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Title: Honest Abe - A Study in Integrity Based on the Early Life of Abraham Lincoln
Author: Rothschild, Alonzo
Language: English
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                      Books by Alonzo Rothschild

                             PUBLISHED BY

                       HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

     “HONEST ABE.” A Study in Integrity based on the Early Life of
     Abraham Lincoln.

     LINCOLN, MASTER OF MEN. Illustrated.



                             “HONEST ABE”

                    [Illustration: ABRAHAM LINCOLN

From a woodcut by T. Johnson after a daguerreotype owned by Mr. Robert
                              T. Lincoln]



                             “HONEST ABE”

                         A STUDY IN INTEGRITY
                      BASED ON THE EARLY LIFE OF
                            ABRAHAM LINCOLN

                                  BY

                           ALONZO ROTHSCHILD

                  AUTHOR OF “LINCOLN, MASTER OF MEN”

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                          BOSTON AND NEW YORK
                       HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
                                 1917


                  COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY META ROTHSCHILD

                          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

                      _Published September 1917_


                               IN MEMORY
                                  OF

                               “DEAREST”
                         KATHERINE ROTHSCHILD

                          TO WHOM THE AUTHOR
                          OWES NOT LESS THAN
                           LINCOLN OWED HIS
                            “ANGEL MOTHER”
                             THIS BOOK IS
                            AFFECTIONATELY
                               DEDICATED



CONTENTS


  I. PINCHING TIMES                      1

 II. TRUTH IN LAW                       41

III. PROFESSIONAL ETHICS                79

 IV. DOLLARS AND CENTS                 130

 V. HONESTY IN POLITICS                195

    ALONZO ROTHSCHILD                  283

     _Memoir by John Rothschild_

    A LIST OF BOOKS CITED              307

    NOTES                              321

    INDEX                              361



ILLUSTRATIONS


ABRAHAM LINCOLN                                            _Frontispiece_

From a woodcut by T. Johnson in the _Century Magazine_
for February, 1897, after a daguerreotype owned by Mr.
Robert T. Lincoln. It is not known when or where the
daguerreotype was taken, but it seems probable that it was
made either at St. Louis or at Washington when Lincoln
was in Congress, December, 1847,-March, 1849

_Alonzo Rothschild_                                                  285

From a photograph by Marceau, Boston



“HONEST ABE”



CHAPTER I

PINCHING TIMES


He who seeks to understand the character and achievement of Abraham
Lincoln must begin with a study of the man’s honesty. At the base of his
nature, in the tap-root and very fiber of his being, pulsed a fidelity
to truth, whether of thought or of deed, peculiar to itself. So
thoroughgoing was this characteristic that it seems to have begun in him
where in other men it generally leaves off. Politicians without number
have yielded a work-a-day obedience to the rules of honor, but there is
record of no other public leader in recent times who, among the
vicissitudes of a trying career, has endeavored to balance actions and
principles with such painstaking nicety. To trace these efforts from
Lincoln’s early years is to pass with him, pace for pace, over part of
the road that led to distinction. As we go we shall have to take account
of happenings, little as well as big; for every man is the sum of all
his parts, and in no other way may we hope to comprehend how the esteem
that began with a few rustic neighbors grew until it filled the heart of
a nation.

To what extent, if any, Lincoln inherited his uprightness of mind from
remote ancestors will probably never be known. The bare lines of the
genealogical chart afford no clues to the characters of the men and
women whose names appear there. If any of the threads spun out of their
several lives met and twined in the broad strand of blue that enriched
his, there is no way of identifying the spinners. Less obscure, though
perhaps of only passing interest, is what may be gleaned under this head
about two of Lincoln’s nearer relations. His father’s brothers, Mordecai
and Josiah, appear to have enjoyed general respect on account of their
probity. “They were excellent men,” said one who claimed to know them
intimately, “plain, moderately educated, candid in their manners and
intercourse, and looked upon as honorable as any men I have ever heard
of.”[i-1] Their younger brother Thomas, however, cannot be so readily
portrayed. He has, like his illustrious son, been, in turn, depreciated
and idealized to such a degree that the inquirer, who would reach safe
conclusions in respect to him, must tread warily through a maze of
contradictions.

Rejecting the praise as well as the blame of hearsay historians, and
following the testimony of those only who knew the man, we learn
from one that he was “honest”; from another that he “was regarded
as a very honest man”; and still another found him “always
truthful--conscientious.”[i-2] To these tributes must be added what one
who was doubly connected with Thomas Lincoln had to say about him:--

“I’m just tired of hearing Grandfather Lincoln abused,” said Mrs.
Dowling, the daughter of Dennis Hanks and Matilda Johnson, speaking to
an attentive listener, not many years ago. “Everybody runs him down.”

Then, going on to free her mind woman-fashion, she continued:--

“Uncle Abe got his honesty, and his clear notions of living, and his
kind heart from his father. Maybe the Hanks family was smarter, but some
of them couldn’t hold a candle to Grandfather Lincoln when it came to
morals. I’ve heard Grandfather Lincoln say, many a time, that he was
kind and loving, and kept his word, and always paid his way, and never
turned a dog from his door.”[i-3]

These qualities, so admirable in Thomas, were not lacking, it should be
mentioned, in that particular member of “the Hanks family,” his cousin
Nancy, with whom he mated.[i-4] She is said to have brought to the rude
Kentucky cabin, in which they began their married life, a sweetness of
spirit and a firmness of character that nicely supplemented his rugged
integrity. Yet here again traditions are more plentiful than facts, and
the repute of the little family, in those early days, so far as it
affords a point of departure for the study of Abraham Lincoln’s
straightforwardness, rests, in a manner, on the word of one neighbor,--a
man of standing, however,--according to whom “they were poor,” but “they
were true.”[i-5]

The poverty of the frontier, it has been said, is no poverty; but the
Lincolns were poor almost to a proverb. Their condition appears to have
been extreme, even for the primitive Kentucky settlement at
Elizabethtown where they made their first home. The young husband was a
carpenter by trade, but his new neighbors, with the self-reliance of
pioneers, managed to do for themselves most of the work wherewith he had
hoped to support his family. Its needs grew with the birth of a little
daughter, but not its resources, which he presently sought to eke out by
farming. The hut in Elizabethtown was abandoned for another hut and a
piece of tillable land that Thomas had bought,--presumably on
credit,--about fourteen miles away, near the Big South Fork of Nolin
Creek.[i-6] There, in the following winter, was born the boy who became
known to fame as Abraham Lincoln. He must have felt at an early age the
tooth of the “stinted living” in those “pinching times,” to which,
during later life, he once sadly referred; for his father did not
prosper with the hoe, any more than he had with the hammer. After a few
unfruitful years on Nolin Creek, Thomas relinquished the place for a
better farm, in the Knob Creek region, about fifteen miles distant,
acquired like its predecessor on easy terms. Yet the fortunes of the
family did not mend. Its luckless head “was always lookin’,” as Cousin
Dennis said, “fur the land o’ Canaan.” To his pioneer’s vision the There
ever seemed fairer than the Here. So removal followed removal,--now in
Kentucky, then into Indiana, and again into Illinois,--until, to borrow
one of Abraham’s little stories, the chickens, if there were any, might
have lain on their backs and crossed their legs to be tied, whenever
they saw the wagon sheets brought out.[i-7]

Thomas Lincoln’s futile shifts need not be set forth at length
here,[i-8] but certain aspects of his inability to get on in the world
have a peculiar significance. He responded with ready good nature to
calls upon his time or his hospitality; and though he appears to have
understood many things, he never learned how to turn his dealings with
the little world around him to his own account. The few business
ventures, in which he is said to have engaged, reveal how woefully he
was lacking in what has been called “money sense.” A typical instance,
related by his son many years after the event, may have suggested to the
narrator that there were at least two members of the Lincoln family who
had each a blind side in the direction of the almighty dollar. Here is
the story substantially as Abraham related it:--

“Father often told me of the trick that was played upon him by a ‘pair
of sharpers.’ It was the year before we moved from Kentucky to Indiana
that father concluded to take a load of pork down to New Orleans. He had
a considerable amount of his own, and he bargained with the relations
and neighbors for their pork, so that altogether he had quite a load. He
took the pork to the Ohio River on a clumsily constructed flat-boat of
his own make. Almost as soon as he pushed out into the river a couple of
sleek fellows bargained with him for his cargo, and promised to meet him
in New Orleans where they arranged to pay him the price agreed upon. He
eagerly accepted the offer, transferred the cargo to the strangers, and
drifted down the river, his head filled with visions of wealth and
delight. He thought that he was going to accomplish what he had set out
to do, without labor or inconvenience. Father waited about New Orleans
for several days, but failed to meet his whilom friends. At last it
dawned upon him that he had been sold, and all that he could do was to
come back home and face the music.”[i-9]

Consoling himself after such mishaps with the indolent philosophy of
“Luck is ag’in’ me,” and “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,” Thomas
would return to his sporadic farming, or to what he liked better--his
rod and his gun. For there is a tradition that this unthrifty
fellow--honest and well-meaning though he was--had a distaste for manual
labor. When work had to be done he did it, after a fashion, nor did he
spare the boy who was growing up at his side; but further than that he
apparently did not go. Indeed, it may be doubted whether the father ever
found, along their limited horizon, the path which might have led either
him or his son to business success. They certainly did not enter upon
it. Yet if Thomas Lincoln failed to teach Abraham how to put money in
their purse, let it be remembered, to his lasting credit, that he did
show him how an empty sack might--despite a time-honored adage to the
contrary--stand upright.

Noteworthy as was the father’s influence on the boy’s character, that of
the mother appears to have been of deeper consequence. Lincoln’s
earliest recollections of her, as he recalled in later years, pictured
his sister and himself seated at her feet eagerly listening to the
books that she read or the tales that she told. The poor lady succumbed
early to the hardships of the Indiana backwoods; and the few facts that
are known concerning her brief life set forth but a meager story.[i-10]
If “the world knows nothing of its greatest men,” may this not be so, in
a measure, because it knows nothing of their mothers? The deficiency, as
far as Nancy Hanks is concerned, was supplied, for all time, in perhaps
the most pithy yet comprehensive tribute that a distinguished son ever
uttered to the memory of a parent. Looking down over his career from the
last eminence, and tracing it all back again to the frail, sweet-faced
woman whose life had flickered out before his wondering gaze, in the
cabin home of his boyhood, Lincoln once said, with moist eyes: “All that
I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”[i-11]

When she passed on, the lad, it is true, was not quite eleven years old;
nevertheless her teachings, during that first plastic period, had
evidently left their sterling impress in his nature.

Nor did the home influence for right living stop there. After an
interval of about a year, Thomas sought another mate. Leaving the little
ones to manage the household on Little Pigeon Creek as best they might,
he retraced his steps to Elizabethtown and offered himself in marriage
to Mrs. Sarah Bush Johnston. She is said to have refused him, in their
younger days, for Daniel Johnston, who, by a coincidence, had left her a
widow with as many children as waited for her visitor at home.[i-12] On
this occasion the lady listened more favorably to his proposal, yet she
pointed out an obstacle, saying: “Tommy Lincoln, I have no objection to
marrying you, but I cannot do it right off, for I owe several little
debts which must first be paid.” To which he replied: “Give me a list of
your debts.”

They amounted to about twelve dollars--not so mean a sum in those days
of small things as present standards might indicate. At any rate, within
a few hours our suitor had paid them, and had married the fair debtor.
The settlement of these little accounts was, in a way, the central
incident of their short courtship.[i-13] It puts one in mind of the good
repute enjoyed by the Lincolns, from the beginning, in Elizabethtown. If
the neighbor, who declared Thomas and his first wife to have been poor
but true, had seen him and his second wife set out for home in a
four-horse wagon loaded with her wealth of household belongings,--to say
nothing of the three blooming Johnston children,--there might have been
some hesitation about repeating the word “poor”; but in the face of
those receipted bills, there would probably have been no desire to
modify the word “true.”[i-14]

Sally Bush was a worthy successor to Nancy Hanks. A woman of strong
personality and high ideals, this stepmother--to use a designation that
she ennobled--is credited by not a few writers with exerting the larger
influence in the moulding of Abraham Lincoln’s character. They have gone
so far, some of them, as to assert that Lincoln himself, recognizing
this to be so, had her in mind and not her predecessor, when he uttered
that grateful acknowledgment to his “angel mother.”[i-15] This view is
hardly sustained by the language of the tribute, or by the facts; yet
Abraham apparently missed no opportunity for expressing in deeds, as
well as in words, what--to use his own phrases--he owed the “noble
woman” who had been “a good and kind mother”[i-16] to an orphaned boy.

Perhaps, after all, the controversy concerning the two women, if
controversy it may be called, is fairly disposed of by what Mr. Lincoln
told one of his acquaintances, Governor William Pickering, who some
years later thus restated their conversation. “Once when Lincoln
referred to the fact that he owed much to his mother, I asked, ‘Which
mother, Mr. Lincoln, your own or your stepmother?’ To which Mr. Lincoln
replied,--‘Don’t ask me that question, for I mean both, as it was mother
all my life, except that desolate period between the time mother died
and father brought mother into the home again. Both were as one mother.
Hence I simply say, mother.’”[i-17]

With one or the other of these conscientious women at his side, Abraham
Lincoln reached maturity. Almost every good man has had a good mother.
Here was one who had two. It is not surprising, therefore, that his
sense of right and wrong, after a few minor lapses, became developed to
uncommon acuteness at an early age, nor should it be accounted a miracle
that from the unsightly stumpage of a frontier clearing, emerged this
blossom which grew, with time, into the finest flower of
nineteenth-century honor.

Lincoln was brought up on the breast of things. The rugged actualities
of life in a new country, rather than the literature about life, entered
into his training; and when we name those colleges to which the world’s
great lights have severally owed their education, this man must be
credited to the most venerable, though perhaps least honored, among them
all,--the academy of hard knocks. Let us not infer, however, that the
back settlements in which he spent his youth were wholly beyond the
field of letters. Attending “A B C schools by littles,” as the
autobiography expresses it, and learning betimes how to read, the lad
lost no opportunity to borrow or acquire the few books within his reach.
Under the stimulation of first one mother, then the other, every volume
that he could lay hold of for fifty miles around was eagerly studied.
What this shifting library comprised will doubtless never be fully
known. It is said to have included--besides certain elementary
school-books[i-18]--the Bible, Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress,” Æsop’s
“Fables,” the “Arabian Nights,” Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe,” Weems’s “Life
of Washington,” Ramsay’s “Life of Washington,” a history of the United
States, Weems’s “Life of Marion,” the “Speeches of Henry Clay,” with
which was probably incorporated a “Memoir” of the statesman, the “Life
of Benjamin Franklin,” Riley’s “Narrative of the Loss of the Brig
Commerce,” a few of Cooper’s “Leather Stocking Tales,” and the Revised
Laws of Indiana, with which were bound, besides other documents, the
Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United
States.[i-19] Some of these works, if not all of them, left an ethical
glow in the boy’s heart. Thoughtfully absorbing the light that streamed
from their pages, he caught glimpses here and there of a kinship that
linked the everyday doings in his commonplace world with the ideals in
his books.

A mishap to one of the borrowed volumes put these budding ideas of
rectitude to the test. While in Abraham’s keeping, a “Life of
Washington”[i-20] that belonged to a neighbor, Josiah Crawford by name,
was badly soaked one night during a rainstorm, which beat through the
chinks of the Little Pigeon Creek cabin. Carrying the damaged book back
to its owner, the boy acknowledged himself answerable for its
condition;--but how was he to pay the seventy-five cents which Crawford
demanded in settlement? Money was as scarce as literature at that time
with young Lincoln, so he agreed to work out the claim in the farmer’s
corn-field. “You see,” said Abraham, relating the incident to a friend,
“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.”[i-21] This ample submission to the laws of mine and thine
was not, however, so graceful as it might have been. Our “long-armed”
boy appears to have been still far removed from sainthood in those days;
and, after the manner of boys, he nursed a grudge against Crawford for
his unneighborly, though perhaps rightful, treatment of the accident.
Having satisfied that thrifty person’s demands with the Scriptural “good
measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over,”
Abraham--so tradition has it--lampooned the man whenever occasion
offered,--now in humorous prose, now in doggerel rhymes,--until Josiah’s
“blue nose,” as well as certain other unlovely features, became the
laughing-stock of the neighborhood. Indeed, the gibes ran their merry
course--if we may believe one veracious chronicler--all the way to “the
Wabash and the Ohio.”[i-22]

This unseemly persecution of Crawford, on the heels of an honorable
settlement with him, narrowly saved the youthful Lincoln from occupying
a place in the world’s gallery of premature worthies beside the
copper-plate little Washington portrayed by Parson Weems. Nevertheless,
that myth-maker’s model boy, who could not tell a lie, had left a deep
impression in the mind of this real boy. To Abe’s uncritical faculties
the biography rang true in every detail. For its reverend author, with
all his faults, had the literary merit of apparent sincerity; and his
string of “curious anecdotes,” as the title-page called them, had not
yet been worn threadbare, to the verge of the ridiculous, by derisive
repetition. Weems’s Washington, boy and man, became Lincoln’s hero--a
cherished ideal which he never consented to modify, even after he had
outgrown the story of the cherry tree and that truthful little
hatchet-swinger.

Emulating the great Virginian, Abe carried himself, now consciously, now
unconsciously, as this paragon of his fancy might have done, even to
the point of leaving a hatchet, or more accurately speaking, an axe
anecdote for later generations to admire. During those toilsome Indiana
days,--so runs our tale,--the youth was engaged in clearing a piece of
woodland some distance from the house. Leaving home early, he made it a
practice to carry some luncheon and stay away until nightfall. The
picnic element in the expedition appealed to the taste of his frolicsome
stepsister, Matilda, whose frequent appeals for permission to accompany
him met with her mother’s peremptory refusals. Eluding maternal
vigilance one morning, the girl slyly followed Lincoln as he strode
through the forest, humming a tune, with his axe on his shoulder. At a
favorable moment she darted forward and, exerting cat-like agility,
leaped squarely upon him. Grasping a shoulder with each hand, she braced
her knee in the middle of his back, and brought the young woodsman
dexterously to the ground. Lincoln, taken by surprise, went down like a
log, carrying his assailant with him. As they fell the axe cut the
girl’s ankle, making a painful wound that bled freely. After an
improvised bandage had stanched the blood, Abe, mindful of Mrs.
Lincoln’s oft-repeated orders, looked down at the sobbing culprit and
asked:--

“‘Tilda, what are you going to tell mother about getting hurt?”

“Tell her I did it with the axe,” she answered. “That will be the truth,
won’t it?”

To which he 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.”[i-23]

Whether ’Tilda did tell “the whole truth,” and whether Sally Bush
gathered her or Abraham or both of them to her heart, after the manner
of Augustine Washington in the Reverend Mr. Weems’s tale, is not
definitely known. Nevertheless, when the Plutarch that is to be runs his
parallel between these two greatest of Americans, the legendary hatchet
and the historic axe may become symbolic of how closely both these
heroes did actually hew to the line, in their early fondness for the
verities.

But if further youthful similarities shall be sought by that
hypothetical biographer, he will not linger over the next episode in
this chronicle of Lincoln’s moral growth. Abe had passed his nineteenth
birthday when “the great man” of the Little Pigeon Creek neighborhood,
old James Gentry, picked him out for a signal mark of confidence. That
gentleman’s son, Allen, was to make a trading voyage in a Mississippi
flat-boat laden with goods, and Lincoln was hired to share the
adventure. They planned to do business along the river all the way, if
necessary, to the Gulf. Drifting down the Ohio and thence on the broad
waters of the Mississippi as far as New Orleans, the young men made a
prosperous, though not entirely uneventful journey. Only one incident of
the expedition concerns us here. At certain landings they were paid for
their merchandise--as they discovered too late--in counterfeit money.
Gentry, lamenting over the matter, feared his father’s anger; whereupon
Lincoln consoled him with the suggestion that their employer would not
care how much bad money they took in, if they brought the correct amount
of good money home. “Never mind, Allen,” he continued; “it will
accidentally slip out of our fingers before we get to New Orleans, and
then old Jim can’t quarrel at us.”[i-24] This prophecy did, in fact,
come true. The counterfeits, we are told, “all went off like hot cakes”;
but to what extent the prophet helped to bring about so sweeping a
fulfillment is nowhere recorded. When he and his associates, however, on
their return, rendered an account of their stewardship in currency that
was not hopelessly discredited, old Mr. Gentry is said to have
pronounced on Lincoln what corresponded with the Scriptural
commendation,--“Well done, good and faithful servant.”

In this approval the candid historian cannot concur, yet he hesitates to
condemn. The demoralized condition of our currency throughout the
Mississippi Valley for over half a century, the bewildering variety of
counterfeit bills, to say nothing of wildcat notes, in circulation, and
the scarcity of good money, left people small choice but to accept at
varying discounts--unless too obviously spurious--what they were
offered, and pass it along again with as little loss as possible.[i-25]
One aspect of the trouble was later humorously set forth by Lincoln
himself, in his story of the steamboat captain who, running short of
fuel on the river, steered to a woodpile alongshore.

“Is that your wood?” he inquired of a man near by.

“Yes,” was the answer.

“Do you want to sell it?”

“Certainly.”

“Will you accept wildcat currency?”

“Certainly.”

“How will you take it?”

“Cord for cord.”[i-26]

The passing of depreciated or fraudulent currency, in the ordinary
course of business, was evidently not regarded, during those days of
loose financiering, with the severity of more recent times.[i-27]
Indeed, after Lincoln had become a lawyer, though the clients that
offered themselves were accepted or rejected with scrupulous
discrimination, he on one occasion employed his wit and ability to
secure the acquittal of a man charged, under suspicious circumstances,
with passing counterfeit money. “There was a pretty clear case against
the accused,” said Adlai E. Stevenson, who attended the trial, “but when
the chief witness for the people took the stand, he stated that his name
was J. Parker Green, and Lincoln reverted to this the moment he rose to
cross-examine:--Why J. Parker Green?--What did the J. stand
for?--John?--Well, why didn’t the witness call himself John P.
Green?--That was his name, wasn’t it?--Well, what was the reason he did
not wish to be known by his right name?--Did J. Parker Green have
anything to conceal; and if not, why did J. Parker Green part his name
in that way?--and so on. Of course the whole examination was farcical,”
Mr. Stevenson continued, “but there was something irresistibly funny in
the varying tones and inflections of Mr. Lincoln’s voice as he rang the
changes upon the man’s name; and at the recess the very boys in the
street took it up as a slogan, and shouted, ‘J. Parker Green!’ all over
the town. Moreover, there was something in Lincoln’s way of intoning his
questions which made me suspicious of the witness, and to this day I
have never been able to rid my mind of the absurd impression that there
was something not quite right about J. Parker Green. It was all
nonsense, of course; but the jury must have been affected as I was, for
Green was discredited, and the defendant went free.”[i-28] Perhaps, too,
some of the twelve good men and true, like the highly respected counsel
for the defense, could have severally recalled times when the exigencies
of trade had wafted into their hands worthless bank-bills that, somehow,
did not remain there.

Be that as it may, much water, in the language of the old byword, was to
flow down the Mississippi River before this clever attorney evolved from
the gawky young bow-hand on Gentry’s flat-boat. Another trading voyage
to New Orleans in the spring of 1831, shortly after he had begun life on
his own account, appears to have been as successful as the first one.
The crew comprised Lincoln, his stepbrother John D. Johnston, and his
cousin John Hanks, who accompanied them, however, but part way, leaving
the responsibility of the undertaking largely on Abraham’s shoulders.
Their employer, Denton Offutt, a breezy speculator,--free-handed,
optimistic, and given to superlatives,--conceived a warm admiration for
Abe. The young fellow certainly conducted himself well. His manly
qualities, his muscular powers, his unfailing good humor, his
resourcefulness on certain trying occasions, his fidelity to the trust
reposed in him, above all, his integrity, made so strong an impression
on Offutt that at the termination of the voyage he established a general
store at New Salem,[i-29] and placed Lincoln in charge of it with the
assertion that this model clerk had not his equal in the United States.

Offutt’s extravagant praise was, it is perhaps needless to say, not
wholly merited. A keener merchant might have hesitated to entrust the
management of his business, and of the neighboring mill that was
presently merged with the enterprise, to a young man of Lincoln’s
peculiar make-up. Abe had, it is true, learned something of storekeeping
during the old Gentryville days, in the grocery of his friend William
Jones; and a small stock of goods purchased there, when the Lincoln
family moved from Indiana to Illinois, had been profitably peddled, on
the way. Moreover, those trading trips to New Orleans had doubtless
contributed somewhat to his commercial training; but no amount of
experience could make a successful business man of one so lacking, as
was Tom Lincoln’s son, in aptitude for hiving the nimble sixpence. How
not to do so appears, in a sense, to have concerned him more. Yet the
scrupulous care with which he shut Offutt’s till against the sixpences
that did not belong there would, had it been combined with mercantile
ability, probably in the end have made the young clerk’s fortune. His
honesty became a by-word.

Two typical instances of uprightness in small things especially
impressed themselves on the memory of the neighborhood. It is said that
once, having sold a woman a bill of goods, he found after her departure
that she had paid six and a quarter cents more than the purchases
amounted to. When the store was closed at night, so the story goes, he
walked several miles into the country to give his customer the fourpenny
piece which balanced her over-payment. Here again Lincoln’s punctilious
honesty recalls that of Washington. It is related that a ferryman on the
General’s estate, in making change for a moidore, took out one and a
half pence too much. Discovering the over-charge when the accounts for
the week were made up, Washington wrapped three halfpence in a piece of
paper, and had them delivered to the traveler on his return.[i-30]

The other anecdote concerning Lincoln, that belongs in this group, tells
how one night, just before closing time, he hastily weighed, as he
thought, half a pound of tea for a belated customer. Looking at the
scales on the following morning, he discovered that a weight of four
ounces, instead of eight, had been used. To wrap up another quarter of a
pound of tea, close the store again, and deliver his parcel at the end
of a long walk before breakfast, was the only method of repairing the
error that presented itself to this primitive conscience.

The young clerk’s ethical creed during those New Salem days seems simple
enough. It has been preserved by a friend, who thus restates what he
gathered, under this head, in the course of conversation:

“Lincoln said he did not believe in total depravity, and, although it
was not popular to believe it, it was easier to do right than wrong;
that the first thought was: what was right? and the second: what was
wrong? Therefore it was easier to do right than wrong, and easier to
take care of, as it would take care of itself. It took an effort to do
wrong, and a still greater effort to take care of it. But do right and
it would take care of itself. Then you had nothing to do but to go ahead
and do right and nothing to trouble you.”[i-31]

Out of this philosophy developed--to borrow a cynical phrase--the acute
attacks of chronic integrity that attracted particular attention to
Lincoln, even in the midst of an honest, plain-dealing community. The
rude people around him, for the most part, led upright lives, and they
expected others to do likewise; yet his efforts to treat every man with
fairness were so pronounced as to evoke frequent comment among them.
Their talk crystallized, at last, in the sobriquet, “Honest Abe.” This
name, having been generally adopted throughout the New Salem vicinage,
fitted Lincoln so nicely that it clung to him, with slight variations,
in one form or another, until the end of his career.

Meanwhile Offutt did not prosper. He appears to have had too many irons
in the fire, and one of them, as we know, was under the care of a man
who had no particular talent for keeping irons, or anything else, at a
money-making glow. Neither the honesty nor the popularity of this
clerk--for the young fellow had gained the good-will of their
customers--sufficed to save the store from the general ruin in which
the owner’s several ventures became involved. Failure overtook the new
business before the end of its first year. As the place is sold out,
Offutt disappears from historic view; while Lincoln steps nearer to the
lime-light for a brief but bloodless essay at soldiering in the Black
Hawk War. Returning to New Salem upon the conclusion of the campaign, he
made an unsuccessful canvass, on a National Republican platform, for
election to the State Legislature. Then “without means and out of
business,” as he himself expressed it, but “anxious to remain with his
friends,” Lincoln looked about him for something to do. Stalwart of
frame, with well-knit muscles, he naturally came to the thought of again
earning a living by manual labor. The blacksmith’s trade, which several
of his forbears had creditably followed, was, for a time, seriously
considered. It had, in fact, almost been decided on, when two of those
new-found friends, the Herndon brothers, familiarly known as “Row” and
“Jim,” offered their general store for sale. James sold his interest to
William F. Berry, the son of a neighboring Presbyterian minister, and
Rowan soon after disposed of his share to Lincoln, receiving in lieu of
money “Honest Abe’s” promise to pay. When “Row” was asked how he came to
make such liberal terms with a penniless man whom he had known for so
short a time, he answered: “I believed he was thoroughly honest, 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.”[i-32]

Herndon was not the only New Salemite who was willing to transfer his
business, after this fashion, for a promissory note. Soon after the
transaction, a neighboring storekeeper, Reuben Radford by name, incurred
the displeasure of a local gang, “the Clary’s Grove boys,” to such an
extent that they made a riotous night of it in his place. On the
following morning, standing discouraged amid the débris of the
establishment, Radford sold it to the first comer, William G. Greene, a
youth who had been a sort of junior clerk in the Offutt store. As the
purchaser could not pay in cash the four hundred dollars agreed upon, he
gave his note. Then, growing nervous over the transaction, he turned for
comfort to his former associate. Lincoln said: “Cheer up, Billy. It’s a
good thing. We’ll take an inventory.”

They found that the flotsam and jetsam which had survived the storm,
amounted in value to $1200. Whereupon Berry and Lincoln offered Greene a
substantial profit on his bargain. This the young man eagerly accepted,
with the stipulation that the firm should assume his indebtedness to
Radford. There was a little more shuffling of notes, and the goods
passed into the hands of Berry and Lincoln.[i-33] They shortly
afterwards, in presumably the same manner, absorbed a small business
owned by James Rutledge. Combining these three stocks,--all acquired by
a few strokes of the pen,--Lincoln and his partner now had what the
junior member later ironically referred to as “_the_ store” of New
Salem.

Despite its virtual monopoly along certain lines, the new firm was
ill-adapted to succeed. Berry soon developed habits of idleness and
intemperance that would have been fatal to any business;[i-34] while
Lincoln, though ambitious and sober to an exceptional degree, was hardly
more effective. His keen interest in books, study, newspapers, politics,
funny stories, horse-races, wrestling-matches, feats of
strength,--anything, in short, but buying and selling,--left him far
from alert to what is commonly called the main chance. When one
remembers these pursuits, moreover, to have been the preoccupations of a
man who combined rigid integrity with a kindly nature, it is not
surprising to learn, as Cousin Dennis relates, that “he purty nigh
always got the wust of a trade.”[i-35] The rest is soon told. Berry and
Lincoln did not thrive. Giving up the struggle after several ineffectual
shifts, they sold out, early in 1834, to Alexander and William Trent.
The purchasers had no money, but they willingly gave notes, which the
sellers as willingly accepted. Before these obligations fell due,
however, the Trent brothers had disappeared, their few remaining goods
had been seized by creditors, and the business had come to an inglorious
close.

Berry’s death, soon after, left the surviving member of the firm to
face, alone, the consequences of their ill-starred venture. Yet he could
not bring himself to join in the censure which was heaped upon the young
man’s memory. With characteristic consideration for his partner’s
father, the Reverend John M. Berry, whom he held in affectionate
regard, Lincoln declared that William’s dissipation was a result rather
than a cause of their misfortunes; and took on his own shoulders the
burden of liabilities bound up in those unpaid notes to Herndon,
Radford, Greene, and Rutledge.

How serious the whole affair was may be gathered from this account of
it, given by the hapless debtor to a friend[i-36] of later days: “That
debt was the greatest obstacle I have ever met in life. I had no way of
speculating, and could not earn money except by labor, and to earn by
labor eleven hundred dollars, besides my living, seemed the work of a
lifetime. There was, however, but one way. I went to the creditors and
told them that if they would let me alone, I would give them all I could
earn, over my living, as fast as I could earn it.”[i-37]

During the next few months no surplus, it is perhaps needless to add,
was available for this purpose. In fact, the situation reduced itself to
a struggle for bread. Lincoln’s earnings from the office of local
postmaster, to which he had been appointed before the above “winked
out,” were of course meager in the extreme; but he contrived to pick up
a living by doing odd jobs about the neighborhood. Helping his
friends--now Hill, now Ellis--behind their counters, working in the
field as a farm laborer, splitting rails, lending a hand at the
mill,--briefly, making himself useful on all sides, in his big,
good-natured way, he just “kept,” to quote the autobiography, “soul and
body together.”[i-38]

Throughout this trying period, however, Lincoln did not lose sight of
his self-respect, or of the respect due to him from others. He began to
manifest that sensitive chastity of honor which recoils from doubt as
from a blow. So, when a patron of the post-office, upon payment of
certain arrears demanded an acknowledgment, “A. Lincoln, P.M.,”
responded: “I am somewhat surprised at your request. I will, however,
comply with it. The law requires newspaper postage to be paid in
advance, and now that I have waited a full year, you choose to wound my
feelings by insinuating that unless you get a receipt I will probably
make you pay it again.”[i-39]

The reputation for honesty, which Lincoln so jealously guarded, had
meanwhile opened to him another channel for occasional employment. This
opportunity came through John Calhoun, the surveyor of Sangamon County,
who, overburdened with business, was looking about for an assistant of
intelligence and unquestioned integrity. The latter qualification
appears to have been especially important at the time, owing to a mania
for speculation in land that had possessed the people of the region to
such a degree as almost to put a premium on jobbery. A man beyond the
reach of corruption was, therefore, what Calhoun sought when he offered
to make Abraham Lincoln one of his deputies. The honor must have been
not less flattering to the young National Republican, because it came,
as had the postmastership, from a Democratic source, and with the
assurance that his acceptance carried with it no obligation of party
service, nor restraint upon his freedom of political action. To
Lincoln’s declaration that he knew nothing whatever about surveying,
Calhoun responded with an offer to aid him. Books and material having
been procured, six weeks of earnest study ensued. For assistance in
learning the theory of the subject, Lincoln turned to his friend, Mentor
Graham, the local schoolmaster; for guidance in the practical
application of the rules, he depended on the surveyor himself. When the
period of preparation had reached its close, the new-fledged deputy is
said to have made his pathetic little speech: “Calhoun, I am entirely
unable to repay you for your generosity, at present. All that I have you
see on me, except a quarter of a dollar, in my pocket.”[i-40]

Such extreme poverty left Lincoln, of course, unable to pay cash for the
saddle-horse that his new duties obliged him to buy. He agreed to take
care of the bill by installments; he did so, but ran behind when only
ten dollars remained unpaid. Whereupon his creditor, a horse-dealer
named Thomas Watkins, who is described as “a high-strung man,” lost his
temper and sued for what was still due. Lincoln did not deny the debt.
He hastily raised the required sum and settled the suit.

A still more unpleasant experience followed, for the young surveyor was
destined to drain his cup of mortification to its dregs. One of the
Berry-Lincoln notes had passed into the hands of a certain Van Bergen,
who forthwith brought suit and obtained judgment. Levying on the horse,
saddle, and surveying instruments, he offered them for sale in
satisfaction of his claim. But Lincoln’s loyal friends were not disposed
to stand idly by while he was deprived of the means of earning a
livelihood. They bought the effects that had been seized, restored them
to their former owner, and took the place of the impatient Van Bergen
among his creditors.[i-41] The loans, so handsomely made, were in time
repaid by Lincoln, principal and interest, as were all the obligations
left in the train of his unfortunate business ventures. Disdaining to
take advantage of a recently enacted law for the relief of insolvent
debtors, he set himself resolutely to the task of seeing to it that no
man should lose a penny by reason of any note which contained his
signature. Yet the prospect might have appalled a stouter heart. At
times, when the seeming hopelessness of the undertaking was borne in
upon him, he referred to what was still to be paid, with whimsical
humor, as “the national debt.” How long the process of liquidation did,
in fact, take is not precisely known. Lincoln’s occasional payments on
account of these claims would doubtless have made a braver showing had
the only other demands upon him been for his own simple wants; but, in
addition to such outlays, the frequent aid extended to his parents, and
the requirements, after his marriage, of a growing family, all had to
come out of earnings that never, at their best, were munificent.
Nevertheless, through good times and bad, the load of indebtedness
became steadily lighter, until, after seventeen years or more of
self-denial, the last note, with its heavy accumulations of interest,
was paid.[i-42]

A less scrupulous man than Abraham Lincoln might have appreciably
shortened this debt-bound period from the very beginning. As deputy
surveyor under John Calhoun, and later, under that officer’s successor,
Thomas M. Neale, he doubtless had opportunities enough for employing his
knowledge of what was going on, together with his still unimpaired
credit, in profitable land speculations. But he could not bring himself
to mingle the pursuit of private gain with public duties; and he scorned
to use, on his own account, information derived from official
sources.[i-43] The same conscientious spirit so manifestly entered into
the doing of the work itself that he soon gained the confidence of those
who employed him. They believed in the young surveyor’s accuracy, as
well as in his fairness, to such an extent that disputes concerning
boundaries or corners were frequently submitted to him for arbitration;
and, what is of greater moment, his findings, we are told, were
invariably accepted by the conflicting parties as final. A quarrel of
this nature, about a corner, took place in the northern part of the
county. “After a good deal of disputing,” relates one of the owners, “we
agreed to send for Lincoln, and to abide by his decision. He came with
compass, flagstaff, 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 well had the work been done that in this instance, as in the
others, differences were at an end, and all concerned “went away
completely satisfied.”[i-44]

There is another aspect of Lincoln’s early life that should not be
overlooked. He was apparently never too busy for the contests of
strength and skill from which came some of his first sweet triumphs in
leadership. That these were won, for the most part, with ease must have
made defeat, when it did on rare occasions occur, peculiarly hard to
bear; yet he carried himself, according to all accounts,--whether victor
or vanquished,--as a man of honor should. In fact, save for a single
untoward act which must be charged to the hobbledehoy exuberance of his
youthful Indiana days,[i-45] Lincoln treated whatever happened at these
sports with the same extreme candor and nicety of good faith that marked
his business dealings. Perhaps the most notable instance is that of a
certain wrestling-match which took place during the Black Hawk War. At
the risk of telling a twice-told tale, the story is repeated here,--told
anew rather than repeated, for the later researches of an Illinois
historian have contributed not a few additional details.[i-46] They
reveal Lincoln in the full flower of sportsmanlike honesty.

Having been elected Captain of the Volunteers from Sangamon County, he
was ever ready to uphold the credit of his company in the rough pastimes
whereby the soldiers sought to relieve the tedium of that peculiar
campaign. Proud of their leader’s exploits, especially as a wrestler,
they boasted that no man in the army could throw him; and he, at the
same time, owed much of his ascendancy over their undisciplined natures
to the uniform success with which he downed all comers. But Antæus
himself met his match at last.

One evening on the march, our phalanx from Sangamon happened upon a
choice piece of camping-ground at about the time it was reached by a
company from St. Clair County. In the altercations which ensued a
disgraceful scuffle seemed imminent, when Lincoln proposed to William
Moore, the opposing commander, that they might settle their dispute
after the good old-fashioned method of single combat--captain against
captain. This suggestion met with a modified approval. As the officer
from St. Clair had no skill in wrestling, it was agreed that each
company should be represented by its stoutest champion. Accordingly,
Lincoln soon stood within a circle of excited men, facing a redoubtable
athlete from southern Illinois, in the person of private Lorenzo Dow
Thompson. Both combatants had won the confidence of their respective
friends, who hastened to back their faith with bets, eagerly offered and
as eagerly accepted. Nor were the gathering crowds of soldiers from
other companies slow to gratify their sporting tastes. “Up went
powder-horns, guns, watches, coats, horses, pay-rolls, and reputations
until,”--so runs the chronicle,--“there remained not one solitary
article of property in possession or expectancy thereof, which had not
been put into the pot on that match.” The referee, Captain Moore’s
brother Jonathan, announced, as he tossed up a coin for choice of
“holts,” that two falls in three would decide the match; and the men
grappled.

It did not take Lincoln long to discover that his record was in danger.
Calling to his friends, with characteristic frankness, he managed to
say: “This is the most powerful man I ever had hold of. He will throw me
and you will lose your all, unless I act on the defensive.”

Yet Thompson was too quick for him. All of Lincoln’s extraordinary
strength did not avail against the St. Clair man’s skill, and in a few
moments the pride of New Salem measured his six feet four inches on the
ground--fairly thrown. Their second round did not differ widely from the
first. After attempting his favorite devices in vain, the tall captain
again went to earth, this time, however, pulling his antagonist down on
top of him.

“Dog fall!” shouted Lincoln’s supporters, seizing on a pretext for
dispute.

“Fair fall!” defiantly retorted the others.

A general fight--and a serious one at that--seemed inevitable, when
Lincoln springing to his feet averted, for the second time in this
affair, a scene of bloodshed.

“Boys,” he cried, “give up your bets; if he has not thrown me fairly, he
could.”[i-47]

This frank admission put an end to all hopes of further resistance. The
“boys” reluctantly obeyed, and Captain Moore’s followers took possession
of their captured bivouac, laden with the spoils of victory.[i-48]

But were they the only victors? Marshaling the several elements which
went to make up this little drama, recalling what defeat meant to the
Sangamon chief, and how easy it might have been for him to hide his
discomfiture under cover of the mêlée which he had prevented, thoughtful
readers will perhaps agree that the true hero of the episode--all things
considered--did not rest that night in the camp of the St. Clair
rangers.[i-49]

Virile men, rude and cultured alike, admire a winner; but how their
hearts go out to him who can lose or win with equal grace! So it was in
Lincoln’s case. During what might be called his New Salem period, he
became the central figure of those occasional little gatherings at which
the settlers sought to amuse themselves. They made him preside over
horse-races, wrestling-matches, athletic games, and what not. Indeed,
even cock-fights seemed incomplete if he was missing from the judge’s
corner. Expert knowledge of these pastimes, applied with tact, good
nature, and ready wit, went far to make his decisions acceptable, even
had they not been pronounced by a muscular giant, who could always be
relied on to enforce compliance. More noteworthy, however, than all
other circumstances was the abiding faith of this entire community in
the young man’s squareness. Said one old resident, reviving precious
memories: “In the spring or summer of 1832, I had a horse-race with
George Warburton. I got Lincoln, who was at the race, to be a judge of
the race, much against his will, and after hard persuasion. Lincoln
decided correctly, and the other judge said, ‘Lincoln is the fairest
man I ever had to deal with. If Lincoln is in this county when I die, I
want him to be my administrator, for he is the only man I ever met with
that was wholly and unselfishly honest.’”[i-50]

As might have been expected, this talent for holding the scales with a
steady hand brought more serious duties. When arrangements were made,
from time to time, in approved frontier fashion, for the fist-fights
whereby these backwoodsmen sought to adjust their irreconcilable
differences, Lincoln, if not called upon to second one of the
principals, was usually named by both as referee. Such functions are, in
the nature of things, difficult to perform; yet he conducted himself,
according to all accounts, with spirit, and with painstaking fidelity to
the rules of fair play. It is said, moreover, that he officiated on
these occasions reluctantly--in fact, only after failing to bring about
settlements of the quarrels by peaceable means. For it was as arbitrator
between man and man that his ripening intuitions of equity--tempered by
kindly sympathies with both sides--had their largest scope. With such
precision--to quote from an ancient judicial oath--“as the herring’s
backbone doth lie in the midst of the fish,” did he draw the line
between conflicting interests. Even those who were inclined to demur at
his decisions usually came to see that a lean compromise was better than
a fat lawsuit. So, in one way and another, to not a few people along the
Sangamon, Abraham Lincoln became, after a fashion, the court of last
resort.[i-51] It would seem as if, at this early date, he himself might
have been found worthy of the eulogy pronounced by him, some years
later, on a departed friend: “In his intercourse with his fellow-men, he
possessed that rare uprightness of character, which was evidenced by his
having no disputes or bickerings of his own, while he was ever the
chosen arbiter to settle those of his neighbors.”[i-52]

So far, indeed, did Lincoln carry his peacemaking activities that the
local justice, with an eye to diminishing fees, complained of
interference. If this functionary, as seems likely, was Squire Bowling
Green, who had befriended our amateur judge in many ways, the situation
must have been peculiarly unpleasant. But, be that as it may, Lincoln
did not adjourn court. Taking the rebuke amiably, he explained how hard
it was for him to see his neighbors spend money in unnecessary
litigation and--what was more important still--how desirous he felt of
saving them from perhaps lifelong enmities which might be prevented.
That reply was far-reaching. It opened a window, so to say, in the
speaker’s heart, and threw a flood of light forward upon many things
which he did, and many more which he refrained from doing, throughout
the fruitful years that were to come.

What motives first directed Lincoln’s attention to the legal profession
as a career are not definitely known. Whether the bar took his fancy on
account of that ideal justice to which lawyers theoretically, at least,
dedicate themselves, or whether he was moved by more commonplace
incentives, such as a taste for study, the desire to gain a livelihood
by means of an honorable calling, aspirations to become a controlling
factor in other men’s affairs, and the like, can only be surmised.
Perhaps each of these considerations carried due weight. They certainly
all had time enough to make their presence felt. For, as far back as the
youthful days at Gentryville, we find Abraham, in his insatiable craving
for the printed page, poring over a copy of the Indiana Statutes.[i-53]
This volume was supplemented presently by such books as he could borrow
from Justice John Pitcher of Rockport, whose kindly interest in the lad
grew out of his admiration for a little composition on the American
government, which one of the young writer’s friends had submitted to
judicial criticism. “The world couldn’t beat it,” was Pitcher’s comment,
and thenceforth Lincoln had the run of his office.[i-54] At about the
same time came opportunities--or rather Abe made opportunities--for
seeing the law administered. Whenever sessions of the circuit court for
the adjoining county were held in Boonville, he would trudge over the
road--a matter of fifteen miles--to attend. What took place there
doubtless repaid him. Closely following every word and act in the rustic
drama of justice, as it unfolded itself before his fascinated gaze, he
seemed identified, so to say, with the proceedings. They took such hold
upon his mind that he rehearsed them at home, reënacting the court-room
scenes and holding mock-trials in which a certain gawky country boy
defended imaginary prisoners against unjust charges, with uniform
success. If he might only become a lawyer! But such a notion was out of
the question. His parents, as he explained to Judge Pitcher, were so
poor that they could not spare him long enough for study. And there the
matter rested while the years passed on. In fact, it was not until after
Lincoln had left home and had become a business man at New Salem that
his youthful ambition, dormant though never wholly forgotten during the
long intervening period, began to revive. While casting about for
something to do, on his return from the Black Hawk War, he again thought
of taking up this calling; but the idea was promptly dismissed because,
to quote his own opinion, he “could not succeed at that without a better
education.” Nevertheless, before many months had elapsed, a chance
occurrence during the ill-starred Berry partnership quickened into life,
beyond any previous experience, Lincoln’s desire to study law. How this
came about he himself, chatting once with an acquaintance, in a
reminiscent mood, thus related:--

“One day a man who was migrating to the West drove up in front of my
store with a wagon which contained his family and household plunder. He
asked me if I would buy an old barrel for which he had no room in his
wagon, and which he said contained nothing of special value. I did not
want it, but to oblige him I bought it, and paid him, I think, half a
dollar for it. Without further examination, I put it away in the store,
and forgot all about it. Some time after, in overhauling things, I came
upon the barrel, and emptying it upon the floor to see what it
contained, I found at the bottom of the rubbish a complete edition of
Blackstone’s Commentaries. I began to read those famous works, and I had
plenty of time; for, during the long summer days, when the farmers were
busy with their crops, my customers were few and far between. The more I
read”--this he said with a sweeping gesture and a high pitch of
enthusiasm in his voice--“the more intensely interested I became. Never
in my whole life was my mind so thoroughly absorbed. I read until I
devoured them.”[i-55]

Lincoln’s re-awakened appetite for legal lore was destined soon to be
gratified. After the store had, like that barrel of rubbish, passed into
the limbo of discarded things, he turned from his surveying during the
summer of 1834 long enough to make a second, and this time successful,
canvass for election to the State Legislature. While traveling over his
district, the young politician saw much of a fellow candidate on the
Whig ticket, Major John T. Stuart, with whom he had served two years
before through the Black Hawk War. Stuart, an attorney in reputable
practice at Springfield, conceived a high regard for Lincoln’s character
and ability. So that when Abraham confided to him his inclination for
the study of law, he met not only with instant encouragement, but with
equally prompt offers of assistance. Here, indeed, was the stuff out of
which lawyers at their best are made. Rigid honesty, a judicial
temperament, candor, and ambition, as well as the less salient
qualities,--common sense, perseverance, knowledge of human nature, and
keen sympathy with human affairs,--of all these the aspirant had given
abundant evidence. Nor could he be considered lacking in what, according
to Lord Eldon, constituted the prime requisite for a beginner who sought
distinction at the bar,--he was “not worth a shilling.”

This last attribute, however, hardly commended itself as an advantage to
Lincoln’s troubled mind. Poverty alone would probably not have stayed
his steps, but poverty staggering under a burden labelled “the national
debt,”--there was a prospect that gave him pause. What did he owe to his
creditors, what to himself? Pondering over these questions, he carried
them with him on a surveying expedition. All day long the pros and cons
of the matter jostled one another in his perplexed brain, without
result. Yet the time for a decision had come. On his way home, he swung
a pair of tired long legs across an old rail fence, and sat down
resolved to stay there until some conclusion should be reached.
Lincoln’s destiny truly trembled in the balance; but a controlling
thought, decisive enough to make one side outweigh the other, still
failed to present itself. In this dilemma he bethought himself of a way
out,--a way as freely utilized at the time, along our western frontier,
as it has been among the children of men from the beginning of recorded
days--the appeal to chance. Resting his Jacob’s-staff erect on the
ground, he determined to be guided by the direction in which it might
fall. If forward, he too would go forward into the new career that
beckoned him so alluringly; if backward, he would remain a surveyor. The
staff fell forward.[i-56]

Lincoln now began to study, if we may adopt his own phrase, “in good
earnest.” Availing himself of Major Stuart’s offer, he borrowed the
necessary textbooks, in their order, from that gentleman’s little
library at Springfield. This required an occasional journey of twenty
miles or more, each way, which our eager student appears to have
traveled, for the most part, on foot.[i-57] Days so spent, however, were
not wholly lost. As he strode across country with the precious volumes,
Abraham made frequent pauses for the reading of successive paragraphs,
which he recited aloud as he went.

