Illinois, and together, so
to speak, he and I have followed our hero continuously and attentively
till he left Springfield in 1861 to be inaugurated President. We have
retained the original MSS. in all cases, and they have never been out of
our hands. In relating facts therefore, we refer to them in most cases,
rather than to the statements of other biographers.

This brief preliminary statement is made so that posterity, in so far
as posterity may be interested in the subject, may know that the
vital matter of this narrative has been deduced directly from the
consciousness, reminiscences, and collected data of

William H. Herndon.

Springfield, Ill.,

November 1, 1888.


I was called upon during the lifetime of Mr. Herndon to write for the
second edition of this work a chapter on the Lincoln-Douglas campaign
of 1858. After this had been done and the book had been revised for the
press, I was requested by the publishers to add something in the nature
of a character sketch of Mr. Lincoln as I knew him before his fame had
spread much beyond the confines of Illinois, and to tell what were those
qualities that made him so attractive then. Of course, they were the
same qualities which made him attractive afterward on a wider scale. The
popular judgment of him is, in the main, correct and unshakable. I say
in the main, because there is in this judgment a tendency to apotheosis
which, while pardonable, is not historical, and will not last.

At the time when he was preparing himself unconsciously to be the
nation's leader in a great crisis the only means of gaining public
attention was by public speech. The press did not exist for him, or for
the people among whom he lived. The ambitious young men of the day
must make their mark by oratory, or not at all. There was no division
of labor between the speaker and the editor. If a man was to gain any
popularity he must gain it by talking into the faces of the people. He
must have a ready tongue, and must be prepared to meet all comers and
to accept all challenges. Stump-speaking, wrestling, story-telling, and
horse-racing were the only amusements of the people. In the first three
of these Mr. Lincoln excelled. He grew up in this atmosphere, as did all
his rivals. It was a school to develop all the debating powers that the
community possessed, and to bring them to a high degree of perfection.
Polish was not necessary to success, but plainness of diction was. The
successful speaker was he who could make himself best understood by the
common people, and in turn could best understand them.

Among the earliest accounts that we get of Mr. Lincoln we find him
talking to other boys from some kind of a platform. He had a natural
gift, and he exercised it as opportunity came to him. When he arrived
at man's estate these opportunities came as often as could be desired.
Other young men gifted in the same way were growing up around him.
Douglas, Baker, Trumbull, Hardin, Browning, Yates, Archibald Williams,
Josiah Lamborn, and Lisle Smith were among them. All these had the same
kind of training for public preferment that Lincoln had; some of them
had more book learning, but not much more. We have his own word for it
that he was as ambitious of such preferment as Douglas was; and this was
putting it in the superlative degree.

The popular conception of Mr. Lincoln as one not seeking public honors,
but not avoiding public duties, is a _post bellum_ growth, very wide
of the mark. He was entirely human in this regard, but his desire for
political preferment was hedged about by a sense of obligation to the
truth which nothing could shake. This fidelity to truth was ingrained
and unchangeable. In all the speeches I ever heard him make--and they
were many--he never even insinuated an untruth, nor did he ever fail
when stating his opponent's positions to state them fully and fairly.
He often stated his opponent's position better than his opponent did or
could. To say what was false, or even to leave his hearers under a wrong
impression, was impossible to him. Within this high inclosure he was as
ambitious of earthly honors as any man of his time. Furthermore, he
was an adept at log-rolling or any political game that did not involve
falsity. I was Secretary of the Republican State Committee of Illinois
during some years when he was in active campaign work. He was often
present at meetings of the committee, although not a member, and took
part in the committee work. His judgment was very much deferred to in
such matters. He was one of the shrewdest politicians of the State.
Nobody had had more experience in that way, nobody knew better than he
what was passing in the minds of the people. Nobody knew better how to
turn things to advantage politically, and nobody was readier to take
such advantage, provided it did not involve dishonorable means. He could
not cheat people out of their votes any more than out of their money.
The Abraham Lincoln that some people have pictured to themselves,
sitting in his dingy law office, working over his cases till the voice
of duty roused him, never existed. If this had been his type he never
would have been called at all. It was precisely because he was up and
stirring, and in hot, incessant competition with his fellows for earthly
honors, that the public eye became fixed upon him and the public ear
attuned to his words. Fortunate was it for all of us that he was no
shrinking patriot, that he was moved as other men are moved, so that his
fellows might take heed of him and know him as one of themselves, and as
fit to be their leader in a crisis.

Let me repeat and emphasize what I have here said. Mr. Lincoln never
gave his assent, so far as my knowledge goes, to any plan or project for
getting votes that would not have borne the full light of day. At the
same time, he had no objection to the getting of votes by the pledge of
offices, nor was he too particular what kind of men got the offices.
His preference was always for good men; but he could not resist pressure
where persons were concerned, even though his conscience told him that
he was doing wrong.

We have seen what kind of debating school Mr. Lincoln grew up in. It was
the best possible school for him, and it was an advantage to him that he
had able men for his competitors. Among them was Stephen A. Douglas,
the most versatile, indomitable, and unscrupulous of all of them. He was
Lincoln's rival, as is shown in these pages, for almost everything, from
the hand of Mary Todd to the presidency of the United States. He had
the strength and presence of a lion, with all the cunning of a fox. He
possessed every quality which wins popular favor and high station except
veracity, and I know of nothing in the pages of history more cheering
to pious souls than the eventual triumph of Honest Abe over the Little

It was by restless competition and rough-and-tumble with Douglas and
others that Mr. Lincoln acquired that rare power of expression, by mouth
and pen, which drew to himself the attention of the State and afterward
of the nation and the world. He rarely used ornament in his speeches.
Although gifted with the power of humor to an extraordinary degree, he
seldom employed it in his later years except in private circles. Thus it
came about that this growing master of logic, this profound and earnest
debater of the most serious questions of the day, was the most popular
of tavern loungers, and could draw more people together and hold them
longer by mere drollery and _cameraderie_ than any other man I ever
knew. Mr. Lincoln's nature was one of almost child-like sweetness. He
did not "put you at your ease" when you came into his presence. You felt
at your ease without being put there. He never assumed superiority over
anybody in the ordinary intercourse of life.

A good test of this trait in his character was furnished in my own
experience. When I was first thrown into his society I was just out of
college, and was as callow and as self-confident as boys usually are at
that time of life. Mr. Lincoln was at the maturity of his powers. I was
often with him when he had no other companion. In our intercourse he
always paid marked deference to my opinions, and if we differed he would
argue the point with me as earnestly as though I had been the opposing
counsel in a lawsuit. And this he would do with anybody, young or old,
ignorant or learned. I never heard him express contempt for any man's
honest errors, although he would sometimes make a droll remark or tell
a funny story about them. Deference to other people's opinions was
habitual to him. There was no calculation, no politics in it. It was
part and parcel of his sense of equal rights. His democracy was of the
unconscious kind--he did not know anything different from it. Coupled
with this was a habit of unselfishness and kindly temper most engaging
to all who knew him or had any dealings with him. At the same time he
knew when he was imposed upon, and it was unsafe for anybody to presume
upon his good nature or to take him for a flat.

But more than intellectual gifts, more than good-fellowship, did the
sense of justice give him his hold on others. That was a magnetic field
whose influences could not be escaped. He carried it as unconsciously
as he carried his hair. The Athenians would never have ostracized
him--indeed, they would never have called him the Just. They would have
taken him as they took the bees on Hymettus--as one naturally searching
after sweet things.

To say that Mr. Lincoln was a man who had the courage of his convictions
would be rather an under-statement. This was part and parcel of his
sense of justice. He wore it as he wore his clothes, except that it
fitted him much better than his garments usually did. At the time I
first knew him it was irksome to very many of his friends to be told
that there ought to be an efficient fugitive slave law. But it was his
conviction as a lawyer that there ought to be one, and he never failed
to say so when interrogated, or when occasion required that that subject
should be touched upon. And it is a fact that abolitionists like Lovejoy
and Codding would take this from Lincoln without murmuring, when they
would not take it from anybody else. He never would echo the popular
cry, "No more slave States!" Whenever this subject was discussed he
would say that if a Territory having the requisite population and
belonging to us should apply for admission to the Union without fraud or
constraint, yet with slavery, he could not see any other disposition to
be made of her than to admit her. And when he had said this, even to an
audience of radical antislavery men, there would be no protestations.
Those who were not convinced would observe a respectful silence.

Mr. Lincoln's facial expression when in repose and when animated
presented most remarkable contrasts. I have before me a photograph of
him taken at Pittsfield, Illinois, during the campaign of 1858. It looks
as I have seen him a hundred times, his lantern jaws and large mouth
and solid nose firmly set, his sunken eyes looking at nothing yet not
unexpressive, his wrinkled and retreating forehead cut off by a mass
of tousled hair, with a shade of melancholy drawn like a veil over
his whole face. Nothing more unlike this can be imagined than the same
Lincoln when taking part in a conversation, or addressing an audience,
or telling a story. The dull, listless features dropped like a mask. The
melancholy shadow disappeared in a twinkling. The eye began to sparkle,
the mouth to smile, the whole countenance was wreathed with animation,
so that a stranger would have said: "Why, this man, so angular and
somber a moment ago, is really handsome."

What more can be said of the qualities that first made Mr. Lincoln
attractive to his contemporaries? These were debating power, honesty of
purpose, a child-like temper, purity of life, and courage of conviction.
All these traits will be seen in the following pages, rising, unfolding,
expanding in a regular, orderly, human way as the young Lincoln grew to
mature years.

What Mr. Lincoln was after he became President can be best understood
by knowing what he was before. The world owes more to William H. Herndon
for this particular knowledge than to all other persons taken together.
It is no exaggeration to say that his death, which took place at his
farm near Springfield, Illinois, March 18, 1891, removed from earth the
person who, of all others, had most thoroughly searched the sources of
Mr. Lincoln's biography and had most attentively, intelligently, and
also lovingly studied his character. He was generous in imparting his
information to others. Almost every life of Lincoln published since the
tragedy at Ford's Theatre has been enriched by his labors. He was nine
years the junior of Mr. Lincoln. Their partnership began in 1843, and
it continued until it was dissolved by the death of the senior member.
Between them there was never an unkind word or thought. When Mr. Lincoln
became President, Mr. Herndon could have had his fortunes materially
advanced under the new Administration by saying a word. He was a poor
man then and always, but he chose to remain in his more humble station
and to earn his bread by his daily labor.

Some six years ago Mr. Herndon conceived the project of writing a series
of magazine articles intended to portray the youth and early manhood of
Lincoln. Being somewhat infirm, he called Mr. Weik to his assistance,
as he has explained in his preface. The magazine articles expanded
insensibly to the present volumes. Lincolniana is increasing and is
destined to increase. It has been enriched within recent years by the
indispensable but too massive work of Nicolay and Hay, by the masterly
essay of Schurz, and by the posthumous lecture of Greeley, which latter,
being in reality if not in terms a hearty, ungrudging confession that
he had underestimated Lincoln in his lifetime, is doubly welcome. As a
portraiture of the man Lincoln--and this is what we look for above all
things in a biography--I venture to think that Mr. Herndon's work will
never be surpassed.

Horace White.

New York, February, 1892.

[Illustration: Herndon 039]



BEYOND the fact that he was born on the 12th day of February, 1809, in
Hardin county, Kentucky, Mr. Lincoln usually had but little to say of
himself, the lives of his parents, or the history of the family before
their removal to Indiana. If he mentioned the subject at all, it was
with great reluctance and significant reserve. There was something
about his origin he never cared to dwell upon. His nomination for
the Presidency in 1860, however, made the publication of his life a
necessity, and attracted to Springfield an army of campaign biographers
and newspaper men. They met him in his office, stopped him in his walks,
and followed him to his house. Artists came to paint his picture, and
sculptors to make his bust. His autographs were in demand, and people
came long distances to shake him by the hand. This sudden elevation to
national prominence found Mr. Lincoln unprepared in a great measure for
the unaccustomed demonstrations that awaited him. While he was easy of
approach and equally courteous to all, yet, as he said to me one evening
after a long day of hand-shaking, he could not understand why people
should make so much over him.

Among the earliest newspaper men to arrive in Springfield after the
Chicago convention was the late J. L. Scripps of the Chicago _Tribune_,
who proposed to prepare a history of his life. Mr. Lincoln deprecated
the idea of writing even a campaign biography. "Why, Scripps," said he,
"it is a great piece of folly to attempt to make anything out of me or
my early life. It can all be condensed into a single sentence, and that
sentence you will find in Gray's Elegy,

     'The short and simple annals of the poor.'

That's my life, and that's all you or anyone else can make out of it."

He did, however, communicate some facts and meagre incidents of his
early days, and, with the matter thus obtained, Mr. Scripps prepared his
book. Soon after the death of Lincoln I received a letter from Scripps,
in which, among other things, he recalled the meeting with Lincoln, and
the view he took of the biography matter.

"Lincoln seemed to be painfully impressed," he wrote, "with the extreme
poverty of his early surroundings, and the utter absence of all romantic
and heroic elements. He communicated some facts to me concerning his
ancestry, which he did not wish to have published then, and which I have
never spoken of or alluded to before."

What the facts referred to by Mr. Scripps were we do not know; for he
died several years ago without, so far as is known revealing them to

On the subject of his ancestry and origin I only remember one time when
Mr. Lincoln ever referred to it. It was about 1850, when he and I were
driving in his one-horse buggy to the court in Menard county, Illinois.
The suit we were going to try was one in which we were likely, either
directly or collaterally, to touch upon the subject of hereditary
traits. During the ride he spoke, for the first time in my hearing,
of his mother, dwelling on her characteristics, and mentioning or
enumerating what qualities he inherited from her. He said, among other
things, that she was the daughter of Lucy Hanks and a well-bred but
obscure Virginia farmer or planter; and he argued that from this last
source came his power of analysis, his logic, his mental activity, his
ambition, and all the qualities that distinguished him from the other
members and descendants of the Hanks family.

In only two instances did Mr. Lincoln over his own hand leave any record
of his history or family descent. One of these was the modest bit of
autobiography furnished to Jesse W. Fell, in 1859, in which, after
stating that his parents were born in Virginia of "undistinguished or
second families," he makes the brief mention of his mother, saying that
she came "of a family of the name of Hanks."* The other record was the
register of marriages, births, and deaths which he made in his father's
Bible. The latter now lies before me. That portion of the page which
probably contained the record of the marriage of his parents, Thomas
Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, has been lost; but fortunately the records of
Washington county, Kentucky, and the certificate of the minister who
performed the marriage ceremony--the Rev. Jesse Head--fix the fact and
date of the latter on the 12th day of June, 1806.

     * If anyone will take the pains to read the Fell
     autobiography they will be struck with Lincoln's meagre
     reference to his mother. He even fails to give her maiden or
     Christian name, and devotes but three lines to her family. A
     history of the Lincolns occupies almost an entire page.

On the 10th day of February in the following year a daughter Sarah* was
born, and two years later, on the 12th of February, the subject of these
memoirs came into the world. After him came the last child, a boy--named
Thomas after his father--who lived but a few days. No mention of his
existence is found in the Bible record.

     * Most biographers of Lincoln, in speaking of Mr. Lincoln's
     sister, call her Nancy, some--notably Nicolay and Hay--
     insisting that she was known by that name among her family
     and friends. In this they are in error. I have interviewed
     the different members of the Hanks and Lincoln families who
     survived the President, and her name was invariably given as
     Sarah. The mistake, I think, arises from the fact that, in
     the Bible record referred to, all that portion relating to
     the birth of "Sarah, daughter of Thomas and Nancy Lincoln,"
     down to the word Nancy has been torn away, and the latter
     name has therefore been taken erroneously for that of the
     daughter. Reading the entry of Abraham's birth below
     satisfies one that it must refer to the mother.

Abraham Lincoln, the grandfather of the President, emigrated to
Jefferson county, Kentucky, from Virginia, about 1780, and from that
time forward the former State became an important one in the history
of the family, for in it was destined to be born its most illustrious
member. About five years before this, a handful of Virginians had
started across the mountains for Kentucky, and in the company, besides
their historian, William Calk,--whose diary recently came to light,--was
one Abraham Hanks. They were evidently a crowd of jolly young men
bent on adventure and fun, but their sport was attended with frequent
disasters. Their journey began at "Mr. Priges' tavern on the Rapidan."
When only a few days out "Hanks' Dog's leg got broke." Later in the
course of the journey, Hanks and another companion became separated from
the rest of the party and were lost in the mountains for two days; in
crossing a stream "Abraham's saddle turned over and his load all fell in
Indian creek"; finally they meet their brethren from whom they have
been separated and then pursue their way without further interruption.
Returning emigrants whom they meet, according to the journal of Calk,
tell such "news of the indians" that certain members of the company
are "afrade to go aney further." The following day more or less
demoralization takes place among the members of this pioneer party when
the announcement is made, as their chronicler so faithfully records it,
that "Philip Drake Bakes bread without washing his hands." This was an
unpardonable sin, and at it they revolted. A day later the record shows
that "Abram turns Back." Beyond this we shall never know what became
of Abraham Hanks, for no further mention of him is made in this or any
other history. He may have returned to Virginia and become, for aught
we know, one of the President's ancestors on the maternal side of the
house; but if so his illustrious descendant was never able to establish
the fact or trace his lineage satisfactorily beyond the first generation
which preceded him. He never mentioned who his maternal grandfather was,
if indeed he knew.

His paternal grandfather, Abraham Lincoln,* the pioneer from Virginia,
met his death within two years after his settlement in Kentucky at the
hands of the Indians; "not in battle," as his distinguished grandson
tells us, "but by stealth, when he was laboring to open a farm in the
forest." The story of his death in sight of his youngest son Thomas,
then only six years old, is by no means a new one to the world. In
fact I have often heard the President describe the tragedy as he had
inherited the story from his father. The dead pioneer had three sons,
Mordecai, Josiah, and Thomas, in the order named. When the father fell,
Mordecai, having hastily sent Josiah to the neighboring fort after
assistance, ran into the cabin, and pointing his rifle through a
crack between the logs, prepared for defense. Presently an Indian came
stealing up to the dead father's body. Beside the latter sat the little
boy Thomas. Mordecai took deliberate aim at a silver crescent which
hung suspended from the Indian's breast, and brought him to the ground.
Josiah returned from the fort with the desired relief, and the savages
were easily dispersed, leaving behind one dead and one wounded.

     * "They [the Lincolns] were also called Linkhorns. The old
     settlers had a way of pronouncing names not as they were
     spelled, but rather, it seemed, as they pleased. Thus they
     called Medcalf 'Medcap,' and Kaster they pronounced
     'Custard.'"--MS. letter, Charles Friend, March 19,1866.

The tragic death of his father filled Mordecai with an intense hatred of
the Indians--a feeling from which he never recovered. It was ever
with him like an avenging spirit. From Jefferson county he removed to
Grayson, where he spent the remainder of his days. A correspondent* from
there wrote me in 1865: "Old Mordecai was easily stirred up by the sight
of an Indian. One time, hearing of a few Indians passing through the
county, he mounted his horse, and taking his rifle on his shoulder,
followed on after them and was gone two days. When he returned he said
he left one lying in a sink hole. The Indians, he said, had killed his
father, and he was determined before he died to have satisfaction."
The youngest boy, Thomas, retained a vivid recollection of his father's
death, which, together with other reminiscences of his boyhood, he was
fond of relating later in life to his children to relieve the tedium of
long winter evenings. Mordecai and Josiah,** both remaining in Kentucky,
became the heads of good-sized families, and although never known or
heard of outside the limits of the neighborhoods in which they lived,
were intelligent, well-to-do men.

     * W. T. Claggett, unpublished MS.

     ** "I knew Mordecai and Josiah Lincoln intimately. They were
     excellent men, plain, moderately educated, candid in their
     manners and intercourse, and looked upon as honorable as any
     men I have ever heard of. Mordecai was the oldest son, and
     his father having been killed by the Indians before the law
     of primogeniture was repealed, he inherited a very competent
     estate. The others were poor. Mordecai was celebrated for
     his bravery, and had been in the early campaigns of the
     West"-Henry Pirtle, letter, June 17,1865, MS.

In Thomas, roving and shiftless, to whom was "reserved the honor of an
illustrious paternity," are we alone interested. He was, we are told,
five feet ten inches high, weighed one hundred and ninety-five pounds,
had a well-rounded face, dark hazel eyes, coarse black hair, and was
slightly stoop-shouldered. His build was so compact that Dennis Hanks
used to say he could not find the point of separation between his ribs.
He was proverbially slow of movement, mentally and physically; was
careless, inert, and dull; was sinewy, and gifted with great strength;
was inoffensively quiet and peaceable, but when roused to resistance a
dangerous antagonist. He had a liking for jokes and stories, which was
one of the few traits he transmitted to his illustrious son; was fond
of the chase, and had no marked aversion for the bottle, though in the
latter case he indulged no more freely than the average Kentuckian of
his day. At the time of his marriage to Nancy Hanks he could neither
read nor write; but his wife, who was gifted with more education, and
was otherwise his mental superior, taught him, it is said, to write his
name and to read--at least, he was able in later years to spell his way
slowly through the Bible. In his religious belief he first affiliated
with the Free-Will Baptists. After his removal to Indiana he changed his
adherence to the Presbyterians--or Predestinarians, as they were
then called--and later united with the Christian--vulgarly called
Campbellite Church, in which latter faith he is supposed to have died.
He was a carpenter by trade, and essayed farming too; but in this, as in
almost every other undertaking, he was singularly unsuccessful. He was
placed in possession of several tracts of land at different times in his
life, but was never able to pay for a single one of them. The farm on
which he died was one his son purchased, providing a life estate therein
for him and his wife. He never fell in with the routine of labor; was
what some people would call unfortunate or unlucky in all his business
ventures--if in reality he ever made one--and died near the village of
Farmington in Coles county, Illinois, on the 17th day of January, 1851.
His son, on account of sickness in his own family, was unable to be
present at his father's bedside, or witness his death. To those who
notified him of his probable demise he wrote: "I sincerely hope that
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
Maker, who will not turn away from him in any extremity. He notes the
fall of a sparrow, and numbers the hairs of our heads; and He will not
forget the dying man who puts his trust in 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 soon have a joyous
meeting with the many loved ones gone before, and where the rest of us,
through the help of God, hope ere long to join them." *

     * MS. letter to John Johnston, Jan. 12, 1851.

Nancy Hanks, the mother of the President, at a very early age was taken
from her mother Lucy--afterwards married to Henry Sparrow--and sent to
live with her aunt and uncle, Thomas and Betsy Sparrow. Under this same
roof the irrepressible and cheerful waif, Dennis Hanks*--whose name will
be frequently seen in these pages--also found a shelter. At the time of
her marriage to Thomas Lincoln, Nancy was in her twenty-third year. She
was above the ordinary height in stature, weighed about 130 pounds,
was slenderly built, and had much the appearance of one inclined to
consumption. Her skin was dark; hair dark brown; eyes gray and small;
forehead prominent; face sharp and angular, with a marked expression of
melancholy which fixed itself in the memory of everyone who ever saw
or knew her. Though her life was seemingly beclouded by a spirit of
sadness, she was in disposition amiable and generally cheerful. Mr.
Lincoln himself said to me in 1851, on receiving the news of his
father's death, that whatever might be said of his parents, and however
unpromising the early surroundings of his mother may have been, she was
highly intellectual by nature, had a strong memory, acute judgment, and
was cool and heroic. From a mental standpoint she no doubt rose above
her surroundings, and had she lived, the stimulus of her nature would
have accelerated her son's success, and she would have been a much more
ambitious prompter than his father ever was.

     * Dennis Hanks, still living at the age of ninety years in
     Illinois, was the son of another Nancy Hanks--the aunt of
     the President's mother. He furnished Mr. Weik and me with
     much interesting information, especially facts and incidents
     relating to early life in Indiana.

As a family the Hankses were peculiar to the civilization of early
Kentucky. Illiterate and superstitious, they corresponded to that
nomadic class still to be met with throughout the South, and known as
"poor whites." They are happily and vividly depicted in the description
of a camp-meeting held at Elizabethtown, Kentucky, in 1806, which was
furnished me in August, 1865, by an eye-witness.*

     * J. B. Helm, MS.

"The Hanks girls," narrates the latter, "were great at camp-meetings. I
remember one in 1806. I will give you a scene, and if you will then
read the books written on the subject you may find some apology for the
superstition that was said to be in Abe Lincoln's character. It was at
a camp-meeting, as before said, when a general shout was about to
commence. Preparations were being made; a young lady invited me to stand
on a bench by her side where we could see all over the altar. To the
right a strong, athletic young man, about twenty-five years old, was
being put in trim for the occasion, which was done by divesting him of
all apparel except shirt and pants. On the left a young lady was being
put in trim in much the same manner, so that her clothes would not be
in the way, and so that, when her combs flew out, her hair would go into
graceful braids. She, too, was young--not more than twenty perhaps. The
performance commenced about the same time by the young man on the right
and the young lady on the left. Slowly and gracefully they worked
their way towards the centre, singing, shouting, hugging and kissing,
generally their own sex, until at last nearer and nearer they came. The
centre of the altar was reached, and the two closed, with their arms
around each other, the man singing and shouting at the top of his voice,

     "'I have my Jesus in my arms
     Sweet as honey, strong as bacon ham.'

"Just at this moment the young lady holding to my arm whispered, 'They
are to be married next week; her name is Hanks.' There were very few who
did not believe this true religion, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and
the man who could not believe it, did well to keep it to himself. The
Hankses were the finest singers and shouters in our country."

Here my informant stops, and on account of his death several years ago
I failed to learn whether the young lady shouter who figured in the
foregoing scene was the President's mother or not. The fact that Nancy
Hanks did marry that year gives color to the belief that it was she. As
to the probability of the young man being Thomas Lincoln it is difficult
to say; such a performance as the one described must have required a
little more emotion and enthusiasm than the tardy and inert carpenter
was in the habit of manifesting.


Sarah, the sister of Abraham Lincoln, though in some respects like her
brother, lacked his stature. She was thick-set, had dark-brown hair,
deep-gray eyes, and an even disposition. In contact with others she
was kind and considerate. Her nature was one of amiability, and God had
endowed her with that invincible combination--modesty and good sense.
Strange to say, Mr. Lincoln never said much about his sister in after
years, and we are really indebted to the Hankses--Dennis and John--for
the little we have learned about this rather unfortunate young woman.
She was married to Aaron Grigsby, in Spencer county, Indiana, in
the month of August, 1826, and died January 20, 1828. Her brother
accompanied her to school while they lived in Kentucky, but as he was
only seven, and as she had not yet finished her ninth year when their
father removed with them to Indiana, it is to be presumed that neither
made much progress in the matter of school education. Still it is
authoritatively stated that they attended two schools during this short
period. One of these was kept by Zachariah Riney, the other by Caleb
Hazel. It is difficult at this late day to learn much of the boy
Abraham's life during those seven years of residence in Kentucky. One
man, * who was a clerk in the principal store in the village where the
Lincolns purchased their family supplies, remembers him as a "small boy
who came sometimes to the store with his mother. He would take his seat
on a keg of nails, and I would give him a lump of sugar. He would sit
there and eat it like any other boy; but these little acts of kindness,"
observes my informant, in an enthusiastic statement made in 1865, "so
impressed his mind that I made a steadfast friend in a man whose
power and influence have since been felt throughout the world." A
school-mate** of Lincoln's at Hazel's school, speaking of the master,
says: "He perhaps could teach spelling and reading and indifferent
writing, and possibly could cipher to the rule of three; but he had no
other qualification of a teacher, unless we accept large size and bodily
strength. Abe was a mere spindle of a boy, had his due proportion of
harmless mischief, but as we lived in a country abounding in hazel
switches, in the virtue of which the master had great faith, Abe of
course received his due allowance."

This part of the boy's history is painfully vague and dim, and even
after arriving at man's estate Mr. Lincoln was significantly
reserved when reference was made to it. It is barely mentioned in the
autobiography furnished to Fell in 1859. John Duncan,*** afterwards a
preacher of some prominence in Kentucky, relates how he and Abe on one
occasion ran a ground-hog into a crevice between two rocks, and after
working vainly almost two hours to get him out, "Abe ran off about a
quarter of a mile to a blacksmith shop, and returned with an iron hook
fastened to the end of a pole," and with this rude contrivance they
virtually "hooked" the animal out of his retreat. Austin Gollaher of
Hodgensville, claims to have saved Lincoln from drowning one day as they
were trying to "coon it" across Knob creek on a log. The boys were
in pursuit of birds, when young Lincoln fell into the water, and his
vigilant companion, who still survives to narrate the thrilling story,
fished him out with a sycamore branch.

     * John B. Helm, June 20,1865.

     ** Samuel Haycraft, December 6,1866.

     *** Letter, February 21, 1867.

Meanwhile Thomas Lincoln was becoming daily more dissatisfied with his
situation and surroundings. He had purchased, since his marriage, on the
easy terms then prevalent, two farms or tracts of land in succession;
no terms were easy enough for him, and the land, when the time for the
payment of the purchase-money rolled around, reverted to its former
owner. Kentucky, at that day, afforded few if any privileges, and
possessed fewer advantages to allure the poor man; and no doubt so it
seemed to Thomas Lincoln. The land he occupied was sterile and broken.
A mere barren glade, and destitute of timber, it required a persistent
effort to coax a living out of it; and to one of his easy-going
disposition, life there was a never-ending struggle. Stories of vast
stretches of rich and unoccupied lands in Indiana reaching his ears, and
despairing of the prospect of any betterment in his condition so long
as he remained in Kentucky, he resolved, at last, to leave the State
and seek a more inviting lodgment beyond the Ohio. The assertion made by
some of Mr. Lincoln's biographers, and so often repeated by sentimental
writers, that his father left Kentucky to avoid the sight of or contact
with slavery, lacks confirmation. In all Hardin county--at that time
a large area of territory--there were not over fifty slaves; and it
is doubtful if he saw enough of slavery to fill him with the righteous
opposition to the institution with which he has so frequently been
credited. Moreover, he never in later years manifested any especial
aversion to it.

Having determined on emigrating to Indiana, he began preparations for
removal in the fall of 1816 by building for his use a flat-boat. Loading
it with his tools and other personal effects, including in the invoice,
as we are told, four hundred gallons of whiskey, he launched his "crazy
craft" on a tributary of Salt creek known as the Rolling Fork. Along
with the current he floated down to the Ohio river, but his rudely-made
vessel, either from the want of experience in its navigator, or because
of its ill adaptation to withstand the force and caprices of the
currents in the great river, capsized one day, and boat and cargo went
to the bottom. The luckless boatman set to work however, and by dint of
great patience and labor succeeded in recovering the tools and the bulk
of the whiskey. Righting his boat, he continued down the river, landing
at a point called Thompson's Ferry, in Perry county, on the Indiana
side. Here he disposed of his vessel, and placing his goods in the care
of a settler named Posey, he struck out through the interior in search
of a location for his new home. Sixteen miles back from the river he
found one that pleased his fancy, and he marked it off for himself.
His next move in the order of business was a journey to Vincennes to
purchase the tract at the Land Office--under the "two-dollar-an-acre
law," as Dennis Hanks puts it--and a return to the land to identify it
by blazing the trees and piling up brush on the corners to establish the
proper boundary lines. Having secured a place for his home he trudged
back to Kentucky--walking all the way--for his family. Two horses
brought them and all their household effects to the Indiana shore. Posey
kindly gave or hired them the use of a wagon, into which they packed not
only their furniture and carpenter tools, but the liquor, which it
is presumed had lain undisturbed in the former's cellar. Slowly and
carefully picking their way through the dense woods, they at last
reached their destination on the banks of Little Pigeon creek. There
were some detentions on the way, but no serious mishaps.

The head of the household now set resolutely to work to build a shelter
for his family.

The structure, when completed, was fourteen feet square, and was built
of small unhewn logs. In the language of the day, it was called a
"half-faced camp," being enclosed on all sides but one. It had neither
floor, door, nor windows. In this forbidding hovel these doughty
emigrants braved the exposure of the varying seasons for an entire year.
At the end of that time Thomas and Betsy Sparrow followed, bringing
with them Dennis Hanks; and to them Thomas Lincoln surrendered the
"half-faced camp," while he moved into a more pretentious structure--a
cabin enclosed on all sides. The country was thickly covered with
forests of walnut, beech, oak, elm, maple, and an undergrowth of
dog-wood, sumac, and wild grape-vine. In places where the growth was not
so thick grass came up abundantly, and hogs found plenty of food in the
unlimited quantity of mast the woods afforded. The country abounded in
bear, deer, turkey, and other wild game, which not only satisfied the
pioneer's love for sport, but furnished his table with its supply of

Thomas Lincoln, with the aid of the Hankses and Sparrows, was for a time
an attentive farmer. The implements of agriculture then in use were as
rude as they were rare, and yet there is nothing to show that in spite
of the slow methods then in vogue he did not make commendable speed. "We
raised corn mostly"--relates Dennis--"and some wheat--enough for a cake
Sunday morning. Hog and venison hams were a legal tender, and coon skins
also. We raised sheep and cattle, but they did not bring much. Cows and
calves were only worth six to eight dollars; corn ten cents, and wheat
twenty-five cents, a bushel." So with all his application and frugality
the head of this ill-assorted household made but little headway in the
accumulation of the world's goods. We are told that he was indeed a poor
man, and that during his entire stay in Indiana his land barely yielded
him sufficient return to keep his larder supplied with the commonest
necessaries of life. His skill as a hunter--though never brought into
play unless at the angered demand of a stomach hungry for meat--in no
slight degree made up for the lack of good management in the cultivation
of his land. His son Abraham* never evinced the same fondness for
hunting, although his cousin Dennis with much pride tells us how he
could kill a wild turkey on the wing. "At that time," relates one of the
latter's playmates** descanting on the abundance of wild game, "there
were a great many deer-licks; and Abe and myself would go to these licks
sometimes and watch of nights to kill deer, though Abe was not so fond
of a gun or the sport as I was."***

     * "Abe was a good boy--an affectionate one--a boy who loved
     his parents well and was obedient to their every wish.
     Although anything but an impudent or rude boy he was
     sometimes uncomfortably inquisitive. When strangers would
     ride along or pass by his father's fence he always--either
     through boyish pride or to tease his father--would be sure
     to ask the first question. His father would sometimes knock
     him over. When thus punished he never bellowed, but dropped
     a kind of silent, unwelcome tear as evidence of his
     sensitiveness or other feelings."--Dennis Hanks, MS., June

     ** David Turnham, MS. letter, June 10, 1866.

     *** Mr. Lincoln used to relate the following "coon" story:
     His father had at home a little yellow house-dog, which
     invariably gave the alarm if the boys undertook to slip away
     unobserved after night had set in--as they oftentimes did--
     to go coon hunting. One evening Abe and his step-brother,
     John Johnston, with the usual complement of boys required in
     a successful coon hunt, took the insignificant little cur
     with them. They located the coveted coon, killed him, and
     then in a sportive vein sewed the hide on the diminutive
     yellow dog. The latter struggled vigorously during the
     operation of sewing on, and being released from the hands of
     his captors made a bee-line for home. Other large and more
     important canines, on the way, scenting coon, tracked the
     little animal home, and possibly mistaking him for real
     coon, speedily demolished him. The next morning old Thomas
     Lincoln discovered lying in his yard the lifeless remains of
     yellow "Joe," with strong proof of coon-skin accompaniment.

     "Father was much incensed at his death," observed Mr.
     Lincoln, in relating the story, "but as John and I, scantily
     protected from the morning wind, stood shivering in the
     doorway, we felt assured little yellow Joe would never be
     able again to sound the call for another coon hunt."

The cabin to which the Lincoln family removed after leaving the little
half-faced camp to the Sparrows was in some respects a pretentious
structure. It was of hewed logs, and was eighteen feet square. It
was high enough to admit of a loft, where Abe slept, and to which
he ascended each night by means of pegs driven in the wall. The rude
furniture was in keeping with the surroundings. Three-legged stools
answered for chairs. The bedstead, made of poles fastened in the cracks
of the logs on one side, and supported by a crotched stick driven in
the ground floor on the other, was covered with skins, leaves, and old
clothes. A table of the same finish as the stools, a few pewter dishes,
a Dutch oven, and a skillet completed the household outfit. In this
uninviting frontier structure the future President was destined to pass
the greater part of his boyhood. Withal his spirits were light, and it
cannot be denied that he must have enjoyed unrestrained pleasure in his
surroundings. It is related that one day the only thing that graced the
dinner-table was a dish of roasted potatoes. The elder Lincoln, true
to the custom of the day, returned thanks for the blessing. The boy,
realizing the scant proportions of the meal, looked up into his father's
face and irreverently observed, "Dad, I call these"--meaning the
potatoes--"mighty poor blessings." Among other children of a similar age
he seemed unconsciously to take the lead, and it is no stretch of the
truth to say that they, in turn, looked up to him. He may have been a
little precocious--children sometimes are--but in view of the summary
treatment received at the hands of his father it cannot truthfully be
said he was a "spoiled child." One morning when his mother was at work
he ran into the cabin from the outside to enquire, with a quizzical
grin, "Who was the father of Zebedee's children?" As many another mother
before and since has done, she brushed the mischievous young inquirer
aside to attend to some more important detail of household concern.*

     * Harriet Chapman, MS. letter.

The dull routine of chores and household errands in the boy's every-day
life was brightened now and then by a visit to the mill. I often in
later years heard Mr. Lincoln say that going to mill gave him the
greatest pleasure of his boyhood days.

"We had to go seven miles to mill," relates David Turnham, the friend
of his youth, "and then it was a hand-mill that would only grind from
fifteen to twenty bushels of corn in a day. There was but little wheat
grown at that time, and when we did have wheat we had to grind it in the
mill described and use it without bolting, as there were no bolts in the
country. Abe and I had to do the milling, frequently going twice to get
one grist."

In his eleventh year he began that marvellous and rapid growth in
stature for which he was so widely noted in the Pigeon creek settlement.
"As he shot up," says Turnham, "he seemed to change in appearance and
action. Although quick-witted and ready with an answer, he began to
exhibit deep thoughtfulness, and was so often lost in studied reflection
we could not help noticing the strange turn in his actions. He disclosed
rare timidity and sensitiveness, especially in the presence of men and
women, and although cheerful enough in the presence of the boys, he did
not appear to seek our company as earnestly as before."* It was only
the development we find in the history of every boy. Nature was a
little abrupt in the case of Abraham Lincoln; she tossed him from the
nimbleness of boyhood to the gravity of manhood in a single night.

     * D. Turnham, MS. letter.

In the fall of 1818, the scantily settled region in the vicinity of
Pigeon creek--where the Lincolns were then living--suffered a visitation
of that dread disease common in the West in early days, and known in the
vernacular of the frontier as "the milk-sick." It hovered like a spectre
over the Pigeon creek settlement for over ten years, and its fatal
visitation and inroads among the Lincolns, Hankses, and Sparrows finally
drove that contingent into Illinois. To this day the medical profession
has never agreed upon any definite cause for the malady, nor have they
in all their scientific wrangling determined exactly what the disease
itself is. A physician, who has in his practice met a number of cases,
describes the symptoms to be "a whitish coat on the tongue, burning
sensation of the stomach, severe vomiting, obstinate constipation of the
bowels, coolness of the extremities, great restlessness and jactitation,
pulse rather small, somewhat more frequent than natural, and slightly
chorded. In the course of the disease the coat on the tongue becomes
brownish and dark, the countenance dejected, and the prostration of the
patient is great. A fatal termination may take place in sixty hours,
or life may be prolonged for a period of fourteen days. These are the
symptoms of the disease in an acute form. 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."

When the disease broke out in the Pigeon creek region it not only
took off the people, but it made sad havoc among the cattle. One man
testifies that he "lost four milch cows and eleven calves in one week."
This, in addition to the risk of losing his own life, was enough, he
declared, to ruin him, and prompted him to leave for "points further

Early in October of the year 1818, Thomas and Betsy Sparrow fell ill
of the disease and died within a few days of each other. Thomas Lincoln
performed the services of undertaker. With his whipsaw he cut out the
lumber, and with commendable promptness he nailed together the rude
coffins to enclose the forms of the dead. The bodies were borne to a
scantily cleared knoll in the midst of the forest, and there, without
ceremony, quietly let down into the grave. Meanwhile Abe's mother had
also fallen a victim to the insidious disease. Her sufferings, however,
were destined to be of brief duration. Within a week she too rested from
her labors. "She struggled on, day by day," says one of the household,
"a good Christian woman, and died on the seventh day after she was
taken sick. Abe and his sister Sarah waited on their mother, and did the
little jobs and errands required of them. There was no physician nearer
than thirty-five miles. The mother knew she was going to die, and called
the children to her bedside. She was very weak, and the children leaned
over while she gave her last message. Placing her feeble hand on little
Abe's head she told him to be kind and good to his father and sister;
to both she said, 'Be good to one another,' expressing a hope that they
might live, as they had been taught by her, to love their kindred
and worship God." Amid the miserable surroundings of a home in the
wilderness Nancy Hanks passed across the dark river. Though of lowly
birth, the victim of poverty and hard usage, she takes a place in
history as the mother of a son who liberated a race of men. At her side
stands another Mother whose son performed a similar service for all
mankind eighteen hundred years before.

After the death of their mother little Abe and his sister Sarah began a
dreary life--indeed, one more cheerless and less inviting seldom falls
to the lot of any child. In a log-cabin without a floor, scantily
protected from the severities of the weather, deprived of the comfort of
a mother's love, they passed through a winter the most dismal either
one ever experienced. Within a few months, and before the close of the
winter, David Elkin, an itinerant preacher whom Mrs. Lincoln had known
in Kentucky, happened into the settlement, and in response to the
invitation from the family and friends, delivered a funeral sermon
over her grave. No one is able now to 'remember the language of Parson
Elkin's discourse, but it is recalled that he commemorated the virtues
and good phases of character, and passed in silence the few shortcomings
and frailties of the poor woman sleeping under the winter's snow.
She had done her work in this world. Stoop-shouldered, thin-breasted,
sad,--at times miserable,--groping through the perplexities of life,
without prospect of any betterment in her condition, she passed from
earth, little dreaming of the grand future that lay in store for the
ragged, hapless little boy who stood at her bedside in the last days of
her life.

Thomas Lincoln's widowerhood was brief. He had scarcely mourned the
death of his first wife a year until he reappeared in Kentucky at
Elizabethtown in search of another. His admiration had centred for a
second time on Sally Bush, the widow of Daniel Johnston, the jailer of
Hardin county, who had died several years before of a disease known
as the "cold plague." The tradition still kept alive in the Kentucky
neighborhood is that Lincoln had been a suitor for the hand of the lady
before his marriage to Nancy Hanks, but that she had rejected him for
the hand of the more fortunate Johnston. However that may have been, it
is certain that he began his campaign in earnest this time, and after
a brief siege won her heart. "He made a very short courtship," wrote
Samuel Haycraft* to me in a letter, December 7, 1866. "He came to see
her on the first day of December, 1819, and in a straightforward
manner told her that they had known each other from childhood. '_Miss_
Johnston,' said he, 'I have no wife and you no husband. I came a-purpose
to marry you. I knowed you from a gal and you knowed me from a boy. I've
no time to lose; and if you're willin' let it be done straight off.' She
replied that she could not marry him right off, as she had some little
debts which she wanted to pay first. He replied, 'Give me a list of
them.' He got the list and paid them that evening. Next morning I issued
the license, and they were married within sixty yards of my house."
Lincoln's brother-in-law, Ralph Krume, and his four horses and spacious
wagon were again brought into requisition. With commendable generosity
he transported the newly married pair and their household effects to
their home in Indiana. The new Mrs. Lincoln was accompanied by her three
children, John, Sarah, and Matilda. Her social status is fixed by the
comparison of a neighbor, who observed that "life among the Hankses, the
Lincolns, and the Enlows was a long ways below life among the Bushes."

     * Clerk of the Court. MS.

In the eyes of her spouse she could not be regarded as a poor widow.
She was the owner of a goodly stock of furniture and household goods;
bringing with her among other things a walnut bureau valued at fifty
dollars. What effect the new family, their collection of furniture,
cooking utensils, and comfortable bedding must have had on the
astonished and motherless pair who from the door of Thomas Lincoln's
forlorn cabin watched the well-filled wagon as it came creaking through
the woods can better be imagined than described. Surely Sarah and Abe,
as the stores of supplies were rolled in through the doorless doorways,
must have believed that a golden future awaited them. The presence and
smile of a motherly face in the cheerless cabin radiated sunshine into
every neglected corner. If the Lincoln mansion did not in every respect
correspond to the representations made by its owner to the new Mrs.
Lincoln before marriage, the latter gave no expression of disappointment
or even surprise. With true womanly courage and zeal she set resolutely
to work to make right that which seemed wrong. Her husband was made to
put a floor in the cabin, as well as to supply doors and windows. The
cracks between the logs were plastered up. A clothes-press filled the
space between the chimney jamb and the wall, and the mat of corn husks
and leaves on which the children had slept in the corner gave way to the
comfortable luxuriance of a feather bed. She washed the two orphans, and
fitted them out in clothes taken from the stores of her own. The work of
renovation in and around the cabin continued until even Thomas Lincoln
himself, under the general stimulus of the new wife's presence, caught
the inspiration, and developed signs of intense activity. The advent of
Sarah Bush was certainly a red-letter day for the Lincolns. She was not
only industrious and thrifty, but gentle and affectionate; and her
newly adopted children for the first time, perhaps, realized the benign
influence of a mother's love. Of young Abe she was especially fond, and
we have her testimony that her kindness and care for him were warmly
and bountifully returned. Her granddaughter furnished me* in after years
with this description of her:

     * Harriet Chapman. MS.

"My grandmother is a very tall woman, straight as an Indian, of
fair complexion, and was, when I first remember her, very handsome,
sprightly, talkative, and proud. She wore her hair curled till gray;
is kind-hearted and very charitable, and also very industrious." In
September, 1865, I visited the old lady* and spent an entire day with
her. She was then living on the farm her stepson had purchased and given
her, eight miles south of the town of Charleston, in Illinois. She died
on the 10th of April, 1869.

     * During my interview with this old lady I was much and
     deeply impressed with the sincerity of her affection for her
     illustrious stepson. She declined to say much in answer to
     my questions about Nancy Hanks, her predecessor in the
     Lincoln household, but spoke feelingly of the latter's
     daughter and son. Describing Mr. Lincoln's last visit to her
     in February, 1861, she broke into tears and wupt bitterly.
     "I did not want Abe to run for President," she sobbed, "and
     did not want to see him elected. I was afraid that something
     would happen to him, and when he came down to see me, after
     he was elected President, I still felt, and my heart told
     me, that something would befall him, and that I should never
     see him again. Abe and his father are in heaven now, I am
     sure, and I expect soon to go there and meet them."

[Illustration: Sarah Bush Lincoln 070]

After photograph taken in 1865.

The two sets of children in the Lincoln household--to their credit be it
said--lived together in perfect accord. Abe was in his tenth year, and
his stepmother, awake to the importance of an education, made a way for
him to attend school. To her he seemed full of promise; and although not
so quick of comprehension as other boys, yet she believed in encouraging
his every effort. He had had a few weeks of schooling under Riney and
Hazel in Kentucky, but it is hardly probable that he could read; he
certainly could not write. As illustrating his moral make-up, I diverge
from the chronological order of the narrative long enough to relate an
incident which occurred some years later. In the Lincoln family, Matilda
Johnston, or Tilda, as her mother called her, was the youngest child.
After Abe had reached the estate of manhood, she was still in her 'teens.
It was Abe's habit each morning one fall, to leave the house early, his
axe on his shoulder, to clear a piece of forest which lay some distance
from home. He frequently carried his dinner with him, and remained all
day. Several times the young and frolicsome 'Tilda sought to accompany
him, but was each time restrained by her mother, who firmly forbade
a repetition of the attempt. One morning the girl escaped maternal
vigilance, and slyly followed after the young woodman, who had gone some
distance from the house, and was already hidden from view behind the
dense growth of trees and underbrush. Following a deer-path, he went
singing along, little dreaming of the girl in close pursuit. The latter
gained on him, and when within a few feet, darted forward and with
a cat-like leap landed squarely on his back. With one hand on
each shoulder, she planted her knee in the middle of his back, and
dexterously brought the powerful frame of the rail-splitter to the
ground. It was a trick familiar to every schoolboy. Abe, taken by
surprise, was unable at first to turn around or learn who his assailant
was. In the fall to the ground, the sharp edge of the axe imbedded
itself in the young lady's ankle, inflicting a wound from which there
came a generous effusion of blood. With sundry pieces of cloth torn from
Abe's shirt and the young lady's dress, the flow of blood was stanched,
and the wound rudely bound up. The girl's cries having lessened
somewhat, her tall companion, looking at her in blank astonishment,
knowing what an in-fraction the whole thing was of her mother's
oft-repeated instructions, asked; "'Tilda, what are you going to tell
mother about getting hurt?" "Tell her I did it with the axe," she
sobbed. "That will be the truth, won't it?" To which last inquiry Abe
manfully responded,

"Yes, that's the truth, but it's not all the truth. Tell the whole
truth,'Tilda, and trust your good mother for the rest."

This incident was, many years afterward, related to me by'Tilda, who was
then the mother of a devoted and interesting family herself.