Nor were these studies pursued with less zeal at home, though, in truth,
there seemed but few waking hours left for them. Between sessions of the
Legislature, which customarily made heavy drafts upon its members’ time,
Lincoln, facing the problem of how to live, “still mixed in the
surveying”--so runs his homely expression--“to pay board and clothing
bills.” Moreover, the postmastership with its occasional duties, as well
as sundry bread-and-butter jobs of a less exalted character, all crowded
their demands upon his attention. Yet some scraps of opportunity
remained. Employing these diligently, by day and by night, he worked his
way through Stuart’s collection.[i-58] To such good purpose, in fact,
did he study the Major’s books that, before the list was exhausted,
though “not lawyer enough to hurt” him, Lincoln had acquired skill
enough to draw up bills of sale, contracts, deeds, mortgages, and the
like, for his admiring neighbors. He even went so far as to represent
them before the local justice, in sundry suits whereby his reputation
was much enhanced, but not his income, for he made no charges whatever
on accounts of these activities. This seemingly Quixotic practice of
working without pay, at a time when poverty pressed sharply, was quite
in keeping with the young man’s kindly nature, and his biographer is
tempted to make the obvious comment. But here again, the hand of fact
rudely intervenes. Brushing away the gossamer web of romance, it points
to “an act concerning attorneys and counselors at law” in the statutes
of Illinois that expressly prohibited unlicensed persons from formally
practicing at the bar or from receiving fees for legal services.[i-59]
After awhile, however, this disability, as far as it concerned the New
Salem amateur, was, by the customary steps, removed. Before his second
year of preparation had elapsed,--in the spring of 1836,--the necessary
certificate of “good moral character” had been entered on the records of
the Sangamon County Circuit Court. In the following autumn a license was
issued, and later Abraham Lincoln’s name was duly inscribed on the roll
of attorneys.[i-60] So “Honest Abe,” at the age of twenty-eight, became
a full-fledged practitioner in that notable company of scholars that
have furnished mankind with some of its noblest and, at the same time,
with some of its most pernicious impulses. On which side this newcomer
would exercise his talents, none doubted who had observed him in any of
the makeshift occupations whereby he sustained himself while toiling up
the circuitous path that led to the portals of the Supreme Court.



CHAPTER II

TRUTH IN LAW


Early one spring morning long ago,--to be precise, on the 15th day of
April, 1837,--a solitary horseman might have been seen riding along the
wagon road that ran from New Salem to Springfield. He was obviously not
one of G. P. R. James’s jaunty heroes, nor yet a new-world variation on
the melancholy Don, but romance and allegory alike can furnish forth few
figures more striking than that which skirted the Illinois prairies on
this particular forenoon. The traveler, sad-eyed and gaunt, was our
friend Lincoln. His mount, a pony borrowed from Bowling Green, barely
stepped high enough to keep the rider’s lank extremities from touching
the ground. Nor did the picture that he presented gain in grace, as
one’s eye rested on the man’s ill-fitting garments. Yet they were the
best he had, for the bulging saddle-bags contained--as we now know--not
clothing, but a few articles of underwear, packed in with that
well-thumbed set of Blackstone’s Commentaries, several volumes of
statute law, and two other books. Add to this inventory a small amount
of money in pocket,--“about seven dollars,” according to one friend’s
estimate,--and the whole sum of Lincoln’s own portable assets at the
moment is told. To complete the balance-sheet, his liabilities, or, more
accurately speaking, the evidences thereof, might be traced, line for
line, in that pensive countenance. The shadow of “the national debt,”
still brooding over all, did in fact overlay his prospective earnings as
well as his actual means and leave him worse than penniless. It was in
the hope of mending these broken fortunes that he now turned his back on
the cherished associations of New Salem and rode with his scanty
belongings to Springfield.

The city had held out welcoming hands. Its leading citizens felt
grateful to Lincoln for effective aid rendered to them during the recent
session of the General Assembly, in which they had secured a vote
whereby the seat of government was transferred from Vandalia to
Springfield; and his faculty, withal, for engaging the affections of men
had already gained him several stanch friends in the new capital.

One of these admirers, William Butler, relates how after the victory at
Vandalia, as the Sangamon delegation were returning home, Lincoln had,
in a moment of depression, spoken to him of his gloomy prospects.
Without money, resources, or employment, he did not know, as he said,
“where to earn even a week’s board.”[ii-1] The listener’s ready sympathy
had inspired him to suggest that Lincoln would prosper in the practice
of his profession at Springfield; and before they parted company, Butler
had fortified the proposal with a tender of hospitality at his own
table, until the promised success should be attained. In response to
this generous offer, as well as to other invitations hardly less
cordial, the member from New Salem, a few weeks thereafter, came to make
his home in the bustling little town, just quickening with a sense of
its recently acquired dignity.

Having hitched his pony to a rack in the public square, Lincoln, with
the saddle-bags over his arm, entered the general store of Joshua F.
Speed. After an exchange of greetings,--for the two men knew each
other,--the newcomer said: “I just want to put my saddle-pockets down
here till I put up my beast at Bill Butler’s, then I want to see you.”

Returning in a short time, he continued: “Well, Speed, I’ve been to
Gorman’s and got a single bedstead; now you figure out what it will cost
for a tick, blankets, and the rest.”

After a brief interval with slate and pencil, the required furnishings
were found to reach, so the storekeeper announced, a total of seventeen
dollars.

Lincoln’s countenance fell, as he exclaimed: “I had no idea it would
cost half of that! It is probably cheap enough,” he went on, “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 be
able to pay you at all.”

There was a note of dejection in the speaker’s voice and an air of gloom
in his manner that deeply affected the man behind the counter. Recalling
the scene, toward the latter end of his life, Mr. Speed declared, “As I
looked up at him I thought then, and think now, that I never saw a
sadder face.”

On the impulse of the moment, he said to his prospective customer:--

“You seem to be so much pained at contracting so small a debt, I think I
can suggest a plan by which you can avoid the debt and at the same time
attain your end. I have a 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?” asked Lincoln.

“Upstairs,” answered Speed, pointing to the winding steps which led from
the shop to the story above.

Without another word his questioner took up the saddle-bags, mounted the
stairs, and coming down again in a trice, announced with a happy,
smiling face: “Well, Speed, I’m moved.”[ii-2]

Thus dependent on the bounty of two friends,--on the one for food, on
the other for a bed,--Lincoln began his life in Springfield.

The anxious uncertainty which followed was of brief duration. Before a
fortnight had elapsed, Major Stuart invited his old comrade-in-arms to
become his partner. This offer, it is perhaps needless to say, was
eagerly accepted; and the modest office above the county court-room,
that had been occupied by the senior member of the firm, became the
headquarters of Stuart and Lincoln.

After they were well under way occurred a little incident which nicely
exemplified the junior partner’s elemental probity, in all its
quaintness. He had ceased to be postmaster at New Salem, upon the
discontinuance of that office about a year before his departure from
the place. But his accounts with the Government still remained
unsettled, and he had probably forgotten about them, when an agent of
the Post-Office Department arrived in Springfield, one day, with a draft
for the unpaid balance. How much this amounted to is not definitely
known. It has been variously reported at figures ranging all the way
from “seventeen dollars and sixty cents” to “over one hundred and fifty
dollars.” Nor do the official records at Washington throw any light on
the matter, for the books covering this period have been destroyed. The
claim, whether large or small, however, doubtless called for a greater
sum than Lincoln had seemingly brought with him to the city. His
profound poverty and distress at that time might well lead one who knew
these circumstances to wonder how the required funds could possibly be
forthcoming. So the affair impressed his friend, Dr. A. G. Henry, who
happened to be present when the collector came. “I did not believe he
had the money on hand to meet the draft,” said the doctor, relating what
took place; “and I was about to call him aside and loan him the money,
when he asked the agent to be seated a moment while he went over to his
trunk at his boarding-house, and returned with an old blue sock with a
quantity of silver and copper coin tied up in it. Untying the sock, he
poured the contents on the table and proceeded to count the coin, which
consisted of such silver and copper pieces as the country people were
then in the habit of using in paying postage. On counting it up there
was found the exact amount, to a cent, of the draft, and in the
identical coin which had been received. As the agent departed, Lincoln
remarked, in a matter-of-fact tone, that he never used any money but his
own.”[ii-3]

This excellent rule was carried to an extreme which became, at times,
almost childish. It seemed especially so in Lincoln’s dealings with the
three friends,--Kentuckians all,--Stuart, Logan, and Herndon, who
succeeded one another as his partners.[ii-4] Yet, if one may judge by
what has been told concerning them, they entered readily enough into the
spirit of his primitive honesty. Whenever he received a fee, an
immediate division followed. If his associate happened to be present,
that gentleman’s part was handed over at once. But if a payment took
place in the absence of the other from their office, or while Lincoln
was on circuit, he wrapped his partner’s share in a piece of paper
marked, “Doe _v._ Roe--Stuart’s half,” or “Logan’s half,” or “Herndon’s
half,” as the case might be; and at the first opportunity thereafter the
identical money, as originally divided, was delivered to its rightful
owner.

In the case of one uncommonly large fee, however, even this method
apparently failed to satisfy his eagerness for prompt settlements. When
he collected his bill of forty-eight hundred dollars, on a judgment
against the Illinois Central Railroad Company, Lincoln telegraphed to
Herndon that he wished him to remain at their office until the return
train reached Springfield. It was night when he arrived, and found his
partner awaiting him. Counting out Herndon’s portion of the receipts,
with a characteristic little jest, he had the gratification of placing
the money where it belonged before they slept.

To infer from all this that Lincoln had any aversion for the keeping of
accounts, or that there were no fee-books in which these transactions
were recorded, is wide of the facts. He did keep books and properly,
too.[ii-5] It was in the handling of payments that he differed from many
honorable men around him. He had simply set up a financial creed of his
own, as it were, according to which the money of another was sacred from
being used by him, even temporarily,--yes, sacred from any act which
might cause it to lose, for a moment, its distinctive character as the
property of that other.

A lawyer conscientious to such a degree toward his partners would hardly
be less so in the treatment of his clients. And they, for their part,
were quick to appreciate the fact. One old chronicler records with warm
approval how Lincoln, at the very outset, gained the confidence of the
business men.[ii-6] As traffic in the Mississippi Valley was generally
based on long-time credit, merchants often found it necessary to commit
the collection of their overdue notes to local attorneys. Some of these
gentlemen were so dilatory in making returns that their clients, not
infrequently, had as much difficulty getting the money from them as from
their customers. Lincoln set a different pace. As soon as such payments
reached him they were, in every instance, turned over, without delay, to
their rightful owners who, by the way, lost no opportunity of
proclaiming their satisfaction.[ii-7]

But it was in the handling of more important matters that Lincoln
evinced how scrupulous could be an attorney’s attention to the true
interests of those who sought legal aid. His office became, as should
every good lawyer’s, a court of conciliation; and when people came to
him with their troubles, he usually tried, in the beginning, to bring
about amicable adjustments. These endeavors went beyond a merely
perfunctory observance of the time-honored dictum that it is a lawyer’s
duty to prevent not to promote litigation.[ii-8] Addressing himself, in
the notes for a lecture, to beginners at the bar, he wrote, after
perhaps fifteen years of legal experience: “Discourage litigation.
Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to
them how the nominal winner is often a real loser--in fees, expenses,
and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity
of being a good man. There will still be business enough.”[ii-9]

How earnestly Lincoln labored to reck his own rede, judges, attorneys,
and other officers of the law agreed in attesting. They declared,
according to one who canvassed their views, that “more disputes were
settled” by his advice “out of the courts than in them”; and, what is
perhaps of greater importance, it was added that “as a rule, these
settlements left the litigants friends.”[ii-10] Quarrels, ranging over
the whole field of human differences, from an altercation about a line
fence to the unhappy preliminaries of a divorce suit, were smoothed
out--if one may credit the current anecdotes--under his soothing
touch.[ii-11]

But were the mediations of this peacemaker satisfactory in every
instance? Did the contestants who had been brought to lay their claims
before him uniformly submit to his decisions with good grace? As though
to answer these questions one of his most brilliant contemporaries at
the bar, Leonard Swett, once said:--

“There is something remarkable about these Lincoln settlements and
arbitrations. The parties always submit. They seem to think they have to
submit, which is very little short of the power he exercises over a
jury, before which these arbitrated disputes would otherwise come. He is
so positive and final with them as to make his judgment equivalent to a
settlement in court. In all my observations of these cases, only one man
objected seriously and threatened to take his case into court. It
happened he was one of Lincoln’s clients; but when the man objected to
Lincoln’s arbitration, and said, ‘I will take the case into court,’
Lincoln gave him one of his deep-searching looks, and said, ‘Very well,
Jim, I will take the case against you for nothing.’ But that was
unnecessary, for the penetrating look had settled Jim and his
case.”[ii-12]

On other occasions, even when there were no arbitrations, Lincoln could
not wholly divest himself of the judicial spirit. He required those who
sought his aid to come--as to the judgment-seat--with clean hands. A
client, favored at the outset by some improper advantage, could hope for
his services only after the balance had been redeemed by some adequate
concession. Perhaps the best case in point is that of a widow who
retained Lincoln and Herndon for the purpose of looking into certain
alleged tax liens on a valuable piece of land to which she held title.
While making a search of the records the attorneys came upon a
description in one of the deeds that appeared to require verification.
Lincoln went to the place with the necessary instruments and surveyed
the ground himself. He found a material discrepancy. It was evident that
Charles Matheney, a former grantor, selling the tract at a certain price
per acre, had, by an error in the description, conveyed more land than
had been paid for. These facts were laid before the widow, with a
carefully made calculation showing how much, in the opinion of her
attorneys, was due to Matheney’s estate by reason of this erroneous
conveyance. Their suggestion, however, that she make this restitution
met with strenuous objection. Only after they had declined to continue
as her representatives, unless she did so, was the required sum
reluctantly placed in the firm’s hands. The senior member himself
divided it into a number of smaller sums, which he distributed, in due
form, among the Matheney heirs.[ii-13]

All refractory litigants were of course not amenable to reason. At times
when persuasion or threats failed, strategy came into play. One client
who insisted on bringing an unseemly action was circumvented by Lincoln
in an amusing manner. Here is the story as it was told by Gibson W.
Harris, a clerk at the time in that now famous law-office:--

“A crack-brained attorney who lived in Springfield, supported mainly, as
I understood, by the other lawyers of the place, became indebted, in the
sum of two dollars and fifty cents, to a wealthy citizen of the county,
a recent comer. The creditor failing, after repeated efforts, to collect
the amount due him, came to Mr. Lincoln and asked him to bring suit. Mr.
Lincoln explained the man’s condition and circumstances, and advised his
client to let the matter rest; but the creditor’s temper was up, and he
insisted on having suit brought. Again Mr. Lincoln urged him to let the
matter drop, adding, ‘You can make nothing out of him, and it will cost
you a good deal more than the debt to bring suit.’ The creditor was
still determined to have his way, and threatened to seek some other
attorney who would be more willing to take charge of the matter than Mr.
Lincoln appeared to be. Mr. Lincoln then said, ‘Well, if you are
determined that suit shall be brought, I will bring it; but my charge
will be ten dollars.’ The money was paid him, and peremptory orders were
given that the suit be brought that day. After the client’s departure,
Mr. Lincoln went out of the office, returning in about an hour with an
amused look on his face. I asked what pleased him, and he replied, ‘I
brought suit against Blank, and then hunted him up, told him what I had
done, handed him half of the ten dollars, and we went over to the
squire’s office. He confessed judgment and paid the bill.’ Mr. Lincoln
added that he didn’t see any other way to make things satisfactory for
his client as well as the rest of the parties.”[ii-14]

This aptitude for disposing of quarrels so as to satisfy all concerned
became generally recognized at the bar. Lincoln’s fellow attorneys,
conceding the disinterested skill with which he harmonized the
discordant elements of a matter in controversy, at times coöperated with
him by persuading their clients to accept his good offices. A few of
these colleagues even went further. When consulted concerning certain
cases in which Lincoln had been retained on the other side, they
emulated his self-denial, and before accepting any fees advised that the
settlement of these affairs be left wholly in his hands.

A typical instance was related, several years ago, by Henry Rice, a
prominent resident of New York. During his younger days, while in
business at Jacksonville, Illinois, he was requested by some Cincinnati
merchants to recommend a reputable lawyer, who might look after their
interests in the matter of a Decatur house that had made what they
regarded as a fraudulent failure. Mr. Rice promptly suggested Abraham
Lincoln, and meeting a committee of the creditors by appointment in
Springfield, he guided them to that attorney’s office. The ensuing
interview was brief. Hardly had the spokesman entered upon the purpose
of their visit, when Lincoln, raising his long arm high in the air,
interrupted him with the words:--

“Stop! Gentlemen, I am sorry to say that I cannot take your claims. Just
before you entered I received a message engaging me to act for the
Decatur concern.”

When asked whom the creditors had better retain, he suggested one of his
most active political opponents--that able lawyer and party leader, John
A. McClernand. To him the committee went. He heard them attentively, and
then said:--

“If that man has planned to go through bankruptcy without paying you any
part of his debts, he has chosen the poorest lawyer in Illinois to do
the job. I advise you to return to Mr. Lincoln, and state your whole
case as frankly as you have stated it to me. He is just the man to
settle this for you. Go back and put the whole matter into his hands.”

They did so. Mr. Lincoln, after hearing their statement, assured them
that no injustice would be done. More than that, he agreed to confer
with his client and arrange an equitable settlement. In an uncommonly
short time the creditors, to their joy, received seventy-five cents on
the dollar; the heavy expense, as well as the delays usually involved in
such failures, were averted, and the debtor was enabled to resume
business, with a name free from the stain of bankruptcy.[ii-15]

These compromises between opposing interests constituted--it is perhaps
unnecessary to say--only a part of Lincoln’s legal activities. Accepting
as a matter of course many cases that could not be arbitrated or settled
offhand, he conducted them, with varying fortunes, through their several
stages in the courts. But now and then came proposals for litigation
which, according to his code, admitted of neither suit nor compromise.
They belonged to that class of causes once wittily characterized by
Erskine, in the famous opinion,--“This action will not lie, unless the
witnesses do.” Such matters received short shrift at Lincoln’s hands.
When a prospective client was in the wrong he bluntly told him so. Nor
did he hesitate to treat old patrons and friends, painful as this must
at times have been, with the same embarrassing frankness. “You have no
case; better settle,” was heard in his office, over and over again.
Stripping a discreditable story of its sophistries, he pointed out the
sharp practice or worse in which those who concerned themselves with the
affair would inevitably become involved, refused the proffered retainer,
and urged the litigant to withdraw from an untenable position.[ii-16]
This was Lincoln’s course toward one of his early neighbors, Henry
McHenry, when that person desired him to bring an action of doubtful
propriety. Declining to touch the case on the ground that his client was
not strictly in the right, our attorney said: “You can give the other
party a great deal of trouble and perhaps beat him, but you had better
let the suit alone.”[ii-17]

So, too, Lincoln was careful--as he himself expressed it--not to “stir
up litigation,”[ii-18] or to do anything that might encourage the
vexatious and costly suits which often arise over the administration of
estates.

“Who was your guardian?” he asked a young man after weighing his
inconsistent complaint that a part of the property bequeathed to him had
been wrongfully withheld.

“Enoch Kingsbury,” was the answer.

“I know Mr. Kingsbury,” said Lincoln, “and he is not the man to have
cheated you out of a cent; I can’t take the case, and I advise you to
drop the subject.”[ii-19]

In the same conscientious spirit more important opportunities for
employment, holding forth prospects of generous fees, were turned away
from Lincoln’s door. His associates at the bar have recorded a few
instances. One of these is related by Judge Samuel C. Parks. He recalls
that in a matter entitled “Harris and Jones _versus_ Buckles,” the
plaintiffs, having employed him and Ward Hill Lamon as their attorneys,
desired them to secure Lincoln’s services also. His reply was
characteristic: “Tell Harris it’s no use to waste money on me in that
case; he’ll get beat.”[ii-20]

Among the retainers so declined, most notable, perhaps, was that of
Governor Joel A. Matteson, who, after his retirement from office, stood
accused of having defrauded the State of Illinois by reissuing redeemed
canal scrip and applying the proceeds to his own use. The alleged thefts
amounted, in the end, with interest, to about a quarter of a million
dollars. Matteson’s fortune, as well as his good repute, and perhaps his
very liberty, were at stake. He sought to gather around him a formidable
array of counsel. Having engaged the eminent lawyers Benjamin S. Edwards
and Major John T. Stuart for his defense, he tried likewise to retain
Abraham Lincoln and another of that gentleman’s former partners, Judge
Stephen T. Logan. Both these last-mentioned attorneys, however, after
carefully considering the facts submitted to them, reached the
conclusion that the distinguished defendant was guilty. They conceded
his right to such protection as one reputable advocate might properly
afford him, but neither of them was willing to join a powerful
combination of legal experts that should have for its object the
culprit’s escape from punishment. So, without conferring on the subject,
indeed without each other’s knowledge, they respectively declined to be
concerned in the matter. Their course, it should be added, was justified
before many months had elapsed by Matteson’s virtual confession and by a
heavy judgment rendered against him in the Circuit Court.[ii-21]

But Lincoln’s refusals to engage his services in actions of which he did
not approve went still further. A cause to enlist his interest had to be
intrinsically right as well as technically so. He ran no subtlety shop.
What has been termed “law honesty” fell far short, now and then, in his
opinion, of being genuine honesty. Indeed, it may be doubted whether any
leading practitioner of the Illinois bar felt more keenly than he, at
times, that “strictest law is oft the highest wrong.”

How far, on such occasions, the man in him got the better of the lawyer
was illustrated by the closing words of an interview overheard one
morning in his office. Mr. Lincoln, seated at the baize-covered table
near the center of the room, had been listening attentively, for some
time, to a person who addressed him earnestly and in a low tone of
voice. Suddenly the attorney interrupted the speaker with these words
that rang out through the place:--

“Yes, we can doubtless gain your case for you. We can set a whole
neighborhood at loggerheads. We can distress a widowed mother and her
six fatherless children, and thereby get for you six hundred dollars to
which you seem to have a legal claim; but which rightfully belongs, it
appears to me, as much to the woman and her children as it does to you.
You must remember that some things legally right are not morally right.
We shall not take your case, but will give you a little advice for which
we will charge you nothing. You seem to be a sprightly, energetic man;
we would advise you to try your hand at making six hundred dollars in
some other way.”[ii-22]

On another occasion, as a student in the office recalls, Lincoln sat
gazing at the ceiling while a client unfolded the shabby details of a
proposed suit. When the narrative was finished, the listener swung
around in his chair and exclaimed:--

“Well, you have a pretty good case in technical law, but a pretty bad
one in equity and justice. You’ll have to get some other fellow to win
this case for you. I couldn’t do it. All the time while standing talking
to that jury, I’d be thinking, ‘Lincoln, you’re a liar’; and I believe I
should forget myself and say it out loud.”[ii-23]

This last avowal discloses a striking justification--if justification is
needed--of “Honest Abe’s” course in rejecting clients whom he believed
to be in the wrong. Whatever claims they may, on general principles,
have had to his services were probably not pressed after such an
acknowledgment. Even our legal casuists, piling high the reasons why it
is an attorney’s duty to appear on either side of a cause, right or
wrong,--and some of the arguments are convincing enough,--would
doubtless hesitate to enforce their rule in the case of a lawyer who
thus frankly admits that, when his pleadings happen to be at variance
with his conscience, he finds himself unable to control his powers. The
greater those powers, the greater would seem the danger to the side that
had engaged them, if they should balk. For Pegasus unwillingly in the
traces might well be expected to make more trouble than a whole team of
refractory plough-horses. And Lincoln, keenly alive to his peculiar
limitations, realized that unless he himself believed in the justice of
a contention, his advocacy thereof--half-hearted, perhaps fatally
ingenuous--would do the case more harm than good.

In short, he was too “perversely honest,” as one old acquaintance
phrased it, to be of any use to a client who was not honest. The man’s
whole make-up harbored no trace of that mercenary, free-lance spirit
which can fight for hire under one banner, as valiantly as under
another--in a base cause as well as in a righteous one. Nor did pride of
intellect, exulting in uncommon forensic dexterity, betray him into that
habit of mind which derives its keenest gratification from making “the
worse appear the better reason.” And all his skill would have failed him
here had he tried to be otherwise. For if there was one quality more
than another that Abraham Lincoln lacked, it must have been the kind of
versatility of which Cardinal Duperron boasted, when he said, in
response to a compliment by King Henry III, on the convincing eloquence
with which the prelate had proved the existence of the Deity: “Sire, I
can now turn about, if it pleases Your Majesty, and prove to you, with
arguments equally irrefutable, that there is no God.”

Lincoln’s intellect was of a wholly different cast. It had been devoted
to the truth, with single-minded fealty, from boyhood. At a time when
children’s thoughts usually run on play, his had begun to puzzle out the
problems of life. Nothing but the facts would content him. And whether
he acquired them by observation, dug them out of books, or picked them
up from chance conversations, there was no rest until they had been
brought well within the circle of his comprehension. Referring, at a
maturer period, to this trait, he said:--

“Among my earliest recollections I remember how, when a mere child, I
used to get irritated when anybody talked to me in a way I could not
understand. I don’t think I ever got angry at anything else in my life.
But that always disturbed my temper, and has ever since. I can remember
going to my little bedroom, after hearing the neighbors talk of an
evening with my father, and spending no small part of the night walking
up and down, and trying to make out what was the exact meaning of some
of their, to me, dark sayings. I could not sleep, though I often tried
to, when I got on such a hunt after an idea, until I caught it; and when
I thought I had got it, I was not satisfied until I had repeated it
over and over,--until I had put it in language plain enough, as I
thought, for any boy I knew to comprehend. This was a kind of passion
with me, and it has stuck by me; for I am never easy now, when I am
handling a thought, till I have bounded it North, and bounded it South,
and bounded it East, and bounded it West.”[ii-24]

This eagerness to see every side of a subject made trouble, at times,
for the juvenile inquirer. His Cousin Dennis has illustrated this, in a
characteristic little thumb-nail sketch. Chatting about those early
days, in his old age, Mr. Hanks said:--

“Sometimes a preacher, ’r a circuit-ridin’ jedge, ’r lyyer, ’r a
stump-speakin’ polytician, ’r a school-teacher’d come along. When one o’
them rode up, Tom’d go out an’ say,--‘’Light, stranger,’ like it was
polite to do. Then Abe’d come lopin’ out on his long legs, throw one
over the top rail and begin firin’ questions. Tom’d tell him to quit,
but it didn’t do no good, so Tom’d have to bang him on the side o’ his
head with his hat. Abe’d go off a spell an’ fire sticks at the
snow-birds, an’ whistle like he didn’t keer. ‘Pap thinks it ain’t polite
to ask folks so many questions,’ he’d say. ‘I reckon I wasn’t born to be
polite, Denny. Thar’s so darned many things I want to know. An’ how else
am I goin’ to git to know ’em?’”[ii-25]

The habit of asking questions remained with Lincoln to the end of the
chapter. Frankly declaring himself ignorant concerning many things, on
many occasions, he laid his face low, as the Persians say, at the
threshold of truth. Indeed, no forceful character in recent history was
so free from pride of mentality, so willing to admit that he did not
understand some important matter, or that, perchance, a trivial one had
escaped his knowledge. Taking stock of himself, during middle-life, for
an inquiring biographer, he summed up his intellectual attainments in
two words,--“education defective.” To a young friend who, at a still
later period, pointed out an error of speech, he called himself
“deplorably ignorant.” When an opponent taunted him with having
“carefully written” an address, he replied before his next audience: “I
admit that it was. I am not a master of language. I have not a fine
education.”

And when he had composed a certain notable letter, he laid it before a
learned neighbor, with the words: “I think it is all right, but grammar,
you know, is not my stronghold; and as several persons will probably
read that little thing, I wish you would look it over carefully, and see
if it needs doctoring anywhere.”

Perhaps we should add that the missive did need a touch of “doctoring,”
and that the writer submitted to the treatment with good grace. Nor was
he less ingenuous on other occasions. One day in court a lawyer, quoting
a Latin maxim, bowed to him and said: “That is so, is it not, Mr.
Lincoln?”

To which he answered: “If that’s Latin, you had better call another
witness.”

So, during a visit by a distinguished company, when one gentleman turned
to another and repeated a quotation from the ancient classics, Lincoln
leaned forward in his chair, looked inquiringly at them, and remarked,
with a smile: “Which, I suppose you are both aware, _I_ do not
understand.”

Equally free from false pretense concerning his work at the bar, he
would turn the compliment of an admirer with some such phrase as, “Oh, I
am only a mast-fed lawyer.”

The same spirit of candid self-appraisal was strikingly manifested
during the McCormick reaper suit, in which Lincoln, with other lawyers,
had been retained for the defense. When the cause came to trial, he
found himself elbowed, so to say, out of a leading part by Edwin M.
Stanton. Yet while listening to the argument of the colleague who had
thus displaced him, he forgot his disappointment, keen though it was, in
his admiration of the great advocate’s masterly plea. Indeed, Lincoln is
said to have been so moved that he hardly repressed his enthusiasm in
open court; and upon the conclusion of the address, he remarked to one
of the clients who had retained him: “Emerson, it would have been a
great mistake if I had spoken in this case. I did not fully understand
it.”[ii-26]

These confessions, under all their varying circumstances, showed how
honest the man could be. The simple words, “I do not know,” are among
the hardest to pronounce in the language. Still he must use them freely
who would find the key to Pilate’s age-worn riddle, and behold the fair
vision of Truth, at last, face to face. So believed this conscientious
lawyer, who realized, however, that here his duty began rather than
ended. For it was not until all the questions in a legal tangle had been
answered and all the perplexities straightened out, not until he had
gone at the very heart of a problem,--to use his own expression,--“like
a dog at a root,” and laid the facts bare to the last fiber, that
Lincoln’s intellectual probity arose to its full stature. Then all
concessions were at an end. His logical mind, a marvel of close and
clear thinking, progressed through a subject, step for step, from
premise to conclusion, with unerring precision. There was no retreat, no
dodging, no attempt to evade or color the inevitable result. If that
result stood in the way of his desires, so much the worse for those
desires. He sought the truth for the truth’s sake. Having followed a
chain of reasoning from start to finish, with an utter disregard of
personal interests,--his own, no less than those of others,--he was as
loyal to the outcome as he had been to the mental process whereby it had
been reached. Lincoln never apparently resorted to the meanest of
pettifogging--that of a man at the bar of his own conscience. As he
could not tolerate a fallacious premise, he could not argue to a false
conclusion. Utterly unable to deceive himself, he was incapable of
deceiving others; and once an essential truth had entered into his
consciousness, there was not room enough in that whole gigantic frame,
if he spoke at all, for its concealment.

How marked were these characteristics may be inferred from the fact that
they evoked comment among lawyers and judges who are credited themselves
with a high standard of professional honor. David Davis, who presided
for nearly fourteen years over the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Illinois,
in which Lincoln tried most of his cases, said concerning this upright
advocate: “The framework of his mental and moral being was honesty, and
a wrong cause was poorly defended by him. The ability, which some
eminent lawyers possess, of explaining away the bad points of a cause by
ingenious sophistry, was denied him. In order to bring into full
activity his great powers, it was necessary that he should be convinced
of the right and justice of the matter which he advocated.”[ii-27]

Similar comments have been made by the Judges of the Illinois Supreme
Court, in which, for a period of twenty years, he had an unusual number
of cases. What these experienced jurists thought concerning this aspect
of Lincoln’s nature was summed up, so to say, by Judge Caton, in the
single sentence: “He seemed entirely ignorant of the art of deception or
of dissimulation.”[ii-28]

To which should be added the observations made by Judge Thomas Drummond,
from the bench of the United States Circuit Court, at Chicago: “Such was
the transparent candor and integrity of his nature that he could not
well or strongly argue a side or a cause that he thought wrong. Of
course he felt it his duty to say what could be said, and to leave the
decision to others; but there could be seen in such cases the inward
struggle of his own mind.”[ii-29]

Lincoln’s commendable weakness in this respect was equally patent to his
associates at the bar. Few of them, if any, knew him so well as Leonard
Swett, who touches on his friend’s inability to be otherwise than
intellectually honest, in these words: “If his own mind failed to be
satisfied, he had little power to satisfy anybody else. He never made a
sophistical argument in his life, and never could make one. I think he
was of less real aid in trying a thoroughly bad case than any man I was
ever associated with. If he could not grasp the whole case and believe
in it, he was never inclined to touch it.”[ii-30]

In the same strain wrote Henry C. Whitney: “It was morally impossible
for Lincoln to argue dishonestly. He could no more do it than he could
steal. It was the same thing to him, in essence, to despoil a man of his
property by larceny or by illogical or flagitious reasoning; and even to
defeat a suitor by technicalities, or by merely arbitrary law, savored
strongly of dishonesty to him. He tolerated it sometimes, but always
with a grimace.”[ii-31]

A number of other fellow-attorneys have expressed similar opinions. To
quote them all might lead to a veritable paroxysm of citation; and
needlessly so, for enough has been said to show that in refusing
unworthy cases Lincoln did simple justice by the rejected litigants, as
well as by himself.

But it should not be inferred that he looked with misgivings on every
retainer which was offered to him, or that he peered unduly about in
search of reasons for turning patrons away. On the contrary, Lincoln
welcomed the general run of business as any lawyer might. Like most men
who are free from guile, he usually suspected none in others.

He certainly did not guard himself against deception, as did that fine,
old-fashioned practitioner of the Colonial school, George Wythe, who,
when there seemed reason to mistrust a client’s initial statement,
required it to be made under oath. On circuit, moreover, Lincoln
generally found but scant opportunity for probing into his suits before
they came to trial. Acting as counsel for local attorneys, he had to
rely upon them for the proper preparation of their cases; and so it
happened that he found himself at times in court supporting litigants
whose contentions the evidence wholly failed to sustain.

When a mishap of this nature occurred, trouble ensued. The recently
alert advocate--all enthusiasm, courage, and skill--lapsed into a
dispirited pleader whose movements seemed almost mechanical. In fact, if
we may credit the traditions of the circuit, his thoughts were engaged,
from that moment, not on how to win the case, but on how to get out of
it. Particularly was this so when, taken by surprise in the midst of a
criminal trial, he became convinced--as happened on several
occasions--of his client’s guilt.

An instance in point has been related by Judge Parks, a prominent
member, at the time, of the Illinois bar. He writes: “A man was indicted
for larceny. Lincoln, Young, and myself defended him. Lincoln was
satisfied by the evidence that he was guilty and ought to be convicted.
He called Young and myself aside, and said, ‘If you can say anything for
the man, do it,--I can’t. If I attempt, the jury will see that I think
he is guilty, and convict him, of course.’ The case was submitted by us
to the jury without a word. The jury failed to agree, and before the
next term the man died. Lincoln’s honesty undoubtedly saved him from
the penitentiary.”[ii-32]

A similar difficulty arose in the Patterson murder trial, a case of some
celebrity that held the center of the judicial stage for some days in
Champaign County. The prosecution was conducted by District Attorney
Lamon; the defense, by Leonard Swett and his friend Abraham Lincoln. As
the evidence against the prisoner developed, his counsel realized that
they were defending a guilty man. The discovery appears to have unnerved
Lincoln who, as the District Attorney expressed it, “felt himself
morally paralyzed.” Acknowledging this condition to his associate, he
said: “Swett, the man is guilty. You defend him,--I can’t.”

There is reason to think that Lincoln urged his colleague privately
before Judge Davis, the presiding magistrate, to join him in arranging
for a plea of manslaughter, with the understanding that their client
should receive the minimum sentence. This proposition Swett apparently
brushed aside. He conducted the defense to its formal conclusion, made
his argument to the jury, and--again quoting Lamon--“saved the guilty
man from justice.” A considerable fee was paid for that signal service,
but Lincoln is said to have declined any share of the money.[ii-33]

In civil actions, he disposed even more summarily of clients who had
deceived him, or who persisted in litigating over matters that were
found to lack merit. Recalling such instances, Mr. Herndon says: “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.’”[ii-34]

Another anecdote of similar bearing is furnished by J. Henry Shaw, a
lawyer in practice years ago at Beardstown, Illinois. This contributor
writes: “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 end.”[ii-35]

Still another civil suit was well under way before Lincoln discovered
the defendant, whom he represented, to be in the wrong. This man, a
live-stock breeder, had sold the plaintiff a number of sheep at a
stipulated average price. When the animals were delivered, many of them,
according to the purchaser’s claim, proved to be so young that they did
not fulfill the conditions of the contract, and he sued for damages. The
evidence produced at the trial sustained the complaint. Several
witnesses testified, moreover, that according to usage such of the
animals as were under a certain age should be regarded as lambs, and of
less value than full-grown sheep. No sooner had these facts been
established than Mr. Lincoln changed his line of action. Ceasing to
contest the case, he directed all his attention to the task of
ascertaining exactly how many lambs had been delivered. This done, he
briefly addressed the jury. They were obliged, he conceded, to bring in
a verdict against his client; but he asked them to make sure of the
exact damage sustained by the plaintiff, in order that both parties
might have simple justice. And this was done.[ii-36]

To these stories should be added the testimony of Judge Joseph
Gillespie, a leading Illinois attorney: “Mr. Lincoln’s love of justice
and fair play was his predominating trait. I have often listened to him
when I thought he would certainly state his case out of court. It was
not in his nature to assume, or attempt to bolster up, a false position.
He would abandon his case first. He did so in the case of Buckmaster for
the use of Dedham _versus_ Beems and Arthur, in our Supreme Court, in
which I happened to be opposed to him. Another gentleman, less
fastidious, took Mr. Lincoln’s place and gained the case.”[ii-37]

But perhaps his most notable desertion of a client occurred once at
Postville, before Circuit Judge Treat, in the midst of a Logan County
trial. The suit of Hoblit against Farmer had come up on appeal from a
decision given by some local justice of the peace. What the alleged
circumstances were Lincoln did not know until he was retained, in the
Circuit Court, to represent the plaintiff. That worthy went upon the
witness stand to prove his claim. After testifying about the items of
the account against Farmer, and after allowing all set-offs, he swore
positively that the balance had not been paid. Yet when the defendant’s
attorney, Asahel Gridley, produced a receipt in full, given prior to the
bringing of the action, the witness was obliged to admit that he had
signed the paper. Whether or not it had been introduced at the original
hearing is left in doubt, as the story goes; but there can be no
question about the plaintiff’s surprise. Taken off his guard, Hoblit
turned to his counsel and exclaimed that he “supposed the cuss had lost
it.” Whereupon Lincoln arose, and left the court-room. Taking notice of
his departure, Judge Treat sent the sheriff, Dr. John Deskins, in
pursuit. When that officer found the missing lawyer, he was seated in
the tavern across the court-house square, with his feet on the stove and
his head among the clouds.

“Mr. Lincoln,” said the sheriff, “the judge wants you.”

“Oh, does he?” was the reply. “Well, you go back and tell the judge that
I can’t come. My hands are dirty and I came over to clean them.”[ii-38]

The message was duly delivered to the honorable court, and Lincoln’s
unprincipled client suffered a nonsuit.[ii-39]

There is a pretty little sequel to this episode. Some time later, when
Gridley discontinued practice for more lucrative pursuits, he manifested
his confidence in Lincoln, as well as his esteem, by transferring his
entire law business to him without compensation. This was somewhat after
the manner in which Robert Carter Nicholas, a veteran member of the
profession during a former generation, had turned over his clientage to
Patrick Henry. But no such encounter appears to have taken place between
the Virginians as has just been related concerning the Illinois men. Nor
is it to be expected. That abandonment by Lincoln of a case in
mid-career, so to say, without regard for the judge’s wishes, is perhaps
unique. It certainly is characteristic. There are instances of honorable
counsel, who, finding themselves in the course of a trial grossly misled
by their clients, have declined to serve them further, and have obtained
leave from the court to withdraw. But if any other celebrated American
pleader, at any time during his career, rushed from a court-room in a
passion of righteous indignation over such a deception, and refused to
return upon the mandate of the presiding magistrate, that occurrence is
not commonly known. Moreover, from a professional point of view, the
propriety, generally speaking, of Lincoln’s course in these matters has
been gravely questioned. Some critics, conceding the misconduct of the
clients whom he deserted, still appear to think that his treatment of
them detracted somewhat from his character as a lawyer. And with reason,
if an advocate’s first duty, as has been repeatedly asserted, is
fidelity to the cause in which his services are enlisted. Yet how far
does that duty require him to go after he has lost confidence in the
rectitude of his cause? Some barristers--and the number includes men of
distinction--have frankly set no limits to their obligations. They hold
that a lawyer, once he has accepted a client’s retainer, is pledged to
stand by him through thick and thin. The blacker the evidence develops
against him, in a criminal action, or the less palpable become the
merits of his case in a civil one, the more firmly they consider his
counsel bound in honor to battle for a verdict. Should that verdict, if
it is finally won, seem contrary to morality or justice, the fault, in
their opinion, does not lie with the man to whose skill and eloquence it
may be due. His attention, they believe, was properly fixed, to the
exclusion of everything else, upon that part of the proceedings which
had been committed to his care. If the same singleness of purpose,
perhaps the same ability with which he discharged this function, had
been exercised by the attorney on the other side, as well as by the
judge and the jury, to say nothing of witnesses and lawmakers, the
administration of justice would, according to their code, have been
secure. It is as though they were priests in the temple of the
blindfolded goddess, interceding for sinners no less persuasively than
for saints; as though, serving every comer however unclean, they thought
it no shame on their sacred office if they seized a chance, when the
divinity should relax her vigilance, or the high-priest should nod, to
jog the delicately poised balance in their suppliant’s favor.

Such a theory of advocacy revolted Lincoln. Indeed, his whole career at
the bar was a protest against the conception of a lawyer’s duty that
imposes upon him any fancied requirement to procure a judgment of which
his conscience disapproves. He had little or no sympathy, therefore,
with the loyalty-at-any-cost practitioners; and he would not join them,
it goes without saying, on those slippery paths of sophistry, which wind
too often through the ivory gates of falsehood. What criticism, if any,
he made of their conduct is not definitely known. Yet we almost seem to
hear him exclaim, as Carlyle did, “Can there be a more horrible object
in existence than an eloquent man not speaking the truth?”

These reflections, be it said, apply all in all to some only of the
counselors who stand by their colors, after they discover them to be
tarnished; for many faithful members of the profession regard the
advocate’s mission in a different light. He is bound, they admit, to
remain in a case after a trial has begun, especially if retained for the
defense; and this, however distasteful or even reprehensible his
client’s side may prove to be. That client, according to their theory,
must be represented, to the close of the action, by his legal adviser,
or the whole judicial machinery, of which an attorney on each side is an
essential part, breaks down. In this nicely adjusted mechanism, they
claim, the functions of the advocate, and those of the judge as well as
the jury, are exercised on widely different planes, so that under normal
conditions their operations can never coalesce. Should counsel,
therefore, in the midst of a trial, assume the judicial rôle, condemn
his own cause before the hour of judgment, and deny his own client the
protection which had impliedly been pledged, he would, in their eyes,
commit a gross breach of professional propriety. Nay, more, his course
would involve, they contend, a betrayal of both court and client,--a
Quixotic freak, in which private and public interests would alike be
sacrificed. So far, both classes of practitioners who will not abandon a
cause, after they find it tainted, appear to move abreast; but at this
point their ways part. While the one advocate leaves not a stone
unturned, as the expression goes, to extricate his man--right or
wrong--with a sweeping victory, the other, deeming himself under no
obligation to strive for an obviously unjust verdict, remains to
safeguard his client’s legal rights, presents his case fairly on the
evidence, and does in his behalf all that an honorable officer of the
court may do, without lending himself to an evasion of the law or a
perversion of justice.

This latter conception of what a lawyer owes at once to conscience and
to society had doubtless impressed itself on Lincoln’s good sense. For
he tried hard enough, in several instances, to conduct forlorn hopes to
their bitter conclusions. But here again the compelling honesty of the
man’s nature thwarted his efforts, until it would almost seem as if, by
a singular paradox, he really evinced more loyalty when he deserted,
than when he stood his ground to make a half-hearted fight.

Lincoln’s ineptitude on the latter occasions vexed his colleagues not a
little. They appear to have been embarrassed more by his halting
coöperation than by an out-and-out withdrawal from a case. One of his
local associates on the circuit, Henry C. Whitney, has related several
unpleasant experiences of this nature; and from the warmth with which he
writes, many years after the event, one may infer how acute must have
been the narrator’s irritation at the time. Perhaps one of these
anecdotes, in Mr. Whitney’s own language, will best illustrate the whole
peculiar matter. He is telling about the trial of a man for a homicide
committed at Sadorus, Illinois:--

“When the facts were brought out before the petit jury, it was very
clearly developed that the indictment should have been for murder,
instead of--what it was--for manslaughter, and Lincoln was evidently of
that opinion. Mr. Lincoln, Leonard Swett, and myself were associated for
the defense. The wife of the accused had wealthy and influential
relations in Vermillion County, and no pains were spared to make a good
defense. Swett and myself took the lawyer’s view, and were anxious to
acquit entirely. Lincoln sat in our counsels, but took little part in
them. His opinion was fixed and could not be changed. He joined in the
trial, but with no enthusiasm. His logically honest mind chilled his
efforts.

“Lincoln was to make the last speech to the jury on our side, and Swett
the speech preceding. Swett was then, as he was long afterward, the most
effective jury advocate in the State, except Lincoln. He occupied one
evening on this occasion, and when he closed, I was full of faith that
our client would be acquitted entirely. Lincoln followed on our side,
the next morning, and while he made some good points, the honesty of his
mental processes forced him into a line of argument and admission that
was very damaging. We all felt that he had hurt our case.

“I recollect one incident that we regarded as especially atrocious.
Swett had dwelt with deep pathos upon the condition of the family--there
being several small children, and his wife then on the verge of
confinement with another. Lincoln himself adverted to this, but only to
disparage it as an argument, saying that the proper place for such
appeals was to a legislature who framed laws, rather than to a jury who
must decide upon evidence. Nor was this done on account of any dislike
to Swett, for he was especially fond of Swett as an advocate and
associate. In point of fact, our client was found guilty, and sent to
the penitentiary for three years; and Lincoln, whose merciless logic
drove him into the belief that the culprit was guilty of murder, had his
humanity so wrought upon, that he induced the Governor to pardon him out
after he had served one year.”[ii-40]

If Mr. Lincoln’s course during that trial struck his
fellow-practitioners as “atrocious,” it might be interesting to know
what epithet would have sufficed to express their feelings had they
been concerned with him in his first matter before the Supreme Court of
Illinois. Appearing on that occasion for the appellant,--according to
Judge Treat, the commonly accepted authority for an extraordinary
tale,--he 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.”[ii-41]

That speech is probably without parallel in the history of appeals from
judicial decisions. An approach to the spirit which actuated it may be
found in the career of William Pinkney, the renowned Maryland advocate.
Having gained a verdict for a client from the Court of Chancery, he
became convinced of its injustice when the claim was made, on appeal,
that not all the parties in interest were before the court. The point
impressed itself on his mind as well taken. He promptly so declared, and
without any attempt at sustaining the decree, allowed it to be reversed.

Lawyers, whose fealty to the truth exercised such an overmastering
influence upon their conduct, would have graced the bench. Yet neither
of these illustrious men, it should be added, attained judicial honors;
unless indeed we count Lincoln’s irregular elevation to the
judgment-seat by David Davis, who appointed him, from time to
time,--without legal sanction, however, for so doing,--to preside over
his court. The substitution appears to have been made for the
convenience of all concerned, when the judge could not be present; and
both sides are said, as a rule, to have consented gladly thereto.[ii-42]
Once a whole term for Champaign County was held, it is asserted, in this
unauthorized way. But how successfully the pseudo-magistrate dispensed
justice must, by reason of the meager details that have been preserved,
be left largely to conjecture. Did Lincoln, some may ask, really possess
the attributes of a great judge? The query will, perhaps, suggest itself
to those who are fond of reconstructing history around events that
failed to happen. If they take account of his faculty for seeing both
sides of a question with crystal clearness, his mellow wisdom, his
inflexible love of truth, and, above all, his militant sympathy with the
right against the wrong, their fancy may well picture him, under altered
circumstances, mounting to a place beside the leading jurists of
Illinois. Breese, Caton, and their compeers, developing that admirable
system of jurisprudence which distinguished the Prairie State, might,
indeed, have profited by his collaboration.



CHAPTER III

PROFESSIONAL ETHICS


If the judicial rather than the forensic temperament swayed Lincoln’s
conduct as a lawyer, it should be remembered that this was a drawback
only when he found himself on the wrong side of a suit. When he stood on
the right side, with time enough to exert all the faculties of his
slow-moving mind, no advocate in the State was more skillful and
effective. Indeed, those very qualities which impaired his usefulness
for the winning of a bad cause made him especially strong in a good one.
After he himself was convinced that his client ought to prevail, he
rarely failed to imbue judge and jury with the same belief.[iii-1] This
should be attributed somewhat to Lincoln’s reputation for avoiding
unworthy cases. The commonly accepted idea that he would appear only in
matters of which his conscience approved, gave him, from the very
beginning of a trial, an advantage not to be despised. But what he did,
or omitted to do, as the proceedings advanced, contributed still more,
it may be needless to add, toward the gaining of a verdict. His methods
make one wonder whether there may not be more than a stale gibe at the
legal profession tucked away somewhere in the query of the lad who
asked,--“Father, do lawyers tell the truth?” and the jesting
answer,--“Yes, my son; lawyers will do anything to win a case.” For
Lincoln in court was truth in action. His simple adherence to facts made
as vivid an impression on those who heard him as did his intellectual
powers, which were, by the way, of no mean order. The man’s
interpretation of the law, his logic, his eloquence, his humor, his
homely, common-sense view of things--all shone in the light of a
never-failing candor. While he was trying a cause, strangers who
happened to enter the court-room usually found themselves, after a few
moments,--if contemporary accounts may be accepted,--on his side and
wishing him success. Yet success, in the ordinary meaning of that term,
did not, to all appearances, alone concern him. What engaged most of his
attention, apparently, was how to present the affair in hand as it had
actually happened, without regard to his client’s interests. In fact,
every step that he took, as the trial moved along, seemed intended, not
so much to secure a victory as to sift out the truth and establish
justice at any cost.

Reverting, unconsciously perhaps, to the time-honored though quite
obsolete idea of a counselor’s duties, he conducted himself more like
the helpful friend or adviser of the court than like a modern advocate
striving for a decision. As one of his most intimate colleagues, Leonard
Swett, relates: “Where most lawyers would object he would say he
‘reckoned’ it would be fair to let this in, or that; and sometimes, when
his adversary could not quite prove what Lincoln knew to be the truth,
he ‘reckoned’ it would be fair to admit the truth to be so-and-so. When
he did object to the court, and when he heard his objections answered,
he would often say, ‘Well, I reckon I must be wrong.’”[iii-2]

This equable disposition extended in a marked degree to Lincoln’s manner
of conducting an examination. His own witnesses usually told their story
in response to a few straightforward, kindly questions, and those who
took the stand on the other side were treated by him with the same frank
courtesy. He had a good-natured way of making these people feel at home
amidst unaccustomed surroundings, while draining them adroitly of what
they knew about the case on trial. It was so clearly his aim, moreover,
to arrive at the facts, rather than to score winning points, that time
after time hostile witnesses mellowed under the charm of his sincerity
and, contrary to their original intentions, told the truth. Candor
begets candor. The light which shines through an upright man’s eyes
often kindles a responsive gleam in the heart of a shuffler. And when,
as in Lincoln’s case, that upright man was a shrewd lawyer, controlling
an unwilling witness with all the masterful tact of a seer to whom human
nature must have read like an open book, we begin to understand how one
usually self-restrained biographer--himself a member of the bar--came to
believe the cross-examiner “endowed,” at such moments, “with psychic
qualities of extraordinary power.”

Less occult gifts, however, suffice to explain some of these
achievements. For here, as elsewhere in Lincoln’s practice, notable
results were reached by simple, open methods. How easily he extracted
the facts, for instance, from one unfriendly witness has been told in a
characteristic anecdote by the man himself. This was the Honorable James
T. Hoblit, of Lincoln, Illinois. Recalling his discomfiture and the
attorney who caused it, he once said:--

“I shall never forget my experience with him. I was subpœnaed in a
case brought by one Paullin against my uncle, and I knew too much about
the matter in dispute for my uncle’s good. The case was not of vital
importance, but it seemed very serious to me, for I was a mere boy at
the time. Mr. Paullin had owned a bull which was continually raiding his
neighbor’s corn, and one day my uncle ordered his boys to drive the
animal out of his fields, and not to use it too gently either. Well, the
boys obeyed the orders only too literally, for one of them harpooned the
bull with a pitchfork, injuring it permanently, and I saw enough of the
occurrence to make me a dangerous witness. The result was that Paullin
sued my uncle, the boys were indicted for malicious mischief, Mr.
Lincoln was retained by the plaintiff, who was determined to make an
example of somebody, and I was subpœnaed as a witness.

“My testimony was, of course, of the highest possible importance,
because the plaintiff couldn’t make my cousins testify, and I had every
reason to want to forget what I had seen, and though pretty frightened,
I determined, when I took the stand, to say as little as possible. Well,
as soon as I told Mr. Lincoln my full name he became very much
interested, asking me if I wasn’t some relative of his old friend John
Hoblit who kept the halfway house between Springfield and Bloomington;
and when I answered that he was my grandfather, Mr. Lincoln grew very
friendly, plying me with all sorts of questions about family matters;
which put me completely at my ease, and before I knew what was
happening, I had forgotten to be hostile and he had the whole story.
After the trial he met me outside the court-room and stopped to tell me
that he knew I hadn’t wanted to say anything against my people, but that
though he sympathized with me, I had acted rightly and no one could
criticize me for what I had done. The whole matter was afterward
adjusted, but I never forgot his friendly and encouraging words at a
time when I needed sympathy and consolation.”[iii-3]

Of course, all opposing witnesses were not so pliant. They failed
frequently to give Lincoln the answers that he sought; yet his patience
and courtesy lost nothing of their fine flavor, as long as the man on
the stand appeared to be telling the truth. There were no efforts made
to confuse him by artfully framed questions, or to entrap him into
seeming contradictions. Above all, he was safe from brow-beating,
because this level-headed advocate apparently never committed the fault
of harassing an honest witness. Lincoln’s spirit of fair play forbade
any such behavior, even if the spirit of wisdom had not taught him, from
the very beginning, what so many learned gentlemen at the bar fail,
throughout their entire careers, to grasp, that the art of
cross-examination rarely consists in examining crossly.

But there came a time, now and then, when this even-tempered giant, with
his homely, magnetic smile, did become cross--how cross, only those who
caught the direct impact of his anger fully realized. Let some scamp try
to tell him a lie from the witness-chair, and the fellow’s troubles
began. He could hardly have brought his spurious wares to a less
profitable market. For, slow as Lincoln generally was to doubt another’s
probity, so quick was he to detect false values when that probity fell
under suspicion. And cunningly woven, indeed, must have been the web of
perjury which his logical mind--once it set about the task--could not
unravel. He had a disconcerting way of stripping unsound testimony, with
one searching question after another, until the futile cheat lay exposed
in all its nakedness. Then his contempt for the discredited witness knew
no bounds. Kindness gave way to severity. Words that scorched came hot
and fast. It was as if some sacred thing had been violated. And what
happens after one arouses the fury of a patient man, received uncommonly
vivid illustration.

He was once trying a railway case for the defense, when the plaintiff,
testifying in his own behalf, flagrantly misstated certain facts. The
perjurer’s attorney, on addressing the jury, tried to excite prejudice
against the defendant company by making the trite charge that on one
side was “a flesh-and-blood man,” with a soul such as the jurymen had,
while on the other was a soulless corporation. To which Lincoln
indignantly replied: “Counsel avers that his client has a soul. This is
possible, of course, but from the way he has testified under oath in
this case, to gain, or hoping to gain, a few paltry dollars, he would
sell, nay, has already sold, his little soul very low. But our client is
but a conventional name for thousands of widows and orphans whose
husbands’ and parents’ hard earnings are represented by this defendant,
and who possess souls which they would not swear away as the plaintiff
has done for ten million times as much as is at stake here.”[iii-4]

It would be wrong to infer that Lincoln’s scorn for untruthfulness on
the stand was visited upon the heads of opposing witnesses only. His own
witnesses, when they sulked under cross-examination or tried to mislead
counsel on the other side, had a taste of his quality in this respect.
He even went so far, at times, as to rebuke them in open court for their
misbehavior.

An occurrence of this character--there are said to have been several--is
related by a colleague of Lincoln, Anthony Thornton, who says: “On one
occasion he and I were associate counsel in an important lawsuit, when
he exhibited his love of right and fairness in a remarkable manner. John
T. Stuart, of Springfield, was counsel for the opposite party. It was a
trial by jury. I examined the witnesses and Mr. Lincoln attended to the
legal questions involved. I had examined an intelligent witness whose
testimony was clear and satisfactory, and readily given. When the
cross-examination commenced, this witness hesitated, manifested
reluctance to answer, and was evasive in his replies. Mr. Lincoln arose
and addressed the court, and publicly and severely reprimanded the
witness. It was a dangerous experiment which might have brought
discredit on our most important witness. His object, however, was
accomplished, and the witness answered promptly all questions on
cross-examination.”[iii-5]

This act is perhaps unique in the annals of the American bar. At all
events, its fellow--if there ever was one--has not become known to
general literature. Nor is this surprising, for there have not been many
Lincolns, and reputable lawyers of to-day hardly see fit to follow such
an example. A pleader who would do so--in fact, one who generally
speaking would employ that remarkable man’s methods with success--must
not only have faith in the merits of his cases, but he must be
efficiently honest, too, to the backbone. For Lincoln’s plan of conduct
rested upon the single virtue which, in the nature of things, is least
easily simulated. Had he failed at crucial points to be straightforward,
without shuffling or reserve, had the delicate image of truth, which he
sought to rear, leaned ever so little out of true, to the north or the
south or the east or the west, that entire fair fabric would, at the
first jolt, inevitably have fallen to the ground in ruins before the
very eyes of the jury.

How well this advocate stood the test in doubtless many trying
situations, judges and lawyers have admiringly recounted. Justice Breese
spoke, as it were, for the bench when he said that Lincoln practiced
“none of the chicanery of the profession to which he was devoted, nor
any of those mean, and little, and shuffling, and dishonorable arts all
do not avoid.”[iii-6] The judgment of the bar was as comprehensively
summed up in these words of Mr. Whitney: “Unlike the average lawyer, he
would not do anything mean, or which savored of dishonesty or sharp
practice, or which required absolute sophistry or chicanery in order to
succeed.”

Turning up a leaf in his own early experiences, that same associate
says: “When I was new to the bar, I was trying to keep some evidence
out, and was getting along very well with the court, when Lincoln sung
out, ‘I reckon it would be fair to let that in.’ It sounded treasonable,
but I had to get used to this eccentricity.”[iii-7]

Perhaps the clearest conception of Lincoln’s fidelity to his own high
standards of practice, even when beset by almost compelling temptations,
is derived from Mr. Herndon’s account of an incident which occurred
during their partnership. To do the story justice it should be told,
without abridgment, in the narrator’s own language.

“Messrs. Stuart and Edwards,” he relates, “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 skillfully 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.”

To which Mr. Herndon adds the significant comment: “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.”[iii-8]

Apparently Lincoln differed from his brother lawyers in being equipped
with a vizualizing sense of what has well been called “the moment
after.” Taking a firm stand, moreover, on the old moral dictum that
nothing can need a lie, he avoided the quirks and quillets which have so
often brought reproach upon the administration of the law. For Cicero’s
theory of a pleader’s occasional duty “to maintain the plausible, though
it may not be the truth,” evidently found no favor in his eyes. Nor did
he look more kindly upon false pleas to impede justice when they were
made by his friends and colleagues. Some of them, hard-pressed for a
valid defense, did so in the Chase case--an action brought before
Lincoln as deputy judge, during one of those irregular sittings on the
Circuit Court bench that he owed, as we have seen, to Davis’s
appointment. This particular trial, if such it may be called, is the
only instance among his judicial experiences of which a detailed report
has come down to us. The suit was instituted to collect a promissory
note given by some citizens of Champaign County to one Chase, with the
understanding that he would establish a newspaper. Failing to keep his
agreement he had, nevertheless, transferred the note before maturity to
an innocent holder, who now sued for the money. There was no good
defense, yet several young lawyers had been retained by the makers of
the note to do what they could toward warding off a decision. Whenever
the plaintiff pressed for judgment, this whole array of budding legal
talent ranged itself before the bench and, by resorting to every
conceivable shift, succeeded in securing postponement after
postponement. Seemingly the old legal maxim, “justice delayed is justice
denied,” would soon have one more literal illustration. So matters stood
on the last day of the term. Court was about to close, and the plaintiff
again demanded judgment, to which counsel for the defendants, as before,
strenuously objected. Finally Lincoln announced that he would return at
candlelight to dispose of that case. He came accordingly, took his seat
at the clerk’s desk, and called for the papers. Finding no proper
defense on file, he began to write an order, when one of the young
attorneys, his friend and associate in several matters, interposed
saying that a demurrer had been entered. But Lincoln continued to write,
merely changing the form and reading aloud, as he wrote:--

  L. D. Chaddon                    } April term, 1856.
  _vs._                            }
  J. D. Beasley _et al._           } _In Assumpsit._

Ordered by the Court: Plea in abatement by B. Z. Greene, a defendant not
served, filed Saturday, April 24, (?) 1856, at 11 o’clock A.M., be
stricken from the files by order of Court. Demurrer to declaration, if
ever there was one, overruled. Defendants, who are served now, at 8
o’clock P.M. of the last day of the term, ask to plead to the merits,
which is denied by the Court, on the ground that the offer comes too
late, and therefore, as by _nil dicit_, judgment is rendered for
plaintiff. Clerk assess damages.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“How can we get this up to the Supreme Court?” inquired the somewhat
dazed young man who had spoken last.

In Lincoln’s ready reply may be discerned the pent-up scorn of a whole
session. “You all have been so smart about this case,” said he, “that
you can find out for yourselves how to carry it up.” And court stood
adjourned.[iii-9]

A more serious affair was that of the youthful practitioner who
disgraced himself at the Bloomington bar. While serving as a law
student, he had improved the opportunity to make himself acquainted with
certain important facts concerning a suit in which his preceptor
represented the plaintiff. Disclosing this information some time
thereafter to the defendant, whose counsel he became, the young man used
it in behalf of the one client against the other. Proceedings for his
disbarment were about to ensue when the offender threw himself upon the
clemency of the court, with a promise to leave the country and sin no
more. This impressed Judge Davis as the simplest way out of an
unpleasant duty. He stipulated, however, that the culprit, before
departing, should submit to a rebuke in open court, and selected
Lincoln to administer the lesson.

There must have been more of sorrow than of anger in the little speech
whereby this delicate office was discharged. The speaker, it is said,
sketched in a few well-chosen words an attorney’s obligations to his
client, and pointed out how the man at the bar, by betraying those who
trusted him, had forfeited public confidence. But most impressive of all
was the sympathy of this highly esteemed lawyer for the young colleague
in disgrace. “We bid you God-speed,” he concluded, with a clasp of the
hand, “in a work that will make you a better man.” And a better man the
other did indeed become. Seeking out a new field beyond the borders of
the State, he eventually made a place for himself there as an honored
member of the profession.[iii-10]

To infer from either of these two episodes that Lincoln was disposed to
lord it over his less experienced fellow barristers would be far from
the fact. How fairly he treated them many a timid beginner at the bar,
facing him as opposing counsel, had reason to remember. Not only did his
unaffected kindness set the young men at their ease and encourage their
efforts, but his frank concessions met them, as we have seen, more than
halfway in establishing points which otherwise might have been hard to
make. Nor were these generous little acts confined to our attorney’s
dealings with juniors. Any of the lawyers pitted against him might have
had similar experiences. They certainly were favored, at times, beyond
their legal rights, and that, too, on occasions remote from the
publicity of the court-room. A typical instance may be seen in the
letter from Lincoln to an associate that has recently come to light. It
read, in part: “Herewith I return the notices which I will thank you to
serve and return as before requested. This notice is not required by
_law_; and I am giving it merely because I think _fairness_ requires
it.”[iii-11]

Concerning the writer’s deportment in court, the judge before whom he
tried probably more causes than before all other judges combined, tells
us: “Mr. Lincoln was the fairest and most accommodating of
practitioners, granting all favors which he could do consistently with
his duty to his client, and rarely availing himself of an unwary
oversight of his adversary.”[iii-12]

To what lengths he carried this equitable procedure evinced itself
during the trial of a railroad suit, at which counsel on the other side
were, so to say, caught napping. The case having gone in Lincoln’s
favor, a decision was about to be given for the amount claimed by his
client, deducting a proved and allowed counter-claim, when the
successful attorney became convinced that his opponents had not proved
all the items justly due them as offsets. He promptly called attention
to this omission. The judge, agreeing with him, noted an additional
allowance against his client, and pronounced judgment accordingly.[iii-13]
Even-handed Justice herself could not have trimmed the balance truer.
Here was “the square deal” incarnate. And its spirit, interesting to
observe, animated Abraham Lincoln’s work-a-day conduct, in this most
trying of all professions, half a century or so before another
distinguished American, holding an ideal aloft for the admiration of a
nation, raised the expression itself to the dignity of a political
watchword.

Lincoln’s tendency to concede all that might reasonably be demanded of
him during a trial manifested itself chiefly when he came to the closing
argument. Here, neither the law nor the evidence could be noticed to
suffer the slightest perversion at his hands. In fact, as has been
frequently remarked, the statement with which he customarily began a
summing-up covered the case for the other side more fully and more
forcibly than did anything offered by his opponent. For this man’s
conscience ruled his intellect. In his make-up were happily blended that
rare faculty which can see, with comprehending eyes, the reverse of a
shield, and that still rarer courage which can expose the unfavorable
aspect to view, without flinching. So every point scored against him was
frankly acknowledged. Giving up advantage after advantage,--even
volunteering admissions which seemed well-nigh fatal to his cause,--he
moved steadily forward through the opening portion of such an argument,
like a seasoned philosopher conducting some abstract inquiry. There was
a savor, too, of passionless logic about what he said, that still more
suggests the ancient scholar. Indeed, his whole bearing, at this stage,
reminds one of the serene candor and the equally placid confidence in
the ultimate triumph of truth, whereby Thomas Aquinas, greatest among
schoolmen, has endeared himself, for all time, to those who love honest
reasoning.

Nor was Lincoln’s sincerity lost, in his day, upon those who were best
qualified to appreciate it. The judges of the Illinois Supreme Court
rated these habitual acts of fair play at their true value; and one of
them, Justice Koerner, speaking for the whole bench, once said: “We
always admired his extreme fairness in stating his adversary’s case as
well as his own.”[iii-14]

But how did the practice impress others? As if to answer this query, a
well-known newspaper man has left some good copy, made many years after
the event, concerning a certain trial that he reported at Chicago, in
the autumn of 1857.

“It was a railroad case,” says Colonel Hinton who tells the story; “and
as I was reading law at the time, I soon became interested in the points
involved. I remember thinking as I made my notes that the counsel
opposing the corporation had a sure thing of it. But my attention was
soon closely attracted to the counsel who rose to reply. ‘The homeliest
man I ever saw,’ was the thought I had. When I heard a judge speak to
him as ‘Mr. Lincoln,’ I recalled having heard the name before. A
reporter present told me that he was from Springfield, and at once I
remembered the Boston mention of him, and my interest became alert. The
one impression I retain apart from the striking and quaint appearance he
presented, was the fact that in his opening remarks he seemed to me to
be ‘giving his case away’ by the remarkably lucid and vigorous manner
in which by recapitulating the summary of the previous argument he
presented the argument and law of his opponent. With the ‘freshness’ of
a cock-sure student, I at once concluded he was a beaten man.”[iii-15]

The colonel goes on to relate how “the homeliest man” was not “beaten,”
but that is another story. Sticking to our text, we find ourselves
wondering what Lincoln’s clients, generally speaking, thought of him, at
about this stage in the proceedings. And it is not surprising to learn
that sometimes they “trembled with apprehension” for the verdicts which
his tactics seemingly endangered.[iii-16] Nor was this feeling of alarm
confined to clients. Some of his colleagues at the bar, when concerned
with him in the trying of causes, could never quite accustom themselves
to sit tranquilly by, while he bestowed important admissions on counsel
for the other side. His liberality toward adverse evidence, that so
disturbed Mr. Whitney, as the reader will remember, must have seemed
even more reprehensible to such associates when it cropped out in the
final argument.

A striking instance of this occurred during the famous Rock Island
Bridge litigation which, despite certain differences in the telling, may
have been the case that Colonel Hinton reported. The action was tried at
Chicago, in September, 1857, before the United States Circuit Court, the
honorable John McLean presiding. It had grown out of the clash between
the boatmen on the Mississippi River and the railroad people who
maintained a recently erected bridge across that stream, from Rock
Island, Illinois, to Davenport, Iowa. When the structure was planned,
several years previous, efforts to place legal obstacles in the way of
the project had been made without success. And upon the completion of
the undertaking, this quarrel appears to have raged more fiercely than
ever, until it had culminated in the destruction of a steamboat, the
Effie Afton, which came to grief on piers of the bridge. Her owners had
promptly brought suit for damages. The case was entitled, “Hurd _et al.
vs._ The Railroad and Bridge Company,” but these words meant more than
met the eye. Behind the litigants themselves were arrayed powerful
antagonists. The action might not incorrectly have been called, “River
Traffic _versus_ Railroads,” or “The Mississippi Valley _versus_ The Far
West,” or “St. Louis _versus_ Chicago”; for it involved vital points, on
which turned the future welfare of all these conflicting interests.
Their struggle naturally focussed the attention of a vast region on the
trial, and when proceedings began, men from all over the West crowded
the Federal court-room.

The Chicago and Rock Island Railroad Company, through its attorney,
Norman B. Judd, had retained Lincoln, among others, as counsel for the
defense. There was some favorable comment on the skill with which he
brought out the evidence; but when he discussed this evidence, in the
closing argument, one of his associates, Joseph Knox, was not so
pleased. In fact, that gentleman became alarmed to such a degree over
what Lincoln conceded that when court adjourned for the day, before the
speech was finished, he despaired of success. His indignation found
vent in a talk with Judd.

“Lincoln has lost the case for us,” he said. “The admissions he made in
regard to the currents in the Mississippi at Rock Island and Moline will
convince the court that a bridge at that point will always be a serious
and constant detriment to navigation on the river.”

“Wait until you hear the conclusion of his speech,” replied Mr. Judd.
“You will find his admission is a strong point instead of a weak one,
and on it he will found a strong argument that will satisfy
you.”[iii-17]

So indeed it proved to be. Before he closed, Lincoln did his own side
ample justice, and demonstrated to a victorious conclusion that,
currents or no currents, one man has as good a right to cross over a
river as another has to sail up and down.[iii-18]

Judd was not the only colleague who appraised this method at its full
value. Leonard Swett, sharing with our straightforward advocate the
leadership, as some thought, of the Eighth Circuit, and conducting many
causes, now with him now against him, had learned, when on the opposing
side, to be wary of gifts from Lincoln’s hands.

“If his adversary,” said Swett, “didn’t understand him, he would wake up
in a few moments, finding he had feared the Greeks too late, and wake up
to find himself beaten. He was ‘wise as a serpent’ in the trial of a
case, but I have got too many scars from his blows to certify that he
was ‘harmless as a dove.’ When the whole thing is unraveled the
adversary begins to see that what he was so blandly giving away, was
simply what he couldn’t get and keep. By giving away six points and
carrying the seventh, he carried his case; and, the whole case hanging
on the seventh, he traded away everything which would give him the least
aid in carrying that. Any one who took Lincoln for a simple-minded man
would very soon wake up on his back, in a ditch.”[iii-19]

This rather cynical analysis of the situation is significant. It
discloses the controlling factor upon which almost every case at bar
turns as on a hinge. To discern with precision where that pivotal point
lies may perhaps be deemed the prime requisite for a successful pleader.
The converse is of almost equal importance. “Never plead what you need
not,” said Lincoln, “lest you oblige yourself to prove what you
cannot.”[iii-20] And when, as in his practice, the vital issue is
pressed home, only after all vulnerable positions have been squarely
surrendered, the effect must seem at times well-nigh irresistible. Even
courts cannot help yielding something to one who yields so much. And
what he holds on to naturally prevails, with double force, by reason of
what he has given away. Addressing himself, then, to hearers thus
favorably disposed, Lincoln’s final statement of his own side left
little need for argument. In fact, they said of him,--as has from time
to time been said of Lord Mansfield, Chief Justice Marshall, Daniel
Webster, and less distinguished lawyers endowed with equal power,--his
statement of a case was worth the argument of another man. For here
again, the precision, clearness, and veracity of his mental operations
came into play. He would disentangle a complicated matter step for
step, until the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, stood
revealed to all. It was as if each successive word were set in place,
after the manner of Hugh Miller’s master, the Cromarty mason, who “made
conscience of every stone he laid.”

Lincoln’s conscience withal did double duty. His fealty to the cause of
justice was not allowed to crowd out an ever-present sense of what he
owed his client. In only rare instances and then, it is true, to that
client’s detriment, as we have seen, did these obligations clash. When
they harmonized, the advocate did not spare himself. Nor did his theory
concerning the essentials of a case betray him into omissions. Making an
argument once before one of the higher courts, he gave an elaborate
history of the law governing the matter in question. It was a masterly
discourse, prepared with much care, but as his partner thought, wholly
unnecessary. On their way home, Mr. Herndon, who tells the story, asked
Mr. Lincoln why he “went so far back in the history of the law,” adding
a surmise that the court knew it all.

“That’s where you’re mistaken,” was the instant reply. “I dared not
trust the case on the presumption that the court knows everything. In
fact, I argued it on the presumption that the court didn’t know
anything.”[iii-21]

There are, sooth to say, judicial decisions which almost seem to justify
such precautions. And we find ourselves wondering whether the speaker
knew that venerable anecdote of the counsel who, when interrupted by a
wearied Supreme Court Justice with the remark, “You must give this court
credit for knowing something,” replied, “That’s exactly the mistake I
made in the court below.”

Lincoln was himself, according to certain colleagues, occasionally
stopped from the bench, but for quite a different reason. His mere
statement of a matter sounded so clear and convincing that judges would,
at times, interpose before he could go on to his argument, with some
such words as: “If that is the case, Brother Lincoln, we will hear the
other side.”[iii-22]

Nor was he less felicitous in putting a winning touch to the confidence
of juries. When he faced them, at last, his lucid, even-handed methods
produced their strongest effects. “If I can free this case,” he was wont
to say, “from technicalities and get it properly swung to the jury, I’ll
win it.”[iii-23] To that end, the essential facts were so cogently
presented that they became almost self-evident. And the jurymen,
following a train of thought which reduced simplicity to its lowest
terms, easily fancied themselves in the speaker’s place, as though they,
not he, were making the statement. His anxiety to be right quickened
their anxiety to do right. It was seemingly their trial, not his; and he
conducted himself as if he were only assisting them to do their duty.
Every one of the twelve “free and lawful men,” even those who were least
intelligent, appear to have felt this. Indeed, throughout what Lincoln
said in addressing them, may be discerned a purpose, above all things,
to impress the truth upon that most important of all the personages in a
court, the dullest occupant of the jury-box. And how well he succeeded,
on the whole, is a matter of common repute. Some contemporaries went to
the extreme of saying--if we may credit one of them--that they could not
“expect a favorable verdict in any case where Lincoln was opposing
counsel, as his simple statements of the facts had more weight with the
jury than those of the witnesses.”[iii-24]

Such a result did, it is true, come about in at least one instance--the
trial of a tramp accused of murder. No one had seen the deed, but the
evidence, which proved to be purely circumstantial, pointed strongly
toward the prisoner. As the crime was of a brutal nature, feeling ran
high against him. A friendless stranger, in the midst of popular clamor,
his conviction appeared to be a foregone conclusion; and Lincoln, who
was appointed to defend, seemingly made but little headway. He contented
himself with eliciting from the witnesses full statements of what they
saw or knew. Evading nothing, suppressing nothing, making no attempt to
confuse those who testified or to present matters other than they were,
he helped the prosecuting attorney to bring out all the facts. When his
time came for addressing the jury, he called attention to the absence of
direct evidence. Frankly reviewing all the circumstances, and weighing
what seemed to prove the defendant’s guilt with what made for his
innocence, he concluded in about the following language: “I have looked
this matter over fully, candidly; and while I concede that the testimony
bears against my client, I am not sure that he is guilty. Are you?”

The prisoner was acquitted, and properly so, for some time thereafter
the real criminal was brought to justice.

“How different would have been the conduct of many lawyers!” exclaimed
the late Justice Brewer, of the United States Supreme Court, as he told
his story. “Some would have striven to lead the judge into technical
errors, with a view to an appeal to a higher court. Others would have
become hoarse in denunciation of witnesses, decrying the lack of
positive testimony and dwelling on the marvelous virtue of a reasonable
doubt. The simple, straightforward way of Lincoln, backed by the
confidence of the jury, won.”[iii-25]

That combination was hard to beat. Frequent repetitions of it gave
Lincoln, in time, a reputation which seems almost unique. There have
been advocates with more notable gifts of learning and eloquence, than
he could command; but few among them, if any, moved through our courts
with so large a measure of esteem. Yet it is going too far to say, as
Judge Caton did, that “no one ever accused him of taking an underhanded
or unfair advantage, in the whole course of his professional
career.”[iii-26] True, he was a general favorite on the circuit. His
fair, not to say generous, tactics made for good feeling; and to him,
perhaps, least of all that eager company, could have been applied the
ancient aspersion of the lawyer as a brawler for hire. Moreover, the “I
am holier than thou” pose, whereby the honored counselor sometimes seeks
to place less reputable opponents at a disadvantage, was wholly absent
from his demeanor. No practitioners, however low or discredited, met
here with discourtesy. Indeed, unless an adversary misbehaved in the
particular case on trial, Lincoln never uttered a word of personal
reproach which might unduly prejudice the jury. “Hence,” we are told,
“the meanest man at the bar always paid great deference and respect to
him.”[iii-27] But he did not wholly escape the penalty of his successes.
Some colleagues--and they should have known better--gave way to
jealousy. Those who sit in the shadow of the prophet’s mantle do not
always see the prophet. A few opponents were even known to question
Lincoln’s sincerity. His candor was in their eyes a cloak for trickery,
his unconventional manner a means of springing surprises on the unwary,
and his apparent fair dealing a bait for luring unsuspecting adversaries
to defeat. That an attorney smarting under a sense of failure might now
and then have felt this way is not surprising. Fresh from the reading of
Mr. Swett’s graphic little sketch, which left the vanquished one
floundering “on his back in a ditch,” we can appreciate the full force
of a statement made within recent years by Ezra Morton Prince, a
Bloomington attorney. Referring to these scattering charges of
unfairness, Mr. Prince, who attended many trials in the old circuit
days, says: “The truth is that Mr. Lincoln had a genius for seeing the
real point in a case at once, and aiming steadily at it from the
beginning of a trial to the end. The issue in most cases lies in very
narrow compass, and the really great lawyer disregards everything not
directly tending to that issue. The mediocre advocate is apt to miss
the crucial point in his case and is easily diverted with minor matters,
and when his eyes are opened he is usually angry and always surprised.
Mr. Lincoln instinctively saw the kernel of every case at the outset,
never lost sight of it, and never let it escape the jury. That was the
only trick I ever saw him play.”[iii-28]

If anybody knew Abraham Lincoln to do a dishonorable act, during all
these busy years in the courts, evidence to prove it has not been
forthcoming. And there have been iconoclasts enough at work on his
record to insure the telling of the story, had such an incident taken
place.

One opponent did, it must be said, in the heat of a certain famous
trial, accuse him of duplicity. The case was that of young Quinn
Harrison, sometimes called “Peachy,” arraigned for the murder of Greek
Crafton, a student in Lincoln’s office. While quarreling over some
political question, they had come to blows, and Crafton, sustaining a
knife-wound, had died within a few days. The young men, besides being
close friends, had been connected by marriage. Their families were
highly regarded. The prisoner’s people especially enjoyed good repute,
and that his grandfather was Dr. Peter Cartwright, the noted Methodist
circuit-rider, added not a little to popular sympathy in his behalf.
Notwithstanding all this, strenuous efforts were made to secure a
conviction. The regular prosecuting attorney, Amzi McWilliams, was
assisted by John M. Palmer and John A. McClernand. The defense had been
entrusted to Abraham Lincoln, Stephen T. Logan, William H. Herndon, and
Shelby M. Cullom. Able as the defendant’s counsel were, they achieved
but slight progress, for a time, in overcoming the strong case made out
against their client. It was only when Lincoln put Harrison’s
grandfather on the stand that the tide seemed to turn. Under his
examiner’s sympathetic guidance, the venerable preacher evinced how
fondly he loved the unfortunate young man, and told the story of his own
final interview with Crafton--a touching scene, in which the dying youth
charged Cartwright to tell “Peachy” that he forgave him. This formed the
basis of an appeal for mercy, in Lincoln’s closing argument. So wrought
up was the speaker by the pathos of the whole affair that he put aside
his dislike of such attempts to play on the sympathies of juries, and
made an eloquent plea for a verdict which should not set at naught the
slain man’s act of forgiveness. This speech made a profound impression.
It had moved those who listened, in fact, to a degree which disquieted
the prosecuting attorneys. One of them, as he arose to reply, was
determined that the effect must be counteracted, at all hazards.

“Well, gentlemen,” said he, “you have heard Mr. Lincoln--‘Honest Abe
Lincoln,’ they call him, I believe. And I suppose you think you have
heard the honest truth--or at least that Mr. Lincoln honestly believes
what he has told you to be the truth. I tell you, he believes no such
thing. That frank, ingenuous face of his, as you are weak enough to
suppose, those looks and tones of such unsophisticated simplicity, those
appeals to your minds and consciences as sworn jurors, are all assumed
for the occasion, gentlemen,--all a mask, gentlemen. You have been
listening for the last hour to an actor, who knows well how to play the
rôle of honest seeming, for effect.”

At this moment, amidst breathless stillness, Lincoln stood up. He was
deeply moved. It seemed as if every line of his gaunt features twitched
with pain. Facing the speaker he said: “You have known me for years, and
_you know_ that not a word of that language can be truthfully applied to
me.”

The prosecutor changed color, hesitated a moment, and then, his better
nature gaining the mastery, responded with much feeling: “Yes, Mr.
Lincoln, I do know it, and I take it all back.”

Many of those who were present could not resist the impulse to applaud,
as the two men approached each other and shook hands. The trial then
went on to its anticipated conclusion--Harrison’s acquittal.[iii-29]

On another occasion Lincoln took quite a different method of meeting an
unfair attack. His opponent in a case, while selecting the jury,
challenged a man because he was acquainted with counsel on the other
side. Such an objection appears to have been regarded, in those days, as
a reflection upon a lawyer’s honor. So Judge Davis, who was presiding at
the time, sharply overruled the challenge. Yet when Lincoln’s turn came
to examine the panel, he gravely followed the other’s lead and asked
them, one by one, whether they were acquainted with his adversary. After
several had answered in the affirmative, however, the judge interrupted
him.

“Now, Mr. Lincoln,” he said severely, “you are wasting time. The mere
fact that a juror knows your opponent does not disqualify him.”

“No, Your Honor,” retorted the advocate; “but I am afraid some of the
gentlemen may _not_ know him, which would place me at a
disadvantage.”[iii-30]

In only one other notable instance, so far as the writer’s knowledge
goes, has Lincoln’s integrity at the bar been directly questioned.
Charges of fabricating certain important evidence to save his client
grew out of a sensational episode in the camp-meeting murder trial. The
case was that of William (Duffy) Armstrong indicted for the killing of
James Preston Metzker, during a brawl near the Salt Creek camp-grounds,
a few miles from Mason City, on the night of Saturday, August 29, 1857.
“Duff” and “Pres,” as the two young men were called, after drinking
heavily with other wild companions of their kind, quarreled. In the
fracas which ensued late that same night, Armstrong and a friend named
James Henry Norris, who came to his assistance, had, it was alleged,
inflicted injuries on Metzker that, several days later, proved to be
fatal. A true bill for murder had been found against both men. And
Norris, brought first to trial, at Havana in Mason County, had, upon a
verdict of manslaughter, gone to prison for eight years. His comrade’s
case looked darker still. Public sentiment condemned “Duff” out of hand;
and from all sides came demands that the law should be enforced against
him in its utmost rigor. Then, as if to make matters worse, his father
died. The widowed mother, struggling alone for her boy’s life, managed
to secure the services of Walker and Lacey, local lawyers at Havana; but
they could hold forth only slender prospects of success. At this
juncture news of the trouble reached Lincoln. Occupied though he was, by
that time, over the affairs of an extensive practice and the demands of
a growing political leadership, this tragedy claimed his attention. He
appears to have been deeply moved by the father’s death, as well as by
the son’s peril. For that father was the Jack Armstrong of Clary’s Grove
fame, with whom he had wrestled and chummed during the by-gone New Salem
days; that mother was the Aunt Hannah, in whose kitchen he had many a
time been made welcome; and her baby, which he had rocked to sleep while
she cooked him a meal, was the prisoner who, now arrived at manhood’s
estate, lay in jail awaiting trial for a capital crime. In this, her
hour of dire need, the poor woman had naturally turned to their old
friend. Going to his office at Springfield, she told the whole
distressing story, and received instant promise of help.

“Abe,” said Hannah, as one of her sons relates, “I can’t pay you much
money or money of any account, but I can pay you a little.”

To which he replied: “You do not need to pay me a cent, for my services
are free to the family as long as I live.”[iii-31]

So it happened that when the trial, by a change of venue, opened the
following spring before Justice James Harriott, at Beardstown, in the
less prejudiced atmosphere of Cass County, Lincoln led for the defense.
He came into court with faith in his client. According to “Duff’s”
version of the affair, Metzker had been the aggressor, and the fight, as
far as these two were concerned, had been with their bare fists only.
Yet how could the jury be convinced of this? Such evidence, indeed, as
was presented against Armstrong at the outset did not appear to be very
damaging; but when the prosecution called its principal witness, Charles
Allen, a painter from Petersburg, matters became serious. He testified
that he saw the defendant strike Metzker on the head with a slung-shot.
Under cross-examination, Allen averred that the assault occurred at
about eleven o’clock in the night. When asked to explain how, despite
the lateness of the hour, he could so distinctly have seen what took
place, the witness stated that there was a bright moon, nearly full, and
“about in the same place that the sun would be at ten o’clock in the
morning.” This answer, to use the language of the day, apparently put
the hangman’s noose around Armstrong’s neck. In the opinion of his alert
counsel however, it was just what undid that ghastly cravat. For,
profiting by the testimony given at previous hearings, Lincoln had
prepared to meet that very situation. On the morning of the trial he had
placed in the keeping of Sheriff James A. Dick an almanac--probably
Goudy’s--for the year of the homicide. This document was now produced by
that officer, at the request of the defense, and put in evidence. It
proved, as Lincoln pointed out, that on the night in question the moon
had but slightly passed the first quarter, that it gave practically no
light at eleven o’clock, and that its computed time for setting was at
about midnight.[iii-32] The effect of this announcement seemed almost
magical. At one stroke of the master hand, Allen’s spurious moonshine
had turned into a lightning flash, by which the weakness of the
prosecution stood revealed. There was an immediate revulsion of feeling
in the prisoner’s favor. His counsel were as quick to seize upon the
lucky turn. Closing for the defense, Mr. Lincoln addressed the jury in
words of which his associate, Mr. Walker, afterwards said, “A more
powerful and eloquent speech never, in my opinion, fell from the lips of
man.” The perjured testimony, as well as the discrepancies in the
evidence, were dwelt upon by the speaker with telling effect. So moved
was he, moreover, by his ancient gratitude to “Duff’s” parents, and by
his own manifest belief in the young man’s innocence of willful murder,
that the tears which blurred his eyes as he spoke, no less than the
sympathetic earnestness of his appeal, touched responsive chords among
the wrought-up jurymen. They did not deliberate long. When they came in
with their verdict, the foreman said “not guilty,” and this remarkable
case was at an end.

The case, indeed, was at an end, but the talk about it was not.
Lincoln’s dramatic introduction of that almanac appears especially to
have stimulated the gossip, which took many forms, until out of it all
in some unaccountable way emerged a strange canard. According to this
tale he had tricked prosecutors, court, and jury by palming off on them,
as of the year when the homicide took place, a calendar of some
previous year. The obvious reply to this charge is that there would have
been no reason whatever for such a piece of rascality. An almanac dated
1857 bears out--as any one may satisfy himself at his leisure--Lincoln’s
contention to the letter, and he could not have bettered his case by
fraudulently using one for another year. Of course, those who repeated
the story did not take the trouble to consult calendars, but a moment’s
reflection might have warned them of its absurdity. They should have
known that an experienced lawyer, whose adherence to the highest ideals
of his profession had by this time passed into a by-word, would hardly
have jeopardized a cherished reputation, to say nothing of his standing
as a public man, by stooping to any device at once so dishonorable and
so futile. For it is not to be credited that an exhibit of such
importance could pass through the hands of shrewd opponents, as well as
those of judge and jurymen, without the closest scrutiny. This scrutiny
did, in fact, take place.

How thorough it was may be gathered from the recollections of Judge
Abram Bergen, who happened to be present. Attending the trial shortly
after his admission to practice, he sat within the bar behind both
groups of counsel engaged in the case, and watched what took place with
the acute attention of a young lawyer studying the tactics of
distinguished elders. This apparently credible witness, touching on the
accusation of fraud, said:--

“When Lincoln finally called for the almanac he exhibited it to the
opposing lawyers, read from it, and then caused it to be handed to
members of the jury for their inspection. I heard two of the attorneys
for the State, in whispered consultation, raise the question as to the
correctness of the almanac, and they ended the conference by sending to
the office of the clerk of the court for another. The messenger soon
returned with the statement that there was no almanac of 1857 in the
office. It will be remembered that the trial occurred in 1858 for a
transaction in 1857. In the Presidential campaign soon following, it was
even charged that Lincoln must have gone around and purloined all the
almanacs in the court-house. However, I well remember that another
almanac was procured from the office of Probate Judge Arenz, in the same
building. It was brought to the prosecuting attorneys, who examined it,
and compared it with the one introduced by Mr. Lincoln, and found that
they substantially agreed, although it was at first intimated by the
State’s attorneys that they had found some slight difference.

“All this I personally saw and heard, and it is as distinct in my memory
as if it had occurred but yesterday. No intimation was made, so far as I
knew, that there was any fraud in the use of the almanac until two years
afterwards, when Lincoln was the nominee of the Republican Party for the
Presidency. In that year, 1860, while in the mountains of southern
Oregon, I saw in a Democratic newspaper, published at St. Louis, an
article personally abusive of Mr. Lincoln, stating that he was no
statesman and only a third-rate lawyer; and to prove the deceptive and
dishonest nature of the candidate, the same paper printed an indefinite
affidavit of one of the jurors who had helped to acquit Armstrong, to
the effect that Mr. Lincoln had made fraudulent use of the almanac on
the trial. For some inexplicable reason he failed to call this pretended
knowledge to the attention of the other jurors at the time of the trial;
but very promptly joined in the verdict of acquittal, and waited two
years before giving publicity to what would at the proper time have been
a very important piece of information.

“Soon after this, I saw an affidavit made by Milton Logan, the foreman
of the jury, that he personally examined the almanac when it was
delivered to the jury, and particularly noticed that it was for the year
1857, the year of the homicide. I had a better opportunity than any of
the jurors to see and hear all that was publicly and privately done and
said by the attorneys on both sides, and know that the almanacs of 1857,
now preserved in the historical and other public libraries, sustain and
prove to the minute all that was claimed by Mr. Lincoln on that trial,
as to the rising and setting of the moon; although my best recollection
is that the hour of the crime was claimed to be about midnight, instead
of eleven o’clock, as stated in many of the books. I do not know that
this calumny was ever called to Mr. Lincoln’s attention, or if it was
that he ever took the trouble to contradict it. He might well have
pursued his regular habit of ignoring such things. If his public and
private conduct and his reputation as a citizen and lawyer were not
sufficient to refute the charges, his personal denial would have been of
little more avail.”[iii-33]

Judge Bergen may be right. Perhaps, in fact, no proofs--not even His
Honor’s own lucid statements, sustained by the almanac itself--have
vigor enough to overtake all the current versions of this absurd tale
and retire them from circulation. In the region of the old Eighth
Judicial Circuit, they are still passed around with variations to suit
each teller’s fancy; the press of the country helps them along with a
fresh start now and then; while at least one law book--a treatise,
strange to say, on “Facts”--throws an air of seeming authenticity over
the whole foolish business, in an indexed note which relates how Lincoln
once “procured an acquittal by a fraud.”[iii-34] Slander they say can
travel around the world before Denial has had time to draw on his boots.
This particular offender has been overtaken, again and again; but the
story, in some guise, goes merrily on. It evidently belongs among those
popular myths that thrive on refutation. To disprove them is easy
enough; to destroy them, as experience abundantly shows, is quite
another matter. Yet “hope springs eternal in the human breast”; and one
more lover of historic justice here tries what may be achieved by
turning the searchlight of truth full upon the discrepant features of
this hoary falsehood.[iii-35]

So much for the few specific instances in which doubts have been
publicly cast on Lincoln’s high ideals of practice. As to the rest,
those ideals apparently suffered but little let-down under all the
press and stress of his busy years at the Illinois bar. Yet he was not
immaculate. A thoroughly human man, loyal to his clients and fond of his
friends, he may have swerved ever so slightly to the right or the left
in their behalf, when no breach of truth or law was involved. As often
happens, moreover, with men of this type he appears to have been in such
cases his own severest censor. And when a student once asked him whether
the legal profession could stand the test, all in all, of the golden
rule, he winced. It happened while they were walking together one
afternoon after a trying day in court. The young man, Ralph Emerson by
name, was the son of a reverend instructor in Andover Theological
Seminary, and some things that he had seen Western lawyers do disturbed
the poise of his New England conscience. If such acts were necessary at
the bar, this would, he feared, be no career for him. In his perplexity
the youth determined to consult the eminent lawyer who walked by his
side. Turning suddenly to him, Emerson said:--

“Mr. Lincoln, I want to ask you a question. Is it possible for a man to
practice law and always do by others as he would be done by?”

Lincoln’s head dropped upon his breast. He walked on in silence for a
long time. Then came a heavy sigh, and when he did finally speak, it was
about another matter.

“I had my answer,” adds Mr. Emerson, recalling the incident. “That walk
turned the course of my life.”[iii-36]

Precisely what this little scene signified is not easy to determine; but
that it was of weighty import those who have progressed thus far with us
in the study of Lincoln’s character will hardly believe. Still, the
episode, however vague and inconclusive, must not be omitted from any
appraisement of the man’s honesty. Perhaps one explanation of that
profound sigh is to be sought among occasional victories, won by him on
technicalities, rather than on their merits. And then, again, a too
sensitive memory may, at the moment, have put Lincoln in mind of certain
acts which, while they hardly measured up to the standard set by the
Golden Rule, were not by any means dishonorable. They had their origin,
to some extent, in his distaste for trivial litigation, but still more,
in his disapproval of those “contentious suits which,” a great Lord
Chancellor long ago declared, “ought to be spewed out, as the surfeit of
courts.” How Lincoln dissuaded his own clients from bringing actions of
this kind has already been set forth. It may be needless to add that
when situations were reversed, and they were the objects of such
prosecutions by others, he willingly appeared in their behalf. Then woe
to the plaintiffs if the facts afforded but the slightest scope for the
play of his peculiar humor! Under his droll treatment, a petty cause,
though not without merit, might become so ridiculous as to leave the
claimant in a plight, from which nothing but an appeal to that same
beneficent rule of ethical conduct could have saved him. Indeed, by
these very tactics, Lincoln is said to have laughed more jury cases out
of court than any other attorney on the circuit. How he went about it
was well illustrated in a trial recalled by Judge Scott, who tells this
story concerning the affair:

“A young lawyer had brought an action in trespass to recover damages
done to his client’s growing crops by defendant’s hogs. The right of
action, under the law of Illinois, as it was then, depended on the fact
whether plaintiff’s fence was sufficient to turn ordinary stock. There
was some little conflict in the evidence on that question, but the
weight of the testimony was decidedly in favor of plaintiff and
sustained beyond all doubt his cause of action. Mr. Lincoln appeared for
defendant. There was no controversy as to the damage done by defendant’s
stock. The only thing in the case that could possibly admit of any
discussion was the condition of plaintiff’s fence; and as the testimony
on that question seemed to be in favor of plaintiff, and as the sum
involved was little in amount, Mr. Lincoln did not deem it necessary to
argue the case seriously. But by way of saying something in behalf of
his client, he told a little story about a fence that was so crooked
that when a hog went through an opening in it, invariably it came out on
the same side from whence it started. His description of the confused
look of the hog after several times going through the fence and still
finding itself on the side from which it had started, was a humorous
specimen of the best story-telling. The effect was to make plaintiff’s
case appear ridiculous. And while Mr. Lincoln did not attempt to apply
the story to the case, the jury seemed to think it had some kind of
application to the fence in controversy,--otherwise he would not have
told it,--and shortly returned a verdict for the defendant.”[iii-37]

There are other accounts of similar achievements. Perhaps the most
commonly known instance was that which Lincoln himself took pleasure in
relating. According to one version,--for there are several,--this is how
he told it:--

“I was retained in the defense of a man charged before a justice of the
peace with assault and battery. It was in the country, and when I got to
the place of trial I found the whole neighborhood excited, and the
feeling was strong against my client. I saw the only way was to get up a
laugh and get the people in a good humor. It turned out that the
prosecuting witness was talkative. He described the fight at great
length,--how they fought over a field, now by the barn, again down to
the creek, and over it, and so on. I asked him, on cross-examination,
how large that field was. He said it was ten acres. He knew it was, for
he and some one else had stepped it off with a pole. ‘Well, then,’ I
inquired, ‘was not that the smallest _crap_ of a fight you have ever
seen raised off of ten acres?’ The hit took. The laughter was
uproarious, and in half an hour the prosecuting witness was retreating
amid the jeers of the crowd.”[iii-38]

There is no more effectual way to dispose of a trifling suit, and
Lincoln’s ready wit was apparently equal to all such demands. Yet his
sallies, telling as they were, left no stings rankling in the memory of
unfortunate victims. Those who emerged beaten from these encounters
were conscious of a certain quaint good humor in the man’s demeanor that
disarmed resentment.

He was, however, not so genial when it came to another type of
litigants--the dishonest ones. They met, in fact, with a very different
kind of treatment. For Lincoln saw nothing amusing in their devices, and
as they could not be laughed out of court, his efforts were directed
toward shaming them out. An occurrence of this nature took place at
Tremont, in 1847, during the spring term of the Tazewell County Court.
It appears that an old farmer named Case had sold what was called a
“prairie team,” comprising several yoke of oxen and a plough, to two
young men known as the Snow boys. They had given their joint note in
settlement, but when it became due they had refused to pay. The account
was placed in Lincoln’s hands for collection, and he promptly brought
suit. When the case came to trial, this note, as well as the purchase of
a team, was not denied by the lawyer who appeared for the defendants. He
set up the plea of infancy, however, and offered to prove that both
brothers were under twenty-one years of age at the time they signed the
note. This fact, it was furthermore claimed, the plaintiff knew when the
transaction took place. To all of which Lincoln quietly said: “Yes, I
guess that is true, and we will admit it.”

Things looked bad for farmer Case. “What!” thought a by-stander,--the
teller of the story,--“is this good old man, who confided in these boys,
to be wronged in this way, and even his counsel, Mr. Lincoln, to submit
in silence!”

After the principle of law that a minor may avoid his contracts had been
duly cited, Judge Treat who presided, inquired:--

“Is there a count in the declaration for oxen and plow, sold and
delivered?”