Hazel Dorsey was Abe's first teacher in Indiana. He held forth a mile
and a half from the Lincoln farm. The school-house was built of round
logs, and was just high enough for a man to stand erect under the loft.
The floor was of split logs, or what were called puncheons. The chimney
was made of poles and clay; and the windows were made by cutting out
parts of two logs, placing pieces of split boards a proper distance
apart, and over the aperture thus formed pasting pieces of greased
paper to admit light. At school Abe evinced ability enough to gain him a
prominent place in the respect of the teacher and the affections of his

     * "He always appeared to be very quiet during playtime; never
     was rude; seemed to have a liking for solitude; was the one
     chosen in almost every case to adjust difficulties between
     boys of his age and size, and when appealed to, his decision
     was an end of the trouble. He was also rather noted for
     keeping his clothes clean longer than any of the others, and
     although considered a boy of courage, had few, if any,
     difficulties."--E. R. Burba, letter, March 31, 1866.

Elements of leadership in him seem to have manifested themselves
already. Nathaniel Grigsby--whose brother, Aaron, afterwards married
Abe's sister, Sarah--attended the same school. He certifies to Abe's
proficiency and worth in glowing terms.

"He was always at school early," writes Grigsby, "and attended to his
studies. He was always at the head of his class, and passed us rapidly
in his studies. He lost no time at home, and when he was not at work was
at his books. He kept up his studies on Sunday, and carried his books
with him to work, so that he might read when he rested from labor." Now
and then, the family exchequer running low, it would be found necessary
for the young rail-splitter to stop school, and either work with his
father on the farm, or render like service for the neighbors. These
periods of work occurred so often and continued so long, that all his
school days added together would not make a year in the aggregate. When
he attended school, his sister Sarah usually accompanied him. "Sally was
a quick-minded young woman," is the testimony of a school-mate. "She was
more industrious than Abe, in my opinion. I can hear her good-humored
laugh now. Like her brother, she could greet you kindly and put you at
ease. She was really an intelligent woman." *

     * Nat Grigsby, Sept. 12,1865, MS.

Abe's love for books, and his determined effort to obtain an education
in spite of so many obstacles, induced the belief in his father's mind,
that book-learning was absorbing a greater proportion of his energy and
industry than the demands of the farm. The old gentleman had but little
faith in the value of books or papers,* and hence the frequent drafts
he made on the son to aid in the drudgery of daily toil. He undertook
to teach him his own trade**--he was a carpenter and joiner--but Abe
manifested such a striking want of interest that the effort to make a
carpenter of him was soon abandoned.

     * "I induced my husband to permit Abe to read and study at
     home as well as at school. At first he was not easily
     reconciled to it, but finally he too seemed willing to
     encourage him to a certain extent. Abe was a dutiful son to
     me always, and we took particular care when he was reading
     not to disturb him--would let him read on and on till he
     quit of his own accord."--Mrs. Thomas Lincoln, Sept. 8,

     ** A little walnut cabinet, two feet high, and containing
     two rows of neat drawers, now in the possession of Captain
     J. W. Wartmann, clerk of the United States Court in
     Evansville, Ind., is carefully preserved as a specimen of
     the joint work of Lincoln and his father at this time.

At Dorsey's school Abe was ten years old; at the next one, Andrew
Crawford's, he was about fourteen; and at Swaney's he was in his
seventeenth year. The last school required a walk of over four miles,
and on account of the distance his attendance was not only irregular but
brief. Schoolmaster Crawford introduced a new feature in his school, and
we can imagine its effect on his pupils, whose training had been
limited to the social requirements of the backwoods settlement. It was
instruction in manners. One scholar was required to go outside, and
re-enter the room as a lady or gentleman would enter a drawing-room or
parlor. Another scholar would receive the first party at the door, and
escort him or her about the room, making polite introductions to each
person in the room. How the gaunt and clumsy Abe went through this
performance we shall probably never know. If his awkward movements gave
rise to any amusement, his school-mates never revealed it.

The books used at school were Webster's Spelling Book and the American
Speller. All the scholars learned to cipher, and afterwards used Pike's
Arithmetic. Mr. Lincoln told me in later years that Murray's English
Reader was the best school-book ever put into the hands of an American
youth. I conclude, therefore, he must have used that also. At Crawford's
school Abe was credited with the authorship of several literary
efforts--short dissertations in which he strove to correct some
time-honored and wanton sport of the schoolboy. While in Indiana I met
several persons who recalled a commendable and somewhat pretentious
protest he wrote against cruelty to animals. The wholesome effects of a
temperate life and the horrors of war were also subjects which claimed
the services of his pen then, as they in later years demanded the
devoted attention of his mind and heart.

He was now over six feet high and was growing at a tremendous rate, for
he added two inches more before the close of his seventeenth year, thus
reaching the limit of his stature. He weighed in the region of a hundred
and sixty pounds; was wiry, vigorous, and strong. His feet and hands
were large, arms and legs long and in striking contrast with his slender
trunk and small head. "His skin was shrivelled and yellow," declares one
of the girls* who attended Crawford's school. "His shoes, when he had
any, were low. He wore buckskin breeches, linsey-woolsey shirt, and a
cap made of the skin of a squirrel or coon. His breeches were baggy and
lacked by several inches meeting the tops of his shoes, thereby exposing
his shinbone, sharp, blue, and narrow." In one branch of school learning
he was a great success; that was spelling. We are indebted to Kate Roby,
a pretty miss of fifteen, for an incident which illustrates alike his
proficiency in orthography and his natural inclination to help another
out of the mire. The word "defied" had been given out by Schoolmaster
Crawford, but had been misspelled several times when it came Miss Roby's
turn. "Abe stood on the opposite side of the room" (related Miss Roby**
to me in 1865) "and was watching me. I began d-e-f--and then I stopped,
hesitating whether to proceed with an 'i' or a 'y.' Looking up I beheld
Abe, a grin covering his face, and pointing with his index finger to his
eye. I took the hint, spelled the word with an 'i,' and it went through
all right."

     * Kate Gentry.

     ** Miss Roby afterward married Allen Gentry.

There was more or less of an attachment between Miss Roby and Abe,
although the lady took pains to assure me that they were never in
love. She described with self-evident pleasure, however, the delightful
experience of an evening's stroll down to the river with him, where they
were wont to sit on the bank and watch the moon as it slowly rose over
the neighboring hills. Dangling their youthful feet in the water, they
gazed on the pale orb of night, as many a fond pair before them had done
and will continue to do until the end of the world. One evening, when
thus engaged, their conversation and thoughts turned on the movement of
the planets. "I did not suppose that Abe, who had seen so little of the
world, would know anything about it, but he proved to my satisfaction
that the moon did not go down at all; that it only seemed to; that the
earth, revolving from west to east, carried us under, as it were. 'We
do the sinking,' he explained; 'while to us the moon is comparatively
still. The moon's sinking is only an illusion.' I at once dubbed him a
fool, but later developments convinced me that I was the fool, not
he. He was well acquainted with the general laws of astronomy and the
movements of the heavenly bodies, but where he could have learned so
much, or how to put it so plainly, I never could understand."

[Illustration: Lines Written by Lincoln 081]

Lines written by Lincoln on the Leaf of his School-book in his
Fourteenth Year. Preserved by his Step-mother. Original in possession of
J. Weik.

Absalom Roby is authority for the statement that even at that early day
Abe was a patient reader of a Louisville newspaper, which some one
at Gentryville kindly furnished him. Among the books he read were
the Bible, "Æsop's Fables," "Robinson Crusoe," Bunyan's "Pilgrim's
Progress," a "History of the United States," and Weems' "Life of
Washington." A little circumstance attended the reading of the
last-named book, which only within recent years found its way into
public print. The book was borrowed from a close-fisted neighbor, Josiah
Crawford, and one night, while lying on a little shelf near a crack
between two logs in the Lincoln cabin during a storm, the covers were
damaged by rain. Crawford--not the schoolmaster, but old "Blue Nose,"
as Abe and others called him--assessed the damage to his book at
seventy-five cents, and the unfortunate borrower was required to pull
fodder for three days at twenty-five cents a day in settlement of
the account. While at school it is doubtful if he was able to own an
arithmetic. His stepmother was unable to remember his ever having owned
one. She gave me, however, a few leaves from a book made and bound
by Abe, in which he had entered, in a large, bold hand, the tables of
weights and measures, and the "sums" to be worked out in illustration of
each table. Where the arithmetic was obtained I could not learn. On one
of the pages which the old lady gave me, and just underneath the table
which tells how many pints there are in a bushel, the facetious young
student had scrawled these four lines of schoolboy doggerel:

     "Abraham Lincoln,
     His hand and pen,
     He will be good,
     But God knows when."

On another page were found, in his own hand, a few lines which it is
also said he composed. Nothing indicates that they were borrowed, and
I have always, therefore, believed that they were original with him.
Although a little irregular in metre, the sentiment would, I think, do
credit to an older head.

     Time, what an empty vapor 'tis,
     And days how swift they are:
     Swift as an Indian arrow,
     Fly on like a shooting star.

     The present moment just is here,
     Then slides away in haste,
     That we can never say they're ours,
     But only say they're past."

His penmanship, after some practice, became so regular in form that it
excited the admiration of other and younger boys. One of the latter,
Joseph C. Richardson, said that "Abe Lincoln was the best penman in the
neighborhood." At Richardson's request he made some copies for practice.
During my visit to Indiana I met Richardson, who showed these two lines
which Abe had prepared for him:

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

To comprehend Mr. Lincoln fully we must know in substance not only the
facts of his origin, but also the manner of his development. It will
always be a matter of wonder to the American people, I have no
doubt--as it has been to me--that from such restricted and unpromising
opportunities in early life, Mr. Lincoln grew into the great man he was.
The foundation for his education was laid in Indiana and in the little
town of New Salem in Illinois, and in both places he gave evidence of a
nature and characteristics that distinguished him from every associate
and surrounding he had. He was not peculiar or eccentric, and yet
a shrewd observer would have seen that he was decidedly unique and
original. Although imbued with a marked dislike for manual labor, it
cannot be truthfully said of him that he was indolent. From a mental
standpoint he was one of the most energetic young men of his day.
He dwelt altogether in the land of thought. His deep meditation and
abstraction easily induced the belief among his horny-handed companions
that he was lazy. In fact, a neighbor, John Romine, makes that charge.
"He worked for me," testifies the latter, "but was always reading and
thinking. I used to get mad at him for it. I say he was awfully lazy.
He would laugh and talk--crack his jokes and tell stories all the time;
didn't love work half as much as his pay. He said to me one day that his
father taught him to work, but he never taught him to love it." Verily
there was but one Abraham Lincoln!

His chief delight during the day, if unmolested, was to lie down under
the shade of some inviting tree to read and study. At night, lying on
his stomach in front of the open fireplace, with a piece of charcoal he
would cipher on a broad wooden shovel. When the latter was covered over
on both sides he would take his father's drawing knife or plane and
shave it off clean, ready for a fresh supply of inscriptions the next
day. He often moved about the cabin with a piece of chalk, writing and
ciphering on boards and the flat sides of hewn logs. When every bare
wooden surface had been filled with his letters and ciphers he would
erase them and begin anew. Thus it was always; and the boy whom dull
old Thomas Lincoln and rustic John Romine conceived to be lazy was in
reality the most tireless worker in all the region around Gentryvllle.
His stepmother told me he devoured everything in the book line within
his reach. If in his reading he came across anything that pleased his
fancy, he entered it down in a copy-book--a sort of repository, in which
he was wont to store everything worthy of preservation. "Frequently,"
related his stepmother, "he had no paper to write his pieces down on.
Then he would put them with chalk on a board or plank, sometimes only
making a few signs of what he intended to write. When he got paper he
would copy them, always bringing them to me and reading them. He would
ask my opinion of what he had read, and often explained things to me in
his plain and simple language." How he contrived at the age of fourteen
to absorb information is thus told by John Hanks: "When Abe and I
returned to the house from work he would go to the cupboard, snatch a
piece of corn bread, sit down, take a book, cock his legs up as high
as his head, and read. We grubbed, plowed, mowed, and worked together
barefooted in the field. Whenever Abe had a chance in the field while
at work, or at the house, he would stop and read." He kept the Bible and
"Æsop's Fables" always within reach, and read them over and over again.
These two volumes furnished him with the many figures of speech and
parables which he used with such happy effect in his later and public

Amid such restricted and unromantic environments the boy developed into
the man. The intellectual fire burned slowly, but with a steady and
intense glow. Although denied the requisite training of the school-room,
he was none the less competent to cope with those who had undergone that
discipline. No one had a more retentive memory. If he read or heard
a good thing it never escaped him. His powers of concentration were
intense, and in the ability through analysis to strip bare a proposition
he was unexcelled. His thoughtful and investigating mind dug down after
ideas, and never stopped till bottom facts were reached. With such a
mental equipment the day was destined to come when the world would need
the services of his intellect and heart. That he was equal to the great
task when the demand came is but another striking proof of the grandeur
of his character.


The first law book Lincoln ever read was "The Statutes of Indiana." He
obtained the volume from his friend David Tumham, who testifies that he
fairly devoured the book in his eager efforts to abstract the store of
knowledge that lay between the lids. No doubt, as Tumham insists, the
study of the statutes at this early day led Abe to think of the law
as his calling in maturer years. At any rate he now began to evince no
little zeal in the matter of public speaking--in compliance with the
old notion, no doubt, that a lawyer can never succeed unless he has the
elements of the orator or advocate in his construction--and even when
at work in the field he could not resist the temptation to mount the
nearest stump and practise on his fellow laborers. The latter would
flock around him, and active operations would cease whenever he began.
A cluster of tall and stately trees often made him a most dignified
and apreciative audience during the delivery of these maiden forensic
efforts. He was old enough to attend musters, log-rollings, and
horse-races, and was rapidly becoming a favored as well as favorite
character. "The first time I ever remember of seeing Abe Lincoln," is
the testimony of one of his neighbors,* "was when I was a small boy and
had gone with my father to attend some kind of an election. One of our
neighbors, James Larkins, was there. Larkins was a great hand to brag on
anything he owned. This time it was his horse. He stepped up before Abe,
who was in the crowd, and commenced talking to him, boasting all the
while of his animal.

"'I have got the best horse in the country'" he shouted to his young
listener. "'I ran him three miles in exactly nine minutes, and he never
fetched a long breath.'"

"'I presume,' said Abe, rather dryly, 'he fetched a good many short ones

      * John W. Lamar, MS. letter, June 29, 1866.

With all his peaceful propensities Abe was not averse to a contest
of strength, either for sport or in settlement--as in one memorable
case--of grievances. Personal encounters were of frequent occurrence
in Gentryville in those days, and the prestige of having thrashed an
opponent gave the victor marked social distinction. Green B. Taylor,
with whom Abe worked the greater part of one winter on a farm, furnished
me with an account of the noted fight between John Johnston, Abe's
stepbrother, and William Grigsby, in which stirring drama Abe himself
played an important rôle before the curtain was rung down. Taylor's
father was the second for Johnston, and William Whitten officiated in
a similar capacity for Grigsby. "They had a terrible fight," relates
Taylor, "and it soon became apparent that Grigsby was too much for
Lincoln's man, Johnston. After they had fought a long time without
interference, it having been agreed not to break the ring, Abe burst
through, caught Grigsby, threw him off and some feet away. There he
stood, proud as Lucifer, and swinging a bottle of liquor over his head
swore he was 'the big buck of the lick.' 'If any one doubts it,'
he shouted, 'he has only to come on and whet his horns.'" A general
engagement followed this challenge, but at the end of hostilities the
field was cleared and the wounded retired amid the exultant shouts of
their victors.

Much of the latter end of Abe's boyhood would have been lost in the
midst of tradition but for the store of information and recollections I
was fortunate enough to secure from an interesting old lady whom I met
in Indiana in 1865. She was the wife of Josiah Crawford*--"Blue Nose,"
as Abe had named him--and possessed rare accomplishments for a woman
reared in the backwoods of Indiana. She was not only impressed with
Abe's early efforts, but expressed great admiration for his sister
Sarah, whom she often had with her at her own hospitable home and
whom she described as a modest, industrious, and sensible sister of a
humorous and equally sensible brother. From Mrs. Crawford I obtained
the few specimens of Abe's early literary efforts and much of the matter
that follows in this chapter. The introduction here of the literary
feature as affording us a glimpse of Lincoln's boyhood days may to a
certain extent grate harshly on over-refined ears; but still no apology
is necessary, for, as intimated at the outset, I intend to keep close
to Lincoln all the way through. Some writers would probably omit
these songs and backwoods recitals as savoring too strongly of the
Bacchanalian nature, but that would be a narrow view to take of history.
If we expect to know Lincoln thoroughly we must be prepared to take him
as he really was.

     * In one of her conversations with me Mrs. Crawford told me
     of the exhibitions with which at school they often
     entertained the few persons who attended the closing day.
     Sometimes, in warm weather, the scholars made a platform of
     clean boards covered overhead with green boughs. Generally,
     however, these exhibitions took place in the school-room.
     The exercises consisted of the varieties offered at this day
     at the average seminary or school--declamations and
     dialogues or debates. The declamations were obtained
     principally from a book called "The Kentucky Preceptor,"
     which volume Mrs. Crawford gave me as a souvenir of my
     visit. Lincoln had often used it himself, she said. The
     questions for discussion were characteristic of the day and
     age. The relative merits of the "Bee and the Ant," the
     difference in strength between "Wind and Water," taxed their
     knowledge of physical phenomena; and the all-important
     question "Which has the most right to complain, the Indian
     or the Negro?" called out their conceptions of a great moral
     or national wrong. In the discussion of all these grave
     subjects Lincoln took a deep interest.

In 1826 Abe's sister Sarah was married to Aaron Grigsby, and at the
wedding the Lincoln family sang a song composed in honor of the event
by Abe himself. It is a tiresome doggerel and full of painful rhymes. I
reproduce it here from the manuscript furnished me by Mrs. Crawford. The
author and composer called it "Adam and Eve's Wedding Song."

     "When Adam was created
     He dwelt in Eden's shade,
     As Moses has recorded,
     And soon a bride 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
     That man should be alone,
     But caused a sleep upon him,
     And from him took a bone.

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

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

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

     The woman she was taken
     From under Adam's arm,
     So she must be protected
     From injuries and harm."

Poor Sarah, at whose wedding this song was sung, never lived to see the
glory nor share in the honor that afterwards fell to the lot of her tall
and angular brother. Within two years after her marriage she died in

Although devoid of any natural ability as a singer Abe nevertheless made
many efforts and had great appreciation of certain songs. In after years
he told me he doubted if he really knew what the harmony of sound was.
The songs in vogue then were principally of the sacred order. They were
from Watts' and Dupuy's hymn-books. David Tumham furnished me with a
list, marking as especial favorites the following: "Am I a Soldier of
the Cross"; "How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours"; "There is a Fountain
Filled with Blood," and, "Alas, and did my Saviour Bleed?" One song
pleased Abe not a little. "I used to sing it for old Thomas Lincoln,"
relates Turnham, "at Abe's request. The old gentleman liked it and made
me sing it often. I can only remember one couplet:

     "'There was a Romish lady
     She was brought up in Popery.'"

Dennis Hanks insists that Abe used to try his hand and voice at "Poor
old Ned," but never with any degree of success. "Rich, racy verses" were
sung by the big boys in the country villages of that day with as keen a
relish as they are to-day. There is no reason and less evidence for the
belief that Abe did not partake of this forbidden fruit along with other
boys of the same age and condition in life. Among what Dennis called
"field songs" are a few lines from this one:

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

Of another ballad we have this couplet:

     "Hail Columbia, happy land,
     If you aint drunk then I'll be damned."

We can imagine the merry Dennis, hilarious with the exhilaration of deep
potations at the village grocery, singing this "field song" as he and
Abe wended their way homeward. A stanza from a campaign song which Abe
was in the habit of rendering, according to Mrs. Crawford, attests his
earliest political predilections:

     "Let auld acquaintance be forgot
     And never brought to mind,
     May Jackson be our president,
     And Adams left behind."

A mournful and distressing ballad, "John Anderson's Lamentation," as
rendered by Abe, was written out for me by Mrs. Crawford, but the first

     "Oh, sinners, poor sinners, take warning by me,
     The fruits of transgression behold now and see,"

will suffice to indicate how mournful the rest of it was.

The centre of wit and wisdom in the village of Gentryville was at the
store. This place was in charge of one Jones, who soon after embarking
in business seemed to take quite a fancy to Abe. He took the only
newspaper--sent from Louisville--and at his place of business gathered
Abe, Dennis Hanks, Baldwin the blacksmith, and other kindred spirits to
discuss such topics as are the exclusive property of the store lounger.
Abe's original and ridiculous stories not only amused the crowd, but the
display of his unique faculties made him many friends. One who saw him
at this time says:

"Lincoln would frequently make political speeches to the boys; he was
always calm, logical, and clear. His jokes and stories were so odd,
original, and witty all the people in town would gather around him. He
would keep them till midnight. Abe was a good talker, a good reasoner,
and a kind of newsboy." He attended all the trials before the "squire,"
as that important functionary was called, and frequently wandered off
to Boonville, a town on the river, distant fifteen miles, and the county
seat of Warrick County, to hear and see how the courts were conducted
there. On one occasion, at the latter place, he remained during the
trial of a murderer and attentively absorbed the proceedings. A lawyer
named Breckenridge represented the defense, and his speech so pleased
and thrilled his young listener that the latter could not refrain
from approaching the eloquent advocate at the close of his address and
congratulating him on his signal success. How Breckenridge accepted
the felicitations of the awkward, hapless youth we shall probably never
know. The story is told that during Lincoln's term as President, he
was favored one day at the White House with a visit by this same
Breckenridge, then a resident of Texas, who had called to pay his
respects. In a conversation about early days in Indiana, the President,
recalling Breckenridge's argument in the murder trial, remarked, "If I
could, as I then thought, have made as good a speech as that, my soul
would have been satisfied; for it was up to that time the best speech I
had ever heard."

No feature of his backwoods life pleased Abe so well as going to mill.
It released him from a day's work in the woods, besides affording him a
much desired opportunity to watch the movement of the mill's primitive
and cumbersome machinery. It was on many of these trips that David
Tumham accompanied him. In later years Mr. Lincoln related the following
reminiscence of his experience as a miller in Indiana; One day, taking a
bag of corn, he mounted the old flea-bitten gray mare and rode leisurely
to Gordon's mill. Arriving somewhat late, his turn did not come till
almost sundown. In obedience to the custom requiring each man to furnish
his own power he hitched the old mare to the arm, and as the animal
moved round, the machinery responded with equal speed. Abe was mounted
on the arm, and at frequent intervals made use of his whip to urge the
animal on to better speed. With a careless "Get up, you old hussy,"
he applied the lash at each revolution of the arm. In the midst of the
exclamation, or just as half of it had escaped through his teeth, the
old jade, resenting the continued use of the goad, elevated her shoeless
hoof and striking the young engineer in the forehead, sent him sprawling
to the earth. Miller Gordon hurried in, picked up the bleeding,
senseless boy, whom he took for dead, and at once sent for his father.
Old Thomas Lincoln came--came as soon as embodied listlessness
could moveloaded the lifeless boy in a wagon and drove home. Abe lay
unconscious all night, but towards break of day the attendants noticed
signs of returning consciousness. The blood beginning to flow normally,
his tongue struggled to loosen itself, his frame jerked for an instant,
and he awoke, blurting out the words "you old hussy," or the latter half
of the sentence interrupted by the mare's heel at the mill.

Mr. Lincoln considered this one of the remarkable incidents of his life.
He often referred to it, and we had many discussions in our law office
over the psychological phenomena involved in the operation. Without
expressing my own views I may say that his idea was that the latter half
of the expression, "Get up, you old hussy," was cut off by a suspension
of the normal flow of his mental energy, and that as soon as life's
forces returned he unconsciously ended the sentence; or, as he in
a plainer figure put it: "Just before I struck the old mare my
will through the mind had set the muscles of my tongue to utter the
expression, and when her heels came in contact with my head the whole
thing stopped half-cocked, as it were, and was only fired off when
mental energy or force returned."

By the time he had reached his seventeenth year he had attained the
physical proportions of a full-grown man. He was employed to assist
James Taylor in the management of a ferry-boat across the Ohio river
near the mouth of Anderson's creek, but was not allowed a man's
wages for the work. He received thirty-seven cents a day for what he
afterwards told me was the roughest work a young man could be made to
do. In the midst of whatever work he was engaged on he still found
time to utilize his pen. He prepared a composition on the American
Government, calling attention to the necessity of preserving the
Constitution and perpetuating the Union, which with characteristic
modesty he turned over to his friend and patron, William Woods, for
safe-keeping and perusal. Through the instrumentality of Woods it
attracted the attention of many persons, among them one Pitcher,* a
lawyer at Rockport, who with faintly concealed enthusiasm declared
"the world couldn't beat it." An article on Temperance was shown under
similar circumstance to Aaron Farmer, a Baptist preacher of local
renown, and by him furnished to an Ohio newspaper for publication. The
thing, however, which gave him such prominence--a prominence too which
could have been attained in no other way--was his remarkable physical
strength, for he was becoming not only one of the longest, but one of
the strongest men around Gentryville. He enjoyed the brief distinction
his exhibitions of strength gave him more than the admiration of
his friends for his literary or forensic efforts. Some of the feats
attributed to him almost surpass belief. One witness declares he was
equal to three men, having on a certain occasion carried a load of six
hundred pounds At another time he walked away with a pair of logs which
three robust men were skeptical of their ability to carry. "He could
strike with a maul a heavier blow--could sink an axe deeper into wood
than any man I ever saw," is the testimony of another witness.

     * This gentleman, Judge John Pitcher, ninety-three years
     old, is still living in Mount Vernon, Indiana. He says that
     young Lincoln often called at his office and borrowed books
     to read at home during leisure hours. On one occasion he
     expressed a desire to study law with Pitcher, but explained
     that his parents were so poor that he could not be spared
     from the farm on which they lived. "He related to me in my
     office one day," says Pitcher, "an account of his payment to
     Crawford of the damage done to the latter's book--Weems'
     'Life of Washington.' Lincoln said, "You see, I am tall and
     long-armed, and I went to work in earnest. At the end of the
     two days there was not a corn-blade left on a stalk in the
     field. I wanted to pay full damage for all the wetting the
     book got, and I made a clean sweep."

After he had passed his nineteenth year and was nearing his majority
he began to chafe and grow restless under the restraints of home rule.
Seeing no prospect of betterment in his condition, so long as his
fortune was interwoven with that of his father, he at last endeavored to
strike out into the broad world for himself. Having great faith in the
judgment and influence of his fast friend Wood, he solicited from him
a recommendation to the officers of some one of the boats plying up and
down the river, hoping thereby to obtain employment more congenial than
the dull, fatiguing work of the farm. To this project the judicious Wood
was much opposed, and therefore suggested to the would-be boatman the
moral duty that rested on him to remain with his father till the law
released him from that obligation. With deep regret he retraced his
steps to the paternal mansion, seriously determined not to evade the
claim from which in a few weary months he would be finally released.
Meanwhile occurred his first opportunity to see the world. In March,
1828, James Gentry, for whom he had been at work, had fitted out a boat
with a stock of grain and meat for a trading expedition to New Orleans,
and placed his son Allen in charge of the cargo for the voyage. Abe's
desire to make a river trip was at last satisfied, and he accompanied
the proprietor's son, serving as "bow hand." His pay was eight dollars
a month and board. In due course of time the navigators returned from
their expedition with the evidence of profitable results to gladden the
heart of the owner. The only occurrence of interest they could relate
of the voyage was the encounter with a party of marauding negroes at the
plantation of Madame Duchesne, a few miles below Baton Rouge. Abe and
Gentry, having tied up for the night, were fast asleep on their boat
when aroused by the arrival of a crowd of negroes bent on plunder.
They set to work with clubs, and not only drove off the intruders, but
pursued them inland, then hastily returning to their quarters they cut
loose their craft and floated down-stream till daylight.

Before passing on further it may not be amiss to glance for a moment at
the social side of life as it existed in Gentryville in Abe's day. "We
thought nothing," said an old lady whom I interviewed when in Indiana,
"of going eight or ten miles to church. The ladies did not stop for the
want of a shawl, cloak, or riding-dress in winter time, but would put on
their husbands' old overcoats and wrap up their little ones and take one
or two of them on their beasts. Their husbands would walk, and thus they
would go to church, frequently remaining till the second day before they
returned home."

The old men starting from the fields and out of the woods would carry
their guns on their shoulders and go also. They dressed in deer-skin
pants, moccasins, and coarse hunting shirts--the latter usually fastened
with a rope or leather strap. Arriving at the house where services were
to be held they would recite to each other thrilling stories of their
hunting exploits, and smoke their pipes with the old ladies. They were
treated, and treated each other, with the utmost kindness. A bottle of
liquor, a pitcher of water, sugar, and glasses were set out for them;
also a basket of apples or turnips, with, now and then, a pie or cakes.
Thus they regaled themselves till the preacher found himself in a
condition to begin. The latter, having also partaken freely of the
refreshments provided, would "take his stand, draw his coat, open
his shirt collar, read his text, and preach and pound till the sweat,
produced alike by his exertions and the exhilarating effects of the
toddy, rolled from his face in great drops. Shaking hands and singing
ended the service."

The houses were scattered far apart, but the people travelled great
distances to participate in the frolic and coarse fun of a log-rolling
and sometimes a wedding. Unless in mid-winter the young ladies carried
their shoes in their hands, and only put them on when the scene of
the festivities was reached. The ladies of maturer years drank whiskey
toddy, while the men took the whiskey straight. They all danced merrily,
many of them barefooted, to the tune of a cracked fiddle the night
through. We can imagine the gleeful and more hilarious swaggering home
at daybreak to the tune of Dennis Hanks' festive lines:

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

Although gay, prosperous, and light-hearted, these people were brimming
over with superstition. It was at once their food and drink. They
believed in the baneful influence of witches, pinned their faith to the
curative power of wizards in dealing with sick animals, and shot the
image of a witch with a silver ball to break the spell she was supposed
to have over human beings. They followed with religious minuteness the
directions of the water-wizard, with his magic divining rod, and the
faith doctor who wrought miraculous cures by strange sounds and signals
to some mysterious agency. The flight of a bird in at the window, the
breath of a horse on a child's head, the crossing by a dog of a hunter's
path, all betokened evil luck in store for some one. The moon exercised
greater influence on the actions of the people and the growth of
vegetation than the sun and all the planetary system combined. Fence
rails could only be cut in the light of the moon, and potatoes planted
in the dark of the moon. Trees and plants which bore their fruit above
ground could be planted when the moon shone full. Soap could only be
made in the light of the moon, and it must only be stirred in one way
and by one person. They had the horror of Friday which with many exists
to this day. Nothing was to be begun on that unlucky day, for if the
rule were violated an endless train of disasters was sure to follow.

Surrounded by people who believed in these things, Lincoln grew to
manhood. With them he walked, talked, and labored, and from them he also
absorbed whatever of superstition showed itself in him thereafter. His
early Baptist training made him a fatalist up to the day of his death,
and, listening in boyish wonder to the legends of some toothless old
dame led him to believe in the significance of dreams and visions. His
surroundings helped to create that unique character which in the eyes of
a great portion of the American people was only less curious and amusing
than it was august and noble.

The winter of 1829 was marked by another visitation of that dreaded
disease, "the milk-sick." It was making the usual ravages among the
cattle. Human victims were falling before it every day, and it caused
the usual stampede in southern Indiana. Dennis Hanks, discouraged by
the prospect and grieving over the loss of his stock, proposed a move
further westward. Returning emigrants had brought encouraging news of
the newly developed state of Illinois. Vast stretches of rich alluvial
lands were to be had there on the easiest of terms.

Besides this, Indiana no longer afforded any inducements to the poor
man. The proposition of Dennis met with the general assent of the
Lincoln family, and especially suited the roving and migratory spirit of
Thomas Lincoln. He had been induced to leave Kentucky for the hills of
Indiana by the same rosy and alluring reports. He had moved four times
since his marriage and in point of worldly goods was no better off than
when he started in life. His land groaned under the weight of a long
neglected incumbrance and, like many of his neighbors, he was ready for
another change. Having disposed of his land to James Gentry, and his
grain and stock to young David Turnham, he loaded his household effects
into a wagon drawn by two yoke of oxen, and in March, 1830, started for
Illinois. The two daughters of Mrs. Lincoln had meanwhile married
Dennis Hanks and Levi Hall, and with these additions the party numbered
thirteen in all. Abe had just passed his twenty-first birthday.

The journey was a long and tedious one; the streams were swollen and the
roads were muddy almost to the point of impassability. The rude, heavy
wagon, with its primitive wheels, creaked and groaned as it crawled
through the woods and now and then stalled in the mud. Many were the
delays, but none ever disturbed the equanimity of its passengers. They
were cheerful in the face of all adversity, hopeful, and some of them
determined; but none of them more so than the tall, ungainly youth in
buckskin breeches and coon-skin cap who wielded the gad and urged the
patient oxen forward. As these humble emigrants entered the new State
little did the curious people in the towns through which they passed
dream that the obscure and penniless driver who yelled his commands to
the oxen would yet become Chief Magistrate of the greatest nation of
modern times.*

     * Mr. Lincoln once described this journey to me. He said the
     ground had not yet yielded up the frosts of winter; that
     daring the day the roads would thaw out on the surface and
     at night freeze over again, thus making travelling,
     especially with oxen, painfully slow and tiresome. There
     were, of course, no bridges, and the party were consequently
     driven to ford the streams, unless by a circuitous route
     they could avoid them. In the early part of the day the
     latter were also frozen slightly, and the oxen would break
     through a square yard of thin ice at every step. Among other
     things which the party brought with them was a pet dog,
     which trotted along after the wagon. One day the little
     fellow fell behind and failed to catch up till after they
     had crossed the stream. Missing him they looked back, and
     there, on the opposite bank, he stood, whining and jumping
     about in great distress. The water was running over the
     broken edges of the ice, and the poor animal was afraid to
     cross. It would not pay to turn the oxen and wagon back and
     ford the stream again in order to recover a dog, and so the
     majority, in their anxiety to move forward, decided to go on
     without him. "But I could not endure the idea of abandoning
     even a dog," related Lincoln. "Pulling off shoes and socks I
     waded across the stream and triumphantly returned with the
     shivering animal under my arm. His frantic leaps of joy and
     other evidences of a dog's gratitude amply repaid me for all
     the exposure I had undergone."


[Illustration: House of Thomas Lincoln 107]

House near Farmington, Coles County, Illinois, in which Thomas Lincoln
died. Photographed in 1886.

After a fortnight of rough and fatiguing travel the colony of Indiana
emigrants reached a point in Illinois five miles north-west of the town
of Decatur in Macon county. John Hanks, son of that Joseph Hanks in
whose shop at Elizabethtown Thomas Lincoln had learned what he knew
of the carpenter's art, met and sheltered them until they were safely
housed on a piece of land which he had selected for them five miles
further westward. He had preceded them over a year, and had in the
meantime hewed out a few timbers to be used in the construction of their
cabin. The place he had selected was on a bluff overlooking the Sangamon
river,--for these early settlers must always be in sight of a running
stream,--well supplied with timber. It was a charming and picturesque
site, and all hands set resolutely to work to prepare the new abode.
One felled the trees; one hewed the timbers for the cabin; while another
cleared the ground of its accumulated growth of underbrush. All was
bustle and activity. Even old Thomas Lincoln, infused with the spirit of
the hour, was spurred to unwonted exertion. What part of the work fell
to his lot our only chronicler, John Hanks, fails to note; but it is
conjectured from the old gentleman's experience in the art of building
that his services corresponded to those of the more modern supervising
architect. With the aid of the oxen and a plow John and Abe broke
up fifteen acres of sod, and "Abe and myself," observes Hanks in a
matter-of-fact way, "split rails enough to fence the place in." As
they swung their axes, or with wedge and maul split out the rails, how
strange to them the thought would have seemed that those self-same rails
were destined to make one of them immortal. If such a vision flashed
before the mind of either he made no sign of it, but each kept steadily
on in his simple, unromantic task.

Abe had now attained his majority and began to throw from his shoulders
the vexations of parental restraint. He had done his duty to his father,
and felt able to begin life on his own account. As he steps out into the
broad and inviting world we take him up for consideration as a man.
At the same time we dispense with further notice of his father, Thomas
Lincoln. In the son are we alone interested. The remaining years of his
life marked no change in the old gentleman's nature. He still listened
to the glowing descriptions of prosperity in the adjoining counties,
and before his death moved three times in search of better times and a
healthy location. In 1851 we find him living on forty acres of land on
Goose Nest prairie, in Coles county, Illinois. The land bore the
usual incumbrance--a mortgage for two hundred dollars, which his son
afterwards paid. On the 17th of January, after suffering for many weeks
from a disorder of the kidneys, he passed away at the ripe old age--as
his son tells us--of "seventy-three years and eleven days." For a long
time after beginning life on his own account Abe remained in sight
of the parental abode. He worked at odd jobs in the neighborhood, or
wherever the demand for his services called him. As late as 1831 he was
still in the same parts, and John Hanks is authority for the statement
that he "made three thousand rails for Major Warnick" walking daily
three miles to his work. During the intervals of leisure he read the few
books obtainable, and continued the practice of extemporaneous speaking
to the usual audience of undemonstrative stumps and voiceless trees.
His first attempt at public speaking after landing in Illinois is thus
described to me by John Hanks, whose language I incorporate: "After Abe
got to Decatur, or rather to Macon county, 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 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 Abe's
speech was through, took him aside and asked him where he had learned
so much and how he could do so well. Abe replied, stating his manner
and method of reading, and what he had read. The man encouraged him to

For the first time we are now favored with the appearance on the scene
of a very important personage--one destined to exert no little
influence in shaping Lincoln's fortunes. It is Denton Offut, a brisk
and venturesome business man, whose operations extended up and down
the Sangamon river for many miles. Having heard glowing reports of John
Hanks' successful experience as a boatman in Kentucky he had come down
the river to engage the latter's services to take a boatload of stock
and provisions to New Orleans. "He wanted me to go badly," observes
Hanks, "but I waited awhile before answering. I hunted up Abe, and I
introduced him and John Johnston, his step-brother, to Offut. After some
talk we at last made an engagement with Offut at fifty cents a day and
sixty dollars to make the trip to New Orleans. Abe and I came down the
Sangamon river in a canoe in March, 1831; landed at what is now called
Jamestown, five miles east of Springfield, then known as Judy's Ferry."
Here Johnston joined them, and, leaving their canoe in charge of one
Uriah Mann, they walked to Springfield, where after some inquiry they
found the genial and enterprising Offut regaling himself with the good
cheer dispensed at "The Buckhorn" inn. This hostelry, kept by Andrew
Elliot, was the leading place of its kind in the then unpretentious
village of Springfield. The figure of a buck's head painted on a sign
swinging in front of the house gave rise to its name. Offut had agreed
with Hanks to have a boat ready for him and his two companions at the
mouth of Spring creek on their arrival, but too many deep potations with
the new-comers who daily thronged about the "Buckhorn" had interfered
with the execution of his plans, and the boat still remained in the
womb of the future. Offut met the three expectant navigators on their
arrival, and deep were his regrets over his failure to provide the boat.
The interview resulted in the trio engaging to make the boat themselves.
From what was known as "Congress land" they obtained an abundance of
timber, and by the aid of the machinery at Kirkpatrick's mill they
soon had the requisite material for their vessel. While the work of
construction was going on a shanty was built in which they were lodged.
Lincoln was elected cook, a distinction he never underestimated for a
moment. Within four weeks the boat was ready to launch. Offut was sent
for, and was present when she slid into the water. It was the occasion
of much political chat and buncombe, in which the Whig party and Jackson
alike were, strangely enough, lauded to the skies. It is difficult
to account for the unanimous approval of such strikingly antagonistic
ideas, unless it be admitted that Offut must have brought with him some
substantial reminder of the hospitality on draught at the "Buckhorn"
inn. Many disputes arose, we are told, in which Lincoln took part and
found a good field for practice and debate.

A travelling juggler halted long enough in Sangamontown, where the boat
was launched, to give an exhibition of his art and dexterity in the loft
of Jacob Carman's house. In Lincoln's low-crowned, broad-brimmed hat the
magician cooked eggs. As explanatory of the delay in passing up his hat
Lincoln drolly observed, "It was out of respect for the eggs, not care
for my hat."

Having loaded the vessel with pork in barrels, corn, and hogs, these
sturdy boatmen swung out into the stream. On April 19 they reached
the town of New Salem, a place destined to be an important spot in the
career of Lincoln. There they met with their first serious delay. The
boat stranded on Rutledge's mill-dam and hung helplessly over it a day
and a night. "We unloaded the boat," narrated one of the crew to explain
how they obtained relief from their embarrassing situation; "that is,
we transferred the goods from our boat to a borrowed one. We then rolled
the barrels forward; Lincoln bored a hole in the end [projecting] over
the dam; the water which had leaked in ran out and we slid over." Offut
was profoundly impressed with this exhibition of Lincoln's ingenuity. In
his enthusiasm he declared to the crowd who covered the hill and who
had been watching Lincoln's operation that he would build a steamboat to
plow up and down the Sangamon, and that Lincoln should be her Captain.
She would have rollers for shoals and dams, runners for ice, and with
Lincoln in charge, "By thunder, she'd have to go!"

After release from their embarrassing, not to say perilous, position the
boat and her crew floated away from New Salem and passed on to a point
known as Blue Banks, where as the historian of the voyage says: "We
had to load some hogs bought of Squire Godbey. We tried to drive
them aboard, but could not. They would run back past us. Lincoln then
suggested that we sew their eyes shut. Thinking to try it, we caught
them, Abe holding their heads and I their tails while Offut sewed up
their eyes. Still they wouldn't drive. At last, becoming tired, we
carried them to the boat. Abe received them and cut open their eyes,
Johnston and I handing them to him." After thus disposing of the
hog problem they again swung loose and floated down-stream. From the
Sangamon they passed to the Illinois. At Beardstown their unique craft,
with its "sails made of planks and cloth," excited the amusement and
laughter of those who saw them from the shore. Once on the bosom of the
broad Mississippi they glided past Alton, St. Louis, and Cairo in
rapid succession, tied up for a day at Memphis, and made brief stops at
Vicksburg and Natchez. Early in May they reached New Orleans, where they
lingered a month, disposing of their cargo and viewing the sights which
the Crescent City afforded.

In New Orleans, for the first time Lincoln beheld the true horrors of
human slavery. He saw "negroes in chains--whipped and scourged." Against
this inhumanity his sense of right and justice rebelled, and his mind
and conscience were awakened to a realization of what he had often heard
and read. No doubt, as one of his companions has said, "Slavery ran the
iron into him then and there." One morning in their rambles over the
city the trio passed a slave auction. A vigorous and comely mulatto girl
was being sold. She underwent a thorough examination at the hands of the
bidders; they pinched her flesh and made her trot up and down the room
like a horse, to show how she moved, and in order, as the auctioneer
said, that "bidders might satisfy themselves" whether the article they
were offering to buy was sound or not. The whole thing was so
revolting that Lincoln moved away from the scene with a deep feeling
of "unconquerable hate." Bidding his companions follow him he said, "By
God, boys, let's get away from this. If ever I get a chance to hit that
thing [meaning slavery], I'll hit it hard." This incident was furnished
me in 1865, by John Hanks. I have also heard Mr. Lincoln refer to it

In June the entire party, including Offut, boarded a steamboat going up
the river. At St. Louis they disembarked, Offut remaining behind
while Lincoln, Hanks, and Johnston started across Illinois on foot. At
Edwardsville they separated, Hanks going to Springfield, while Lincoln
and his stepbrother followed the road to Coles county, to which point
old Thomas Lincoln had meanwhile removed. Here Abe did not tarry long,
probably not over a month, but long enough to dispose most effectually
of one Daniel Needham, a famous wrestler who had challenged the returned
boatman to a test of strength. The contest took place at a locality
known as "Wabash Point." Abe threw his antagonist twice with comparative
ease, and thereby demonstrated such marked strength and agility as to
render him forever popular with the boys of that neighborhood.

In August the waters of the Sangamon river washed Lincoln in to
New Salem. This once sprightly and thriving village is no longer in
existence. Not a building, scarcely a stone, is left to mark the place
where it once stood. To reach it now the traveller must ascend a bluff
a hundred feet above the general level of the surrounding country. The
brow of the ridge, two hundred and fifty feet broad where it overlooks
the river, widens gradually as it extends westwardly to the forest and
ultimately to broad pastures. Skirting the base of the bluff is the
Sangamon river, which, coming around a sudden bend from the south-east,
strikes the rocky hill and is turned abruptly north. Here is an old
mill, driven by water-power, and reaching across the river is the
mill-dam on which Offut's vessel hung stranded in April, 1831. As the
river rolled her turbid waters over the dam, plunging them into the
whirl and eddy beneath, the roar of waters, like low, continuous,
distant thunder, could be distinctly heard through the village day and

The country in almost every direction is diversified by alternate
stretches of hills and level lands, with streams between each struggling
to reach the river. The hills are bearded with timber--oak, hickory,
walnut, ash, and elm. Below them are stretches of rich alluvial bottom
land, and the eye ranges over a vast expanse of foliage, the monotony
of which is relieved by the alternating swells and depressions of the
landscape. Between peak and peak, through its bed of limestone, sand,
and clay, sometimes kissing the feet of one bluff and then hugging the
other, rolls the Sangamon river. The village of New Salem, which once
stood on the ridge, was laid out in 1828; it became a trading place, and
in 1836 contained twenty houses and a hundred inhabitants. In the days
of land offices and stage-coaches it was a sprightly village with a busy
market. Its people were progressive and industrious. Propitious winds
filled the sails of its commerce, prosperity smiled graciously on
its every enterprise, and the outside world encouraged its social
pretensions. It had its day of glory, but, singularly enough,
cotemporaneous with the departure of Lincoln from its midst it went
into a rapid decline. A few crumbling stones here and there are all that
attest its former existence. "How it vanished," observes one writer,
"like a mist in the morning, to what distant places its inhabitants
dispersed, and what became of the abodes they left behind, shall be
questions for the local historian."

Lincoln's return to New Salem in August, 1831, was, within a few days,
contemporaneous with the reappearance of Offut, who made the gratifying
announcement that he had purchased a stock of goods which were to follow
him from Beardstown. He had again retained the services of Lincoln
to assist him when his merchandise should come to hand. The tall
stranger--destined to be a stranger in New Salem no longer--pending the
arrival of his employer's goods, lounged about the village with nothing
to do. Leisure never sat heavily on him. To him there was nothing
uncongenial in it, and he might very properly have been dubbed at the
time a "loafer." He assured those with whom he came in contact that he
was a piece of floating driftwood; that after the winter of deep snow,
he had come down the river with the freshet; borne along by the swelling
waters, and aimlessly floating about, he had accidentally lodged at
New Salem. Looking back over his history we are forced to conclude that
Providence or chance, or whatever power is responsible for it, could not
have assigned him to a more favorable refuge.

His introduction to the citizens of New Salem, as Mentor Graham* the
school-teacher tells us, was in the capacity of clerk of an election
board. Graham furnishes ample testimony of the facility, fairness, and
honesty which characterized the new clerk's work, and both teacher and
clerk were soon bound together by the warmest of ties. During the day,
when votes were coming in slowly, Lincoln began to entertain the crowd
at the polls with a few attempts at story-telling. My cousin, J. R.
Herndon, was present and enjoyed this feature of the election with the
keenest relish. He never forgot some of Lincoln's yarns, and was fond of
repeating them in after years. The recital of a few stories by Lincoln
easily established him in the good graces of all New Salem. Perhaps he
did not know it at the time, but he had used the weapon nearest at hand
and had won.

     * Nicolay and Hay in the Century make the mistake of
     spelling this man's name "Menton" Graham. In all the letters
     and papers from him he signs himself "Mentor" in every
     case.--J. W. W.

     ** "In the afternoon, as things were dragging a little,
     Lincoln the new man, began to spin out a stock of Indiana
     yarns. One that amused me more than any other he called the
     lizard story. 'The meeting-house,'" he said, "was in the
     woods and quite a distance from any other house. It was only
     used once a month. The preacher--an old line Baptist--was
     dressed in coarse linen pantaloons, and shirt of the same
     material. The pants, manufactured after the old fashion,
     with, baggy legs and a flap in front, were made to attach to
     his frame without the aid of suspenders. A single button
     held his shirt in position, and that was at the collar. He
     rose up in the pulpit and with a loud voice announced his
     text thus: 'I am the Christ, whom I shall represent to-day.'
     About this time a little blue lizard ran up underneath his
     roomy pantaloons. The old preacher, not wishing to interrupt
     the steady flow of his sermon, slapped away on his legs,
     expecting to arrest the intruder; but his efforts were
     unavailing, and the little fellow kept on ascending higher
     and higher. Continuing the sermon, the preacher slyly
     loosened the central button which graced the waist-band of
     his pantaloons and with a kick off came that easy-fitting
     garment. But meanwhile Mr. Lizard had passed the equatorial
     line of waist-band and was calmly exploring that part of the
     preacher's anatomy which lay underneath the back of his
     shirt. Things were now growing interesting, but the sermon
     was still grinding on. The next movement on the preacher's
     part was for the collar button, and with one sweep of his
     arm off came the tow linen shirt. The congregation sat for
     an instant as if dazed; at length one old lady in the rear
     of the room rose up and glancing at the excited object in
     the pulpit, shouted at the top of her voice: 'If you
     represent Christ then I'm done with the Bible.'"--J. R.
     Herndon, MS., July 2, 1865.

A few days after the election Lincoln found employment with one Dr.
Nelson, who after the style of dignitaries of later days started with
his family and effects in his "private" conveyance--which in this
instance was a flat-boat--for Texas. Lincoln was hired to pilot the
vessel through to the Illinois river. Arriving at Beardstown the pilot
was discharged, and returned on foot across the sand and hills to New
Salem. In the meantime Offut's long expected goods had arrived, and
Lincoln was placed in charge. Offut relied in no slight degree on the
business capacity of his clerk. In his effusive way he praised him
beyond reason. He boasted of his skill as a business man and his
wonderful intellectual acquirements. As for physical strength and
fearlessness of danger, he challenged New Salem and the entire world to
produce his equal. In keeping with his widely known spirit of enterprise
Offut rented the Rutledge and Cameron mill, which stood at the foot
of the hill, and thus added another iron to keep company with the
half-dozen already in the fire. As a further test of his business
ability Lincoln was placed in charge of this also. William G. Greene was
hired to assist him, and between the two a life-long friendship sprang
up. They slept in the store, and so strong was the intimacy between them
that "when one turned over the other had to do likewise." At the head of
these varied enterprises was Offut, the most progressive man by all
odds in the village. He was certainly an odd character, if we accept the
judgment of his cotemporaries. By some he is given the character of a
clear-headed, brisk man of affairs. By others he is variously described
as "wild, noisy, and reckless," or "windy, rattle-brained, unsteady, and
improvident." Despite the unenviable traits ascribed to him he was good
at heart and a generous friend of Lincoln. His boast that the latter
could outrun, whip, or throw down any man in Sangamon county was soon
tested, as we shall presently see, for, as another has truthfully
expressed it, "honors such as Offut accorded to Abe were to be won
before they were worn at New Salem." In the neighborhood of the village,
or rather a few miles to the south-west, lay a strip of timber called
Clary's Grove. The boys who lived there were a terror to the entire
region--seemingly a necessary product of frontier civilization. They
were friendly and good-natured; they could trench a pond, dig a bog,
build a house; they could pray and fight, make a village or create
a state. They would do almost anything for sport or fun, love or
necessity. Though rude and rough, though life's forces ran over the edge
of the bowl, foaming and sparkling in pure deviltry for deviltry's sake,
yet place before them a poor man who needed their aid, a lame or sick
man, a defenceless woman, a widow, or an orphaned child, they melted
into sympathy and charity at once. They gave all they had, and willingly
toiled or played cards for more. Though there never was under the sun a
more generous parcel of rowdies, a stranger's introduction was likely to
be the most unpleasant part of his acquaintance with them. They conceded
leadership to one Jack Armstrong, a hardy, strong, and well-developed
specimen of physical manhood, and under him they were in the habit of
"cleaning out" New Salem whenever his order went forth to do so.
Offut and "Bill" Clary--the latter skeptical of Lincoln's strength and
agility--ended a heated discussion in the store one day over the new
clerk's ability to meet the tactics of Clary's Grove, by a bet of ten
dollars that Jack Armstrong was, in the language of the day, "a better
man than Lincoln." The new clerk strongly opposed this sort of an
introduction, but after much entreaty from Offut, at last consented to
make his bow to the social lions of the town in this unusual way. He was
now six feet four inches high, and weighed, as his friend and confidant,
William Greene, tells us with impressive precision, "two hundred and
fourteen pounds." The contest was to be a friendly one and fairly
conducted. All New Salem adjourned to the scene of the wrestle. Money,
whiskey, knives, and all manner of property were staked on the result.
It is unnecessary to go into the details of the encounter. Everyone
knows how it ended; how at last the tall and angular rail-splitter,
enraged at the suspicion of foul tactics, and profiting by his height
and the length of his arms, fairly lifted the great bully by the throat
and shook him like a rag; how by this act he established himself solidly
in the esteem of all New Salem, and secured the respectful admiration
and friendship of the very man whom he had so thoroughly vanquished.*

     * Mr. Lincoln's remarkable strength resulted not so much
     from muscular power as from the toughness of his sinews. He
     could not only lift from the ground enormous weight, but
     could throw a cannon-ball or a maul farther than anyone else
     in New Salem. I heard him explain once how he was enabled
     thus to excel others. He did not attribute it to a greater
     proportion of physical strength, but contended that because
     of the unusual length of his arms the ball or projectile had
     a greater swing and therefore acquired more force and
     momentum than in the hands of an average man.

From this time forward Jack Armstrong, his wife Hannah, and all the
other Armstrongs became his warm and trusted friends. None stood readier
than they to rally to his support, none more willing to lend a helping
hand. Lincoln appreciated their friendship and support, and in after
years proved his gratitude by saving one member of the family from the

The business done over Offut's counter gave his clerk frequent intervals
of rest, so that, if so inclined, an abundance of time for study
was always at his disposal. Lincoln had long before realized the
deficiencies of his education, and resolved, now that the conditions
were favorable, to atone for early neglect by a course of study. Nothing
was more apparent to him than his limited knowledge of language, and
the proper way of expressing his ideas. Moreover, it may be said that
he appreciated his inefficiency in a rhetorical sense, and therefore
determined to overcome all these obstacles by mastering the intricacies
of grammatical construction. Acting on the advice of Mentor Graham he
hunted up one Vaner, who was the reputed owner of Kirkham's Grammar,
and after a walk of several miles returned to the store with the coveted
volume under his arm. With zealous perseverance he at once applied
himself to the book. Sometimes he would stretch out at full length on
the counter, his head propped up on a stack of calico prints, studying
it; or he would steal away to the shade of some inviting tree, and there
spend hours ar a time in a determined effort to fix in his mind the
arbitrary rule that "adverbs qualify verbs, adjectives, and other
adverbs." From the vapidity of grammar it was now and then a great
relaxation to turn to the more agreeable subject of mathematics; and he
might often have been seen lying face downwards, stretched out over six
feet of grass, figuring out on scraps of paper some problem given for
solution by a quizzical store lounger, or endeavoring to prove that,
"multiplying the denominator of a fraction divides it, while dividing
the denominator multiplies it." Rather a poor prospect one is forced to
admit for a successful man of business.

At this point in my narrative I am pained to drop from further notice
our buoyant and effusive friend Offut. His business ventures failing
to yield the extensive returns he predicted, and too many of his
obligations maturing at the same time, he was forced to pay the penalty
of commercial delinquency and went to the wall. He soon disappeared from
the village, and the inhabitants thereof never knew whither he went. In
the significant language of Lincoln he "petered out." As late as 1873 I
received a letter from Dr. James Hall, a physician living at St. Dennis,
near Baltimore, Maryland, who, referring to the disappearance of Offut,
relates the following reminiscence: "Of what consequence to know or
learn more of Offut I cannot imagine; but be assured he turned up after
leaving New Salem. On meeting the name it seemed familiar, but I could
not locate him. Finally I fished up from memory that some twenty-five
years ago one "Denton Offut" appeared in Baltimore, hailing from
Kentucky, advertising himself in the city papers as a veterinary surgeon
and horse tamer, professing to have a secret to whisper in the horse's
ear, or a secret manner of whispering in his ear, which he could
communicate to others, and by which the most refractory and vicious
horse could be quieted and controlled. For this secret he charged five
dollars, binding the recipient by oath not to divulge it. I know several
persons, young fancy horsemen, who paid for the trick. Offut advertised
himself not only through the press, but by his strange attire. He
appeared in the streets on horseback and on foot, in plain citizens'
dress of black, but with a broad sash across his right shoulder, of
various colored ribbons, crossed on his left hip under a large
rosette of the same material, the whole rendering his appearance
most ludicrously conspicuous. Having occasion to purchase a horse I
encountered him at several of our stables and was strongly urged to
avail myself of his secret. So much for Offut; but were he living in
'61, I doubt not Mr. Lincoln would have heard of him."

The early spring of 1832 brought to Springfield and New Salem a most
joyful announcement. It was the news of the coming of a steamboat down
the Sangamon river--proof incontestable that the stream was navigable.
The enterprise was undertaken and carried through by Captain Vincent
Bogue, of Springfield, who had gone to Cincinnati to procure a vessel
and thus settle the much-mooted question of the river's navigability.
When, therefore, he notified the people of his town that the steamboat
_Talisman_ would put out from Cincinnati for Springfield, we can well
imagine what great excitement and unbounded enthusiasm followed the
announcement. Springfield, New Salem, and all the other towns along the
now interesting Sangamon* were to be connected by water with the outside

     *The final syllable of this name was then pronounced to
     rhyme with "raw." In later days the letter "n" was added--
     probably for euphony's sake.

Public meetings, with the accompaniment of long subscription lists,
were held; the merchants of Springfield advertised the arrival of goods
"direct from the East per steamer _Talisman_;" the mails were promised
as often as once a week from the same direction; all the land adjoining
each enterprising and aspiring village along the river was subdivided
into town lots--in fact, the whole region began to feel the stimulating
effects of what, in later days, would have been called a "boom." I
remember the occasion well, for two reasons. It was my first sight of
a steamboat, and also the first time I ever saw Mr. Lincoln--although
I never became acquainted with him till his second race for the
Legislature in 1834. In response to the suggestion of Captain
Bogue, made from Cincinnati, a number of citizens--among the number
Lincoln--had gone down the river to Beardstown to meet the vessel as
she emerged from the Illinois. These were armed with axes having long
handles, to cut away, as Bogue had recommended, "branches of trees
hanging over from the banks." After having passed New Salem, I and other
boys on horseback followed the boat, riding along the river's bank as
far as Bogue's mill, where she tied up. There we went aboard, and lost
in boyish wonder, feasted our eyes on the splendor of her interior
decorations. The _Sangamon Journal_ of that period contains numerous
poetical efforts celebrating the _Talisman's_ arrival. A few lines under
date of April 5, 1832, unsigned, but supposed to have been the product
of a local poet--one Oliphant*--were sung to the tune of "Clar de
Kitchen." I cannot refrain from inflicting a stanza or two of this ode
on the reader:

     * E. P. Oliphant, a lawyer.

     "O, Captain Bogue he gave the load,
     And Captain Bogue he showed the road;
     And we came up with a right good will,
     And tied our boat up to his mill.
     Now we are up the Sangamo,
     And here we'll have a grand hurra,
     So fill your glasses to the brim,
     Of whiskey, brandy, wine, and gin.
     Illinois suckers, young and raw,
     Were strung along the Sangamo,
     To see a boat come up by steam
     They surely thought it was a dream."

On its arrival at Springfield, or as near Springfield as the river
ran, the crew of the boat were given a reception and dance in the
court-house. The cream of the town's society attended to pay their
respects to the newly arrived guests. The captain in charge of the
boat--not Captain Bogue, but a vainly dressed fellow from the East--was
accompanied by a woman, more gaudily attired than himself, whom he
introduced as his wife. Of course the most considerate attention was
shown them both, until later in the evening, when it became apparent
that the gallant officer and his fair partner had imbibed too
freely--for in those days we had plenty of good cheer--and were becoming
unpleasantly demonstrative in their actions. This breach of good manners
openly offended the high-toned nature of Springfield's fair ladies; but
not more than the lamentable fact, which they learned on the following
day, that the captain's partner was not his wife after all, but a woman
of doubtful reputation whom he had brought with him from some place
further east. But to return to the _Talisman_. That now interesting
vessel lay for a week longer at Bogue's mill, when the receding waters
admonished her officers that unless they purposed spending the remainder
of the year there they must head her down-stream. In this emergency
recourse was had to my cousin Rowan Herndon, who had had no little
experience as a boatman, and who recommended the employment of Lincoln
as a skilful assistant. These two inland navigators undertook therefore
the contract of piloting the vessel--which had now become elephantine
in proportions--through the uncertain channel of the Sangamon to the
Illinois river. The average speed was four miles a day. At New Salem
safe passage over the mill-dam was deemed impossible unless the same
could be lowered or a portion removed.*

     * The affair at New Salem is thus described by Oliphant in
     the poem before referred to:

To this, Cameron and Rutledge, owners of the mill, entered their most
strenuous protest. The boat's officers responded that under the Federal
Constitution and laws no one had the right to dam up or in any way
obstruct a navigable stream, and they argued that, as they had just
demonstrated that the Sangamon was navigable (?), they proposed to
remove enough of the obstruction to let the boat through. Rowan Herndon,
describing it to me in 1865, said: "When we struck the dam she hung. We
then backed off and threw the anchor over. We tore away part of the
dam and raising steam ran her over on the first trial." The entire
proceeding stirred up no little feeling, in which mill owners, boat
officers, and passengers took part. The effect the return trip of the
_Talisman_ had on those who believed in the successful navigation of
the Sangamon is shrewdly indicated by the pilot, who with laconic
complacency adds: "As soon as she was over, the company that chartered
her was done with her." Lincoln and Herndon, in charge of the vessel,
piloted her through to Beardstown. There they were paid forty dollars
each, according to contract, and bidding adieu to the _Talisman's_
officers and crew, set out on foot for New Salem again. A few months
later the Talisman caught fire at the wharf in St. Louis and went up in
flames. The experiment of establishing a steamboat line to Springfield
proved an unfortunate venture for its projector, Captain Bogue. Finding
himself unable to meet his rapidly maturing obligations, incurred in
aid of the enterprise, it is presumed that he left the country, for the
Journal of that period is filled with notices of attachment proceedings
brought by vigilant creditors who had levied on his goods.

     "And when we came to Salem dam,
     Up we went against it jam:
     We tried to cross with all our might,
     But found we couldn't and staid all night."


The departure of the _Talisman_ for deeper waters, the downfall of
Denton Offut's varied enterprises and his disappearance from New Salem,
followed in rapid succession, and before the spring of 1832 had merged
into summer Lincoln found himself a piece of "floating driftwood" again.
Where he might have lodged had not the Black Hawk war intervened can
only be a matter of conjecture. A glance at this novel period in his
life may not be out of keeping with the purpose of this book. The great
Indian chief, Black Hawk, who on the 30th of June, 1831, had entered
into an agreement, having all the solemnity of a treaty, with Governor
Reynolds and General Gaines that none of his tribe should ever cross the
Mississippi "to their usual place of residence, nor any part of their
old hunting grounds east of the Mississippi, without permission of
the President of the United States or the governor of the State of
Illinois," had openly broken the compact. On the 6th of April, 1832, he
recrossed the Mississippi and marched up Rock River Valley, accompanied
by about five hundred warriors on horseback; while his women and
children went up the river in canoes. The great chief was now
sixty-seven years old, and believed that his plots were all ripe and
his allies fast and true. Although warned by General Atkinson, then
in command of Fort Armstrong, against this aggression, and ordered to
return, he proudly refused, claiming that he had "come to plant corn."
On being informed of the movement of Black Hawk Governor Reynolds called
for a thousand mounted volunteers to co-operate with the United States
forces under command of General Atkinson, and drive the wily Indian back
across the Mississippi. The response to the governor's call was prompt
and energetic. In the company from Sangamon county Lincoln enlisted,
and now for the first time entered on the vicissitudinous and dangerous
life of a soldier. That he in fact regarded the campaign after the
Indians as a sort of holiday affair and chicken-stealing expedition is
clearly shown in a speech he afterwards made in Congress in exposure of
the military pretensions of General Cass. However, in grim, soldierly
severity he marched with the Sangamon county contingent to Rushville,*
in Schuyler county, where, much to his surprise, he was elected captain
of the company over William Kirkpatrick. A recital of the campaign that
followed, in the effort to drive the treacherous Indians back, or a
description of the few engagements--none of which reached the dignity
of a battle--which took place, have in no wise been overlooked by the
historians of Illinois and of the Black Hawk war. With the exception
of those things which relate to Lincoln alone I presume it would be
needless to attempt to add anything to what has so thoroughly and
truthfully been told.

     * While at the rendezvous at Rushville and on the march to
     the front Lincoln of course drilled his men, and gave them
     such meager instruction in military tactics as he could
     impart. Some of the most grotesque things he ever related
     were descriptions of these drills. In marching one morning
     at the head of the company, who were following in lines of
     twenty abreast, it became necessary to pass through a gate
     much narrower than the lines. The captain could not remember
     the proper command to turn the company endwise, and the
     situation was becoming decidedly embarrassing, when one of
     those thoughts born of the depths of despair came to his
     rescue. Facing the lines, he shouted: "Halt! This company
     will break ranks for two minutes and form again on the other
     side of the gate." The manouvre was successfully executed.

On being elected captain, Lincoln replied in a brief response of modest
and thankful acceptance. It was the first official trust ever turned
over to his keeping, and he prized it and the distinction it gave him
more than any which in after years fell to his lot. His company savored
strongly of the Clary's Grove order, and though daring enough in the
presence of danger, were difficult to bring down to the inflexibilities
of military discipline. Each one seemed perfectly able and willing to
care for himself, and while the captain's authority was respectfully
observed, yet, as some have said, they were none the less a crowd of
"generous ruffians." I heard Mr. Lincoln say once on the subject of his
career as captain in this company and the discipline he exercised over
his men, that to the first order given one of them he received the
response, "Go to the devil, sir!" Notwithstanding the interchange of
many such unsoldierlike civilities between the officer and his men,
a strong bond of affection united them together, and if a contest had
arisen over the conflict of orders between the United States authorities
and those emanating from Captain Lincoln or some other Illinois
officer--as at one time was threatened--we need not be told to which
side the Sangamon county company to a man would have gone. A general
order forbidding the discharge of firearms within fifty yards of the
camp was disobeyed by Captain Lincoln himself. For this violation of
rule he was placed under arrest and deprived of his sword for a day. But
this and other punishments in no way humiliated him in the esteem of
his men; if anything, they only clung the closer, and when Clary's Grove
friendship asserted itself, it meant that firm and generous attachment
found alone on the frontier--that bond, closer than the affinity of
blood, which becomes stronger as danger approaches death.

A soldier of the Sangamon county company broke into the officers'
quarters one night, and with the aid of a tomahawk and four buckets,
obtained by stealth a good supply of wines and liquors, which he
generously distributed to his appreciative comrades. The next morning at
daybreak, when the army began to move, the Sangamon county company,
much to their captain's astonishment, were unfit for the march. Their
nocturnal expedition had been too much for them, and one by one they
fell by the wayside, until but a mere handful remained to keep step with
their gallant and astounded captain. Those who fell behind gradually
overcame the effects of their carousal, but were hard pressed to
overtake the command, and it was far into the night when the last one
straggled into camp. The investigation which followed resulted only in
the captain suffering the punishment for the more guilty men. For this
infraction of military law he was put under arrest and made to carry
a wooden sword for two days, "and this too," as one of his company has
since assured me, "although he was entirely blameless in the matter."

Among the few incidents of Lincoln's career in the Black Hawk war that
have found a place in history was his manly interference to protect an
old Indian who strayed, hungry and helpless, into camp one day, and whom
the soldiers were conspiring to kill on the ground that he was a spy.
A letter from General Cass, recommending him for his past kind and
faithful services to the whites, which the trembling old savage drew
from beneath the folds of his blanket failed in any degree to appease
the wrath of the men who confronted him. They had come out to fight the
treacherous Indians, and here was one who had the temerity even to steal
into their camp. "Make an example of him," they exclaimed. "The letter
is a forgery and he is a spy." They might have put their threats into
execution had not the tall form of their captain, his face "swarthy
with resolution and rage," interposed itself between them and their
defenseless victim. Lincoln's determined look and demand that "it
must not be done" were enough. They sullenly desisted, and the Indian,
unmolested, continued on his way.

Lincoln's famous wrestling match with the redoubtable Thompson, a
soldier from Union county, who managed to throw him twice in succession,
caused no diminution in the admiration and pride his men felt in their
captain's muscle and prowess. They declared that unfair advantage had
been taken of their champion, that Thompson had been guilty of foul
tactics, and that, in the language of the sporting arena, it was a
"dog-fall." Lincoln's magnanimous action, however, in according his
opponent credit for fair dealing in the face of the wide-spread and
adverse criticism that prevailed, only strengthened him in the esteem of

     * William L. Wilson, a survivor of the war, in a letter
     under date of February 3, 1882, after detailing
     reminiscences of Stillman's defeat, says: "I have during
     that time had much fun with the afterwards President of the
     United States, Abraham Lincoln. I remember one time of
     wrestling with him, two best in three, and ditched him. He
     was not satisfied, and we tried it in a foot-race for a
     five-dollar bill. I won the money, and 'tis spent long ago.
     And many more reminiscences could I give, but am of the
     Quaker persuasion, and not much given to writing."

At times the soldiers were hard pressed for food, but by a combination
of ingenuity and labor in proportions known only to a volunteer soldier,
they managed to avoid the unpleasant results of long-continued and
unsatisfied hunger. "At an old Winnebago town called Turtle Village,"
narrates a member of the company, "after stretching our rations over
nearly four days, one of our mess, an old acquaintance of Lincoln, G. B.
Fanchier, shot a dove, and having a gill of flour left we made a gallon
and a half of delicious soup in an old tin bucket that had been lost by
Indians. This soup we divided among several messes that were hungrier
than we were and our own mess, by pouring in each man's cup a portion of
the esculent. Once more, at another time, in the extreme northern part
of Illinois, we had been very hungry for two days, but suddenly came
upon a new cabin at the edge of the prairie that the pioneer sovereign
squatter family had vacated and 'skedaddled' from for fear of losing
their scalps. There were plenty of chickens about the cabin, much
hungrier than we ourselves were, if poverty is to test the matter,
and the boys heard a voice saying 'Slay and eat.' They at once went to
running, clubbing, and shooting them as long as they could be found.
Whilst the killing was going on I climbed to the ridge-pole of the
smoke-house to see distinctly what I saw obscurely from the ground,
and behold! the cleanest, sweetest jole I ever saw--alone, half hid by
boards and ridge-pole, stuck up no doubt for future use. By this time
many of the chickens were on the fire, broiling, for want of grease or
gravy to fry them in. Some practical fellow proposed to throw in with
the fowls enough bacon to convert broiling into frying; the proposition
was adopted, and they were soon fried. We began to eat the tough, dry
chickens with alternating mouthfuls of the jole, when Lincoln came to
the repast with the query, 'Eating chicken, boys?' 'Not much, sir,' I
responded, for we had operated principally on the jole, it being
sweeter and more palatable than the chickens. 'It is much like eating
saddlebags,' he responded; 'but I think the stomach can accomplish much
to-day; but what have you got therewith the skeletons, George? 'We did
have a sweet jole of a hog, sir,' I answered, 'but you are nearly too
late for your share,' at the same time making room for him to approach
the elm-bark dish. He ate the bacon a moment, then commenced dividing by
mouthfuls to the boys from other messes, who came to 'see what Abe was
at,' and saying many quaint and funny things suited to the time and
the jole." The captain, it will be seen, by his "freedom without
familiarity" and his "courtesy without condescension," was fast
making inroads on the respect of his rude but appreciative men. He
was doubtless looking a long way ahead, when both their friendship
and respect would be of avail, for as the chronicler last quoted from
continues: "He was acquainted with everybody, and he had determined,
as he told me, to become a candidate for the next Legislature. The mess
immediately pitched on him as our standard-bearer, and he accepted."

The term for which the volunteers had enlisted had now expired, and the
majority, tiring of the service, the novelty of which had worn off, and
longing for the comforts and good cheer of their homes, refused
either to re-enlist or render further service. They turned their faces
homeward, each with his appetite for military glory well satiated. But
the war was not over, and the mighty Black Hawk was still east of the
Mississippi. A few remained and re-enlisted. Among them was Lincoln.
This time, eschewing the responsibility of a captaincy, and to avoid the
possible embarrassment of dragging about camp a wooden sword, he entered
the company of Elijah Iles as a dignified private. It has pleased some
of Mr. Lincoln's biographers to attribute this re-enlistment to pure
patriotism on his part and a conscientious desire to serve his country.
From the standpoint of sentiment that is a comfortable view to take
of it; but I have strong reason to believe that Mr. Lincoln never
entertained such serious notions of the campaign. In fact, I may say
that my information comes from the best authority to be had in the
matter--the soldier himself. Mr. Lincoln had no home; he had cut loose
from his parents, from the Hankses and the Johnstons; he left behind
him no anxious wife and children; and no chair before a warm fireside
remained vacant for him. "I was out of work," he said to me once, "and
there being no danger of more fighting, I could do nothing better than
enlist again."

After his discharge from this last and brief period of service, along
with the remainder of the Sangamon county soldiers, he departed from the
scenes of recent hostilities for New Salem again. His soldier days had
ended, and he returned now to enter upon a far different career. However
much in later years he may have pretended to ridicule the disasters
of the Black Hawk war, or the part he took in it, yet I believe he
was rather proud of it after all. When Congress, along in the fifties,
granted him a land warrant he was greatly pleased. He located it on some
land in Iowa, and declared to me one day that he would die seized of
that land, and although the tract never yielded him anything he never,
so far as my knowledge extends parted with its ownership.*

     * "In regard to the Bounty Land Warrants issued to Abraham
     Lincoln for military services during the Black Hawk war as
     Captain of 4th Illinois Volunteers, the first warrant, No.
     52,076, for forty acres (Act of 1850), was issued to Abraham
     Lincoln, Captain, etc. on the 16th of April, 1852, and was
     located in his name by his duly appointed attorney, John P.
     Davis, at Dubuque, Iowa, July 21, 1854, on the north-west
     quarter of the south-west quarter of section 20, in Township
     84, north of Range 39, west, Iowa. A patent as recorded in
     volume 280, page 21, was issued for this tract to Abraham
     Lincoln on the 1st of June, 1855, and transmitted the 26th
     October, 1855, to the Register of delivery.

     "Under the Act of 1855, another Land Warrant, No. 68,465,
     for 120 acres, was issued to Abraham Lincoln, Captain
     Illinois Militia, Black Hawk war, on the 22d April, 1856,
     and was located by himself at Springfield, Illinois,
     December 27, 1859, on the east half of the north-east
     quarter and the north-west quarter of the north-east quarter
     of section 18, in Township 84, north of Range 39, west; for
     which a patent, as recorded in volume 468, page 53, was
     issued September 10, 1860, and sent October 30, 1860, to the
     Register for delivery."--Letter Jos. S. Wilson Acting
     Commissioner Land Office, June 27, 1865.

The return of the Black Hawk warriors to New Salem occurred in the
month of August, but a short time before the general election. A
new Legislature was to be chosen, and as Lincoln had declared to
his comrades in the army he would, and in obedience to the effusive
declaration of principles which he had issued over his signature in
March, before he went to the war, he presented himself to the people of
his newly adopted county as a candidate for the Legislature. It is
not necessary to enter into an account of the political conditions in
Illinois at that time, or the effect had on the same by those who had
in charge the governmental machinery. Lincoln's course is all that
interests us. Though he may not have distinctly avowed himself a
Whig, yet, as one of his friends asserted, "he stood openly on Whig
principles." He favored a national bank, a liberal system of internal
improvements, and a high protective tariff. The handbill or circular
alluded to announcing his candidacy was a sort of literary fulmination,
but on account of its length I deem it unnecessary to insert the whole
of it here. I have been told that it was prepared by Lincoln, but purged
of its most glaring grammatical errors by James McNamar, who afterwards
became Lincoln's rival in an important love affair.*

     * In a letter dated May 5, 1866, McNamar says:

     "I corrected at his request some of the grammatical errors
     in his first address to the voters of Sangamon county, his
     principal hobby being the navigation of the Sangamon river."

The circular is dated March 9, 1832, and addressed to the "People of
Sangamon County." In it he takes up all the leading questions of the
day: railroads, river navigation, internal improvements, and usury. He
dwells particularly on the matter of public education, alluding to it as
the most important subject before the people. Realizing his own defects
arising from a lack of school instruction he contends that every man
and his children, however poor, should be permitted to obtain at least
a moderate education, and thereby be enabled "to read the Scriptures and
other works both of a moral and religious nature for themselves." The
closing paragraph was so constructed as to appeal to the chivalrous
sentiments of Clary's Grove. "I was born and have ever remained,"
he declares, "in the most humble walks of life. I have no wealthy
or popular relatives or friends to recommend me. 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," he dryly concludes,
"the good people in their wisdom shall see fit to keep me in the
background, I have been too familiar with disappointments to be very
much chagrined."

The election being near at hand only a few days remained for his
canvass. One * who was with him at the time describing his appearance,
says: "He wore a mixed jeans coat, clawhammer 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 wore pot-metal
boots." His maiden effort on the stump was a speech on the occasion of
a public sale at Pappsville, a village eleven miles west of Springfield.
After the sale was over and speech-making had begun, a fight--a "general
fight," as one of the bystanders relates--ensued, and Lincoln, noticing
one of his friends about to succumb to the energetic attack of
an infuriated ruffian, interposed to prevent it. He did so most

     * A. Y. Ellis, letter, June 5, 1866, MS.

Hastily descending from the rude platform he edged his way through the
crowd, and seizing the bully by the neck and seat of his trowsers,
threw him by means of his strength and long arms, as one witness stoutly
insists, "twelve feet away." Returning to the stand and throwing aside
his hat he inaugurated his campaign with the following brief but juicy

"Fellow Citizens, 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 Legislature. My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman's
dance. I am in favor of a national bank. I am in favor of the internal
improvement system and a high protective tariff. These are my sentiments
and political principles. If elected I shall be thankful; if not it will
be all the same."

I obtained this speech from A. Y. Ellis, who in 1865 wrote it out.
Ellis was his friend and supporter, and took no little interest in his
canvass. "I accompanied him," he relates, "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, and applied them, as I thought,
very well. He also told the boys several stories which drew them after
him. I remember them, but modesty and my veneration for his memory
forbid me to relate them." His story-telling propensity, and the
striking fitness of his yarns--many of them being of the bar-room
order--in illustrating public questions, as we shall see further along
in these chapters, was really one of the secrets of his popularity and
strength. The election, as he had predicted, resulted in his defeat--the
only defeat, as he himself afterward stated, that he ever suffered at
the hands of the people. But there was little defeat in it after all.
Out of the eight unsuccessful candidates he stood third from the head
of the list, receiving 657 votes. Five others received less. The most
gratifying feature of it all was the hearty support of his neighbors at
New Salem. Of the entire 208 votes in the precinct he received every one
save three.

It may not be amiss to explain the cause of this remarkable endorsement
of Lincoln by the voters in New Salem. It arose chiefly from his
advocacy of the improvement of the Sangamon river. He proposed the
digging of a canal a few miles east of the point where the Sangamon
enters the Illinois river, thereby giving the former two mouths.
This, he explained to the farmers, would prevent the accumulation of
back-water and consequent overflow of their rich alluvial bottom lands
in the spring. It would also avert the sickness and evil results
of stagnant pools, which formed in low places after the high waters
receded. His scheme--that is the name by which it would be known
to-day--commended itself to the judgment of his neighbors, and the
flattering vote he received shows how they endorsed it.

The unsuccessful result of the election did not dampen his hopes nor
sour his ambition. The extensive acquaintance, the practice in public
speaking, the confidence gained with the people, together with what was
augmented in himself, made a surplus of capital on which he was free to
draw and of which he afterwards frequently availed himself. The election
being over, however, he found himself without money, though with a
goodly supply of experience, drifting again. His political experience
had forever weaned him from the dull routine of common labor.
Labor afforded him no time for study and no incentive to profitable
reflection. What he seemed to want was some lighter work, employment in
a store or tavern where he could meet the village celebrities, exchange
views with strangers, discuss politics, horse-races, cock-fights, and
narrate to listening loafers his striking and significant stories.
In the communities where he had lived, the village store-keeper held
undisturbed sway. He took the only newspapers, owned the only collection
of books and half the property in the village; and in general was the
social, and oftentimes the political head of the community. Naturally,
therefore the prominence the store gave the merchant attracted Lincoln.
But there seemed no favorable opening for him--clerks in New Salem were
not in demand just then.

My cousins, Rowan and James Herndon, were at that time operating
a store, and tiring of their investment and the confinement it
necessitated, James sold his interest to an idle, shiftless fellow named
William Berry. Soon after Rowan disposed of his to Lincoln. That the
latter, who was without means and in search of work, could succeed to
the ownership of even a half interest in a concern where but a few days
before he would in all probability gladly have exchanged his services
for his board, doubtless seems strange to the average young business
man of to-day. I once asked Rowan Herndon what induced him to make such
liberal terms in dealing with Lincoln, whom he had known for so short a

"I believed he was thoroughly honest," was the reply, "and that
impression was so strong in me I accepted his note in payment of the
whole. He had no money, but I would have advanced him still more had he
asked for it."

Lincoln and Berry had been installed in business but a short time until
one Reuben Radford, the proprietor of another New Salem grocery, who,
happening to incur the displeasure of the Clary's Grove boys, decided
suddenly one morning, in the commercial language of later days, to
"retire from business." A visit by night of the Clary's Grove contingent
always hastened any man's retirement from business. The windows were
driven in, and possession taken of the stock without either ceremony
or inventory. If, by break of day, the unfortunate proprietor found any
portion of his establishment standing where he left it the night before,
he might count himself lucky. In Radford's case, fearing "his bones
might share the fate of his windows," he disposed of his stock and
good-will to William Greene for a consideration of four hundred dollars.
The latter employed Lincoln to make an inventory of the goods, and when
completed, the new merchant, seeing in it something of a speculation,
offered Greene an advance of two hundred and fifty dollars on his
investment. The offer was accepted, and the stock and fixtures passed
into the ownership and control of the now enterprising firm of Lincoln
& Berry. They subsequently absorbed the remnant of a store belonging
to one Rutledge, which last transaction cleared the field of all
competitors and left them in possession of the only mercantile concern
in New Salem.

To effect these sales not a cent of money was required--the buyer giving
the seller his note and the latter assigning it to someone else in
another trade. Berry gave his note to James Herndon, Lincoln his
to Rowan Herndon, while Lincoln & Berry as a firm, executed their
obligation to Greene, Radford, and Rutledge in succession. Surely Wall
Street at no time in its history has furnished a brace of speculators
who in so brief a period accomplished so much and with so little money.
A few weeks only were sufficient to render apparent Lincoln's ill
adaptation to the requirements of a successful business career. Once
installed behind the counter he gave himself up to reading and study,
depending for the practical management of the business on his partner.
A more unfortunate selection than Berry could not have been found;
for, while Lincoln at one end of the store was dispensing political
information, Berry at the other was disposing of the firm's liquors,
being the best customer for that article of merchandise himself. To put
it more plainly, Lincoln's application to Shakespeare and Bums was only
equalled by Berry's attention to spigot and barrel. That the latter in
the end succeeded in squandering a good portion of their joint assets,
besides wrecking his own health, is not to be wondered at. By the
spring of 1833 they, like their predecessors, were ready to retire.
Two brothers named Trent coming along, they sold to them on the liberal
terms then prevalent the business and good-will; but before the latter's
notes fell due, they in turn had failed and fled. The death of Berry
following soon after, released him from the payment of any notes or
debts, and thus Lincoln was left to meet the unhonored obligations
of the ill-fated partnership, or avoid their payment by dividing the
responsibility and pleading the failure of the business. That he assumed
all the liability and set resolutely to work to pay everything, was
strictly in keeping with his fine sense of honor and justice. He was a
long time meeting these claims, even as late as 1848 sending to me from
Washington portions of his salary as Congressman to be applied on the
unpaid remnant of the Berry & Lincoln indebtedness--but in time he
extinguished it all, even to the last penny.

Conscious of his many shortcomings as a merchant, and undaunted by the
unfortunate complications from which he had just been released, Lincoln
returned to his books. Rowan Herndon, with whom he had been living,
having removed to the country, he became for the first time a sojourner
at the tavern, as it was then called--a public-house kept by Rutledge,
Onstatt, and Alley in succession. "It was a small log house," he
explained to me in later years, "covered with clapboards, and contained
four rooms." It was second only in importance to the store, for there
he had the opportunity of meeting passing strangers--lawyers and others
from the county seat, whom he frequently impressed with his knowledge
as well as wit. He had, doubtless, long before determined to prepare
himself for the law; in fact, had begun to read Blackstone while in the
store, and now went at it with renewed zeal. He borrowed law-books
of his former comrade in the Black Hawk war, John T. Stuart, who was
practicing law in Springfield, frequently walking there to return one
and borrow another. His determination to master any subject he undertook
and his application to study were of the most intense order. On the
road to and from Springfield he would read and recite from the book he
carried open in his hand, and claimed to have mastered forty pages of
Blackstone during the first day after his return from Stuart's office.
At New Salem he frequently sat barefooted under the shade of a tree near
the store, poring over a volume of Chitty or Blackstone; sometimes lying
on his back, putting his feet up the tree, which provokes one of his
biographers to denote the latter posture as one which might have been
"unfavorable to mental application, in the case of a man with shorter

That Lincoln's attempt to make a lawyer of himself under such adverse
and unpromising circumstances excited comment is not to be wondered at.
Russell Godby, an old man who still survives, told me in 1865, that he
had often employed Lincoln to do farm work for him, and was surprised
to find him one day sitting barefoot on the summit of a woodpile and
attentively reading a book. "This being an unusual thing for farm hands
in that early day to do, I asked him," relates Godby, "what he was
reading." 'I'm not reading,' he answered. 'I'm studying.' 'Studying
what?' I enquired. 'Law, sir,' was the emphatic response. It was really
too much for me, as I looked at him sitting there proud as Cicero.
'Great God Almighty!' I exclaimed, and passed on.

But Lincoln kept on at his studies. Wherever he was and whenever he
could do so the book was brought into use. He carried it with him in his
rambles through the woods and his walks to the river. When night came
he read it by the aid of any friendly light he could find. Frequently
he went down to the cooper's shop and kindled a fire out of the waste
material lying about, and by the light it afforded read until far into
the night.

One of his companions at this time relates that, "while clerking in the
store or serving as postmaster he would apply himself as opportunity
offered to his studies, if it was but five minutes time--would open his
book which he always kept at hand, study it, reciting to himself; then
entertain the company present or wait on a customer without apparent
annoyance from the interruption. Have frequently seen him reading while
walking along the streets. Occasionally he would become absorbed with
his book; would stop and stand for a few moments, then walk on, or pass
from one house to another or from one crowd or squad of men to another.
He was apparently seeking amusement, and with his thoughtful face and
ill-fitting clothes was the last man one would have singled out for
a student. If the company he was in was unappreciative, or their
conversation at all irksome, he would open his book and commune with
it for a time, until a happy thought suggested itself and then the book
would again return to its wonted resting-place under his arm. He never
appeared to be a hard student, as he seemed to master his studies with
little effort, until he commenced the study of the law. In that he
became wholly engrossed, and began for the first time to avoid the
society of men, in order that he might have more time for study. He was
not what is usually termed a quick-minded man, although he would usually
arrive at his conclusions very readily. He seemed invariably to reflect
and deliberate, and never acted from impulse so far as to force a wrong
conclusion on a subject of any moment." *

     * R. B. Rutledge, letter, Nov. 30. 1866, MS.

It was not long until he was able to draw up deeds, contracts,
mortgages, and other legal papers for his neighbors. He figured
conspicuously as a pettifogger before the justice of the peace, but
regarding it merely as a kind of preliminary practice, seldom made any
charge for his services. Meanwhile he was reading not only law books but
natural philosophy and other scientific subjects. He was a careful
and patient reader of newspapers, the _Sangamon Journal_--published at
Springfield--_Louisville Journal, St. Louis Republican, and Cincinnati
Gazette_ being usually within his reach. He paid a less degree of
attention to historical works, although he read Rollin and Gibbon while
in business with Berry. He had a more pronounced fondness for fictitious
literature, and read with evident relish Mrs. Lee Hentz's novels, which
were very popular books in that day, and which were kindly loaned him
by his friend A. Y. Ellis. The latter was a prosperous and shrewd young
merchant who had come up from Springfield and taken quite a fancy to
Lincoln. The two slept together and Lincoln frequently assisted him in
the store. He says that Lincoln was fond of short, spicy stories one and
two columns long, and cites as specimens, "Cousin Sally Dillard," "Becky
William's Courtship," "The Down-Easter and the Bull," and others, the
very titles suggesting the character of the productions. He remembered
everything he read, and could afterwards without apparent difficulty
relate it. In fact, Mr. Lincoln's fame as a storyteller spread far and
wide. Men quoted his sayings, repeated his jokes, and in remote places
he was known as a story-teller before he was heard of either as lawyer
or politician.

It has been denied as often as charged that Lincoln narrated vulgar
stories; but the truth is he loved a story however extravagant or
vulgar, if it had a good point. If it was merely a ribald recital and
had no sting in the end, that is, if it exposed no weakness or pointed
no moral, he had no use for it either in conversation or public speech;
but if it had the necessary ingredients of mirth and moral no one could
use it with more telling effect. As a mimic he was unequalled, and
with his characteristic gestures, he built up a reputation for
story-telling--although fully as many of his narratives were borrowed as
original--which followed him through life. One who listened to his
early stories in New Salem says: "His laugh was striking. Such awkward
gestures belonged to no other man. They attracted universal attention,
from the old sedate down to the schoolboy. Then in a few moments he was
as calm and thoughtful as a judge on the bench, and as ready to give
advice on the most important matters; fun and gravity grew on him

Lincoln's lack of musical adaptation has deprived us of many a song. For
a ballad or doggerel he sometimes had quite a liking. He could memorize
or recite the lines but some one else had to do the singing. Listen to
one in which he shows "_How St. Patrick Came to be Born on the 17th of
March_." Who composed it or where Lincoln obtained it I have never
been able to learn. Ellis says he often inflicted it on the crowds who
collected in his store of winter evenings. Here it is:

     "The first factional fight in old Ireland, they say,
     Was all on account of Saint Patrick's birthday,
     It was somewhere about midnight without any doubt,
     And certain it is, it made a great rout.

     On the eighth day of March, as some people say,
     St Patrick at midnight he first saw the day;
     While others assert 'twas the ninth he was born,
     Twas all a mistake--between midnight and morn.

     Some blamed the baby, some blamed the clock;
     Some blamed the doctor, some the crowing cock.
     With all these close questions sure no one could know,
     Whether the babe was too fast or the clock was too slow.

     Some fought for the eighth, for the ninth some would die;
     He who wouldn't see right would have a black eye.
     At length these two factions so positive grew,
     They each had a birthday, and Pat he had two.

     Till Father Mulcahay who showed them their sins,
     He said none could have two birthdays but as twins.
     'Now Boys, don't be fighting for the eight or the nine
     Don't quarrel so always, now why not combine.'

     Combine eight with nine. It is the mark;
     Let that be the birthday. Amen! said the clerk.
     So all got blind drunk, which completed their bliss,
     And they've kept up the practice from that day to this." *

     * From MS., furnished by Ellis in August, 1866.

As a salesman, Lincoln was lamentably deficient. He was too prone to
lead off into a discussion of politics or morality, leaving someone else
to finish the trade which he had undertaken. One of his employers says:
"He always disliked to wait on the ladies, preferring, he said, to
wait on the men and boys. I also remember he used to sleep on the store
counter when they had too much company at the tavern. He wore flax
and tow linen pantaloons--I thought about five inches too short in the
legs--and frequently 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."
His friend Ellis attributed his shyness in the presence of the ladies
to the consciousness of his awkward appearance and the unpretentious
condition of his wearing apparel. It was more than likely due to pure
bashfulness. "On one occasion," continues Ellis, "while we boarded at
the tavern, there came a family consisting of an old lady, her son, and
three stylish daughters, from the State of Virginia, who stopped there
for two or three weeks, and during their stay I do not remember of Mr.
Lincoln's ever appearing at the same table with them."

As a society man, Lincoln was singularly deficient while he lived in New
Salem, and even during the remainder of his life. He never indulged
in gossip about the ladies, nor aided in the circulation of village
scandal. For woman he had a high regard, and I can testify that during
my long acquaintance with him his conversation was free from injurious
comment in individual cases--freer from unpleasant allusions than that
of most men. At one time Major Hill charged him with making defamatory
remarks regarding his wife. Hill was insulting in his language to
Lincoln who never lost his temper. When he saw a chance to edge a word
in, Lincoln denied emphatically using the language or anything like that
attributed to him. He entertained, he insisted, a high regard for Mrs.
Hill, and the only thing he knew to her discredit was the fact that she
was Major Hill's wife.

At this time in its brief history New Salem was what in the parlance of
large cities would be called a fast place; and it was difficult for a
young man of ordinary moral courage to resist the temptations that beset
him on every hand. It remains a matter of surprise that Lincoln was able
to retain his popularity with the hosts of young men of his own age,
and still not join them in their drinking bouts and carousals. "I am
certain," contends one of his companions, "that he never drank any
intoxicating liquors--he did not even in those days smoke or chew
tobacco." In sports requiring either muscle or skill he took no little
interest. He indulged in all the games of the day, even to a horse-race
or cock-fight. At one eventful chicken fight, where a fee of twenty-five
cents for the entrance of each fowl was assessed, one Bap. McNabb
brought a little red rooster, whose fighting qualities had been well
advertised for days in advance by his owner. Much interest was naturally
taken in the contest. As the outcome of these contests was generally a
quarrel, in which each man, charging foul play, seized his victim, they
chose Lincoln umpire, relying not only on his fairness but his ability
to enforce his decisions. In relating what followed I cannot improve on
the description furnished me in February, 1865, by one* who was present.

     * A. Y. Ellis, MS.

"They formed a ring, and the time having arrived, Lincoln, with one hand
on each hip and in a squatting position, cried, 'Ready.' Into the ring
they toss their fowls, Bap's red rooster along with the rest. But no
sooner had the little beauty discovered what was to be done than
he dropped his tail and ran. The crowd cheered, while Bap. in
disappointment picked him up and started away, losing his quarter and
carrying home his dishonored fowl. Once arrived at the latter place he
threw his pet down with a feeling of indignation and chagrin. The little
fellow, out of sight of all rivals, mounted a wood pile and proudly
flirting out his feathers, crowed with all his might. Bap. looked on
in disgust. 'Yes, you little cuss,' he exclaimed, irreverently, 'you're
great on dress parade, but not worth a d----n in a fight.'" It is
said--how truthfully I do not know--that at some period during the late
war Mr. Lincoln in conversation with a friend likened McClellan to Bap.
McNabb's rooster. So much for New Salem sports.

While wooing that jealous-eyed mistress, the law, Lincoln was earning
no money. As another has said, "he had a running board bill to pay, and
nothing to pay it with." By dint of sundry jobs here and there, helping
Ellis in his store to-day, splitting rails for James Short to-morrow,
he managed to keep his head above the waves. His friends were firm--no
young man ever had truer or better ones--but he was of too independent
a turn to appeal to them or complain of his condition. He never at any
time abandoned the idea of becoming a lawyer. That was always a spirit
which beckoned him on in the darkest hour of his adversity. Someone,
probably a Democrat who voted for him in the preceding fall, recommended
him to John Calhoun, then surveyor of the county, as suitable material
for an assistant. This office, in view of the prevailing speculation
in lands and town lots, was the most important and possibly the most
profitable in the county. Calhoun, the incumbent, was a Yankee and
a typical gentleman. He was brave, intellectual, self-possessed, and
cultivated. He had been educated for the law, but never practiced much
after coming to Illinois--taught school in preference. As an instructor
he was the popular one of his day and age. I attended the school he
taught when I was a boy, in Springfield, and was in later years clerk of
the city under his administration as Mayor. Lincoln, I know, respected
and admired him. After Lincoln's removal to Springfield they frequently
held joint debates on political questions. At one time I remember they
discussed the tariff question in the court house, using up the better
part of two evenings in the contest. Calhoun was polite, affable, and an
honest debater, never dodging any question. This made him a formidable
antagonist in argumentative controversy. I have heard Lincoln say that
Calhoun gave him more trouble in his debates than Douglas ever did,
because he was more captivating in his manner and a more learned man
than Douglas.

But to resume. The recommendation of Lincoln's friends was sufficient
to induce Calhoun to appoint him one of his deputies. At the time he
received notice of his selection by Calhoun, Lincoln was out in the
woods near New Salem splitting rails. A friend named Pollard Simmons,
who still survives and has related the incident to me, walked out to the
point where he was working with the cheering news. Lincoln, being a Whig
and knowing Calhoun's pronounced Democratic tendencies, enquired if he
had to sacrifice any principle in accepting the position. "If I can
be perfectly free in my political action I will take the office," he
remarked; "but if my sentiments or even expression of them is to be
abridged in any way I would not have it or any other office." A young
man hampered by poverty as Lincoln was at this time, who had the courage
to deal with public office as he did, was certainly made of unalloyed
material. No wonder in after years when he was defeated by Douglas he
could inspire his friends by the admonition not to "give up after one
nor one hundred defeats."