“Yes,” answered Lincoln, “and I have only two or three questions to ask
the witness.”

Addressing the men who had been called to prove the ages of the
defendants, he asked:--

“Where is that prairie team now?”

“On the farm of the Snow boys,” was his answer.

“Have you seen any one breaking prairie with it, lately?”

“Yes, the Snow boys were breaking up with it, last week.”

“How old are the boys now?”

“One is a little over twenty-one, and the other near twenty-three.”

“That is all,” said Lincoln.

Arising slowly, when the time came for his closing argument, and
standing in an awkward, half-erect attitude, he began:--

“Gentlemen of the jury, are you willing to allow these boys to begin
life with this shame and disgrace attached to their character? If you
are, I am not. The best judge of human character that ever wrote, has
left these immortal words for all of us to ponder:

“‘Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
 Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
 Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
 ’Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
 But he that filches from me my good name,
 Robs me of that which not enriches him,
 And makes me poor indeed.’”

Then drawing himself up to his full height, and looking down upon the
defendants as if with the compassion of an older brother, while his long
right arm was extended toward their attorney, he continued:--

“Gentlemen, these boys never would have tried to cheat old farmer Case
out of these oxen and that plow, but for the advice of counsel. It was
bad advice--bad in morals and bad in law. The law never sanctions
cheating, and a lawyer must be very smart indeed to twist it so that it
will seem to do so. The judge will tell you, what your own sense of
justice has already told you, that these Snow boys, if they were mean
enough to plead the baby act, when they came to be men should have taken
the oxen and plow back. They cannot go back on their contract, and also
keep what the note was given for.”

When Lincoln concluded with the words, “And now, gentlemen, you have it
in your power to set these boys right before the world,”--he almost
seemed to be pleading for the misguided young men rather than for his
own client. So it impressed the Snows themselves. Whatever their
technical rights may have been, they agreed with his view, as well as
with the reputed opinion of the jury, that the account ought to be paid.
And paid it was.[iii-39]

Whether all the circumstances attending this affair warranted Mr.
Lincoln’s severe arraignment of the defendants’ counsel raises a nice
point in professional ethics. Debts, as we know, may sometimes be barred
by the law of infancy, still oftener by statutes of limitation. The
debtors in such cases have been provided with legal defenses behind
which honorable men, however, disdain, as a rule, to seek refuge. They
realize that though these barriers shut creditors off from recovering on
certain kinds of claims, the debts themselves remain unpaid; and that
acts which are intrinsically wrong cannot be made right, however they
may be sanctioned by law or custom. Still, if clients insist on availing
themselves of such advantages, their attorneys are bound, in the
judgment of not a few high-minded lawyers, to interpose the required
pleas. So punctilious a practitioner as Horace Binney, the distinguished
Philadelphian, whose conceptions of duty have already served us with
some exalted standards, took this view. He once conducted the defense,
it is said, in the trial of a certain action on a promissory note. His
attempt to prove a set-off having failed, he arose and said, with an
expression of intense scorn: “My client commands me to plead the statute
of limitations.”

This implied rebuke was not lost on the defendant. He quickly withdrew
his plea, and paid, as did those abashed brothers, the contested
note.[iii-40] It is interesting to observe that here again the Western
lawyer measured up to the lofty principles of his refined Eastern
brother, and might, if confronted by a similar demand, have gone even a
step beyond him.[iii-41]

Where injustice was to be headed off, Lincoln never stopped halfway. His
honesty became militant. “He hated wrong and oppression everywhere,” as
Judge Davis declared; “and many a man whose fraudulent conduct was
undergoing review in a court of justice has writhed under his terrific
indignation and rebukes.”[iii-42] These onslaughts appear to have been
especially severe when the strong had robbed the weak or taken advantage
of the unfortunate. One typical instance was that of a pension agent
named Wright, against whom Lincoln brought suit to recover money
wrongfully withheld from the widow of a Revolutionary soldier. The claim
as collected amounted to about four hundred dollars, of which the
go-between had retained one half. This was, of course, an exorbitant
fee; but the friendless pensioner, bent and crippled with age, seemed to
be at the fellow’s mercy. He certainly expected no resistance from the
old lady. Finding her way, however, one day into the office of Lincoln
and Herndon, she told the whole sordid story. It aroused the instant
sympathy of the senior partner. He called, without loss of time, on the
agent to demand a fair settlement; and when this was refused, he as
promptly began an action. What ensued is best told in his associate’s
own words.

“The day before the trial,” writes Mr. Herndon, “I hunted up for
Lincoln, at his request, a history of the Revolutionary War, of which he
read a good portion. He told me to remain during the trial until I had
heard his address to the jury. ‘For,’ said he, ‘I am going to skin
Wright, and get that money back.’ The only witness we introduced was the
old lady, who through her tears told her story. In his speech to the
jury, Lincoln recounted the causes leading to the outbreak of the
Revolutionary struggle, and then drew a vivid picture of the hardships
of Valley Forge, describing with minuteness the men, barefooted and
with bleeding feet, creeping over the ice.[iii-43] As he reached that
point in his speech wherein he narrated the hardened action of the
defendant in fleecing the old woman of her pension, his eyes flashed,
and throwing aside his handkerchief, which he held in his right hand, he
fairly launched into him. His speech for the next five or ten minutes
justified the declaration of Davis, that he was ‘hurtful in denunciation
and merciless in castigation.’

“There was no rule of court to restrain him in his argument, and I
never, either on the stump or on other occasions in court, saw him so
wrought. Before he closed, he drew an ideal picture of the plaintiff’s
husband, the deceased soldier, parting with his wife at the threshold of
their home, and kissing their little babe in the cradle, as he started
for the war. ‘Time rolls by,’ he said, in conclusion. ‘The heroes of ’76
have passed away, and are encamped on the other shore. The soldier has
gone to rest, and now, crippled, blinded, and broken, his widow comes to
you and to me, gentlemen of the jury, to right her wrongs. She was not
always thus. She was once a beautiful young woman. Her step was as
elastic, her face as fair, and her voice as sweet as any that rang in
the mountains of old Virginia. But now she is poor and defenseless. Out
here on the prairies of Illinois, many hundreds of miles away from the
scenes of her childhood, she appeals to us, who enjoy the privileges
achieved for us by the patriots of the Revolution, for our sympathetic
aid and manly protection. All I ask is, shall we befriend her?’

“The speech made the desired impression on the jury. Half of them were
in tears, while the defendant sat in the court-room, drawn up and
writhing under the fire of Lincoln’s fierce invective. The jury returned
a verdict in our favor for every cent we demanded. Lincoln was so much
interested in the old lady that he became her surety for costs, paid her
way home, and her hotel bill while she was in Springfield. When the
judgment was paid we remitted the proceeds to her and made no charge for
our services.”[iii-44]

Some of the finest traditions known to the legal profession had been
observed in this case. St. Ives himself, “Advocate of the Poor” and
patron of lawyers, might have held such a brief. We can fancy him,
standing at the bar of the Springfield court, scroll in hand as he is
sometimes pictured, speaking for the poor widow; but whether that scroll
would have contained notes like those that Lincoln jotted down for the
argument may perhaps be questioned. They read: “No contract.--Not
professional services.--Unreasonable charge.--Money retained by Def’t
not given by Pl’ff.--Revolutionary War.--Describe Valley Forge
privations.--Ice.--Soldiers’ bleeding feet.--Pl’ff’s husband.--Soldier
leaving home for army.--_Skin Def’t._--Close.”

And yet how could any true champion--inspired saint or just plain
lawyer--have kept his hands off that defendant! Nothing but a flaying
appears to meet the needs of the occasion. Even your gentle, courteous,
sympathetic soul like Lincoln’s, alert to the conflict between right and
wrong, is stirred by such meanness to its very depths. Love of justice
then flames into hatred of injustice. The patient pleader becomes the
masterful prosecutor. In fact, the better the man, the fiercer grows his
rage. Wielding a scourge of whipcord and striking home, he drives the
object of his contempt in hot anger before him. Nor is he at that moment
a respecter of persons. Certainly Lincoln was not. The wrath with which
he bore down from time to time, as we have seen, on unprincipled
litigants, witnesses, and attorneys did not stop there. Misconduct on
the bench incensed him still more. If the judge before whom he was
trying a cause persistently attempted to be unfair, serious friction
ensued; and the deference with which even adverse rulings were
customarily received, gave way at last to an outburst of indignation.
“In such cases,” writes Mr. Herndon of his associate, “he was the most
fearless man I ever knew.”

Describing a remarkable encounter which occurred during the Harrison
murder trial, between Mr. Lincoln and Judge E. J. Rice, our junior
partner relates how the presiding magistrate repeatedly ruled against
counsel for the defense in such a way as to convince them that he was
prejudiced.

“Finally,” the narrator goes on to say, “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 peeled 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.... 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 field.”[iii-45]

This appears to have been one of the great advocate’s last important
victories at the bar. It forms, in certain respects, a fitting climax to
his legal career. For the admirable honesty of word and act with which
he started out would hardly have carried him far, had they not been
reinforced betimes by the wisdom that comes to the sincere truth-seeker
alone, and by the courage that is born of truth’s fairest offspring--an
abiding love of justice. Looking back over the scenes of his labors, we
become aware, despite their commonplace settings, of something akin to
chivalry. They recall, as it were, those epic days when disinterested
zeal inspired, or was thought to inspire, chevalier and barrister alike.
No counselor of old, who took on himself a knightly obligation to plead
the cause of the defenseless, could have acquitted himself, all in all,
more nobly. Faithful to his ideals through many temptations, yet free
from self-complacency; chivalrous to his adversaries, yet striking hard
blows for the cause in which he was enlisted; afraid to make a false
plea, yet not afraid of a false judge,--homely, unassuming Abraham
Lincoln rode over the circuit in much the same spirit as quickened the
knight errant on his ancient journeyings. No paladin of the law, at
least in his day, bore himself more gallantly. None seemed to do more
toward conferring a practical, latter-day meaning on Bayard’s motto,
“Without fear and without reproach.”



CHAPTER IV

DOLLARS AND CENTS


The love of money never twined its sinister roots around the heart of
Abraham Lincoln. He was wholly free of any desire to amass riches, nor
could he understand why others should be eager to do so. The mere piling
up of possessions seemed to him unworthy of an able man’s ambition, and
the benevolence which manifests itself in grinding the faces of many
fellow-beings, so as to acquire a fortune for a few public benefactions,
hardly appealed to one whose humanity took the form of honest, kindly
abnegation toward all those with whom he came in contact. Pecuniary
rewards, therefore, occupied a minor place among his incentives to
action. In fact, when there was an end to be achieved, he became so
engrossed over the work which should bring it about that not much
attention was given to the pay. Although his faculties usually worked in
striking harmony with one another, the harmony of thrift, whereby a man
can perform a good action and, as the phrase goes, make a good thing out
of it at the same time, was foreign to his nature. He appears to have
been utterly lacking in the rather commonplace talent for transmuting
people’s necessities into comfortable revenues. His whimsical humor once
defined wealth to be “simply a superfluity of what we don’t need”; and
his frankness, at another time, led him to say: “I don’t know anything
about money. I never had enough of my own to fret me.”

How this condition came about, we have already, in a measure, seen. What
Lincoln learned of business, at the outset, from his luckless father,
from the ill-regulated Offut, and the dissipated Berry, did not carry
him far on the road to fortune. Indeed, he can hardly be said to have
made a fair start toward that delectable goal. To all appearances, the
stuff which passes, as Mowgli says, “from hand to hand and never grows
warmer,” was slow in coming his way; and what little did reach him
rarely remained long enough to allow a test for heat or cold. Where
money is concerned, some men are sponges, some are sieves.

One of this man’s first large coins that he earned for himself, by a
single piece of work, passed through his fingers with ominous celerity.
It happened in this way. While engaged on a voyage, during the youthful
river days,--he was about eighteen years old at the time,--Lincoln stood
near the water’s edge as a steamboat came in sight. Relating what
followed to some friends many years later, he explained that there were
usually no wharves for large boats along the shores of the Western
rivers, and that it was customary for passengers to board the vessels,
as best they could, in mid-stream.

“I was contemplating my new flatboat,” the speaker continued, “and
wondering whether I could make it stronger or improve it in any
particular, when two men came down to the shore in carriages with
trunks, and looking at the different boats singled out mine, and asked,
‘Who owns this?’ I answered, somewhat modestly, ‘I do.’ ‘Will you,’ said
one of them, ‘take us and our trunks out to the steamer?’ ‘Certainly,’
said I. I was very glad to have the chance of earning something. I
supposed that each of them would give me two or three bits. The trunks
were put on my flatboat, the passengers seated themselves on the trunks,
and I sculled them out to the steamboat. They got on board, and I lifted
up their heavy trunks, and put them on deck. The steamer was about to
put on steam again, when I called out that they had forgotten to pay me.
Each of them took from his pocket a silver half-dollar, and threw it on
the floor of my boat. I could scarcely believe my eyes as I picked up
the money. Gentlemen, you may think it was a very little thing, and in
these days it seems to me a trifle; but it was a most important incident
in my life. I could scarcely credit that I, a poor boy, had earned a
dollar in less than a day--that by honest work I had earned a dollar.
The world seemed wider and fairer before me. I was a more hopeful and
confident being from that time.”[iv-1]

But the sequel, as Lincoln told it on another occasion, sounds less
inspiring. For while playing with the coins after the steamboat had
departed, he dropped one of the pieces overboard. “I can see the
quivering and shining of that half-dollar yet,” the narrator
thoughtfully added, “as in the quick current it went down the stream,
and sank from my sight forever.”[iv-2]

This incident was typical of the brief but inglorious business career
which followed. In a certain sense Lincoln’s commercial life may be said
to have begun with the fiasco of the lost fare, and to have closed about
seven years thereafter, even more disastrously, as the reader will
remember, under the cloud of “the national debt.” During that period he
experienced, from all accounts, few if any of the joys found by the smug
trader in the give-and-take of barter.

Nor did he, while pursuing his next occupation as a surveyor, evince any
livelier appreciation of the opportunities for speculation which
presented themselves on every side. Promising town-sites or fertile
quarter-sections interested him only so far as they afforded the
employment whereby he earned his daily bread. For greed of land, like
greed of money, had no place in the man’s make-up. He regarded with
kindly toleration, however, the struggles of investors who scrambled
after title-deeds. Yet if their activities took a dishonest turn, his
contempt for the offenders was keener than that which Christian is said
to have visited upon the pupils of Mr. Gripeman. In the ancient allegory
those worthies were dismissed with a reprimand; but their successors, in
this latter-day narrative, did not, on certain occasions at least,
escape so easily.

“Land-sharks,” or “land-grabbers,” as they have been variously called,
should be rated among Lincoln’s pet aversions. From the time of his
admission to the bar, he lost no opportunity of exposing their
rascalities and of protecting their victims. Many a poor settler,
struggling to save the homestead from blackmailers, who too often
infested the government land-offices, would have fared badly if it had
not been for this man’s sympathetic help. What he managed to do for the
pioneers when so beset, took well-nigh as many forms as did the various
kinds of dangers which threatened them. These services, in fact, ranged
all the way from the giving of legal aid to the lending of a horse.

It is related that one spring morning, as some of the lawyers on the
Eighth Judicial Circuit were riding leisurely toward Springfield, from
the West, they were overtaken by a traveler who was hurrying in the same
direction. His desperate efforts to quicken the pace of the stumbling,
mud-flecked animal which he bestrode, and the appearance in the distance
of another horseman, evidently in pursuit, told their own story. Such a
scene was not unfamiliar to the little cavalcade of attorneys. They
recognized in the first rider a home-maker, racing against time, with
perhaps his final payment, to the land-office; and in the second, a
home-wrecker pushing forward, no less eagerly, to take advantage of a
possible default. For if by a certain hour the settler should fail to
reach his goal, the property on which he had spent much toil as well as
money would be forfeited, the claim would be reopened, and his pursuer,
or any one else, might become the owner. All this passed, like a flash,
through the mind of at least one lawyer in the little company that sat
their horses, curiously observing the race.

As the first rider came up with them, Lincoln called out: “John, is
this the day of your final entry, and have you the money?”

There was a look of despair in the man’s haggard face. Reining up his
spent beast, and gazing anxiously down the muddy road that still lay
before him, he answered: “Yes, I’ve got the money; but my horse can’t
make it.”

“Mine can,” said Lincoln. “Take him, and save your land. Take the
right-hand road a mile ahead of this, and get on the south road into
town. By this you will save a mile. Take care of the horse as well as
you can, but be sure to get there in time to save your land.”

This exchange having been rapidly effected, the settler pushed on, and
did reach Springfield in time to win the day. He had not been at the
land-office long when his benefactor appeared on the scene, for the
purpose of still further aiding him as an attorney. The proffered
services were gladly accepted, John’s title was perfected, and one more
homestead rested secure from the malevolence of the “sharks.” How many
of these scurvy creatures were gaffed by Lincoln is of course not known.
He was, as one friend expressed it, “a terror” to the whole breed; and
common report credited him with being more active in thwarting their
devices than any other lawyer throughout the State. Always on the side
of the settlers, he could not, it is said, be hired to take any of the
public-land cases against them. They appear to have been people of
little or no means, yet his ability, influence, and untiring
perseverance were at their command, without reserve. Homes trembled in
the balance; that was enough for him. And whether these pioneers paid
small fees or none at all, their cause never failed to enlist the
stalwart championship of Abraham Lincoln.[iv-3]

Nor was it among these unfortunates alone that we find the numerous
instances of those who enjoyed his protection free of charge. For
looking upon the law as a profession, not a trade, as a factor in the
administration of justice, not a mere money-getting business, he could
not bring himself to the point of increasing any poor client’s
embarrassments by demanding fees. In fact, as has been the case with
many a truly great lawyer, his skill was ever at the service of the
indigent and oppressed, without regard to compensation. Their plights,
not their depleted purses, concerned him. Taking such clients into his
affections, with all the sympathy of an older brother who had himself
trodden the stony path over which he was helping them, Lincoln found a
pleasure in the relationship that money could not buy. If the question
of pay were raised by some grateful but impoverished litigant, Portia’s
answer might readily have served:--

    “He is well paid that is well satisfied;
     And I, delivering you, am satisfied,
     And therein do account myself well paid.”

This was Lincoln’s attitude of mind when he refused to make a charge for
saving Hannah Armstrong’s graceless son from the gallows. But his
liberality on that occasion should perhaps be credited to gratitude
rather than to humanity. Not so, however, his generous treatment of the
Revolutionary soldier’s widow. What he did for that chance client, in
winning her suit without pay and defraying all costs besides, must be
set down to pure benevolence. It reminds one of the spirit which
prompted Theophilus Parsons, with his fine scorn for money, in the
presence of distress, to decline fees from widows. How much further than
that Lincoln went along unmercenary lines has been variously related. A
few of the typical stories may be pertinent here.

Some time during 1843, Isaac Cogdal, the Rock Creek quarryman, was in
financial difficulties. He employed Mr. Lincoln to do the necessary
legal work and settled therefor with a promissory note. Not long after
this, the luckless client, while making a blast, had an accident whereby
he lost one of his arms. Meeting Lincoln some time after, on the steps
of the State House at Springfield, he stopped in response to the
lawyer’s kindly greeting. Cogdal’s sad face told its own tale, and a
sympathetic question as to how he was getting along, elicited the reply:
“Badly enough, I am both broken up in business, and crippled.” Then he
added, “I have been thinking about that note of yours.” “Well, you
needn’t think any more about it,” rejoined the attorney, laughing, as he
took out his wallet and handed him the paper. Much moved, Cogdal
protested, but Lincoln, with the remark, “If you had the money, I would
not take it,” hurried away.[iv-4]

Labors of a more serious character were at times hardly more profitable.
For instance, during the summer of 1841 Lincoln, together with his
partner, Stephen T. Logan, and Edward D. Baker, conducted the defense
of three brothers who were charged with murder. Two of the accused men,
William Trailor, from Warren County, and Henry Trailor, from Clary’s
Grove, accompanied by their friend Archibald Fisher, had come to visit
the third brother, Archibald Trailor, in Springfield. Shortly after
their arrival, Fisher mysteriously disappeared. A hue and cry ensued.
The missing man was known to have had money; the Trailors were known to
be in debt. While search-parties went in various directions to find
Fisher’s dead body, the brothers were placed under arrest. Then certain
police officers so played upon the fears of Henry, who was weak-minded,
that he made what purported to be a confession. His story set forth in
great detail how William and Archibald, after killing their friend, had
thrown the corpse into Spring Creek; but no sign of the remains could be
discovered by the eager investigators who dragged that stream. At the
examining trial, before two magistrates, many witnesses were introduced
by the prosecution. Henry Trailor repeated his narrative under oath, and
the prospect looked black, indeed, for his two brothers, when their
counsel showed by reputable evidence that Fisher, afflicted with
occasional aberration of mind, had in several previous instances
wandered away. This led to more intelligent inquiry, and Fisher was
traced to Warren, whither he had indeed walked in a demented condition.
The Trailors were, of course, promptly discharged. As William and “Arch”
rushed into each other’s arms, weeping like children, the court is said
to have become “like Bedlam.”

An outline of this remarkable case was sketched by Lincoln, in a letter
still extant, to his absent friend, Joshua F. Speed. It is from another
source, however, that we learn our most significant fact. An admiring
account of the affair has been preserved by a student in the Springfield
law-office. He relates that Lincoln--whatever the other attorneys may
have done--not only gave his services to these harassed men without
charge, but that he even defrayed some of their expenses from his own
pocket.[iv-5]

How much of this generosity was due to the old Clary’s Grove
associations may not now be determined. Certain it is that Lincoln found
difficulty in bringing himself to the point of making out bills against
those early neighbors. “He was always kind to his friends,” said one of
them, William McNeely, “and attended to some law business for
me--frequently gave me advice,--and I do not recollect of his ever
charging me anything for it.”[iv-6]

Another of these favored associates, Harvey L. Ross, appears to have had
a similar experience. Carrying the mails in pioneer days for his father,
Ossian M. Ross, who was postmaster at Havana, Illinois, he had become
well acquainted with the tall, good-natured young incumbent of the
post-office at New Salem. Lincoln took a fancy to this youthful
messenger, and they became good friends. So later, upon Ossian’s death,
when Harvey needed legal help, he called upon his former associate, in
practice by that time at Springfield. Young Ross had inherited from his
father’s estate a quarter-section of land with a defective title. This
could be made good only by the evidence of a man named Hagerty. Bringing
him to Lincoln’s office, one summer day, Harvey showed the papers and
told his story. After listening attentively, the attorney said: “I am
sorry to have to tell you that you are a little too late, for the court
has adjourned, and will not meet again for six months, and Judge Thomas
has gone home. He lives on a farm a mile east of town, but we will go
and see him, and see if he can do anything for you.”

Mindful of the warm August weather, Ross wished to hire a carriage; but
Lincoln answered, “No, I can walk if you can.” So after shedding his
coat, off he strode with a bandana handkerchief, which did frequent
duty, in one hand, the papers in the other. Client and witness followed
as best they could. Arriving at the judge’s residence, the party was
directed to a distant field, in which they found him busily engaged,
with his men, on a new corncrib. He stopped to hear Lincoln’s tactful
statement of their errand, sent for writing materials, examined Hagerty,
and signed the desired papers. The magistrate, like the attorney,--to
say nothing of the other participants in this little scene,--was
coatless, which led Lincoln to remark that they had been holding “a kind
of a shirt-sleeve court.” “Yes,” replied His Honor, “a shirt-sleeve
court in a corn-field.” The hint was not lost on our amiable counselor.
Upon his motion, all hands, including bench and bar, united their
strength to raise the heaviest logs--a service which Judge Thomas
gratefully accepted in lieu of fees. Court then stood adjourned, and
the visitors departed.

When they had returned to the office in Springfield, Ross, taking out
his pocket-book, said: “Now, Mr. Lincoln, how much shall I pay you for
this long walk through the hot sun and dust?”

As the lawyer applied the big handkerchief to his perspiring face, he
answered: “I guess I will not charge anything for that. I will let it go
on the old score.”

Recalling the many kindnesses already credited from this source to “the
old score,” Harvey--so runs the tale--could not control himself, and the
tears came into his eyes.[iv-7]

The lawyers among Lincoln’s friends were, at times, not more successful
in obtaining bills from him for services rendered. “You must not think
of offering me pay for this,” he wrote after submitting a legal opinion
which one of them had requested him to prepare.[iv-8] Somewhat similar
in tone was his response to General Usher F. Linder, when that colleague
at the bar, and occasional political opponent, appealed for assistance
during a period of dire distress. The general’s son Dan had, in the heat
of a quarrel, shot a young man named Benjamin Boyle. When he was placed
under arrest, the assailant seemed, for the moment, without even the
customary legal supports, as his father, seriously ill with inflammatory
rheumatism, could hardly move hand or foot. The affair had happened “in
a quarter of the country where,” as General Ewing relates, Lincoln “was
a tower of strength; where his name raised up friends; where his
arguments at law had more power than the instructions of the court.” But
these triumphs, be it said, left the potent advocate unspoilt. For they
had not perceptibly increased the size of his head, nor decreased the
size of his heart. In a sympathetic reply to Linder’s agonized cry for
help, Lincoln promised that no business, however important, should be
allowed to keep him from being present and aiding in the trial. He felt
deeply moved over the general’s trouble, yet what appears to have
disturbed him almost as much was an offer of fees. This called forth a
spirited but gentle protest, declining pay of any kind. No act of his,
he asserted, justified the supposition that Abraham Lincoln would take
money from a friend for assisting in the defense of an imperiled
son.[iv-9] But no trial took place; for, as Boyle recovered, Dan was
finally released. He went South, entered the Confederate army during the
Civil War, and became, when taken prisoner, the recipient of still
further kindnesses from the hand of that same attorney engaged, at the
time, in trying the great cause entitled, Union _versus_
Disunion.[iv-10]

What Lincoln did on occasions for those who were not of his party, he
did as cheerfully, it is perhaps needless to say, for the faithful. His
political associates always found him ready and willing to render proper
legal services, but they never found him keen about setting a price upon
the work when completed. This was especially so with regard to matters
of a public nature. One case in point, which may be regarded as typical,
has been related by Henry B. Blackwell. Recalling some of his own early
experiences, he said, a few years ago:--

“In 1857, in behalf of New York publishers, I went from Chicago to
Springfield with Mr. Powell, the state superintendent of public
instruction, to consult Mr. Lincoln as to the details of a proposed
contract for the introduction of district school libraries. We met him
as he was coming out of the court-house with his green bag in his hand.
Greeting us cordially, he took up our affair, giving us the advice we
sought; but with characteristic unselfishness, he declined to accept
compensation for his legal services on a question of public
interest.”[iv-11]

More numerous still were the instances of valuable counsel given by
Lincoln, without price, to the clients whom he dissuaded from bringing
contemplated suits. Some of these cases, as we have seen, involved
unprincipled demands, but others rested upon honestly mistaken
convictions. To this latter class, apparently, belonged the real-estate
claim which a lady once placed in his hands for prosecution. She told
him her story, wrote out a check by way of retainer, and left some
papers for the attorney’s examination. At their next interview Mr.
Lincoln reported frankly that a careful reading of the documents had
disclosed “not a peg” to hang the claim upon. He felt obliged,
therefore, to advise against bringing an action. The lady, evidently
satisfied that she had no case, thanked him, took her papers, and arose
to go.

“Wait a moment,” said he. “Here is the check you gave me.”

“But,” she replied, “Mr. Lincoln, I think you have earned that.”

“No, no,” he rejoined, handing it back to her; “that would not be
right.”

A few words more of the same tenor followed. Then the surprised client
departed, richer by the rejected fee and an expert opinion for which she
had paid nothing.[iv-12]

In similar fashion many a matter that had reached a more advanced stage
was settled by Lincoln, as the reader will remember, out of court and
usually without charge. He appears to have been governed, on such
occasions, by the rule which led Sir Matthew Hale to refuse fees for his
services as an arbitrator. “In these cases,” said the great English
jurist, “I am made a judge, and a judge ought to take no money.” The
American peacemaker, however, explained his moderation, whether as
attorney or referee, on less lofty grounds. To a young associate, who
suggested that he should render bills in such instances, Lincoln
laughingly replied: “They wouldn’t want to pay me. They don’t think I
have earned a fee unless I take the case into court and make a speech or
two.”[iv-13]

There are always suitable reasons enough as to why a man should work
without recompense, if he looks for them in anything like Lincoln’s mood
of lovable self-forgetfulness. How far this was sometimes carried by him
may be inferred from his treatment of certain wealthy clients at the
close of his legal career. He had been retained for the stockholders of
the Atlantic Railroad Company, in a suit brought against them by some
creditors of that corporation. Their case was in charge of former
Lieutenant-Governor Gustave Koerner, at whose request the great lawyer’s
services had been enlisted. Many important consultations between the
associated counsel had taken place, and their carefully prepared answer
for the defense had been put in, when Mr. Lincoln received his
nomination to the Presidency. He asked to be relieved, at once, from
further attendance on the case, a request which was of course complied
with. His clients, moreover, appreciative of the work that had already
been done by him, arranged for the payment of a handsome fee. To their
surprise it was declined. “He utterly refused,” relates Koerner, “to
take anything, although they almost pressed the money on him.”[iv-14]
And so, to the very end of the chapter, this remarkable man evinced more
agility, at times, in dodging payments than most men expend in reaching
for them.

But there is one instance, at least, of Lincoln finding himself paid
against his will. The circumstances have not been made entirely clear,
yet one cannot scan the meager details of the affair without an
uncomfortable feeling that something about it was discreditable--whether
to Lincoln or to others remains equally vague. The episode presents
peculiar interest, however, as an illustration of the extreme to which
he went in dealing with a fee that had been forced upon him. His
partner, Mr. Herndon, relating what happened to a magazine writer
shortly after the war, said:--

“One morning a gentleman came here and asked him to use his legal
influence in a certain quarter, where Lincoln again and again assured
him he had no power. I heard him refuse the five hundred dollars
offered, over and over again. I went out and left them together. I
suppose Lincoln got tired of refusing, for he finally took the money;
but he never offered any of it to me; and it was noticeable that,
whenever he took money in that way, he never seemed to consider it his
own or mine. In this case, he gave the money to the Germans in the town,
who wanted to buy themselves a press. A few days after, he said to me in
the coolest way, ‘Herndon, I gave the Germans two hundred and fifty
dollars of yours the other day.’ ‘I am glad you did, Mr. Lincoln,’ I
answered. Of course I could not say I was glad he took it.”[iv-15]

Some years after this recital, when Mr. Herndon wrote the life of his
illustrious associate, he made no reference to the incident. As that
biography, whatever else can be said concerning its merits, manifestly
aimed to set forth the real Lincoln, without undue eulogy on the one
hand or the suppression of unfavorable facts on the other, this omission
is significant. It indicates that the retainer at which he balked may
not, after all, have required any considerable departure from his
customary high standards. Perhaps, indeed, as he had anticipated,
nothing was done to earn the fee. That alone would suffice to explain
why Lincoln did not consider the money his, and why he cast it into the
first conscience fund which offered itself.

Next to retaining payments for which no equivalents in services have
been rendered ranks the dishonesty of charging too much for work that
has actually been done. So thought Lincoln. He wished to avoid the one
fault as much as the other. And his anxiety to make fair prices led him,
at times, into the opposite error, that of asking fees which fell
absurdly short of what they should have been. Money, it is true, was far
from plentiful in Illinois during those days of small things. Such
limited sums as people possessed had to supply many wants; and legal
services, like other kinds of labor, seemed relatively cheap. Yet when
Lincoln came to the making out of bills, his charges were not
infrequently so light as to fall sheer below even these moderate
standards. How far in this direction he sometimes went may be gathered
from a multitude of anecdotes concerning him that still pass current
throughout the region comprised within the old Eighth Judicial Circuit.
Every one of these tales, however trivial, opens a window into the man’s
soul; and it is only by having regard to many, if not all of them, that
we can reach the various angles at which he should be scrutinized.

In depicting a great personage, the historian may rest content with
broad generalizations; the biographer may stop at a few specific
illustrations of prominent features in his subject’s make-up; but the
student of character, recognizing the value of cumulative instances,
must go further and, at the risk of seeming prolix,--perhaps
unskilled,--must marshal enough kindred happenings in line to
demonstrate the presence or absence of significant traits.

Lincoln’s proneness to underrate his services, when he tried to express
them in terms of dollars and cents, occasionally took a striking form.
One instance is related by Abraham Brokaw, of Bloomington, Illinois. He
had brought an action against a neighbor who owed him considerable
money. The debt was collected by the sheriff, but that officer, becoming
insolvent, had failed to make proper return of the proceeds. Whereupon
Brokaw retained Lincoln’s great political rival, Stephen A. Douglas, to
sue the sureties on the official bond. This resulted in prompt payment
of the claim. But the “Little Giant,” engrossed in one of his strenuous
campaigns for Congress, proved to be no improvement over the delinquent
sheriff, so far as that waiting creditor was concerned. King Log had
been exchanged for King Stork. Douglas, with characteristic
heedlessness, let the money slip somehow through his fingers, and
returned to Washington without having made a settlement. Then Brokaw’s
overstrained patience snapped. Neither the man’s ardent Democracy nor
his admiration for the party’s dashing young leader was proof against
such a succession of disappointments. He engaged Lincoln to obtain an
immediate accounting, and that gentleman, nothing loath, sent Douglas,
who was still at the capital, a rather sharp letter demanding prompt
payment. This deeply incensed the recipient. Writing an indignant reply
to Brokaw direct, he protested against the outrage of placing any such
weapon in the hands of a political opponent. So delicate a matter, urged
the complaint, might at least have been entrusted to a Democrat. The
letter was re-mailed to Lincoln, who entered briskly enough into the
humor of the situation. Taking Douglas at his word, he forwarded the
claim to “Long John” Wentworth, a Democratic member of Congress from
Chicago. Then the “Little Giant” capitulated, and Brokaw at last
received his money.

“What do you suppose Lincoln charged me?” queried the successful
claimant, telling the story. “He charged me exactly three dollars and
fifty cents for collecting nearly six hundred dollars.”

When asked his reason for retaining so small a fee, the attorney is said
to have replied: “I had no trouble with it. I sent it to my friend in
Washington, and was only out the postage.”[iv-16]

This naïve explanation deserves a place side by side with that of the
hospitable hostess, who, setting an elaborate luncheon before her
guests, brushed away their protests by assuring them of its cheapness.
“Why,” said she, “the whole affair cost almost nothing. I had everything
in the house but ten cents’ worth of cinnamon.”

The Brokaw episode, moreover, recalls another instance of how liberally
Lincoln discounted the value of his services when a friendly colleague
had helped him out. It has been related by Isaac Hawley, a citizen of
Springfield. He was sued in an action of ejectment from a piece of land
on the so-called “military tract” of Brown County. The suit had been
brought in the United States Court, so Hawley employed Mr. Lincoln to
look after the case, whenever it should come up for trial at Chicago.
After giving the matter considerable attention through several terms of
court, the attorney arranged with a local lawyer to watch the case in
his absence. The man on guard did this work so well that when the case
was called he had it dismissed. Delighted at the outcome, Mr. Hawley
asked for a bill, expecting, as he afterward explained, to pay not less
than fifty dollars. But great was his astonishment when Lincoln said:
“Well, Isaac, I think I will charge you about ten dollars. I think that
would be about right.”[iv-17]

Another Lincoln client, George W. Nance by name, who settled at even a
larger ratio of difference between what he thought was due and what he
actually paid, writes: “I engaged his services in a lawsuit, and on
asking his charge, to my surprise he only asked me two dollars and fifty
cents. I had no idea of paying less then ten dollars.”[iv-18]

Still another friend and client, John W. Bunn, of Springfield, bears
testimony to the same general effect. He tells how George Smith &
Company, a firm of Chicago bankers, requested him to retain an attorney
who should look after their defense in a local attachment suit which
involved several thousand dollars. Mr. Bunn entrusted the case to
Lincoln. That skillful advocate won a verdict at the trial, and charged
twenty-five dollars for his victory. When the bill reached them, the
Chicago men wrote to their correspondent: “We asked you to get the best
lawyer in Springfield, and it certainly looks as if you had secured one
of the cheapest.”[iv-19]

No less an authority than Daniel Webster was similarly impressed with
Lincoln’s moderation. The “Great Expounder” employed him to transact
some legal business concerning a certain speculation in land, at the
place where Rock River flows into the Mississippi. An embryo city, laid
out there by the promoters, had not been a success, and most of the
property, on which but one payment had been made, reverted finally to
the original owners. For such services as he could render Mr. Lincoln
charged ten dollars, a fee so far from adequate, in Mr. Webster’s
estimation, that he frequently referred to its smallness and declared
himself still his attorney’s debtor.

An English barrister, quite as eminent, perhaps, as our “Godlike
Daniel,” once facetiously defined the lawyer to be “a learned gentleman
who rescues your estate from your enemies and keeps it himself.” Such a
view of the profession has, from time to time, been held in sober
earnest by not a few citizens of both countries. Certainly the Illinois
matron, whom her son quotes in the following characteristic little
anecdote, appears to have been of this opinion. But it is interesting to
notice how, on one occasion, at least, she had to modify the gibe in
favor of Abraham Lincoln.

“My father,” relates Henry Rickel, “had a claim against a man of the
name of Townsend, to the amount of fifteen hundred dollars or more; and
he learned one day that he was about to leave the country, and had a
drove of cattle, and was on the way to Oregon. My father went to Mr.
Lincoln, secured an attachment, Mr. Lincoln furnishing the bond, and
there was a vigorous contest over the matter. I remember the evening
after the trial my father came home, and my mother asked him how he
came out. His reply was: ‘I came out ahead, of course, because I had Abe
for my lawyer.’

“My mother seemed to have a pretty poor opinion of lawyers in general,
and she said: ‘I suppose the lawyers will take most of it.’

“And father replied: ‘Why, mother, what do you suppose Abe charged me?’

“She mentioned a very large sum. My father said: ‘You are greatly
mistaken. He said to me, “Mr. Rickel, I will only charge you twenty-five
dollars, and if you think that is too much, I will make it
less.”’”[iv-20]

As surprisingly small a fee--the same sum, in fact--contented Lincoln
after another verdict of even more importance. This had been reached in
what was called the Dungee slander suit. That it involved far heavier
labors on his part, and that it may be classed among those triumphs in
which a good round charge is peculiarly appropriate, appears to have
made no difference. He had carried all before him through a hotly
contested trial; but in the supreme hour, when nothing remained save to
gather the fruits of victory, his hand fell limp at his side. It makes
rather a long story, yet to appreciate fully what happened one must know
the salient details.

To begin, this action was brought before Judge Davis, at Clinton, during
the spring of 1856, after Lincoln had attained prominence as a lawyer.
It grew out of a quarrel between two brothers-in-law, Jack Dungee and
Joe Spencer. The former, a dark-complexioned Portuguese, had married the
latter’s sister. How their broil originated is not now definitely
known. When it was at its height, however, Spencer called Dungee a
“nigger,” and followed this up, as they said, by adding “a nigger
married to a white woman.” The words were slanderous because, under
Illinois law, such a union constituted a crime. Laying his damages at
several thousand dollars, the aggrieved man employed Mr. Lincoln to
bring suit, whereupon the defendant enlisted the services of Clifton H.
Moore and Lawrence Weldon. When the matter came up, these two able
lawyers demurred to the complaint, on technical grounds; and their
motion, to Lincoln’s great chagrin, was sustained by the court. It
touched his professional pride to have a case thrown out, in that
manner, because of faulty papers, as indeed it would any practitioner.
Gathering himself together, he leaned across the trial table, and
shaking a long bony finger toward his opponents, he exclaimed: “Now, by
Jing, I’ll beat you boys!”

To make good that threat Lincoln appeared at the next term of court with
amended pleadings. He threw himself into the trial with a mastery which
gave evidence of painstaking preparation; while the logic, wit, and
eloquence that marked his argument to the jury compelled the admiration
of even his adversaries. After a hard-fought battle extending over two
days, the case terminated in a heavy judgment for the plaintiff.

His counsel had said that Dungee sought vindication, not money;
accordingly the defendant’s lawyers came and said: “Mr. Lincoln, you
have beaten us, as you said you would. We want now to ground the
weapons of our unequal warfare, and as you said your client did not want
to make money out of the suit, we thought you might get him to remit
some of the judgment. We know Spencer has acted the fool, but this
judgment will break him up.”

“Well,” replied Lincoln, “I will cheerfully advise my client to remit on
the most favorable terms. The defendant is a fool. But he has one
virtue. He is industrious and has worked hard for what he has, so I am
not disposed to hold him responsible. If every fool was to be dealt with
by being held responsible in money for his folly, the poorhouses of the
country would have to be enlarged very much beyond their present
capacity.”

Guided by this benevolent spirit, Dungee consented to forego the whole
judgment on condition that Spencer would defray all costs, and pay Mr.
Lincoln’s bill. When the proposition had been eagerly accepted, a
question arose as to what the bill should be. Lincoln referred this to
Moore and Weldon, but they both insisted that he, not they, ought to fix
the amount of his fee.

“Well, gentlemen,” came the response, after a few moments’ thought,
“don’t you think I have honestly earned twenty-five dollars?”

What the gentlemen thought was thus expressed by Judge Weldon, in after
life, when he told the story: “We were astonished, and had he said one
hundred dollars it would have been what we expected. The judgment was a
large one for those days. He had attended the case at two terms of
court, had been engaged for two days in a hotly contested suit, and his
client’s adversary was going to pay the bill. The simplicity of Mr.
Lincoln’s character in money matters is well illustrated by the fact
that for all this he charged twenty-five dollars.”[iv-21]

An equally striking undervaluation was remarked in another slander
suit,--one of wide repute,--which took place at about the same period.
This case is known as the Chiniquy affair. It was brought in the Circuit
Court of Kankakee County, by Peter Spink, a prominent citizen of
L’Erable, against Father Charles Chiniquy, the famous priest of St.
Anne. That reverend gentleman had, in the course of a sermon, charged
the plaintiff, one of his parishioners, with having committed perjury;
and the object of this attack had lost no time in seeking reparation.
His attorneys were Messrs. Starr, Norton & McRoberts. Chiniquy was
represented by John W. Paddock and Uri Osgood. According to the
defendant’s own overcharged, not to say hysterical, narrative, this
prosecution had been set on foot at the instigation of his superior,
Bishop O’Regan, with whom he then already waged the unequal warfare
which later attracted so much attention. The merits of his polemic do
not concern us here. Certain members of the church may, as the priest
states in his book, have conspired to ruin him, and that particular
diocese may, at the time, have harbored those shameful abuses which he
decries; but what Chiniquy says about Spink’s suit should be received
with caution, for it departs materially, at important points, from the
official court records.

When the case came up in Kankakee, during the autumn of 1855, counsel
for the plaintiff secured a change of venue to Champaign County. This
greatly troubled Father Chiniquy. The heavy expense--far beyond his
means--of bringing witnesses and lawyers to a distant tribunal, as well
as the perils of a trial among strangers appalled him. He was leaving
the court-room cast down by these prospects, when an unknown
well-wisher, hurrying up with eager words of sympathy, urged that
Abraham Lincoln be retained to take part in the defense.

“But,” queried the priest, “who is that Abraham Lincoln? I never heard
of that man before.”

To which the other responded: “Abraham Lincoln is the best lawyer and
the most honest man we have in Illinois.”

Returning to where his counsel were still in consultation, Chiniquy
asked their opinion of the suggestion. They warmly approved, so he
accompanied this new-found friend to the telegraph office. In a brief
exchange of messages over the Springfield wire, Lincoln promised his
aid. Then the stranger, still preserving his incognito, paid the
operator, gave the priest a few further words of encouragement, and
hastened away. He had not been gone long before Spink entered the
office, for the purpose of retaining that same attorney, but it was too
late.

At the May term of the following year, when the trial opened in Urbana,
Mr. Lincoln, according to agreement, appeared for the defense. He
aroused the admiration of his client by the skill with which he both met
the evidence of the prosecution and marshaled the witnesses on their
own side. As most of the persons concerned were French Canadians, the
testimony had to be taken chiefly through an interpreter. This drew the
proceedings out to tedious lengths, and increased the labors of counsel
not a little. The trial was, however, slowly approaching its close when
one of the jurymen appeared to be in great distress.

“What is that juror crying about?” asked Judge Davis, who presided.

“My child is dying,” was the sobbing answer.

A neighbor, coming into court had, unperceived by any one, whispered
these tidings to the unfortunate father. His grief so moved the judge
that, after a few questions addressed to the newcomer, he said to the
juryman: “You’re discharged,--go at once.”

Then, turning to the counsel in the case, His Honor inquired:
“Gentlemen, will you proceed with the eleven jurymen?”

After both sides had consulted, Lincoln responded, “We will”; but Norton
replied, “We decline.” So the jury had to be discharged, and the case
was continued to the October term.

Another trial appears to have been well under way in the following
autumn when Lincoln exerted his powers as peacemaker and brought about a
compromise. He probably framed the agreement under which the suit was
dismissed, for the final order still stands on the court records in his
handwriting. By its terms Chiniquy’s charges against Spink were
withdrawn, and each party consented to pay his own costs. The reverend
Father’s expenses must have borne heavily upon him. If his own statement
is to be credited, Messrs. Paddock and Osgood asked him for a thousand
dollars each. Commenting on the size of the fee, he adds, “I had not
thought that too much.”

So, when it came to settling with Mr. Lincoln, the third counsel, whose
services in Chiniquy’s estimation were more than again as valuable, the
poor priest asked for a bill with some trepidation. To his bewilderment,
as he relates, the lawyer replied: “You owe me nothing; for I suppose
you are quite ruined. The expenses of such a suit, I know, must be
enormous. Your enemies want to ruin you. Will I help them to finish your
ruin, when I hope I have the right to be put among the most sincere and
devoted of your friends?”

But Father Chiniquy would not let the matter rest there. He urged that
Mr. Lincoln should at least charge his hotel bills and traveling
expenses. Whereupon the attorney wrote on a scrap of paper:


URBANA, _May 23, 1856_.

     Due A. Lincoln fifty dollars, for value received.

“Can you sign that?” he asked. And the overwrought client, breaking into
sobs, affixed his signature.[iv-22]

So large a disparity in size between Lincoln’s fees and those of other
lawyers engaged on the same case, as occurred in the Chiniquy matter,
was probably not common. There were differences enough, however, to
provoke comment; and one of them, at least, led to an amusing
situation. On that occasion he gained a verdict for an aged German who
was in danger of losing his farm. The suit had been a trying one, but
after years of litigation from court to court, it resulted in their
favor. Then Lincoln charged two hundred dollars, which the old man,
secure of his property, willingly paid. Yet the attorney’s conscience
was not quite at ease in the matter. His reflections were disturbed by a
fear that the bill might have been excessive, and the more he thought
about it the stronger became his feeling. So, seeking out the lawyer on
the other side, who happened to be his brother-in-law, Ninian W.
Edwards, Lincoln asked him what he--the losing advocate--had charged his
client.

“Two hundred and fifty dollars,” was the reply.

It touched the questioner’s ever-ready sense of humor. He laughed, and
decided to keep his fee without further parley.

But there are instances in which fees, or rather such portions of them
as appeared exorbitant, were not kept. One of these episodes has, within
recent years, been related by Mr. George P. Floyd. Having rented the
Quincy House at Quincy, Illinois, from the owner, Mrs. Enos, who lived
in Springfield, he employed Mr. Lincoln to draw up a lease and have it
executed. When the document reached Mr. Floyd, no bill for services
accompanied it. A proper charge would, in his estimation, have been
twenty-five dollars. So he sent the attorney that amount. Within a few
days, to his astonishment, came this reply:--


SPRINGFIELD, ILL., _February 21, 1856_.

MR. GEORGE P. FLOYD,
_Quincy, Ill._

     DEAR SIR:--I have just received yours of 16th, with check on Flagg
     & Savage for twenty-five dollars. You must think I am a high-priced
     man. You are too liberal with your money. Fifteen dollars is enough
     for the job. I send you a receipt for fifteen dollars, and return
     to you a ten-dollar bill.

Yours truly,
A. LINCOLN.[iv-23]



On another occasion the writer of this singular missive went further. He
not only returned part of his own fee, but he also insisted that his
associate should do likewise. The associate himself--it was Ward Hill
Lamon, one of Lincoln’s local partners on circuit--tells the story. He
had been retained in a case of some importance by a client named Scott.
The man was acting as conservator for a demented sister, who possessed
property that amounted to ten thousand dollars, mostly in cash. This
ready money--a neat sum for those days--had excited the cupidity of a
certain adventurer who sought to marry the unfortunate girl, and as an
essential preliminary to that step a motion had been made for the
removal of her conservator. It was to oppose this action that Scott
retained Lamon, insisting, however, at the time, upon having the amount
of his fee determined in advance. The attorney advised him to wait, as
the matter might not give much trouble, in which event a comparatively
small charge would be sufficient. But the suggestion met with no favor,
so Lamon named two hundred and fifty dollars. This sum, Scott,
anticipating a prolonged contest, eagerly agreed to pay. When the case
came on, however, Lincoln, who appeared for him, won a complete victory
inside of twenty minutes. And as they stood within the bar, Scott, much
elated, paid Lamon the stipulated fee. Mr. Lincoln, who had been looking
on while the money was counted out, said to his colleague, after their
client’s departure: “What did you charge that man?”

When the amount was stated, he exclaimed: “Lamon, that is all wrong. The
service was not worth that sum. Give him back at least half of it.”

But the other protested that the figure had been agreed on in advance,
and that Scott expressed himself as perfectly satisfied. To which
Lincoln, sorely displeased, rejoined: “That may be, but I am not
satisfied. This is positively wrong. Go, call him back, and return half
the money at least, or I will not receive one cent of it for my share.”

There was naturally only one course open to the embarrassed junior. He
hastened after Scott and, to that gentleman’s astonishment, restored
half the fee.

This little colloquy had attracted the attention of both bench and bar.
It appears to have especially interested the presiding judge, David
Davis, who, calling the fault-finding attorney to him, said in a poorly
controlled whisper, which could be heard throughout the court-room:
“Lincoln, I have been watching you and Lamon. You are impoverishing
this bar by your picayune charges of fees, and the lawyers have reason
to complain of you. You are now almost as poor as Lazarus, and if you
don’t make people pay you more for your services, you will die as poor
as Job’s turkey.”