After taking service with Calhoun, Lincoln found he had but little
if any practical knowledge of surveying--all that had to be learned.
Calhoun furnished him with books, directing him to study them till he
felt competent to begin work. He again invoked the assistance of Mentor
Graham, the schoolmaster, who aided him in his efforts at calculating
the results of surveys and measurements. Lincoln was not a mathematician
by nature, and hence, with him, learning meant labor. Graham's daughter
is authority for the statement that her father and Lincoln frequently
sat up till midnight engrossed in calculations, and only ceased when
her mother drove them out after a fresh supply of wood for the fire.
Meanwhile Lincoln was keeping up his law studies. "He studied to see
the subject-matter clearly," says Graham, "and to express it truly and
strongly. I have known him to study for hours the best way of three to
express an idea." He was so studious and absorbed in his application
at one time, that his friends, according to a statement made by one*
of them, "noticed that he was so emaciated we feared he might bring on
mental derangement." It was not long, however, until he had mastered
surveying as a study, and then he was sent out to work by his
superior--Calhoun. It has never been denied that his surveys were exact
and just, and he was so manifestly fair that he was often chosen to
settle disputed questions of comers and measurements. It is worthy of
note here that, with all his knowledge of lands and their value and the
opportunities that lay open to him for profitable and safe investments,
he never made use of the information thus obtained from official
sources, nor made a single speculation on his own account. The high
value he placed on public office was more fully emphasized when as
President, in answer to a delegation of gentlemen who called to press
the claims of one of his warm personal friends for an important office,
he declined on the ground that "he did not regard it as just to the
public to pay the debts of personal friendship with offices that
belonged to the people."

       * Henry McHenry, MS., Oct. 5, 1865.

As surveyor under Calhoun he was sent for at one time to decide or
locate a disputed corner for some persons in the northern part of
the county. Among others interested was his friend and admirer Henry
McHenry. "After a good deal of disputing we agreed," says the latter,
"to send for Lincoln and to abide by his decision. He came with compass,
flag-staff, and chain. He stopped with me three or four days and
surveyed the whole section. When in the neighborhood of the disputed
corner by actual survey he called for his staff and driving it in the
ground at a certain spot said, 'Gentlemen, here is the corner.' We dug
down into the ground at the point indicated and, lo! there we found
about six or eight inches of the original stake sharpened at the end,
and beneath which was the usual piece of charcoal placed there by Rector
the surveyor who laid the ground off for the government many years
before." So fairly and well had the young surveyor done his duty that
all parties went away completely satisfied. As late as 1865 the corner
was preserved by a mark and pointed out to strangers as an evidence
of the young surveyor's skill. Russell Godby, mentioned in the earlier
pages of this chapter, presented to me a certificate of survey given
to him by Lincoln. It was written January 14,1834, and is signed "J.
Calhoun, S. S. C., by A. Lincoln." "The survey was made by Lincoln,"
says Godby, "and I gave him as pay for his work two buckskins, which
Hannah Armstrong 'foxed' on his pants so that the briers would not wear
them out."

Honors were now crowding thick and fast upon him. On May 7, 1833, he
was commissioned postmaster at New Salem, the first office he ever held
under the Federal Government. The salary was proportionate to the amount
of business done. Whether Lincoln solicited the appointment himself, or
whether it was given him without the asking, I do not know; but certain
it is his "administration" gave general satisfaction. The mail arrived
once a week, and we can imagine the extent of time and labor required
to distribute it, when it is known that "he carried the office around in
his hat." Mr. Lincoln used to tell me that when he had a call to go to
the country to survey a piece of land, he placed inside his hat all the
letters belonging to people in the neighborhood and distributed them
along the way. He made head-quarters in Samuel Hill's store, and there
the office may be said to have been located, as Hill himself had
been postmaster before Lincoln. Between the revenue derived from
the post-office and his income from land surveys Lincoln was, in the
expressive language of the day, "getting along well enough." Suddenly,
however, smooth sailing ceased and all his prospects of easy times ahead
were again brought to naught. One Van Bergen brought suit against him
and obtained judgment on one of the notes given in payment of the store
debt--a relic of the unfortunate partnership with Berry. His personal
effects were levied on and sold, his horse and surveying instruments
going with the rest. But again a friend, one James Short, whose favor
he had gained, interposed; bought in the property and restored it to
the hope-less young surveyor. It will be seen now what kind of friends
Lincoln was gaining. The bonds he was thus making were destined to stand
the severest of tests. His case never became so desperate but a friend
came out of the darkness to relieve him.

There was always something about Lincoln in his earlier days to
encourage his friends. He was not only grateful for whatever aid
was given him, but he always longed to help some one else. He had an
unfailing disposition to succor the weak and the unfortunate, and was
always, in his sympathy, struggling with the under dog in the fight.
He was once overtaken when about fourteen miles from Springfield by one
Chandler, whom he knew slightly, and who, having already driven twenty
miles, was hastening to reach the land office before a certain other man
who had gone by a different road. Chandler explained to Lincoln that he
was poor and wanted to enter a small tract of land which adjoined his,
that another man of considerable wealth had also determined to have it,
and had mounted his horse and started for Springfield. "Meanwhile, my
neighbors," continued Chandler, "collected and advanced me the necessary
one hundred dollars, and now, if I can reach the land office first, I
can secure the land." Lincoln noticed that Chandler's horse was too
much fatigued to stand fourteen miles more of a forced march, and he
therefore dismounted from his own and turned him over to Chandler,
saying, "Here's my horse--he is fresh and full of grit; there's no time
to be lost; mount him and put him through. When you reach Springfield
put him up at Herndon's tavern and I'll call and get him." Thus
encouraged Chandler moved on, leaving Lincoln to follow on the jaded
animal. He reached Springfield over an hour in advance of his rival
and thus secured the coveted tract of land. By nightfall Lincoln rode
leisurely into town and was met by the now radiant Chandler, jubilant
over his success. Between the two a friendship sprang up which all the
political discords of twenty-five years never shattered nor strained.

About this time Lincoln began to extend somewhat his system--if he
really ever had a system in anything--of reading.' He now began to read
the writings of Paine, Volney, and Voltaire. A good deal of religious
skepticism existed at New Salem, and there were frequent discussions
at the store and tavern, in which Lincoln took part. What views he
entertained on religious questions will be more fully detailed in
another place.

No little of Lincoln's influence with the men of New Salem can be
attributed to his extraordinary feats of strength. By an arrangement of
ropes and straps, harnessed about his hips, he was enabled one day at
the mill to astonish a crowd of village celebrities by lifting a box of
stones weighing near a thousand pounds. There is no fiction either,
as suggested by some of his biographers, in the story that he lifted
a barrel of whisky from the ground and drank from the bung; but in
performing this latter almost incredible feat he did not stand erect
and elevate the barrel, but squatted down and lifted it to his knees,
rolling it over until his mouth came opposite the bung. His strength,
kindness of manner, love of fairness and justice, his original and
unique sayings, his power of mimicry, his perseverance---all made a
combination rarely met with on the frontier. Nature had burnt him in her
holy fire, and stamped him with the seal of her greatness.

In the summer of 1834 Lincoln determined to make another race for the
legislature; but this time he ran distinctly as a Whig. He made, it
is presumed, the usual number of speeches, but as the art of newspaper
reporting had not reached the perfection it has since attained, we are
not favored with even the substance of his efforts on the stump. I have
Lincoln's word for it that it was more of a hand-shaking campaign than
anything else. Rowan Herndon relates that he came to his house during
harvest, when there were a large number of men at work in the field.
He was introduced to them, but they did not hesitate to apprize him
of their esteem for a man who could labor; and their admiration for a
candidate for office was gauged somewhat by the amount of work he could
do. Learning these facts, Lincoln took hold of a cradle, and handling
it with ease and remarkable speed, soon distanced those who undertook to
follow him. The men were satisfied, and it is presumed he lost no votes
in that crowd. One Dr. Barrett, seeing Lincoln, enquired of the latter's
friends: "Can't the party raise any better material than that?" but
after hearing his speech the doctor's opinion was considerably altered,
for he declared that Lincoln filled him with amazement; "that he knew
more than all of the other candidates put together." The election took
place in August. Lincoln's friend, John T. Stuart, was also a candidate
on the legislative ticket. He encouraged Lincoln's canvas in every way,
even at the risk of sacrificing his own chances. But both were elected.
The four successful candidates were Dawson, who received 1390 votes,*
Lincoln 1376, Carpenter 1170, and Stuart 1164.

     * In all former biographies of Lincoln, including the
     Nicolay and Hay history in the "Century Magazine," Dawson's
     vote is fixed at 1370, and Lincoln is thereby made to lead
     the ticket; but in the second issue of the Sangamon Journal
     after the election--August 16, 1834--the count is corrected,
     and Dawson's vote is increased to 1390. Dr. A. W. French, of
     Springfield, is the possessor of an official return of the
     votes cast at the New Salem precinct, made out in the
     handwriting of Lincoln, which also gives Dawson's vote at

At last Lincoln had been elected to the legislature, and by a very
flattering majority. In order, as he himself said, "to make a decent
appearance in the legislature," he had to borrow money to buy suitable
clothing and to maintain his new dignity. Coleman Smoot, one of his
friends, advanced him "two hundred dollars, which he returned, relates
the generous Smoot, according to promise." Here we leave our rising
young statesman, to take up a different but very interesting period of
his history.


Since the days when Indiana Lincoln sat on the river's bank with
little Kate Roby, dangling his bare feet in the water, there has been
no hint in these pages of tender relations with any one of the opposite
sex. Now we approach in timely order the "grand passion" of his life--a
romance of much reality, the memory of which threw a melancholy shade
over the remainder of his days. For the first time our hero falls in
love. The courtship with Anne Rutledge and her untimely death form
the saddest page in Mr. Lincoln's history. I am aware that most of his
biographers have taken issue with me on this phase of Mr. Lincoln's
life. Arnold says: "The picture has been somewhat too highly colored,
and the story made rather too tragic." Dr. Holland and others omit
the subject altogether, while the most recent biography--the admirable
history by my friends Nicolay and Hay.--devotes but five lines to it.
I knew Miss Rutledge myself, as well as her father and other members of
the family, and have been personally acquainted with every one of the
score or more of witnesses whom I at one time or another interviewed on
this delicate subject. From my own knowledge and the information thus
obtained, I therefore repeat, that the memory of Anne Rutledge was the
saddest chapter in Mr. Lincoln's life.*

     * In a letter dated Dec. 4, 1866, one of Miss Rutledge's
     brothers writes: "When he first came to New Salem and up to
     the day of Anne's death Mr. Lincoln was all life and
     animation. He seemed to see the bright side of every

James Rutledge, the father of this interesting girl, was one of the
founders of New Salem, having come there from Kentucky in 1829. He was
born in South Carolina and belonged to the noted Rutledge family of
that State. I knew him as early as 1833, and have often shared the
hospitality of his home. My father was a politician and an extensive
stock dealer in that early day, and he and Mr. Rutledge were great
friends. The latter was a man of no little force of character; those
who knew him best loved him the most. Like other Southern people he was
warm,--almost to impulsiveness,--social, and generous. His hospitality,
an inherited quality that flashed with him before he was born, developed
by contact with the brave and broadminded people whom he met in
Illinois. Besides his business interests in the store and mill at New
Salem, he kept the tavern where Lincoln came to board in 1833. His
family, besides himself and wife, consisted of nine children, three of
whom were born in Kentucky, the remaining six in Illinois. Anne, the
subject of this chapter, was the third child. She was a beautiful girl,
and by her winning ways attached people to her so firmly that she soon
became the most popular young lady in the village. She was quick of
apprehension, industrious, and an excellent housekeeper. She had a
moderate education, but was not cultured except by contrast with those
around her. One of her strong points was her womanly skill. She was
dexterous in the use of the needle--an accomplishment of far more value
in that day than all the acquirements of art in china painting and
hammered brass are in this--and her needle-work was the wonder of the
day. At every "quilting" Anne was a necessary adjunct, and her nimble
fingers drove the needle more swiftly than anyone's else. Lincoln used
to escort her to and from these quilting-bees, and on one occasion even
went into the house--where men were considered out of place--and sat by
her side as she worked on the quilt.

He whispered into her ear the old, old story. Her heart throbbed and
her soul was thrilled with a joy as old as the world itself. Her fingers
momentarily lost their skill. In her ecstasy she made such irregular and
uneven stitches that the older and more sedate women noted it, and
the owner of the quilt, until a few years ago still retaining it as a
precious souvenir, pointed out the memorable stitches to such persons as
visited her.

L. M. Greene, who remembered Anne well, says, "She was amiable and of
exquisite beauty, and her intellect was quick, deep, and philosophic as
well as brilliant. She had a heart as gentle and kind as an angel, and
full of love and sympathy. Her sweet and angelic nature was noted by
every one who met her. She was a woman worthy of Lincoln's love." This
is a little overstated as to beauty--Greene writes as if he too had been
in love with her--but is otherwise nearly correct.

"Miss Rutledge," says a lady* who knew her, "had auburn hair, blue eyes,
fair complexion. She was pretty, slightly slender, but in everything a
good hearted young woman. She was about five feet two inches high, and
weighed in the neighborhood of a hundred and twenty pounds. She was
beloved by all who knew her. She died as it were of grief. In speaking
of her death and her grave Lincoln once said to me, 'My heart lies
buried there.'"

     * Mrs. Hardin Bale.

Before narrating the details of Lincoln's courtship with Miss Rutledge,
it is proper to mention briefly a few facts that occurred before their
attachment began.

About the same time that Lincoln drifted into New Salem there came in
from the Eastern States John McNeil, a young man of enterprise and great
activity, seeking his fortune in the West. He went to work at once, and
within a short time had accumulated by commendable effort a comfortable
amount of property. Within three years he owned a farm, and a half
interest with Samuel Hill in the leading store. He had good capacity
for business, and was a valuable addition to that already pretentious
village--New Salem. It was while living at James Cameron's house that
this plucky and industrious young business man first saw Anne Rutledge.
At that time she was attending the school of Mentor Graham, a pedagogue
of local renown whose name is frequently met with in these pages, and
who flourished in and around New Salem from 1829 to 1860. McNeil fell
deeply in love with the school-girl--she was then only seventeen--and
paid her the usual unremitting attentions young lovers of that age had
done before him and are still doing to-day. His partner in the store,
Samuel Hill, a young man of equal force of character, who afterwards
amassed a comfortable fortune, and also wielded no little influence as
a local politician, laid siege to the heart of this same attractive
maiden, but he yielded up the contest early. Anne rejected him, and he
dropped from the race. McNeil had clear sailing from this time forward.
He was acquiring property and money day by day. As one of the pioneers
puts it, "Men were honest then, and paid their debts at least once a
year. The merchant surrounded by a rich country suffered little from
competition. As he placed his goods on the shelf he added an advance of
from seventy-five to one hundred and fifty per cent over cost price,
and thus managed to get along." After "managing" thus for several years,
McNeil, having disposed of his interest in the store to Hill, determined
to return to New York, his native State, for a visit. He had accumulated
up to this time, as near as we can learn, ten or possibly twelve
thousand dollars. Before leaving he made to Anne a singular revelation.
He told her the name McNeil was an assumed one; that his real name was

"I left behind me in New York," he said, "my parents and brothers and
sisters. They are poor, and were in more or less need when I left them
in 1829. I vowed that I would come West, make a fortune, and go back to
help them. I am going to start now and intend, if I can, to bring
them with me on my return to Illinois and place them on my farm." He
expressed a sense of deep satisfaction in being able to clear up all
mysteries which might have formed in the mind of her to whom he confided
his love. He would keep nothing, he said, from her. They were engaged
to be married, and she should know it all. The change of his name was
occasioned by the fear that if the family in New York had known where
he was they would have settled down on him, and before he could have
accumulated any property would have sunk him beyond recovery. Now,
however, he was in a condition to help them, and he felt overjoyed at
the thought. As soon as the journey to New York could be made he would
return. Once again in New Salem he and his fair one could consummate
the great event to which they looked forward with undisguised joy and
unbounded hope. Thus he explained to Anne the purpose of his journey--a
story with some remarkable features, all of which she fully believed.

"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 McNamar proved to be all that he said
he was, although poor Anne never saw the proof which others got of it."*

     * Lamon, p. 161.

At last McNamar, mounting an old horse that had participated in the
Black Hawk war, began his journey. In passing through Ohio he became
ill with a fever. For almost a month he was confined to his room, and a
portion of the time was unconscious. As he approached a return to good
health he grew nervous over the delay in his trip. He told no one around
him his real name, destination, or business. He knew how his failure to
write to New Salem would be construed, and the resulting irritation gave
way to a feeling of desperation. In plainer language, he concluded it
was "all up with him now." Meanwhile a different view of the matter
was taken by Miss Rutledge. Her friends encouraged the idea of cruel
desertion. The change of McNeil to McNamar had wrought in their minds a
change of sentiment. Some contended that he had undoubtedly committed
a crime in his earlier days, and for years had rested secure from
apprehension under the shadow of an assumed name; while others with
equal assurance whispered in the unfortunate girl's ear the old story of
a rival in her affections. Anne's lady friends, strange to relate, did
more to bring about a discordant feeling than all others. Women are
peculiar creatures. They love to nettle and mortify one another; and
when one of their own sex has fallen, how little sympathy they seem
to have! But under all this fire, in the face of all these insidious
criticisms, Anne remained firm. She had faith, and bided her time.

McNamar, after much vexatious delay, finally reached his birthplace
in New York, finding his father in the decline of years and health.
He provided for his immediate needs, and by his assiduous attentions
undertook to atone for the years of his neglect; but all to no purpose.
The old gentleman gradually faded from the world, and early one winter
morning crossed the great river. McNamar was thus left to settle up the
few unfinished details of his father's estate, and to provide for the
pressing needs of the family. His detention necessitated a letter
to Anne, explaining the nature and cause of the delay. Other letters
followed; but each succeeding one growing less ardent in tone, and more
formal in phraseology than its predecessor, Anne began to lose faith.
Had his love gradually died away like the morning wind? was a question
she often asked herself. She had stood firm under fire before, but
now her heart grew sick with hope deferred. At last the correspondence
ceased altogether.

At this point we are favored with the introduction of the ungainly
Lincoln, as a suitor for the hand of Miss Rutledge. Lincoln had learned
of McNamar's strange conduct, and conjecturing that all the silken
ties that bound the two together had been sundered, ventured to step in
himself. He had seen the young lady when a mere girl at Mentor Graham's
school, and he, no doubt, then had formed a high opinion of her

But he was too bashful, as his friend Ellis declares, to tell her of
it. No doubt, when he began to pay her attentions she was the most
attractive young lady whom up to that time he had ever met. She was
not only modest and winning in her ways, and full of good, womanly
common-sense, but withal refined, in contrast with the uncultured people
who surrounded both herself and Lincoln. "She had a secret, too, and
a sorrow,--the unexplained and painful absence of McNamar,--which, no
doubt, made her all the more interesting to him whose spirit was often
even more melancholy than her own."

In after years, McNamar himself, describing her to me, said: "Miss
Rutledge was a gentle, amiable maiden, without any of the airs of your
city belles, but winsome and comely withal; a blonde in complexion, with
golden hair, cherry-red lips, and a bonny blue eye. As to her literary
attainments, she undoubtedly was as classic a scholar as Mr Lincoln. She
had at the time she met him, I believe, attended a literary institution
at Jacksonville, in company with her brother."

McNamar seems to have considered Lincoln's bashfulness as proof against
the alluring charms of Miss Rutledge or anybody else, for he continues:

"Mr. Lincoln was not to my knowledge paying particular attention to any
of the young ladies of my acquaintance when I left for my home in New
York. There was no rivalry between us on that score; on the contrary, I
had every reason to believe him my warm, personal friend. But by-and-by
I was left so far behind in the race I did not deem my chances worthy
of notice. From this time forward he made rapid strides to that
imperishable fame which justly fills a world."

Lincoln began to court Miss Rutledge in dead earnest. Like David
Copperfield, he soon realized that he was in danger of becoming deeply
in love, and as he approached the brink of the pit he trembled lest he
should indeed fall in. As he pleaded and pressed his cause the Rutledges
and all New Salem encouraged his suit. McNamar's unexplained absence and
apparent neglect furnished outsiders with all the arguments needed to
encourage Lincoln and convince Anne. Although the attachment was
growing and daily becoming an intense and mutual passion, the young lady
remained firm and almost inflexible. She was passing through another
fire. A long struggle with her feelings followed; but at length the
inevitable moment came. She consented to have Lincoln, provided he gave
her time to write to McNamar and obtain his release from her pledge.
The slow-moving mails carried her tender letter to New York. Days
and weeks--which to the ardent Lincoln must have seemed painfully
long--passed, but the answer never came. In a half-hearted way she
turned to Lincoln, and her looks told him that he had won. She accepted
his proposal. Now that they were engaged he told her what she already
knew, that he was poverty itself. She must grant him time to gather
up funds to live on until he had completed his law studies. After this
trifling delay "nothing on God's footstool," argued the emphatic lover,
could keep them apart. To this the thoughtful Anne consented. To one of
her brothers, she said: "As soon as his studies are completed we are
to be married." But the ghost of another love would often rise unbidden
before her. Within her bosom raged the conflict which finally undermined
her health. Late in the summer she took to her bed. A fever was burning
in her head. Day by day she sank, until all hope was banished. During
the latter days of her sickness, her physician had forbidden visitors to
enter her room, prescribing absolute quiet. But her brother relates that
she kept enquiring for Lincoln so continuously, at times demanding to
see him, that the family at last sent for him. On his arrival at her
bedside the door was closed and he was left alone with her. What was
said, what vows and revelations were made during this sad interview,
were known only to him and the dying girl. A few days afterward she
became unconscious and remained so until her death on the 25th day of
August, 1835. She was buried in what is known as the Concord grave-yard,
about seven miles north-west of the town of Petersburg.*

     * "I have heard mother say that Anne would frequently sing
     for Lincoln's benefit. She had a clear, ringing voice. Early
     in her illness he called, and she sang a hymn for which he
     always expressed a great preference. It begins..

     'Vain man, thy fond pursuits forbear.'

     You will find it in one of the standard hymn-books. It was
     likewise the last thing she ever sung."--Letter, John M.
     Rutledge, MS., Nov. 25, 1866.

The most astonishing and sad sequel to this courtship was the disastrous
effect of Miss Rutledge's death on Mr. Lincoln's mind. It operated
strangely on one of his calm and stoical make-up. As he returned from
the visit to the bedside of Miss Rutledge, he stopped at the house of
a friend, who relates that his face showed signs of no little mental
agony. "He was very much distressed," is the language of this friend,
"and I was not surprised when it was rumored subsequently that his
reason was in danger." One of Miss Rutledge's brothers* says: "The
effect upon Mr. Lincoln's mind was terrible. He became plunged in
despair, and many of his friends feared that reason would desert her
throne. His extraordinary emotions were regarded as strong evidence
of the existence of the tenderest relations between himself and the
deceased." The truth is Mr. Lincoln was strangely wrought up over the
sad ending of the affair. He had fits of great mental depression,
and wandered up and down the river and into the woods woefully
abstracted--at times in the deepest distress. If, when we read what
the many credible persons who knew him at the time tell us, we do not
conclude that he was deranged, we must admit that he walked on that
sharp and narrow line which divides sanity from insanity. To one friend
he complained that the thought "that the snows and rains fall upon her
grave filled him with indescribable grief."**

     * R. B. Rutledge, MS., letter, Oct. 21,1866.

     ** Letter, Wm. Greene, MS., May 29, 1865.

He was watched with especial vigilance during damp, stormy days, under
the belief that dark and gloomy weather might produce such a depression
of spirits as to induce him to take his own life. His condition finally
became so alarming, his friends consulted together and sent him to the
house of a kind friend, Bowlin Greene, who lived in a secluded spot
hidden by the hills, a mile south of town. Here he remained for some
weeks under the care and ever watchful eye of this noble friend, who
gradually brought him back to reason, or at least a realization of his
true condition. In the years that followed Mr. Lincoln never forgot the
kindness of Greene through those weeks of suffering and peril. In 1842,
when the latter died, and Lincoln was selected by the Masonic lodge to
deliver the funeral oration, he broke down in the midst of his address.
"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. Every heart was hushed at the spectacle. After repeated efforts
he found it impossible to speak, and strode away, bitterly sobbing, to
the widow's carriage and was driven from the scene."

It was shortly after this that Dr. Jason Duncan placed in Lincoln's
hands a poem called "Immortality." The piece starts out with the line,
"Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud." Lincoln's love for this
poem has certainly made it immortal. He committed these lines to memory,
and any reference to or mention of Miss Rutledge would suggest them,
as if "to celebrate a grief which lay with continual heaviness on his
heart." There is no question that from this time forward Mr. Lincoln's
spells of melancholy became more intense than ever. In fact a tinge
of this desperate feeling of sadness followed him to Springfield. He
himself was somewhat superstitious about it, and in 1840-41 wrote to
Dr. Drake, a celebrated physician in Cincinnati, describing his mental
condition in a long letter. Dr. Drake responded, saying substantially,
"I cannot prescribe in your case without a personal interview." Joshua
F. Speed, to whom Lincoln showed the letter addressed to Dr. Drake,
writing to me from Louisville, November 30, 1866, says: "I think he
(Lincoln) must have informed Dr. Drake of his early love for Miss
Rutledge, as there was a part of the letter which he would not read."
It is shown by the declaration of Mr. Lincoln himself made to a fellow
member* of the Legislature within two years after Anne Rutledge's death
that "although he seemed to others to enjoy life rapturously, yet when
alone he was so overcome by mental depression he never dared to carry a
pocket knife."

     * Robert L. Wilson, MS., letter, Feb. 10, 1866

It may not be amiss to suggest before I pass from mention of McNamar
that, true to his promise, he drove into New Salem in the fall of 1835
with his mother and brothers and sisters. They had come through from
New York in a wagon, with all their portable goods. Anne Rutledge had
meanwhile died, and McNamar could only muse in silence over the fading
visions of "what might have been." On his arrival he met Lincoln, who,
with the memory of their mutual friend, now dead, constantly before him,
"seemed desolate and sorely distressed." The little acre of ground in
Concord cemetery contained the form of his first love, rudely torn from
him, and the great world, throbbing with life but cold and heartless,
lay spread before him.


Before taking up an account of Lincoln's entry into the Legislature,
which, following strictly the order of time, properly belongs here, I
beg to digress long enough to narrate what I have gathered relating to
another courtship--an affair of the heart which culminated in a sequel
as amusing as the one with Anne Rutledge was sad. I experienced much
difficulty in obtaining the particulars of this courtship. After
no little effort I finally located and corresponded with the lady
participant herself, who in 1866 furnished me with Lincoln's letters and
her own account of the affair, requesting the suppression of her name
and residence. Since then, however, she has died, and her children have
not only consented to a publication of the history, but have furnished
me recently with more facts and an excellent portrait of their mother
made shortly after her refusal of Lincoln's hand.

Mary S. Owens--a native of Green county, Kentucky, born September 29,
1808--first became acquainted with Lincoln while on a visit to a sister,
the wife of Bennet Able, an early settler in the country about New
Salem. Lincoln was a frequent visitor at the house of Able, and a warm
friend of the family. During the visit of Miss Owens in 1833, though
only remaining a month, she lingered long enough to make an impression
on Lincoln; but returned to Kentucky and did not reappear in New Salem
till 1836. Meanwhile Anne Rutledge had died, and Lincoln's eyes began to
wander after the dark-haired visitor from Kentucky. Miss Owens differed
from Miss Rutledge in early education and the advantages of wealth.
She had received an excellent education, her father being one of the
wealthiest and most influential men of his time and locality. A portion
of her schooling was obtained in a Catholic convent, though in religious
faith she was a Baptist. According to a description furnished me by
herself she "had fair skin, deep blue eyes, and dark curling hair;
height five feet, five inches; weight about a hundred and fifty pounds."
She was good-looking in girlhood; by many esteemed handsome, but became
fleshier as she grew older. At the time of her second visit she reached
New Salem on the day of the Presidential election, passing the polls
where the men had congregated, on the way to her sister's house. One
man in the crowd who saw her then was impressed with her beauty. Years
afterwards, in relating the incident, * he wrote me:

"She was tall, portly, had large blue eyes and the finest trimmings I
ever saw. She was jovial, social, loved wit and humor, had a liberal
English education, and was considered wealthy. None of the poets or
romance writers have ever given us a picture of a heroine so beautiful
as a good description of Miss Owens in 1836 would be."

     * L. M. Greene.

A lady friend* says she was "handsome, truly handsome, matronly-looking,
over ordinary size in height and weight."

A gentleman** who saw her a few years before her death describes her as
"a nervous, muscular woman, very intellectual, with a forehead massive
and angular, square, prominent, and broad."

     * Mrs. Hardin Bale.

     ** Johnson G. Greene.

At the time of her advent into the society of New Salem she was polished
in her manners, pleasing in her address, and attractive in many ways.
She had a little dash of coquetry in her intercourse with that class
of young men who arrogated to themselves claims of superiority, but she
never yielded to this disposition to an extent that would willingly lend
encouragement to an honest suitor sincerely desirous of securing her
hand, when she felt she could not in the end yield to a proposal of
marriage if he should make the offer. She was a good conversationalist
and a splendid reader, very few persons being found to equal her in this
accomplishment. She was light-hearted and cheery in her disposition,
kind and considerate for those with whom she was thrown in contact.

One of Miss Owens' descendants is authority for the statement that
Lincoln had boasted that "if Mary Owens ever returned to Illinois a
second time he would marry her;" that a report of this came to her ears,
whereupon she left her Kentucky home with a pre-determination to show
him if she met him that she was not to be caught simply by the asking.
On this second visit Lincoln paid her more marked attention than before,
and his affections became more and more enlisted in her behalf. During
the earlier part of their acquaintance, following the natural bent of
her temperament she was pleasing and entertaining to him. Later on he
discovered himself seriously interested in the blue-eyed Kentuckian, whom
he had really underestimated in his preconceived opinions of her.
In the meantime she too had become interested, having discovered the
sterling qualities of the young man who was paying her such devoted
attention; yet while she admired she did not love him. He was ungainly
and angular in his physical make-up, and to her seemed deficient in the
nicer and more delicate attentions which she felt to be due from the
man whom she had pictured as an ideal husband. He had given her to
understand that she had greatly charmed him; but he was not himself
certain that he could make her the husband with whom he thought she
would be most happy. Later on by word and letter he told her so. His
honesty of purpose showed itself in all his efforts to win her hand. He
told her of his poverty, and while advising her that life with him meant
to her who had been reared in comfort and plenty, great privation and
sacrifice, yet he wished to secure her as a wife. She, however, felt
that she did not entertain for him the same feeling that he professed
for her and that she ought to entertain before accepting him, and so
declined his offer. Judging from his letters alone it has been
supposed by some that she, remembering the rumor she had heard of his
determination to marry her, and not being fully certain of the sincerity
of his purposes, may have purposely left him in the earlier stages of
his courtship somewhat in uncertainty. Later on, however, when by his
manner and repeated announcement to her that his hand and heart were
at her disposal, he demonstrated the honesty and sincerity of his
intentions, she declined his offer kindly but with no uncertain meaning.

The first letter I received from Mrs. Vineyard--for she was married to
Jesse Vineyard, March 27, 1841--was written at Weston, Mo., May 1, 1866.
Among other things she says: "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 I 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."

[Illustration: Mary Owens 186]

From a daguerreotype loaned by her son.

The letters written by Lincoln not revealing enough details of the
courtship, I prepared a list of questions for the lady to answer in
order that the entire history of their relations might be clearly shown.
I perhaps pressed her too closely in such a delicate matter, for she
responded in a few days as follows:

"Weston, Mo., May 22, 1866.

"Mr. W. H. Herndon,

"My 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 heard the same bit of gossip; but I never used the remark which
Madame Rumor says I did to Mr. Lincoln. I 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 different from mine; hence there was not that
congeniality which would otherwise 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 1838 I
left Illinois, at which time our acquaintance and correspondence ceased,
without 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,

"Mary S. Vineyard."

The reference to Lincoln's deficiency "in those little links which make
up the chain of woman's happiness" is of no little significance. It
proved that his training had indeed been different from hers. In a short
time I again wrote Mrs. Vineyard to enquire as to the truth of a story
current in New Salem, that one day as she and Mrs. Bowlin Greene were
climbing up the hill to Abie's house they were joined by Lincoln; that
Mrs. Greene was obliged to carry her child, a fat baby boy, to the
summit; that Lincoln strolled carelessly along, offering no assistance
to the woman who bent under the load. Thereupon Miss Owens, censuring
him for his neglect, reminded him that in her estimation he would not
make a good husband. In due time came her answer:

"Weston, Mo., July 22, 1866.

"Mr. W. H. Herndon:

"Dear Sir: I do not think you are 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 about 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
towards each other that I know of. On 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 presents itself just now to my
mind's eye. There was a company of us going to Uncle Billy 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
safely over. We were behind, he riding in, never looking back to see how
I got along. When I rode up beside him, I remarked, 'You are a nice
fellow! I suppose you did not care whether my neck was broken or not.'
He laughingly replied (I suppose by way of compliment), 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 mired down,' to use his own language. He was rather 'fixed up,' and
he resolved that he would pass on without looking at 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

"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 methinks I hear you say, 'Save me from a political woman!' So
say 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
Springfield, '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. Vineyard."

We have thus been favored with the lady's side of this case, and it is
but fair that we should hear the testimony of her honest but ungainly
suitor. Fortunately for us and for history we have his view of the case
in a series of letters which have been preserved with zealous care by
the lady's family.*

     * The copies of these letters were carefully made by Mr.
     Weik from the originals, now in the possession of B. R.
     Vineyard, St. Joseph, Mo.

The first letter was written from Vandalia, December 13, 1836, where
the Legislature to which he belonged was in session. After reciting the
progress of legislation and the flattering prospect that then existed
for the removal of the seat of government to Springfield, he gets down
to personal matters by apprising her of his illness for a few days,
coupled with the announcement that he is mortified by daily trips to the
post-office in quest of her letter, which it seemed never would arrive.
"You see," he complains, "I am mad about that old letter yet. I don't
like to risk you again. I'll try you once more, anyhow." Further along
in the course of the missive, he says: "You recollect, I mentioned 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 in 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 is so dry and stupid," he mournfully concludes, "that I
am ashamed to send it, but with my present feelings I cannot do any

After the adjournment of the Legislature he returned to Springfield,
from which point it was a matter of easy driving to reach New Salem,
where his lady-love was sojourning, and where he could pay his addresses
in person. It should be borne in mind that he had by this time removed
to Springfield, the county seat, and entered on the practice of the
law. In the gloom resulting from lack of funds and the dim prospect for
business, he found time to communicate with the friend whose case was
constantly uppermost in his mind. Here is one characteristic letter:

"Springfield, May 7, 1837.

"Friend Mary:

"I have commenced two letters to send you before this, both of which
displeased me before I got half done, and so I tore them up. The first I
thought wasn't serious enough, and the second was on the other extreme.
I shall send 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 in 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 church yet, and probably shall not be
soon. I stay away because I am conscious I should not know how to behave
myself. I am often thinking of what we said of your coming to live at
Springfield. I am afraid you would not be satisfied. There is a great
deal of flourishing about in carriages here, which it would be your
doom to see without sharing in 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 anyone ever
do so, it is my intention to do all in my power to make her happy 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 me may have been in 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 you had better not do it. You have
not been accustomed to hardship, and it may be more severe than you
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 in this
busy wilderness. Tell your sister I don't want to hear any more about
selling out and moving. That gives me the hypo whenever I think of it.

"Yours, etc.


Very few if any men can be found who in fond pursuit of their love would
present their case voluntarily in such an unfavorable light. In one
breath he avows his affection for the lady whose image is constantly
before him, and in the next furnishes her reasons why she ought not
to marry him! During the warm, dry summer months he kept up the siege
without apparent diminution of zeal. He was as assiduous as ever, and
in August was anxious to force a decision. On the 16th he had a meeting
with her which terminated much like a drawn battle--at least it seems
to have afforded him but little encouragement, for on his return to
Springfield he immediately indulged in an epistolary effusion stranger
than any that preceded it.

"Friend Mary:

"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
indifference; and yet it may be that you are mistaken in regard to what
my real feelings towards 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 bounden 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 anything 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, I would do it. And for the purpose
of making the matter as plain as possible, I now say, that you can now
drop the subject, dismiss your thoughts (if you ever had any) from me
forever, and leave this letter unanswered, without calling forth one
accusing murmur from me. And I will even go farther, and say, that if
it will add anything to your comfort or peace of mind to do so, it is my
sincere wish that you should. Do not understand by this that I wish to
cut your acquaintance. I mean no such thing. What I do wish is that
our further acquaintance shall depend upon yourself. If such further
acquaintance would contribute nothing to your happiness, I am sure it
would not to mine. If you feel yourself in any degree bound to me, I am
now willing to release you, provided you wish it; while, on the other
hand, I am willing and even anxious to bind you faster if I can be
convinced that it will in any considerable degree add to your happiness.
This, indeed, is the whole question with me. Nothing would make me more
miserable, nothing more happy, than to know you were so.

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

"If it suits you best to not answer this--farewell--a long 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
anything you think, just in the manner you think it.

"My respects to your sister.

"Your friend,


For an account of the final outcome of this _affaire du cour_ the reader
is now referred to the most ludicrous letter Mr. Lincoln ever wrote. It
has been said, but with how much truth I do not know, that during his
term as President the lady to whom it was written--Mrs. O. H. Browning,
wife of a fellow-member of the Legislature--before giving a copy of it
to a biographer, wrote to Lincoln asking his consent to the publication,
but that he answered warning her against it because it was too full of
truth. The only biographer who ever did insert it apologized for its
appearance in his book, regarding it for many reasons as an extremely
painful duty. "If it could be withheld," he laments, "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 exaggerations in describing the person of a
lady whom the writer was willing to marry; its imputation of toothless
and weatherbeaten old age to a woman really young and handsome; its
utter lack of that delicacy of tone and sentiment which one naturally
expects a gentleman to adopt when he thinks proper to discuss the merits
of his late mistress--all 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 temptation arises? and where shall
the process cease?"

     * Lamon, p. 181.

I prefer not to take such a serious view of the letter or its
publication. My idea is, that Mr. Lincoln got into one of his
irresistible moods of humor and fun--a state of feeling into which
he frequently worked himself to avert the overwhelming effects of his
constitutional melancholy--and in the inspiration of the moment penned
this letter, which many regard as an unfortunate composition. The class
who take such a gloomy view of the matter should bear in mind that the
letter was written by Mr. Lincoln in the fervor of early manhood, just
as he was emerging from a most embarrassing situation, and addressed to
a friend who, he supposed, would keep it sacredly sealed from the
public eye. As a matter of fact Mr. Lincoln was not gifted with a ready
perception of the propriety of things in all cases. Nothing with him was
intuitive. To have profound judgment and just discrimination he required
time to think; and if facts or events were forced before him in too
rapid succession the machinery of his judgment failed to work. A
knowledge of this fact will account for the letter, and also serve to
rob the offence--if any was committed--of half its severity.

The letter was written in the same month Miss Owens made her final
departure from Illinois.

"Springfield, April 1, 1838.

"Dear Madam:--

"Without apologizing 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. And, by the way, I now discover that, in order to give a full
and intelligible account of the things I have done and suffered since I
saw you, I shall necessarily have to relate some that happened before.

"It was, then, in the autumn of 1836 that a married lady of my
acquaintance and who was a great friend of mine, being about to pay a
visit to her father and other relatives residing in Kentucky, proposed
to me that on her return she would bring a sister of hers with her on
condition that I would engage to become her brother-in-law with all
convenient despatch. I, of course, accepted the proposal, for you know
I could not have done otherwise, had I really been averse to it; but
privately, between you and me I was most confoundedly well pleased with
the project. I had seen the said sister some three years before, thought
her intelligent 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
astonished me a little; for it appeared to me that her coming so
readily showed that she was a trifle too willing; but, on reflection,
it occurred to me that she might have been prevailed on by her married
sister to come, without anything concerning me ever having been
mentioned to her; and so I concluded that, if no other objection
presented itself, I would consent to waive this. All this occurred to me
on hearing 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 over-size, but she now appeared a fair match for Falstaff. I
knew she was called an 'old maid,' and I felt no doubt of the truth of
at least half of the appellation; but now, when I beheld her, I Could
not for my life avoid thinking of my mother; and this, not from withered
features, for her skin was too full of fat to permit of its contracting
into wrinkles, but from her want of teeth, weather-beaten appearance
in general, and from a kind of notion that ran in my head that nothing
could have commenced at the size of infancy and reached her present bulk
in less than thirty-five or forty years; and, in short, I was not at
all pleased with her. But what could I do? I had told her sister I
would take her for better or for worse; and I made a point of honor and
conscience in all things to stick to my word, especially if others had
been induced to act on it, which in this case I had no doubt they had;
for I was now fairly convinced that no other man on earth would have
her, and hence the conclusion that they were bent on holding me to my
bargain. 'Well,' thought I, 'I have said it, and, be the consequences
what they may, it shall not be my fault if I fail to do it.' At once
I determined to consider her my wife; and, this done, all my powers of
discovery were put to work in search of perfections in her which might
be fairly set off against her defects. I tried to imagine her handsome,
which, but for her unfortunate corpulency, was actually true. Exclusive
of this, no woman that I have ever seen has a finer face. I also tried
to convince myself that the mind was much more to be valued than the
person; and in this she was not inferior, as I could discover, to any
with whom I had been acquainted.

"Shortly after this, without coming to any positive understanding with
her, I set out for Vandalia, when and where you first saw me. During
my stay there I had letters from her which did not change my opinion of
either her intellect or intention, but on the contrary confirmed it in

"All this while, although I was fixed, 'firm as the surge-repelling
rock,' in my resolution, I found I 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 particular. She was the same, and so was I. I now
spent my time in planning 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 the halter.

"After all my suffering upon this deeply interesting subject, here I am,
wholly, unexpectedly, completely, out of the 'scrape;; and now I 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. I 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 consummation 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 repelled 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 very unexpectedly found
myself mortified almost beyond endurance. I was mortified, it seemed
to me, in a hundred different ways. My vanity was deeply wounded by the
reflection that I had 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 time began to suspect that I was really a
little in love with her. But let it all go. I'll try and outlive 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"

Mrs. O. H. Browning.

As before mentioned Miss Owens was afterwards married and became the
mother of five children. Two of her sons served in the Confederate army.
She died July 4, 1877. Speaking of Mr. Lincoln a a short time before her
death she referred to him as "a man with a heart full of kindness and a
head full of sense."


In December, 1834, Lincoln prepared himself for the Legislature to
which he had been elected by such a complimentary majority. Through the
generosity of his friend Smoot he purchased a new suit of clothes, and
entering the stage at New Salem, rode through to Vandalia, the seat of
government. He appreciated the dignity of his new position, and instead
of walking to the capitol, as some of his biographers have contended,
availed himself of the usual mode of travel. At this session of the
Legislature he was anything but conspicuous. In reality he was very
modest, but shrewd enough to impress the force of his character on those
persons whose influence might some day be of advantage to him. He made
but little stir, if we are to believe the record, during the whole of
this first session. Made a member of the committee on Public Accounts
and Expenditures, his name appears so seldom in the reports of the
proceedings that we are prone to conclude that he must have contented
himself with listening to the flashes of border oratory and absorbing
his due proportion of parliamentary law. He was reserved in manner, but
very observant; said little, but learned much; made the acquaintance of
all the members and many influential persons on the outside. The lobby
at that day contained the representative men of the state--men of
acknowledged prominence and respectability, many of them able lawyers,
drawn thither in advocacy of some pet bill. Schemes of vast internal
improvements attracted a retinue of log-rollers, who in later days seem
to have been an indispensable necessity in the movement of complicated
legislative machinery. Men of capital and brains were there. He
early realized the importance of knowing all these, trusting to the
inspiration of some future hour to impress them with his skill as an
organizer or his power as an orator. Among the members of the outside or
"third body" was Stephen A. Douglas, whom Lincoln then saw for the
first time. Douglas had come from Vermont only the year before, but was
already undertaking to supplant John J. Hardin in the office of States
Attorney for the district in which both lived. What impression he made
on Lincoln, what opinions each formed of the other, or what the extent
of their acquaintance then was, we do not know. It is said that
Lincoln afterwards in mentioning their first meeting observed of the
newly-arrived Vermonter that he was the "least man he had ever seen."
The Legislature proper contained the youth and blood and fire of the
frontier. Some of the men who participated in these early parliamentary
battles were destined to carry the banners of great political parties,
some to lead in war and some in the great council chamber of the nation.
Some were to fill the Governor's office, others to wear the judicial
ermine, and one was destined to be Chief Magistrate and die a martyr to
the cause of human liberty.

The society of Vandalia and the people attracted thither by the
Legislature made it, for that early day, a gay place indeed. Compared to
Lincoln's former environments, it had no lack of refinement and polish.
That he absorbed a good deal of this by contact with the men and women
who surrounded him there can be no doubt. The "drift of sentiment and
the sweep of civilization" at this time can best be measured by the
character of the legislation. There were acts to incorporate banks,
turnpikes, bridges, insurance companies, towns, railroads, and female
academies. The vigor and enterprise of New England fusing with the
illusory prestige of Kentucky and Virginia was fast forming a new
civilization to spread over the prairies! At this session Lincoln
remained quietly in the background, and contented himself with the
introduction of a resolution in favor of securing to the State a part of
the proceeds of sales of public lands within its limits. With this brief
and modest record he returned to his constituents at New Salem. With
zealous perseverance, he renewed his application to the law and to
surveying, continuing his studies in both departments until he became,
as he thought, reliable and proficient. By reason of a change in the
office of Surveyor for the county he became a deputy under Thomas M.
Neale, who had been elected to succeed John Calhoun. The speculation
in lands made a brisk business for the new surveyor, who even added
Calhoun, his predecessor, to the list of deputies. Lincoln had now
become somewhat established in the good-will and respect of his
constituents. His bashfulness and timidity was gradually giving way to
a feeling of self-confidence, and he began to exult over his ability to
stand alone. The brief taste of public office which he had just enjoyed,
and the distinction it gave him only whetted his appetite for further
honors. Accordingly, in 1836 we find him a candidate for the Legislature
again. I well remember this campaign and the election which followed,
for my father, Archer G. Herndon, was also a candidate, aspiring to a
seat in the State Senate. The Legislature at the session previous had in
its apportionment bill increased the delegation from Sangamon county to
seven Representatives and two Senators. Party conventions had not yet
been invented, and there being no nominating machinery to interfere,
the field was open for any and all to run. Lincoln again resorted, in
opening his canvass, to the medium of the political handbill. Although
it had not operated with the most satisfactory results in his first
campaign, yet he felt willing to risk it again. Candidates of that day
evinced far more willingness to announce their position than political
aspirants do now. Without waiting for a convention to construct a
platform, or some great political leader to "sound the key-note of the
campaign," they stepped to the forefront and blew the bugle themselves.
This custom will account for the boldness of Lincoln's utterances and
the unequivocal tone of his declarations. His card--a sort of political
fulmination--was as follows:

"New Salem, June 13, 1836.

"_To the Editor of The Journal_:

"In your paper of last Saturday I see a communication over the signature
of "Many Voters" in which the candidates who are announced in the
Journal are called upon to 'show their hands.' Agreed. Here's mine:
"I go for all sharing the privileges of the government who assist in
bearing its burdens. Consequently, I go for admitting all whites to
the right of suffrage who pay taxes or bear arms (by no means excluding

"If elected I shall consider the whole people of Sangamon my
constituents, 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 for
distributing the proceeds of the sales of public lands to the several
States to enable our State, in common with others, to dig canals and
construct railroads without borrowing money and paying the interest on

"If alive on the first Monday in November, I shall vote for Hugh L.
White, for President.

"Very respectfully,

"A. Lincoln"

It is generally admitted that the bold and decided stand Lincoln
took--though too audacious and emphatic for statesmen of a later
day--suited the temper of the times. Leaving out of sight his expressed
preference for White of Tennessee,--on whom all the anti-Jackson forces
were disposed to concentrate, and which was but a mere question of
men,--there is much food for thought in the second paragraph. His broad
plan for universal suffrage certainly commends itself to the ladies, and
we need no further evidence to satisfy our minds of his position on the
subject of "Woman's Rights," had he lived. In fact, I cannot refrain
from noting here what views he in after years held with reference to
the great questions of moral and social reforms, under which he classed
universal suffrage, temperance, and slavery. "All such questions," he
observed one day, as we were discussing temperance in the office, "must
first find lodgment with the most enlightened souls who stamp them with
their approval. In God's own time they will be organized into law and
thus woven into the fabric of our institutions."

The canvass which followed this public avowal of creed, was more
exciting than any which had preceded it. There were joint discussions,
and, at times, much feeling was exhibited. Each candidate had his
friends freely distributed through the crowd, and it needed but a
few angry interruptions or insinuating rejoinders from one speaker to
another to bring on a conflict between their friends. Frequently the
speakers led in the battle themselves, as in the case of Ninian W.
Edwards--afterwards a brother-in-law of Lincoln--who, in debate, drew
a pistol on his opponent Achilles Morris, a prominent Democrat. An
interesting relic of this canvass recently came to light, in a letter
which Mr. Lincoln wrote a week after he had announced his candidacy. It
is addressed to Colonel Robert Allen, a Democratic politician of local
prominence, who had been circulating some charges intended to affect
Lincoln's chances of election. The affair brought to the surface what
little satire there was in Lincoln's nature, and he administers--by
way of innuendo--such a flaying as the gallant colonel doubtless never
wanted to have repeated. The strangest part of it all is that the letter
was recently found and given to the public by Allen's own son.* It is as

     * The MS. is now in possession of the Lincoln Monument
     Association of Springfield.

"New Salem, June 21, 1836.

"Dear Colonel:

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

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

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

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

"Very respectfully,

"A. Lincoln."

Col. Robert Allen.

Lincoln was sure the letter never would be published or answered,
because Allen had no facts whatever upon which to base any such charges.
He also knew that Allen, who was a hide-bound Democrat, was in politics
the most unreliable man in Sangamon county. A vein of irony runs all
through the letter, especially where in such a delicate way he pays
tribute to the veracity of Allen, who, although a generous fellow in
the ordinary sense of the term, was unlimited in exaggeration and a
veritable bag of wind. The effort to smoke him out seems to have been
of little effect, but enough appears in Lincoln's letter to show that he
was thoroughly warmed up.

A joint debate in which all the candidates participated, took place
on the Saturday preceding the election. "The speaking began in the
forenoon," says one of the participants, "the candidates speaking
alternately until everyone who could speak had had his turn, generally
consuming the whole afternoon." Dr. Early, a Democratic candidate, in
his speech took issue with Ninian W. Edwards, stigmatizing some of the
latter's statements as untrue. This brought Edwards to his feet with
a similar retort. His angry tone and menacing manner, as he mounted
a table and with clenched fist hurled defiance at his challenger,
foreboded a tumultuous scene. "The excitement that followed," relates
another one of the candidates,* "was intense--so much so that fighting
men thought a duel must settle the difficulty. Mr. Lincoln by the
programme followed Early. Taking up the subject in dispute, he handled
it so fairly and with such ability, all were astonished and pleased."
The turbulent spirits were quieted and the difficulty was easily

Lincoln's friend Joshua F. Speed relates that during this campaign he
made a speech in Springfield a few days before the election. "The crowd
was large," says Speed, "and great numbers of his friends and admirers
had come in from the country. I remember that his speech was a very able
one, using with great power and originality all the arguments used to
sustain the principles of the Whig party as against its great rival,
the Democratic party of that day. The speech produced a profound
impression--the crowd was with him."

George Forquer, an old citizen, a man of recognized prominence and
ability as a lawyer, was present. Forquer had been a Whig--one of the
champions of the party--but had then recently joined the Democratic
party, and almost simultaneous with the change had been appointed
Register of the Land Office, which office he then held. Just about that
time Mr. Forquer had completed a neat frame house--the best house then
in Springfield--and over it had erected a lightning rod, the only one
in the place and the first one Mr. Lincoln had ever seen. He afterwards
told me that seeing Forquer's lightning rod had led him to the study of
the properties of electricity and the utility of the rod as a conductor.
At the conclusion of Lincoln's speech the crowd was about 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 the task devolved
on him. He then proceeded to answer Lincoln's speech in a style which,
while it was able and fair, in his whole manner asserted and claimed
superiority. Lincoln stood a few steps away with arms folded, carefully
watching the speaker and taking in everything he said. He was laboring
under a good deal of suppressed excitement. Forquer's sting had roused
the lion within him. At length Forquer concluded, and he mounted the
stand to reply.

"I have heard him often since," continued Speed, "in the courts and
before the people, but never saw him appear and acquit himself so well
as upon that occasion. His reply to Forquer was characterized by great
dignity and force. I shall never forget the conclusion of that speech:
'Mr. Forquer commenced his speech by announcing that the young man would
have to be taken down. It is for you, fellow citizens, not for me to
say whether I am up or down. The gentleman has seen fit to allude to my
being a young man; but he forgets that I am older in years than I am
in the tricks and trades of politicians. I desire to live, and I
desire place and distinction; but I would rather die now than, like the
gentleman, live to see the day that I would change my politics for an
office worth three thousand dollars a year, and then feel compelled to
erect a lightning rod to protect a guilty conscience from an offended
God,'" The effect of this rejoinder was wonderful, and gave Forquer and
his lightning rod a notoriety the extent of which no one envied him.

In the election which followed, Sangamon county in a political sense was
entirely turned over. Hitherto the Democrats had always carried it, but
now the Whigs gained control by an average majority of four hundred.
This time Lincoln led his ticket. The nine elected were, Abraham
Lincoln, Ninian W. Edwards, John Dawson, Andrew McCormick, Dan Stone,
Wm. F. Elkin, Robert L. Wilson, Job Fletcher, and Archer G. Herndon. The
last two were senators. On assembling at Vandalia they were at once,
on account of their stature, dubbed the "Long Nine." In height they
averaged over six feet, and in weight over two hundred pounds. "We were
not only noted," says one* of them, "for our number and length, but for
our combined influence. All the bad or objectional laws passed at that
session of the Legislature and for many years afterwards were chargeable
to the management and influence of the 'Long Nine.'" It is not my
purpose to enter into a detailed account of legislation at this period
or to rehearse the history of the political conditions. Many and
ingenious were the manoeuvres, but it would fill page after page to
narrate them. One thing which deserves mention in passing was "that
Yankee contrivance," the convention system, which for the first time was
brought into use. The Democrats, in obedience to the behests of Jackson,
had adopted it, and, singularly enough, among the very first named for
office under the operation of the new system was Stephen A. Douglas, who
was elected to the Legislature from Morgan county. Its introduction was
attributed to Ebenezer Peck, of Chicago, a Democrat who had once, it was
said, served in the Canadian Parliament. This latter supposed connection
with a monarchical institution was sufficient to bring down on his
head the united hostility of the Whigs, a feeling in which even Lincoln
joined. But after witnessing for a time the wonderful effects of its
discipline in Democratic ranks, the Whigs too fell in, and resorted to
the use of the improved machinery.

     * 'DeWitt Clinton of Illinois.'"

The Legislature of which Mr. Lincoln thus became a member was one that
will never be forgotten in Illinois. Its legislation in aid of the
so-called internal improvement system was significantly reckless and
unwise. The gigantic and stupendous operations of the scheme dazzled the
eyes of nearly everybody, but in the end it rolled up a debt so enormous
as to impede the otherwise marvelous progress of Illinois. The burdens
imposed by this Legislature under the guise of improvements became
so monumental in size it is little wonder that at intervals for years
afterward the monster of repudiation often showed its hideous face above
the waves of popular indignation. These attempts at a settlement of the
debt brought about a condition of things which it is said led the Little
Giant, in one of his efforts on the stump, to suggest that "Illinois
ought to be honest if she never paid a cent." However much we may regret
that Lincoln took part and aided in this reckless legislation, we must
not forget that his party and all his constituents gave him their united
endorsement. They gave evidence of their approval of his course by two
subsequent elections to the same office. It has never surprised me in
the least that Lincoln fell so harmoniously in with the great system of
improvement. He never had what some people call "money sense." By reason
of his peculiar nature and construction he was endowed with none of the
elements of a political economist. He was enthusiastic and theoretical
to a certain degree; could take hold of, and wrap himself up in, a
great moral question; but in dealing with the financial and commercial
interests of a community or government he was equally as inadequate as
he was ineffectual in managing the economy of his own household. In this
respect alone I always regarded Mr. Lincoln as a weak man.

One of his biographers, describing his legislative career at this time,
says of him: "He was big with prospects: his real public service was
just now about to begin. In the previous Legislature he had been silent,
observant, studious. He had improved the opportunity so well that of all
men in this new body, of equal age in the service, he was the smartest
parliamentarian and cunningest 'log roller.' He was fully determined
to identify himself conspicuously with the liberal legislation in
contemplation, and dreamed of a fame very different from that which he
actually obtained as an anti-slavery leader. It was about this time he
told his friend Speed that he aimed at the great distinction of being
called the 'DeWitt Clinton of Illinois.’"

The representatives in the Legislature from Sangamon county had been
instructed by a mass convention of their constituents to vote "for
a general system of internal improvements." Another convention of
delegates from all the counties in the State met at Vandalia and made
a similar recommendation to the members of the Legislature, specifying
that it should be "commensurate with the wants of the people." Provision
was made for a gridiron of railroads. The extreme points of the State,
east and west, north and south, were to be brought together by thirteen
hundred miles of iron rails. Every river and stream of the least
importance was to be widened, deepened, and made navigable. A canal to
connect the Illinois River and Lake Michigan was to be dug, and thus the
great system was to be made "commensurate with the wants of the people."
To effect all these great ends, a loan of twelve million dollars
was authorized before the session closed. Work on all these gigantic
enterprises was to begin at the earliest practicable moment; cities were
to spring up everywhere; capital from abroad was to come pouring
in; attracted by the glowing reports of marvelous progress and great
internal wealth, people were to come swarming in by colonies, until in
the end Illinois was to outstrip all the others, and herself become the
Empire State of the Union.

Lincoln served on the Committee on Finance, and zealously labored
for the success of the great measures proposed, believing they would
ultimately enrich the State, and redound to the glory of all who aided
in their passage. In advocating these extensive and far-reaching plans
he was not alone. Stephen A. Douglas, John A. McClernand, James Shields,
and others prominent in the subsequent history of the State, were
equally as earnest in espousing the cause of improvement, and sharing
with him the glory that attended it. Next in importance came the bill
to remove the seat of government from Vandalia. Springfield, of course,
wanted it. So also did Alton, Decatur, Peoria, Jacksonville, and
Illiopolis. But the Long Nine, by their adroitness and influence, were
too much for their contestants. They made a bold fight for Springfield,
intrusting the management of the bill to Lincoln. The friends of other
cities fought Springfield bitterly, but under Lincoln's leadership the
Long Nine contested with them every inch of the way. The struggle
was warm and protracted. "Its enemies," relates one of Lincoln's
colleagues,* "laid it on the table twice. In those darkest hours when
our bill to all appearances was beyond 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
colleagues 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." The friends of the
bill at last surmounted all obstacles, and only a day or two before the
close of the session secured its passage by a joint vote of both houses.

     * R. S. Wilson, MS.

Meanwhile the great agitation against human slavery, which like a rare
plant had flourished amid the hills of New England in luxuriant growth,
began to make its appearance in the West. Missionaries in the great
cause of human liberty were settling everywhere. Taunts, jeers,
ridicule, persecution, assassination even, were destined to prove
ineffectual in the effort to suppress or exterminate these pioneers of
Abolitionism. These brave but derided apostles carried with them the
seed of a great reform. Perhaps, as was then said of them, they were
somewhat in advance of their season, and perhaps too, some of the
seed might be sown in sterile ground and never come to life, but they
comforted themselves with the assurance that it would not all die. A
little here and there was destined to grow to life and beauty.

It is not surprising, I think, that Lincoln should have viewed this New
England importation with mingled suspicion and alarm. Abstractly, and
from the standpoint of conscience, he abhorred slavery. But born
in Kentucky, and surrounded as he was by slave-holding influences,
absorbing their prejudices and following in their line of thought, it
is not strange, I repeat, that he should fail to estimate properly the
righteous indignation and unrestrained zeal of a Yankee Abolitionist. On
the last day but one of the session, he solicited his colleagues to sign
with him a mild and carefully worded protest against certain resolutions
on the subject of domestic slavery, which had been passed by both houses
of the Legislature. They all declined, however, save one, Dan Stone,*
who with his associate will probably be known long after mention of all
other members of the Long Nine has dropped from history.

     * Following are the resolutions against the passage of which
     Lincoln and Stone made their protest:

     Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of Illinois:
     That we highly disapprove of the formation of Abolition
     societies and of the doctrines promulgated by them,

     That the right of property in slaves is sacred to the slave-
     holding States by the Federal Constitution, and that they
     cannot be deprived of that right without their consent,

     That the General Government cannot abolish slavery in the
     District of Columbia against the consent of the citizens of
     said District, without a manifest breach of good faith,

     That the Governor be requested to transmit to the States of
     Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, New York, and Connecticut, a
     copy of the foregoing report and resolutions.

The language and sentiment are clearly Lincolnian, and over twenty years
afterward, when it was charged that Lincoln was an Abolitionist, and
this protest was cited as proof, it was only necessary to call for
a careful reading of the paper for an unqualified and overwhelming
refutation of the charge. The records of the Legislature for March 3,
1837, contain this entry:

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

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

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

"They believe that the Congress of the United States has the power under
the Constitution to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, but
that the power ought not to be exercised unless at the request of the
people of the District. The difference between these opinions and, those
contained in the above resolutions is their reason for entering this

"Dan Stone,

"A. Lincoln,

"Representatives from the county of Sangamon."

This document so adroitly drawn and worded, this protest pruned of any
offensive allusions, and cautiously framed so as to suit the temper of
the times, stripped of its verbal foliage reveals in naked grandeur
the solemn truth that "the institution of slavery is founded on both
injustice and bad policy." A quarter of a century later finds one of
these protesters righting the injustice and correcting the bad policy of
the inhuman and diabolical institution.

The return of the "Long Nine" to Springfield was the occasion of much
enthusiasm and joy. The manifestations of public delight had never been
equalled before, save when the steamer _Talisman_ made its famous trip
down the Sangamon in 1831. The returning legislators were welcomed with
public dinners and the effervescent buncombe of local orators. Amid the
congratulations of warm friends and the approval of their enthusiastic
constituents, in which Lincoln received the lion's share of praise, they
separated, each departing to his own home.

After his return from the Legislature, Lincoln determined to remove to
Springfield, the county seat, and begin the practice of the law. Having
been so instrumental in securing the removal of the State Capital from
Vandalia, and having received such encouraging assurances from Major
John T. Stuart and other leading citizens, he felt confident of a good

     * "Lincoln used to come to our office--Stuart's and mine--in
     Springfield from New Salem and borrow law-books. Sometimes
     he walked but generally rode. He was the most uncouth
     looking young man I ever saw. He seemed to have but little
     to say; seemed to feel timid, with a tinge of sadness
     visible in the countenance, but when he did talk all this
     disappeared for the time and he demonstrated that he was
     both strong and acute. He surprised us more and more at
     every visit."--Henry E. Dummer, Statement, Sept 16th, 1865.

He had little, if any, money, but hoped to find in Springfield, as he
had in New Salem, good and influential friends, who, recognizing alike
his honesty and his nobility of character, would aid him whenever a
crisis came and their help was needed. In this hope he was by no means
in error, for his subsequent history shows that he indeed united his
friends to himself with hooks of steel. I had up to this time frequently
seen Mr. Lincoln--had often, while visiting my cousins, James and
Rowan Herndon, at New Salem, met him at their house--but became warmly
attached to him soon after his removal to Springfield. There was
something in his tall and angular frame, his ill-fitting garments,
honest face, and lively humor that imprinted his individuality on my
affection and regard. What impression I made on him I had no means of
knowing till many years afterward. He was my senior by nine years, and
I looked up to him, naturally enough, as my superior in everything--a
thing I continued to do till the end of his days.

[Illustration: Springfield Court House 222]

Stuart and Lincoln's Office (in 1839), Second Floor, over
Furniture-Store. Photographed in 1888.

Now that the State capital was to be located at Springfield, that place
began, by way of asserting its social superiority, to put on a good
many airs. Wealth made its gaudy display, and thus sought to attain a
pre-eminence from which learning and refinement are frequently cut off.
Already, people had settled there who could trace their descent down
a long line of distinguished ancestry. The established families were
mainly from Kentucky. They re-echoed the sentiments and reflected the
arrogance and elegance of a slave-holding aristocracy. "The Todds,
Stuarts, and Edwardses were there, with priests, dogs, and servants;"
there also were the Mathers, Lambs, Opdykes, Forquers, and Fords. Amid
all "the flourishing about in carriages" and the pretentious elegance of
that early day was Lincoln. Of origin, doubtful if not unknown; "poor,
without the means of hiding his poverty," he represented yet another
importation from Kentucky which is significantly comprehended by the
term, "the poor whites." Springfield, containing between one and two
thousand people, was near the northern line of settlement in Illinois.
Still it was the center of a limited area of wealth and refinement. Its
citizens were imbued with the spirit of push and enterprise. Lincoln
therefore could not have been thrown into a better or more appreciative

In March, 1837, he was licensed to practice law. His name appears for
the first time as attorney for the plaintiff in the case of Hawthorne
vs. Woolridge. He entered the office and became the partner of his
comrade in the Black Hawk war, John T. Stuart, who had gained rather
an extensive practice, and who, by the loan of sundry textbooks several
years before, had encouraged Lincoln to continue in the study of law.
Stuart had emigrated from Kentucky in 1828, and on account of his
nativity, if for no other reason, had great influence with the leading
people in Springfield. He used to relate that on the next morning after
his arrival in Springfield he was standing in front of the village
store, leaning against a post in the sidewalk and wondering how
to introduce himself to the community, when he was approached by a
well-dressed old gentleman, who, interesting himself in the newcomer's
welfare, enquired after his history and business. "I'm from Kentucky,"
answered Stuart, "and my profession is that of a lawyer, sir. What is
the prospect here?" Throwing his head back and closing his left eye the
old gentleman reflected a moment. "Young man, d------d slim chance for
that kind of a combination here," was the response.

At the time of Lincoln's entry into the office, Stuart was just
recovering from the effects of a congressional race in which he had been
the loser. He was still deeply absorbed in politics, and was preparing
for the next canvass, in which he was finally successful--defeating the
wily and ambitious Stephen A. Douglas. In consequence of the political
allurements, Stuart did not give to the law his undivided time or the
full force of his energy and intellect. Thus more or less responsibility
in the management of business and the conduct of cases soon devolved
on Lincoln. The entries in the account books of the firm are all in the
handwriting of Lincoln. Most of the declarations and pleas were written
by him also. This sort of exercise was never congenial to him, and it
was the only time, save a brief period under Judge Logan, that he served
as junior partner and performed the labor required of one who serves in
that rather subordinate capacity. He had not yet learned to love work.
The office of the firm was in the upper story of a building opposite
the north-west corner of the present Court-house Square. In the room
underneath, the county court was held. The furniture was in keeping with
the pretensions of the firm--a small lounge or bed, a chair containing
a buffalo robe, in which the junior member was wont to sit and study,
a hard wooden bench, a feeble attempt at a book-case, and a table
which answered for a desk. Lincoln's first attempt at settlement in
Springfield, which preceded a few days his partnership with Stuart,
has been graphically described by his friend, Joshua F. Speed, who
generously offered to share his quarters with the young legal aspirant.
Speed, who was a prosperous young merchant, reports that Lincoln's
personal effects consisted of a pair of saddle-bags containing two or
three lawbooks and a few pieces of clothing. "He had ridden into town
on a borrowed horse," relates Speed, "and engaged from the only
cabinet-maker in the village a single bedstead. He came into my store,
set his saddle-bags on the counter, and enquired what the furniture
for a single bedstead would cost. I took slate and pencil, made a
calculation, and found the sum for furniture complete would amount to
seventeen dollars in all. Said he: 'It is probably cheap enough; but I
want to say that, cheap as it is, I have not the money to pay. But if
you will credit me until Christmas, and my experiment here as a lawyer
is a success, I will pay you then. If I fail in that I will probably
never pay you at all.' The tone of his voice was so melancholy that I
felt for him. I looked up at him and I thought then, as I think now,
that I never saw so gloomy and melancholy a face in my life. I said
to him, 'So small a debt seems to affect you so deeply, I think I can
suggest a plan by which you will be able to attain your end without
incurring any debt. I have a very large room and a very large double bed
in it, which you are perfectly welcome to share with me if you choose.'
'Where is your room?' he asked.

"'Upstairs,' said I, pointing to the stairs leading from the store to
my room. Without saying a word he took his saddle-bags on his arm, went
upstairs, set them down on the floor, came down again, and with a face
beaming with pleasure and smiles, exclaimed, 'Well, Speed, I'm moved.'"

William Butler, who was prominent in the removal of the capital from
Vandalia to Springfield, took no little interest in Lincoln, while a
member of the Legislature. After his removal to Springfield, Lincoln
boarded at Butler's house for several years. He became warmly attached
to the family, and it is probable the matter of pay never entered
Butler's mind. He was not only able but willing to befriend the young
lawyer in this and many other ways.

Stephen T. Logan was judge of the Circuit court, and Stephen A. Douglas
was prosecuting attorney. Among the attorneys we find many promising
spirits. Edward D. Baker, John T. Stuart, Cyrus Walker, Samuel H. Treat,
Jesse B. Thomas, George Forquer, Dan Stone, Ninian W. Edwards, John J.
Hardin, Schuyler Strong, A. T. Bledsoe, and Josiah Lamborn--a galaxy of
names, each destined to shed more or less lustre on the history of
the State. While I am inclined to believe that Lincoln did not, after
entering Stuart's office, do as much deep and assiduous studying as
people generally credit him with, yet I am confident he absorbed not a
little learning by contact with the great minds who thronged about the
courts and State Capitol. The books of Stuart and Lincoln, during 1837,
show a practice more extensive than lucrative, for while they received a
number of fees, only two or there of them reached fifty dollars; and one
of these has a credit of: "Coat to Stuart, $15.00," showing that they
were compelled, now and then, even to "trade out" their earnings. The
litigation was as limited in importance as in extent. There were no
great corporations, as in this progressive day, retaining for counsel
the brains of the bar in every county seat, but the greatest as well
as the least had to join the general scramble for practice. The courts
consumed as much time deciding who had committed an assault or a
trespass on a neighbor's ground, as it spent in the solution
of questions arising on contracts, or unravelling similar legal
complications. Lawyers depended for success, not on their knowledge of
the law or their familiarity with its under-lying principles, but placed
their reliance rather on their frontier oratory and the influence of
their personal bearing before the jury.

Lincoln made Speed's store headquarters. There politics, religion, and
all other subjects were discussed. There also public sentiment was made.
The store had a large fire-place in the rear, and around it the lights
of the town collected every evening. As the sparks flew from the
crackling logs, another and more brilliant fire flashed when these great
minds came into collision. Here were wont to gather Lincoln, Douglas,
Baker, Calhoun, Browning, Lamborn, Jesse B. Thomas and others. Only
those who were present and listened to these embryonic statesmen and
budding orators will ever be able to recall their brilliant thoughts and
appreciate their youthful enthusiasm. In the fall and winter of 1837,
while I was attending college at Jacksonville, the persecution and death
of Elijah P. Lovejoy at Alton took place. This cruel and uncalled for
murder had aroused the anti-slavery sentiment everywhere. It penetrated
the college, and both faculty and students were loud and unrestrained
in their denunciation of the crime. My father, who was thoroughly
pro-slavery in his ideas, believing that the college was too strongly
permeated with the virus of Abolitionism, forced me to withdraw from the
institution and return home. But it was too late. My soul had absorbed
too much of what my father believed was rank poison. The murder of
Lovejoy filled me with more desperation than the slave scene in New
Orleans did Lincoln; for while he believed in non-interference with
slavery, so long as the Constitution permitted and authorized its
existence, I, although acting nominally with the Whig party up to 1853,
struck out for Abolitionism pure and simple.

On my return to Springfield from college, I hired to Joshua F. Speed
as clerk in his store. My salary, seven hundred dollars per annum, was
considered good pay then. Speed, Lincoln, Charles R. Hurst, and I slept
in the room upstairs over the store. I had worked for Speed before going
to college, and after hiring to him this time again, continued in his
employ for several years. The young men who congregated about the store
formed a society for the encouragement of debate and literary efforts.
Sometimes we would meet in a lawyer's office and often in Speed's room.
Besides the debates, poems and other original productions were read.
Unfortunately we ruled out the ladies. I am free to admit I would not
encourage a similar thing nowadays; but in that early day the young men
had not the comforts of books and newspapers which are within the reach
of every boy now. Some allowance therefore should be made for us. I have
forgotten the name of the society--if it had any--and can only recall a
few of its leading spirits. Lincoln, James Matheney, Noah Rickard, Evan
Butler, Milton Hay, and Newton Francis were members. I joined also.
Matheney was secretary.* We were favored with all sorts of literary
productions. Lincoln one night entertained us with a few lines of rhyme
intended to illustrate some weakness in woman--her frailty, perhaps.
Unfortunately, the manuscript has not been preserved. Matheney was able,
several years ago, to repeat a single stanza, but claimed that after the
lapse of so many years it was all he could recall. Perhaps in the end it
is best his memory was no more retentive. Reproduced here exactly as
in the original, it might suggest more than one construction or offend
against the canons of approved taste; in either event I shall omit it.

     * Near Hoffman's Row, where the Courts were held in 1839-40,
     lived a shoemaker who frequently would get drunk and
     invariably whipped his wife. Lincoln, hearing of this, told
     the man if he ever repeated it he would thrash him soundly
     himself. Meanwhile he told Evan Butler, Noah Rickard, and
     myself of it, and we decided if the offense occurred again
     to join with Lincoln in suppressing it. In due course of
     time we heard of it. We dragged the offender up to the
     court-house, stripped him of his shirt, and tied him to a
     post or pump which stood over the well in the yard back of
     the building. Then we sent for his wife and arming her with
     a good limb bade her "light in." We sat on our haunches and
     watched the performance. The wife did her work lustily and
     well. When we thought the culprit had had enough Lincoln
     released him; we helped him on with his shirt and he crept
     sorrowfully homeward. Of course he threatened vengeance, but
     still we heard no further reports of wife-whipping from
     him.--James H. Matheney.

Besides this organization we had a society in Springfield, which
contained and commanded all the culture and talent of the place. Unlike
the other one its meetings were public, and reflected great credit on
the community. We called it the "Young Men's Lyceum." Late in 1837,
Lincoln delivered before the society a carefully prepared address on the
"Perpetuation of Our Free Institutions."*

     *Mr. Lincoln's speech was brought out by the burning of a
     negro in St. Louis a few weeks before by a mob. Lincoln took
     this incident as a sort of text for his remarks. James
     Matheney was appointed by the Lyceum to request of Lincoln a
     copy of his speech and see to its publication.

The inspiration and burthen of it was law and order. It has been printed
in full so often, and is always to be found in the list of Lincoln's
public speeches, that I presume I need not reproduce it here. It was
highly sophomoric in character and abounded in striking and lofty
metaphor. In point of rhetorical effort it excels anything he ever
afterward attempted. Probably it was the thing people expect from a
young man of twenty-eight. The address was published in the _Sangamon
Journal_ and created for the young orator a reputation which soon
extended beyond the limits of the locality in which he lived. As
illustrative of his style of oratory, I beg to introduce the concluding
paragraph of the address. Having characterized the surviving soldiers
of the Revolution as "living histories," he closes with this thrilling
flourish: "But these histories are gone. They can be read no more
forever. They were a fortress of strength; but what invading foeman
never could do, the silent artillery of time has--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, despoiled 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 pillars of the temple of liberty, and now
that they have crumbled away, that temple must fall, unless we, their
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,
unimpassioned reason--must furnish all the materials for our future
support and defense. Let these materials be moulded into general
intelligence, sound morality, and in particular, a reverence for the
Constitution and the laws. * * * 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 institution, 'The gates of hell shall not prevail
against it.'"

In time Lincoln's style changed: he became more eloquent but with less
gaudy ornamentation. He grew in oratorical power, dropping gradually the
alliteration and rosy metaphor of youth, until he was able at last to
deliver that grandest of all orations--the Gettysburg address.

One evening, while the usual throng of loungers surrounded the inviting
fireplace in Speed's store, the conversation turned on political
matters. The disputants waxed warm and acrimonious as the discussion
proceeded. Business being over for the day, I strolled back and seating
myself on a keg listened with eager interest to the battle going on
among these would-be statesmen. Douglas, I recollect, was leading on the
Democratic side. He had already learned the art of dodging in debate,
but still he was subtle, fiery, and impetuous. He charged the Whigs with
every blunder and political crime he could imagine. No vulnerable spot
seemed to have escaped him. At last, with great vehemence, he sprang up
and abruptly made a challenge to those who differed with him to discuss
the whole matter publicly, remarking that, "This store is no place to
talk politics," In answer to Douglas's challenge the contest was entered
into. It took place in the Presbyterian Church. Douglas, Calhoun,
Lamborn, and Thomas represented the Democrats; and Logan, Baker,
Browning, and Lincoln, in the order named, presented the Whig side
of the question. One evening was given to each man, and it therefore
required over a week to complete the tournament. Lincoln occupied the
last evening, and although the people by that time had necessarily grown
a little tired of the monotony and well-worn repetition, yet Lincoln's
manner of presenting his thoughts and answering his Democratic opponents
excited renewed interest. So deep was the impression he created that
he was asked to furnish his speech to the _Sangamon Journal_ for
publication, and it afterwards appeared in the columns of that organ.

[Illustration: First Presbyterian in Springfield 237]

Photographed in 1888.

Meanwhile Mr. Lincoln had attended one special session of the
Legislature in July, 1837. The session was called to take some action
with regard to the financial condition of the State. The Bank of the
United States and the New York and Philadelphia Banks had suspended
specie payments. This action had precipitated general ruin among
business men and interests over the entire country. The called session
of the Legislature was intended to save the Illinois banks from
impending dissolution. Lincoln retained his position on the Committee on
Finance, and had lost none of his enthusiasm over the glorious prospects
of internal improvements. The Legislature, instead of abridging, only
extended the already colossal proportions of the great system. In
this they paid no heed to the governor, whose head seems to have been
significantly clear on the folly of the enterprise.

In 1838 Mr. Lincoln was again elected to the Legislature. At this
session, as the nominee of the Whig party, he received thirty-eight
votes for Speaker. Wm. L. D. Ewing, his successful competitor, the
Democratic candidate, received forty-three votes, and was elected.
Besides retaining his place on the Finance Committee, Lincoln was
assigned to the Committee on Counties. The enthusiasm and zeal of the
friends of internal improvements began to flag now in view of the fact
that the bonds issued were beginning to find their true level in point
of value. Lincoln, together with others of kindred views, tried to
bolster the "system" up; but soon the discouraging fact became apparent
that no more money could be obtained, and the Legislature began
to descant on what part of the debt was lawful and what unlawful.
Repudiation seemed not far off. Mr. Lincoln despaired now of ever
becoming the "DeWitt Clinton of Illinois." We find him admitting
"his share of the responsibility in the present crisis," and finally
concluding that he was "no financier" after all. No sooner had the
Legislature adjourned than he decided--if he had not already so
determined--to run for the same place again. He probably wanted it for
a vindication. He was pursued now more fiercely than ever, and he was
better able to endure the vilification of a political campaign than when
he first offered himself to the voters in New Salem.

Among the Democratic orators who stumped the county at this time was one
Taylor--commonly known as Col. Dick Taylor. He was a showy, bombastic
man, with a weakness for fine clothes and other personal adornments.
Frequently he was pitted against Lincoln, and indulged in many bitter
flings at the lordly ways and aristocratic pretensions of the Whigs. He
had a way of appealing to "his horny-handed neighbors," and resorted to
many other artful tricks of a demagogue. When he was one day expatiating
in his accustomed style, Lincoln, in a spirit of mischief and, as he
expressed it, "to take the wind out of his sails," slipped up to the
speaker's side, and catching his vest by the lower edge gave it a sharp
pull. The latter instantly opened and revealed to his astonished hearers
a ruffled shirt-front glittering with watch-chain, seals, and other
golden jewels. The effect was startling. The speaker stood confused
and dumbfounded, while the audience roared with laughter. When it came
Lincoln's turn to answer he covered the gallant colonel over in this
style: "While Colonel Taylor was making these charges against the Whigs
over the country, riding in fine carriages, wearing ruffled shirts, kid
gloves, massive gold watch-chains with large gold seals, and flourishing
a heavy gold-headed cane, I was a poor boy, hired on a flat-boat at
eight dollars a month, and had only one pair of breeches to my back, and
they were buckskin. Now if you know the nature of buckskin when wet and
dried by the sun, it will shrink; and my breeches kept shrinking until
they left several inches of my 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 you call this
aristocracy I plead guilty to the charge."*

     * From MS. of Ninian W. Edwards.

It was during this same canvass that Lincoln by his manly interference
protected his friend E. D. Baker from the anger of an infuriated crowd.
Baker was a brilliant and effective speaker, and quite as full too of
courage as invective. He was addressing a crowd in the court room, which
was immediately underneath Stuart and Lincoln's office. Just above the
platform on which the speaker stood was a trap door in the floor, which
opened into Lincoln's office. Lincoln at the time, as was often his
habit, was lying on the floor looking down through the door at the
speaker. I was in the body of the crowd. Baker was hot-headed and
impulsive, but brave as a lion. Growing warm in his arraignment of the
Democratic party, he charged that "wherever there was a land office
there was a Democratic newspaper to defend its corruptions." This
angered the brother of the editor of our town paper, who was present,
and who cried out, "Pull him down," at the same time advancing from
the crowd as if to perform the task himself. Baker, his face pale with
excitement, squared himself for resistance. A shuffling of feet, a
forward movement of the crowd, and great confusion followed. Just then
a long pair of legs were seen dangling from the aperture above, and
instantly the figure of Lincoln dropped on the platform. Motioning
with his hands for silence and not succeeding, he seized a stone
water-pitcher standing near by, threatening to break it over the head of
the first man who laid hands on Baker. "Hold on, gentlemen," he shouted,
"this is the land of free speech. Mr. Baker has a right to speak and
ought to be heard. I am here to protect him, and no man shall take him
from this stand if I can prevent it." His interference had the desired
effect. Quiet was soon restored, and the valiant Baker was allowed
to proceed. I was in the back part of the crowd that night, and an
enthusiastic Baker man myself. I knew he was a brave man, and even if
Lincoln had not interposed, I felt sure he wouldn't have been pulled
from the platform without a bitter struggle.

This canvass--1840--was Mr. Lincoln's last campaign for the Legislature.
Feeling that he had had enough honor out of the office he probably
aspired for a place of more distinction. Jesse B. Thomas, one of the
men who had represented the Democratic side in the great debate in
the Presbyterian Church, in a speech at the court-house during this
campaign, indulged in some fun at the expense of the "Long Nine,"
reflecting somewhat more on Lincoln than the rest. The latter was
not present, but being apprised by his friends of what had been said,
hastened to the meeting, and soon after Thomas closed, stepped upon the
platform and responded. The substance of his speech on this occasion
was not so memorable as the manner of its delivery. He felt the sting of
Thomas's allusions, and for the first time, on the stump or in public,
resorted to mimicry for effect. In this, as will be seen later along, he
was without a rival. He imitated Thomas in gesture and voice, at times
caricaturing his walk and the very motion of his body. Thomas, like
everybody else, had some peculiarities of expression and gesture, and
these Lincoln succeeded in rendering more prominent than ever. The crowd
yelled and cheered as he continued. Encouraged by these demonstrations,
the ludicrous features of the speaker's performance gave way to intense
and scathing ridicule. Thomas, who was obliged to sit near by and
endure the pain of this unique ordeal, was ordinarily sensitive; but the
exhibition goaded him to desperation. He was so thoroughly wrought up
with suppressed emotion that he actually gave way to tears. I was not a
witness of this scene, but the next day it was the talk of the town, and
for years afterwards it was called the "skinning" of Thomas. Speed was
there, so were A. Y. Ellis, Ninian W. Edwards, and David Davis, who was
just then coming into prominence. The whole thing was so unlike Lincoln,
it was not soon forgotten either by his friends or enemies. I heard him
afterwards say that the recollection of his conduct that evening filled
him with the deepest chagrin. He felt that he had gone too far, and to
rid his good-nature of a load, hunted up Thomas and made ample apology.
The incident and its sequel proved that Lincoln could not only be
vindictive but manly as well.

He was selected as an Elector on the Harrison ticket for President in
1840, and as such stumped over a good portion of the State. In debate he
frequently met Douglas, who had already become the standard-bearer and
exponent of Democratic principles. These joint meetings were spirited
affairs sometimes; but at no time did he find the Little Giant averse
to a conflict. "He was very sensitive," relates one of his colleagues on
the stump, "where he thought he had failed to meet the expectations of
his friends. I remember a case. He was pitted by the Whigs in 1840 to
debate with Mr. Douglas, the Democratic champion. 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 vindication as he then gave of Whig measures or
policy. He never after, to my knowledge, fell below himself."

     * Joseph Gillespie, MS. letter, June 5, '66.

The campaign ended in his election to the Legislature. He was again the
caucus nominee of the Whigs for Speaker, receiving thirty-six votes; but
his former antagonist, William L. D. Ewing, was elected by a majority
of ten votes over him. The proceedings of, and laws enacted by, this
Legislature are so much a matter of history and so generally known that
it seems a needless task on my part to enter into details. It is proper
to note, however, in passing, that Mr. Lincoln was neither prompt nor
constant in his attendance during the session. He had been to a certain
extent "upset" by another love affair, the particulars of which must be
assigned to a future chapter.


The year 1840 finds Mr. Lincoln entering his thirty-second year and
still unmarried. "I have come to the conclusion," he suggests in a
facetious letter, two years before, "never again to think of marrying."
But meanwhile he had seen more of the world. The State Capital had been
removed to Springfield, and he soon observed the power and influence
one can exert with high family and social surroundings to draw upon. The
sober truth is that Lincoln was inordinately ambitious. He had already
succeeded in obtaining no inconsiderable political recognition, and
numbered among his party friends men of wealth and reputation; but
he himself was poor, besides lacking the graces and ease of bearing
obtained through mingling in polite society--in fact, to use the
expressive language of Mary Owens, he was "deficient in those little
links which make up the chain of woman's happiness." Conscious,
therefore, of his humble rank in the social scale, how natural that he
should seek by marriage in an influential family to establish strong
connections and at the same time foster his political fortunes! This
may seem an audacious thing to insinuate, but on no other basis can
we reconcile the strange course of his courtship and the tempestuous
chapters in his married life. It is a curious history, and the facts,
long chained down, are gradually coming to the surface. When all is at
last known, the world I believe will divide its censure between Lincoln
and his wife.

Mary Todd, who afterwards became the wife of Mr. Lincoln, was born
in Lexington, Kentucky, December 13, 1818. "My mother," related Mrs.
Lincoln to me in 1865, "died when I was still young. I was educated by
Madame Mantelli, a lady who lived opposite Mr. Clay's, and who was an
accomplished French scholar. Our conversation at school was carried on
entirely in French--in fact we were allowed to speak nothing else. I
finished my education at Mrs. Ward's Academy, an institution to which
many people from the North sent their daughters. In 1837 I visited
Springfield, Illinois, remaining three months. I returned to Kentucky,
remaining till 1839, when I again set out for Illinois, which State
finally became my home."

The paternal grandfather of Mary Todd, General Levi Todd, was born in
1756, was educated in Virginia, and studied law in the office of General
Lewis of that State. He emigrated to Kentucky, was a lieutenant in the
campaigns conducted by General George Rogers Clark against the Indians,
and commanded a battalion in the battle of Blue Licks, August 18, 1782,
where his brother, John Todd, was killed. He succeeded Daniel Boone in
command of the militia, ranking as major-general, and was one of the
first settlers in Lexington, Ky. February 25, 1779, he married Miss Jane
Briggs. The seventh child of this union, born February 25, 1791, was
Robert S. Todd, the father of Mrs. Lincoln. On her maternal side Mrs.
Lincoln was highly connected. Her great-grandfather, General Andrew
Porter, was in the war of the Revolution. He succeeded Peter Muhlenberg
as major-general of the Pennsylvania militia. Her great uncles, George
B. Porter, who was governor of Michigan, James Madison Porter, secretary
of the navy under President Tyler, and David R. Porter, governor of
Pennsylvania, were men of ability and distinction. Her mother, Anne
Eliza Parker, was a cousin of her father, Robert S. Todd. The latter had
served in both houses of the Kentucky Legislature, and for over twenty
years was president of the Bank of Kentucky at Lexington. He died July
16, 1849.

To a young lady in whose veins coursed the blood that had come down from
this long and distinguished ancestral line, who could even go back in
the genealogical chart to the sixth century, Lincoln, the child of Nancy
Hanks, whose descent was dimmed by the shadow of tradition, was finally
united in marriage.

When Mary Todd came to her sister's house in Springfield in 1839,
she was in her twenty-first year. She was a young woman of strong,
passionate nature and quick temper, and had "left her home in Kentucky
to avoid living under the same roof with a stepmother."* She came to
live with her oldest sister, Elizabeth, who was the wife of Lincoln's
colleague in the Legislature, Ninian W. Edwards. She had two other
sisters, Frances, married to Dr. William Wallace, and Anne, who
afterwards became the wife of C. M. Smith, a prominent and wealthy
merchant. They all resided in Springfield. She was of the average
height, weighing when I first saw her about a hundred and thirty pounds.
She was rather compactly built, had a well rounded face, rich dark-brown
hair, and bluish-gray eyes. In her bearing she was proud, but handsome
and vivacious. Her education had been in no wise defective; she was a
good conversationalist, using with equal fluency the French and English
languages. When she used a pen, its point was sure to be sharp, and she
wrote with wit and ability. She not only had a quick intellect but an
intuitive judgment of men and their motives. Ordinarily she was affable
and even charming in her manners; but when offended or antagonized, her
agreeable qualities instantly disappeared beneath a wave of stinging
satire or sarcastic bitterness, and her entire better nature was
submerged. In her figure and physical proportions, in education,
bearing, temperament, history--in everything she was the exact reverse
of Lincoln.

     * Mrs. Edwards, statement, Aug. 3, 1887.

On her return to Springfield she immediately entered society, and soon
became one of the belles, leading the young men of the town a merry
dance. She was a very shrewd observer, and discreetly and without
apparent effort kept back all the unattractive elements in her
unfortunate organization. Her trenchant wit, affability, and
candor pleased the young men not less than her culture and varied
accomplishments impressed the older ones with whom she came in contact.
The first time I met her was at a dance at the residence of Col. Robert
Allen, a gentleman mentioned in the preceding chapter. I engaged her for
a waltz, and as we glided through it I fancied I never before had danced
with a young lady who moved with such grace and ease. A few moments
later, as we were promenading through the hall, I thought to compliment
her graceful dancing by telling her that while I was conscious of my own
awkward movements, she seemed to glide through the waltz with the
ease of a serpent. The strange comparison was as unfortunate as it was
hideous. I saw it in an instant, but too late to recall it. She halted
for a moment, drew back, and her eyes flashed as she retorted: "Mr.
Herndon, comparison to a serpent is rather severe irony, especially to a

[Illustration: Joshua Speed and Wife 251]

Through the influence of Joshua F. Speed, who was a warm friend of the
Edwardses, Lincoln was led to call on Miss Todd. He was charmed with
her wit and beauty, no less than by her excellent social qualities
and profound knowledge of the strong and weak points in individual
character. One visit succeeded another. It was the old story. Lincoln
had again fallen in love. "I have often happened in the room where they
were sitting," relates Mrs. Edwards, describing this courtship, "and
Mary invariably led the conversation. Mr. Lincoln would sit at her side
and listen. He scarcely said a word, but gazed on her as if irresistibly
drawn towards her by some superior and unseen power. He could not
maintain himself in a continued conversation with a lady reared as Mary
was. He was not educated and equipped mentally to make himself either
interesting or attractive to the ladies. He was a good, honest, and
sincere young man whose rugged, manly qualities I admired; but to me he
somehow seemed ill-constituted by nature and education to please such
a woman as my sister. Mary was quick, gay, and in the social world
somewhat brilliant. She loved show and power, and was the most ambitious
woman I ever knew. She used to contend when a girl, to her friends in
Kentucky, that she was destined to marry a President. I have heard
her say that myself, and after mingling in society in Springfield she
repeated the seemingly absurd and idle boast. Although Mr. Lincoln
seemed to be attached to Mary, and fascinated by her wit and sagacity,
yet I soon began to doubt whether they could always be so congenial. In
a short time I told Mary my impression that they were not suited, or,
as some persons who believe matches are made in heaven would say, not
intended for each other." But Mrs. Edwards' advice was seed, sown on
rocky soil. The courtship ran on smoothly to the point of engagement,
when a new and disturbing element loomed up ahead in their paths. It
was no less than the dashing and handsome Stephen A. Douglas, who now
appeared on the scene in the guise of a rival. As a society man Douglas
was infinitely more accomplished, more attractive and influential than
Lincoln, and that he should supplant the latter in the affections of
the proud and aristocratic Miss Todd is not to be marveled at. He
was unremitting in his attentions to the lady, promenaded the streets
arm-in-arm with her--frequently passing Lincoln--and in every way made
plain his intention to become the latter's rival. There are those who
believe this warm reciprocation of young Douglas' affection was a mere
flirtation on Mary Todd's part, intended to spur Lincoln up, to make
him more demonstrative, and manifest his love more positively and with
greater fervor. But a lady relative who lived with Lincoln and his wife
for two years after their marriage is authority for the statement coming
from Mrs. Lincoln herself that "she loved Douglas, and but for her
promise to marry Lincoln would have accepted him." The unfortunate
attitude she felt bound to maintain between these two young men ended in
a spell of sickness. Douglas, still hopeful, was warm in the race, but
the lady's physician,--her brother-in-law,--Dr. William Wallace, to whom
she confided the real cause of her illness, saw Douglas and induced him
to end his pursuit,* which he did with great reluctance.

     * Mrs. Harriett Chapman, statement, Nov. 8, 1887.

If Miss Todd intended by her flirtation with Douglas to test Lincoln's
devotion, she committed a grievous error. If she believed, because he
was ordinarily so undemonstrative, that he was without will-power and
incapable of being aroused, she certainly did not comprehend the man.
Lincoln began now to feel the sting. Miss Todd's spur had certainly
operated and with awakening effect. One evening Lincoln came into our
store and called for his warm friend Speed. Together they walked back
to the fireplace, where Lincoln, drawing from his pocket a letter, asked
Speed to read it. "The letter," relates Speed, "was addressed to Mary
Todd, and in it he made a plain statement of his feelings, telling her
that he had thought the matter over calmly and with great deliberation,
and now felt that he did not love her sufficiently to warrant her in
marrying him. This letter he desired me to deliver. Upon my declining
to do so he threatened to intrust it to some other person's hand. I
reminded him that the moment he placed the letter in Miss Todd's hand,
she would have the advantage over him. 'Words are forgotten,' I said,
'misunderstood, unnoticed in a private conversation, but once put your
words in writing and they stand a living and eternal monument against
you.' Thereupon I threw the unfortunate letter in the fire. 'Now,' I
continued, 'if you have the courage of manhood, go see Mary yourself;
tell her, if you do not love her, the facts, and that you will not marry
her. Be careful not to say too much, and then leave at your earliest
opportunity.' Thus admonished, he buttoned his coat, and with a rather
determined look started out to perform the serious duty for which I had
just given him explicit directions."

That night Speed did not go upstairs to bed with us, but under pretense
of wanting to read, remained in the store below. He was waiting for
Lincoln's return. Ten o'clock passed, and still the interview with Miss
Todd had not ended. At length, shortly after eleven, he came stalking
in. Speed was satisfied, from the length of Lincoln's stay, that his
directions had not been followed.

"Well, old fellow, did you do as I told you and as you promised?" were
Speed's first words.

"Yes, I did," responded Lincoln, thoughtfully, "and when I told Mary
I did not love her, she burst into tears and almost springing from her
chair and wringing her hands as if in agony, said something about the
deceiver being himself deceived." Then he stopped.

"What else did you say?" inquired Speed, drawing the facts from him.

"To tell you the truth, Speed, it was too much for me. I found the tears
trickling down my own cheeks. I caught her in my arms and kissed her,"
"And that's how you broke the engagement," sneered Speed. "You not only
acted the fool, but your conduct was tantamount to a renewal of the
engagement, and in decency you cannot back down now."

     * Statement, Joshua F. Speed, Sep. 17, 1866, MS.

"Well," drawled Lincoln, "if I am in again, so be it. It's done, and
I shall abide by it." Convinced now that Miss Todd regarded the
engagement ratified,--instead of broken, as her tall suitor had at first
intended,--Lincoln continued his visits, and things moved on smoothly as
before. Douglas had dropped out of the race, and everything pointed to
an early marriage. It was probably at this time that Mr. and Mrs.
Edwards began to doubt the wisdom of the marriage, and now and then to
intimate the same to the lady; but they went no farther in their
opposition and placed no obstacle in their paths.

The time fixed for the marriage was the first day in January, 1841.
Careful preparations for the happy occasion were made at the Edwards
mansion. The house underwent the customary renovation; the furniture was
properly arranged, the rooms neatly decorated, the supper prepared, and
the guests invited. The latter assembled on the evening in question, and
awaited in expectant pleasure the interesting ceremony of marriage. The
bride, bedecked in veil and silken gown, and nervously toying with the
flowers in her hair, sat in the adjoin-ing room. Nothing was lacking but
the groom. For some strange reason he had been delayed. An hour passed,
and the guests as well as the bride were becoming restless. But they
were all doomed to disappointment. Another hour passed; messengers were
sent out over town, and each returning with the same report, it became
apparent that Lincoln, the principal in this little drama, had purposely
failed to appear! The bride, in grief, disappeared to her room; the
wedding supper was left untouched; the guests quietly and wonderingly
withdrew; the lights in the Edwards mansion were blown out, and
darkness settled over all for the night. What the feelings of a lady
as sensitive, passionate, and proud as Miss Todd were we can only
imagine--no one can ever describe them. By daybreak, after persistent
search, Lincoln's friends found him. Restless, gloomy, miserable,
desperate, he seemed an object of pity. His friends, Speed among the
number, fearing a tragic termination, watched him closely in their rooms
day and night. "Knives and razors, and every instrument that could be
used for self-destruction were removed from his reach."* Mrs. Edwards
did not hesitate to regard him as insane, and of course her sister Mary
shared in that view. But the case was hardly so desperate. His condition
began to improve after a few weeks, and a letter written to his partner
Stuart, on the 23d of January; 1841, three weeks after the scene at
Edwards' house, reveals more perfectly how he felt. He says: "I am now
the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed
to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on
earth. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell; I awfully forebode
I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die or be better,
as it appears to me... I fear I shall be unable to attend to any
business here, and a change of scene might help me. If I could be myself
I would rather remain at home with Judge Logan. I can write no more."