The rebuke was warmly applauded, but it made no impression on the man
against whom it had been directed.

“That money,” said he, “comes out of the pocket of a poor, demented
girl, and I would rather starve than swindle her in this manner.”[iv-24]

The matter was not allowed, however, to rest there. In the evening of
that same day, Lincoln found himself arraigned for his offense before
the “orgmathorial court.” This was a sort of mock-tribunal maintained by
Davis, on circuit, to try lawyers who might be charged with breaches of
decorum. No member of the jocund company, it is safe to say, had ever
before been placed in the dock for the heinous crime of undervaluing his
services. Yet complaints against this particular respondent, as the
judge implied, had been frequent enough. Lamon was not the only attorney
who had suffered, in mind and pocket, because of his Quixotic acts.
Partner Herndon, himself a kindly man, is said to have expostulated
repeatedly without effect; and so far as the bar at large was concerned,
some of its pillars doubtless felt the jolt at times of Lincoln’s
absurdly low standards. He had, moreover, been caught red-handed in the
Scott case, so that the plea of a certain famous British barrister,
similarly on trial before the circuit mess for disgracing his
profession by accepting too small a fee, would hardly have answered.
This earlier offender, Sergeant William Davy, is said to have made the
since oft-quoted defense: “I took silver because I could not get gold.
But I took every farthing the fellow had in the world, and I hope you
don’t call that disgracing the profession.”[iv-25]

Davy was nevertheless found guilty and fined. So was Lincoln. His fellow
anglers in the turbid waters of the law had no sympathy with the rare
sportsmanship which had prompted him to throw back half his catch. He
proved to be a true sport, however, in more ways than one. The fine was
paid, we are told, with great good humor; and then the culprit told
stories that kept the court in an uproar of laughter until after
midnight.

There is another--a serious--side to this question. It was succinctly
stated by Mr. Hoffman in this passage from one of his resolutions: “As a
general rule I will carefully avoid what is called the ‘taking of half
fees.’ And though no one can be so competent as myself to judge what may
be a just compensation for my services, yet when the _quiddam
honorarium_ has been established by usage or law, I shall regard as
eminently dishonorable all underbidding of my professional brethren.”

But Lincoln could not see it so. Strong as was his sympathy with these
colleagues at the bar, they were forgotten when he sat down to write a
bill. His own modest estimate of himself, his compassion for clients in
distress, and above all his ever-present fear of taking a dishonest
advantage, proved to be the controlling factors. Influenced by such
habits of mind, to the very end, he declared, as Lamon states, that
their firm should never, with his consent, deserve the reputation
enjoyed by those shining lights of the profession--“Catchem and
Cheatem.”

To infer from all these things that Lincoln was wholly shiftless in
monetary matters, or that he did not, at times, gladly receive the fees
which had, according to his own rigid standards, been fairly earned,
would be wide of the mark. He welcomed, for the most part, in fact, the
gleanings of ordinary practice from clients who could afford to pay.
Such small sums as the circuit yielded, and they usually were small,
meant much to him; how much, may be seen in the little side-light thrown
on the subject by another one of his local partners. Henry C. Whitney,
recalling the end of a session, in the summer of 1856, at Urbana, says:
“He had collected twenty-five or thirty dollars for that term’s business
thus far, and one of our clients owed him ten dollars, which he felt
disappointed at not being able to collect. So I gave him a check for
that amount, and went with him to the bank to collect it. The cashier,
T. S. Hubbard, who paid it, is still living in Urbana, and will probably
remember it. I do not remember to have seen him happier than when he had
got his little earnings together, being less than forty dollars, as I
now recollect it, and had his carpet-bag packed, ready to start
home.”[iv-26]

There is something almost pathetic in this scene, when one stops to
think that the central figure was at the time a leader of the Illinois
bar, and the very man whose persistent tenderness of his clients’
purses had made him an object of censure from the bench. Lincoln himself
still further illuminates the topic. Early in his practice, while
associated with the thriftiest of his Springfield partners, he wrote to
one James S. Irwin: “Judge Logan and myself are willing to attend to any
business in the Supreme Court you may send us. As to fees, it is
impossible to establish a rule that will apply in all, or even a great
many cases. We believe we are never accused of being unreasonable in
this particular, and we would always be easily satisfied, provided we
could see the money; but whatever fees we earn at a distance, if not
paid before, we have noticed, we never hear of after the work is done.
We, therefore, are growing a little sensitive on that point.”[iv-27]

Under this same head, one of the younger lawyers has recollected a piece
of “fatherly” advice given to him by Lincoln, while they were engaged in
court. Addressing the fledgling as the jury went out, and referring to
his client, a shifty fellow who sat near by, the older lawyer whispered:
“You had better try and get your money now. If the jury comes in with a
verdict for him, you won’t get anything.”[iv-28]

So much for what the speaker once termed a “mere question of bread and
butter.” As to the rest, when clients did not pay, Lincoln was averse to
suing them. His high ideals of professional ethics, no less than a
certain personal fealty toward those who had honored him with their
confidence, stood in the way of such prosecutions. And when any
associates did, on rare occasions, carry the collection of unpaid bills
for legal services into court, it was done contrary to his wishes.

An instance of what would then be likely to happen has been related by
Mr. Herndon. “I remember,” says he, “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.”[iv-29]

A notable exception to the rule against suing for fees was made in the
case of one wealthy client--the Illinois Central Railroad Company. That
corporation, through its attorneys, Mason, Brayman, and James F. Joy,
sent Mr. Lincoln, during the year 1853, a retainer of two hundred
dollars in an important action. Suit had been brought by the corporation
against McLean County to enjoin the collection of taxes assessed on
railroad lands. The question at issue involved the interpretation of the
charter whereby the corporation had been granted exemption from local
taxation, on condition that it paid annually a certain percentage of its
gross earnings into the State Treasury. Such immunity the Legislature,
according to some county officers, had no right to confer; and the
McLean authorities insisted upon taxing so much of the railroad property
as lay within their jurisdiction. This course had brought about the case
at bar by which it was planned to test the constitutionality of that
law. When the suit came to trial, Lincoln, facing Stuart and Logan, is
said to have conducted the plaintiff’s side “with rare skill”; but the
verdict, despite all his exertions, went against him. An appeal was
promptly taken, however, to the Supreme Court, where, after twice
arguing the case, and after two years of laborious litigation, all told,
he succeeded in reversing the decision of the Circuit Court.

This victory meant much to the Illinois Central Railroad Company.
Although a comparatively small sum was involved in the suit itself, an
adverse result would have brought down upon the company a mass of
claims, which, as some thought, might have led to bankruptcy. The road
owned nearly two million acres of land and ran through twenty-six
counties. Had all these several jurisdictions succeeded in laying their
annual burdens upon the company, half a million dollars at interest
would hardly have defrayed the tax. In view of all these facts, Lincoln
considered two thousand dollars a moderate compensation, and presented a
bill for that amount. What was his chagrin, however, to have Mr. Joy
disallow the account, because it impressed him as an exorbitant charge
from a “common country lawyer.” The modesty of a Socrates or a Cato
might have succumbed before such a rebuff. Lincoln withdrew the bill,
and started for home. On the way, he stopped at Bloomington, where the
affair became known to some of his colleagues on the circuit. In their
indignation over the company’s shabby conduct, they persuaded him to
make the charge five thousand dollars, and to set forth the increased
demand by means of the following unique document:--

The Illinois Central Railroad Company,
_To_ A. Lincoln _Dr._

     To professional services in the case of the Illinois Central
     Railroad Company against the County of McLean, argued in the
     Supreme Court of the State of Illinois at December term, 1855,

$5000.00

We, the undersigned members of the Illinois Bar, understanding that the
above entitled cause was twice argued in the Supreme Court, and that the
judgment therein decided the question of the claim of counties and other
minor municipal corporations to the property of said railroad company,
and settled said question against said claim and in favor of said
railroad company, are of opinion the sum above charged as a fee is not
unreasonable.

  Grant Goodrich.
  N. B. Judd.
  Archibald Williams.
  N. H. Purple.
  O. H. Browning.
  R. S. Blackwell.


These signatures were probably not all appended at Bloomington, nor were
these signers the only lawyers whom Lincoln consulted. Anxious to deal
fairly with the company beyond the shadow of a doubt, he appealed to
several other prominent attorneys for their opinions. One of these, Mr.
Koerner, who had enjoyed peculiar opportunities for reaching a judgment
in the matter, says: “He wrote me a letter stating that as I knew all
about the case, and had been present when it was argued, he would be
obliged to me to give him my opinion whether his demand was unreasonable
or not. He also stated that he had written to some other members of the
bar, and he would be guided by our opinion. I advised him that his
charge was very unreasonable, and that he ought to have charged at least
ten thousand dollars. I presume he received about the same answer from
the other gentlemen.”

At all events, Lincoln’s bill, as revised, was sent in. The company
still refused payment, and there seemed but one course open to him. So
he promptly brought suit, in McLean County Circuit Court, for the amount
of his strangely amended reckoning, with costs.

When the cause was reached for trial, before Judge Davis, on the morning
of June 18, 1857, “the defendants,” as the ancient judicial formula
expresses it, “came not.” A jury having been empaneled, Mr. Lincoln
briefly presented his case, and upon its verdict was awarded a judgment
in full. By afternoon one of the company’s general solicitors, John M.
Douglas, who had been delayed, arrived from Chicago, too late, of
course, for the trial. Greatly disturbed by the embarrassing position in
which the default placed him, he sought out Lincoln and begged to have
the case reopened so that the corporation might have its day in court.
This was readily consented to, the judgment was set aside, and a few
days later the issue was again tried. On that occasion, Mr. Douglas
called attention to the two hundred dollars paid four years previously
as a retainer. It had been forgotten by Lincoln, who at once reduced his
claim accordingly. So when the new jury brought in a second verdict, the
figure stood at four thousand eight hundred dollars, and that amount,
with costs, the defendant promptly paid.[iv-30]

In justice to the Illinois Central Railroad Company its own statement of
this affair should not be overlooked. From an elaborately printed
monograph, illustrated by reproductions of the documents in the case,
and published within recent years, we quote what is offered as an
official explanation: “The then general counsel of the road advised Mr.
Lincoln that while he recognized the value of his services, still, the
payment of so large a fee to a Western country lawyer without protest
would embarrass the general counsel with the board of directors in New
York, who would not understand, as would a lawyer, the importance of the
case and the consequent value of Mr. Lincoln’s services. It was
intimated to Mr. Lincoln, however, that if he would bring suit for his
bill in some court of competent jurisdiction, and judgment were rendered
in his favor, the judgment would be paid without appeal.”

This version of the affair seems hardly convincing. The verdict of the
trial court was, it is true, accepted as final by the railroad
officials; but they have left slender evidence on which to base the
latter-day inference that the suit was a mere formality, framed up
between friends to guard against the censure of non-resident directors.
The company’s own exhibits, examined in the light of statements made by
certain contemporary lawyers, lead one--with all candor be it said--to a
contrary conclusion. Even the claim that amicable relations continued
uninterrupted, and that Lincoln acted as counsel for the railroad in
several important matters thereafter, loses its force when one remembers
his peculiar sweetness of character. He might well have conducted the
suit, in serious earnest, without losing his temper or his
client.[iv-31] Indeed, it is difficult for us, after studying the man
thus far, to conceive of him as really quarreling over a sum of
money--large or small. And if, when enforcing the collection of perhaps
his biggest fee, he managed to take a somewhat arrogant patron into
court without snapping delicate professional ties, the feat should be
explained, not by the fanciful surmise that there was no cause of
irritation between them, but rather by the fact that he
was--Lincoln.[iv-32]

This man, of all men, bringing suit to collect a disputed bill for his
services, presents a spectacle which should be classed among the
caprices of history. It would have seemed more natural, by far, had the
plaintiff’s rôle in that action been filled by any one of the colleagues
who certified to the fairness of the claim. Though hardly a mercenary
bar, the lawyers of the Eighth Judicial Circuit were largely, as the
phrase goes, alive to the main chance. Not a few of them at this period
laid up competencies; while here and there an able practitioner managed
to grow rich. The presiding judge himself, David Davis,--he who had
lectured Lincoln on his “picayune charges,”--possessed the true Midas
touch. Yet the ample fortune which was eventually credited to him, as
indeed much of the wealth amassed by the others, may be traced back to
activities and speculations outside the law. Such modes of money-getting
held no attractions for Lincoln. His early misadventures in business had
cured him of mercantile ambitions, and when friends presented alluring
opportunities for profitable investments they were invariably declined.
He might truly have replied as did Webster once, under similar
circumstances: “Gentlemen, if you have any projects for money-making, I
pray you keep me out of them. My singular destiny mars everything of
that sort, and would be sure to overwhelm your own better fortunes.”

In Lincoln’s case, however, this unwillingness to seek revenues beyond
the pale of the profession lay deeper than any mere question concerning
profit or loss. The old-fashioned ideals, which debarred an advocate
from pursuing any outside occupation of a gainful nature, had taken firm
hold upon his convictions. Indeed, he carried to its extreme this
aversion for hampering himself with whatever smacked of trade, going so
far as to reject even the mint, anise, and cummin of related business
that many able attorneys about him were glad to cull from adjacent
fields. Accordingly, when some Springfield property had been levied
upon, in a suit brought by Logan and Lincoln, for certain wholesale
merchants at Louisville, the junior partner thus curtly dismissed a
request of their clients that they collect the rents which might accrue:
“As to the real estate, we cannot attend to it as agents, and we
therefore 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.”[iv-33]

Yet the man who wrote those lines was in debt. His situation, generally
speaking, must have been far from prosperous. At about this very period,
we find him frankly giving poverty as the reason for declining an
invitation to visit Joshua F. Speed, whom he very much desired to see
again. That dear friend, happily married and domiciled in the South, had
been sending insistent messages to which Lincoln finally replied: “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.”[iv-34]

The writer--gaunt and grimly humorous--might well-nigh have gone as far
as once did another threadbare limb of the law, who declared, “I am so
poor, I do not make a shadow when the sun shines.” Indeed, to complete
the traditional picture of a needy barrister, Lincoln apparently lacked
but one thing--a family. And so he married. Within a few months after
the writing of that lugubrious message, Mary Todd, a high-spirited,
well-nurtured Kentucky lady, who was living with relatives in
Springfield, became his wife. Their marriage ceremony, conducted by the
Reverend Charles Dresser according to the ritual of the Episcopal
Church, appears to have been somewhat of a novelty in Springfield at
that time. Certainly one of the guests was taken off his guard when he
heard it. For as the bridegroom repeated after the rector, in an
impressive manner, the formula, “With this ring I thee endow with all my
goods and chattels, lands and tenements,” Judge Thomas C. Browne, the
Falstaff of the bench, standing close to the high contracting parties,
exclaimed: “Good gracious, Lincoln, the statute fixes all that!”

This sage interruption was too much for the good minister’s sense of
humor, and some moments elapsed before he could proceed.[iv-35] One
wonders whether, on the under side of his merriment, there may not have
frolicked a suspicion that, had rite or statute been invoked, then and
there, in the bride’s behalf, she would have carried away but a slim
endowment of worldly goods. On her part, moreover, the lady was
apparently quite as poor as the man she married. For like many other
wives whose mates have attained professional eminence, Mary Todd brought
her husband no fortune to paralyze his industry.

The young couple would gladly have made a honeymoon journey to their
native State and availed themselves of Speed’s now repeatedly offered
hospitality; but again, poverty stood in the way. They were fain,
therefore, to content themselves with a room at Mrs. Beck’s Globe
Tavern, where the munificent sum of four dollars paid their whole bill,
each week, for board and lodging. This frugal arrangement lasted
somewhat more than a year, after which the birth of their first child
necessitated a change.[iv-36] So they bought from the Reverend Mr.
Dresser his frame cottage, on the corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets,
that was to serve them as a residence for the rest of their days in
Springfield. It appears to have been a modest home among modest
surroundings. Here the little family took root, here the problems of the
growing household were worked out, and here Abraham Lincoln lived the
simple life of an honest gentleman.[iv-37] His personal wants were
few,--so few, in fact, as to make him almost seem rich. He had no
expensive habits and one looks in vain for what cynics sometimes term
redeeming vices. A man whose parents were, to quote one old settler,
“torn-down poor,” does not enter upon life handicapped by a love of
luxury. In Lincoln’s case the privations of earlier days had left him
largely indifferent even to such creature comforts as the refinements of
later times brought within reach. And though he rarely then referred to
those trying backwoods experiences, the primitive ways instilled by them
never quite got out of his system. Always in some degree a son of the
soil, he consciously bore himself as belonging to “the plain people.” It
was the plain mode of living, therefore, that appealed to him, not only
because the more elegant customs were distasteful, but also because he
felt keenly aware of how incongruous they would have been with his real
self. Nor does the closest scrutiny reveal in all this any trace of
affectation. The ostentatious display of poverty, on the one hand, and
on the other, the vulgar mannerisms whereby our so-called self-made men
sometimes make capital out of their lowly origins, were alike foreign to
his nature. He was true here as elsewhere. In fact, when all is said,
the man’s simplicity of life must be counted but one more expression of
his inherent honesty.

Lincoln made it a practice to serve himself. He really disliked to have
others wait upon his wants. Self-reliant in the extreme, to go for a
thing came easier with him than to send for it; to do what was required
seemed simpler than to order it done. He would walk to the house from
the office for a document, though willing clerks were on hand eager to
act as his messengers. If the open fire, at home or elsewhere, needed a
fresh supply of fuel that did not happen to be promptly forthcoming, he
took up the axe, shed his coat, and went vigorously to work over the
woodpile. When a small stick was once wanted for some special purpose by
a visitor at the Springfield residence, the master of the house fetched
it after a brief session with his saw in the rear shed; and when a
surprised comment ensued, Lincoln laughingly replied: “We’re not much
used to servants about this place. Besides, you know, I have always been
my own wood-sawyer.”[iv-38]

The speaker was so little used to servants, in fact, that even when
latterly they were at hand, he often opened the front door for visitors
himself. This habit keenly annoyed Mrs. Lincoln, particularly as his
attire on these occasions appears not always to have conformed with the
conventional requirements laid down by authorities on etiquette.

But once, when she was lamenting over certain social breaches of that
kind, a member of her family said: “Mary, if I had a husband with a mind
such as yours has, I wouldn’t care what he did.”

To which the lady, much mollified, replied: “It is very foolish. It is a
small thing to complain of.”

And what might one have expected of a man, who was not only his “own
wood-sawyer,” but his own stable-boy as well? For when at home, Mr.
Lincoln usually, during that period, milked the cow, fed the horse, and
looked after their several wants, in a rudely constructed little barn
which stood behind the house.[iv-39] This same democratic simplicity and
absence of all pretentions to elegance were observed about the untidy
little offices in which he successively practiced his profession. Nor
was it otherwise on circuit. The sorry nag that he sometimes bestrode
and the shabby buggy in which the animal at other times pulled him from
town to town looked consistent with the rest. When accommodations,
moreover, at the local hotels were poor,--as they frequently appear to
have been,--his easy-going temper remained unruffled. “He never
complained of the food, bed, or lodgings,” said Judge Davis. “If every
other fellow grumbled at the bill-of-fare, which greeted us at many of
the dingy taverns, Lincoln said nothing.”[iv-40] To which Joseph
Gillespie, another friend of the old circuit days, adds: “He had a
realizing sense that he was generally set down by city snobs as a
country Jake, and would accept, in a public-house, any place assigned to
him, whether in the basement or the attic, and he seldom called at the
table for anything, but helped himself to what was within reach. Indeed,
he never knew what he did eat. He said to me once that he never felt his
own utter unworthiness so much as when in the presence of a hotel clerk
or waiter.”[iv-41]

It would be interesting to determine how much of this self-depreciation
was due to the unfavorable impression that Lincoln often made upon those
who saw him for the first time. By all accounts he must have been, in
those days, anything but an object of beauty. His six-feet-four of
homely, awkward angularity apparently owed little to the clothier’s or
the haberdasher’s art. For in matters of dress as in other respects, he
was still the plebeian, carrying about him, so to say, the broad-axe air
which suggested, if it did not actually revive, the crudities of
frontier customs. He no longer, it is true, wore, as in his youth, a
coon-skin cap or birch-bark moccasins with hickory soles. His shirts
were no longer of linsey-woolsey, nor his trousers of butternut jeans or
untanned skins. Yet he never quite outgrew the image of himself so
arrayed. What appears to have been particularly vivid in his memory,
moreover, was a picture of flat-boat times on the river, when his
buckskin breeches--the only pair--happened to fall into the water with
their owner inside of them. Relating such an experience once, he said:
“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.”[iv-42]

Similar tendencies, in Lincoln’s later, more modern apparel, to leave a
sort of neutral zone unoccupied between trousers and shoes, recurred
with atavistic persistence long after he became accustomed to better
things. In fact, such misfits troubled him but slightly during the
period of his career at the bar. “He probably had as little taste about
dress and attire as anybody that ever was born,” writes one attorney who
saw him often in those days. “He simply wore clothes because it was
needful and customary. Whether they fitted or looked well was entirely
above or beneath his comprehension.” The same observer says: “When I
first knew him his attire and physical habits were on a plane with those
of an ordinary farmer. His hat was innocent of a nap. His boots had no
acquaintance with blacking. His clothes had not been introduced to the
whisk-broom. His carpet-bag was well worn and dilapidated. His umbrella
was substantial, but of a faded green, well worn, the knob gone, and the
name ‘A. Lincoln’ cut out of white muslin and sewed in the inside. And
for an outer garment, a short circular blue cloak, which he got in
Washington in 1849, and kept for ten years.”[iv-43]

Another friend and colleague, James W. Somers, recalling a first
photographic glimpse of Mr. Lincoln during the earlier days on circuit,
said: “His dress was the most peculiar thing about him. The trousers
were several inches too short and illy fitted. The coat was the
old-style swallow-tail, and was also too small. His head was surmounted
by an antiquated silk hat, battered and rusty, as was his entire suit of
broadcloth, originally black. In his hands or under his arm he carried a
faded green gingham umbrella. He wore a black silk or mohair stock
around his neck, two and a half or three inches wide, buckled at the
back, but with no tie or bow in front. At the fall term court he usually
wore a short circular cloak, extending down to the hips, and much the
worse for wear.”

Disregard of fine apparel, moreover, was not limited by any means to
Lincoln’s younger days at the bar. As late as 1858, after he had
achieved a prominent place at the bar, his appearance made a similar
impression upon Carl Schurz, who drew this graphic thumb-nail sketch of
him: “On his head he wore a somewhat battered ‘stove-pipe’ hat. His neck
emerged, long and sinewy, from a white collar turned down over a thin
black necktie. His lank, ungainly body was clad in a rusty black
dress-coat with sleeves that should have been longer; but his arms
appeared so long that the sleeves of a ‘store’ coat could hardly be
expected to cover them all the way down to the wrists. His black
trousers, too, permitted a very full view of his large feet. On his left
arm he carried a gray woolen shawl, which evidently served him for an
overcoat in chilly weather. His left hand held a cotton umbrella of the
bulging kind, and also a black satchel that bore the marks of long and
hard usage.”[iv-44]

Evidently the age or condition of a garment was no reason, in Lincoln’s
eyes, for discarding it. On the contrary, he appears at times to have
cherished an old article of dress as one would an old friend. But such
attachments have their penalties. And we find him in the
court-room,--yes, on one occasion, in the very presence of the
court,--making hasty repairs to ward off untoward accidents. Still other
inconveniences grew out of Lincoln’s inattention to dress. He had not
been practicing long before his partner, Major John T. Stuart, received
a retainer to defend one John W. Baddeley, against whom a suit was
pending in the McLean County Circuit Court. When this case came to
trial, the major, finding that he could not attend, sent the junior
member of the firm, with a letter of introduction, to act as counsel in
his stead. Baddeley gave one glance at the letter, and one at the
ungainly, ill-dressed bearer of it. That a man who presented so
unpromising an appearance should come offering to be his representative
in the august precincts of the law irritated him beyond measure. He
discharged a volley of abuse at the astonished Lincoln, paid his
respects, in similar terms, to the absent Stuart, and straightway hired
another lawyer, James A. McDougall, to defend the suit. What reply, if
any, was made by the innocent object of all this wrath is not known. He
endured it, we are told, however, without resentment; and later on, when
these first unfavorable impressions had given place to warm
appreciation, counted that very client among his stanchest
admirers.[iv-45]

Nor was Baddeley the only one to be deceived by Lincoln’s
unprepossessing garb. So keen an intellect as Edwin M. Stanton’s wholly
misjudged him, many years thereafter, on the occasion of their first
meeting at Cincinnati, in the famous McCormick _versus_ Manny reaper
case; and that, too, notwithstanding the eminent position which the
Springfield lawyer had by that time attained among his professional
brethren at home. For this critical associate could see no promise of
forensic ability in the man, to whom he contemptuously referred as a
“long, lank creature from Illinois, wearing a dirty linen duster for a
coat, on the back of which the perspiration had splotched wide stains
that resembled a map of the continent.”[iv-46] Stanton’s disdainful
treatment rankled in the gentle soul of Lincoln. He began, some time
after the affair, to wear better clothes--better in texture if not in
fit. But he never learned to take an interest in fine linen, or to spend
on his person more than was necessary to satisfy the ordinary demands of
society.

Thus much for the man’s simple habits. A lawyer whose immediate wants
were, all in all, so moderate, certainly had no personal
incentive--whatever may have been his standards of honesty--for any but
upright methods in his practice. Like Manius Curius, over that historic
dinner of turnips at the chimney-side, he prized honor with modest
living above meretricious wealth and the luxuries it might buy.

To assume, however, that there were not numerous demands upon Lincoln
for what money could procure, would be far from the fact. A kind husband
and indulgent father, it distressed him to refuse his family anything.
All their reasonable wants he did, in truth, cheerfully provide for, as
she who knew him best bore affectionate testimony. And once, when he was
contrasted in her presence with a certain well-favored rival, the little
wife retorted: “Mr. Lincoln may not be as handsome a figure, but the
people are perhaps not aware that his heart is as large as his arms are
long.”

Still, there were many who had good reason to believe in such a
consonance between length of limb and breadth of sympathy. Nor was their
number limited, by any means, to those on whom, as we have seen, he
conferred professional kindnesses. For others frequently felt the
sustaining grip of that sinewy helping hand; and the hospitality
dispensed in the modest little home made a lasting impression upon the
circle of friends, who were favored from time to time with coveted
invitations. Then, too, among the uses that Lincoln had for money must
be reckoned those numberless little charities which are of the same
blood as great and holy deeds. A typical instance, eloquent in its
brevity, is supplied by a slip of paper, dated September 25, 1858. It
reads:

     My old friend Henry Chew, the bearer of this, is in a strait for
     some furniture to commence housekeeping. If any person will furnish
     him twenty-five dollars’ worth, and he does not pay for it by the
     1st of January next, I will.

A. LINCOLN.



With this scrap has been preserved the obvious sequel:--


HON. A. LINCOLN, _Springfield, Illinois_.

     MY DEAR FRIEND: I herewith inclose your order which you gave your
     friend Henry Chew. You will please send me a draft for the same and
     oblige yours,

S. LITTLE.

     URBANA, _February 16, 1859_.[iv-47]

Another generous act, of a different character, is gratefully recalled
by an old resident of Springfield, Dr. William Jayne. He tells how the
“Phi Alpha” Society at Illinois College, in Jacksonville, arranged a
series of lectures, the profits from which were to be expended on books
for the library. One of the lecturers during 1857 was Mr. Lincoln. On
the night of his appearance, after his address had been delivered, and
the rather meager audience had departed, he said, with a kindly smile,
to the president of the society: “I have not made much money for you
to-night.”

At which the young officer who was in charge of the finances interposed:
“When we pay for rent of the hall, music, and advertising, and your
compensation, there will not be much left to buy books for the library.”

“Well, boys,” replied Lincoln, “be hopeful. Pay me my railroad fare and
fifty cents for my supper at the hotel, and we are square.”[iv-48]

The speaker’s benevolence on other occasions must have been carried to
extremes; for partner Herndon was repeatedly heard to murmur his
disapproval and a student in their office reports him as saying:
“Lincoln wouldn’t have a dollar to bless himself with if some one else
didn’t look out for him. He never can say ‘No’ to any one who puts up a
poor mouth, but will hand out the last dollar he has, sometimes when he
needs it himself, and needs it badly.”[iv-49]

This view was apparently shared by the plucky little woman at home. She
doubtless had found, as many housekeepers have before and since, that
money should be conserved, not alone because of what it procures for
people, but still more because of what it saves them from. The
proverbial “rainy day,” with its provident demands, was therefore
frequently urged upon the attention of her open-handed helpmate without,
however, appreciably modifying his habits in this regard. And when
remonstrance became too insistent, he replied: “Cast thy bread upon the
waters.”[iv-50]

That the lady preferred to make sure of bread upon the dining-room table
is not surprising, nor should it be remembered to her discredit. Yet a
certain characteristic little scene between the two may not be omitted
here; for, trivial though it seems, the incident throws a vivid
side-light upon this phase of Lincoln’s nature. The story was related to
the author by John F. Mendonsa, now of Jacksonville, Illinois. His
father Antonio, a poor immigrant, after arriving in Springfield
sometimes did odd jobs for the Lincolns. As the older man could not
speak English, he took the little son John with him to be his
interpreter; and that boy never forgot the many kindnesses which he
received from the master of the house. More than half a century has
elapsed since then, yet among his most cherished recollections are these
visits to Mr. Lincoln’s home.

Recalling the great man’s manner, Mr. Mendonsa writes: “He would
invariably walk up to father, shake his hand most cordially, and utter
some little pleasantry which I would interpret. This interpretation
seemed to amuse him very much. In every way he was most considerate. If
the day was hot, the maid was instructed to prepare cooling refreshments
of some sort, and _vice versa_. Knowing our reduced circumstances, he
would take me by the hand, after father had been paid, and place a
quarter therein, saying, ‘Sonny, take this to your mother to buy meat
for dinner.’”

The narrator goes on to say:--

“At one time, during an extremely hot summer, father, my brother-in-law,
and I went to the woods for berries. It was in July, 1856, and the berry
season was all but over. We got back to town at eleven A.M., having only
three pints. My brother-in-law had two quarts. We took them to
Lincoln’s. Mrs. Lincoln met us and asked what we wanted for the berries.
Father thought they should be worth fifteen cents per quart, considering
the scarcity of berries and the length of time consumed--from four A.M.
until eleven. Mrs. Lincoln thought this price outrageously high, and
said she would not pay more than ten cents. Father had me explain our
long walk through the heat, but she was inexorable.

“We met Mr. Lincoln at the gate as we were leaving. He asked us what we
had to sell. I told him, and he said, ‘Doesn’t Mrs. Lincoln want them?’
‘Yes, sir, but she will only allow father ten cents per quart, and he
feels they’re worth fifteen cents.’ He patted me on the head, smilingly
and said, ‘Sonny, you tell your father we’ll take them.’ Mrs. Lincoln
had joined us, and on hearing Mr. Lincoln’s remark, said, ‘No, we won’t
have them. I won’t give that much for them.’ And when she was angry, she
screamed what she had to say. Mr. Lincoln quietly said, ‘Mary, they have
earned all they ask for them. Get me a pan in which to put them.’ She
refused, saying, ‘No, I won’t! I won’t have them! I don’t want them!’ He
then called to the maid. She brought a pan. He paid father twenty-five
cents and brother-in-law thirty cents. He chatted awhile, and as he bade
us good-bye, gave me a quarter, telling me to be a good boy.”[iv-51]

But Lincoln, like the skillful tactician that he was, usually contrived
to avoid so violent a clashing of wills. His method, on one occasion at
least, seems to have foreshadowed the diplomatic triumphs of later
times. What happened is related by the Chevalier Henry Haynie, who lived
in Springfield during the old days. He was torch-bearer to a volunteer
fire-company which needed a new hose-cart. Making a canvass for
subscriptions among the citizens of the town, young Haynie and a fellow
member called upon Mr. Lincoln. That gentleman at once expressed his
sympathy with the project, but thought it best, before setting down any
amount, to consult “a certain little woman” about it. “I’ll do so,
boys,” he continued, “when I go home to supper,--Mrs. Lincoln is always
in a fine, good humor then,--and I’ll say to her--over the toast--‘My
dear, there is a subscription paper being handed round to raise money to
buy a new hose-cart. The committee called on me this afternoon, and I
told them to wait until I consulted my home partner. Don’t you think I
had better subscribe fifty dollars?’ Then she will look up quickly, and
exclaim, ‘Oh, Abraham, Abraham! will you never learn, never learn? You
are always too liberal, too generous! Fifty dollars! No, indeed; we
can’t afford it. Twenty-five’s quite enough.’”

Mr. Lincoln chuckled, as he added: “Bless her dear soul, she’ll never
find out how I got the better of her; and if she does, she will forgive
me. Come around to-morrow, boys, and get your twenty-five
dollars.”[iv-52]

Fallible human nature, viewing this man’s uncompromising truthfulness
with perhaps a trace of chagrin, may derive some consolation from the
thought that now and then, when domestic skies were overcast, even he
sought refuge in equivocation. His sin, on one occasion at least,
speedily found him out, as he himself confessed by means of the
characteristically frank letter which follows:--


_Private._


SPRINGFIELD, _Feb. 20, 1857_.


JOHN E. ROSETTE, ESQ.

     DEAR SIR:--Your note about the little paragraph in the _Republican_
     was received yesterday; since when, till now, I have been too
     unwell to answer it. I had not supposed you wrote, or approved it.
     The whole originated in mistake. You know, by the conversation with
     me, that I thought the establishment of the paper unfortunate; but
     I always expected to throw no obstacle in its way, and to patronize
     it to the extent of taking and paying for one copy. When the paper
     was first brought to my house, my wife said to me, ‘Now, are you
     going to take another worthless little paper?’ I said to her
     evasively, I had not directed the paper to be left. From this, in
     my absence, she sent the message to the carrier. This is the whole
     story.

Yours truly,
A. LINCOLN.[iv-53]



Meanwhile, there were other, far heavier drafts upon that meager purse.
Its strings reached all the way to the little cabin on Goose Nest
Prairie, in Coles County, where, after repeated migrations, Thomas and
Sarah Lincoln had taken up their last abode. The family, or what
remained of it, was not more prosperous then, we need hardly add, than
of yore. In fact, financial embarrassments appear to have increased, and
frequent were the calls upon Abraham for aid. How he responded may be
inferred from what he once wrote to his stepbrother, John D. Johnston:
“You already know I desire that neither father nor mother shall be in
want of any comfort, either in health or sickness, while they
live.”[iv-54]

A fitting pendant is furnished by a letter which had been sent to Thomas
Lincoln, himself, some years previous. It read:--


WASHINGTON, _December 24, 1848_.

     MY DEAR FATHER:--Your letter of the 7th was received night before
     last. I very cheerfully send you the twenty dollars, which sum you
     say is necessary to save your land from sale. It is singular that
     you should have forgotten a judgment against you; and it is more
     singular that the plaintiff should have let you forget it so long,
     particularly as I suppose you always had property enough to satisfy
     a judgment of that amount. Before you pay it, it would be well to
     be sure you have not paid, or at least that you cannot prove that
     you have paid it. Give my love to mother and all the connections.

Affectionately your son,
A. LINCOLN.[iv-55]



When occasion served, moreover, the writer’s customary contributions to
the family fund were supplemented by the proceeds of some near-by case.
This happened in 1845, when he won a Coles County slander suit that had
been tried at Charleston. His client, in lieu of fees, assigned
thirty-five dollars of the judgment to Mr. Lincoln, who, instead of
collecting the money, instructed the clerk of the court to turn the
entire sum, when it was received, over to his father. The old gentleman,
they say, came in from Goose Nest Prairie, accompanied by his stepson,
to get the present. And this took place at a time when fees were far
from plentiful with the donor, whose total receipts for a term of court,
as one of his partners states, did not, in some instances, exceed fifty
dollars.

More generous still was Lincoln’s course in the matter of two hundred
dollars which, it is said, his parents were sorely in need of. Having
paid over the money, he determined to make sure that at least part of
the property held by them should not slip through their fingers. To this
end, forty acres of the home place were deeded to him by Thomas and
Sarah, with a reservation to the effect that the old folks should have
“entire control of said tract ... during both and each of their natural
lives.”[iv-56] This was doubtless done, in the main, for the protection
of his dearly beloved stepmother. To give her money or to supply her
with comforts failed, as he thought, to balance the long account of
affectionate service which stood between them. He went further, and
secured her this piece of property at his expense for as long as she
lived: secured it, indeed, against her own fond forgetfulness of self.
For no sooner had Thomas Lincoln died than Sarah’s own son, the
good-natured, idle, happy-go-lucky John, tried to sell the place, and
only Abraham’s firmness in maintaining his rights as the owner kept the
land under the old lady’s feet. Still there was no ill-will between the
brothers. When Johnston, who appears to have been perpetually
impecunious, appealed for assistance on his own account, Lincoln usually
responded with the desired funds. And once, when for obvious reasons the
money was not forthcoming, a generous proposition accompanied the kindly
refusal.[iv-57] This warm-hearted man, then, meeting the claims of the
old home as well as of the new, smoothing out from year to year a coil
of debts, and indulging his fancy, at the same time, for occasional
little acts of benevolence, might surely have used a much larger income
to advantage.

Yet apparently none of these demands upon Lincoln’s resources quickened
in him, to the least degree, any tendency toward cupidity. Even certain
notable ventures on the uncertain seas of politics, that brought up now
and then, as we shall learn, financial straits, failed to disturb his
perfect poise with regard to money matters. Nor did he attempt to better
the range of his professional opportunities, and when Judge Grant
Goodrich, one of the leading Chicago lawyers, offered him a partnership
in a highly lucrative practice, Lincoln declined the flattering
proposal. He preferred his life on the circuit, with its freedom and
smaller fees, to the grind of a wealth-producing hopper in that rapidly
expanding city. As a result of all this Lincoln naturally failed to
attain a competency. After more than twenty years of active practice at
the bar, during which his services were eagerly sought for in the
Federal Courts, as well as throughout the Eighth Judicial Circuit; after
a record of labors unsurpassed, if indeed it was equaled, by any of his
contemporaries who attended the Illinois Supreme Court, the highest
appellate tribunal in the State; after enjoying a standing that brought
him important cases to be tried in distant places, and retainers to
appear before the United States Supreme Court,--this powerful advocate,
successful in every respect but one, closed his legal career a poor man.
The circumstance once led Judge Davis to remark: “I question whether
there was a lawyer in the circuit who had been at the bar as long a time
whose means were not larger.”

How much Lincoln might, then, be considered actually worth, as the
phrase goes, has been variously estimated. It is safe to say, however,
that his estate consisted, for the most part, of his home with its
contents at Springfield, a tract of land comprising one hundred and
sixty acres in Crawford County, Iowa, granted by the United States
Government for military service during the Black Hawk War, and a lot in
the new town of Lincoln.[iv-58] If there were other similar possessions
of importance, they must have escaped notice, and ready money was
evidently far from plentiful. Mr. Lincoln, himself, rated his net
assets, it is said, low enough. While in New York, during the month of
February, 1860, he met, so the story goes, one of his former Illinois
friends, who, when questioned as to how the fickle goddess had treated
him, replied that she had only yielded up one hundred thousand dollars.

“Isn’t that enough?” asked Lincoln. “I should call myself a rich man if
I had that much. I’ve got my house at Springfield and about three
thousand dollars.”

Somewhat larger amounts figure in other versions of this interview, but
at best the total sum must have been comparatively small.[iv-59] Indeed,
such scattering indications as can now be collected all warrant the
inference that a banker’s balance-sheet, struck in those days between
Mr. Lincoln’s debits and credits, would have disclosed no very sizable
net surplus.

But there is another system of accounting which results in quite a
different showing. It deals not with dollars and cents, nor with real
estate, nor securities; yet until this method too has been applied, no
such appraisement can be deemed complete. Its values are expressed in
terms of honor, its profits are to be found in the hearts of the people;
and by this reckoning, Abraham Lincoln’s career at the bar was a
brilliant success. He may, it is true, have had less property to show
for all these years of toil than any of his colleagues; still, not one
of them was so rich in the love and confidence of the entire region. The
old circuit--judges, lawyers, and laymen--united to award him a prize
that money cannot buy. They sent him out laden with the fine gold of a
spotless reputation. They introduced him to the nation as their ideal of
a true man, at a time when the true man was sorely needed; at a time
when any but a true man placed where he was placed must have gone down
in defeat with perhaps as great a cause as has ever been committed to a
single champion; and to this day, his name remains a synonym throughout
the land for honest dealing.



CHAPTER V

HONESTY IN POLITICS


Side by side with Lincoln’s life at the bar ran a different yet kindred
career--that of the politician. These twin pursuits claimed him at
almost the outset, as they claim so many men who enter upon the law. But
in his case the customary order was reversed, for he had been elected to
public office before he became a lawyer.

Early during the spring of 1832, while still a clerk in Denton Offutt’s
grocery store at New Salem, Lincoln announced himself to be an aspirant
for electoral honors. How this came about is not without interest.
According to his own explanation, offered in a little speech made at the
time, he had been “solicited by many friends”[v-1] to become a candidate
for the State Legislature. The phrase doubtless passed more nearly at
its face value on that occasion than is usual with such euphemisms of
the stump. For in very truth, this young man--newcomer though he was,
and but just past his twenty-third birthday--had won the good will of
the people about him to a remarkable degree. Sunning themselves in the
charm of his kindly nature, laughing at his jokes and applauding his
feats of physical strength, admiring the scanty learning which he
employed with so much common sense, and confiding, above everything, in
an integrity that had already been subjected, as we have seen, to
numerous little tests, the voters of New Salem might well have
“solicited” Lincoln to enter the political field. They had known him, it
is true, less than nine months, but may not that brief period have
teemed with as many experiences as ordinarily fill the corresponding
number of years in more conservative communities? For time seems
measured by heartbeats, so to say, rather than by hours, when it is
quickened with the stress and strain of life on a Western frontier.
Under the primitive conditions that prevail there, elemental qualities
push to the front, men stand revealed for what they really are, and true
leadership comes speedily into its own. So the smiling young clerk,
whose tall, angular form towered above Offutt’s counter, impressed
himself upon his customers as a suitable person to be entrusted with the
not too onerous duties of representing them in the General Assembly.
They had seen enough of him to believe that those ungainly lines overlay
a group of faculties which might be relied on for effective political
service; and, what was infinitely more important, they felt assured that
whenever these faculties were exerted, they would move in harmony with
the laws of honor.

Honor, in the fine, exalted sense of the term, however, hardly entered
at this time into the calculations of the New Salem constituents. No
far-reaching moral principle apparently claimed their attention, and
such interests as they had in that particular election itself were
commonplace enough. The voters desired a member who could be trusted to
look loyally, with unsoiled hands, after their material needs at the
State Capital. They wanted good faith there, rather than high ideals.
The candidate--not less practical, for that matter, and a politician
true to type in the making--wanted an office. To say that he entered
upon this initial canvass with any exceptionally lofty programme, is to
anticipate the full-orbed halo of later days, at a period when only the
first faint prophetic glow might, perhaps, now and then have been
discernible. In sober truth, as Lincoln frankly explained, “Offutt’s
business was failing--had almost failed.”[2] It would soon become
necessary to find a new job, and the pay of a Representative, though
limited to day’s wages for short terms, with mileage, looked
sufficiently inviting. Moreover, this call from “among his immediate
neighbors,”[v-2] to quote him again, touched perhaps the most vulnerable
point in Abe’s character--his personal ambition. The “last infirmity of
noble mind” may sometimes also be the first. From Lincoln’s earliest
youth the passion to surpass others had dominated him at every turn.
Pitting his strength, whether of mind or body, against that of his
associates, he had lost no opportunity of excelling them, until it
seemed almost second nature for this homely mixture of modesty and
self-assertion, of good humor and mastery, to become the central figure
in every group through which he moved. So confirmed grew these habits of
leadership that as Lincoln reached manhood the craving for distinction,
the aspiration to be big where once he had been little, must have
entered into the very core of his being. It was not overstating the
case, accordingly, for him to tell his “fellow-citizens,” in a printed
address issued at the beginning of this canvass: “Every man is said to
have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say, for
one, that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my
fellow-men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.”[v-3]

These phrases, stripped of their conventional wrappings, really meant
that the writer had set his heart, above all things, upon popularity.

The very intensity of such an aspiration must have put him severely to
the test. How far he went in gratifying it, and to what extent, if any,
inconvenient moral scruples were allowed to impede his eager progress,
are pertinent questions. Was he, in other words, under the absolute sway
of the master passion, as so many eager souls have been, or did an alert
conscience at crucial points apply the controlling brake? Conclusive
answers to these queries can, we are aware, be given only after a survey
of the man’s entire career; yet back there, almost at the beginning of
things, on the threshold, so to say, of his public life, one group of
circumstances dimly prefigured, in a way, the whole story.

When Lincoln essayed this first short flight into politics, Democratic
men and measures were supreme on well-nigh every hand. The reign of
Andrew Jackson was at its height. Under his imperious leadership--he had
just completed three years in the White House--“radical doctrines,”
so-called, commanded ever-increasing support; while his own magnetic
personality attracted many followers who were as ardent in their
support of him as they grew intolerant of those who opposed him. No
predecessor had carried the rewarding of friends and the punishing of
enemies to such an extreme. Partisanship was in the saddle. Proscription
became the order of the day. Taking their cue from the despotic decrees
issued, time and again at Washington, the “whole-hog Jackson men,” as
the most zealous among the President’s adherents were not inaptly
called, stationed themselves across the highways to preferment and
crushed out the political lives of candidates who failed to respond with
the familiar shibboleths of the party.[v-4] When methods so coercive are
pursued by a powerfully intrenched majority, place-hunters in great
numbers throng to its standard. Their huzzas may be heard above the
voices of the faithful, and patronage, rather than political creed,
directs--if indeed it does not control--the devious operations of
partisan machinery. Such was the scene that presented itself to the
young Lincoln’s anxious eyes, as he looked over this new, this untried
field for a point of vantage from which a beginner might try his wings.

Nor was the prospect nearer home essentially different. There, too, the
uncompromising Democracy that swayed so much of the country at large
seemed all powerful. Illinois, in fact, was counted by this potent
majority among its rock-ribbed strongholds, and though factional
differences, from time to time, disturbed local harmony, the journalist
who described “Jacksonism” as dominating that State with “the strength
of Gibraltar,”[v-5] hardly overdrew the picture. Sangamon County, it is
true, contained a considerable number who did not favor the President,
yet even there his majorities were decisive. So, all in all, an
ambitious tyro, making a maiden appeal to the voters of that district
from the obscure little village of New Salem, had every incentive,
apparently, for enrolling himself in the ranks of these triumphant
Democrats.

Such a course would not have run counter one whit to Lincoln’s early
sympathies. His father, we are told, was a Democrat, or a Democratic
Republican, to use the older designation; his own youthful associations
had been largely with people of the same stripe; and, like many other
lads of the period, he regarded the picturesque chieftain of the party
with a personal admiration which neither time nor political changes
wholly effaced.[v-6] But as Abraham reached manhood, a greater
statesman--greater in not a few requisites of leadership--had attracted
his favor; and he found himself, ere long, at one with those who were
enlisted under the banner of Henry Clay.

That eminent campaigner’s personality captivated the younger man’s
imagination. It presented a magnet to which the true metal in Lincoln’s
nature could not but respond. There were elements, moreover, in “gallant
Harry’s” character, no less than in his achievements so far as they had
then been unfolded, that compelled profound respect. Clay’s early
poverty, of which no sordid traces were perceptible in a singularly
winning presence, his breadth of human sympathy and largeness of vision,
a chivalrous manner that accorded well with an ardently sanguine
temperament, his unswerving integrity with regard to pecuniary matters,
the lofty standard that he had set himself for the practice of his
profession as a lawyer, his equally lofty standards of public
duty,--then still unshaken by the shifts of a beguiling ambition,--the
splendid courage, not to say genius, with which he rose to the demands
of great political occasions, a generous patriotism that inspired him to
carry peace-winning concessions across the barriers raised by
conflicting parties, his steadily expanding record which at every turn,
whether in the Kentucky Legislature, the United States Senate, the House
of Representatives, the Speaker’s chair, the diplomatic service, or the
President’s Cabinet, had thus far been marked by the _élan_ and dash of
a brilliant intellect, an eloquence that baffled description, yet left
his audiences for the rest of their days under the spell of its
witchery,--all this and more had brought Lincoln to a point well-nigh
bordering upon hero-worship.

Naturally, so strong a preference for “the Great Commoner” himself
extended, in a way, to his public policies. Clay’s political programme,
comprising by that time three notable issues,--the demands for a federal
bank, a high protective tariff, and a continental scheme of internal
improvements,--may also be said to have left its impress upon Lincoln’s
mind. He was not deeply concerned, it is true, during those callow days,
with national questions; yet so far as he held any views on such
matters, they favored “Clay’s American System” and the principles
generally of the National Republican Party.

So it happened that when Lincoln came to make his first political
campaign, he enlisted on the weaker side. “An avowed Clay man,” to quote
the candidate himself, he declared for a leader who, with all his
attainments, had already been severely routed in a contest for the
Presidency, and what is more, who was destined to encounter still
further disasters of the same nature. Yet no heroics, no fine flourish
of trumpets, so far as is known, accompanied this decision. A poor,
obscure young man, in need of an office and eager for distinction, was
merely following his convictions rather than his apparent interests by
enrolling himself under colors doomed to repeated reverses, and in
opposition to the most ruthlessly intolerant majority that the political
processes of the country had thus far evolved. The result must have been
a foregone conclusion. Lincoln’s canvass came to grief. Commenting on
the episode, twenty-eight years later, in that brief autobiography
written as the basis for a “campaign life,” he said: “This was the only
time Abraham was ever beaten on a direct vote of the people.”[v-7]

And even that beating looks now, in certain respects, more like a
victory than a defeat. Lincoln did not, it is conceded, prevail at the
polls; but in one of those astonishing reversals whereby the X-ray of
history sometimes reveals material failure to be spiritual success, this
experience should rank among his greatest triumphs.