     * J. F. Speed, MS. letter, January 6, 1866,

During all this time the Legislature to which Lincoln belonged was in
special session, but for a time he was unable to attend.* Towards the
close of the session, however, he resumed his seat. He took little if
any part in the proceedings, made no speeches, and contented himself
with answers to the monotonous roll-call, and votes on a few of the
principal measures. After the adjournment of the Legislature, his warm
friend Speed, who had disposed of his interests in Springfield, induced
Lincoln to accompany him to Kentucky. Speed's parents lived in a
magnificent place a few miles from Louisville. Their farm was well
stocked, and they, in the current phrase, "lived well." Thither he was
taken, and there amid the quiet surroundings he found the "change of
scene" which he told Stuart might help him. He was living under the
cloud of melancholia, and sent to the _Sangamon Journal_ a few lines
under the gloomy title of "Suicide." They were published in the paper,
and a few years since I hunted over the files, and coming across the
number containing them, was astonished to find that some one had cut
them out. I have always supposed it was done by Lincoln or by some one
at his instigation.

     * His illness and consequent incapacity for duty in the
     Legislature, continued for almost three weeks. On the 19th
     of January, 1841, John J. Hardin announced his illness in
     the House. Four days afterward he wrote the letter to Stuart
     from which I have quoted a few lines.

Speed's mother was much impressed with the tall and swarthy stranger
her son had brought with him. She was a God-fearing mother, and besides
aiding to lighten his spirits, gave him a Bible, advising him to read it
and by adopting its precepts obtain a release from his troubles which no
other agency, in her judgment, could bring him. "He was much depressed.
At first he almost contemplated suicide. In the deepest of his
depression he said one day 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-men, was what he desired to live for."* The congenial
associations at the Speed farm,** the freedom from unpleasant reminders,
the company of his staunch friend, and above all the motherly care
and delicate attentions of Mrs. Speed exerted a marked influence over

     * Letter, J. F. Speed, February 9, 1866, MS.

     ** At the time of Lincoln's visit at the Speed mansion,
     James Speed, a brother of Joshua, and afterward Attorney-
     General in Lincoln's Cabinet, was practicing law in
     Louisville. Lincoln came into his office daily. "He read my
     books," related Mr. Speed in after years; "talked with me
     about his life, his reading, his studies, his aspirations."
     Mr. Speed discredits the thought that Lincoln was insane at
     the time, although he understood he was saddened and
     melancholy over an unfortunate love affair.

He improved gradually, day by day gaining strength and confidence in
himself, until at last the great cloud lifted and passed away. In the
fall he and Speed returned to Springfield. At this point, as affording
us the most reliable account of Mr. Lincoln's condition and views, it
is proper to insert a portion of his correspondence with Mr. Speed. For
some time Mr. Speed was reluctant to give these letters to the world.
After some argument, however, he at last shared my view that they were
properly a matter of history, and sent them to me, accompanied by a
letter, in which he says:

"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 import. 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 knew so well as myself; he disclosed his whole heart to me.*

     * Lincoln wrote a letter--a long one which he read to me--to
     Dr. Drake of Cincinnati, descriptive of his case. Its date
     would be in December, 1840, or early in January, 1841. I
     think that he must have informed Dr. Drake of his early love
     for Miss Rutledge, as there was a part of the letter which
     he would not read... I remember Dr. Drake's reply, which
     was, that he would not undertake to prescribe for him
     without a personal interview."--Joshua F. Speed, MS. letter,
     November 30, 1866.

"In the summer of 1841 I became engaged to my wife. He was here on a
visit when I courted her; and, strange to say, something of the same
feeling which I regarded as so foolish in him took possession of me and
kept me very unhappy from the time of my engagement until I was married.
This will explain the deep interest he manifested in his letters on my

"One thing is plainly discernible; if I had not been married and
happy--far more happy than I ever expected to be--he would not have

The first of these letters is one which he gave Speed when the latter
started on his journey from Illinois to Kentucky. It bears no date,
but was handed him January 1, 1842, as Speed has testified, in another
letter to me, that he left Springfield on that day. It is full of
consolation and advice how best to conduct himself when the periods of
gloom which he feels sure will follow come upon his friend. "I know,"
he says, "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! How came you to court her?... Did you court her for her
wealth? Why, you say she had none. But you say you reasoned 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 courting 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 infer the last from the company you found
her in.... Say candidly, were not those heavenly black eyes the whole
basis of all your 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
Lexington and back for no other purpose but to get to see her again on
our return on that evening to take a trip for that express object?"

The next paragraph is significant as affording us an idea of how the
writer perhaps viewed Miss Todd's flirtation with Douglas: "What earthly
consideration," he asks, "would you take to find her scouting and
despising you and giving herself up to another? But of this you need
have no apprehension, and therefore you cannot bring it home to your

February 3, he writes again, acknowledging receipt of a letter dated
January 25. The object of Speed's affection had been ill, and her
condition had greatly intensified his gloomy spirits. Lincoln proffers
his sympathy. "I hope and believe," he continues, "that your present
anxiety about her health and her life must and will forever banish those
horrid doubts which I know you sometimes felt as to the truth of your
affection for her. If they can once and forever be removed (and I almost
feel a presentiment that the Almighty has sent your present affliction
expressly for that object), surely nothing can come in their stead to
fill their immeasurable measure of misery... It really appears to me
that you yourself ought to rejoice and not sorrow at this indubitable
evidence of your undying affection for her. Why, Speed, if you did
not love her, although you might not wish her death, you would most
certainly be resigned to it. Perhaps this point is no longer a question
with you, and my pertinacious dwelling upon it is a rude intrusion
upon your feelings. If so you must pardon me. You know the hell I have
suffered on that point, and how tender I am upon it. You know I do not
mean wrong. I have been quite clear of hypo since you left, even better
than I was along in the fall."

The next letter, February 13, was written on the eve of Speed's
marriage. After assurances of his desire to befriend him in everything,
he suggests: "But you will always hereafter be on ground that I have
never occupied, 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... I incline to think it probable that your nerves
will occasionally fail you for awhile; but once you get them firmly
graded now, that trouble is over forever. If you went through the
ceremony calmly or even with sufficient composure 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."

Meanwhile Lincoln had been duly informed of Speed's marriage, and on the
25th he responds:

"Yours of the 16th, announcing that Miss Fanny and you are 'no more
twain, but one flesh,' reached me 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... I shall be very lonesome without you. How miserably things
seem to be arranged in this world! If we have no friends we have no
pleasure; and if we have them we are sure to lose them, and be doubly
pained by the loss."

In another letter, written the same day, he says, "I have no doubt it
is the peculiar misfortune of both you and me to dream dreams of Elysium
far exceeding all that anything earthly can realize. Far short of your
dreams as you may be, no woman could do more to realize them than
that same blackeyed Fanny. If you could but contemplate her through my
imagination, it would 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 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."

Speed having now safely married, Lincoln's mind began to turn on things
nearer home. His relations with Mary Todd were still strained, but
reminders of his period of gloom the year before began now to bring her
again into view. In a letter to Speed, March 27, he says:

"It cannot be told how it thrills me with joy to hear you say you
are 'far happier than you ever expected to be.' That much, I know, is
enough. I know you too well to suppose your expectations were not at
least sometimes 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 than the total sum of all I have enjoyed since that fatal first
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 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 heard of it, of having
enjoyed the trip exceedingly. God be praised for that!"

The last paragraph of this letter contains a bit of sentiment by Lincoln
in acknowledgment of a violet. In the margin of the letter which he gave
me, Speed made this note in pencil: "The violet was sent by my wife,
who dropped it in the letter as I was in the act of sealing it. How
beautiful the acknowledgment!" This is the paragraph: "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."

Meanwhile the coldness that existed between Lincoln and his "Mary" was
gradually passing away, and with it went all of Lincoln's resolution
never to renew the engagement. In a letter, July 4, he says: "I must
gain confidence in my own ability to keep my resolves when they are
made. In that ability I once prided myself as the only chief gem of my
character; that gem I lost, how and where you know too well. I have not
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.... I
always was superstitious; I believe God made me one of the instruments
of bringing Fanny and you together, which union I have no doubt he had
foreordained. Whatever he designs he will 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 anything of my affairs; 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."

The last letter, and the one which closes this series, was written
October 5, 1842. In it he simply announces his "duel with Shields," and
then goes on to "narrate the particulars of the duelling business,
which still rages in this city." This referred to a challenge from
the belligerent Shields to William Butler, and another from General
Whitesides to Dr. Merryman. In the latter, Lincoln acted as the "friend
of Merryman," but in neither çase was there any encounter, and both
ended in smoke. The concluding paragraph of this letter is the most
singular in the entire correspondence. I give it entire without further

"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
solicitude 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 I well understood. You have now been the husband of a lovely
woman nearly eight 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 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 pardon it in me. Please answer it
quickly, as I am impatient to know." Lincoln again applied himself to
the law. He re-entered the practice, after the long hiatus of rest, with
renewed vigor. He permitted the memory of his engagement with Mary Todd
to trouble him no longer. Their paths had diverged, the pain of the
separation was over, and the whole thing was a history of the past. And
so it might ever have remained but for the intervention of a very shrewd
and sagacious lady--one who was capable of achieving success anywhere
in the ranks of diplomacy. This lady was the wife of Simeon Francis, the
editor of the _Sangamon Journal_. She was a warm friend of Mary Todd and
a leader in society. Her husband was warmly attached to Lincoln. He ran
the Whig organ, and entertained great admiration for Lincoln's brains
and noble qualities. The esteem was mutual, and it is no stretch of the
truth to say that for years Lincoln exercised undisputed control of the
columns of the _Journal_ himself. Whatever he wrote or had written,
went into the editorial page without question. Mrs. Francis, sharing her
husband's views of Lincoln's glorious possibilities, and desiring to do
Mary Todd a kindly act, determined to bring about a reconciliation. She
knew that Miss Todd had by letter a few days after "that fatal first of
January, 1841," as Lincoln styled it, released him from the engagement,
and that since then their relations had been strained, if not entirely
broken off. As she viewed it, a marriage between a man as promising
in the political world as Lincoln, and a woman as accomplished
and brilliant in society as Mary Todd, would certainly add to the
attractions of Springfield and reflect great credit on those who
brought the union about. She was a great social entertainer, and one day
arranged a gathering at her house for the express purpose of bringing
these two people together. Both were invited and both attended; but
neither suspected the other's presence. Having arranged things so
ingeniously and with so much discretion, it was no difficult task for
the hostess to bring the couple together by a warm introduction and the
encouraging admonition, "Be friends again." Much to the surprise of both
they found the web woven around them. They entered into the spirit of
the reconciliation, and found Mrs. Francis' roof an inviting place for
many succeeding meetings. A wall reared itself between them and the
past, and they started again under the auspicious omens of another
engagement. The tact of a woman and the diplomacy of society had
accomplished what love had long since despaired of ever doing or seeing

The meetings in the parlor of Mrs. Francis' house were conducted with
no little privacy. At first even Mrs. Edwards knew nothing of it, but
presently it came to her ears. "I asked Mary," said this lady, "why she
was so secretive about it. She said evasively that after all that had
occurred, it was best to keep the courtship from all eyes and ears.
Men and women and the whole world were uncertain and slippery, and if
misfortune befell the engagement all knowledge of it would be hidden
from the world." *

      * Statement, January 10, 1866, MS.

It is unnecessary to prolong the account of this strange and checkered
courtship. The intervention of the affair with Shields, which will
be detailed in a subsequent chapter, in no way impeded, if it did not
hasten the marriage. One morning in November, Lincoln, hastening to the
room of his friend James H. Matheney before the latter had arisen from
bed, informed him that he was to be married that night, and requested
him to attend as best man.* That same morning Miss Todd called on her
friend Julia M. Jayne, who afterward married Lyman Trumbull, and made
a similar request. The Edwardses were notified, and made such meager
preparations as were possible on so short notice. License was obtained
during the day, the minister, Charles N. Dresser,** was sent for, and
in the evening of November 4, 1842, "as pale and trembling as if being
driven to slaughter," Abraham Lincoln was at last married to Mary Todd.*

     * "Marriages in Springfield up to that time had been rather
     commonplace affairs. Lincoln's was perhaps the first one
     ever performed with all the requirements of the Episcopal
     ceremony. A goodly number of friends had gathered, and while
     witnessing the ceremony one of the most amusing incidents
     imaginable occurred. No description on paper can do it
     justice. Among those present was Thomas C. Brown, one of the
     judges of the Supreme Court. He was in truth an "old-timer,"
     and had the virtue of saying just what he thought, without
     regard to place or surroundings. He had been on the bench
     for many years and was not less rough than quaint and
     curious. There was, of course, a perfect hush in the room as
     the ceremony progressed. Brown was standing just behind
     Lincoln. Old Parson Dresser, in canonical robes, with much
     and impressive solemnity recited the Episcopal service. He
     handed Lincoln the ring, who, placing it on the bride's
     finger, repeated the Church formula, 'With this ring I thee
     endow with all my goods and chattels, lands and tenements.'
     Brown, who had never witnessed such a proceeding, was struck
     with its utter absurdity. 'God Almighty! Lincoln,' he
     ejaculated, loud enough to be heard by all,  'the statute
     fixes all that!' This unlooked-for interruption almost upset
     the old parson; he had a keen sense of the ridiculous, and
     for the moment it seemed as if he would break down; but
     presently recovering his gravity, he hastily pronounced them
     husband and wife."--Letter, James H. Matheney, MS., Aug.

     ** "My father, Rev. Charles Dresser, was a graduate of Brown
     University, Providence, R. I., of the class of 1823."--
     Thomas W. Dresser, MS. letter, Sept. 17, 1888.

[Illustration: Edwards Residence where Lincoln Married 273]

In which Lincoln and Mary Todd were married, and in which the latter
died. Photographed in 1886.

One great trial of his life was now over, and another still greater
one was yet to come. To me it has always seemed plain that Mr. Lincoln
married Mary Todd to save his honor, and in doing that he sacrificed his
domestic peace. He had searched himself subjectively, introspectively,
thoroughly: he knew he did not love her, but he had promised to marry
her! The hideous thought came up like a nightmare. As the "fatal first
of January, 1841," neared, the clouds around him blackened the heavens
and his life almost went out with the storm. But soon the skies cleared.
Friends interposed their aid to avert a calamity, and at last he stood
face to face with the great conflict between honor and domestic peace.
He chose the former, and with it years of self-torture, sacrificial
pangs, and the loss forever of a happy home.*

     * While dressing for the wedding in his room at Butler's
     house, the latter's little boy, Speed, seeing Lincoln so
     handsomely attired, in boyish innocence asked him where he
     was going? "To hell, I suppose," was Lincoln's reply.

With Miss Todd a different motive, but one equally as unfortunate,
prompted her adherence to the union. To marry Lincoln meant not a life
of luxury and ease, for Lincoln was not a man to accumulate wealth; but
in him she saw position in society, prominence in the world, and
the grandest social distinction. By that means her ambition would be
satisfied. Until that fatal New Year's day in 1841 she may have loved
him, but his action on that occasion forfeited her affection. He had
crushed her proud, womanly spirit. She felt degraded in the eyes of the
world. Love fled at the approach of revenge. Some writer--it is Junius,
I believe--has said that, "Injuries may be forgiven and forgotten,
but insults admit of no compensation: they degrade the mind in its own
self-esteem and force it to recover its level by revenge." Whether Mrs.
Lincoln really was moved by the spirit of revenge or not she acted along
the lines of human conduct. She led her husband a wild and merry
dance. If, in time, she became soured at the world it was not without
provocation, and if in later years she unchained the bitterness of a
disappointed and outraged nature, it followed as logically as an effect
does the cause.

I have told this sad story as I know and have learned it. In rehearsing
the varied scenes of the drama,* I have unearthed a few facts that seem
half-buried, perhaps, but they were not destined to lay buried deep or
long. The world will have the truth as long as the name of Lincoln is
remembered by mankind.

     * For many years I had reason to believe that Sarah Rickard,
     who was a sister of Mrs. William Butler, had been the
     recipient of some attentions at the hand of Mr. Lincoln. The
     lady, long since married, is now living in a Western State.
     I applied to her for information recently, and after some
     entreaty received this answer in her own handwriting: "As an
     old friend I will answer the question propounded to me,
     though I can scarcely see what good it can do history. Mr.
     Lincoln did make a proposal of marriage to me in the summer,
     or perhaps later, in the year of 1840. He brought to my
     attention the accounts in the Bible of the patriarch
     Abraham's marriage to Sarah, and used that historical union
     as an argument in his own behalf. My reason for declining
     his proposal was the wide difference in our ages. I was then
     only sixteen, and had given the subject of matrimony but
     very little, if any, thought. I entertained the highest
     regard for Mr. Lincoln. He seemed almost like an older
     brother, being, as it were, one of my sister's family."

There were two things Mr. Lincoln always seemed willing to forget.
One was his unparliamentary escape with Joseph Gillespie from the
Legislature by jumping through the church window, in 1839, and the
other was the difficulty with James Shields, or, as he expressed it in a
letter to Speed, the "duel with Shields." Other incidents in his career
he frequently called up in conversation with friends, but in after
years he seldom if ever referred to the affair with Shields. People in
Illinois did gradually forget or, at least, cease mention of it, but in
more remote quarters where Mr. Lincoln was less extensively known, the
thing, much to his regret, kept rising to the surface. During a visit
which I made to the Eastern States in 1858, I was often asked for an
account of the so-called duel; so often, in fact, that on my return home
I told Mr. Lincoln of it. "If all the good things I have ever done,"
he said regretfully, "are remembered as long and well as my scrape with
Shields, it is plain I shall not soon be forgotten."

James Shields, a "gallant, hot-headed bachelor from Tyrone county,
Ireland," and a man of inordinate vanity, had been elected Auditor of
State. Encouraged somewhat by the prominence the office gave him, he at
once assumed a conspicuous position in the society of Springfield. He
was extremely sensitive by nature, but exposed himself to merciless
ridicule by attempting to establish his supremacy as a beau among the
ladies. Blind to his own defects, and very pronounced in support of
every act of the Democratic party, he made himself the target for all
the bitterness and ridicule of the day. It happened that the financial
resources of the State, owing to the collapse of the great internal
improvement system, were exceedingly limited, and people were growing
restless under what they deemed excessive taxation. The State officers
were all Democrats, and during the summer they issued an order declining
to receive any more State Banknotes or bills in payment of taxes. This
made the tax-payer's burdens greater than ever, as much of this paper
remained outstanding in the hands of the people. The order met with
opposition from every quarter--the Whigs of course losing no opportunity
to make it as odious as possible. It was perfectly natural, therefore,
that such an ardent Whig as Lincoln should join in the popular
denunciation. Through the columns of the _Springfield Journal_, of which
he had the undisputed use, he determined to encourage the opposition
by the use of his pen. No object seemed to merit more ridicule and
caricature than the conspicuous figure of the Auditor of State. At this
time Lincoln was enjoying stolen conferences under the hospitable roof
of Mrs. Francis with Mary Todd and her friend Julia M. Jayne. These two
young ladies, to whom he confided his purpose, encouraged it and offered
to lend their aid. Here he caught the idea of puncturing

Shields. The thing took shape in an article published in that Journal,
purporting to have come from a poor widow, who with her pockets full of
State Bank paper was still unable to obtain the coveted receipt for her
taxes. It was written by Lincoln and was headed:

A Letter from the Lost Townships.

Lost Townships, August 27,1842.

Dear Mr. 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 in the Lost Townships, and give
your paper respectability besides. So here comes another. Yesterday
afternoon I hurried through cleaning up the dinner dishes and stepped
over to neighbor S------ to see if his wife Peggy was as well as mout be
expected, and hear what they called the baby. Well, when I got there and
just turned round the corner of his log cabin, there he was, setting on
the doorstep reading a newspaper. "How are you, Jeff?" says I. He sorter
started when he heard me, for he hadn't seen me before. "Why," says he,
"I'm mad as the devil, Aunt 'Becca!" "What about?" says I; "ain't
its hair the right color? None of that nonsense, Jeff; there ain't an
honester women 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! I find a set of fellows, calling themselves officers of
the State, have forbidden the tax collectors 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 it to me, 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-natured 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. "Why," 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 loss' if it ain't done."

"Loss! damnation!" says he. "I defy Daniel Webster, I defy King Solomon,
I defy the world--I defy--I defy--yes, I defy even you, Aunt 'Becca,
to show how the people can lose anything 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 don't say the people will lose
anything 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 silver, instead of having to pay silver; and though it's just as
plain 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, Jeff, we can't
get along without officers of State."

"Damn officers of State!" says he; "that's what Whigs are always
hurrahing for."

"Now, don't swear so, Jeff," says I; "you know I belong to the meetin',
and swearin' hurts my feelings."

"Beg pardon, Aunt 'Becca," says he; "but I do say it's enough to make Dr.
Goddard swear, to have tax to pay in silver, for nothing only that Ford
may get his two thousand a year, and Shields his twenty-four hundred a
year, and Carpenter his sixteen hundred a year, and all without 'danger
of loss' by taking it in State paper. Yes, yes: it's plain enough now
what these officers of State mean by 'danger of loss.' Wash, I s'pose,
actually lost fifteen hundred dollars out of the three thousand that two
of 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

And so he went on till his breath run out, and he had to stop. I
couldn't think of anything to say just then, and so I begun to look over
the paper again. "Ay! here's another proclamation, or something like

"Another?" says Jeff; "and whose egg is it, pray?"

I looked to the bottom of it, and read aloud, "Your obedient servant,
James Shields, Auditor." "Aha!" says Jeff, "one of them same three
fellows again. Well, read 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!" says he; "that's a lie a'ready, and I don't want
to hear of it."

"Oh! may be not," says I.

"I say it--is--a--lie. Suspend the collection, indeed! Will the
collectors, that have taken their oaths to make the collection, dare
to suspend it? Is there anything in law requiring them to perjure
themselves at the bidding of James Shields?

"Will the greedy gullet of the penitentiary be satisfied with swallowing
him instead of all of them, if they should venture to obey him? 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? The 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. Why, Shields didn't believe that 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, bright, passable lie out of him,
you might as well try to strike fire from a cake of tallow. I stick to
it, it's all an infernal Whig lie!"

"A Whig lie! Highty tighty!"

"Yes, a Whig lie; and it's just like everything the cursed British Whigs
do. First they'll do some divilment, and then they'll tell a lie to hide
it. And they don't care how plain a lie it is: they think they can cram
any sort of a one down the throats of the ignorant Locofocos, as they
call the Democrats."

"Why, Jeff, you're crazy: you don't mean to say Shields is a Whig!"

"Yes, I do."

"Why, look here! the proclamation is in your own Democratic paper, as
you call it."

"I know it; and what of that? They only printed it to let us Democrats
see the deviltry the Whigs are at."

"Well, but Shields is the auditor of this Loco--I mean this Democratic

"So he is, and Tyler appointed him to office."

"Tyler appointed him?"

"Yes (if you must chaw it over), Tyler appointed him; 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 about his being a Whig. Why, his very looks
shows it; everything about him shows it: if I was deaf and blind, I
could tell him 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 about town was there, and all
the handsome widows and married women, finickin' about trying to look
like gals, tied as tight in the middle, and puffed out at both ends,
like bundles of fodder that hadn't been stacked yet, but wanted stackin'
pretty bad. And then they had tables all around the house kivered over
with [ ] caps and pincushions and ten thousand such little knic-knacks,
tryin' to sell'em to the fellows that were bowin' and scrapin' and
kungeerin' about'em. They wouldn't let no Democrats in, for fear they'd
disgust the ladies, or scare the little gals, or dirty the floor. I
looked in at the window, and there was this same fellow Shields floatin'
about on the air, without heft or earthly substances, just like a lock
of cat fur where cats had been fighting.

"He 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 distressing, 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 so
handsome and so interesting.'

"As this last was expressed by a most exquisite contortion of his face,
he seized hold of one of their hands, and squeezed, and held on to it
about a quarter of an hour. 'Oh, my good fellow!' says I to myself, 'if
that was one of our Democratic gals in the Lost Townships, the way
you'd get a brass pin let into you would be about up to the head.' He
a Democrat! Fiddlesticks! I 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 bargain, by jingoes!" says he; "but how will we find out?"

"'Why," says I, "we'll just write and ax the printer."

"Agreed again!" says he; "and by thunder! if it does turn out that
Shields is a Democrat, I never will"--

"Jefferson! Jefferson!"

"What do you want, Peggy?"

"Do get through your everlasting clatter some time, and bring me a gourd
of water; the child's been crying for a drink this livelong 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 saying
anything spiteful for he's a raal good-hearted fellow, 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, thank 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'em, 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 be 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 my self, 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 these officers of State 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 airs 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 us will have a cow left to milk,
or a calf's tail to wring.

Yours truly,

Rebecca ------.

Within a week another epistle from Aunt Rebecca appeared, in which,
among other things, she offered the gallant Shields her hand. This one
was written by Miss Todd and Miss Jayne. I insert it without further

Lost Townships, September 8, 1842. Dear Mr. Printer:

I was a-standin' at the spring yesterday a-wash-in' out butter when I
seed Jim Snooks a-ridin' up towards the house for very life, when, jist
as I was a-wonderin' what on airth was the matter with him, he stops
suddenly, and ses he, "Aunt 'Becca, here's somethin' for you and with
that he hands out your letter. Well, you see, I steps out towards him,
not thinkin' that I had both hands full of butter; and seein' I couldn't
take the letter, you know, without greasin' it, I ses, "Jim, jist you
open it, and read it for me." Well, Jim opens it and reads it; and would
you believe it, Mr. Editor, I was so completely dumfounded and turned
into stone that there I stood in the sun a-workin' the butter, and it
a-running on the ground, while he read the letter, that I never thunk
what I was about till the hull 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 wouldn't have sich another fright for
a whole firkin of it. Why, when I found out that it was the man what
Jeff seed down to the fair that had demanded the author of my letters,
threatnin' to take personal satisfaction of the writer, I was so skart
that I tho't I should quill-wheel right where I was.

You say that Mr. S------ is offended at being compared to cats' fur,
and is as mad as a March hare (that ain't fur), because I told about the

Now I want you to tell Mr. S------ that, rather than fight, I'll make
any apology; and, if he wants personal satisfaction, let him only come
here, and he may squeeze my hand as hard as I squeezed the butter, and,
if that ain't personal satisfaction, I can only say that he is the fust
man that was not satisfied with squeezin' my hand. If this should
not answer, there is one thing more that I would rather do than get a
lickin'. I have long expected to die a widow; but, as Mr. S------
is rather goodlooking 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 widowed modesty--well, if I
must, I must--wouldn't he--may be sorter let the old grudge drap if I
was to consent to be--be--h-i-s w-i-f-e? I know he's a fightin' man, and
would rather fight than eat; but isn't marryin' better than fightin',
though it does sometimes run in to 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 jist four feet three in my bare feet, and not much more around the
girth; and for color, I wouldn't turn my back to nary a gal in the Lost
Townships. But, after all, maybe I'm countin' my chickins before they
are hatched, and dreamin' of matrimonial bliss when the only alternative
reserved for me may be a lickin'. Jeff tells me the way these
fire-eaters do is to give the challenged party choice of weapons, etc.,
which bein' the case, I'll tell you in confidence that I never fights
with anything 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 objectional to him. I will give him choice, however, in
one thing, and that is, whether, when we fight, I shall wear breeches or
he petticoats, for, I presume that change is sufficient to place us on
an equality.

Yours, etc.,

Rebecca ------.

P. S.--Jist say 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 hands.

Not content with their epistolary efforts, the ladies invoked the muse.
"Rebecca" deftly transformed herself into "Cathleen," and in jingling
rhyme sang the praises of Shields, and congratulated him over the
prospect of an early marriage to the widow. Following are the verses,
rhyme, metre, and all:

     Ye Jew's-harps awake! The Auditor'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 cares of this world ne'er darken his hours!
     But the pleasures of life are fickle and coy
     As the smiles of a maiden sent 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 stone
     Will be fondly remembered as relics of yore,
     And hands that in rapture you oft would have pressed,
     In prayer will be clasped that your lot may be blest.


The satire running through these various compositions, and the publicity
their appearance in the _Journal_ gave them, had a most wonderful effect
on the vain and irascible Auditor of State. He could no longer endure
the merriment and ridicule that met him from every side. A man of
cooler head might have managed it differently, but in the case of a
high-tempered man like Shields he felt that his integrity had been
assailed and that nothing but an "affair of honor" would satisfy him.
Through General John D. Whiteside he demanded of editor Francis the name
of the author. The latter hunted up Lincoln, who directed him to give
his name and say nothing about the ladies. The further proceedings in
this grotesque drama were so graphically detailed by the friends of both
parties in the columns of the _Journal_ at that time, that I copy their
letters as a better and more faithful narrative than can be obtained
from any other source. The letter of Shields' second, General Whiteside,
appearing first in the _Journal_, finds the same place in this chapter:

"_To the Editor of the Sangamon Journal_: Springfield, Oct. 3, 1842.

"SIR: To prevent misrepresentation of the recent affair between Messrs.
Shields and Lincoln, I think it proper to give a brief narrative of the
facts of the case, as they came within my knowledge; for the truth
of which I hold myself responsible, and request you to give the same
publication. An offensive article in relation to Mr. Shields appeared
in the _Sangamon Journal_ of the 2d of September last; and, on demanding
the author, Mr. Lincoln was given up by the editor. Mr. Shields,
previous to this demand, made arrangements to go to Quincy on public
business; and before his return Mr. Lincoln had left for Tremont to
attend the court, with the intention, as we learned, of remaining on
the circuit several weeks. Mr. Shields, on his return, requested me
to accompany him to Tremont; and, on arriving there, we found that Dr.
Merryman and Mr. Butler had passed us in the night, and got there before
us. We arrived in Tremont on the 17th ult., and Mr. Shields addressed a
note to Mr. Lincoln immediately, informing him that he was given up as
the author of some articles that appeared in the Sangamon Journal (one
more over the signature having made its appearance at this time), and
requesting him to retract the offensive allusions contained in said
articles in relation to his private character. Mr. Shields handed this
note to me to deliver to Mr. Lincoln, and directed me, at the same time,
not to enter into any verbal communication, or be the bearer of any
verbal explanation, as such were always liable to misapprehension. This
note was delivered by me to Mr. Lincoln, stating, at the same time,
that I would call at his convenience for an answer. Mr. Lincoln, in the
evening of the same day, handed me a letter addressed to Mr. Shields. In
this he gave or offered no explanation, but stated therein that he could
not submit to answer further, on the ground that Mr. Shields's note
contained an assumption of facts and also a menace. Mr. Shields then
addressed him another note, in which he disavowed all intention to
menace, and requested to know whether he (Mr. Lincoln) was the author
of either of the articles which appeared in the _Journal_, 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
character; 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 withdrawn.' Mr. Shields thereupon sent a note designating me as a
friend, to which Mr. Lincoln replied by designating Dr. Merryman. These
three last notes passed on Monday 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 amicable arrangement, and compel our principals to
accept of them. To this he readily assented, and we shook hands upon
the pledge. It was then mutually 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. We 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!
The weapons, cavalry broadswords of the largest size; the parties to
stand on each side of a barrier, 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 myself, and it being
known that Mr. Shields was left at Tremont, 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. Merryman 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
had himself informed me. The time and place made it necessary 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 took in General Ewing. From there we went to Alton, where we
arrived on Thursday; and, as the proposition required three friends on
each side, I was joined by General Ewing and Dr. Hope, as the friends of
Mr. Shields. We then crossed to Missouri, where a proposition was made
by General Hardin and Dr. English (who had arrived there in the mean
time as mutual friends) to refer the matter to, I think, four friends
for a settlement. This I believed Mr. Shields would refuse, and declined
seeing him; but Dr. Hope, who conferred with him upon the subject,
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 both the parties finally agreed to
withdraw the papers (temporarily) to give the friends of Mr. Lincoln an
opportunity to explain. Whereupon the friends of Mr. Lincoln, to wit,
Messrs. Merryman, Bledsoe, and Butler, made a full and satisfactory
explanation 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 knowledge or consent of Mr. Shields, and he refused to
accede to it, until Dr. Hope, General Ewing, and myself declared the
apology sufficient, and that we could not sustain him in going further.
I think it necessary to state further, that no explanation or apology
had been previously offered on the part of Mr. Lincoln to Mr. Shields,
and that none was ever communicated by me to him, nor was any even
offered to me, unless a paper read to me by Dr. Merryman after he had
handed me the broadsword proposition on Tuesday. I heard so little of
the reading 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 Missouri, and Mr. Shields not yet arrived from Tremont. In fact, I
could not entertain any offer of the kind, unless upon my own
responsibility; and that I was not disposed to do after what had already

"I make this statement, as I am about to be absent for some time, and
I think it due to all concerned to give a true version of the matter
before I leave.

"Your obedient servant,

"John D. Whiteside."

Springfield, October 8, 1842.

Editors of the Journal:

Gents:--By your paper of Friday, I discover that General Whiteside has
published his version of the late affair between Messrs. Shields and
Lincoln, I now bespeak a hearing of my version of the same affair, which
shall be true and full as to all material facts.

On Friday evening, the 16th of September, I learned that Mr. Shields
and General Whiteside had started in pursuit of Mr. Lincoln, who was at
Tremont, attending court. I knew that Mr. Lincoln was wholly unpractised
both as to the diplomacy and weapons commonly employed in similar
affairs; and I felt 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 either
his honor or his life. Accordingly, Mr. Butler and myself started,
passed Shields and Whiteside in the night, and arrived at Tremont ahead
of them on Saturday morning. 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 anything to avoid it that might
not degrade him in the estimation of himself and friends; but, if such
degradation or a fight were the only alternatives, he would fight.

In the afternoon Shields and Whiteside arrived, and very soon the former
sent to Mr. Lincoln, by the latter, the following note or letter:--

Tremont, September 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 I could 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
residing there, by endeavoring to conduct myself in such a way amongst
both my political friends and opponents, as to escape the necessity of
any. Whilst thus abstaining from giving provocation, I have become the
object of slander, vituperation, and personal abuse which, were I
capable of submitting to, I would prove myself worthy of the whole of

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 inquiring, I was informed by the editor of that paper,
through the medium of my friend, General Whiteside, that you are the
author of those articles. This information satisfies me that I have
become, by some means or other, the object of 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,

Jas. Shields.

About sunset, General Whiteside called again, and secured from Mr.
Lincoln the following answer to Mr. Shields's note:--

Tremont, September 17, 1842.

Jas. Shields, Esq.:--

Your note of to-day was handed me by General 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 personally abusive 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 retraction 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 consequences to which
I suppose you allude would be matter of as great regret to me as it
possibly could to you.


A. Lincoln.

[Illustration: James Shields 297]

In about an hour, General Whiteside called again with another note from
Mr. Shields; but after conferring with Mr. Butler for a long time, say
two or three hours, returned without presenting the note to Mr. Lincoln.
This was in consequence of an assurance from Mr. Butler that Mr. Lincoln
could not receive any communication from Mr. Shields, unless it were a
withdrawal of his first note, or a challenge. Mr. Butler further stated
to General Whiteside, that, on the withdrawal of the first note, and a
proper and gentlemanly request for an explanation, he had no doubt one
would be given. General Whiteside admitted that that was the course Mr.
Shields ought to pursue, but deplored that his furious and intractable
temper prevented his having any influence with him to that end. General
Whiteside then requested us to wait with him until Monday morning, that
he might endeavor to bring Mr. Shields 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 was as follows:--

Tremont, September 17, 1842.

A. Lincoln, Esq.:--

In your reply to my note of this date, you intimate that I assume facts
and menace consequences, and that you cannot submit to answer it
further. As now, sir, you desire it, I will be 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 Rebecca or
'Becca. I would therefore take the liberty of asking whether you are the
author of said article, or any other of 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 allusions contained
therein in relation to my private character and standing.

If you 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,

Jas. Shields.

This Mr. Lincoln perused, and returned to General Whiteside, telling
him verbally, that he did not think it consistent with his honor to
negotiate for peace with Mr. Shields, unless Mr. Shields would withdraw
his former offensive letter.

In a very short time General Whiteside called with a note from Mr.
Shields, designating General Whiteside as his friend, to which Mr.
Lincoln instantly replied designating me as his. On meeting General
Whiteside, he proposed that we should pledge our honor to each other
that we would endeavor to settle the matter amicably; to which I agreed,
and stated to him the only conditions on which it could be settled;
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 added, 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 challenge 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 mention 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
Monday. We discovered that the affair had, somehow, got great 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
morning. Accordingly, he prepared the following instructions for my
guide, on a suggestion from Mr. Butler that he had reason to believe
that an attempt would be made by the opposite party to have the matter

In case Whiteside shall signify a wish to adjust this affair without
further difficulty, let him know that, if the present papers be
withdrawn, and a note from Mr. Shields asking 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 author, and this without menace or
dictation as to what that satisfaction shall be, a pledge is made that
the following answer shall be given:

"I did write the 'Lost Township' letter which appeared in the Journal 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. I had no
intention of injuring your personal or private character, or standing
as 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 against
you; and had I anticipated such an effect, I would have forborne to
write it. And I will add, that your conduct towards me, so far as I
knew, had 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. Weapons:--Cavalry broadswords of the largest size, precisely
equal in all respects, and such as now used by the cavalry company at

2d. Position:--A plank ten feet long, and from nine to twelve inches
broad, to be firmly fixed on edge on the ground as the lines between us,
which neither 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 own such line
by either party during the fight shall be deemed a surrender of the

3d. Time:--On Thursday evening at five o'clock, if you can get it so;
but in no case to be at a greater distance of time than Friday evening
at 5 o'clock.

4th. Place:--Within three miles of Alton, on the opposite side of the
river, the particular 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 are in no case to swerve
from these rules, or to pass beyond their limits.

In the course of the forenoon I met General Whiteside, and he again
intimated a wish to adjust the matter amicably. I then read to him Mr.
Lincoln'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 useless to talk of an adjustment, if it could
only be effected by the withdrawal of Mr. Shields's paper, for such
withdrawal Mr. Shields would never consent to; adding, that he would as
soon think of asking Mr. Shields to "butt his brains out against a
brick wall as to withdraw that paper." He 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 believe, in the right, and
I should do nothing to compel him to do wrong. Such withdrawal having
been made indispensable by Mr. Lincoln, I cut the matter short as to an
adjustment, and I proposed to General Whiteside to accept the terms of
the fight, which he refused to do until Mr. Shields' arrival in town,
but agreed, verbally, that Mr. Lincoln's friends should procure 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 place designated, lamenting, however, that I would not
delay the time, that he might procure the interference of Governor
Ford and General Ewing to mollify Mr. Shields. I told him that an
accommodation, except upon the terms I mentioned, was out of question;
that to delay the meeting was to facilitate our arrest; and, as I
was determined not to be arrested, I should leave the town in fifteen
minutes. I then pressed his acceptance of the preliminaries, which he
disclaimed upon the ground that it would interfere with his oath of
office as Fund Commissioner. I then, with two other friends, went to
Jacksonville, where we joined Mr. Lincoln about 11 o'clock on Tuesday
night. Wednesday morning we procured the broadswords, and proceeded to
Alton, where we arrived about 11 o'clock A. M., on Thursday. The other
party were in town before us. We crossed the river, and they soon
followed. Shortly after, General Hardin and Dr. English presented to
General Whiteside and myself the following note:

Alton, September 22, 1842.

Messrs. Whiteside and Merryman: As the mutual personal friends of
Messrs. Shields and Lincoln, but without authority from either, we
earnestly desire to see a reconciliation of the misunderstanding
which exists between them. Such difficulties should always be arranged
amicably, if it is possible to do so with honor to both parties.

Believing, ourselves, that such an arrangement can possibly be effected,
we respectfully but earnestly submit the following proposition for your

Let the whole difficulty be submitted to four or more gentlemen, to
be selected by ourselves, who shall consider the affair, and report
thereupon for your consideration. John J. Hardin,

R. W. English.

To this proposition General Whiteside agreed: I declined doing so
without consulting 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 terms and no other, let the following
documents attest:

Missouri, September 22, 1842.

Gentlemen:--All papers in relation to the matter in controversy between
Mr. Shields and Mr. Lincoln having been withdrawn by the friends of the
parties concerned, the friends of Mr. Shields ask the friends of Mr.
Lincoln to explain all offensive matter in the articles which appeared
in the Sangamon Journal of the 2d, 9 th, and 16th of September, under
the signature of "Rebecca," and headed "Lost Townships."

It is due General Hardin and Mr. English to state that their
interference was of the most courteous and gentlemanly character.

John D. Whiteside.

Wm. Lee D. Ewing.

T. M. Hope.

Missouri, September 22, 1842.

Gentlemen:--All papers in relation to the matter in controversy between
Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Shields having been withdrawn by the friends of
the parties concerned, we, the undersigned, friends of Mr. Lincoln,
in accordance with your request that explanation of Mr. Lincoln's
publication in relation to Mr. Shields in the Sangamon Journal 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 character or standing of Mr. Shields
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 effect, he would have forborne to write
it. We will state further, that said article was written solely for
political effect, and not to gratify any personal pique against Mr.
Shields, for he had none and knew of no cause for any. It is due to
General Hardin and Mr. English to say that their interference was of the
most courteous and gentlemanly character.

E. H. Merryman.

A. T. Bledsoe.

Wm. Butler.

Let it be observed now, that Mr. Shields'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
proposed that we should explain without any withdrawal of papers.
This was promptly and firmly refused, and General Whiteside himself
pronounced the papers withdrawn. They then produced a note requesting
us to "disavow" all offensive intentions in the publications, etc., etc.
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 I think
present the case in a very different light from the garbled and
curtailed statement of General Whiteside. 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 quotations from the "Rebecca papers;"
also, not to make public the terms of reconciliation, and to unite with
them in defending the honorable character of the adjustment.

General Whiteside, in his publication, says: "The friends of both
parties agreed to withdraw the papers (temporarily) to give the friends
of Mr. Lincoln an opportunity to explain." This I deny. I say the papers
were withdrawn to enable Mr. Shields's friends to ask an explanation;
and I appeal to the documents for proof of my position.

By looking over these documents, it will be seen that Mr. Shields
had not before asked for an explanation, but had all the time been
dictatorially insisting on a retraction.

General Whiteside, in his communication, brings to light much of Mr.
Shields's manifestations of bravery behind the scenes. I can do nothing
of the kind for Mr. Lincoln. He took his stand when I first met him at
Tremont, and maintained it calmly to the last, without difficulty or
difference between himself and his friends.

I cannot close this article, lengthy as it is, without testifying to
the honorable and gentlemanly conduct of General Ewing and Dr. Hope,
nor indeed can I say that I saw anything objectionable in the course
of General Whiteside up to the time of his communication. This is so
replete with prevarication and misrepresentation, that I cannot accord
to the General that candor which I once supposed him to possess. He
complains that I did not procrastinate time according to agreement. He
forgets that by his own act he cut me off 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 return from Tremont, but must hasten there, apparently with the
intention of bringing the matter to a speedy issue. He complains, too,
that, after inviting him to take a seat in the buggy I never broached
the subject to him on our route here. But was I, the defendant in the
case, with a challenge hanging over me, to make advances, and beg a

Absurd! Moreover, the valorous General forgets that he beguiled the
tedium of the journey by recounting to me his exploits in many a
well-fought battle,--dangers by "flood and field," in which I don't
believe he ever participated,--doubtless with a view to produce a
salutary effect on my nerves, and impress me with a proper notion of his
fire-eat-ing propensities..

One more main point of his argument and I have done. The General seems
to be troubled with a convenient shortness of memory on some occasions.
He does not remember that any explanations were offered at any time,
unless it were a paper read when the "broadsword proposition" was
tendered, when his mind was so confused by the anticipated clatter of
broadswords, or something else, that he did "not know fully what it
purported to be." The truth is, that, by unwisely refraining from
mentioning it to his principal, he placed himself in a dilemma which he
is now endeavoring 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 friends, and this fault he
is now trying to wipe out by doing an act of still greater injustice to
Mr. Lincoln.

E. H. Merryman.

     * The following letter from Lincoln to his friend Speed
     furnishes the final outcome of the "duelling business."

     "Springfield, October 5, 1842.

     "Dear 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, proposed fighting next morning at sunrising in Bob
     Allen's meadow, one hundred yards distance, with rifles. To
     this Whiteside, Shields's second, said 'no' because of the
     law. Thus ended duel No. 2. Yesterday Whiteside chose to
     consider himself insulted by Dr. Merryman, so sent him a
     kind of quasi-challenge 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
     Whiteside a note, inquiring to know if he meant his note as
     a challenge, and if so, that he would, according to the law
     in such case made and provided, prescribe the terms of the
     meeting. Whiteside returned for answer that if Merryman
     would meet him at the Planter's House as desired, he would
     challenge him. Merryman replied in a note, that he denied
     Whiteside's right to dictate time and place, but that he
     (Merryman) would waive the question of time, and meet him at
     Louisiana, Mo. Upon my presenting this note to Whiteside,
     and stating verbally its contents, he declined receiving it,
     saying he had business in St. Louis, and it was as near as
     Louisiana. Merryman then directed me to notify Whiteside
     that he should publish the correspondence between them, with
     such comments as he saw fit. This I did. Thus it stood at
     bed-time 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 State of Louisiana. This
     Merryman hoots at, and is preparing his publication; while
     the town is in a ferment, and a street-fight somewhat

     "Yours forever,


Dr. Merryman's elaborate and graphic account of the meeting at the
duelling ground and all the preliminary proceedings is as full and
complete a history of this serio-comic affair as any historian could
give. Mr. Lincoln, as mentioned in the outset of this chapter, in the
law office and elsewhere, as a rule, refrained from discussing it. I
only remember of hearing him say this, in reference to the duel: "I did
not intend to hurt Shields unless I did so clearly in self-defense. If
it had been necessary I could have split him from the crown of his head
to the end of his backbone," and when one takes into into consideration
the conditions of weapons and position required in his instructions to
Dr. Merryman the boast does not seem impossible.

The marriage of Lincoln in no way diminished his love for politics; in
fact, as we shall see later along, it served to stimulate his zeal in
that direction. He embraced every opportunity that offered for a speech
in public. Early in 1842 he entered into the Washingtonian movement
organized to suppress the evils of intemperance. At the request of the
society he delivered an admirable address, on Washington's birthday, in
the Presbyterian Church, which, in keeping with former efforts, has
been so often published that I need not quote it in full. I was then an
ardent temperance reformer myself, and remember well how one paragraph
of Lincoln's speech offended the church members who were present.
Speaking of certain Christians who objected to the association of
drunkards, even with the chance of reforming them, he said: "If they
(the Christians) believe, as they profess, that Omnipotence condescended
to take on himself the form of sinful man, and as such die an
ignominious death, surely they will not refuse submission to the
infinitely lesser condescension, for the temporal and perhaps
eternal salvation of a large, erring, and unfortunate class of their
fellow-creatures. Nor is the condescension very great. In my judgment
such of us as have never fallen victims have been spared more from the
absence of appetite than from any mental or moral superiority over those
who have. Indeed, I believe, if we take habitual drunkards as a class,
their heads and their hearts will bear an advantageous comparison with
those of any other class." The avowal of these sentiments proved to be
an unfortunate thing for Lincoln. The professing Christians regarded
the suspicion suggested in the first sentence as a reflection on the
sincerity of their belief, and the last one had no better effect in
reconciling them to his views. I was at the door of the church as the
people passed out, and heard them discussing the speech. Many of them
were open in the expression of their displeasure. "It's a shame," I
heard one man say, "that he should be permitted to abuse us so in the
house of the Lord." The truth was the society was composed mainly of the
roughs and drunkards of the town, who had evinced a desire to reform.
Many of them were too fresh from the gutter to be taken at once into the
society of such people as worshipped at the church where the speech was
delivered. Neither was there that concert of effort so universal to-day
between the churches and temperance societies to rescue the fallen. The
whole thing, I repeat, was damaging to Lincoln, and gave rise to the
opposition on the part of the churches which confronted him several
years afterwards when he became a candidate against the noted Peter
Cartwright for Congress. The charge, therefore, that in matters of
religion he was a skeptic was not without its supporters, especially
where his opponent was himself a preacher. But, nothing daunted,
Lincoln kept on and labored zealously in the interest of the temperance
movement. He spoke often again in Springfield, and also in other places
over the country, displaying the same courage and adherence to principle
that characterized his every undertaking.