There was another reason, less obscure at the moment, for not regarding
the campaign as wholly disastrous. It established Lincoln’s claim to
political consideration by a remarkable circumstance. Although he failed
to receive the requisite number of votes throughout the
county,--standing eighth on the list of thirteen candidates who
ran,--his own neighbors in the precinct which contained New Salem gave
him 277 marks out of the entire 290 recorded for Representatives.[v-8]
The full significance of these figures can be appreciated only after it
is added that the same citizens, a few weeks later, cast 115 more votes
for General Jackson’s Presidential electors than they gave to Mr.
Clay’s;[v-9] and further, that this well-nigh unanimous support of their
youthful townsman, without regard to his politics, was bestowed during a
period noted in our annals for its intensely bitter partisanship.
Explaining the phenomenon, many years thereafter, another promising
young politician of those days, wrote: “The Democrats of New Salem
worked for Lincoln out of their personal regard for him. That was the
general understanding of the matter here at the time. In this he made no
concession of principle whatever. He was as stiff as a man could be in
his Whig doctrines. They did this for him simply because he was
popular--because he was Lincoln.”[v-10]

Because--the writer might have continued--they had weighed and measured
Offutt’s clerk, while he was weighing and measuring commodities behind
the grocery-store counter; because--what is still more to the
purpose--both sets of accounts, however dissimilar they must have seemed
in the making, tallied peculiarly with each other in the final
reckoning. And when, with almost one accord, the Democrats among these
people who knew the candidate best threw party obligations aside to
register their approval of him at the polls, they placed on record the
first notable judgment passed by the voting public upon his character.
Favorable verdicts without number have been passed upon politicians,
great and small. Merely national reputations are as common among them as
printer’s ink is purchasable. But one must search well through our whole
list of eminent statesmen to find the few who achieved, at any time in
their careers, what Lincoln started with--an almost perfect reputation
at home.

Nor was this big local vote the only expression of confidence in the
“avowed Clay man” manifested by Jacksonians during those militant days.
Before another summer arrived, he had received an appointment from “Old
Hickory” himself, as the reader will remember, to the postmastership at
New Salem; and soon thereafter, John Calhoun, the surveyor for Sangamon
County, an ardent local Administration leader, made him, it may also be
recalled, one of his deputies. That these politicians--high and
low--should so far forego the fruits of the spoils system, looks
creditable not only to the object of their lenity, but to themselves as
well. Still, in the case of the President, it may be doubted whether
much attention was paid to the act which bestowed upon this obscure
appointee an equally obscure office.

The place could hardly have been of less consequence. How insignificant
it really was can be appreciated only when we bear in mind that a far
from regular mail service, scheduled for twice a week, sufficed to meet
the needs of this sparsely settled district; and that even then the high
rate of postage, not to mention the low rate of scholarship, kept the
business transacted there within meager bounds. Indeed, tradition goes
so far as to picture Lincoln carrying the office, for the most part, “in
his hat.” Under its ample crown letters or papers addressed to outlying
settlers are said to have been snugly tucked away until opportunities
came for making deliveries--rural free deliveries, we should call them
to-day--at people’s doors.[v-11] This conscientious young postmaster may
therefore be credited with having anticipated by more than sixty years a
now highly esteemed branch of the postal service. Nor did his usefulness
cease there. If the recipient of a letter was, as not infrequently
happened, illiterate, Abe’s ability to read and write was promptly
called into play. If, on the other hand, our postman brought a
newspaper, he usually came prepared to discuss its contents. For the
privilege of reading before delivering all printed matter that passed
through his hands appears to have been a cherished perquisite of the
office. Lincoln certainly made the most of it. Too poor to subscribe
himself for the various “organs” which professed to reflect, inform, and
guide public opinion, he read with avidity such of them as appeared in
the New Salem mails. This practice laid the foundation, so to say, of
his political education. Indeed, what he was taught by these sheets
during the three years in which he held the post constituted perhaps
Lincoln’s most valued returns from an otherwise poorly paid
occupation.[v-12]

The office of deputy surveyor for Sangamon County, on the other hand,
was more lucrative and of far greater importance: so much so, in fact,
that Lincoln hesitated to accept it at the hands of an official whose
politics were of the opposite stripe. True, he needed a job, just then,
with a good day’s pay attached, if any man ever did; but “man”--that is
to say this kind of man--“doth not live by bread alone,” nor is he
content to live in pursuit of bread alone, when to do so brings his
sincerity into question. Lincoln’s first impulse had been to decline
Calhoun’s offer. It came through a common friend, Pollard Simmons, who,
at the surveyor’s request, had hastened from Springfield to New Salem
with a tender of the appointment. Elated over what he regarded as
Lincoln’s good fortune, Simmons--so the story goes--sought him out in
the woods, where he was splitting rails, and told the glad news. It did
not meet with the reception that the messenger had anticipated. So,
sitting down together upon a log, they discussed the proposition from
their conflicting points of view. To Abe’s mind, after a momentary flush
of pleased surprise, two drawbacks presented themselves. He had no
knowledge of surveying, and he would not tamper with his political
principles to secure a berth however soft. The one obstacle a little
study might, of course, remove. But how about the other? So they talked
it all over until Lincoln finally said: “If I can be perfectly free in
my political action, I will take the office; 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.”[v-13]

When the speaker presented himself, a few days later, before the
surveyor in Springfield, all of his objections were, as we have seen,
brushed aside. Calhoun needed an able man of unquestioned
integrity--needed him more, at that particular time, than the Democratic
Party needed recruits. How he assisted Lincoln to master the rudiments
of surveying, and how fully he guaranteed him his political
independence, have already been told. To what a remarkable degree,
moreover, this strangely chosen deputy justified the other’s confidence
has also been pointed out. It only remains to be said that, though most
of the incidents which flecked John Calhoun’s eventful career have been
forgotten, he still abides in our memories as the politician who, when
seeking a trustworthy assistant, could see through the mists of partisan
prejudice clearly enough to appraise Abraham Lincoln, thus early, at his
true worth.

The holding of these two places under the Jacksonian régime had no
ill-effects--interesting to relate--upon the young “Clay man’s”
standing. His political sincerity apparently remained unquestioned. What
was more, the good account that he gave of himself as a public servant,
and the enlarged opportunities offered by those offices,--each in its
own way,--contributed not a little toward the growth of an
ever-increasing popularity. It is hardly surprising, therefore, to find
him at the next election, in the summer of 1834, making another, and
that time successful, canvass for the State Legislature. The list of
candidates was as long as it had been two years before. Yet of the four
who were now elected, Lincoln, running but fourteen votes behind the
leader, received the second highest number cast.[v-14]

For this splendid victory he was again largely indebted to Democratic
favor. In fact, prominent members of the opposing party had gone so far
as to offer him their formal endorsement,--an honor which, after some
hesitation and several anxious consultations with his colleagues on the
ticket, Lincoln had accepted. There is no reason to infer that in so
doing he had taken any unfair advantage of them, as has been suggested,
or that his political principles had undergone any trimming whatsoever
in the acquisition of this alien support. How it came about is obvious
enough. The same confidence and good will which New Salem, regardless of
party, had manifested toward him to so notable an extent at the
preceding election, should merely be credited with having spread, during
the intervening two years, though in a lesser degree, perhaps, through
Sangamon County. That section, moreover, so far as local politics went,
was giving a gracious hearing at the time to new ideas and new leaders.
Under the influence of certain able young tacticians with whom Lincoln
had become associated, Jacksonism itself grew less rampant in the
county. There, as elsewhere, the swift alchemy of popular enthusiasm was
at work, fusing hitherto unrelated elements into a novel political unit,
and by a coalition of Clay’s followers with other anti-Jackson
factions, helping to form a great national fellowship--the American Whig
Party. It was as an exponent of this vigorous though untried
organization that the Representative-elect from New Salem took his seat
in the Ninth General Assembly.

Those must have been strenuous days. The Whigs were in a minority; yet
they began, from the fall of the gavel, to exert an influence upon
legislation out of all proportion to their numbers. This required
skillful team-play, and the leaders were doubtless wary of employing
novices. At any rate, no important part on the programme, so far as now
appears, was entrusted to Lincoln. His appointment to the Committee on
Public Accounts and Expenditures seems appropriate enough, in view of
the sobriquet with which he had entered the House; but the transactions
of that committee afforded him slender scope, if the record may be
followed, for displaying financial honesty or, in fact, honesty of any
sort. Nor was he more active during this first session in general
legislation. Several bills of no great moment, service on a few select
committees, occasional routine motions, the presentation of an
unsuccessful petition, and a resolution concerning monies received from
the sales of public lands apparently made up the sum of his doings on
the floor. For the rest, as behooved a fledgling, he kept modestly in
the background. By the time this Legislature reassembled, however, at
the special session of 1835-36, Lincoln’s downright sincerity, his
homely common sense, and a certain capacity for parliamentary work began
to dawn upon his colleagues. He attracted favorable notice too, some
say, by the zeal with which he labored, when the legislative districts
were reapportioned that winter, toward securing for Sangamon a
considerable increase of representation. Under the law then passed, his
county, though not the most populous in the State, was awarded the
heaviest membership in the House of Representatives. So that its
delegation to the General Assembly became enlarged from four members in
the House and two in the Senate to seven in the House and two in the
Senate--changes which were destined to exert a memorable influence upon
the political history of Illinois as well as upon the fortunes of
Abraham Lincoln.

His popularity among the people had meanwhile suffered no diminution.
They liked him, trusted him, and now some of them felt grateful toward
him. It was to a pleased constituency, therefore, from more than one
point of view, that he appealed during the following summer for
reëlection. The contest appears to have been warmly waged on every side,
and though the enlarged list of candidates included several doughty
campaigners,--Democrats as well as Whigs,--Lincoln regained his seat
with the highest vote given by Sangamon to any nominee for the House of
Representatives. What is more, the entire legislative ticket of the new
party in that district was elected. The Whigs, by a signal victory, had
revolutionized the neighborhood; and so complete--we may add in
passing--was their triumph throughout the county that the control which
they then gained over its affairs could at no time, during several
succeeding decades of Democratic ascendancy elsewhere in the State, be
successfully disputed there.

Clean sweeps presuppose stalwart brooms. The newly elected Sangamon
Representatives, together with the Senators who held over, did in fact
make a notable group of men. They were as tall as they were vigorous.
Their average weight is said to have exceeded two hundred pounds, and
their average height six feet. When they appeared at Vandalia for the
session of 1836-37, some wag dubbed them the “Long Nine”--an appellation
that stuck. For even in the capital of a State dedicated, as the Indian
tradition has it, to “superior men,” their appearance no less than their
achievements attracted attention. The stature, moreover, which one of
these tall politicians eventually attained in the world’s history lends
peculiar interest to the whole coterie. On that account, if on no other,
a chronicle of his doings would seem incomplete without the names of
those eight colleagues. They comprised, in the House, John Dawson,
Ninian W. Edwards, Robert L. Wilson, Daniel Stone, William F. Elkin, and
Andrew McCormick; in the Senate, Archer G. Herndon and Job Fletcher, Sr.
These men, fresh from the exaltation of a thoroughgoing party victory,
took their seats in the Legislature with the avowed purpose of
accomplishing great things. And they had need of all their courage. The
particular task which awaited them was no easy one. They were expected
to capture the State Capital for Sangamon County by having the seat of
government transferred from Vandalia to Springfield.

The management of this enterprise was entrusted to Lincoln. He had then
already evinced some of the qualities that go to make a political
leader, and his associates in the “Long Nine,” as if by common consent,
looked to him for guidance. But the honor was apparently not welcome
just then. Suffering from illness and from one of those attacks of
morbid depression that at times possessed him, he entered upon the
session, unlike the others, in no conquering mood. Nevertheless, under
his direction the Sangamon delegation straightway began a spirited
campaign to the greater glory of Springfield. That town was not by any
means the favorite among some half-dozen places which actively aspired
to the capital prize.[v-15] Yet so vigorously were its claims put forth
that competitors came to regard it as their most formidable rival, and
for a time the contest looked as if all the other municipalities in the
field were combined against this one.

The odds bore heavily against the “Long Nine”--so heavily that some of
the big men, at critical points in the unequal, at times well-nigh
futile, struggle, lost heart. But their leader did not flinch. What
might have dismayed more seasoned parliamentary chieftains merely
stimulated Lincoln to renewed efforts. He seemed prepared to stake the
entire session, if necessary, upon the success of the Springfield
project. That measure was, in fact, thrown into the scales whenever the
advocates of pending legislation sought Sangamon support.

And such calls came frequently enough, because well-nigh every member of
this remarkable Assembly had his own particular interest to serve. It
took the form, generally speaking, of some scheme for so-called
“internal improvements,” whereby the politicians tried to satisfy a
mania for overnight development that had recently obsessed the
inhabitants of the State--a mania which was now about to reach its
culmination in a series of extravagant enactments. One eager statesman
came charged by his constituents with the duty of securing a railroad;
another must obtain an appropriation for a canal, another a State road;
still another was under orders to have this stream or that made more
widely navigable; and so on through the whole range of public
betterments. A hungrier crowd of the people’s chosen Representatives has
seldom been seen to clamor around the “pork barrel.” It seemed as if
each man’s political life depended upon securing and carrying home a
generous helping. To that end, other interests were freely sacrificed,
while “log-rolling,” as the expressive idiom for the trading of votes
sometimes phrased it, became the order of the day.

Few if any among these struggling legislators appear to have marketed
their influence more profitably than did the members from Sangamon
County; and the most able “log-roller” in even that proficient band is
said, beyond a question, to have been Abraham Lincoln. Maneuvering his
followers so as to take advantage of every turn, arraying their united
strength solidly for or against the designs of other delegations, as
those delegations declared themselves during the preliminary skirmishes
to be allies or opponents of Springfield, winning over some members by
appeals to personal interests, others by appeal to sheer
good-fellowship,--adroit, tireless, unruffled,--Lincoln at last
surmounted all obstacles, and brought this unique campaign to a
triumphant finish. The “Long Nine” won. Springfield carried the day, and
by a joint vote of both houses, in the closing days of the session, that
town became their choice for the permanent capital of Illinois.

Great was the rejoicing throughout the Sangamon region over this
achievement. And no less elated--need we add?--were the citizens of the
little prairie burg so suddenly raised to prominence. They welcomed the
returning delegation as they might have welcomed a band of conquering
heroes. Nothing was too good in Springfield for the men who had brought
it this coveted civic honor. Members of the “Long Nine” were fêted and
lauded on every hand, while their leader particularly came in for
grateful attentions. At one complimentary dinner sixty guests are said
to have joined in the toast: “Abraham Lincoln: He has fulfilled the
expectations of his friends and disappointed the hopes of his
enemies.”[v-16]

But “his enemies,” or, more correctly speaking, the enemies of
Springfield, were still, in a way, to be reckoned with. Some of them
took their defeat hard. They affected to believe, if they did not indeed
actually believe, that the Sangamon interest had won unfairly. In fact,
above the notes of triumph with which the victors celebrated their
joyful homecoming might be heard the discordant voices of these
chagrined opponents, charging trickery and corruption.

The brunt of such assaults naturally fell upon Lincoln. He it was who
had guided the activities of the “Long Nine,” and against him were now
directed the severest blows of their assailants. Yet the Sangamon chief,
by all accounts, proved equal to the occasion. Whenever his conduct or
that of his colleagues in the contest for the Capital was publicly
attacked, he is said to have replied with telling effect--so much so, in
truth, that before long all detractors were silenced, efforts to repeal
the act failed, and the Springfield forces, rejoicing in Lincoln’s
prowess, remained undisputed masters of the situation.[v-17] They
applauded without stint, as might have been expected, the man to whom
this was mainly due; but their enthusiastic approval of him is not by
any means the last word.

His course throughout the affair can hardly be deemed creditable in
every particular. The trading of votes between lawmakers may be
defensible, perhaps, under certain rare, not to say peculiar,
circumstances. Still, as such transactions are usually conducted, the
practice calls for condemnation. And when a group of Representatives,
like the “Long Nine,” go so far as to traffic through an entire session
in one concerted effort to secure the passage of a bill for the special
benefit of their constituents, the proceeding becomes grossly
reprehensible. In this bargain and sale of legislation, the extravagant
expenditure of public money is not by any means the most pernicious
feature. Among men so engaged, votes speak louder than conscience,--yes,
louder, on occasion, than all the Ten Commandments taken together. For
your true “log-rollers” are prone--if we may paraphrase the words of a
famous statesman--to consider themselves in politics, not in ethics.
Their first few lapses from correct parliamentary principles open the
way too often for further and still further deviations, until the
standards of nearly a whole legislature seem warped out of their
accustomed grooves; an indefinable laxness creeps into actions which
have no concern whatever with these “log-rolling” measures, and the
let-down in moral tone, brought about by repeated departures from the
loftier plane of disinterested lawmaking, hardly stops short, at times,
of general demoralization. To what extent this actually happened in the
Tenth General Assembly of Illinois is not now definitely known. But
prevailing conditions there were manifestly far from ideal; and as some
of the fault, at least, was chargeable to the “Long Nine,” he who stood
at their head must take his share of the blame.

In fairness to Lincoln, however, it should be said--for what such a plea
is worth--that any idea of wrongdoing probably never entered the young
man’s mind. He and his colleagues had merely pursued tactics tolerated,
if indeed they were not sanctioned, by the customs of the period. During
those raw pioneer days, not a few politicians looked upon votes as
legitimate objects of barter; and to so flagrant an extreme, it will be
remembered, were their views carried in the Illinois Legislature of
1836-37, that the Assembly became a veritable market-place. Amidst this
whirl of chaffering the member from New Salem was seen to move with
steady tread. True, he had shown himself to be a poor business man at
home; yet here his faculty for one peculiar kind of commerce apparently
fell little short of genius. So it turned out that when the last trade
was made, when the deals had all been closed, and Speaker Semple’s gavel
sounded for final settlements, the big winning was disclosed--as we have
seen--in Lincoln’s grasp. Then it was that his defeated antagonists set
up those cries of outraged virtue. Then only did they discover the
depths of moral turpitude into which he had fallen. But their censure
came with painfully diminished effect from men who had themselves
employed, though unsuccessfully, the very methods for which they now
condemned him; and one is curious to know by what system of ethical
adjustments they thought to reconcile their own acts with these tardy
expressions of principle. In any event, the accusers may be said to have
come into court, as the phrase goes, with unclean hands--at least, with
hands no cleaner than those of the associate whom they denounced.
Indeed, when all is said, the head and front of his offending, as far as
these angry politicians were concerned, will be found to lie in the fact
that he had beaten the gentlemen at their own game.

Here again let the chronicle do justice to Lincoln. He had indeed played
this game--if game it may be called--for all that was in him, but he
certainly had not evinced the reckless disregard of public interests
that the fault-finding losers tried to lay at his door. On the contrary,
he believed himself to have been serving the whole State, no less than
Springfield, with every trade whereby the “Long Nine,” in exchange for
what they wanted, lent their votes and their influence, as has just been
narrated, to establish a comprehensive, if lavish, system of “internal
improvements.” Such undertakings had, in fact, engaged Lincoln’s
imagination from the very beginning of his public life. Pledged to them,
in a sense, and convinced of their value, he aimed at associating
himself in the West, as other politicians had done elsewhere through the
country, with some splendid scheme for public development. It was during
this period that Lincoln, emulating the example of the man to whom the
Empire State was chiefly indebted for its Erie Canal, confided to his
friend Joshua F. Speed an ambition to make himself “the De Witt Clinton
of Illinois.”[v-18] The aspiration looks futile enough now in the light
of what ensued. Still, at that time all observers, with rare exceptions,
confidently expected to see this single Legislature, by passing a series
of Utopian enactments, swing the young prairie Commonwealth into a
millennium of prosperity; while the politicians, regardless of party,
outvied one another in doing the people’s bidding. Demands for these
wonder-working measures were heard on every side. An influential lobby
invaded the capital to urge their adoption. Petitions poured in upon the
members. Their newspapers from home came full of buoyant--not to say
flamboyant--articles advising liberal action. Mass meetings and
conventions, voicing the general infatuation with sonorous resolutions,
went so far as to issue parliamentary orders to their Representatives.
In fact, the Sangamon delegation itself had been instructed by citizens
of the county assembled at such a gathering to give the much-discussed
“system” unqualified support. Obviously, therefore, when Lincoln
exchanged improvement votes for Springfield votes, he put a price upon
aid which would finally have been given, in any event. Circumstances
merely enabled him, as he doubtless thought, to serve his constituents,
indeed the whole State, by what he gave no less than by what he
received. And if his tactics deftly took toll of legislation going, so
to say, as well as coming, the process was, in its political aspect, at
least, consistent enough. From all of which, those who cannot bear to
contemplate a good man overstepping the narrow path ever so little will
derive such comfort as they may; while others who seem inclined to
insist upon a hero, immaculate no less than great, must bring themselves
to realize that the best of men are sometimes--particularly during their
formative years--seen to walk in the shadows.

This one cloud, moreover, on Lincoln’s early political record was not
without the proverbial silver lining. “Honest Abe’s” better self still
held sway. Indeed, ideals of public service as he then conceived them
were never quite lost sight of, even amidst the temptations incident to
a fiercely waged parliamentary campaign. His fault began and ended with
the trading of votes. Beyond that, neither the low-leveled practices
which prevailed on every hand, nor the pressure of colleagues, eager to
triumph at any cost, could carry him. The Machiavellian doctrine that
victory brings glory, whatever the method of achieving it, evidently
formed no part of the creed which directed his “log-rolling” ambitions.
And, ardently as he longed to win the day for Springfield, no
questionable proposals, however alluring, were allowed to blunt in any
further degree his fine sense of moral values.

A notable instance, aptly illustrating this, occurred when the struggle
over the seat of government was at its height. An effort had been made
to combine the friends of removal with those who were laboring for a
certain measure of dubious character. What that measure entailed is not
now definitely known, but Lincoln regarded it with strong disapproval.
He had so expressed himself and the negotiations languished. At last, a
number of Representatives, who were severally interested on both sides
of the projected deal, met to discuss it in a private caucus. Their
deliberations lasted, we are told, nearly all night; yet as the Sangamon
leader refused to forego his objections, they finally adjourned without
having reached the desired agreement. It takes more than one such
repulse, however, to discourage politicians. Another conference was
presently arranged, and, as if to make sure that sufficient pressure
would be exerted upon the recalcitrant member, a number of prominent
citizens, not in the Legislature but anxious for Springfield’s success,
were craftily invited to attend. An earnest discussion ensued. Those who
favored the compact employed every argument that they could frame in its
behalf. Some of the speakers, deploring Lincoln’s inconvenient
scruples, begged him to lay them aside, join his friends, and make sure
of the capital for Sangamon County, but without avail. Finally, after
midnight, when the candles were burning low and the talk had well-nigh
run its course, he arose to close the debate. What Lincoln said has not
been preserved entire, but an admirer, who described the speech as “one
of the most eloquent and powerful” to which he had ever listened, has
handed down these concluding words: “You may burn my body to ashes and
scatter them to the winds of heaven; you may drag my soul down to the
regions of darkness and despair to be tormented forever; but you will
never get me to support a measure which I believe to be wrong, although
by doing so I may accomplish that which I believe to be right.”[v-19]

How much provocation the speaker had for this burst of perfervid oratory
cannot now be determined, yet whatever one may say about his rhetoric,
there can be no doubt concerning his good faith. That meeting adjourned,
as its predecessor had done, without taking the questionable step so
warmly advocated by most of the persons present; and one of the
participants, at least, must be credited with having made clear that
even a “log-roller” may set conscientious bounds to the scope of his
operations.

Nor was this the only occasion on which Lincoln vetoed the unseemly
devices to which some of his too eager partisans would have resorted.
They had accepted willingly enough, while the contest for the capital
lasted, such conditions as were imposed by the general act upon
whatever place might become the seat of government. But after the
victory went to Sangamon, these conditions did not appear quite so
attractive. One of them, in fact, gave the Springfield people some
uneasiness. This was a clause which required the successful community to
raise fifty thousand dollars, by private subscriptions, in order that a
corresponding amount, appropriated under the act for the erection of
needful public buildings, might be refunded to the State. What looks
like a small sum now, must have loomed large in those days on the
financial horizon of a struggling little frontier town. And its task of
collecting the required donations, difficult under normal conditions,
became doubly so during the hard times which were ushered in this same
year by the historic panic of 1837.

The situation seemed to call for relief of some kind. So a way out
suggested itself to an ambitious young politician who had recently taken
up his residence in Springfield. This was Stephen A. Douglas, the newly
elected Register of the Land Office. His scheme, prefiguring many adroit
political shifts to come, had the characteristic merit of being at once
simple and efficacious. It proposed, in a word, repudiation. By means of
an innocent little legislative amendment, deftly applied, Springfield
was to step out from under this burden and let the cost slip back to its
original place, on the shoulders of the State. But Lincoln again barred
the way.

“We have the benefit,” said he. “Let us stand to our obligation like
men.”[v-20]

And so they did. Yet money for the first two payments--there were to be
three in all--was scraped together with some difficulty; and worse
still, when the third installment came due, no funds whatever seemed
collectible. Many of the subscribers had become impoverished, while none
of them were flush. So the required sum, $16,666.67, was borrowed from
the State Bank of Illinois on a note that bore the signatures of one
hundred and one citizens. They took eight years to discharge the debt.
How hard it came for some of them to meet their share, what economies
were practiced, what sacrifices made, can, in the nature of things,
never be known. The episode itself, stripped of all these romantic
details,--a simple tale of plain good faith,--must suffice for history.
And it does suffice. For now, after more than two thirds of a century
has elapsed, that painfully liquidated note is still extant. Framed and
displayed in a banking-house at Springfield, where all who enter may
see, it serves as a memorial to the rectitude of the community during
those trying times.

They were trying times, indeed, and to none of these one hundred and one
signers more so, perhaps, than to him who had written the name, “A.
Lincoln.” When he came to the recently chosen capital, as we have seen,
shortly after adjournment of the General Assembly, to seek his fortunes
at the bar, this young politician’s financial condition was, in a sense,
worse than penniless. The burden of “the national debt” lay upon him,
and the few dollars in his pocket did not suffice--the reader will
recall--to supply his most pressing wants. How those wants were met,
first by a seat at Butler’s table, then by a place in Speed’s bed, may
also be recalled. And possibly it is as well to add--for all these
circumstances are of peculiar significance now--even the horse which
carried him, a few weeks later, on his first trip around the circuit was
borrowed from a colleague, Robert L. Wilson, of the “Long Nine.” That a
man who had been one of the leading actors in an orgy of extravagant
legislation should emerge from the session so impoverished as to be
dependent momentarily upon the hospitality of one friend for food, of
another for shelter, and of still another for the means of gaining a
livelihood, is its own commentary on his probity. Nor does this appear
less noteworthy, in the light of a commonly accepted belief that the
“internal improvement” measures were tainted with personal corruption.
The whirl of enticing opportunities during those rapid days is said to
have swept more than one legislator off his feet. Yet the Sangamon chief
stood steadfast. He could see nothing attractive in the illicit, or at
least dubious, gains which were garnered by perverting official duties
to selfish ends. In fact, then and thereafter--during that sinister
period, as well as throughout his entire four consecutive terms in the
Illinois House--Lincoln’s record, so far as such matters went, was
spotless. Like certain other political leaders to whom private fortunes
have been lacking, he followed the rule laid down in one of Daniel
Webster’s aphorisms: “The man who enters public life takes upon himself
a vow of poverty, to the religious observance of which he is bound so
long as he remains in it.”

There was, however, nothing ascetic, we hasten to add, about “the
godlike” Daniel’s life--public or private. Improvident and debt-ridden,
he indulged himself, to the point of reckless extravagance, in a mode of
living beside which the Illinoisan’s simple habits formed a striking
contrast. They were both poor, it is true, but from very different
causes. What some of these were, in Lincoln’s case, the stories
recounting his hapless business ventures and his unprofitable methods at
the bar have already disclosed. For the rest, an engrossing interest in
politics with its resultant sacrifices, as the years went on, of time,
attention, even money, hardly served to improve the situation. One is
prepared, therefore, to learn that when funds ran low he too made shift
to eke out his resources by applying the familiar mathematical
formula,--three from two we cannot take so I borrow.

Lincoln’s very entrance into public life had been made, it must be
confessed, through the drab doors of debt. After his first election to
the Legislature, while still at New Salem, he was confronted by a
perplexing question. How could a countryman, wholly without means,
acquire presentable clothes, travel all the way down to the seat of
government at Vandalia, and maintain himself there until pay-day in a
manner befitting the dignity of a lawmaker? This particular countryman
was not long contriving the answer. Calling on Coleman Smoot, a
prosperous farmer in the district, he asked: “Smoot, did you vote for
me?”

The answer was a prompt affirmative.

“Well,” said Lincoln, “you must loan me money to buy suitable clothing,
for I want to make a decent appearance in the Legislature.”

Here was a whimsical reversal of the course that funds too often take in
passing between candidate and voter. But Smoot, who had a warm
admiration for the new member, entered cordially into the humor of the
affair. He handed out two hundred dollars--enough it would seem to meet
all of Lincoln’s prospective expenses; and these two hundred dollars--we
have the lender’s own statement for the fact--were some time thereafter
repaid, “according to promise.”[v-21]

The same amount of money, taking the same unaccustomed direction,
figured in another peculiar election episode. On the latter occasion,
however, a contribution was made to further the office-seeker’s
election, rather than to help him out afterwards. And this is how it
happened. During a vigorously contested canvass, the Whigs raised a
purse of two hundred dollars which Joshua F. Speed handed Lincoln to
defray his expenses. When the election was over, the victorious
candidate brought back one hundred and ninety-nine dollars and
twenty-five cents. Giving this to his friend, with a request that it be
distributed again among the subscribers, he said: “I did not need the
money. I made the canvass on my own horse. My entertainment, being at
the houses of friends, cost me nothing; and my only outlay was
seventy-five cents for a barrel of cider, which some farmhands insisted
I should treat them to.”[v-22]

Lincoln’s failure to find a use for these funds was in keeping with the
simple honesty which prompted their return. Yet throughout this very
period he must have been harried, not only by his old business debts,
but also by the several successors to the Smoot loan that his
necessities, from time to time, brought into being. Nor were such
accommodations always from friends. We catch a glimpse, early in 1839,
of a maturing note at the bank that had to be renewed, and the interest
charges on which had to be paid.[v-23] Indeed, many years were destined
to elapse before Lincoln could wholly free himself from the meshes of
these carking obligations. They held him meanwhile fast-bound among the
debtor class, and what he endured, intensifying a natural tenderness for
all unfortunates, stirred his sympathies to their very depths in behalf
of other men who might be similarly circumstanced.

The situation, however, called for more than mere sympathy. Victims of
exorbitant interest charges were to be met with, during the first third
of the nineteenth century, on every hand, in Illinois. There, as
elsewhere, capital when staked against the hazards of pioneer ventures
exacted heavy tolls. Banks and “moneyed institutions,” so-called, were
restricted, it is true, by an act passed in 1819, to returns not
exceeding six per cent; but under that same law other investors
expressly had leave to make contracts without any limitations upon the
extent of their charges, and for the most part--needless to say--they
took advantage of the privilege. Rates running all the way from one
hundred and fifty to three hundred per cent were not uncommon in the
placing of loans, while the customary figures hovered about fifty per
cent. The oppression and suffering which these burdens entailed gave
rise to clamorous demands for relief. Yet the way out seemed far from
plain. How borrowers could be protected against ruin due to extortion,
without being plunged as hopelessly into disaster through ill-advised
legislation which, by discouraging lenders, might cut off all supplies,
was the form which the problem took.

It appears to have been presented from many angles during the canvass of
1832; and Lincoln, as a raw candidate for the Legislature, had taken a
hand, even then, in the solution. What he proposed was thus set forth
among the postulates of that first formal political document, his
“Address to the People of Sangamon County”:--

“It seems as though we are never to have an end to this baneful and
corroding system, acting almost as prejudicially to the general
interests of the community as a direct tax of several thousand dollars
annually laid on each county for the benefit of a few individuals only,
unless there be a law made fixing the limits of usury. A law for this
purpose, I am of opinion, may be made without materially injuring any
class of people. In cases of extreme necessity, there could always be
means found to cheat the law; while in all other cases it would have its
intended effect. I would favor the passage of a law on this subject
which might not be very easily evaded. Let it be such that the labor and
difficulty of evading it could only be justified in cases of greatest
necessity.”[v-24]

A singular programme, truly, yet what could one expect, in those times
of loose financiering, from an embryo prairie politician just pipping
his shell? Older heads--in fact, seasoned lawmakers and economists
without number, from the very beginning of commercial history down to
the present day--hardly make a better showing when it comes to devising
how this “tooth of usury,” as an eminent Lord Chancellor once said, may
“be grinded that it bite not too much.” Lincoln’s naïve plea that means
could be found, when necessary, “to cheat the law, while in all other
cases it would have its intended effect,” reveals a certain uneasy sense
of the fatal weakness running through all such legislation. And one is
at a loss what to marvel over most,--the candor with which he admits
this defect, or the childlike disregard of public ethics involved in his
awkward attempt to meet the difficulty by suggesting occasional
violations of the statute.

That subterfuge reminds us of a story, as Abe himself used to say,--one
of his own, in fact. He told it, not long afterwards, on the stump, at
the expense of an opponent who gave equivocal answers to some searching
questions. This man, Lincoln said, was like a hunter he had once known.
Boasting of his marksmanship on a certain occasion, and telling how he
brought down an animal during the season when a calf might easily be
mistaken for a deer, the fellow concluded his recital with the fine
flourish: “I shot at it so as to hit it if it was a deer, and miss it if
a calf.”

What might pass for a hit-or-miss bill, limiting the rate of interest to
not more than twelve per cent, became a law during the following winter.
But as Lincoln had failed of election to the Legislature which enacted
this statute, none of its shortcomings can fairly be laid, except in a
remote sense, at his door. Such was not the case, however, with several
important financial measures adopted by the succeeding sessions that he
did attend. We have seen how he plunged into the excesses which grew out
of the “internal improvement” craze, and though many fellow-members of
both parties are also chargeable with what took place, few if any of
them were more active than he in shaping the course of this hapless
legislation. It was under his leadership that the “Long Nine” exerted
their very considerable influence, as has been told, to put the
so-called “system” through. And a merry dance they had, without too much
thought concerning who should pay the fiddler. Soberer men, trying here
or there in small numbers to block the way, were swept aside. An
infatuated Assembly, hardly stopping to count the cost, voted
appropriations for public works aggregating over ten millions of
dollars;[v-25] and interest-bearing securities were authorized to an
amount not exceeding eleven millions. Of this sum, eight millions were
to be borrowed for the works, two millions for the State Bank of
Illinois, and one million for the Bank of Illinois at Shawneetown. These
two institutions became the fiscal agents of the State, with a proviso
that their net earnings should be applied to the payment of interest, as
it accrued, on “improvement” bonds. Nothing could have been simpler
and--less dependable. The debt so created--at least such part of it as
found a market--was out of all proportion to the young State’s proper
credit or resources. Consequently, when financial ruin swept over the
continent in the spring of 1837, not many Commonwealths were, relatively
speaking, more deeply involved than Illinois.

To meet what looked like an impending crisis, Governor Duncan called a
special session of the General Assembly in the following July, and urged
either modification or repeal of the “internal improvement” acts. But
his efforts were fruitless. The Legislature refused to destroy or mar
its handiwork. Most of those jocund castle-builders could not bring
themselves to believe that the ambitious structure which they had begun
to rear with so much pride was, after all, a mere house of cards,
shaking in the first gust of bad weather and ready to fall about their
ears. Prophecies of such a disaster met, as might have been expected,
with stubborn optimism, especially from the ranks of the Whig minority.
They stood pledged as a political unit to the policy of munificent
public works; and enough Democrats felt similarly committed to join them
in bringing about a rejection of the Governor’s plea.

More than that, during the following sessions, under Lincoln’s
guidance--for he had meanwhile become the recognized leader of his party
in the House--these “improvement” men, still bat-eyed, reached the
climax of their folly, and actually enlarged the scope of the enterprise
by nearly one million dollars. The rest is soon told. Hardly had this
last reckless step been taken when a wave of that utter demoralization
which marked the panic struck Illinois with crushing force. Improvement
bonds could no longer be sold except at ruinous discounts. Some of the
securities had been entrusted to bankers who failed, while other parcels
were moved under circumstances which smelt strongly of fraud.

Collections, moreover, seemed impossible. The treasury of the State was
nearly empty. Its credit, if not quite gone, was badly shaken, and so
were all its fond illusions. The dazzling game had, in fact, come to an
end. Without funds or prospects for raising any, the famous “system”
collapsed. Obviously what the situation now required left but slender
choice of action. The mischief already done had to be undone, as fully
as circumstances would allow, and the “internal improvement” laws must
be repealed. Yet the Whigs did not take kindly to this programme. They
gave ground sullenly, Lincoln voting against repeal with the rest of his
party through several sessions, until at last the logic of events forced
them to help their Democratic colleagues put the whole deplorable
business “down in a lump,” as he himself expressed it, “without benefit
of clergy.”[v-26]

Unfortunately there was one detail that could not be put down so
summarily. The public debt, which had been piled up with such assurance,
remained to perplex its crestfallen creators. They discovered, too late,
that bonds can be more easily voted than annulled; and while casting
about for a way out of their dilemma, they found themselves facing an
interest day with no adequate balance in sight to pay the bill. For a
brief period Illinois honor hung in the balance. Some of these precious
legislators wished to repudiate the entire indebtedness
outright--principal as well as interest; others, not quite so shameless,
proposed that the Government, disregarding face values, should deal with
the bonds on the basis of what it had received for them when they were
sold; while still others favored discrimination against such of the
securities only as had been disposed of illegally or acquired by
questionable means.

With the last of these Lincoln agreed so far as concerned bonds held by
those who had themselves been parties to fraudulent transfers.
Otherwise, none of the suggested expedients won his approval. He evinced
no sympathy for repudiation, in whatever form it presented itself, nor
was his unmercenary mind greatly exercised over the money that had been
misspent. What did concern him mightily at this juncture, though, was
the unmistakable trend toward dishonesty and bad faith into which such
ideas were luring the State. To head off that tendency, he set himself
the task of raising somehow at once sufficient funds for the accruing
interest. It seemed, in a sense, peculiarly his affair. As a member of
the Committee on Finance for three successive terms, and as the
acknowledged leader of those who had been most active in passing this
wildcat legislation, Lincoln’s share of the responsibility was no small
one. He frankly admitted it. Yet here, again, the man’s sterling
character redeemed the faults of his business training. However blindly
he may have groped with the others among the mazes of these financial
and economic ventures, when the time came at last to settle for their
mistakes, he saw, with crystal clearness, that anything short of payment
in full would spell dishonor. The very language of the “improvement” act
itself fixed this standard, unless indeed we are to regard as a mere
stock-jobber’s flourish the words, “for which payments and redemption,
well and truly to be made and effected, the faith of the State of
Illinois is hereby irrevocably pledged.”[v-27]

But how were the needed funds to be obtained? A short-time loan secured
by hypothecated bonds had been proposed, and the idea met with favor.
But Lincoln objected. It would, he claimed, carry them along merely a
few months, and leave the problem still unsolved. His solution, “after
turning the matter over in every way,” was to issue “interest bonds”
which should be met eventually by taxes derived from public lands.[v-28]
Both these plans were far from ideal. They are suggestive of the shifts
resorted to by that impecunious old gentleman who thanked God because he
had succeeded, at last, in borrowing enough money to pay his debts.

The alternative presented to Illinois, however, of meeting its
obligations by laying a heavy direct tax upon the impoverished people of
the State was, as Lincoln truly said, out of the question. Consequently
we find him, when his own measure failed of adoption, helping to put
through the short-time loan. In fact, by that means the interest
charges payable during 1841 were met, as they became due; and one ugly
crisis was, for the time being, averted. Still, the inevitable crash had
merely been postponed, not prevented. Illinois defaulted on its bonds
during the following year. By that time, however, Lincoln, having
attended his last session as a Representative, was spared the
humiliation of officially facing this disgrace.

Other ordeals growing out of the general disaster were less easy to
avoid. A notable instance had run through several of Lincoln’s preceding
terms, when the State Bank of Illinois found itself in deep water.
Compelled, like so many similar institutions, to suspend specie payment
through the panic days of 1837, that enterprise seemed doomed to certain
destruction, because under the law such a suspension for sixty days
together was to be followed by forfeiture of its charter and liquidation
of its affairs. But those affairs, the reader will remember, were
concerned, to an intimate degree, with the recently adopted scheme for
“internal improvements.” In fact, the two interests had become so
closely interlocked that whatever menaced the stability of the bank
might well have been deemed a source of danger to the State.

Naturally, no time was lost in providing the remedy; and an Assembly,
convened during the summer of 1837, extended the period during which
specie could legally be withheld “until the end of the next general or
special session.” The fateful day came, but not the resumption of specie
payment. So the Legislature that met in December, 1839, after listening
to the several reports made by a joint select investigating committee of
which Lincoln was a member, revived the forfeited charter and granted
still further grace to “the close of the next session.” Conditions,
however, so far as available specie went, became worse rather than
better. Accordingly, when the following Assembly--a special one--was
called in November, 1840, at Springfield, to provide funds for defraying
interest on the bonded debt, that brief sitting alone seemingly
intervened between the bank and ruin.

This prospect mightily gratified the Democrats. They had grown hostile
toward the “rag-barons,” as these delinquent capitalists were then
frequently called; while the Whigs, on the contrary, saw in their plight
nothing short of a public calamity. So Lincoln and his followers
determined to keep the House, which met at that time in the Methodist
Church, from finally adjourning until the approaching regular Assembly,
within a few days, might enable them to give the bank a new lease of
life. An earnestly contested parliamentary struggle ensued. The Whig
minority cannot be said to have made much headway save toward the close
of the session, after attendance in the House had thinned out, and the
Democrats were ready to vote adjournment without day. Then the friends
of the bank, under Lincoln’s leadership, set about warding off that
stroke by absenting themselves in sufficient numbers to break the
quorum. This procedure required alert team-play. While Lincoln and his
colleague Joseph Gillespie remained to demand the ayes and noes, their
associates left in a body. Directly afterwards, when the opponents of
the bank tried to vote a final adjournment, they were halted, as had
been planned, by the point of order, “No quorum.” A call of the House
having been ordered, the sergeant-at-arms rounded up a number of the
absentees and brought them in. Amidst much excitement Lincoln hurried to
the church door. It was locked. Turning as quickly to a window, with the
faithful Gillespie and Asahel Gridley, of McLean County, at his heels,
he jumped out, but not before the House had succeeded in adjourning.

There seemed still to be a chance for the State Bank, however. That
ill-starred enterprise had not quite reached the closing stage. Within a
few week’s its flickering life was again prolonged by legislative means,
and the end was again postponed, but not, we should add, for long. Final
dissolution presently set in. And after clinging to existence against
desperate odds, through some very trying months, the bank collapsed, at
last, beyond all hope of recovery. As for Lincoln, the lengths to which
he had gone in his futile efforts to save it left him penitent. He would
gladly have relegated that discreditable exit through the church window
to the limbo of things best forgotten. But the public memory is
tenacious of such picturesque misdeeds, and long after what really
mattered in the State Bank’s tragic story had passed from men’s minds,
the ghost of this little escapade returned at times to trouble its
inventor.[v-29]

There were not many disquieting recollections of that sort to vex
Lincoln’s peace of mind; and happily so, for he became sensitive in
later days concerning them. When all is said, however, the few lapses
just disclosed--lapses which his admirers might well have wished
otherwise--should perhaps be charged to a callow excess of legislative
ardor rather than to a deficiency in correct political principles. For
Lincoln’s conduct as a politician--that is to say his conduct regarded
from the personal rather than the parliamentary point of view--was above
reproach. Indeed, he bore himself where his own interests were concerned
with an attention to the niceties of honor that evoked admiring
comments. How far these encomiums went may be inferred from a typical
one by Judge Samuel C. Parks, who wrote: “I have often said that for a
man who was for the quarter of a century both a lawyer and a politician,
he was the most honest man I ever knew.”[v-30]

That same rectitude, in fact, which debarred him from taking a shabby
case at law when cases were not too plentiful, kept his politics
unsoiled. The man’s ambition was keen, keener by far than even his need
of fees; yet the closest scrutiny reveals no personal let-down anywhere
in his code while following either pursuit. Lincoln failed to conceive,
despite certain commonly accepted tenets to the contrary, among public
men the world over, why there should be one kind of conscience for the
private citizen, and another, of a wholly different variety, for the
politician.

How punctilious a campaigner this man could be is illustrated by a
little incident that took place on one occasion when he was running for
the Legislature. A candidate for another place--an office-seeker of
whom he did not approve--accompanied Lincoln to the polls on election
day, and ostentatiously voted for him with the hope, no doubt, of
securing a similar compliment in return. But his cast went far wide of
its mark. For Lincoln, ignoring the bait, greatly to the admiration of
those who saw the occurrence, voted against him. Log-rolling to increase
his own vote at election time and log-rolling to further the passage of
a bill were acts so dissimilar in the eyes of the young member from
Sangamon that he would not stoop to the one, while he made almost a fine
art of the other.

Lincoln looked with disfavor, even during those ill-regulated days, upon
the methods employed by unscrupulous politicians to attain their ends.
He denounced the whole class as “a set of men who have interests aside
from the interests of the people, and who, to say the most of them, are,
taken as a mass, at least one long step removed from honest men.” The
“holier-than-thou” tone of this criticism must have flashed at the
moment through his mind, for he hastened to add: “I say this with the
greater freedom because, being a politician myself, none can regard it
as personal.”[v-31]

Somewhat of that same disapproval was more pithily expressed in another
country, at a later date, by no less a personage than Benjamin Disraeli
when, after sounding the depths and scaling the heights of English
public life through a period of strenuous years, he remarked to a
colleague: “Look at it as you will, ours is a beastly profession.”

Benjamin and Abraham had not many traits in common: they were the
products of vastly different systems; yet a striking resemblance runs
through their fine sense of personal honor, their prolonged struggles
with debt, their disregard for money, and their contempt of those
engaged in politics to serve corrupt private ends. Venality among
office-holders early aroused Lincoln’s indignation. He could sympathize
with nearly any human weakness but dishonesty, and the dishonesty of
trusted public servants seemed to him doubly reprehensible.
Consequently, in dealing with such thieves, this gentle man, usually so
tender of other men’s sensibilities, smote and spared not. In fact, so
severe could be his blows that the scholarly English leader--expert at
sarcasm though he was--is credited with no more scathing utterance than
the Illinoisan pronounced against certain rogues who had robbed the
American Government. Their castigation furnished a stirring incident to
the famous debate on “Subtreasuries” that took place at Springfield,
during December, 1839. Seven participants--four Democrats and three
Whigs--had spoken, when Lincoln closed the series in what some
considered the best effort of all. Addressing himself to the argument
made by a predecessor in the opposing camp, he said:--

“Mr. Lamborn insists that the difference between the Van Buren Party and
the Whigs is that although the former sometimes err in practice, they
are always correct in principle, whereas the latter are wrong in
principle; and, better to impress this proposition, he uses a figurative
expression in these words, ‘The Democrats are vulnerable in the heel,
but they are sound in the head and the heart.’ The first branch of the
figure,--that is, that the Democrats are vulnerable in the heel,--I
admit is not merely figuratively, but literally true. Who that looks but
for a moment at their Swartwouts, their Prices, their Harringtons, and
their hundreds of others, scampering away with the public money to
Texas, to Europe, and to every spot of the earth where a villain may
hope to find refuge from justice, can at all doubt that they are most
distressingly affected in their heels with a species of ‘running itch.’
It seems that this malady of their heels operates on these sound-headed
and honest-hearted creatures very much like the cork leg in the comic
song did on its owner; which, when he had once got started on it, the
more he tried to stop it, the more it would run away. At the hazard of
wearing this point threadbare, I will relate an anecdote which seems too
strikingly in point to be omitted. A witty Irish soldier, who was always
boasting of his bravery when no danger was near, but who invariably
retreated without orders at the first charge of an engagement, being
asked by his captain why he did so, replied,--‘Captain, I have as brave
a heart as Julius Cæsar ever had; but, somehow or other, whenever danger
approaches, my cowardly legs will run away with it.’

“So with Mr. Lamborn’s party. They take the public money into their hand
for the most laudable purpose that wise heads and honest hearts can
dictate; but before they can possibly get it out again, their rascally
‘vulnerable heels’ will run away with them.”[v-32]

These thieving officials were of a type common--far too common--among
the spoilsmen billeted upon their country by the party in power during
those easy-going days. Yet, numerous as the grafters must have been,
Lincoln did not allow mere weight of numbers to unbalance his sense of
their guilt. Nor was he less keenly alive to other forms of dishonesty
that manifested themselves, from time to time, among certain
self-seeking politicians, who, trimming their sails deftly at critical
moments between conflicting breezes, somehow turned up, with charters
revised to date, in any snug-harbor which, by an odd coincidence,
happened to contain the lucrative offices.

How hard he could be upon such gentry may be inferred from the
oft-related retort to George Forquer. It was uttered early in Lincoln’s
career, before he had attained any considerable public standing, against
a man, moreover, who as a lawyer, Representative, State Senator,
Attorney-General, and Secretary of State, appears to have ranked for
years among the ablest leaders in Illinois. Forquer, having recently
swung over from the Whigs to the Democrats, had just been rewarded with
an appointment to the Registry of the Land Office at Springfield. He cut
a wide swathe, and his newly erected mansion, the finest in the city,
attracted attention, not alone for its beauty, but also because,
conspicuously displayed on the structure, rose the only lightning-rod to
be seen throughout the community. It was at about this time that the two
men crossed swords. Lincoln, making the canvass of 1836 for his
reëlection to the Legislature, spoke at a Springfield meeting with such
effect as to stir the listening Forquer, an acknowledged master of
invective, into a reply. The Register felt obliged to vindicate his
recently acquired Democratic principles, but what moved him most was a
conviction, as he explained it, that “this young man would have to be
taken down.” With a lofty assumption of superiority, the orator went on
to express regret over the unpleasant task which a sense of duty had
imposed upon him; yet the sentiment was apparently not allowed to dull
the keen edge of his sarcasm. For the onslaught is said to have been
uncommonly severe.

At its conclusion Lincoln, who had stood near, laboring under manifest
excitement while attentively regarding his assailant, remounted the
platform and made a rejoinder that has become historic. The final words
lingered for many years in the memories of those who heard them. One
listener, a devoted friend, has thus recalled what he believes to be
substantially Lincoln’s language: “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.”[v-33]

The effect was electric. Forquer’s rod had not averted the lightning. He
had, in fact, received a grievous stroke. His antagonist was borne from
the court-house on the crest of an enthusiastic crowd; and during the
brief remainder of the turncoat’s life, Lincoln’s reproach stuck in the
man’s fame like a burdock on a woolly goat.

Forquer was not the only patriot of his peculiar stripe to arouse
Lincoln’s slow-rising ire. It reached the boiling point against another
politician who apparently placed a literal construction on that rather
loose epigram whereby party has been defined as “the madness of many for
the gain of a few.” In this particular instance, “the gain” fell short
of what at least one among the favored “few” considered his just share.
The malcontent, Charles H. Constable by name, lawyer by profession, and
Whig by election, was intensely dissatisfied with his political
associates. They had twice elected him to the State Senate; but
considering his talents, which are admitted to have been of no mean
order, he felt himself entitled to more substantial recognition. So
insistent became this feeling that habits of disloyalty grew with it;
and he lost no opportunity of denouncing the policy pursued by the party
toward its younger supporters. These fault-findings, moreover, waxed
especially censorious if Whig leaders happened to be present, as was the
case one day on circuit when Constable, with others, visited Judge Davis
and Lincoln in a room at Paris that the two occupied together.

On this occasion the man with a grievance lost no time in taking the
floor. He characterized the Whigs as “old-fogyish,” and charged them
with indifference to rising men; while the Democrats were lauded for
their progressive methods in these respects. What the grumbler said was
hardly borne out by the facts; and perhaps none of those present
realized this more keenly than Lincoln, whose own experience proved
quite the contrary. He listened in silence, however, for he was standing
at the time before a mirror, with his coat off, shaving. But when the
speaker went on to instance himself as a victim of political ingratitude
and neglect, Lincoln turned upon him sharply and said: “Mr. Constable, I
understand you perfectly, and have noticed for some time back that you
have been slowly and cautiously picking your way over to the Democratic
Party.”

An exciting scene ensued. Both men became so incensed that only the
combined efforts of all the others who were present sufficed to prevent
a fight, though Lincoln, as one of the spectators expressed it, seemed
for a time to be “terribly willing.” The quarrel was patched up,
however, but not Constable’s resentment against the Whig Party; for
shortly afterward, he revealed how just had been Lincoln’s rebuke by
deserting to the Democracy.[v-34]

These shifty place-hunters were doubly blamable in “Honest Abe’s” eyes.
He despised politicians who forsook their colors to secure promotions
under the standards of the enemy, not only because such acts were
dishonorable in themselves, but also, it must be confessed, because they
involved treason to political associates. For Lincoln was a partisan.
His temperament, no less than his fidelity to principle, made him a
champion eager and ever ready to battle for cherished convictions. But
the feudal days of single combat had passed. He did not believe in
battling alone. Like so many other public men of recent modern times, he
did believe in the organized expression of economic opinion which is
called a party. To him, as to them, it appeared obvious--almost
elemental--that voters who accept the same cardinal doctrines should
associate themselves together for united action, and that when several
such associations with conflicting views, tempered, however, by the
sober restraints of intelligent patriotism, confront one another in the
field of politics, there is an approach at least to well-balanced
government. The party in power deems itself answerable to the entire
nation for a successful administration, the party or parties out of
power feel an equal responsibility for watchful criticism; while the
system itself, though far from ideal, provides a practical solution to
some perplexing problems, and a safeguard of constitutional rights. As
for the rest, Lincoln’s common sense told him that within such
organizations alone was efficient political action possible. Explaining
this idea on one notable occasion, and speaking from the politician’s
not too lofty point of view, he said: “A free people, in times of peace
and quiet,--when pressed by no common danger,--naturally divide into
parties. At such times the man who is of neither party is not, cannot
be, of any consequence.”[v-35]

The speaker did, at an early day, become of “consequence.” It was as a
party man that he received the vote of the Whig minority for Speaker of
the Illinois House in 1838, and again in 1840.[v-36] During those stormy
sessions, the parliamentary leadership which went with this distinction
could have been held by a zealous partisan only. Lincoln was that, but
of course, be it said, he was abundantly more than that. For he
commended himself also to his colleagues by signal qualities of a
different character. In the first place, his remarkable talent for
mastery had come into play betimes. To quote Governor Reynolds: “As soon
as he got his bearings, got acquainted, and found how things were
drifting, he took the Legislature good-naturedly by the nose, and led
them, just like he did his township on the Sangamon.”[v-37]

Then, too, under this easy assumption of control were developing the
traits that draw men to a political chieftain. A ready grasp of public
questions, an equally ready skill in presenting them to the people or in
discussing them with an opponent, the never-failing humor which could
raise a laugh when a laugh was needed without too often leaving a sting
behind, an almost infallible intuition for the trend of the popular
will, certain charms of personality which endeared him to friends and
won over enemies, a natural aptitude for contriving measures of attack
and defense, an uncommon degree of courage,--moral as well as
physical,--and an even rarer fidelity to a high standard of honor,--all
these doubtless had their influence upon the vote. But that the choice
centered in him, apparently without a dissenting voice from among his
fellow Whigs, was also highly significant. For such a compliment
furnishes the measure of a leader’s devotion to his party. It was as a
partisan, moreover, that Lincoln figured prominently in Illinois affairs
during the succeeding twenty years, amidst a clash of men and principles
theretofore unparalleled for political rancor. The issues presented by
the problems of those stirring times had to be fought out vigorously on
party lines; and the Sangamon chief, plunging into the thick of the
fray, appears to have relished the zest of combat day by day, no less
than the occasional victory.

A man usually does best what he likes best to do. Lincoln loved
politics. It was the one pursuit outside of his profession that he
thoroughly enjoyed and in which he felt thoroughly at home. Almost any
time during those twenty years, with possibly one interval, people might
have said of him, as was said of another public man, “he eats, he
drinks, he sleeps politics.” But at no time could Lincoln have
truthfully forestalled Bismarck’s lament, “Politics has eaten up every
other hobby I had”; for in his case there were no other hobbies. From
early manhood to the end of his career, the art of government with its
kindred activities was Lincoln’s sole avocation. It is hardly
surprising, therefore, all in all, to observe what consummate skill he
brought to the service of the party. Indeed, a mere glance over this
period in his career reveals how proficient he must have been. For we
see him installing a system of nomination by convention among the
Whigs, despite prejudice and opposition; making the keynote speeches, as
they were called, in several warmly contested campaigns; drawing up the
official election circulars and appeals to the people; stumping the
field in his own behalf or in that of other local candidates; canvassing
the State on the electoral tickets of successive Presidential nominees;
adroitly taking advantage of dissensions in the opposing camp, while
striving with rare tact to compose the differences in his own; planning,
advising, controlling, until he became the ablest political manager, and
at last,--to anticipate somewhat,--the recognized authority in his
section on matters affecting the welfare of the organization.

Lincoln was what is commonly termed a “practical” politician. He knew
the ins and outs of vote-getting as only a seasoned campaigner can know
them. In fact, nothing of political significance seemed to escape his
notice. He could say, for the most part, where the big men of the State
would be found on any public question; nor was he less accurately
informed as to what might be expected from local magnates of lesser
degree. While if one of them did depart from his wonted course, in
principle or tactics, Lincoln’s intuitions might be trusted to
prefigure, with some nicety, the effect of that departure upon the man’s
popularity. For his grasp of political probabilities amounted almost to
genius. How this or that district would go under given circumstances was
repeatedly forecast by him on the eve of an election with unerring
precision; and when the returns came in, he manifested equal skill
among the figures. Every column had some story to tell him. Every gain
or loss was promptly noted, often, indeed, by the aid of his well-stored
memory alone; and at times, before the tables were completed, he would
place a prophetic finger on the changes which presaged defeat or
victory.

That such a man stood high in the party councils goes without saying. As
a member of the County Committee or the State Central Committee, his
views held full sway; and when he happened to be relieved of official
responsibility in the management of a campaign, those who were in charge
sent for him, at important junctures, to help them out. Speaking of
Lincoln’s services at these conferences, Horace White, who once acted as
secretary at State headquarters during a spirited canvass, said: “The
Committee paid the utmost deference to his opinions. In fact, he was
nearer to the people than they were. Traveling the circuit, he was
constantly brought in contact with the most capable and discerning men
in the rural community. He had a more accurate knowledge of public
opinion in central Illinois than any other man who visited the committee
rooms, and he knew better than anybody else what kind of arguments would
be influential with the voters, and what kind of men could best present
them.”[v-38]

Moreover, when it became necessary to meet or head off some critical
move on the part of their opponents, Lincoln brought to the fore, just
as he did in the courts, that crowning gift of worldly shrewdness which
not infrequently goes with simplicity of nature and downright honesty.
He did not mislead himself any more than he did his associates, for he
saw things as they actually were. He could put himself in the other
man’s place, and that is why he could make so close a calculation as to
what the other man, under given circumstances, would presumably do. “The
other man,” during one campaign, at least, appears to have been wanting
in such foresight. And when on that occasion the projects of the
Democrats miscarried, because they had failed to anticipate how
Lincoln’s side might act, the occurrence called forth one of his little
Menard County stories.

“This situation reminds me,” said he, “of three or four fellows out near
Athens, who went coon hunting one day. After being out some time the
dogs treed a coon, which was soon discovered in the extreme top of a
very tall oak tree. They had only one gun, a rifle; and after some
discussion as to who was the best shot, one was decided on. He took the
rifle and got into a good position. With the coon in plain view, lying
close on a projecting limb, and at times moving slowly along, the man
fired. But the coon was still on the limb, and a small bunch of leaves
from just in front of the coon fluttered down. The surprise and
indignation of the other fellows was boundless. All sorts of epithets
were heaped on ‘the best shot,’ and an explanation was demanded for his
failure to bring down the coon. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘you see, boys, by gum,
I sighted just a leetle ahead, and ’lowed for the durned thing
crawling.’”[v-39]

When Lincoln, in the course of a political contest, allowed for
something to happen, it usually did not fall very far short of taking
place. A fatalist as to the great impelling current whereby a nation is
carried toward its destiny, he believed that social and civic causes,
however they may be impeded or diverted for a time in their operations,
must at last inevitably lead to corresponding effects. His fatalism,
however, was of the robust type. It recognized how important a part men
play in creating these forces, as well as in bringing about the results.
Miracles formed no part of his political creed, and he waited for none
to do his work. So we find him repeatedly in the thick of the conflict,
straining every nerve to gain a party victory. Such of his election-time
letters as have been preserved furnish illuminating evidence of how
industrious he could be. Appealing to this man, arguing with that,
advising one inquiring supporter in the rural districts, praising
another, warning a colleague of some aggressive step contemplated by
their opponents here, heartening a hard-pressed brother there, figuring,
explaining, forecasting, Lincoln pulled apparently every straight wire
which a vigorous use of the mails brought within his reach.

He appreciated the appeal direct at its full value. And to this, Gibson
W. Harris, one of the young men who sometimes assisted him, thus bore
witness in later years: “The duty fell to me of writing letters, at his
dictation, to influential men in the different counties, down to even
obscure precincts. Finding the task not only burdensome, but slow, I
suggested the use of a printed circular letter, but the proposal was
vetoed offhand. A printed letter, he said, would not have nearly the
same effect. A written one had the stamp of personality, was more
flattering to the recipient, and would tell altogether more in assuring
his good will, if not his support. So for several days the clerk was
kept busy in writing more letters. Young and inexperienced as I was, I
could not help noticing how shrewdly they were put together, and no two
exactly alike. He approached each correspondent in a different way, and
I soon reached the conclusion that the necessity he felt for doing this
was his weightiest reason, after all, for discarding type.”[v-40]

Lincoln did not lose sight, however, of the wider opportunities for
influencing voters presented by the printing-press. A tireless student
of newspapers himself, reading them in fact, during this period, almost
to the exclusion of all other general publications, Lincoln became so
familiar with the journals issued throughout the State that their
several party affiliations were, whenever he had occasion to recall
them, at his tongue’s end. Many an article from his pen, purporting to
be an expression of editorial opinion, appeared from time to time in
various Illinois sheets. Whether the respective editors, when they
adopted these contributions as their own, wholly eliminated the element
of deception that enters into such transactions, is perhaps a moot
question. One editor, at least, by a simple course avoided any
misunderstanding on the subject. This was Jacob Harding who published a
country newspaper in the southern part of the State. To him Lincoln
once wrote: “_Friend Harding_: I have been reading your paper for three
or four years, and have paid you nothing for it.” Enclosing ten dollars
the writer adds: “Put it into your pocket, say nothing further about
it.”

The journalist did as he was bid. But soon thereafter, when the generous
subscriber sent him a political article with the request for its
publication in the editorial columns of his “valued paper,” Harding
promptly declined, “because,” he explained, “I long ago made it a rule
to publish nothing as editorial matter not written by myself.”

The joke was on Lincoln. Laughing heartily over the letter, he read it
aloud to his law-partner, and said: “That editor has a rather lofty but
proper conception of true journalism.”[v-41]

This experience was exceptional, however. For in the main, Lincoln’s
newspaper contributions, like his personal missives, reached their
intended goals, as indeed did most of his projects over the still wider
ranges of party management. A practical politician, he employed
practical methods. That much-decried scheme of coördinated effort, which
for lack of a better term is commonly called “the machine,” owed its
development among the Whigs in Illinois more perhaps to him than to any
other leader. As early as 1840, upon the eve of the Harrison campaign,
he put forth a plan for thoroughly organizing the party within the
State. Four other men, it is true, were associated with him on the
Central Committee that had this matter in hand, but the enterprise was
largely his work. He wrote the circular letter which explained the
system they had adopted, and which announced explicitly what would be
required thereafter of each party worker. From the several county
committees that were arbitrarily appointed by the terms of the circular,
down through district committees and sub-committees,--even to the
individual voters,--every Whig was assigned to his part in the
undertaking.[v-42] A more complete programme for the control of
political operations is not easily conceived. Nor do we often meet with
a document of this class so frankly expressed in the imperative mood.
Its language is that of a master to his men. The crack of the party whip
seemingly still rings, even at this late day, through the whole
performance; and the hand which grasped the whip did so with a vigor not
unlike that customarily displayed, in more recent decades, by the leader
to whom political idiom has given the title of “Boss.”

But the parallel goes no further. Lincoln was not a boss. And nothing
else in his leadership even suggests the mercenary autocrats whose
intrigues have, from time to time, brought reproach upon the whole field
of politics,--yes, upon republican institutions themselves. His
organization was, in fact, a very different affair from the corrupt
local machine of a later period. For even political machines have no
vices of their own. They are what the men who run them make them. The
modern ring with its spoilsmen, grafters, heelers, blackmailers, thugs,
and what-not,--all held together by the cohesive power of public pelf
and patronage,--could not have existed for a moment where Lincoln was
in control. Nor can we conceive of him packing primaries, manipulating
pudding ballots, falsifying election returns, or taking part in any of
those numerous other criminal acts whereby the wishes of honest voters
have, on notorious occasions, been systematically frustrated.[v-43] “He
could not cheat people out of their votes any more than out of their
money,” writes Horace White, who enjoyed the exceptional opportunities
for close observation already spoken of. “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.”[v-44] He never,
it is safe to add, so far as anybody’s knowledge goes, allowed his
passion for a triumph at the polls to blur an uncommonly clear vision of
what was right and what was wrong. Virtue, they say, wears the garb of
no party. Yet a Lincoln could evidently be loyal to his
organization,--loyal, if you will, to the machine itself,--without
losing sight of what he owed, in the last event, to his own ideals and
to the national well-being.

There was still another obligation, of a less lofty character, however,
that neither parties nor principles could make this alert politician
wholly forget. No matter how freely he gave himself up to the public,
his thoughts were rarely withdrawn long from what seemed due, as the
phrase goes, to number one. The appetite for distinction, so frankly
avowed in that maiden address sent out from New Salem, had grown by the
very efforts made to satisfy it. For those efforts were of no laggard
quality. When a young man, eager to rise in the world, must first free
himself from the triple clog of so many youthful aspirations,--lowly
birth, ignorance, and narrow fortunes,--he sometimes acquires a degree
of momentum that is not diminished even after the need for it has
ceased. This happened to Lincoln. The “little engine that knew no rest”
stirred him to political action through the greater portion of his life,
and when he did not hold a public place, he appears to have been
engaged, with occasional lulls, in hot pursuit of one. Here was no
reluctant patriot of the Washington-Marshall order, waiting in dignified
retirement for the office to seek the man. On the contrary, Lincoln went
out to meet his honors more--much more--than halfway. And of all the
faulty pictures presented by intrepid eulogists to a trustful world,
none perhaps is further from the fact than that which depicts him as
regretfully interrupting the practice of the law in order to enter
public life at the call of duty. The sober, unromantic truth presents
quite another view. It reveals the real Lincoln who ardently desired
political preferment, and, with characteristic candor, said so. Indeed,
few, if any, among the vote-getting campaigners of his time plunged into
the ruck of a canvass with more spirited self-assertion. “Do you
suppose,” he once wrote to a grumbling young politician, “that I should
ever have got into notice if I had waited to be hunted up and pushed
forward by older men?”[v-45]

No! Lincoln saw to his own pushing--coat off and sleeves rolled up. He
did so, moreover, in the downright, honest way we should expect from
him. And some idea of how it was done--in one direction, at least--may
be gathered from an illuminating little anecdote told recently by John
W. Bunn, another fledgling during those early Springfield days, who
sought office, to use his own phrase, “under the political wing” of that
same energetic leader.

“A day or two after my first nomination for city treasurer,” writes Mr.
Bunn, “I was going uptown and saw Mr. Lincoln ahead of me. He waited
until I caught up and said to me, ‘How are you running?’ I told him I
didn’t know how I was running. Then he said, ‘Have you asked anybody to
vote for you?’ I said I had not. ‘Well,’ said he, ‘if you don’t think
enough of your success to ask anybody to vote for you, it is probable
they will not do it, and that you will not be elected.’ I said to him,
‘Shall I ask Democrats to vote for me?’ He said, ‘Yes; ask everybody to
vote for you.’ Just then a well-known Democrat by the name of Ragsdale
was coming up the sidewalk. Lincoln said, ‘Now, you drop back there and
ask Mr. Ragsdale to vote for you.’ I turned and fell in with Mr.
Ragsdale, told him of my candidacy, and said I hoped he would support
me. To my astonishment, he promised me that he would. Mr. Lincoln walked
slowly along and fell in with me again, and said, ‘Well, what did
Ragsdale say? Will he vote for you?’ I said, ‘Yes; he told me he would.’
‘Well, then,’ said Lincoln, ‘you are sure of two votes at the election,
mine and Ragsdale’s.’ This was my first lesson in practical politics,
and I received it from a high source.”[v-46]

The source may indeed be called “high,” from more than one point of
view. For that term does not overstate the matter when it applies to a
politician who could zealously press his own interests or those of his
party amidst the hurly-burly of many a closely contested field, as
Lincoln did, and at the same time keep clear of the mud in the low
places. Confuting a common fallacy, he demonstrated, once for all, that
there is no essential connection between public life and personal
corruption. His career puts to shame those smug gentlemen who,
cloistered in spotless self-love, hold themselves aloof from active
civic service, on the plea that politics would contaminate them. Of
course, in their cases such fears may not be groundless. Perhaps these
respectable citizens may know themselves to be weak-kneed. Perhaps their
stumbling feet could not avoid the mire. In any event, they may as well
be reminded that merely to keep clean, while shirking the work, is to
practice a virtue of doubtful value. This man, on the other hand,
spending his best years in the thick of things, and giving to each task
what the task demanded, came through it all unsullied.

But to infer from these activities that Lincoln was unduly obtrusive in
advancing his political interests would be wide of the mark. When he did
blow his own trumpet, it struck a note which gave no offense. For from
an early day he had mastered the art, so difficult to acquire, of
pushing one’s self forward without overstepping the bounds of decorum.
There was an air of reserve in his demeanor at the very moment when
those rising fortunes were urged upward most eagerly. In fact, whatever
he did seemed tinged with the lambent modesty that serves, under some
conditions, to light up rather than to obscure true merit. It clearly
helped Lincoln to know himself and his deserts. One might say that the
insight which made the man conscious of extraordinary powers left him
painfully aware, as well, of their limitations. He could look himself in
the face with a certain detached candor not often found among ambitious
politicians. What is more, he could stand erect against other men and
check off his own shortcomings. Conceit in any form--need we
add?--cannot thrive under such clarity of vision. At the same time, if
this faculty for seeing things squarely as they are had failed Lincoln,
an abiding simplicity of character--to say nothing about an ever-ready
sense of humor--would doubtless have saved him from any exaggerated
opinion of his own importance. He certainly manifested no craving for
what might be called honorary distinctions. Purely formal or ornamental
functions, such as the chairmanship of a meeting, the leading part in a
civic ceremony, and the like, were exceedingly distasteful to him; while
the master of ceremonies at some social entertainment, strutting about
“drest in a little brief authority,” aroused his good-natured disdain.
With all the politician’s fondness for public life and public office, he
shrank from the mere display of himself on public occasions. At times,
moreover, some of those personal tributes, so dear to the hearts of
professional big-wigs, actually distressed him. He seemed annoyed, to
cite an instance, by a tendency to name children for him that set in
among certain admirers long before his fame had become more than local.
And even the honor of standing sponsor to a whole community apparently
brought this unassuming man no elation. For, when his friend Whitney
asked whether the town of Lincoln was named after him, he answered
dryly: “Well, yes, I believe it was named after I was.”[v-47]

Obviously, all this is not of a piece, with the oft-quoted pride that
apes humility. It should be described rather as the genuine modesty
which had its origin down deep in the man’s honest soul, in his own
appraisal of his true value, made on his own sensitive scales. He could
not mislead himself or others by false pretensions, during those
aspiring times, any more than he had found it possible, in the old
grocery-store days, to cheat customers with false weights. He frankly
rated his merits quite as low as those around him were likely to have
placed them; and it may be doubted whether even his intimates had a less
exalted opinion of Abraham Lincoln than in the last analysis had Abraham
Lincoln himself.

This freedom from egotism impressed, sooner or later, all who came in
contact with the man. His political associates, somewhat after the
manner, as the reader may remember, of his colleagues on circuit, bore
witness to the almost humble spirit in which he ordinarily conducted
himself. That such a course is likely to win popular support, disarm
criticism, and turn aside the shafts of envy, might lay almost any
politician so behaving open to the suspicion of assuming a pose--any
politician but a Lincoln. In his case, the posture accords too closely
with what we have seen of him from other angles to leave any doubt
concerning its sincerity. For instance, the same kindly fellowship that
encouraged beginners in the law, when they happened to approach him
after he had become a leader of the bar, was manifested under parallel
circumstances toward budding politicians. Among the most brilliant of
these may be ranked the young German refugee, Carl Schurz, who had
interested himself in American public affairs even before he could have
been eligible to American citizenship. Having made some speeches in
Lincoln’s behalf during a memorable canvass, the newcomer improved an
early opportunity for meeting the Sangamon chief; and much to his
surprise, found himself received, as he relates, with “offhand
cordiality, like an old acquaintance.”

This must have made a vivid impression on the tyro’s mind. Recalling the
interview toward the close of his life, Mr. Schurz tells us, with
renewed wonder, how unreservedly Lincoln discussed the campaign, and
then goes on to say: “When, in a tone of perfect ingenuousness, he asked
me--a young beginner in politics--what I thought about this and that, I
should have felt myself very much honored by his confidence had he
permitted me to regard him as a great man. But he talked in so simple
and familiar a strain, and his manner and homely phrase were so
absolutely free from any semblance of self-consciousness or pretension
to superiority, that I soon felt as if I had known him all my life and
we had long been close friends.”[v-48]

Among strangers, Lincoln carried himself, it is perhaps needless to
say, equally free from any suggestion of the grand air. His
commonplace--at times uncouth--appearance, together with his unassuming
ways, gave the chance comer no hint of the man’s importance, even after
he had obtained some measure of fame beyond the State border. On more
than one occasion he might have exclaimed, as did the famous Achæan
general when they found him meekly cutting up firewood for the hostess
of Megara: “I am paying the penalty of my ugly looks.”

So different, in truth, was Lincoln’s manner from the breezy, bumptious
swagger not seldom seen among the public personages of his day, that
only an observer of rare discernment would have taken him, at first
glance, for a prominent politician. Even nimble-witted members of the
guild themselves “smelt no royalty,” as he once quaintly expressed it,
in his presence. And one of them has handed down an amusing tale which
relates how the big man’s modest bearing hoaxed a brace of jocund
statesmen to the top of their bent. Here is the story, as Thomas H.
Nelson of Terre Haute, tells it on himself:--

“In the spring of 1849 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
traveling 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-traveler 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-traveler.”[v-49]

As these two wags sneak sheepishly away from their recent butt, they
present a comical reminder of that time-honored aphorism: “The world
receives an unknown person according to his appearance; it takes leave
of him according to his merits.” True, our crestfallen Hoosiers did not
themselves sense the worth concealed under Lincoln’s homespun manners;
yet for this the man who had so neatly gulled them could hardly be
blamed. He paid the merry jesters in their own coin, so to say; and if
they failed to notice the twinkle of his keen gray eyes as he made
change, no one was at fault but themselves. The ethics of practical
joking had been observed fairly enough. At all events, the gentlemen
from Indiana, so far as is known, set up no claim to the contrary.

Lincoln’s energies were not confined, however, to such encounters.
Within the party itself occasionally arose contests between rival
leaders that differed widely from the usual election campaigns against
the common enemy; and it is of interest to see how “Honest Abe,” under
these more delicate circumstances, conducted himself. A typical instance
was that of his canvass for Congress. This began as early as 1842 when,
upon the completion of a fourth term in the Illinois House of
Representatives, he declined the proffered renomination, but not because
he wished to retire from public life. “His ambition,” as one intimate
friend declared, “was a little engine that knew no rest.” It seemed
always speeding him toward higher levels. A seat in the National House
had now become his goal; and with characteristic directness, he
announced himself as a candidate for the promotion. An attempt,
obviously not so direct, was made to turn him aside; for we find among
his letters this word of warning, addressed at the time to a
correspondent in Cass County: “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.”[v-50]

In those days the Springfield District, as it was sometimes called, had
become a Whig stronghold to such a degree that whoever received the
endorsement of the party there on the Congressional ticket might well
feel assured of his election. Naturally the prospect attracted other
ambitious young politicians besides Lincoln. He found himself strongly
opposed for the nomination by Edward Dickinson Baker, of his own county,
and General John J. Hardin, of Black Hawk War fame, from Morgan County.
The preliminary canvass was uncommonly warm. It appears to have reached
a white heat, at almost the very outset, between Lincoln and Baker in
their struggle for the control of the delegation which Sangamon should
send to the nominating convention. Both men were popular, but Baker’s
longer residence in the State, his charm of manner, his dashing
personality, and his remarkable talent for impromptu oratory gave him an
advantage, which enthusiastic friends sought still further to improve by
tactics manifestly open to criticism, especially when employed in a
party contest. For, strange to relate, a personal campaign of an abusive
nature was waged against the man from New Salem. His recent faithful
leadership on the floor of the Legislature had, for the moment, in some
quarters at least, apparently been forgotten; while his marriage during
the year to Mary Todd, whose religious affiliations--unlike those of the
Bakers--were not with the potent Campbellite Church, became by cunningly
contrived suggestion an adverse issue of seeming importance. Moreover,
his own alleged irreligion, slyly hinted at, a duel that had been talked
of but had never been fought,[v-51] an unpopular temperance address
recently delivered, and, above all, his connection through the young
wife with her prominent, perhaps too self-satisfied, relations, were
severally urged in various directions as good reasons for withholding
the desired support.

What particularly pained Lincoln was this last count in the indictment.
For one who had so recently been a “friendless, uneducated, penniless
boy working on a flat-boat at ten dollars per month,” to be “put
down”--we are quoting his own protest--“as the candidate of pride,
wealth, and aristocratic family distinction,” must have felt odd beyond
measure.[v-52] It is not surprising that, with all his political acumen,
he was at a loss for an adequate reply. What reply, indeed, can one make
to such a charge! He tried to laugh it off, meeting the story of those
high-bred relatives with the whimsical remark: “Well, that sounds
strange to me. 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.”[v-53]

Still the canard persisted, though the fact that it ever received
serious attention must be counted among the mysteries of Illinois
politics; unless perhaps a faint suggestion of an explanation is to be
found in Lincoln’s own demeanor. He was, it is true, a commoner, a man
of the people, if there ever has been one in American public affairs.
His democratic ways, unpretentious garb, and homely fashion of speech
were as truly expressive of the man as were his sympathetic dealings, in
all the essentials of life, with the plain citizens around him. But he
neither flattered them nor catered to their prejudices. Lincoln was no
demagogue. Coming upon the scene with a generation of pioneers whose
antipathy toward the so-called aristocrats naturally had its
corresponding reaction in a fondness for men of their own kind, he made
it a point, nevertheless, to ask for support wholly on his merits; and
practiced none of those crude arts whereby politicians of that day too
often courted popular favor.[v-54] In fact, he went at times as far the
other way, and bluntly declined so to cheapen himself.

A case in point occurred on the occasion of his address before an
agricultural society, when he said: “I presume I am not expected to
employ the time assigned me in the mere flattery of the farmers as a
class. My opinion of them is that, in proportion to numbers, they are
neither better nor worse than other people. In the nature of things they
are more numerous than any other class; and I believe there really are
more attempts at flattering them than any other, the reason for which I
cannot perceive unless it be that they can cast more votes than any
other. On reflection, I am not quite sure that there is not cause of
suspicion against you in selecting me, in some sort a politician and in
no sort a farmer, to address you.”[v-55]

These words--we must add--were uttered some years later, but they nicely
illustrate the speaker’s bearing throughout his political career. The
compelling candor which led him to speak so was, in truth, the very
essence of the man. He could not do otherwise. And therein, perhaps,
lay some explanation of why it was difficult for him, during this
congressional contest, to meet the charge of having joined the so-called
privileged class,--particularly as the accusation came from members of
his own party.[v-56]

That Baker himself had anything to do with the misconduct of these
overzealous partisans, Lincoln refused to believe.[v-57] Still he could
not close his eyes to the inroads which their attacks made upon his
strength in the county. And when the Sangamon Whigs met, in the spring
of 1843, to elect delegates for the District Convention, Baker was
clearly their choice. The meeting so voted. But its confidence in the
rejected candidate was evinced, to a noteworthy extent, by his selection
as a member of the delegation, instructed to cast Sangamon’s ballot at
the convention for his successful opponent. This placed Lincoln in an
embarrassing position; and he tried, though without avail, to be
excused. Commenting on the singular occurrence to his absent friend
Speed, he wrote: “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 a
groomsman to a man that has cut him out and is marrying his own dear
‘gal.’”[v-58]

There was this difference, however. The groomsman usually renounces his
hopes at the church door; whereas Lincoln, for a time at least after the
meeting, still considered himself, in some degree, a candidate.
Expecting his old neighbors in the New Salem-Petersburg vicinage to
instruct a Menard County delegation for him, he figured out a
combination whereby they might, under certain conditions, cast the
deciding votes in the convention. “It is truly gratifying to me,” he
wrote Martin M. Morris, one of these supporters, “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.”

After outlining the situation, with the terse, firm strokes of a skilled
politician, he continued: “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. I think, then, it would be proper for your
meeting to appoint three delegates, and to instruct them to go for some
one as a first choice, some one else as a second, and perhaps some one
as a third; and if in those instructions I were named as the first
choice, it would gratify me very much.”[v-59]

This letter furnishes another revelation of how tight a grip Lincoln’s
ambition, carrying him along at top speed, had upon his movements; and
by that same token, of how tight a grip he meant to keep, in any event,
upon the restraining brake, which was so rarely allowed to leave his
watchful hand. Whether he could have maintained his moral equilibrium,
however, in the District Convention, as a delegate instructed for one
candidate while he permitted his friends to support another candidate,
and that candidate himself, raises, under all the circumstances, a
delicate question in political ethics. Happily, Lincoln was not called
upon to try it out. By the time the delegates gathered at Pekin, he and
Baker were both outdistanced by General Hardin, who promptly became the
choice of a far from harmonious convention.

Then ensued an incident which, besides having a controlling influence
toward the shaping of local politics for some years to come, caused
controversies later of more than local importance. This is how it came
about. No sooner had the vote been taken than Lincoln walked across the
room to James M. Ruggles, one of the Hardin delegates, and asked him
whether he would favor a resolution recommending Baker for the
succeeding congressional term. Ruggles, who was fond of that gentleman,
readily consented, so Lincoln said: “You prepare the resolution, I will
support it, and I think we can pass it.”[v-60]

The motion is said to have “created a profound sensation, especially
with the friends of Hardin.” Some of them warmly objected, but it was
passed, nevertheless, by a very close vote. The proposition should,
indeed, have been well received. It belonged to that class of convention
devices which is sometimes designated as “good politics.” The contest
had stirred up much feeling, and Lincoln, like the alert party leader
that he was, took this means of placating a disgruntled faction. “So far
as I can judge from present appearances,” he declared, “we shall have no
split or trouble about the matter. All will be harmony.”[v-61] And when
the nominee wrote a letter, after the convention, expressing some doubt
as to whether the Whigs of Sangamon would support him, Lincoln replied:
“You may, at once, dismiss all fears on that subject. We have already
resolved to make a particular effort to give you the very largest
majority possible in our county. From this, no Whig of the county
dissents. We have many objects for doing it. We make it a matter of
honor and pride to do it; we do it, because we love the Whig cause; we
do it, because we like you personally; and last, we wish to convince
you, that we do not bear that hatred to Morgan County, that you people
have so long seemed to imagine. You will see by the _Journal_ of this
week, that we propose, upon pain of losing a Barbecue, to give you twice
as great a majority in this county as you shall receive in your own. I
got up the proposal.”[v-62]

This magnanimous treatment of Hardin, like the resolution in Baker’s
favor, is noteworthy. Yet here again--of a truth, in neither case--did
Lincoln wholly neglect his own aspirations. Though he regarded both
these men with sincere good-will, and stepped aside for them with
unruffled temper, it was in the hope that his turn would come next. Some
of the party leaders, in fact, eventually worked out an arrangement
whereby John J. Hardin, Edward Dickinson Baker, Abraham Lincoln, and
Stephen Trigg Logan succeeded one another in the Whig nomination of the
district, for a single congressional term each. That this bargain or
deal--to use familiar political expressions--existed has been vehemently
denied. And in the nature of such affairs, it may well be doubted
whether there was a definite agreement to which the parties in interest
gave their formal approval. The Hardin following, for one, appears to
have acquiesced unwillingly, if indeed it actually assented at all.
Still, no less an authority than Lincoln himself tells us of “an
understanding among Whig friends,” whereby each of these men received
the nomination in turn.[v-63] And this understanding, in part at least,
had its public ratification, if not its origin, as we have seen, with
his resolution endorsing Baker. Although politicians usually conceal
such transactions, because they are looked upon by the voters with
disfavor, and although some through-thick-and-thin eulogists, trembling
for the fair fame of their hero, have refused to believe that Lincoln
did anything at this point which savored of intrigue, he himself
manifestly made no secret of the matter nor of his hand in it. A
thoroughgoing candidate from start to finish, this man, honorable as he
was, played his game according to the standards of the aggressive
political school in which he had been bred. But he played it openly. He
saw no harm in that group of aspirants “making a slate,” as the process
is sometimes called; and under all the circumstances, neither do we.

The Sangamon chief, true to his pledge, loyally supported the nominee of
the convention. General Hardin, triumphant at the polls, went to
Congress. And when, by reason of a change in the time for holding the
next election, it became necessary, during the following year, to name
his successor, he gave way in Baker’s favor, as the Pekin resolution had
provided. Naturally Lincoln, the father of that measure, did likewise.
In fact, he worked no less faithfully for rival number two than he had
for rival number one, and Baker was duly chosen.[v-64] Then at last, in
1846, came Lincoln’s turn. Expecting to reap the reward of his patience,
he struck out vigorously for the nomination. But to his chagrin, Hardin,
ready to make the race for another term, threatened again to block the
way; while Judge Logan, the remaining claimant on the slate, had also
entered the field, demanding precedence over Lincoln on the ground of
seniority as well as of valuable services to the party. Whether this
latter candidature was entirely sincere, or whether it should be deemed
one of those back-firing devices to head off other aspirants, so often
employed by political strategists, cannot, at this late day, be
determined. True, the dissolution of partnership at law between Logan
and Lincoln, several years before, had been due, in a degree at least,
to the conflicting congressional ambitions of its members. Still,
nothing that then took place was rasping enough, so far as is known, to
keep them from entering into an “understanding” for their mutual
benefit. At all events, Logan can hardly be said to have made a very
vigorous start and, after a brief reconnoissance of the district, he
withdrew gracefully in Lincoln’s favor.

Hardin was not so easily disposed of. Denying that there had been any
agreement personally on his part to rest content with one term, he
declared himself betimes a candidate for another nomination. Lincoln’s
rejoinder was the maxim,--“Turn about is fair play.” He called this his
“only argument,” and proceeded in effect to make it the slogan of an
energetic campaign. A less inspiring issue on which to ask for political
support is not often presented. Yet this was the issue, and Lincoln
candidly said so. With a freedom from the customary cant of “public
servants” that is really refreshing, he canvassed the party on personal
grounds, but without personalities. His supporters were cautioned
against saying anything unkind about Hardin; and when he himself made
any reference to his adversary, it was in terms of friendly
appreciation. Lincoln wanted that office. He wanted it badly. But his
ever-present sense of fairness saved him from resentment toward the
Bakers and Hardins who wanted it, too. They were entitled to a place in
the sun. And even the fact that one who had basked in its warmth for a
season was trying now to elbow him back when his turn came, did not
ruffle the man’s good humor. Yet he stood his ground firmly, while
insisting, with winsome naïveté, on “a fair shake.” So when General
Hardin made a crafty suggestion that the candidates should agree
respectively to “remain in their own counties,” Lincoln promptly
declined, with the obvious explanation: “It seems to me that on
reflection you will see, the fact of your having been in Congress has,
in various ways, so spread your name in the district, as to give you a
decided advantage in such a stipulation.”

His reasons, given in the same letter, for refusing to walk into the
general’s other cunningly contrived pitfalls, were equally cogent; while
the temper of the missive, as a whole, may be inferred from the pretty
little apology: “I have always been in the habit of acceding to almost
any proposal that a friend would make, and I am truly sorry that I
cannot in this.”[v-65]

Hardin, on his part, was apparently not so amiable. The general’s
supporters were allowed to assail Lincoln in somewhat the same manner
that Baker’s friends had done three years before. Indeed, they may have
been even less scrupulous. For one of Lincoln’s youthful lieutenants, G.
W. Harris, tells us how, disheartened by their methods, he went to his
chief in the heat of the canvass, and declared that it was useless to
proceed any further unless the object of these assaults was willing to
adopt similar tactics. Without any show of feeling, Lincoln replied:
“Gibson, I want to be nominated; I should like very much to go to
Congress; but unless I can get there by fair means, I shall not go. If
it depends on some other course, I will stay at home.”[v-66]

“That settled it,” Harris adds. But things hardly went as he had
predicted. Not long thereafter his leader’s scruples were vindicated, on
even the politician’s narrow ground, by Hardin’s withdrawal from the
contest, in a generous letter, which left the field to our Springfield
friend unopposed. So it came to pass that when the Whig District
Convention met early in May, 1846, the name of this sole remaining
candidate was duly presented by Judge Logan and Lincoln received a
unanimous nomination.

The Democrats put forward as their candidate the well-known Methodist
circuit-rider, Peter Cartwright. He gave promise of making a formidable
antagonist. Few men had more friends throughout the district, and
indeed, throughout the State. His robust ministry, as he traveled on
horseback undaunted by frontier hardships from place to place, brought
him into intimate, at times even sacred, relations with the people. They
cherished, in their rough way, a fondness for the man whose piety and
never-failing human sympathy had made him through all the shifting
years, whether at weddings, christenings, sick-beds, or funerals, the
dependable partner of their joys and their sorrows. A preacher,
moreover, of the church-militant, he compelled respect among these
sturdy pioneers by his physical, no less than by his spiritual,
qualities. As became one who patrolled in autocratic fashion “the
country of superior men,” he was wont, when occasion served, to pound
out a sermon or knock out a service-disturbing brawler, with equal
force, and--if the truth must be told--with equal relish. But the
aggressive elements in Cartwright’s make-up found still freer vent on
the several occasions when he sought to transmute all this popularity
into votes. For somewhat after the manner of the high priests in Israel,
the “Apostle of the West,” as he was sometimes called, aspired to
combine religion with statecraft. A Jacksonian Democrat of the
uncompromising type, his politics like his theology belonged to the
hard-shell variety; and few campaigners could give a better account of
themselves on the stump. If rugged eloquence failed to produce the
desired effect, a certain nimble-witted humor might be depended on to
carry the day for him. He had, in fact, been elected or, more precisely
speaking, reëlected, to the State Legislature when Lincoln suffered his
first, his only, rebuff at the polls, fourteen years before; and with
the two men now pitted against each other again--this time on a larger
field--the Democrats naturally expected to bring about a repetition of
that defeat.

But the Lincoln who faced Cartwright in 1846 was a different adversary
from the comparatively unknown novice who had gone down before the
famous preacher in 1832. Since then the younger man must have learned
many practical lessons in the school of politics, and learned them well,
for his congressional canvass is described as a model of skillful
electioneering. It left unturned, in all the district, no stone beneath
which might lurk a favorable vote; while it met, with similar alertness,
every issue raised by the enemy, or more accurately speaking, every
issue but one--that of religion.

The charge of impiety, covertly made in former primary contests, as we
have seen, by Lincoln’s own Whig associates, was now publicly urged
against him with far greater earnestness by his Democratic opponents.
What ground they had for their accusations cannot conveniently be
considered at this point. The assailed candidate himself shrewdly
refrained from taking any public notice of the matter, and he impressed
upon his lieutenants the wisdom of exercising similar forbearance. Here
was one of those rare junctures in which your true leader may be
recognized, not so much by what he does as by what he omits to do.
Lincoln confidently left this issue in the hands of the people. They
have on repeated occasions been known to meet it with appropriate vigor,
yet nearly every generation of politicians must be taught the lesson
anew. The man who lays Religion by the heels, and drags her through the
mire of a political campaign for the votes that may adhere to the soiled
vestments, usually bends so low over his narrow course that he does not
see, until too late, the shocked devotees, on the one hand, deserting
him because he has profaned a sacred thing, nor the indignant citizens
on the other, turning from him because he would obtrude sectarian
influences where they have no business--in purely secular affairs. Even
the popularity of a Cartwright sags under such a strain. Moreover, his
sterling character gave him no countervailing advantage in that
particular contest. For when it came to the weighing of these opposing
candidates--cleric against skeptic, saint against sinner--by almost any
voter’s own work-a-day standards, the rectitude of Lincoln’s life at the
bar, no less than the notable honesty of his politics, dressed the
balance between the two champions, so far as practical ethics went, to a
nicety. This left the revulsion from bigotry that touched broad-minded
men in both parties, together with the normal preponderance of the Whigs
and the superior campaigning tactics of their leader, to tip the scales
finally in his favor. As the canvass drew near its close, not a few of
the Democrats are said to have looked upon him with kindly eyes. But
party feelings ran so strong in those days that to support a candidate
on the opposing side involved a wrench to cherished traditions from
which these alien well-wishers, these friends the enemy, naturally, for
the most part, recoiled. One of them, doubtless a typical instance,
coming to Lincoln in such a dilemma, declared himself willing to cast a
Whig ballot if it were needed to defeat Cartwright. The sacrifice, he
thought, should be required only in the event of a very close struggle;
and the Whig captain, accepting this view, agreed to let him know how
the contest stood. Accordingly, right before election-day, Lincoln
having made one of those clever forecasts for which he was noted,
released his provisional recruit with the announcement: “I have got the
preacher, and don’t want your vote.”[v-67]

He certainly did have the preacher. When returns came in, it was found
that a considerable number of Democrats, setting public spirit above
partisan prejudice, after all, had given their adherence to the Whig
nominee. Lincoln led Cartwright at the polls by 1511 votes. How splendid
a victory this was, and how much of it may be credited to Democratic
defections, will be understood when it is recalled that the same
district had, in the preceding presidential campaign, given electors for
Henry Clay, the popular Whig standard-bearer, a plurality of but 914.
“Lincoln’s election by the large majority he received,” said Governor
Reynolds, commenting on the congressional contest some years later, “was
the finest compliment personally and the highest political endorsement
any man could expect, and such as I have never seen surpassed.”[v-68]
These superlatives hardly overstated the case. No previous Whig
campaigner of the district had in fact achieved such results; and so
fully did they justify Lincoln’s persistent demands upon his party for
the nomination that his election must have brought him a double measure
of gratification.

Then, however, came the all but inevitable reaction. That triumph, so
long deferred and so patiently wrought out, fell short of what his
ambitious fancy had pictured. The sub-acid tang, which detracts too
often from our complete enjoyment of life’s sweetest morsels, entered
into the victor’s spirit at the moment of achievement, and left him
disappointed. Addressing his sympathetic friend Speed--the other self of
those days--in much the same vein as the great Roman politician Cicero
was wont to employ toward his intimate Atticus, when eclipsing shadows
of depression marred the joy of some brilliant exploit, Lincoln wrote:
“Being elected to Congress, though I am very grateful to our friends for
having done it, has not pleased me as much as I expected.”[v-69]

     THE END



ALONZO ROTHSCHILD

[Illustration: ALONZO ROTHSCHILD]


The morning that my father finished that concluding paragraph--the last
that he ever wrote--he called mother into the study. With an air of
mysterious solemnity, belied by the twinkle in his eye, he beckoned her
to the desk.

“Meta, if you promise not to tell a soul, I’ll tell you a state secret,”
he said. “I’ve got Lincoln to Congress at last.” Then more earnestly he
continued: “It wasn’t an easy job either. I’ve fought all his battles
side by side with him, and the world will probably never know how hard
we toiled and moiled together.”

These words exactly expressed his relationship to his work. During the
twenty-three years that he devoted to the study and interpretation of
Abraham Lincoln, he lived with him in spirit as the great novelists have
lived with the children of their fancies. Lincoln’s sorrows and triumphs
and defeats were as real to him as those of his own life. It is small
wonder, therefore, that when men who had known Lincoln read _Lincoln,
Master of Men_, they frequently mistook its author for an intimate
contemporary of the great President.

Though not of the same generation as Lincoln, my father’s life was, in a
trivial way, associated with it at the start. He was born in New York
City on the evening of a Lincoln rally at Cooper Union, October 30,
1862. The family physician was at the meeting when the time became ripe
for his services, so my grandfather followed him there, somehow found
him in the vast crowd, and worked upon his sense of duty so that he
consented to forego the speeches, and returned with my grandfather to
the Rothschild home.

One is tempted to speculate whether or not, as the doctor looked down
at the boy whose birth had prevented him from hearing eminent men
discuss the President,--whether or not some confiding Fate whispered to
him a half-articulate prophecy that that same boy was one day to be
among the most deep-seeing interpreters of Abraham Lincoln.

Interesting as this coincidence is, in the light of succeeding
developments, it is, of course, quite devoid of significance. Not until
some years later did Abraham Lincoln actually become an influence in my
father’s life.

Probably it was his father who first planted the seed of admiration for
Lincoln in his mind, for John Rothschild came to America with an influx
of German revolutionists--men of the Carl Schurz stamp--and to him, as
to so many of those who came in that wave of immigration, “Lincoln
became an ideal,--a prophet.”

Just as some knowledge of my father’s parentage helps to an
understanding of his interest in Abraham Lincoln, it enables one better
to comprehend several of his personal characteristics. The thoroughness
that fortified all his undertakings may be attributed to his unmixed
German blood. For his mother as well as his father was German. She was
known as “Beautiful Kate,” but a remarkable amiability that poverty and
the raising of a large family never impaired was her outstanding
characteristic. The evenness of disposition that my father inherited
from her combined strangely with a certain fiery impetuosity and
violence of temper that was of paternal origin, so that his ordinary
mildness and long-suffering sometimes blazed out into a Jovian wrath.
From both parents equally, he derived a sturdy honesty, common sense,
and humor, while to his father in particular he owed a ready wit and
skill in repartee.

Beyond the excellence of his parentage, there was nothing particularly
auspicious about the conditions of my father’s early life. John
Rothschild was an invalid, and his various attempts to get on in the
world were unsuccessful. Furthermore, there were six complications in
the bread-and-butter problem of which my father was the fourth. But
nature had equipped him splendidly for the upward battle that those must
wage who would rise from the ranks. While there cannot have been much
suggestive of the fighter in the frail little chap who was “Lonny”
Rothschild, yet a cool sureness of purpose and virile resourcefulness
often won him the palm in unequal encounters with bullies as well as in
the subtler battles of school and daily life.

There is a story that testifies to his resourcefulness and at the same
time indicates his literary instinct. “Lonny’s” family lived on
Fifty-fourth Street and his school was at Thirteenth Street, two miles
away. He could afford the horse cars only on his way to school, and used
to return afoot. His chum, however, whose parents were in better
circumstances, received two car fares daily and was expected to ride
both ways. One day, by the promise of a story, “Lonny” inveigled the
youngster into walking home with him. The story proved to be an exciting
serial that never ended, so that henceforth the author always had
company on these journeys. And what is more, not only were his spirits
fortified by company, but his inner being was regaled with the
refreshments that he persuaded young Crœsus to buy along the way with
the misappropriated car fares.

Generally speaking, “Lon” did not care much for the company of his
schoolmates or for their games. He preferred a book to a game of ball.
In fact he used habitually to get his one pair of shoes wet so that he
might be allowed to curl up in an armchair before the kitchen stove with
a biography or some standard novel.