Meanwhile, he had one eye open for politics as he moved along. He was
growing more self-reliant in the practice of law every day, and felt
amply able to take charge of and maintain himself in any case that
happened to come into his hands. His propensity for the narration of
an apt story was of immeasurable aid to him before a jury, and in cases
where the law seemed to lean towards the other side won him many a case.
In 1842, Martin Van Buren, who had just left the Presidential chair,
made a journey through the West. He was accompanied by his former
Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Paulding, and in June they reached the
village of Rochester, distant from Springfield six miles. It was evening
when they arrived, and on account of the muddy roads they decided to
go no farther, but to rest there for the night. Word was sent into
Springfield, and of course the leading Democrats of the capital hurried
out to meet the distinguished visitor. Knowing the accommodations at
Rochester were not intended for or suited to the entertainment of an
ex-President, they took with them refreshments in quantity and variety,
to make up for all deficiencies. Among others, they prevailed on
Lincoln, although an ardent and pronounced Whig, to accompany them.
They introduced him to the venerable statesman of Kinderhook as a
representative lawyer, and a man whose wit was as ready as his store of
anecdotes was exhaustless. How he succeeded in entertaining the visitor
and the company, those who were present have often since testified. Van
Buren himself entertained the crowd with reminiscences of politics in
New York, going back to the days of Hamilton and Burr, and many of the
crowd in turn interested him with graphic descriptions of early life on
the western frontier. But they all yielded at last to the piquancy
and force of Lincoln's queer stories. "Of these," relates one of the
company,* "there was a constant supply, one following another in
rapid succession, each more irresistible than its predecessor. The fun
continued until after midnight, and until the distinguished traveller
insisted that his sides were sore from laughing." The yarns which
Lincoln gravely spun out, Van Buren assured the crowd, he never would

     * Jos. Gillespie, MS. letter, September 6, 1866.

[Illustration: Court House, Springfield 1850-1860 312]

Lincoln and Logan's Office on Third Floor. Photographed in 1886.

After April 14, 1841, when Lincoln retired from the partnership with
Stuart, who had gone to Congress, he had been associated with Stephen T.
Logan, a man who had, as he deserved, the reputation of being the best
_nisi prius_ lawyer in the State. Judge Logan was a very orderly but
somewhat technical lawyer. He had some fondness for politics, and
made one race for Congress, but he lacked the elements of a successful
politician. He was defeated, and returned to the law. He was assiduous
in study and tireless in search of legal principles. He was industrious
and very thrifty, delighted to make and save money, and died a rich man.
Lincoln had none of Logan's qualities. He was anything but studious,
and had no money sense. He was five years younger, and yet his mind and
makeup so impressed Logan that he was invited into the partnership with
him. Logan's example had a good effect on Lincoln, and it stimulated him
to unusual endeavors. For the first time he realized the effectiveness
of order and method in work, but his old habits eventually overcame him.
He permitted his partner to do all the studying in the preparation of
cases, while he himself trusted to his general knowledge of the law and
the inspiration of the surroundings to overcome the judge or the
jury. Logan was scrupulously exact, and used extraordinary care in the
preparation of papers. His words were well chosen, and his style of
composition was stately and formal. This extended even to his letters.
This Lincoln lacked in every particular. I have before me a letter
written by Lincoln at this time to the proprietors of a wholesale store
in Louisville, for whom suit had been brought, in which, after notifying
the latter of the sale of certain real estate in satisfaction of their
judgment, he adds: "As to the real estate we cannot attend to it. We are
not real estate agents, we are lawyers. We recommend that you give the
charge of it to Mr. Isaac S. Britton, a trustworthy man, and one whom
the Lord made on purpose for such business." He gravely signs the firm
name, Logan and Lincoln, to this unlawyerlike letter and sends it on
its way. Logan never would have written such a letter. He had too much
gravity and austere dignity to permit any such looseness of expression
in letters to his clients or to anyone else.

In 1843, Logan and Lincoln both had their eyes set on the race for
Congress. Logan's claim to the honor lay in his age and the services he
had rendered the Whig party, while Lincoln, overflowing with ambition,
lay great stress on his legislative achievements, and demanded it
because he had been defeated in the nominating conventions by both
Hardin and Baker in the order named. That two such aspiring politicians,
each striving to obtain the same prize, should not dwell harmoniously
together in the same office is not strange. Indeed, we may reasonably
credit the story that they considered themselves rivals, and that
numerous acrimonious passages took place between them. I was not
surprised, therefore, one morning, to see Mr. Lincoln come rushing
up into my quarters and with more or less agitation tell me he had
determined to sever the partnership with Logan. I confess I was
surprised when he invited me to become his partner. I was young in the
practice and was painfully aware of my want of ability and experience;
but when he remarked in his earnest, honest way, "Billy, I can trust
you, if you can trust me," I felt relieved, and accepted the generous
proposal. It has always been a matter of pride with me that during our
long partnership, continuing on until it was dissolved by the bullet
of the assassin Booth, we never had any personal controversy or
disagreement. I never stood in his way for political honors or office,
and I believe we understood each other perfectly. In after years,
when he became more prominent, and our practice grew to respectable
proportions, other ambitious practitioners undertook to supplant me in
the partnership. One of the latter, more zealous than wise, charged
that I was in a certain way weakening the influence of the firm. I am
flattered to know that Lincoln turned on this last named individual
with the retort, "I know my own business, I reckon. I know Billy Herndon
better than anybody, and even if what you say of him is true I intend to
stick by him." Lincoln's effort to obtain the Congressional nomination
in 1843 brought out several unique and amusing incidents. He and Edward
D. Baker were the two aspirants from Sangamon county, but Baker's long
residence, extensive acquaintance, and general popularity were obstacles
Lincoln could not overcome; accordingly, at the last moment, Lincoln
reluctantly withdrew from the field. In a letter to his friend Speed,
dated March 24, 1843, describes the situation as follows: "We had a
meeting of the Whigs of the county here on last Monday, to appoint
delegates to a district convention; and Baker beat me, and got the
delegation instructed to go for him. The meeting, in spite of my attempt
to decline it, appointed me one of the delegates; so that in getting
Baker the nomination I shall be fixed a good deal like a fellow who is
made groomsman to a man that has cut him out, and is marrying his own
dear gal." Only a few days before this he had written a friend anent the
Congressional matter, "Now if you should hear any one say that Lincoln
don't want to go to Congress, I wish you, as a personal friend of mine,
would tell him you have reason to believe he is mistaken. The truth is
I would like to go very much. Still, circumstances may happen which may
prevent my being a candidate. If there are any who be my friends in such
an enterprise, what I now want is that they shall not throw me away just
yet."* To another friend in the adjoining county of Menard a few days
after the meeting of the Whigs in Sangamon, he explains how Baker
defeated him.

     * Letter to R. S. Thomas, Virginia, Ill., Feb. 14, '43, MS.

The entire absence of any feeling of bitterness, or what the politicians
call revenge, is the most striking feature of the letter. "It is truly
gratifying," he says, "to me to learn that while the people of Sangamon
have cast me off, my old friends of Menard, who have known me longest
and best, stick to me. It would astonish if not amuse the older citizens
to learn that I (a strange, friendless, uneducated, penniless boy,
working on a flat-boat at ten dollars per month) have been put down here
as the candidate of pride, wealth, and aristocratic family distinction.
Yet so, chiefly, it was. There was, too, the strangest combination of
church influence against me. Baker is a Campbellite, and therefore as
I suppose, with few exceptions, got all that church. My wife has some
relations in the Presbyterian churches and some with the Episcopalian
churches, and therefore, wherever it would tell, I was set down as
either the one or the other, while it was everywhere contended that
no Christian ought to go for me, because I belonged to no church, was
suspected 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 considerable per cent, and
throughout the religious controversy." To a proposition offering to
instruct the Menard delegation for him he replies: "You say you shall
instruct your delegates for me unless I object. I certainly shall not
object. That would be too pleasant a compliment for me to tread in the
dust. And besides, if anything 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 should despise myself were I to attempt it."

Baker's friends had used as an argument against Lincoln that he belonged
to a proud and aristocratic family, referring doubtless to some of the
distinguished relatives who were connected with him by marriage. The
story reaching Lincoln's ears, he laughed heartily over it one day in a
Springfield store and remarked:

"That sounds strange to me, for I do not remember of but one who ever
came to see me, and while he was in town he was accused of stealing a
jew's-harp."* In the convention which was held shortly after at the town
of Pekin neither Baker nor Lincoln obtained the coveted honor; but
John J. Hardin, of Morgan, destined to lose his life at the head of
an Illinois regiment in the Mexican war, was nominated, and in the
following August, elected by a good majority. Lincoln bore his defeat
manfully. He was no doubt greatly disappointed, but by no means soured.
He conceived the strange notion that the publicity given his so-called
"aristocratic family distinction" would cost him the friendship of his
humbler constituents--his Clary's Grove friends. He took his friend
James Matheney out into the woods with him one day and, calling up the
bitter features of the canvass, protested "vehemently and with great
emphasis" that he was anything but aristocratic and proud. "Why, Jim,"
he said, "I am now and always shall be the same Abe Lincoln I was when
you first saw me."

     * Letter, A. Y. Ellis, July 16,'66, MS.

In the campaign of 1844 Lincoln filled the honorable post of
Presidential Elector, and he extended the limits of his acquaintance by
stumping the State. This was the year the gallant and magnetic Clay went
down in defeat. Lincoln, in the latter end of the canvass, crossed over
into Indiana and made several speeches. He spoke at Rockport and also at
Gentryville, where he met the Grigsbys, the Gentrys, and other friends
of his boyhood. The result of the election was a severe disappointment
to Mr. Lincoln as well as to all other Whigs. No election since the
foundation of the Government created more widespread regret than the
defeat of Clay by Polk. Men were never before so enlisted in any man's
cause, and when the great Whig chieftain went down his followers fled
from the field in utter demoralization. Some doubted the success of
popular government, while others, more hopeful still in the face of the
general disaster, vowed they would never shave their faces or cut their
hair till Henry Clay became President. As late as 18801 saw one man who
had lived up to his insane resolution. One political society organized
to aid Clay's election sent the defeated candidate an address, in which
they assured him that, after the smoke of battle had cleared away, he
would ever be remembered as one "whose name honored defeat and gave it
a glory which victory could not have brought." In Lincoln's case his
disappointment was no greater than that of any other Whig. Many persons
have yielded to the impression that Mr. Lincoln visited Clay at his home
in Lexington and felt a personal loss in his defeat, but such is not the
case. He took no more gloomy view of the situation than the rest of his
party. He had been a leading figure himself in other campaigns, and was
fully inured to the chilling blasts of defeat. They may have driven him
in, but only for a short time, for he soon evinced a willingness to test
the temper of the winds again.

[Illustration: Lincoln and Herndon Law Office 321]

No sooner had Baker been elected to Congress in August, 1844, than
Lincoln began to manifest a longing for the tempting prize to be
contended for in 1846. Hardin and Baker both having been required to
content themselves with a single term each, the struggle among Whig
aspirants narrowed down to Logan and Lincoln.*

     * The Whig candidates for Congress in the Springfield
     district "rotated" in the following order: 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
     reluctantly; and Lincoln refused to run against Logan in
     1848. Many persons insist that an agreement among these four
     conspicuous Whig leaders to content themselves with one term
     each actually existed. There is, however, no proof of any
     bargain, although there seems to have been a tacit
     understanding of the kind--maintained probably to keep other
     and less tractable candidates out of the field.

The latter's claim seemed to find such favorable lodgment with the party
workers, and his popularity seemed so apparent, that Logan soon realized
his own want of strength and abandoned the field to his late law
partner. The convention which nominated Lincoln met at Petersburg May 1,
1846. Hardin, who, in violation of what was then regarded as precedent,
had been seeking the nomination, had courteously withdrawn. Logan,
ambitious to secure the honor next time for himself, with apparent
generosity presented Lincoln's name to the convention, and there being
no other candidate he was chosen unanimously. The reader need not be
told whom the Democrats placed in the field against him. It was Peter
Cartwright, the famous Methodist divine and circuit rider. An energetic
canvass of three months, followed, during which Lincoln kept his
forces well in hand. He was active and alert, speaking everywhere, and
abandoning his share of business in the law office entirely. He had
a formidable competitor in Cartwright, who not only had an extensive
following by reason of his church influence, but rallied many more
supporters around his standard by his pronounced Jacksonian attitude.
He had come into Illinois with the early immigrants from Kentucky and
Tennessee, and had at one time or another preached to almost every
Methodist congregation between Springfield and Cairo. He had extensive
family connections all over the district, was almost twenty-five years
older than Lincoln, and in every respect a dangerous antagonist. Another
thing which operated much to Lincoln's disadvantage was the report
circulated by Cartwright's friends with respect to Lincoln's religious
views. He was charged with the grave offence of infidelity, and
sentiments which he was reported to have expressed with reference to the
inspiration of the Bible were given the campaign varnish and passed from
hand to hand. His slighting allusion expressed in the address at the
Presbyterian Church before the Washington Temperance Society, February
2d, four years before, to the insincerity of the Christian people
was not forgotten. It, too, played its part; but all these opposing
circumstances were of no avail. Cartwright was personally very popular,
but it was plain the people of the Springfield district wanted no
preacher to represent them in Congress. They believed in an absolute
separation of Church and State. The election, therefore, of such a man
as Cartwright would not, to their way of thinking, tend to promote such
a result. I was enthusiastic and active in Lincoln's interest myself.
The very thought of my associate's becoming a member of Congress was a
great stimulus to my self-importance. Many other friends in and around
Springfield were equally as vigilant, and, in the language of another,
"long before the contest closed we snuffed approaching victory in the
air." Our laborious efforts met with a suitable reward. Lincoln was
elected by a majority of 1511 in the district, a larger vote than Clay's
two years before, which was only 914. In Sangamon county his majority
was 690, and exceeded that of any of his predecessors on the Whig
ticket, commencing with Stuart in 1834 and continuing on down to the
days of Yates in 1852.

Before Lincoln's departure for Washington to enter on his duties as a
member of Congress, the Mexican war had begun. The volunteers had gone
forward, and at the head of the regiments from Illinois some of the
bravest men and the best legal talent in Springfield had marched.
Hardin, Baker, Bissell, and even the dramatic Shields had enlisted. The
issues of the war and the manner of its prosecution were in every man's
mouth. Naturally, therefore, a Congressman-elect would be expected to
publish his views and define his position early in the day. Although,
in common with the Whig party, opposing the declaration of war, Lincoln,
now that hostilities had commenced, urged a vigorous prosecution. He
admonished us all to permit our Government to suffer no dishonor, and to
stand by the flag till peace came and came honorably to us. He declared
these sentiments in a speech at a public meeting in Springfield, May 29,
1847. In the following December he took his seat in Congress. He was the
only Whig from Illinois. His colleagues in the Illinois delegation were
John A. McClernand, O. B. Ficklin, William A. Richardson, Thomas J.
Turner, Robert Smith, and John Wentworth. In the Senate Douglas had made
his appearance for the first time. The Little Giant is always in sight!
Robert C. Winthrop, of Massachusetts, was chosen Speaker. John Quincy
Adams, Horace Mann, Caleb Smith, Alexander H. Stephens, Robert Toombs,
Howell Cobb, and Andrew Johnson were important members of the House.
With many of these the newly elected member from Illinois was destined
to sustain another and far different relation.

On the 5th of December, the day before the House organized, Lincoln
wrote me a letter about our fee in a law-suit, and reported the result
of the Whig caucus the night before. On the 13th, he wrote again: "Dear
William:--Your letter, advising me of the receipt of our fee in the bank
case, is just received, and I don't expect to hear another as good a
piece of news from Springfield while I am away." He then directed me
from the proceeds of this fee to pay a debt at the bank, and out of the
balance left to settle sundry dry-goods and grocery bills. The modest
tone of the last paragraph is its most striking feature. "As you are all
so anxious for me to distinguish myself," he said, "I have concluded to
do so before long." January 8 he writes: "As to speech-making, by way of
getting 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 I 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." Meanwhile, in recognition of the assurances I had sent him from
friends who desired to approve his course by a re-election, he says: "It
is very pleasant to me to learn from you that there are some who desire
that I should be re-elected. I most heartily thank them for the kind
partiality, and I can say, as Mr. Clay said of the annexation of Texas,
that, 'personally, I would not object' to a re-election, although I
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 candidate again, more from a wish to deal fairly
with others, to keep peace among our friends, and to keep the district
from going to the enemy, than for any cause personal to myself, so that
if it should happen that nobody else wishes to be elected I could not
refuse the people the right of sending me again. But to enter myself as
a competitor of others, or to authorize any one so to enter me, is what
my word and honor forbid."

His announcement of a willingness to accept a re-election if tendered
him by the people was altogether unnecessary, for within a few days
after this letter was written his constituents began to manifest
symptoms of grave disapproval of his course on the Mexican war question.
His position on this subject was evidenced by certain resolutions
offered by him in the House three weeks before. These latter were called
the "Spot Resolutions," and they and the speech which followed on the
12th of January in support of them not only sealed Lincoln's doom as a
Congressman, but in my opinion, lost the district to the Whigs in 1848,
when Judge Logan had succeeded at last in obtaining the nomination.

Although differing with the President as to the justice or even
propriety of a war with Mexico, Lincoln was not unwilling to vote, and
with the majority of his party did vote, the supplies necessary to carry
it on. He did this, however, with great reluctance, protesting all the
while that "the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by
the President." The "Spot Resolutions," which served as a text for his
speech on the 12th of January, and which caused such unwonted annoyance
in the ranks of his constituents, were a series following a preamble
loaded with quotations from the President's messages. These resolutions
requested the President to inform the House: "_First_, Whether the
_spot_ on which the blood of our citizens was shed as in his messages
declared was or was not within the territory of Spain, at least after
the treaty of 1819, until the Mexican revolution. _Second_, Whether that
spot is or is not within the territory which was wrested from Spain by
the revolutionary government of Mexico. _Third_, Whether that spot is or
is not within a settlement of people, which settlement has existed ever
since long before the Texas revolution, and until its inhabitants fled
before the approach of the United States army." There were eight of
these interrogatories, but it is only necessary to reproduce the three
which foreshadow the position Lincoln was then intending to assume.
On the 12th of January, as before stated, he followed them up with a
carefully prepared and well-arranged speech, in which he made a severe
arraignment of President Polk and justified the pertinence and propriety
of the inquiries he had a few days before addressed to him. The speech
is too long for insertion here. It was constructed much after the manner
of a legal argument. Reviewing the evidence furnished by the President
in his various messages, he undertook to "smoke him out" with this:
"Let the President answer the interrogatories I proposed, as before
mentioned, or other similar ones. Let him answer fully, fairly,
candidly. Let him answer with facts, 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 will not, be evaded, so let him attempt no evasion, no
equivocation. And if, so answering, he can show the soil was ours where
the first blood of the war was shed; that it was not within an
inhabited country, or if within such; that the inhabitants 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
his justification... 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 this war,
like the blood of Abel, is crying to Heaven against him; that he ordered
General Taylor into the midst of a peaceful Mexican settlement purposely
to bring on a war; that, originally having some strong motive--which
I will not now stop to give my opinion concerning--to involve the
countries in a war, and trusting to escape scrutiny by fixing the public
gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory,--that attractive
rainbow 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. He is a bewildered,
confounded, and miserably perplexed man. God grant that he may be able
to show that there is not something about his conscience more painful
than all his mental perplexity." This speech, however clear may have
been its reasoning, however rich in illustration, in restrained
and burning earnestness, yet was unsuccessful in "smoking out" the
President. He remained within the official seclusion his position gave
him, and declined to answer. In fact it is doubtless true that Lincoln
anticipated no response, but simply took that means of defining clearly
his own position.

On the 19th inst., having occasion to write me with reference to a note
with which one of our clients, one Louis Candler, had been "annoying"
him, not the least of which annoyance," he complains, "is his cursed
unreadable and ungodly handwriting," he adds a line, in which with
noticeable modesty he informs me: "I have made a speech, a copy of which
I send you by mail." He doubtless felt he was taking rather advanced and
perhaps questionable ground. And so he was, for very soon after, murmurs
of dissatisfaction began to run through the Whig ranks. I did not,
as some of Lincoln's biographers would have their readers believe,
inaugurate this feeling of dissatisfaction. On the contrary, as the law
partner of the Congress-man, and as his ardent admirer, I discouraged
the defection all I could. Still, when I listened to the comments of his
friends everywhere after the delivery of his speech, I felt that he had
made a mistake. I therefore wrote him to that effect, at the same time
giving him my own views, which I knew were in full accord with the
views of his Whig constituents. My argument in substance was: That the
President of the United States is Commander-in-Chief of the Army
and Navy; that as such commander it was his duty, in the absence
of Congress, if the country was about to be invaded and armies were
organized in Mexico for that purpose, to go--if necessary--into the very
heart of Mexico and prevent the invasion. I argued further that it would
be a crime in the Executive to let the country be invaded in the least
degree. The action of the President was a necessity, and under a similar
necessity years afterward Mr. Lincoln himself emancipated the slaves,
although he had no special power under the Constitution to do so. In
later days, in what is called the Hodges letter, concerning the freedom
of the slaves, he used this language: "I felt that measures otherwise
unconstitutional might become lawful by becoming indispensable." Briefly
stated, that was the strain of my argument. My judgment was formed on
the law of nations and of war. If the facts were as I believed them,
and my premises correct, then I assumed that the President's acts became
lawful by becoming indispensable.

February 1 he wrote me, "Dear William: You fear that you and I disagree
about the war. I regret this, not because of any fear we shall
remain disagreed after you have read this letter, but because if you
misunderstand I fear other good friends may also."

Speaking of his vote in favor of the amendment to the supply bill
proposed by George Ashmun, of Massachusetts, he continues:

"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 the House,--skulked the vote? I expect not. If you
had skulked one vote you would have had to skulk many more before the
close of the session. Richardson's resolutions, introduced before I made
any move or gave any vote upon the subject, make the direct question of
the justice of the war; so that no man can be silent if he would. You
are compelled to speak; and your only alternative is to tell the truth
or tell a lie. I cannot doubt which you would do... 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 have been 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."

I digress from the Mexican war subject long enough to insert, because
in the order of time it belongs here, a characteristic letter which he
wrote me regarding a man who was destined at a later day to play a far
different rôle in the national drama. Here it is:

"Washington, Feb. 2, 1848.

"Dear William:

"I just take up my pen to say that Mr. Stephens, of Georgia, a little,
slim, pale-faced, consumptive man, with a voice like Logan's, has just
concluded the very best speech of an hour's length I ever heard. My old,
withered, dry eyes are full of tears yet. If he writes it out anything
like he delivered it our people shall see a good many copies of it.

"Yours truly,

"A. Lincoln."

To Wm. H. Herndon, Esq.

February 15 he wrote me again in criticism of the President's invasion
of foreign soil. He still believed the Executive had exceeded the
limit of his authority. "The provision of the Constitution giving
the war-making power to Congress," he insists, "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 oppressions; 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
whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood."

In June the Whigs met in national convention at Philadelphia to nominate
a candidate for President. Lincoln attended as a delegate. He advocated
the nomination of Taylor because of his belief that he could be elected,
and was correspondingly averse to Clay because of the latter's signal
defeat in 1844. In a letter from Washington a few days after the
convention he predicts the election of "Old Rough." He says: "In
my opinion we shall have a most overwhelming glorious triumph.
One unmistakable sign is that all the odds and ends are with
us--Barn-burners, Native Americans, Tyler-men, disappointed
office-seeking Locofocos, and the Lord knows what not.... Taylor's
nomination takes the Locos on the blind side. It turns the war thunder
against them. The war is now to them the gallows of Haman, which they
built for us and on which they are doomed to be hanged themselves."

Meanwhile, in spite of the hopeful view Lincoln seemed to take of the
prospect, things in his own district were in exceedingly bad repair. I
could not refrain from apprising him of the extensive defections from
the party ranks, and the injury his course was doing him. My object in
thus writing to him was not to threaten him. Lincoln was not a man
who could be successfully threatened; one had to approach him from a
different direction. I warned him of public disappointment over his
course, and I earnestly desired to prevent him from committing what I
believed to be political suicide. June 22d he answered a letter I had
written him on the 15th. He had just returned from a Whig caucus held
in relation to the coming Presidential election. "The whole field of
the nation was scanned; all is high hope and confidence," he said,
exultingly. "Illinois is expected to better her condition in this race.
Under these circumstances judge how heartrending it was to come to my
room and find and read your discouraging letter of the 15th." But still
he does not despair. "Now, as to the young men," he says, "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 in everybody that you can get.... As you go along gather up all the
shrewd, wild boys about town, whether just of age or a little under age.
Let every one play the part he can play best--some speak, some sing,
and all halloo. Your meetings will be 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 improving
to the faculties of all engaged." He was evidently endeavoring through
me to rouse up all the enthusiasm among the youth of Springfield
possible under the circumstances. But I was disposed to take a
dispirited view of the situation, and therefore was not easily warmed
up. I felt at this time, somewhat in advance of its occurrence, the
death throes of the Whig party. I did not conceal my suspicions, and one
of the Springfield papers gave my sentiments liberal quotation in its
columns. I felt gloomy over the prospect, and cut out these newspaper
slips and sent them to Lincoln. Accompanying these I wrote him a letter
equally melancholy in tone, in which among other things I reflected
severely on the stubbornness and bad judgment of the old fossils in the
party, who were constantly holding the young men back. This brought from
him a letter, July 10, 1848, which is so clearly Lincolnian and so full
of plain philosophy, that I copy it in full. Not the least singular of
all is his allusion to himself as an old man, although he had scarcely
passed his thirty-ninth year.

"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 men. I suppose I am now one of the old men; and I declare 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 men feel 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 him. Allow me to assure
you that suspicion and jealousy never did help any man in any situation.
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
this 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
laborious, studious young man. You are far better informed on almost all
subjects than I ever have been. You cannot fail in any laudable object
unless you allow your mind to be improperly directed. I have some the
advantage of you in the world's experience merely by being older; and it
is this that induces me to advise.

"Your friend, as ever,

"A. Lincoln."

[Illustration: Portraits 337]

Before the close of the Congressional session he made two more speeches.
One of these, which he hastened to send home in pamphlet form, and which
he supposes "nobody will read," was devoted to the familiar subject of
internal improvements, and deserves only passing mention. The other,
delivered on the 27th of July, was in its way a masterpiece; and it is
no stretch of the truth to say that while intended simply as a campaign
document and devoid of any effort at classic oratory, it was, perhaps,
one of the best speeches of the session. It is too extended for
insertion here without abridgment; but one who reads it will lay it down
convinced that Lincoln's ascendency for a quarter of a century among the
political spirits in Illinois was by no means an accident; neither will
the reader wonder that Douglas, with all his forensic ability, averted,
as long as he could, a contest with a man whose plain, analytical
reasoning was not less potent than his mingled drollery and caricature
were effective. The speech in the main is an arraignment of General
Cass, the Democratic candidate for President, who had already achieved
great renown in the political world, principally on account of his
career as a soldier in the war of 1812, and is a triumphant vindication
of his Whig opponent, General Taylor, who seemed to have had a
less extensive knowledge of civil than of military affairs, and
was discreetly silent about both. Lincoln caricatured the military
pretensions of the Democratic candidate in picturesque style. This
latter section of the speech has heretofore been omitted by most of
Mr. Lincoln's biographers because of its glaring inappropriateness as a
Congressional effort. I have always failed to see wherein its comparison
with scores of others delivered in the halls of Congress since that time
could in any way detract from the fame of Mr. Lincoln, and I therefore
reproduce it here:

"But the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Iverson] further says, we have
deserted all our principles, and taken shelter under General Taylor's
military coattail; and he seems to think this is exceedingly degrading.
Well, as his faith is, so be it unto him. But can he remember no
other military coat-tail, under which a certain other party have been
sheltering for near a quarter of a century? Has he no acquaintance with
the ample military coat-tail of General Jackson? Does he not know that
his own party have run the last five Presidential races under that
coat-tail? and that they are now running the sixth under the same cover?
Yes, sir, that coat-tail was used not only for General 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 from
under it. Your campaign papers have constantly been 'Old Hickory's,'
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 Hickory,' or something so; and even now your campaign
paper here is proclaiming that Cass and Butler are of the 'Hickory
stripe.' No, 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 stuff left to make a little yellow dog. Just such a
discovery has General Jackson's popularity been to you. You not only
twice made Presidents of him out of it, but you have enough of the stuff
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,
are not figures of speech such as I would be the first to introduce into
discussion here; but as the gentleman from Georgia has thought fit to
introduce them, he and you are welcome 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. [A voice 'No, we give it
up.'] Aye! you give it up, and well you may; but for a very different
reason from that which you would have us understand. The point--the
power to hurt--of all figures consists in the truthfulness of their
application; and, understanding 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 mean the military tail you Democrats are now
engaged in dove-tailing on to the great Michigander. Yes, sir, all his
biographers (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 they are at it might and
main. He invaded Canada without resistance, and he outvaded 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 General Harrison 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 a just 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 anything else
with it.

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

After the adjournment of Congress on the 14th of August, Lincoln went
through New York and some of the New England States making a number
of speeches for Taylor, none of which, owing to the limited facilities
attending newspaper reporting in that day, have been preserved. He
returned to Illinois before the close of the canvass and continued
his efforts on the stump till the election. At the second session of
Congress, which began in December, he was less conspicuous than before.
The few weeks spent with his constituents had perhaps taught him that
in order to succeed as a Congressman it is not always the most politic
thing to tell the truth because it is the truth, or do right because
it is right. With the opening of Congress, by virtue of the election of
Taylor, the Whigs obtained the ascendency in the control of governmental
machinery. He attended to the duties of the Congressional office
diligently and with becoming modesty. He answered the letters of his
constituents, sent them their public documents, and looked after their
pension claims. His only public act of any moment was a bill looking
to the emancipation of the slaves in the District of Columbia. He
interested Joshua R. Giddings and others of equally as pronounced
anti-slavery views in the subject, but his bill eventually found a
lodgment on "the table," where it was carefully but promptly laid by a
vote of the House.

Meanwhile, being chargeable with the distribution of official patronage,
he began to flounder about in explanation of his action in a sea of
seemingly endless perplexities. His recommendation of the appointment of
T. R. King to be Register or Receiver of the Land Office had produced
no little discord among the other aspirants for the place. He wrote to
a friend who endorsed and urged the appointment, "either to admit it is
wrong, or come forward and sustain him." He then transmits to this same
friend a scrap of paper--probably a few lines approving the selection
of King--which is to be copied in the friend's own handwriting. "Get
everybody," he insists, "(not three or four, but three or four hundred)
to sign it, and then send to me. Also have six, eight, or ten of our
best known Whig friends to write me additional letters, stating the
truth in this matter as they understood it. Don't neglect or delay in
the matter. I understand," he continues, "information of an indictment
having been found against him three years ago for gaming or keeping a
gaming house has been sent to the Department." He then closes with the
comforting assurance: "I shall try to take care of it at the Department
till your action can be had and forwarded on." And still people
insist that Mr. Lincoln was such a guileless man and so free from the
politician's sagacity!

In June I wrote him regarding the case of one Walter Davis, who was
soured and disappointed because Lincoln had overlooked him in his
recommendation for the Springfield post-office. "There must be some
mistake," he responds on the 5th, "about Walter Davis saying I promised
him the post-office. I did not so promise him. I did tell him that if
the distribution of the offices should fall into my hands he should have
something; and if I shall be convinced he has said any more than this I
shall be disappointed. I said this much to him because, as I understand,
he is of good character, is one of the young men, is of the mechanics,
is always faithful and never troublesome, a Whig, and is poor, with the
support of a widow-mother thrown almost exclusively on him by the death
of his brother. If these are wrong reasons then I have been wrong; but
I have certainly not been selfish in it, because in my greatest need of
friends he was against me and for Baker."

Judge Logan's defeat in 1848 left Lincoln still in a measure in charge
of the patronage in his district. After his term in Congress expired the
"wriggle and struggle" for office continued; and he was often appealed
to for his influence in obtaining, as he termed it, "a way to live
without work." Occasionally, when hard pressed, he retorted with bitter
sarcasm. I append a letter written in this vein to a gentleman still
living in central Illinois, who, I suppose, would prefer that his name
should be withheld:

"Springfield, Dec. 15, 1849.

"------ Esq.

"Dear Sir:

"On my return from Kentucky I found your letter of the 7th of November,
and have delayed answering it till now for the reason I now briefly
state. From the beginning of our acquaintance I had felt the greatest
kindness for you and had supposed it was reciprocated on your part. Last
summer, under circumstances which I mentioned to you, I was painfully
constrained to withhold a recommendation which you desired, and shortly
afterwards I learned, in such a way as to believe it, that you were
indulging in open abuse of me. Of course my feelings were wounded.
On receiving your last letter the question occurred whether you were
attempting to use me at the same time you would injure me, or whether
you might not have been misrepresented to me. If the former, I ought
not to answer you; if the latter, I ought, and so I have remained in
suspense. I now enclose you the letter, which you may use if you see

"Yours, etc.

"A. Lincoln."

No doubt the man, when Lincoln declined at first to recommend him, did
resort to more or less abuse. That would have been natural, especially
with an unsuccessful and disappointed office-seeker. I am inclined to
the opinion, and a careful reading of the letter will warrant it, that
Lincoln believed him guilty. If the recommendation which Lincoln, after
so much reluctance, gave was ever used to further the applicant's cause
I do not know it.

With the close of Lincoln's congressional career he drops out of sight
as a political factor, and for the next few years we take him up in
another capacity. He did not solicit or contend for a renomination to
Congress, and such was the unfortunate result of his position on public
questions that it is doubtful if he could have succeeded had he done so.


Immediately following the adjournment of Congress in August, 1848,
Mr. Lincoln set out for Massachusetts to take part in the presidential
campaign. Being the only Whig in the delegation in Congress from
Illinois, he was expected to do gallant work for his chief, General
Taylor. As this chapter in his career seems to have escaped the notice
of former biographers, the writers have thought best to insert here
extracts from the various descriptions which they have been able to
obtain of the tour and its incidents.

One of the most interesting accounts is from the pen of Hon. Edward L.
Pierce, of Milton, Mass., whose memory is not less tenacious than is his
style happy and entertaining. He says:

"It is not known at whose instance Mr. Lincoln made his visits to
Massachusetts in 1848. The Whigs of the State were hard pressed at
the time by a formidable secession growing out of General Taylor's
nomination, and led by Henry Wilson, Charles Francis Adams, Charles
Allen, Charles Sumner, Stephen C. Phillips, John G. Palfrey, E. Rockwood
Hoar, Richard H. Dana, Jr., Anson Burlingame, John A. Andrew, and other
leaders who had great weight with the people and were all effective
public speakers. Generally the State had had a sufficient supply of
orators of its own, but in that emergency some outside aid was sought.
Gen. Leslie Coombs was invited from Kentucky, and Mr. Lincoln was
induced to come also, on his way home from Washington at the end of the

"The Whig State Convention met at Worcester, September 13th. The
Free-Soil secession was greater here than in any part of the State. It
was led by Judge Charles Allen, who was elected to Congress from the
district. There was a meeting of the Whigs at the City Hall on the
evening before the convention. Ensign Kellogg presided and except his
introductory remarks, Mr. Lincoln's speech, which lasted one and a half
or two hours, was the only one. The Boston _Advertiser's_ report was
nearly a column in length. It said: 'Mr. Lincoln has a very tall and
thin figure, with an intellectual face, showing a searching mind and a
cool judgment. He spoke in a clear and cool and very eloquent manner,
carrying the audience with him in his able arguments and brilliant
illustrations, only interrupted by warm and frequent applause. He began
by expressing a real feeling of modesty in addressing an audience "this
side of the mountains," a part of the country where, in the opinion of
the people of his section, everybody was supposed to be instructed and
wise. But he had devoted his attention to the question of the coming
presidential election, and was not unwilling to exchange with all whom
he might meet the ideas to which he had arrived.' This passage gives
some reason to suppose that, conscious of his powers, he was disposed to
try them before audiences somewhat different from those to which he had
been accustomed, and therefore he had come to New England. The first
part of his speech was a reply, at some length, to the charge that
General Taylor had no political principles; and he maintained that the
General stood on the true Whig principle, that the will of the people
should prevail against executive influence or the veto power of the
President. He justified the Whigs for omitting to put a national
platform before the people, and, according to a Free-Soil report, said
that a political platform should be frowned down whenever and wherever
presented. But the stress of his speech was against the Free-Soilers,
whose position as to the exclusion of slavery from the territories, he
claimed, to be that of the Whigs; while the former were subject to the
further criticism that they had but one principle, reminding him of
the Yankee peddler, who, in offering for sale a pair of pantaloons,
described them as 'large enough for any man, and small enough for any
boy,' He condemned the Free-Soilers as helping to elect Cass, who was
less likely to promote freedom in the territories than Taylor and passed
judgment on them as having less principle than any party. To their
defence of their right and duty to act independently, 'leaving
consequences to God,' he replied, that 'when divine or human law does
not clearly point out what is our duty, it must be found out by an
intelligent judgment, which takes in the results of action.' The
Free-Soilers were much offended by a passage which does not appear in
the Whig report. Referring to the anti-slavery men, he said they were
better treated in Massachusetts than in the West, and, turning to
William S. Lincoln, of Worcester, who had lived in Illinois, he remarked
that in that State they had recently killed one of them. This allusion
to Lovejoy's murder at Alton, was thought by the Free-Soilers to be
heartless, and it was noted that Mr. Lincoln did not repeat it in other
speeches. It was probably a casual remark, which came into his mind at
the moment, and meant but little, if anything. Cheers were given at the
end of the speech for the eloquent Whig member from Illinois. The Whig
reports spoke of the speech as 'masterly and convincing' and 'one of the
best ever made in Worcester;' while the Free-Soil report describes it
as 'a pretty tedious affair,' The next morning he spoke at an open-air
meeting, following Benjamin F. Thomas and Ex-Governor Levi Lincoln, but
his speech was cut short by the arrival by train of the delegates from
Boston, who, with the speakers, proceeded at once to the hall. The
convention listened to a long address to the people, reported by a
committee, and then to a brilliant speech from Rufus Choate, followed
by others from Robert C. Winthrop, the Whig Speaker of the House of
Representatives, Charles Hudson, M. C., and Benjamin F. Thomas. Mr.
Lincoln listened to these, but was not himself called out.

Mr. Lincoln spoke at Washingtonian Hall, Bromfield street, Boston, on
the 15th, his address lasting an hour and a half, and, according to the
report, 'seldom equaled for sound reasoning, cogent argument and keen
satire.' Three cheers were given for 'the Lone Star of Illinois,' on
account of his being the only Whig member from the State. He spoke
at Lowell the 16th, and at the Lower Mills, Dorchester, now a part of
Boston, on Monday, the 18th. At this last place the meeting was held in
Richmond Hall, and the chairman was N. F. Safford, living till 1891, who
introduced him as one of the Lincolns of Hingham, and a descendant of
Gen. Benjamin Lincoln. Mr. Lincoln, as he began, disclaimed descent from
the Revolutionary officer, but said, playfully, that he had
endeavored in Illinois to introduce the principles of the Lincolns of
Massachusetts. A few of his audience are still living. They were struck
with his height, as he arose in the low-studded hall. He spoke at
Chelsea on the 19th, and a report states that his speech 'for aptness of
illustration, solidity of argument, and genuine eloquence, was hard to
beat.' Charles Sumner had defended the Free-Soil cause at the same place
the evening before. Mr. Lincoln spoke at Dedham, in Temperance Hall, on
the 20th, in the daytime. Two Whig nominating conventions met there the
same day, at one of which Horace Mann was nominated for a second term
in Congress. A report states that he 'spoke in an agreeable and
entertaining way.' He left abruptly to take a train in order to meet
another engagement, and was escorted to the station by the Dorchester
band. The same evening he spoke at Cambridge. The report describes
him as 'a capital specimen of a Sucker Whig, six feet at least in his
stockings.' Of his speech, it was said that 'it was plain, direct and to
the point, powerful and convincing, and telling with capital effect upon
the immense audience. It was a model speech for the campaign.' His last
speech was on the 22d, at Tremont Temple, with George Lunt presiding, in
company with William H. Seward, whom he followed, ending at 10.30 P.
M. The Whig newspaper, the _Atlas_, the next morning gave more than a
column to Mr. Seward's speech, but stated that it had no room for the
notes which had been taken of Mr. Lincoln's, describing it, however, as
'powerful and convincing, and cheered to the echo.' The Free-Soil paper
(Henry Wilson's) refers to the meeting, mentioning Mr. Seward, but not
Mr. Lincoln. The next day Mr. Lincoln left Boston for Illinois. The
'Atlas' on Monday contained this paragraph: 'In answer to the many
applications which we daily receive from different parts of the State
for this gentleman to speak, we have to say that he left Boston on
Saturday morning on his way home to Illinois.'

It is evident from all the contemporaneous reports, that Mr. Lincoln
made a marked impression on all his audiences. Their attention was drawn
at once to his striking figure; they enjoyed his quaintness and humor;
and they recognized his logical power and his novel way of putting
things. Still, so far as his points are given in the public journals, he
did not rise at any time above partisanship, and he gave no sign of the
great future which awaited him as a political antagonist, a master of
language, and a leader of men. But it should be noted, in connection
with this estimate, that the Whig case, as put in that campaign, was
chiefly one of personalities, and was limited to the qualities and
career of Taylor as a soldier, and to ridicule of his opponent, General
Cass. Mr. Lincoln, like the other Whig speakers, labored to prove that
Taylor was a Whig.

Seward's speech at Tremont Temple, to which Lincoln listened, seems to
have started a more serious vein of thought on slavery in the mind
of the future President. That evening, when they were together as
fellow-lodgers at a hotel, Lincoln said: "Governor Seward, I have been
thinking about what you said in your speech. I reckon you are right. We
have got to deal with this slavery question, and got to give much more
attention to it hereafter than we have been doing." *

     * Seward's Life, vol. ii, p. 80.

It is curious now to recall how little support, in the grave moments of
his national career which came twelve years later, Mr. Lincoln received
from the Whigs of Massachusetts, then conspicuous in public life, whom
he met on his visit. Mr. Lunt, who presided at Faneuil Hall, was to the
end of his life a pro-slavery conservative. Judge Thomas, in Congress,
during the early part of the civil war, was obstructive to the
President's policy. Mr. Winthrop voted against Lincoln in 1860 and
1864. Mr. Choate died in 1859, but, judged by his latest utterances, his
marvelous eloquence would have been no patriotic inspiration if he had
outlived the national struggle. On the other hand, the Free-Soilers of
Massachusetts, whom Mr. Lincoln came here to discredit, became, to
a man, his supporters; and on many of their leaders he relied as
his support in the great conflict. Sumner was chairman of the Senate
Committee on Foreign Affairs during the war; Wilson was chairman of the
Committee on Military Affairs; Adams was Minister to England; and Andrew
War-Governor of the State. These, as well as Palfrey, Burlingame and
Dana, who, in 1848, almost every evening addressed audiences against
both Taylor and Cass, while Mr. Lincoln was here, were earnest and
steadfast in their devotion to the Government during the civil war; and
the last three received important appointments from him. How the press
treated Mr. Lincoln may be learned from the following editorial in the
Lowell _Journal and Courier_, in its issue of September 18, 1848:

Whig Meeting.

The sterling Whigs of Lowell came together last Saturday evening, at the
City Hall. The meeting was called to order by the Chairman of the Whig
Central Committee, Hon. Linus Child. Homer Bartlett, Esq., was chosen
chairman, and A. Gilman, secretary. After a few animating remarks from
the Chairman, he introduced George Woodman, Esq., of Boston, who made
a very pertinent and witty offhand speech, which was frequently
interrupted by the spontaneous plaudits of the audience. At the close of
his speech Mr. Woodman introduced the Hon. Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois.
It would be doing injustice to his speech to endeavor to give a sketch
of it. It was replete with good sense, sound reasoning, and irresistible
argument, and spoken with that perfect command of manner and matter
which so eminently distinguishes the Western orators. He disabused the
public of the erroneous suppositions that Taylor was not a Whig; that
Van Buren was anything more than a thorough Loco-foco on all subjects
other than Free Territory, and hardly safe on that; and showed up, in a
masterly manner, the inconsistency and folly of those Whigs, who, being
drawn off from the true and oldest free-soil organization known among
the parties of the Union, would now lend their influence and votes
to help Mr. Van Buren into the presidential chair. His speech was
interrupted by frequent cheers of the audience. At the close the
secretary, by request, read the letter of General Taylor to Captain
Alison, which had just been received, in which he says: "From the
beginning till now, I have declared myself to be a Whig, on all proper

Ex-Governor Gardner, after a brief history of the Whig Convention at
Worcester, Mass., contributes this pleasing reminiscence:

"Gov. Levi Lincoln, the oldest living Ex-Governor of Massachusetts,
resided in Worcester. He was a man of culture and wealth; lived in
one of the finest houses in that town, and was a fine specimen of a
gentleman of the old school. It was his custom to give a dinner party
when any distinguished assemblage took place in Worcester, and to invite
its prominent participants. He invited to dine, on this occasion, a
company of gentlemen, among them myself, who was a delegate from
Boston. The dining-room and table arrangements were superb, the dinner
exquisite, the wines abundant, rare, and of the first quality.

"I well remember the jokes between Governor Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln
as to their presumed relationship. At last the latter said: 'I _hope_
we both belong, as the Scotch say, to the same clan; but I _know_ one
thing, and that is, that we are both good Whigs.'

"That evening there was held in Mechanics' Hall (an immense building)
a mass-meeting of delegates and others, and Lincoln was announced to
speak. No one there had ever heard him on the stump, and in fact knew
anything about him. When he was announced, his tall, angular, bent form,
and his manifest awkwardness and low tone of voice, promised nothing
interesting. But he soon warmed to his work. His style and manner of
speaking were novelties in the East. He repeated anecdotes, told stories
admirable in humor and in point, interspersed with bursts of true
eloquence, which constantly brought down the house. His sarcasm of
Cass, Van Buren and the Democratic party was inimitable, and whenever
he attempted to stop, the shouts of 'Go on! go on!' were deafening. He
probably spoke over an hour, but so great was the enthusiasm time could
not be measured. It was doubtless one of the best efforts of his life.
He spoke a day or two afterward in Faneuil Hall, with William H. Seward,
but I did not hear him.

"In 1861 business called me to Washington, and I paid my respects to the
President at the White House. He came forward smiling and with extended
hand, saying: 'You and I are no strangers; we dined together at Governor
Lincoln's in 1848.' When one remembers the increased burden on the
President's mind at this trying time, the anxieties of the war, the
army, the currency, and the rehabilitating the civil officers of the
country, it seemed astonishing to me to hear him continue: 'Sit down.
Yes, I had been chosen to Congress then from the wild West, and with
hayseed in my hair I went to Massachusetts, the most cultured State
in the Union, to take a few lessons in deportment. That was a grand
dinner--a superb dinner; by far the finest I ever saw in my life. And
the great men who were there, too! Why, I can tell you just how they
were arranged at table. He began at one end, and mentioned the names in
order, and, I verily believe, without the omission of a single one."

This chapter would be incomplete without the account of Mr. George H.
Monroe, a young man living in Dedham, Mass., in 1848, who, forty years
later, wrote out his recollections of Mr. Lincoln's visit to that
town. Mr. Monroe has a vivid and retentive memory, and has since
been identified with the public life and journalism of Massachusetts:--

"Massachusetts, on account of the great defection of Whigs to the
Free-Soilers, and Daniel Webster's sudden and damaging attitude toward
General Taylor's nomination to the presidency, began to be considered
rather doubtful ground for the Whigs. The national committee sent
Mr. Lincoln to the State, after Congress had adjourned, to make some
speeches. Our people knew very little about him then. I lived in Dedham,
the shire town of Norfolk county, and was secretary of a Whig club
there. One of the county courts was in session, and it was determined to
have a meeting in the daytime, before it adjourned. I was commissioned
to go to Boston to engage the speaker. I went at once to see my friend,
Colonel Schouler, of the Boston _Atlas_. He told me that a new man had
just come into the State from Washington, who, he thought, would answer
our purpose exactly, and said he would get him for me if possible. That
man was Abraham Lincoln. When the day for the meeting came I went to
the Tremont House and found Mr. Lincoln there. I remember well how tall,
awkward and ungainly he was in appearance. I remember how reticent he
was, too, but I attributed this to my own youth, for I was only
just past twenty-one years of age. He was as sober a man in point of
expression as ever I saw. There were others in the party later, but in
the journey out in the cars he scarcely said a word to one of us. I did
not see him smile on any part of the journey. He seemed uneasy and out
of sympathy with his surroundings, as it were. I should say that the
atmosphere of Boston was not congenial to him. We took him to one of
the most elegant houses in the town of Dedham, and here he seemed still
less, if possible, at home. The thing began to look rather blue for us.
When we went over to the hall it was not much better. It was a small
hall, and it was only about half full; for Mr. Lincoln had not spoken in
Boston yet, and there was nothing in his name particularly to attract.
But at last he arose to speak, and almost instantly there was a change.
His indifferent manner vanished as soon as he opened his mouth. He went
right to his work. He wore a black alpaca sack, and he turned up the
sleeves of this, and then the cuffs of his shirt. Next he loosened his
necktie, and soon after he took it off altogether. All the time he was
gaining upon his audience. He soon had it as by a spell. I never saw men
more delighted. His style was the most familiar and off-hand possible.
His eye had lighted up and changed the whole expression of his
countenance. He began to bubble out with humor. But the chief charm
of the address lay in the homely way he made his points. There was no
attempt at eloquence or finish of style. But, for plain pungency of
humor, it would have been difficult to surpass his speech. In this
making of points which come home to the general mind, I don't think
Lincoln was ever surpassed by any American orator. I often thought of it
afterward, when he was exhibiting this faculty in a more ambitious way
on a broader field. The speech which I am trying to describe was not a
long one. It abruptly ended in a half-hour's time. The bell that called
to the steam cars sounded. Mr. Lincoln instantly stopped. 'I am engaged
to speak at Cambridge to-night,' said he, 'and I must leave.' The whole
audience seemed to rise in protest. 'Oh, no! go on! finish it!' was
heard on every hand. One gentleman arose and pledged himself to take his
horse and carry him across the country. But Mr. Lincoln was inexorable.
'I can't take any risks,' said he.

"'I have engaged to go to Cambridge, and I must be there. I came here
as I agreed, and I am going there in the same way.' A more disappointed
audience was never seen; but Mr. Lincoln had fairly wakened it up, and
it stayed through the afternoon and into the evening to listen to other
speakers. We tried to get him to come again, but it was impossible. I
heard the speech finished afterward in Tremont Temple, Boston; and it
is a notable fact that on the same evening, and from the same platform,
William H. Seward also spoke, and made the only political speech he ever
delivered in Boston. Who could have dreamed then that in Lincoln we were
listening to the man who was to be the future president of the United
States, and to leave a reputation second only to that of Washington! Mr.
Lincoln moved his Boston audience in much the same way I have described,
but Mr. Seward made the first speech, and was looked upon as the
chief star, of course. Seward's speech was much more ambitious and
comprehensive than that of Lincoln. The latter had not begun to treat
broad principles in the 1848 campaign. Mr. Seward's argument was a
triumph of intellect, after the most careful preparation. I don't think
Mr. Lincoln had ever written his speech at all. He aimed at not much
more than to be bright, effective and taking with his audience, and his
success was perfect here."


[Illustration: The Globe Tavern 363]

Photographed in 1886.

After the wedding of Lincoln and Miss Todd at the Edwards mansion we
hear but little of them as a married couple till the spring of 1843,
when the husband writes to his friend Speed, who had been joined to his
"black-eyed Fanny" a little over a year, with regard to his life as a
married man. "Are you possessing houses and lands," he writes, "and oxen
and asses and men-servants and maid-servants, and begetting 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." Gaining a livelihood was slow and discouraging
business with him, for we find him in another letter apologizing for his
failure to visit Kentucky, "because," he says, "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." But by dint of untiring efforts and
the recognition of influential friends he managed through rare frugality
to move along. In his struggles, both in the law and for political
advancement, his wife shared in his sacrifices. She was a plucky little
woman, and in fact endowed with a more restless ambition than he. She
was gifted with a rare insight into the motives that actuate mankind,
and there is no doubt that much of Lincoln's success was in a measure
attributable to her acuteness and the stimulus of her influence. His
election to Congress within four years after their marriage afforded
her extreme gratification. She loved power and prominence, and when
occasionally she came down to our office, it seemed to me then that she
was inordinately proud of her tall and ungainly husband. She saw in him
bright prospects ahead, and his every move was watched by her with the
closest interest. If to other persons he seemed homely, to her he was
the embodiment of noble manhood, and each succeeding day impressed upon
her the wisdom of her choice of Lincoln over Douglas--if in reality she
ever seriously accepted the latter's attentions. "Mr. Lincoln may not
be as handsome a figure," she said one day in the office during her
husband's absence, when the conversation turned on Douglas, "but the
people are perhaps not aware that his heart is as large as his arms are

Mrs. Lincoln accompanied her husband to Washington and remained during
one session of Congress. While there they boarded at the same house with
Joshua R. Giddings, and when in 1856 the valiant old Abolitionist came
to take part in the canvass in Illinois, he early sought out Lincoln,
with whom he had been so favorably impressed several years before. On
his way home from Congress Lincoln came by way of Niagara Falls and down
Lake Erie to Toledo or Detroit. It happened that, some time after,
I went to New York and also returned by way of Niagara Falls. In the
office, a few days after my return, I was endeavoring to entertain my
partner with an account of my trip, and among other things described the
Falls. In the attempt I indulged in a good deal of imagery. As I warmed
up with the subject my descriptive powers expanded accordingly. The mad
rush of water, the roar, the rapids, and the rainbow furnished me with
an abundance of material for a stirring and impressive picture. The
recollection of the gigantic and awe-inspiring scene stimulated my
exuberant powers to the highest pitch. After well-nigh exhausting myself
in the effort I turned to Lincoln for his opinion. "What," I inquired,
"made the deepest impression on you when you stood in the presence of
the great natural wonder?" I shall never forget his answer, because it
in a very characteristic way illustrates how he looked at everything.
"The thing that struck me most forcibly when I saw the Falls," he
responded, "was, where in the world did all that water come from?"
He had no eye for the magnificence and grandeur of the scene, for the
rapids, the mist, the angry waters, and the roar of the whirlpool, but
his mind, working in its accustomed channel, heedless of beauty or awe,
followed irresistibly back to the first cause. It was in this light he
viewed every question. However great the verbal foliage that concealed
the nakedness of a good idea Lincoln stripped it all down till he could
see clear the way between cause and effect. If there was any secret in
his power this surely was it.

After seeing Niagara Falls he continued his journey homeward. At some
point on the way, the vessel on which he had taken passage stranded on a
sand bar. The captain ordered the hands to collect all the loose planks,
empty barrels and boxes and force them under the sides of the boat.
These empty casks were used to buoy it up. After forcing enough of them
under the vessel she lifted gradually and at last swung clear of the
opposing sand bar. Lincoln had watched this operation very intently. It
no doubt carried him back to the days of his navigation on the turbulent
Sangamon, when he and John Hanks had rendered similar service at New
Salem dam to their employer, the volatile Offut. Continual thinking on
the subject of lifting vessels over sand bars and other obstructions in
the water suggested to him the idea of inventing an apparatus for that
purpose. Using the principle involved in the operation he had just
witnessed, his plan was to attach a kind of bellows on each side of the
hull of the craft just below the water line, and, by an odd system of
ropes and pulleys, whenever the keel grated on the sand these bellows
were to be filled with air, and thus buoyed up, the vessel was expected
to float clear of the shoal. On reaching home he at once set to work to
demonstrate the feasibility of his plan. Walter Davis, a mechanic having
a shop near our office, granted him the use of his tools, and likewise
assisted him in making the model of a miniature vessel with the
arrangement as above described. Lincoln manifested ardent interest
in it. Occasionally he would bring the model in the office, and while
whittling on it would descant on its merits and the revolution it was
destined to work in steamboat navigation. Although I regarded the thing
as impracticable I said nothing, probably out of respect for Lincoln's
well-known reputation as a boatman. The model was sent or taken by him
to Washington, where a patent was issued, but the invention was never
applied to any vessel, so far as I ever learned, and the threatened
revolution in steamboat architecture and navigation never came to pass.
The model still reposes in undisturbed slumber on the shelves in the
Patent Office, and is the only evidence now existing of Lincoln's
success as an inventor.*

     * Following is a copy of Lincoln's application for the
     patent on his "Improved Method of Lifting Vessels Over
     Shoals": "What I claim as my invention, and desire to secure
     by letters patent, is the combination of expansible buoyant
     chambers placed at the sides of a vessel with the main shaft
     or shafts by means of the sliding spars, which pass down
     through the buoyant chambers and are made fast to their
     bottoms and the series of ropes and pulleys or their
     equivalents in such a manner that by turning the main shaft
     or shafts in one direction the buoyant chambers will be
     forced downwards into the water, and at the same time
     expanded and filled with air for buoying up the vessel by
     the displacement of water, and by turning the shafts in an
     opposite direction the buoyant chambers will be contracted
     into a small space and secured against injury.

     "A. Lincoln."

Shortly before the close of his term in Congress he appears in a new
rôle. Having failed of a re-election he became an applicant for the
office of Commissioner of the General Land Office. He had been urged to
this step by many of his Whig friends in Illinois, but he was so hedged
about with other aspirants from his own State that he soon lost all
heart in the contest. He was too scrupulous, and lacked too much the
essentials of self-confidence and persistence, to be a successful
suitor for office. In a letter to Joshua Speed, who had written him of
a favorable reference to him by Mr. Crittenden, of Kentucky,* he says,
February 20, 1849, "I am flattered to learn that Mr. Crittenden has any
recollection of me which is not unfavorable; and for the manifestation
of your kindness towards me I sincerely thank you."

     * Lincoln had asked Speed to see Crittenden (then Governor
     of Kentucky) and secure from the latter a recommendation for
     Baker, who wanted a first-class foreign mission. Crittenden
     did not approve of Baker, but suggested that he would favor
     Lincoln, whom he regarded as a rising man. Speed suggested
     to Lincoln to apply for the place himself. "I have pledged
     myself to Baker," he answered, "and cannot under any
     circumstances consent to the use of my name so long as he is
     urged for the same place."

"Still, there is nothing about me to authorize me to think of a
first-class office, and a second-class one would not compensate me for
being sneered at by others who want it for themselves. I believe that,
so far as the Whigs in Congress are concerned, I could have the General
Land Office almost by common consent; but then Sweet and Dav. Morrison
and Browning and Cyrus Edwards all want it, and what is worse, while I
think I could easily take it myself I fear I shall have trouble to
get it for any other man in Illinois. The reason is that McGaughey, an
Indiana ex-member of Congress, is here after it, and being personally
known he will be hard to beat by any one who is not." But, as the sequel
proved, there was no need to fear the Hoosier statesman, for although he
had the endorsement of General Scott and others of equal influence,
yet he was left far behind in the race, and along with him Lincoln,
Morrison, Browning, and Edwards. A dark horse in the person of Justin
Butterfield, sprang into view, and with surprising facility captured
the tempting prize. This latter and successful aspirant was a lawyer
of rather extensive practice and reputation in Chicago. He was shrewd,
adroit, and gifted with a knowledge of what politicians would call good
management--a quality or characteristic in which Lincoln was strikingly
deficient. He had endorsed the Mexican war, but, strangely enough, had
lost none of his prestige with the Whigs on that account.*

     * The following letter by Butterfield's daughter is not
     without interest:

     "Chicago, Oct. l2th, 1888.

     "Mr. Jesse W. Weik.

     "Dear Sir:

     "My father was born in Keene, N. H., in 1790, entered
     Williams College, 1807, and removed to Chicago in 1835.
     After the re-accession of the Whigs to power he was on the
     21st of June in 1849 appointed Commissioner of the Land
     Office by President Taylor. A competitor for the position at
     that time was Abraham Lincoln, who was beaten, it was said,
     by 'the superior dispatch of Butterfield in reaching
     Washington by the Northern route,' but more correctly by the
     paramount influence of his friend Daniel Webster.

     "He held the position of Land Commissioner until disabled by
     paralysis in 1852. After lingering for three years in a
     disabled ana enfeebled condition, he died at his home in
     Chicago, October 23d, 1855, in his sixty-third year.

     "Very respectfully,

     "Elizabeth Sawyer."

The close of Congress and the inauguration of Taylor were the signal
for Lincoln's departure from Washington. He left with the comforting
assurance that as an office-seeker he was by no means a success. Besides
his lack of persistence, he had an unconscious feeling of superiority
and pride that admitted of no such flexibility of opinion as the
professional suitor for office must have, in order to succeed. He
remained but a few days at his home in Illinois, however, before he
again set out for Washington. The administration of President Taylor
feeling that some reward was due Lincoln for his heroic efforts on the
stump and elsewhere in behalf of the Whig party and its measures, had
offered him the office of either Governor or Secretary of Oregon,
and with the view of considering this and other offers he returned to
Washington. Lincoln used to relate of this last-named journey an amusing
incident illustrating Kentucky hospitality. He set out from Ransdell's
tavern in Springfield, early in the morning. The only other passenger
in the stage for a good portion of the distance was a Kentuckian, on his
way home from Missouri. The latter, painfully impressed no doubt with
Lincoln's gravity and melancholy, undertook to relieve the general
monotony of the ride by offering him a chew of tobacco. With a plain
"No, sir, thank you; I never chew," Lincoln declined, and a long period
of silence followed. Later in the day the stranger, pulling from his
pocket a leather-covered case, offered Lincoln a cigar, which he also
politely declined on the ground that he never smoked. Finally, as they
neared the station where horses were to be changed, the Kentuckian,
pouring out a cup of brandy from a flask which had lain concealed in his
satchel, offered it to Lincoln with the remark, "Well, stranger, seeing
you don't smoke or chew, perhaps you'll take a little of this French
brandy. It's a prime article and a good appetizer besides." His tall
and uncommunicative companion declined this last and best evidence
of Kentucky hospitality on the same ground as the tobacco. When they
separated that afternoon, the Kentuckian, transferring to another stage,
bound for Louisville, shook Lincoln warmly by the hand. "See here,
stranger," he said, good-humoredly, "you're a clever, but strange
companion. I may never see you again, and I don't want to offend you,
but I want to say this: my experience has taught me that a man who
has no vices has d------d few virtues. Good-day." Lincoln enjoyed this
reminiscence of the journey, and took great pleasure in relating it.
During this same journey occurred an incident for which Thomas H.
Nelson, of Terre Haute, Indiana, who was appointed Minister to Chili by
Lincoln, when he was President, is authority. "In the spring of 1849,"
relates Nelson, "Judge Abram Hammond, who was afterwards Governor of
Indiana, and I arranged to go from Terre Haute to Indianapolis in the
stage coach. An entire day was usually consumed in the journey. By
daybreak the stage had arrived from the West, and as we stepped in
we discovered that the entire back seat was occupied by a long, lank
individual, whose head seemed to protrude from one end of the coach
and his feet from the other. He was the sole occupant, and was sleeping
soundly. Hammond slapped him familiarly on the shoulder, and asked him
if he had chartered the stage for the day. The stranger, now wide awake,
responded, 'Certainly not,' and at once took the front seat, politely
surrendering to us the place of honor and comfort. We took in our
travelling companion at a glance. A queer, odd-looking fellow he was,
dressed in a well-worn and ill-fitting suit of bombazine, without vest
or cravat, and a twenty-five-cent palm hat on the back of his head.
His very prominent features in repose seemed dull and expressionless.
Regarding him as a good subject for merriment we perpetrated several
jokes. He took them all with the utmost innocence and good-nature, and
joined in the laugh, although at his own expense. At noon we stopped
at a wayside hostelry for dinner. We invited him to eat with us, and he
approached the table as if he considered it a great honor. He sat with
about half his person on a small chair, and held his hat under his arm
during the meal. Resuming our journey after dinner, conversation drifted
into a discussion of the comet, a subject that was then agitating the
scientific world, in which the stranger took the deepest interest. He
made many startling suggestions and asked many questions. We amazed him
with words of learned length and thundering sound. After an astounding
display of wordy pyrotechnics the dazed and bewildered stranger asked:
'What is going to be the upshot of this comet business?' I replied
that I was not certain, in fact I differed from most scientists and
philosophers, and was inclined to the opinion that the world
would follow the darned thing off! Late in the evening we reached
Indianapolis, and hurried to Browning's hotel, losing sight of the
stranger altogether. We retired to our room to brush and wash away the
dust of the journey. In a few minutes I descended to the portico, and
there descried our long, gloomy fellow-traveller in the center of an
admiring group of lawyers, among whom were Judges McLean and Huntington,
Edward Hannigan, Albert S. White, and Richard W. Thompson, who seemed
to be amused and interested in a story he was telling. I enquired of
Browning, the landlord, who he was. "Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois,
a member of Congress," was the response. I was thunderstruck at the
announcement. I hastened upstairs and told Hammond the startling news,
and together we emerged from the hotel by a back door and went down
an alley to another house, thus avoiding further contact with our now
distinguished fellow-traveller. Curiously enough, years after this,
Hammond had vacated the office of Governor of Indiana a few days
before Lincoln arrived in Indianapolis, on his way to Washington to be
inaugurated President. I had many opportunities after the stage ride to
cultivate Mr. Lincoln's acquaintance, and was a zealous advocate of his
nomination and election to the Presidency. Before leaving his home for
Washington, Mr. Lincoln caused John P. Usher and myself to be invited to
accompany him. We agreed to join him in Indianapolis. On reaching that
city the Presidential party had already arrived, and upon inquiry we
were informed that the President-elect was in the dining-room of
the hotel, at supper. Passing through, we saw that every seat at the
numerous tables was occupied, but failed to find Mr. Lincoln. As we were
nearing the door to the office of the hotel, a long arm reached to my
shoulder and a shrill voice exclaimed, 'Hello, Nelson! do you think,
after all, the world is going to follow the darned thing off?' It was
Mr. Lincoln."

The benefits and advantages of the territorial posts offered by
President Taylor to Lincoln were freely discussed by the latter's
friends. Some urged his acceptance on the usual ground that when Oregon
was admitted as a State, he might be its first Senator. Lincoln himself
had some inclination to accept. He told me himself that he felt by his
course in Congress he had committed political suicide, and wanted to try
a change of locality--hence the temptation to go to Oregon. But when
he brought the proposition home to his fireside, his wife put her foot
squarely down on it with a firm and emphatic No. That always ended
it with Lincoln. The result of the whole thing proved a fortunate
deliverance for him, the propriety of which became more apparent as the
years rolled by.*

     * About this time Grant Goodrich, a lawyer in Chicago,
     proposed to take Lincoln into partnership with him. Goodrich
     had an extensive and paying practice there, but Lincoln
     refused the offer, giving as a reason that he tended to
     consumption, and if he removed to a city like Chicago, he
     would have to sit down and study harder than ever. The close
     application required of him and the confinement in the
     office, he contended, would soon kill him. He preferred
     going around on the circuit, and even if he earned smaller
     fees he felt much happier.

While a member of Congress and otherwise immersed in politics Lincoln
seemed to lose all interest in the law. Of course, what practice he
himself controlled passed into other hands. I retained all the business
I could, and worked steadily on until, when he returned, our practice
was as extensive as that of any other firm at the bar. Lincoln realized
that much of this was due to my efforts, and on his return he therefore
suggested that he had no right to share in the business and profits
which I had made. I responded that, as he had aided me and given me
prominence when I was young and needed it, I could afford now to be
grateful if not generous. I therefore recommended a continuation of the
partnership, and we went on as before. I could notice a difference in
Lincoln's movement as a lawyer from this time forward. He had begun
to realize a certain lack of discipline--a want of mental training and
method. Ten years had wrought some change in the law, and more in the
lawyers, of Illinois. The conviction had settled in the minds of the
people that the pyrotechnics of court room and stump oratory did not
necessarily imply extensive or profound ability in the lawyer who
resorted to it. The courts were becoming graver and more learned, and
the lawyer was learning as a preliminary and indispensable condition to
success that he must be a close reasoner, besides having at command
a broad knowledge of the principles on which the statutory law is
constructed. There was of course the same riding on circuit as before,
but the courts had improved in tone and morals, and there was less
laxity--at least it appeared so to Lincoln. Political defeat had wrought
a marked effect on him. It went below the skin and made a changed man
of him. He was not soured at his seeming political decline, but still he
determined to eschew politics from that time forward and devote himself
entirely to the law. And now he began to make up for time lost in
politics by studying the law in earnest. No man had greater power of
application than he. Once fixing his mind on any subject, nothing could
interfere with or disturb him. Frequently I would go out on the circuit
with him. We, usually, at the little country inns occupied the same bed.
In most cases the beds were too short for him, and his feet would hang
over the foot-board, thus exposing a limited expanse of shin bone.
Placing a candle on a chair at the head of the bed, he would read and
study for hours. I have known him to study in this position till two
o'clock in the morning. Meanwhile, I and others who chanced to occupy
the same room would be safely and soundly asleep. On the circuit in
this way he studied Euclid until he could with ease demonstrate all
the propositions in the six books. How he could maintain his mental
equilibrium or concentrate his thoughts on an abstract mathematical
proposition, while Davis, Logan, Swett, Edwards, and I so industriously
and volubly filled the air with our interminable snoring was a problem
none of us could ever solve. I was on the circuit with Lincoln
probably one-fourth of the time. The remainder of my time was spent in
Springfield looking after the business there, but I know that life on
the circuit was a gay one. It was rich with incidents, and afforded the
nomadic lawyers ample relaxation from all the irksome toil that fell to
their lot. Lincoln loved it. I suppose it would be a fair estimate to
state that he spent over half the year following Judges Treat and Davis
around on the circuit. On Saturdays the court and attorneys, if within a
reasonable distance, would usually start for their homes. Some went for
a fresh supply of clothing, but the greater number went simply to spend
a day of rest with their families. The only exception was Lincoln, who
usually spent his Sundays with the loungers at the country tavern, and
only went home at the end of the circuit or term of court. "At first,"
* relates one of his colleagues on the circuit, "we wondered at it,
but soon learned to account for his strange disinclination to go home.
Lincoln himself never had much to say about home, and we never felt free
to comment on it. Most of us had pleasant, inviting homes, and as we
struck out for them I'm sure each one of us down in our hearts had a
mingled feeling of pity and sympathy for him."

     * David Davis, MS.

If the day was long and he was oppressed, the feeling was soon relieved
by the narration of a story. The tavern loungers enjoyed it, and his
melancholy, taking to itself wings, seemed to fly away. In the role of
a story-teller I am prone to regard Mr. Lincoln as without an equal. I
have seen him surrounded by a crowd numbering as many as two and in some
cases three hundred persons, all deeply interested in the outcome of a
story which, when he had finished it, speedily found repetition in every
grocery and lounging place within reach. His power of mimicry, as I have
before noted, and his manner of recital, were in many respects unique,
if not remarkable. His countenance and all his features seemed to take
part in the performance. As he neared the pith or point of the joke or
story every vestige of seriousness disappeared from his face. His little
gray eyes sparkled; a smile seemed to gather up, curtain like, the
corners of his mouth; his frame quivered with suppressed excitement; and
when the point--or "nub" of the story, as he called it--came, no one's
laugh was heartier than his. These backwoods allegories are out of date
now, and any lawyer, ambitious to gain prominence, would hardly dare
thus to entertain a crowd, except at the risk of his reputation; but
with Lincoln it gave him, in some mysterious way, a singularly firm hold
on the people.

Lincoln was particularly strong in Menard county, and while on the
circuit there he met with William Engle and James Murray, two men who
were noted also for their story-telling proclivities. I am not now
asserting for the country and the period what would at a later day be
considered a very high standard of taste. Art had not such patrons as
to-day, but the people loved the beautiful as Nature furnished it, and
the good as they found it, with as much devotion as the more refined
classes now are joined to their idols. Newspapers were scarce, and the
court-house, with its cluster of itinerant lawyers, disseminated much of
the information that was afterwards broken up into smaller bits at the
pioneer's fireside. A curious civilization indeed, but one through which
every Western State distant from the great arterial river or seaboard
lias had to pass.

When Lincoln, Murray, and Engle met, there was sure to be a crowd. All
were more or less masters in their art. I have seen the little country
tavern where these three were wont to meet after an adjournment of
court, crowded almost to suffocation with an audience of men who
had gathered to witness the contest among the members of the strange
triumvirate. The physician of the town, all the lawyers, and not
unfrequently a preacher could be found in the crowd that filled the
doors and windows. The yarns they spun and the stories, they told would
not bear repetition here, but many of them had morals which, while
exposing the weaknesses of mankind, stung like a whip-lash. Some were
no doubt a thousand years old, with just enough "verbal varnish" and
alterations of names and dates to make them new and crisp. By virtue of
the last-named application, Lincoln was enabled to draw from Balzac a
"droll story," and locating it in "Egypt"* or in Indiana, pass it off
for a purely original conception. Every recital was followed by its
"storm of laughter and chorus of cheers." After this had all died down,
some unfortunate creature, through whose thickened skull the point had
just penetrated, would break out in a guffaw, starting another wave
of laughter which, growing to the proportions of a billow, would come
rolling in like a veritable breaker.

     * The word Egypt, so frequently used in this book, refers to
     that portion of Illinois which lies south of the famous
     National Road.

I have known these story-telling jousts to continue long after
midnight--in some cases till the very small hours of the morning. I have
seen Judge Treat, who was the very impersonation of gravity itself, sit
up till the last and laugh until, as he often expressed it, "he almost
shook his ribs loose." The next day he would ascend the bench and
listen to Lincoln in a murder trial, with all the seeming severity of an
English judge in wig and gown. Amid such surroundings, a leading
figure in such society, alternately reciting the latest effusion of the
bar room or mimicking the clownish antics of the negro minstrel, he
who was destined to be an immortal emancipator, was steadily and
unconsciously nearing the great trial of his life. We shall see further
on how this rude civilization crystallized both his logic and his wit
for use in another day.

Reverting again to Mr. Lincoln as a lawyer, it is proper to add that he
detested the mechanical work of the office. He wrote few papers--less
perhaps than any other man at the bar. Such work was usually left to me
for the first few years we were together. Afterwards we made good use of
students who came to learn the law in our office. A Chicago lawyer,* in
a letter to me about Mr. Lincoln, in 1866, says: "Lincoln once told
me that he had taken you in as a partner, supposing you had system and
would keep things in order, but that he found out you had no more system
than he had, but that you were in reality a good lawyer, so that he was
doubly disappointed." Lincoln knew no such thing as order or method in
his law practice. He made no preparation in advance, but trusted to
the hour for its inspiration and to Providence for his supplies. In
the matter of letter-writing** he made no distinction between one of a
business nature or any other kind.

     * W. C. Whitney, MS.

     ** "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 collect money on that or
     any other claim here, now, and although you know I am not a
     very petulant man, I declare that I am almost out of
     patience with Mr. Everett's endless importunities. It seems
     like he not only writes all the letters he can himself, but
     he gets everybody else in 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 neither joking nor
     in a pet when I say we would thank him to transfer his
     business to some other, without any compensation for what we
     have done, provided he will see the court costs paid for
     which we are security."--MS. letter to Joshua F. Speed,
     March 27, 1842.

If a happy thought or expression struck him he was by no means reluctant
to use it. As early as 1839 wrote to a gentleman about a matter of
business, observing crustily that "a d------d hawk-billed Yankee is
here besetting me at every turn I take, saying that Robert Kenzie never
received the $80 to which he was entitled." In July, 1851, he wrote
a facetious message to one of his clients, saying: "I have news from
Ottawa that we win our case. As the Dutch justice said when he married
folks, 'Now where ish my hundred tol-lars.'"*

     * The following unpublished letter in possession of C. F.
     Gunther, Esq., Chicago, Ills., shows how he proposed to fill
     a vacancy in the office of Clerk of the United States Court
     It reads like the letter of a politician in the midst of a
     canvass for office:

     "Springfield, ILL., December 6,1854.

     "Hon. Justice McLean.

     "Sir: I understand it is in contemplation to displace the
     present Clerk and appoint a new one for the Circuit and
     District Courts of Illinois. I am very friendly to the
     present incumbent, and both for his own sake and that of his
     family, I wish him to be retained so long as it is possible
     for the Court to do so.

     "In the contingency of his removal, however, I have
     recommended William Butler as his successor, and I do not
     wish what I write now to be taken as any abatement of that

     "William J. Black is also an applicant for the appointment,
     and I write this at the solicitation of his friends to say
     that he is every way worthy of the office, and that I doubt
     not the conferring it upon him will give great satisfaction.

     "Your ob't servant,

     "A. Lincoln."

He was proverbially careless as to habits. In a letter to a
fellow-lawyer in another town, apologizing for failure to answer sooner,
he explains: "First, I have been very busy in the United States Court;
second, when I received the letter I put it in my old hat and buying a
new one the next day the old one was set aside, and so the letter was
lost sight of for a time." This hat of Lincoln's--a silk plug--was an
extraordinary receptacle. It was his desk and his memorandum-book. In
it he carried his bank-book and the bulk of his letters. Whenever in his
reading or researches he wished to preserve an idea, he jotted it down
on an envelope or stray piece of paper and placed it inside the lining.
Afterwards when the memorandum was needed there was only one place to
look for it.*

How Lincoln appeared and acted in the law office has been graphically
and, I must confess, truthfully told by a gentleman now in New York,
who was for several years a student in our office. I beg to quote a few
lines from him: "My brother met Mr. Lincoln in Ottawa, Ill.,** one day,
and said to him: 'I have a brother whom I would very much like to have
enter your office as a student.' 'All right!' was his reply; 'send him
down and we will take a look at him.' I was then studying law at Grand
Rapids, Mich., and on hearing from my brother I immediately packed
up and started for Springfield. I arrived there on Saturday night. On
Sunday Mr. Lincoln was pointed out to me. I well remember this first
sight of him. He was striding along, holding little Tad, then about six
years old, by the hand, who could with the greatest difficulty keep up
with his father."

     * Lincoln had always on the top of our desk a bundle of
     papers into which he slipped anything he wished to keep and
     afterwards refer to. It was a receptacle of general
     information. Some years ago, on removing the furniture from
     the office, I took down the bundle and blew from the top the
     liberal coat of dust that had accumulated thereon.
     Immediately uuderneath the string was a slip bearing this
     endorsement, in his hand: "When you can't find it anywhere
     else, look in this."

     ** John H. Littlefield, Brooklyn Eagle, October 16, 1887.

"In the morning I applied at the office of Lincoln and Herndon for
admission as a student. The office was on the second floor of a brick
building on the public square, opposite the court-house. You went up
one flight of stairs and then passed along a hallway to the rear office,
which was a medium-sized room. There was one long table in the center of
the room, and a shorter one running in the opposite direction, forming a
T, and both were covered with green baize. There were two windows which
looked into the back yard. In one corner was an old-fashioned secretary
with pigeonholes and a drawer, and here Mr. Lincoln and his partner
kept their law papers. There was also a book-case containing about 200
volumes of law as well as miscellaneous books. The morning I entered the
office Mr. Lincoln and his partner, Mr. Herndon, were both present. Mr.
Lincoln addressed his partner thus: 'Billy, this is the young man of
whom I spoke to you. Whatever arrangement you make with him will be
satisfactory to me.' Then, turning to me, he said, 'I hope you will not
become so enthusiastic in your studies of Blackstone and Kent as did two
young men whom we had here. Do you see that spot over there?' pointing
to a large ink stain on the wall. 'Well, one of these young men got so
enthusiastic in his pursuit of legal lore that he fired an inkstand at
the other one's head, and that is the mark he made.' I immediately began
to clean up about the office a little. Mr. Lincoln had been in Congress
and had the usual amount of seeds to distribute to the farmers. These
were sent out with Free Soil and Republican documents. In my efforts to
clean up, I found that some of the seeds had sprouted in the dirt that
had collected in the office. Judge Logan and Milton Hay occupied the
front offices on the same floor with Lincoln and Herndon, and one day
Mr. Hay came in and said with apparent astonishment: 'What's happened
here?' 'Oh, nothing,' replied Lincoln, pointing to me, 'only this
young man has been cleaning up a little.' One of Lincoln's striking
characteristics was his simplicity, and nowhere was this trait more
strikingly exhibited than in his willingness to receive instruction from
anybody and everybody. One day he came into the office and addressing
his partner, said: 'Billy, what's the meaning of antithesis?' Mr.
Herndon gave him the definition of the word, and I said: 'Mr. Lincoln,
if you will allow me, I will give you an example.' 'All right, John, go
ahead,' said Mr. Lincoln in his hearty manner. 'Phillips says, in his
essay on Napoleon, "A pretended patriot, he impoverished the country; a
professed Catholic, he imprisoned the Pope,'" etc. Mr. Lincoln thanked
me and seemed very much pleased. Returning from off the circuit once he
said to Mr. Herndon: 'Billy, I heard a good story while I was up in the
country. Judge D------ was complimenting the landlord on the excellence
of his beef. "I am surprised," he said, "that you have such good beef.
You must have to kill a whole critter when you want any." "Yes," said
the landlord, "we never kill less than a whole critter." "Lincoln's
favorite position when unravelling some knotty law point was to stretch
both of his legs at full length upon a chair in front of him. In this
position, with books on the table near by and in his lap, he worked up
his case. No matter how deeply interested in his work, if any one came
in he had something humorous and pleasant to say, and usually wound up
by telling a joke or an anecdote. I have heard him relate the same story
three times within as many hours to persons who came in at different
periods, and every time he laughed as heartily and enjoyed it as if it
were a new story. His humor was infectious. I had to laugh because I
thought it funny that Mr. Lincoln enjoyed a story so repeatedly told.

"There was no order in the office at all. The firm of Lincoln and
Herndon kept no books. They divided their fees without taking any
receipts or making any entries on books. One day Mr. Lincoln received
$5000 as a fee in a railroad case. He came in and said: 'Well, Billy,'
addressing his partner, Mr. Herndon, 'here is our fee; sit down and let
me divide.' He counted out $2,500 to his partner, and gave it to him
with as much nonchalance as he would have given a few cents for a paper.
Cupidity had no abiding place in his nature.

"I took a good deal of pains in getting up a speech which I wanted to
deliver during a political campaign. I told Mr. Lincoln that I would
like to read it to him. He sat down in one chair, put his feet into
another one, and said: 'John, you can fire away with that speech; I
guess I can stand it.' I unrolled the manuscript, and proceeded with
some trepidation. 'That's a good point, John,' he would say, at certain
places, and at others: 'That's good--very good indeed,' until I felt
very much elated over my effort. I delivered the speech over fifty
times during the campaign. Elmer E. Ellsworth, afterwards colonel of
the famous Zouaves, who was killed in Alexandria, early in the war,
was nominally a student in Lincoln's office. His head was so full of
military matters, however, that he thought little of law. Of Ellsworth,
Lincoln said: 'That young man has a real genius for war!'"

During the six years following his retirement from Congress, Lincoln,
realizing in a marked degree his want of literary knowledge, extended
somewhat his research in that direction. He was naturally indisposed to
undertake anything that savored of exertion, but his brief public career
had exposed the limited area of his literary attainments. Along with his
Euclid therefore he carried a well-worn copy of Shakespeare, in which he
read no little in his leisure moments. "In travelling on the circuit,"
relates one of his associates at the bar,* "he was in the habit of
rising earlier than his brothers of the bar. On such occasions he was
wont to sit by the fire, having uncovered the coals, and muse,
and ponder, and soliloquize, inspired, no doubt, by that strange
psychological influence which is so poetically described by Poe in 'The

     * Lawrence Weldon, letter, Feb. 10,1866, MS.

On one of these occasions, at the town of Lincoln, sitting in the
position described, he quoted aloud and at length the poem called
'Immortality.' When he had finished he was questioned as to the
authorship and where it could be found. He had forgotten the author, but
said that to him it sounded as much like true poetry as anything he had
ever heard. He was particularly pleased with the last two stanzas."

Beyond a limited acquaintance with Shakespeare, Byron, and Burns, Mr.
Lincoln, comparatively speaking, had no knowledge of literature. He was
familiar with the Bible, and now and then evinced a fancy for some poem
or short sketch to which his attention was called by some one else,
or which he happened to run across in his cursory reading of books or
newspapers. He never in his life sat down and read a book through, and
yet he could readily quote any number of passages from the few volumes
whose pages he had hastily scanned. In addition to his well-known
love for the poem "Immortality" or "Why should the Spirit of Mortal be
Proud," he always had a great fondness for Oliver Wendell Holmes' "Last
Leaf," the fourth stanza of which, beginning with the verse, "The mossy
marbles rest," I have often heard him repeat. He once told me of a song
a young lady had sung in his hearing at a time when he was laboring
under some dejection of spirits. The lines struck his fancy, and
although he did not know the singer--having heard her from the sidewalk
as he passed her house--he sent her a request to write the lines out for
him. Within a day or two he came into the office, carrying in his hand
a delicately perfumed envelope which bore the address, "Mr.
Lincoln--Present," in an unmistakable female hand. In it, written on
gilt-edged paper, were the lines of the song. The plaintive strain of
the piece and its melancholy sentiment struck a responsive chord in
a heart already filled with gloom and sorrow. Though ill-adapted to
dissipate one's depression, something about it charmed Lincoln, and
he read and re-read it with increasing relish. I had forgotten the
circumstance until recently, when, in going over some old papers and
letters turned over to me by Mr. Lincoln, I ran across the manuscript,
and the incident was brought vividly to my mind. The envelope, still
retaining a faint reminder of the perfumed scent given it thirty years
before, bore the laconic endorsement, "Poem--I like this," in the
handwriting of Mr. Lincoln. Unfortunately no name accompanied the
manuscript, and unless the lady on seeing this chooses to make herself
known, we shall probably not learn who the singer was. The composition
is headed, "The Enquiry." I leave it to my musical friends to render it
into song. Following are the lines:

     "Tell me, ye winged winds
     That round my pathway roar,
     Do ye not know some spot
     Where mortals weep no more?
     Some lone and pleasant vale
     Some valley in the West,
     Where, free from toil and pain,
     The weary soul may rest?
     The loud wind dwindled to a whisper low,
     And sighed for pity as it answered, No.

     "Tell me, thou mighty deep,
     Whose billows round me play,
     Knows't thou some favored spot,
     Some island far away,
     Where weary man may find
     The bliss for which he sighs;
     Where sorrow never lives
     And friendship never dies?
     The loud waves rolling in perpetual flow
     Stopped for awhile and sighed to answer, No.

     "And thou, serenest moon,
     That with such holy face
     Dost look upon the Earth
     Asleep in Night's embrace?
     Tell me, in all thy round
     Hast thou not seen some spot
     Where miserable man
     Might find a happier lot?
     Behind a cloud the moon withdrew in woe,
     And a voice sweet but sad responded, No.

     "Tell me, my secret soul,
     Oh, tell me, Hope and Faith,
     Is there no resting-place
     From sorrow, sin, and death?
     Is there no happy spot
     Where mortals may be blessed,
     Where grief may find a balm
     And weariness a rest?
     Faith, Hope, and Love, best boon to mortals given,
     Waved their bright wings and whispered,
     Yes, in Heaven."*

     * Persons familiar with literature will recognize this as a
     poem written by Charles Mackay, an English writer who
     represented a London newspaper in the United States during
     the Rebellion as its war correspondent. It was set to music
     as a chant, and as such was frequently rendered in public by
     the famous Hutchinson family of singers. I doubt if Mr.
     Lincoln ever knew who wrote it.

Judge S. H. Treat, recently deceased, thus describes Lincoln's first
appearance in the Supreme Court of Illinois. "A case being called for
hearing, 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 to sustain my side of the case, but
I have found several cases directly in point on the other side. I will
now give these authorities to the court, and then submit the case." A
lawyer in Beardstown relates this: * "Lincoln came into my office one
day with the remark: 'I see you've been suing some of my clients,
and I've come down to see about it.' He had reference to a suit I had
brought to enforce the specific performance of a contract. I explained
the case to him, and showed my proofs. He seemed surprised that I should
deal so frankly with him, and said he would be as frank with me; that my
client was justly entitled to a decree, and he should so represent it
to the court; and that it was against his principles to contest a clear
matter of right. So my client got a deed for a farm which, had another
lawyer been in Mr. Lincoln's place, would have been consumed by the
costs of litigation for years, with the result probably the same in the

     * J. Henry Shaw, letter, June 13, 1866, MS.

A young man once wrote to Lincoln, enquiring for the best mode of
obtaining a thorough knowledge of the law, "The mode is very simple,"
he responded, "though laborious and tedious. It is only to get books and
read and study them carefully. Begin with Blackstone's Commentaries, and
after reading carefully through, say twice, take up Chitty's Pleadings,
Greenleaf's Evidence, and Story's Equity in succession. Work, work,
work, is the main thing."*

     * Letter to J. M. Brockman, Sept. 25, 1859, MS.

Lincoln never believed in suing for a fee. If a client would not pay on
request he never sought to enforce collection. I remember once a man who
had been indicted for forgery or fraud employed us to defend him. The
illness of the prosecuting attorney caused some delay in the case, and
our client, becoming dissatisfied at our conduct of the case, hired some
one else, who superseded us most effectually. The defendant declining to
pay us the fee demanded, on the ground that we had not represented
him at the trial of the cause, I brought suit against him in Lincoln's
absence and obtained judgment for our fee. After Lincoln's return
from the circuit the fellow hunted him up and by means of a carefully
constructed tale prevailed on him to release the judgment without
receiving a cent of pay. The man's unkind treatment of us deserved no
such mark of generosity from Lincoln, and yet he could not resist the
appeal of any one in poverty and want. He could never turn from a woman
in tears. It was no surprise to me or any of his intimate friends
that so many designing women with the conventional widows' weeds and
easy-flowing tears overcame him in Washington. It was difficult for him
to detect an impostor, and hence it is not to be marvelled at that he
cautioned his secretaries: "Keep them away--I cannot stand it."

On many questions I used to grow somewhat enthusiastic, adopting
sometimes a lofty metaphor by way of embellishment. Lincoln once warned
me: "Billy, don't shoot too high--aim lower and the common people will
understand you. They are the ones you want to reach--at least they
are the ones you ought to reach. The educated and refined people will
understand you any way. If you aim too high your ideas will go over the
heads of the masses, and only hit those who need no hitting." While it
is true that from his peculiar construction Lincoln dwelt entirely in
the head and in the land of thought, and while he was physically a lazy
man, yet he was intellectually energetic; he was not only energetic, but
industrious; not only industrious, but tireless; not only tireless,
but indefatigable. Therefore if in debate with him a man stood on a
questionable foundation he might well watch whereon he stood. Lincoln
could look a long distance ahead and calculate the triumph of right.
With him justice and truth were paramount. If to him a thing seemed
untrue he could not in his nature simulate truth. His retention by a man
to defend a lawsuit did not prevent him from throwing it up in its most
critical stage if he believed he was espousing an unjust cause. This
extreme conscientiousness and disregard of the alleged sacredness of the
professional cloak robbed him of much so-called success at the bar. He
once wrote to one of our clients: "I do not think there is the least use
of doing anything more with your lawsuit. I not only do not think you
are sure to gain it, but I do think you are sure to lose it. Therefore
the sooner it ends the better."*

     * Letter to H. Keeling, Esq., March 3, 1858, MS.

Messrs. Stuart and Edwards once brought a suit against a client of ours
which involved the title to considerable property. At that time we had
only two or three terms of court, and the docket was somewhat crowded.
The plaintiff's attorneys were pressing us for a trial, and we were
equally as anxious to ward it off. What we wanted were time and a
continuance to the next term. We dared not make an affidavit for
continuance, founded on facts, because no such pertinent and material
facts as the law contemplated existed. Our case for the time seemed
hopeless. One morning, however, I accidentally overheard a remark from
Stuart indicating his fear lest a certain fact should happen to
come into our possession. I felt some relief, and at once drew up a
fictitious plea, averring as best I could the substance of the doubts I
knew existed in Stuart's mind. The plea was as skilfully drawn as I knew
how, and was framed as if we had the evidence to sustain it. The whole
thing was a sham, but so constructed as to work the desired continuance,
because I knew that Stuart and Edwards believed the facts were as I
pleaded them. This was done in the absence and without the knowledge
of Lincoln. The plea could not be demurred to, and the opposing counsel
dared not take the issue on it. It perplexed them sorely. At length,
before further steps were taken, Lincoln came into court. He looked
carefully over all the papers in the case, as was his custom, and seeing
my ingenious subterfuge, asked, "Is this seventh plea a good one?"
Proud of the exhibition of my skill, I answered that it was. "But,"
he inquired, incredulously, "is it founded on fact?" I was obliged to
respond in the negative, at the same time following up my answer with
an explanation of what I had overheard Stuart intimate, and of how these
alleged facts could be called facts if a certain construction were put
upon them. I insisted that our position was justifiable, and that our
client must have time or be ruined. I could see at once it failed to
strike Lincoln as just right. He scratched his head thoughtfully and
asked, "Hadn't we better withdraw that plea? You know it's a sham, and
a sham is very often but another name for a lie. Don't let it go on
record. The cursed thing may come staring us in the face long after this
suit has been forgotten." The plea was withdrawn. By some agency--not
our own--the case was continued and our client's interests were saved.

I only relate this incident to illustrate Lincoln's far-seeing capacity;
it serves to show how over-cautious he seemed to be with regard to how
his record might look in the future. I venture the assertion that he was
the only member of the bar in Springfield who would have taken such a
conscientious view of the matter.

One phase of Lincoln's character, almost lost sight of in the
commonly accepted belief in his humility and kindly feeling under all
circumstances, was his righteous indignation when aroused. In such cases
he was the most fearless man I ever knew. I remember a murder case in
which we appeared for the defence, and during the trial of which the
judge--a man of ability far inferior to Lincoln's--kept ruling against
us. Finally, a very material question, in fact one around which the
entire case seemed to revolve, came up, and again the Court ruled
adversely. The prosecution was jubilant, and Lincoln, seeing defeat
certain unless he recovered his ground, grew very despondent. The notion
crept into his head that the Court's rulings, which were absurd and
almost spiteful, were aimed at him, and this angered him beyond reason.
He told me of his feelings at dinner, and said: "I have determined to
crowd the Court to the wall and regain my position before night." From
that time forward it was interesting to watch him. At the reassembling
of court he arose to read a few authorities in support of his position.
In his comments he kept within the bounds of propriety just far enough
to avoid a reprimand for contempt of court.

He characterized the continued rulings against him as not only unjust
but foolish; and, figuratively speaking, he pealed the Court from
head to foot. I shall never forget the scene. Lincoln had the crowd, a
portion of the bar, and the jury with him. He knew that fact, and it,
together with the belief that injustice had been done him, nerved him
to a feeling of desperation. He was wrought up to the point of madness.
When a man of large heart and head is wrought up and mad, as the old
adage runs, "he's mad all over." Lincoln had studied up the points
involved, but knowing full well the calibre of the judge, relied mostly
on the moral effect of his personal bearing and influence. He was
alternately furious and eloquent, pursuing the Court with broad facts
and pointed inquiries in marked and rapid succession. I remember he made
use of this homely incident in illustration of some point: "In early
days a party of men went out hunting for a wild boar. But the game came
upon them unawares, and scampering away they all climbed the trees save
one, who, seizing the animal by the ears, undertook to hold him, but
despairing of success cried out to his companions in the trees, 'For
God's sake, boys, come down and help me let go.'" The prosecution
endeavored to break him down or even "head him off," but all to no
purpose. His masterly arraignment of law and facts had so effectually
badgered the judge that, strange as it may seem, he pretended to see
the error in his former position, and finally reversed his decision in
Lincoln's favor. The latter saw his triumph, and surveyed a situation of
which he was the master. His client was acquitted, and he had swept the

In the case of Parker _vs._ Hoyt, tried in the United States Court in
Chicago, Lincoln was one of the counsel for the defendant. The suit
was on the merits of an infringement of a patent water wheel. The trial
lasted several days and Lincoln manifested great interest in the case.
In his earlier days he had run, or aided in running, a saw-mill, and
explained in his argument the action of the water on the wheel in
a manner so clear and intelligible that the jury were enabled to
comprehend the points and line of defence without the least difficulty.
It was evident he had carried the jury with him in a most masterly
argument, the force of which could not be broken by the reply of the
opposing counsel. After the jury retired he became very anxious and
uneasy. The jury were in another building, the windows of which opened
on the street, and had been out for some two hours. "In passing along
the street, one of the jurors on whom we very much relied," relates
Lincoln's associate in the case,* "he being a very intelligent man and
firm in his convictions, held up to him one finger. Mr. Lincoln became
very much excited, fearing it indicated that eleven of the jury were
against him. He knew if this man was for him he would never yield his
opinion. He added, if he was like a juryman he had in Tazewell county,
the defendant was safe. He was there employed, he said, to prosecute
a suit for divorce. His client was a pretty, refined, and interesting
little woman, and in court. The defendant, her husband, was a gross,
morose, querulous, fault-finding, and uncomfortable man, and entirely
unfitted for the husband of such a woman; but although he was able
to prove the use of very offensive and vulgar epithets applied by the
husband to his wife, and all sorts of annoyances, yet there were no such
acts of personal violence as were required by the statute to justify a
divorce. Lincoln did the best he could, and appealed to the jury to have
compassion on the woman, and not to bind her to such a man and such a
life as awaited her if required to live longer with him. The jury took
about the same view of it in their deliberations. They desired to find
for his fair client, but could discover no evidence which would really
justify a verdict for her. At last they drew up a verdict for the
defendant, and all signed but one fellow, who on being approached with
the verdict said, coolly: 'Gentlemen, I am going to lie down to sleep,
and when you get ready to give a verdict for that little woman, then
wake me and not until then; for before I will give a verdict against
her I will lie here till I rot and the pismires carry me out through the
key-hole.' 'Now,' observed Lincoln, 'if that juryman will stick like
the man in Tazewell county we are safe.' Strange to relate, the jury did
come in, and with a verdict for the defendant. Lincoln always regarded
this as one of the gratifying triumphs of his professional life."

     * Grant Goodrich, letter, Nov. 9, 1866, MS.

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