There was a periodical shop in the neighborhood, where he spent part of
his spare time, helping the proprietor and, in lieu of pay, gorging
himself indiscriminately on the literature that lined the walls.
Heterodox as it may be to say so, “Jack Harkaway” and the other
yellowbacks which he read there, had a beneficial effect on his style.
They developed the virility and feeling for dramatic sequences that
later constituted his main literary charm.

But perhaps the most germinal of all these early literary habits was his
daily custom of reading the newspaper to his invalid father. Those were
the Reconstruction days, when the blunders of certain of Lincoln’s
successors called forth constant editorial comment on “How Lincoln would
have done it.” The spirit of reverence and admiration for the great
President that the press exhaled must have stimulated tremendously the
hero-worship that had already taken root in the enthusiastic mind of the
lad.

Somewhat of an idealist, as this would suggest, almost from the first,
Alonzo Rothschild was never a mere dreamer. The same balance that
contributed so to his success throughout later life was already
ingrained in his make-up. He was earnest, but fun-loving; frail, yet
red-blooded; youthful, and still mature; idealistic, but none the less
practical.

His practical powers had an opportunity to expand as soon as he was old
enough to run errands. From that time on until he left college, his
summer vacations were spent in the employ of some firm, earning a little
money and learning something of business methods. The first of these
summer positions was with a leather importer, who, largely in jest, set
him the task of making a cable code. What the merchant meant in fun, my
father took in earnest, and some time thereafter he handed his employer
a code so well worked out, and so beautifully written, that for weeks
the man proudly exhibited it to every member of the trade who entered
the office.

Such precocity often engenders superficiality, but his was the rare
brilliance that does not catch at sunbeams, but is content to labor.
This appeared in school as well as in his summer work, for the abstract
desire to do effectively whatever might come to hand was reinforced, in
school, by ambition and directed by a passion for knowledge.

At the age of fourteen he entered the College of the City of New York,
where he took his first independent step into journalism. One of his
summer positions had been with an art magazine which employed him as
“office boy, devil, and General Utility,--his only military
distinction.” The force was small and the office boy’s functions
corresponded with the range of his abilities. He ran errands, received
visitors, read proof or compiled articles for publication, as occasion
demanded.

With this varied experience, as a background, the lad started a college
publication called _The Free Press_. The paper was intrinsically modest,
but when one considers that the bulk of the work was borne by one boy
and that the publication was successful enough to pay that boy’s
expenses, the matter appears in a wholly different light.

He did almost everything connected with _The Free Press_ save the
printing. He wrote the jokes, editorials, stories, and news items. But
so effectively did he attack certain obnoxious faculty measures that he
was compelled to work behind a mask of anonymity, thus forfeiting the
prestige that his achievement would normally have given him in the eyes
of his fellow students.

Although his connection with the paper remained a secret during his
college years, it caused his downfall. So much of his time did the
undertaking absorb that in his junior year, he failed to pass his
examinations. This slump from honors to failure, however, did not
destroy the confidence that his teachers had in his inherent worth, for
when he decided to finish at Cornell, the president of the College gave
him a warm letter of introduction to the president of the other
institution.

The plan to transfer to Cornell was never consummated. His brother
Meyer, who favored it strongly and who was furnishing him the means,
went to Europe that summer on business, and in his absence my father
decided that the hour had come for him to assume a share in his
brother’s burdens. Acting upon this decision, he turned to newspaper
work, and his brother upon his return found him reporting for the
_Commercial Advertiser_. Yet, even with the college doors closing behind
him and the bitter, dubious, financial battle ahead, my father
determined to return to college in ten years. His first news assignment
cannot have cast much of the sunshine of hope upon his ambitions. It was
a dog-show. But he soon demonstrated his ability so conclusively that it
became the rule to billet him for important assignments. And a few
months later he was selected to interview Thomas A. Edison.

He had notable success as an interviewer, a success that he owed to his
scrupulous accuracy. He recognized two obligations,--an obligation to
the newspaper and an obligation to the person who had entrusted him with
the publication of his opinions. But it did not take him long to
discover that in the newspaper world faithful service such as his waits
long for even meager rewards, so after a few months with the _Commercial
Advertiser_, he turned his back on journalism and entered the employ of
a wholesale gem company. There his promotion was steady and he even
learned the business well enough to travel for the firm. After several
years, however, he decided that early financial independence and
consequent freedom for literary pursuits could not come to him if he
remained a “hireling.” He therefore cast about until he found what
seemed an opportunity, and having matured his plans with the precision
of a military strategist, he started out at the age of twenty-two to be
his own employer.

His new venture carried him back again into the field of journalism. The
jewelry trade publications of the day were monthlies or semi-monthlies
and though better than the common run of their contemporaries in trade
journalism, they were contemptible when judged by twentieth-century
journalistic standards. Their only aim was to sell advertising space and
they subordinated everything to that one purpose. Their pages were given
over to “puffs” and inadequate news items, and to dull technical
articles. They published the news or suppressed it at the will of
powerful advertisers.

Mr. Rothschild planned a weekly which was to publish the jewelry news
with the impersonal completeness of a daily newspaper; whose editorial
comment was to be “brief, conservative and absolutely independent of
advertisers”; and in which “puffs” were to be confined to a single
column where brevity and moderation were to obtain. As a partner in the
enterprise, he chose a man whose previous experience in the field led
him to value his services.

A class publication conducted on such principles was an innovation and
the graybeards shook their heads. Their belief that the whole thing was
the disordered dream of a Don Quixote and his Sancho was strengthened
into certainty when it became known that Mr. Rothschild allowed none of
his agents to treat customers. In the light of their experience it was
as necessary to clinch a contract with a drink as it was to ingratiate
one’s self by a judicious suppression of news, and a lavish use of
“puffs.”

Had the founder of _The Jewelers’ Weekly_ been merely an idealist, their
prophecies would have been justified. But so completely did his new
paper cover the activities of the jewelry world that no jeweler could
keep abreast of the trade without reading it. Such an indispensable
organ was logically a valuable advertising medium, and before long
disgruntled advertisers came trooping back with contracts, quite willing
to let the young editor determine his own policies. What those policies
were may be inferred from a law which owes its presence on the statute
books of New York to the activities of _The Jewelers’ Weekly_. The law
is that which forbids a pawnbroker to receive a pledge from any one
under sixteen years of age. The need for it was first revealed by an
exposé in _The Jewelers’ Weekly_ and its passage was due largely to Mr.
Rothschild’s efforts.

Not only was the _Weekly_ a power for good, but its editor, though not
much more than twenty, became the recognized “guide, philosopher, and
friend” of the trade. He took a friendly interest in the affairs of all
his customers, particularly the small men whom it was his delight to
nurse along with advice and assistance, helping them often to achieve
great success.

In this respect and in several others, Mr. Rothschild showed himself to
be no mere seeker after wealth. It is true that he was in business with
the avowed purpose of making a competency rapidly, but while in the game
he played it as much for its own sake as for the prize. Writing in his
diary concerning the famous “Birthday Number,” the finest thing of its
day in trade journalism, he said: “My ambition is to make this the
handsomest and most readable volume ever issued by a trade publication.”
That and similar utterances indicate that his interest in the _Weekly_
was not focused entirely on its money-getting powers.

Because of ill health, his partner withdrew from the firm after a few
years, leaving him a free hand in all departments, editorial and
financial, and he was able to test his theories to the limit. In the six
months following he made the _Weekly_ a landmark in trade journalism
besides increasing its value five times. The principle which built his
success at this time will surprise most business men. It was: “Give the
other fellow a chance to make something too.” In testing this thesis, he
worked out what was probably one of the first profit-sharing plans,
which, like his other attempts to humanize business, justified itself in
dollars and cents.

It was partly this policy of liberality and partly his desire to pave
the way for his farewell to business that induced him, at the zenith of
his success, to take his one-time partner back into the firm, and with
him two other men.

The Jewelers’ Weekly Publishing Company, as it was called, with Mr.
Rothschild as president, then took over _The Jewelers’ Weekly_ and the
allied publications that he had either started or projected. As long as
he remained an active member of the firm, success continued to crown its
undertakings, but after he ceased to have a hand in its conduct the
splendid publication of which he was so proud, languished.

The failure of his colleagues to continue the work he had so
successfully carried on almost single-handed, throws into strong relief
his achievements. He had attained financial independence in six
years--an independence won at cost to no one else and with incidental
benefit to many; he had shown that profits and ethical principles are
not at opposite poles of human endeavor; he had proved the feasibility
of the profit-sharing plan; he had elevated the tone of the jewelry
trade; and he had set new standards in trade journalism.

One would ordinarily feel safe in concluding that a young man who in six
years accomplished so many things had not been able to do much else. Yet
Alonzo Rothschild found opportunity, also, to keep alive his
intellectual interests, to do literary work, and to take an active part
in city politics.

While still in newspaper work he had begun making an elaborate card
index of his reading in the belief that it would be useful in later
literary undertakings. This he continued to enrich during the years that
he was building up the _Weekly_, finding time somehow to do a vast
amount of general reading. His active literary work comprised a very
excellent monograph on Nathan Hale which appeared subsequently in
_America_, a patriotic journal of the day. The research requisite for
the work was considerable and it was only by dogged persistence that Mr.
Rothschild could make any headway. All through his chronicle of those
busy days one comes across references to the Hale manuscript, triumph at
having found time to progress or chagrin at being delayed. One of these
passages throws so much light upon his character that it is worth
quoting. He writes: “The Hale notes hardly seem to move. I get so little
time for them. I am tempted to discontinue them for the present, but I
have never yet failed in anything I started to accomplish and I will not
begin now. We’ll crawl ahead as best we can.”

Despite the conflicting interests that he complains of, he still found
time to do his part in politics. He was one of the founders of the Good
Government Movement--“Goo-Goos,” as they were called--and the youngest
member of its Executive Council. When the organization was forming, a
body of naturalized Germans asked to be affiliated, proposing to
designate their branch as German-American. Without any heed to the
possible political consequences of such a course, Mr. Rothschild argued
against affiliation with any society that maintained a hyphenated
character. He said: “There is no such thing as a German-American. These
men are either American or they are not. If their patriotism is
equivocal and they persist in tying strings to it, we must have nothing
to do with them.” Such an attitude in one whose tenderest associations
were all in some sense German is strikingly indicative of an unbiased,
logical mind.

Mr. Rothschild’s activities were not even confined to politics, study,
and literary work. He was also prominent among the younger members of
the Society for Ethical Culture. He had a way of giving an original turn
to a discussion or of putting a question in a clearer, more spiritual
light that attracted Dr. Adler and the latter asked him to write a book
on the _Morals of Trade_ and to become a member of the society’s lecture
staff.

Few young men would have been dissatisfied with a lot so varied and rich
as his, yet this many-sided man longed for something different. Neither
was this a vague dissatisfaction. Ever since he left college he had
hoped, one day, to make good the deficiencies of his education.
Somewhere in these days came also the ambition to write about Abraham
Lincoln.

One of the marvels of his career is that he should have realized his
ideals. Other men have tried to do what he did and have failed because
money, instead of remaining a means to them, became the object. Yet at
no time did he let the brilliant present loom large enough in his mind
to shut out the future. At the flood-tide of his success, one finds this
passage in his diary: “How I long for the day when, free from business
cares, I can give my whole time and attention to literary work!”
Another, further on, shows that with increased prosperity he grew even
more restive. It reads: “Five more months of my last money-grubbing year
have passed. They were more agreeable than I expected them to be. I long
for the day when some other sound than the chink of the golden guinea
will charm my ear. It is siren music.... Let me steer my bark through
the high seas of moral and intellectual progress toward--well, we shall
see! How I long for the day of my freedom!”

Finally the day of freedom did come and then my father made good his old
vow to return to college, entering Harvard University as a special
student at the age of twenty-eight. His year there was one of almost
cloister-like tranquillity and yet it was marked by achievement. In
addition to his studies he found opportunity to write a series of
newspaper articles on the Elective System, then being introduced by
President Eliot. The latter evinced great interest in his work and went
far out of his way to furnish him with data.

Shortly after his return to New York from Harvard, Mr. Rothschild met
Miss Meta Robitscheck, who subsequently became his wife. She was
heartily in sympathy with his aspirations and agreed with him that the
work he planned could be done better away from the distractions of the
metropolis. Accordingly, they went, immediately after their wedding, to
Cambridge, wrenching themselves away from lifelong associations. This
action seemed to others even more unjustifiable than my father’s
premature withdrawal from business, but neither he nor his partner in
the enterprise ever regretted their course.

The two years at Cambridge were an auspicious beginning for the
intellectual life. There my mother took special courses at Radcliffe
until my birth increased her responsibilities, and there my father began
his study of Abraham Lincoln. It was his plan at first to write a set of
monographs on Lincoln and his Cabinet, but an investigation of the
material revealed possibilities for more ambitious work, and gradually
the great scheme matured of which _Lincoln, Master of Men_, and this
book are merely parts, the whole to have been a cycle of books treating
Lincoln’s character from all angles. Having set himself this monumental
task of reconstructing a personality, my father decided to find a quiet
spot where he might settle down to work and where his family could grow
up. He finally discovered in the village of East Foxboro, twenty-two
miles south of Boston, a hundred-year-old house surrounded by more than
one hundred acres of land that suited him and my mother, and there they
moved in the fall of 1897. It was in this place that Ruth and Miriam
were born and that my father passed the last eighteen years of his life
in the happy realization of the dreams of his youth.

Though absorbed in his chosen work, he somehow found time to foster
other interests, just as in the New York days. From the very first, he
was a guiding voice in the town councils. He gained the confidence of
the people by his absolute straightforwardness and their support by his
sound judgment. Only once did he consent to hold office, but he never
withheld his assistance, serving on many committees and doing all manner
of valuable work. He might as well have been a town official, for
usually, when there was constructive work to be done, the selectmen came
to him for guidance. People seemed instinctively to turn to him for
assistance. Shortly after he moved to East Foxboro, the inhabitants
asked him if he would be their leader in a legislative fight for
independence from Foxboro. For years they had nursed their grievances
and waited for a Moses to lead them out of bondage. They complained,
very justly, that they had been paying taxes and asking in vain for
their share of the appropriations. The streets were in bad condition,
the schoolhouse falling to decay, and on every hand were evidences of a
very palpable wrong. Somewhere, somehow Mr. Rothschild had got a
remarkably sound knowledge of law. He drew up a petition of separation
and led the fight against the parent town, in the legislature. The facts
of the case were plainly in favor of the petition, and it would have
been granted, had not the member from Foxboro log-rolled long before the
bill came up. Although defeated in his effort to make East Foxboro a
separate town, Mr. Rothschild virtually won a victory, for ever since
that time the village has enjoyed fair treatment from the parent town.

A number of years later East Foxboro called upon Mr. Rothschild to go
before the state authorities to procure a water district charter. He
drew up the charter and saw to its enactment, thus saving the district
several thousand dollars in attorneys’ fees. And, what is more, his
charter embodied such improvements that it has since been the model for
new water districts in Massachusetts.

Nor were Mr. Rothschild’s public services confined to his own community.
He was instrumental in procuring the passage of a law that compels every
town in Massachusetts to employ the services of a superintendent of
schools. He was also one of those who tried, with partial success, to
get the State to compel the railroads to burn crude oil in their
locomotives and thus put an end to the forest fires caused by flying
coal sparks.

Save for such public services to his community and to the State, my
father devoted most of his time to his study of Abraham Lincoln. It is
true that he was vice-president of the Lincoln Fellowship, a director of
the Free Religious Association, a member of the Anti-Imperialist League,
of the Massachusetts Peace Society, and of the Massachusetts Reform
Club, but none of these organizations claimed much of his time.

In 1901 he was a delegate to the Anti-Imperialist Convention at
Indianapolis, but barring this and occasional short business or
pleasure trips, he spent his time quietly at “Brook Farm” educating his
family; entertaining his friends; farming a little; helping those who
turned to him for advice from all sides; and carrying on his work. In
1906 this study bore its first fruit in the volume _Lincoln, Master of
Men_.

His premature death at the age of fifty-three prevented him from quite
completing _Honest Abe_. Had he finished this book, however, he would
merely have taken Lincoln a little further in his political career and
added to proof that already amply sustains his thesis.

It is given to few to meet death so exquisitely as he did,--alone,
without suffering, in the presence only of Nature. On the morning of
September 29, 1915, after a game of tennis with my mother, he went down
to the lake alone for a plunge. He was missed some hours later, and a
search discovered him dead in the water--a victim of heart failure
caused by the icy shock.

His life was a candle that, burning with an unusually generous and
beautiful flame, consumed itself before the appointed hour.

       *       *       *       *       *

One of my father’s friends used to say, “The real thing never looks the
part.” Like most epigrams his is too inclusive. My father, for example,
did most thoroughly look the part. Literary admirers who met him in the
flesh were not disillusioned and those other persons who came in casual
contact with him rarely hesitated to class him as a student,--though
beyond that point opinions diverged. Some set him down for a physician,
others for a lawyer, still others as a college professor, and a few of
the keenest for what he really was,--a man of letters. His physical
traits, clothes, and manner were--contrary to his friend’s epigram--true
indices to his personality and occupation.

A trifle below the medium stature, my father had a distinction of air
that many a taller man might have envied. That dignity--courtly at
times--was due to a subtle blending of distinct characteristics. To say
that he owed it to his well-built, muscular figure, or to his erect
carriage, would be palpably inaccurate. Such a description might fit
many a substantial bourgeois, whereas Alonzo Rothschild, despite his
plain tastes, was far more the patrician. One would have had to imagine
him with another head and other hands to consider him bourgeois. Such
long, white, blue-veined hands belong to the proverbial gentleman; such
delicate skin is an attribute of gentle birth; such a head is seen only
on those who do the world’s thinking. Admirably moulded, it put one in
mind of a well-built house,--good in its lines and roomy inside. The
broad, dome-like forehead--exaggerated by partial baldness--and the
full, gray-brown beard were almost unmistakable indications of the
scholar. Yet quite as distinctly were the silkiness of his black hair,
the well-set, finely cut features, the sparse eyebrows, and the curling
nostrils, marks of the aristocrat. But it was the kindliness and swift
intelligence of his hazel eyes that gave his face its mobility of
expression. Passions and moods played across it as freely as the lights
and shadows of the sky are reflected on the surface of a summer meadow.

As his appearance bespoke, my father was physically and nervously of
delicate fiber. His sense of touch, for example, was hypersensitive, and
it was amusing, at table, to see how gingerly he handled hot plates. He
was, however, in no sense unmanly and too often suffered acutely in
silence. In fact he could much better bear suffering himself than
witness it in others. Not infrequently when some member of the family
was in pain, he became similarly afflicted through sheer sympathy.

Sometimes his constitutional intensity manifested itself in quite a
different manner. Ordinarily mild-tempered and patient, he was capable
of a withering wrath. Relentless, and concentrating in itself all his
physical and intellectual forces, it could flare up without warning, or
wait years for an opportune moment, and then sweep upon the chosen
enemy like a rain of fire. Crushing as the effect of such an outburst
was upon its victim, it was hardly less disastrous in its physical
reaction upon himself.

Irritability and violence of temper constituted in his case the enemy
that every man carries within himself. It is evident that he recognized
his cardinal fault, for he kept a little card perched on his inkstand
bearing this proverb in his own handwriting: “Mensch ärger dich nicht.”

Usually people so highly organized are difficult to live with, but my
father was a striking exception. Save for such occasional outbursts as
have already been alluded to, he was of a sunny disposition and most
considerate in his personal relationships. Those whose duty it was to
minister to his comfort and physical well-being found him easy to
please. He was austerely plain in matters of dress and neither knew nor
cared what he ate. Indeed, when mentally absorbed, he forgot his meals,
and it is said that while he was editing _The Jewelers’ Weekly_ he ate
lunch only if one of his friends came and dragged him out. Even had he
been more exacting and given freer rein to his moods, his personal charm
would have been sufficient counterbalance. His resonant voice, buoyancy,
and ready sympathy would alone have made him a pleasant companion. Then,
too, he had an almost magical influence over all who came within his
range of acquaintance, stimulating the best that they had in them, and
bringing it to the surface.

His interest in humanity was not limited by age or sex. He had a great
tenderness for children and a power over their affections that was but
another phase of his diverse nature. He made a capital playmate, as his
own children well remember, and the serious concerns of the grown-up
world never so shackled him that he could not shake them off for a romp,
or a song, to invent a new game or to play some old favorite. Like many
other men who have done big things, he never entirely lost a certain
boyishness that cropped out occasionally in whimsical little pranks.
One of these is so superior to the general run of practical jokes that
it bears narrating.

It was in _The Jewelers’ Weekly_ days. He was returning to New York from
a trip to Albany and some friends had accompanied him to the train.
While they were waiting, my father accidentally dropped a half-dollar
and one of the young ladies, picking it up, vowed that she would keep it
as a remembrance. My father pleaded with mock concern that he needed it
to complete his fare, but she, disbelieving him, clung to it the more
firmly. She was correct in her assumption that he had plenty of money
with him, but on the train he decided that the fifty cents should earn
him some fun and not be a total loss.

On arriving in New York, he went to his printer and had him strike off a
mock newspaper clipping which narrated how a young man, giving his name
as Alonzo Rothschild, had been ejected from the Chicago Limited because
he lacked part of the fare; how he maintained that it had been stolen
from him by a Miss L---- of Albany, and how he was last seen trudging
toward New York.

Not only was the young lady contrite over her playful theft, but she was
enraged at the newspaper that would print such a story about her, and
for a long time she begged my father to divulge the name so that she
might bring suit.

This story well illustrates the exuberant, playful humor that brightened
his whole life and that made our dinner table more famous for puns,
jokes, and repartee than for good cheer of the other sort. But there is
another anecdote of this period which throws more light on his
character.

One day a gentleman who knew the family was walking through Mount Morris
Park, in New York, when he noticed a bareheaded young man seated on a
park bench and absorbed in a book. Approaching along the path he was
surprised to recognize my father, and on reaching the bench he was still
more astonished to see that his forehead swarmed with mosquitoes.

“Didn’t expect to see you here, Lon,” he sang out. My father started at
the unexpected sound of the voice as if he had been shot, and looked up.
“Why, hello, Sid, I’m just studying,” he said. “It looks more as if you
were mosquito farming,” his friend replied. “Why don’t you brush them
off?” “Oh, I want them there,” my father answered. “I don’t concentrate
the way I ought to and I’m learning how.”

The discipline must have been effectual, for while interruptions annoyed
him exceedingly, the mere presence of people in the study while he
worked never disturbed him. For years my youngest sister spent her
mornings on the rug beside his desk, and while she cut out paper dolls
and crooned to herself, he wrote.

My father was capable, not only of great concentration, but also of
unity of purpose. Gifted with a variety of talents and innumerable
opportunities to exercise them, he remained--save for unavoidable
digressions--a one-job man. He consistently refused tempting offers to
address audiences, to undertake other literary labors, or to go into
politics, and always with the same answer, that he had a task to do and
must not stop until he had finished. He could have made himself a
prominent figure in the public eye, but he found greater satisfaction in
quietly doing work of permanent value.

Singleness of purpose and concentration were only two of the several
qualities that made Alonzo Rothschild a man of strength. What had been
willful stubbornness in his childhood crystallized, later in life, into
dogged persistence. How great a factor it was in his successes may be
judged from his own words. Once in speaking of his past life he said, “I
have never really wanted a thing without getting it.”

In addition to this driving force he had the gift of silence. Not that
he was what is known as a man of few words, nor that he was loath to
express definite opinions, but he knew how to keep his own counsels. He
rarely discussed a plan until its success was assured, and concerning
his literary work, he was almost secretive. This reticence in discussing
himself was due somewhat to discreetness, somewhat to good taste, but
largely to his doctrine of work and to his constitutional objectivity.
He believed that the world’s interest should focus on the work, not on
the author. He despised the man whose personality was more discussed
than his work and seemed to have little sympathy for him who made his
pen a vehicle for expression of self. In this prejudice one can read the
influence of Addison, and others of the classical school,--the masters
whom he followed in forming his style.

Almost equal to his admiration for literature that definitely “gets
somewhere” was his impatience with leisurely, descriptive, digressive
writing, however charming its meanderings might be. The full measure of
his scorn, however, was reserved for “precious” writers such as Walter
Pater, whose involved, mannered style and somewhat luscious thought were
peculiarly offensive to one who prized virility, lightness of touch, and
lucid directness, as he did.

Between his literary work and his fine business instinct there was a
connecting bond. He applied to research the methods of a highly trained
business expert. The results can best be described by quoting his own
words: “I can,” he said, “go into my study and at a moment’s notice lay
my hand on the references covering any point in Lincoln’s life.”

Such a complete mastery of the subject bespeaks a laborious thoroughness
that one associates with such names as Stradivari; a striving for
perfection suggestive of the days of hand-made things. With the care of
a master cabinet-maker choosing his woods, he collected facts,
subjecting them to the same searching scrutiny to which the
cabinet-maker subjects the woods in a hunt for hidden flaws. Then having
tested his materials, he put them together--fitting, readjusting, and
polishing, with all the care of the cabinet-maker--until he had done a
work that would stand for all time. He wrote with a deliberateness that
might seem laughable to those unacquainted with the art of authorship,
never permitting a sentence to stand until every word rang true even
though it were to take hours in the writing. Like Ben Jonson he realized
that, “Who casts to write a living line must sweat.” It may seem a
trivial matter, but none the less it is significant of the spirit in
which he worked, that the printers who set up _Lincoln, Master of Men_,
found the manuscript one of the most faultless that they had ever
handled.

The grasp of detail here exemplified, supplemented by clearness of
judgment, originality, and foresight, constituted a rare intellectual
fitness. It is not uncommon to find a man of constructive ability or one
who is a good administrator, but the two qualities are rarely found
together. Where they are associated, one has a man equipped for high
service. With such an endowment of all-round effectiveness, Alonzo
Rothschild could have attained leadership in any one of many fields of
human endeavor.

There were lines, however, along which my father was little developed.
His tastes in music and art were plain, not to say plebeian. Nor was he
of a deeply poetic or metaphysical cast of mind. The older he grew, the
more he centered his attention upon international, ethical, and social
questions, and the less upon abstract metaphysical inquiries. A Jew by
birth, he early settled down to agnosticism, though never quite
contentedly. As a young man he had been strongly attracted by Theosophy,
but finding nothing substantial on which to base a belief he sadly gave
it up and lapsed back into agnosticism. Still all through his life
Theosophy flitted before his eyes as an unattained desire and he often
expressed the wish that he could accept its beautiful philosophy. That
he had a strong religious instinct is further testified by his own words
about sacred music. He writes: “Irreligious as I am, sacred music when
well played on the organ has a powerful influence on me. It makes me
feel sometimes as if I were inspired--as if I could seize my pen and
write something worth reading.”

Though too much a man of the world to be a poet in the strict meaning of
the word, he was one in the larger sense of magnificence of conceptions,
elevated thoughts, and high purposes.

It is interesting in this connection to consider what influence his
almost lifelong study of Abraham Lincoln may have had on his character.
It would seem that in his great simplicity, he must have been directly
influenced by Lincoln. Like him, he considered himself a plain man, and
he contented himself with a plain man’s share of the world’s luxuries.
He rarely rode in a parlor-car and could satisfy his hunger as
contentedly at a dairy lunch as in a hotel dining-room. He cared nothing
for the appearance of things.

The last eighteen years of his life he spent in a plain old farmhouse.
There was nothing about its exterior to distinguish it from thousands of
other New England farmhouses, but once inside, the visitor found himself
in “a city of books.” In other respects he found the house as
unpretentious inside as it appeared from without. It lacked no comforts
or conveniences, but there was no studied attempt at decoration. It was
quite evidently the home of a man who valued only the genuine things of
life.

And yet, with all its simplicity, that house was a Mecca toward which
turned many feet. All sorts of people came there, knowing that none ever
went away without being enriched. For one it was new inspiration; for
another the solution of some vexing problem, or perhaps a fresh grasp on
his whole life. They knew that the man who dwelt there was never too
busy or too weary to help his fellow men, and they came like tired
children for comfort or for help. They knew him to be a man of warm
sympathies, a brave man, an honest man, and a man strong enough to help
shoulder their burdens. How many realized as they sat there, quietly
talking with him, smiling with him, laughing with him, that this man who
seemed so like themselves was--in the language of one grateful old
lady--a “prince of men” in whom were all the elements of true greatness.

JOHN ROTHSCHILD.


CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS,
_April, 1917_.



A LIST OF BOOKS CITED

WITH THE CORRESPONDING ABBREVIATIONS USED IN THE NOTES


     _Archer’s Ethical Obligations_: Ethical Obligations of the Lawyer.
     By Gleason Leonard Archer. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1910.

     _Arnold_: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. By Isaac N. Arnold. Seventh
     Edition. Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co. 1896.

     _Atkinson_: The Boyhood of Lincoln. By Eleanor Atkinson. New York:
     The McClure Company. 1908.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Banks_: The Lincoln Legion. The Story of Its Founder and
     Forerunners. By Rev. Louis Albert Banks, D.D. Illustrated with
     Drawings by Arthur I. Keller and Photographs. New York: The Mershon
     Company. 1903.

     _Barrett, New_: Abraham Lincoln and His Presidency. By Joseph H.
     Barrett, LL.D. Illustrated. In Two Volumes. Cincinnati: The Robert
     Clarke Company. 1904.

     _Barrett_: Life of Abraham Lincoln. Presenting his early history,
     political career, and speeches in and out of Congress. By Joseph H.
     Barrett. Cincinnati: Moore, Wilstach & Baldwin. 1865.

     _Bartlett_: The Life and Public Services of Abraham Lincoln. With a
     Portrait on Steel. To which is added a biographical sketch of Hon.
     Hannibal Hamlin. By D. W. Bartlett. New York: H. Dayton. 1860.

     _Bateman_: Abraham Lincoln; an address. By Newton Bateman.
     Galesburg, Ill.: Cadmus Club Publications. 1899.

     _Binney_: The Life of Horace Binney, with selections from his
     letters. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company. 1903.

     _Binns_: Abraham Lincoln. By Henry Bryan Binns. London: J. M. Dent
     & Co. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. 1907.

     _Boyden_: Echoes from Hospital and White House. A Record of Mrs.
     Rebecca R. Pomroy’s Experience in War-Times. By Anna L. Boyden.
     Boston: D. Lothrop & Co. 1884.

     _Brady_: Washington and Lincoln. A comparison, a contrast, and a
     consequence. An address delivered on June 18, 1904, at Valley
     Forge, Penna. before the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the
     Revolution: to commemorate the abandonment of the camp by the
     continental army in 1778. By Cyrus Townsend Brady. Philadelphia:
     Sons of the Revolution, Pennsylvania Society Publications. 1904.

     _Brockett_: The Life and Times of Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth
     President of the United States. By L. P. Brockett, M.D.
     Philadelphia: Bradley & Co. 1865.

     _Brooks_: Abraham Lincoln and the Downfall of American Slavery. By
     Noah Brooks. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. 1896.

     _Brougham’s Works_: Works of Henry Peter Brougham, First Baron
     Brougham and Vaux. Seven volumes. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles
     Black. 1872.

     _Browne_: The Every-day Life of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s life and
     character portrayed by those who knew him. Prepared and arranged by
     Francis F. Browne. St. Louis: William G. Hills. 1896.

     _Browne’s Lincoln and Men_: Abraham Lincoln and the Men of his
     Time. By Robert H. Browne, M.D. Two volumes. Cincinnati: Jennings &
     Pye. New York: Eaton & Mains. 1901.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Campbell’s Reports_: Reports of cases determined at nisi prius in
     the courts of King’s Bench and Common Pleas, and on Circuit. Four
     Volumes. By John, Baron Campbell. New York: Riley. 1810-1816.

     _Carpenter_: The Inner Life of Abraham Lincoln. Six Months at the
     White House. By F. B. Carpenter. New York: Hurd & Houghton. 1867.

     _Caton_: Miscellanies. By John Dean Caton. Boston: Houghton, Osgood
     & Co. 1880.

     _Chiniquy_: Fifty years in the Church of Rome. By Father Chiniquy,
     the apostle of temperance in Canada. 3d Edition. Chicago: Craig &
     Barlow. 1886.

     _Chittenden_: Recollections of President Lincoln and his
     Administration. By L. E. Chittenden, his Register of the Treasury.
     New York: Harper & Bros. 1891.

     _Clarke_: James Freeman Clarke. Autobiography, Diary, and
     Correspondence. Edited by Edward Everett Hale. Boston and New York:
     Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1891.

     _Coffin_: Abraham Lincoln. By Charles Carleton Coffin. New York:
     Harper & Bros. 1893.

     _Curtis’s Lincoln_: The True Abraham Lincoln. By William Eleroy
     Curtis. Philadelphia and London: J. B. Lippincott Co. 1904.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Davidson_: A Complete History of Illinois from 1673 to 1873. By
     Alexander Davidson and Bernard Stuvé. Springfield: Illinois Journal
     Co. 1874.

     _Debates_: Political Debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A.
     Douglas, in the Celebrated Campaign of 1858 in Illinois. Including
     the preceding speeches of each at Chicago, Springfield, etc. Also
     the Two Great Speeches of Abraham Lincoln in Ohio in 1859.
     Cleveland: O. S. Hubbell & Co. 1895.

     _Dodge_: Abraham Lincoln, the evolution of his literary style. By
     Daniel Kilham Dodge. Champaign, Ill.: University of Illinois. 1900.

     _Douglass_: Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. Written by
     himself. His early life as a slave, his escape from bondage, and
     his complete history to the present time. With an introduction by
     Mr. George L. Ruffin of Boston. Hartford, Conn.: Park Publishing
     Co. 1881.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Edmonds_: Facts and Falsehoods concerning the war on the South,
     1861-1865. By George Edmonds. Memphis, Tenn.: Taylor & Co. 1904.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Flower_: Edwin McMasters Stanton, the Autocrat of the Rebellion,
     Emancipation, and Reconstruction. By Frank Abial Flower. Akron,
     Ohio: The Saalfield Publishing Co. 1905.

     _French_: Abraham Lincoln, the Liberator. A biographical sketch. By
     Charles Wallace French. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. 1891.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Gallaher_: Best Lincoln Stories, tersely told. By J. E. Gallaher.
     Chicago: James E. Gallaher & Co. 1898.

     _Gillespie_: Recollections of early Illinois and her noted men.
     Read before the Chicago Historical Society, March 16, 1880. By Hon.
     Joseph Gillespie, Judge of Circuit Court of Madison County
     District. Chicago: Fergus Printing Co. 1880.

     _Greeley_: Greeley on Lincoln. With Mr. Greeley’s Letters to
     Charles A. Dana and a Lady Friend. To which are added reminiscences
     of Horace Greeley. Edited by Joel Benton. New York: The Baker &
     Taylor Co. 1893.

     _Gridley_: The Story of Abraham Lincoln, or the Journey from the
     Log Cabin to the White House. By Eleanor Gridley, Secretary of the
     Lincoln Log Cabin Association. Copyright, 1902, by Eleanor Gridley.

     _Gridley’s Defense_: Lincoln’s Defense of Duff Armstrong. The story
     of the trial and the celebrated almanac. By J. N. Gridley. Reprint
     from the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society: April,
     1910.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Hamlin_: The Life and Times of Hannibal Hamlin. By his grandson,
     Charles Eugene Hamlin. Cambridge: The Riverside Press. 1899.

     _Hanaford_: Abraham Lincoln: His Life and Public Services. By Mrs.
     P. A. Hanaford. Boston: B. B. Russell & Co. 1865.

     _Hapgood_: Abraham Lincoln, the Man of the People. By Norman
     Hapgood. New York: The Macmillan Company. 1899.

     _Hart’s Sketch_: A Biographical Sketch of Abraham Lincoln. By
     Charles Henry Hart. Reprinted from the introduction to
     Bibliographia Lincolniana. Albany: Munsell. 1870.

     _Haynie_: The Captains and the Kings. Anecdotes and biographical
     notes on contemporary celebrities. By Henry Haynie. New York:
     Frederick A. Stokes Co. 1904.

     _Herndon_: Abraham Lincoln. The True Story of a Great Life. By
     William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik. With an introduction by
     Horace White. Illustrated. In Two Volumes. New York: D. Appleton &
     Co. 1896.

     _Hill_: Lincoln, The Lawyer. By Frederick Trevor Hill. New York:
     The Century Company. 1906.

     _Hilliard’s Memoir_: Politics and Pen Pictures at home and abroad.
     By Henry Washington Hilliard. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. 1892.

     _Hitchcock_: Nancy Hanks. The Story of Abraham Lincoln’s Mother. By
     Caroline Hanks Hitchcock. New York: Doubleday & McClure Co. 1899.

     _Hobson_: Footprints of Abraham Lincoln. Presenting Many
     Interesting Facts, Reminiscences, and Illustrations Never Before
     Published. By J. T. Hobson, D.D., LL.B., author of “The Lincoln
     Year Book.” Dayton, Ohio: The Otterbein Press. 1909.

     _Holland_: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. By J. G. Holland.
     Springfield, Mass.: Gurdon Bill. 1866.

     _Howells_: Lives and Speeches of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal
     Hamlin. By W. D. Howells and John L. Hayes. Columbus, O.: Follett,
     Foster & Co. 1860.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Irelan_: The Republic; or A History of the United States of
     America in The Administrations, From the Monarchic Colonial Days to
     the Present Times. By John Robert Irelan, M.D. In Eighteen Volumes.
     Chicago: Fairbanks and Palmer Publishing Co. 1888.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Jayne_: Abraham Lincoln. Personal Reminiscences of the martyred
     President. An address delivered by William Jayne to the Grand Army
     Hall and Memorial Association, February 12, 1900. Chicago: The
     Grand Army Hall and Memorial Assn. 1908.

     _Jennings_: Abraham Lincoln, The Greatest American. By Janet
     Jennings. Dedicated to the plain people of the Nation he saved--To
     the University of Wisconsin that honors his memory. Copyright,
     1909, by Janet Jennings. Madison, Wis.

     _Jones_: Lincoln, Stanton, and Grant. Historical Sketches. By Major
     Evan Rowland Jones. London: Frederick Warne & Co. 1875.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Keckley_: Behind the Scenes. By Elizabeth Keckley, formerly a
     slave, but more recently modiste, and friend of Mrs. Abraham
     Lincoln. Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White
     House. New York: G. W. Carleton & Co. 1868.

     _Ketcham_: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. By Henry Ketcham. New York:
     A. L. Burt Co. 1901.

     _Koerner_: Memoirs. Life sketches written at the suggestion of his
     children. By Gustav Philipp Koerner. Edited by Thomas J. McCormack.
     2 Volumes. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: The Torch Press. 1909.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Lamon_: The Life of Abraham Lincoln; from his Birth to his
     Inauguration as President. By Ward H. Lamon. Boston: James R.
     Osgood & Co. 1872.

     _Lamon’s Recollections_: Recollections of Abraham Lincoln, 1847-65.
     By Ward Hill Lamon. Edited by Dorothy Lamon. Chicago: A. C. McClurg
     & Co. 1895.

     _Larwood’s Humor of Law_: Humor of the Law. Forensic anecdotes. By
     Jacob Larwood [pseudonym for L. R. Sadler]. London: Chatto &
     Windus. 1903.

     _Leland_: Abraham Lincoln and the Abolition of Slavery in the
     United States. By Charles Godfrey Leland. New York: Merrill &
     Baker. 1879.

     _Lewis’s Great American Lawyers_: Great American Lawyers. A history
     of the legal profession in America. (University Edition.) Eight
     volumes. Edited by William Draper Lewis. Philadelphia: The John C.
     Winston Co. 1907-1909.

     _Liber Scriptorum_: The First Book of the Authors’ Club. Liber
     Scriptorum. New York: Published by the Authors’ Club. 1893.

     _Lincoln and Douglas_: Abraham Lincoln. A Paper Read before The
     Royal Historical Society, London, June 16, 1881. By Hon. Isaac N.
     Arnold, F.R.H.S. Stephen A. Douglas: An Eulogy Delivered before the
     Chicago University, July 3, 1861. By Hon. James W. Sheahan.
     Chicago: Fergus Printing Co. 1881.

     _Lincolnics_: Familiar Sayings of Abraham Lincoln. Collected and
     Edited by Henry Llewellyn Williams. New York and London: G. P.
     Putnam’s Sons. 1906.

     _Ludlow_: President Lincoln, Self-Pourtrayed. By John Malcolm
     Ludlow. Published for the benefit of the British Foreign Freedmen’s
     Aid Society. London: Alfred W. Bennett; Alexander Strahan;
     Hamilton, Adams & Co. 1866.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _McCulloch_: Men and Measures of Half a Century. Sketches and
     Comments. By Hugh McCulloch. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
     1889.

     _MacChesney_: Abraham Lincoln. The Tribute of a Century, 1809-1909.
     Commemorative of the Lincoln Centenary and containing the principal
     speeches made in connection therewith. Edited by Nathan William
     MacChesney. Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co. 1910.

     _McClure’s Stories_: Abraham Lincoln’s Stories and Speeches. Edited
     by J. B. McClure, A.M. Chicago: Rhodes & McClure Publishing Co.
     1899.

     _McClure’s Yarns_: “Abe” Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories. A complete
     collection of the funny and witty anecdotes that made Lincoln
     famous as America’s Greatest Story Teller. With introduction and
     anecdotes by Colonel Alexander K. McClure of the Philadelphia
     Times, a personal friend and adviser of the Story-Telling
     President. The Story of Lincoln’s Life told by himself in his
     stories. Wit and Humor of the War, the Courts, the Backwoods, and
     the White House. Copyright by Henry Neil, 1901.

     Magruder’s Marshall: John Marshall. By Allan B. Magruder. Boston:
     Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1899.

     _Markens_: President Lincoln and the Jews. By Isaac Markens. New
     York: Printed for the Author. 1909.

     _Master_: Lincoln, Master of Men. A Study in Character. By Alonzo
     Rothschild. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin Company. 1906.

     _Merrick’s Narrative_: Old Times on the Upper Mississippi. The
     Recollections of a Steam-Boat Pilot from 1854 to 1863. By George
     Byron Merrick. Cleveland, Ohio: The Arthur H. Clark Co. 1909.

     _Morgan_: Abraham Lincoln, The Boy and the Man. By James Morgan.
     New York: The Macmillan Company. 1908.

     _Morgan’s Henry_: The True Patrick Henry. By George Morgan.
     Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co. 1907.

     _Morse_: Abraham Lincoln. By John T. Morse, Jr. Two volumes. Boston
     and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1896.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Newton_: Lincoln and Herndon. By Joseph Fort Newton. Cedar Rapids,
     Iowa: The Torch Press. 1910.

     _Nicolay_: A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln. Condensed from Nicolay
     and Hay’s Abraham Lincoln. By John G. Nicolay. New York: The
     Century Company. 1904.

     _Nicolay’s Boys’ Life_: The Boys’ Life of Abraham Lincoln. By Helen
     Nicolay. New York: The Century Company. 1906.

     _Nicolay & Hay_: Abraham Lincoln, A History. By John G. Nicolay and
     John Hay. Ten Volumes. New York: The Century Company. 1890.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Oldroyd_: The Lincoln Memorial. Album-Immortelles. Original Life
     Pictures, with autographs, from the hands and hearts of eminent
     Americans and Europeans, contemporaries of the great martyr to
     liberty, Abraham Lincoln. Together with extracts from his
     speeches, letters, and sayings. Collected and edited by Osborn H.
     Oldroyd. With an introduction by Matthew Simpson, D.D., LL.D., and
     a sketch of the patriot’s life by Hon. Isaac N. Arnold. Chicago:
     Gem Publishing House. 1883.

     _Onstot_: Pioneers of Menard and Mason Counties. Made up of
     personal reminiscences of an early life in Menard County, which we
     gathered in a Salem life from 1830 to 1840, and a Petersburg life
     from 1840 to 1850, including personal reminiscences of Abraham
     Lincoln and Peter Cartright. By T. G. Onstot. Forest City,
     Illinois: T. G. Onstot. 1902.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Parkinson’s Tour in America_: A tour in America, in 1798, 1799,
     and 1800. Exhibiting sketches of society and manners, and a
     particular account of the American system of agriculture. By
     Richard Parkinson. London: J. Harding. 1805.

     _Paul_: Massachusetts’ practice with reference to proceedings
     before masters and auditors, and their reports. Boston: Little,
     Brown & Co. 1909.

     _Phillips’s, Men who knew_: Abraham Lincoln, by some men who knew
     him. Being personal recollections of Judge Owen T. Reeves, Hon.
     Jas. S. Ewing, Col. Richard P. Morgan, Judge Franklin Blades, John
     W. Bunn. With introduction by Hon. Isaac N. Phillips. Bloomington,
     Ill.: Pantagraph Printing and Stationery Co. 1910.

     _Pratt_: Lincoln in Story. The Life of the Martyr-President told in
     Authenticated Anecdotes. Edited by Silas G. Pratt. Illustrated. New
     York: D. Appleton & Co. 1901.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Ram_: A treatise on facts as subjects of inquiry by a jury. Fourth
     American Edition. Edited by John Townshend, and additional notes by
     Charles F. Beach, Jr. Also appendix. New York: Baker, Voorhis & Co.
     1890.

     _Raymond_: The Life and Public Services of Abraham Lincoln,
     Sixteenth President of the United States, together with his State
     Papers. By Henry J. Raymond. To which are added anecdotes and
     personal reminiscences of President Lincoln. By Frank B. Carpenter.
     New York: Derby & Miller. 1865.

     _Rice_: Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln. By distinguished men of
     his time. Collected and edited by Allen Thorndike Rice. New York:
     The North American Review. 1888.

     _Salkeld’s Reports_: Reports in French and English, containing
     cases heard and determined in the court of King’s Bench, during the
     time that Sir Robert Foster, Sir Robert Hyde, and Sir John Kelyng
     were chief Justices there, as also of certain cases in other courts
     at Westminster during that time. 2d Edition. Two Volumes.
     Translated into English by Mr. Serjeant Salkeld and others. London:
     Browne. 1722.

     _Schurz_: The Reminiscences of Carl Schurz. Three Volumes. New
     York: The McClure Company. 1907-1908.

     _Schurz’s Essay_: Abraham Lincoln. An Essay. By Carl Schurz. Boston
     and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1892.

     _Scripps_: Tribune Tracts No. 6. Life of Abraham Lincoln. Entered
     according to act of Congress in the year 1860 by Horace Greeley and
     Company in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United
     States for the Southern District of New York.

     _Selby_: Stories and Speeches of Abraham Lincoln. Including stories
     of Lincoln’s early life, stories of Lincoln as a lawyer,
     Presidential incidents, stories of the war, etc., etc. Lincoln’s
     Letters and Great Speeches Chronologically arranged; with
     Biographical Sketch by Paul Selby (Associate Editor of the
     Encyclopedia of Illinois). Fully Illustrated. Chicago: Thompson &
     Thomas. 1900.

     _Sheppard_: Great Americans of History: Abraham Lincoln. A
     Character Sketch. By Robert Dickinson Sheppard, D.D. With
     supplementary essay, by G. Mercer Adam. Together with Anecdotes,
     Characteristics, and Chronology. Milwaukee: H. G. Campbell
     Publishing Co. 1903.

     _Speed_: Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln and Notes of a Visit to
     California. Two Lectures by Joshua F. Speed. With a sketch of his
     Life. Louisville: John P. Morton & Co. 1884.

     _Stephens_: Recollections of Alexander H. Stephens. His Diary, kept
     when a prisoner at Fort Warren, Boston Harbor, 1865; giving
     incidents and reflections on his prison life and some letters and
     reminiscences. Edited, with a biographical study, by Myrta Lockett
     Avary. New York: Doubleday, Page & Co. 1910.

     _Stevens’s Black Hawk_: The Black Hawk War, including a review of
     Black Hawk’s life. Chicago: Stevens. 1903.

     _Stoddard_: Abraham Lincoln. The True Story of a Great Life. By
     William O. Stoddard, one of President Lincoln’s Private
     Secretaries during the War of the Rebellion. New York: Fords,
     Howard & Hulbert. 1896.

     _Stovall_: Robert Toombs. Statesman, Speaker, Soldier, Sage. By
     Pleasant A. Stovall. New York: Cassell Publishing Co. 1892.

     _Stowe_: Men of Our Times, or Leading Patriots of the Day. Being a
     narrative of the lives and deeds of Statesmen, Generals, and
     Orators. By Harriet Beecher Stowe. Hartford: Hartford Publishing
     Co. 1868.

     _Sumner_: The Promises of the Declaration of Independence. Eulogy
     on Abraham Lincoln, delivered by Charles Sumner before the
     municipal authorities of the City of Boston, June 1, 1865. Boston:
     Farwell & Co., Printers to the City. 1865.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Tarbell’s Early Life_: The Early Life of Abraham Lincoln.
     Containing many unpublished documents and unpublished reminiscences
     of Lincoln’s early friends. By Ida M. Tarbell, assisted by J. McCan
     Davis. New York: S. S. McClure. 1896.

     _Tarbell_: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. Drawn from original sources
     and containing many speeches, letters, and telegrams hitherto
     unpublished. Two Volumes. By Ida M. Tarbell. New York: The
     Doubleday & McClure Co. 1900.

     _Thayer_: The Pioneer Boy and How He Became President. By William
     M. Thayer. Boston: Walker, Wise & Company. 1864.

     _Trevelyan’s Fox_: The Early History of Charles James Fox. By Sir
     George Otto Trevelyan. New York: Harper & Bros. 1880.

       *       *       *       *       *

     _Ward_: Abraham Lincoln. Tributes from his associates.
     Reminiscences of soldiers, statesmen, and citizens. With
     introduction by The Rev. William Hayes Ward, D.D. New York: Thomas
     Y. Crowell & Co. 1895.

     _Whipple_: The Story-Life of Lincoln. A Biography composed of Five
     Hundred True Stories, told by Abraham Lincoln and his friends,
     selected from all authentic sources, and fitted together in order,
     forming His Complete Life History. By Wayne Whipple. Memorial
     Edition. Issued to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Lincoln’s
     Birth. Copyright, 1908, by Wayne Whipple.

     _White_: Abraham Lincoln in 1854. An address delivered before the
     Illinois State Historical Society. By Horace White. January 30,
     1908. Illinois State Historical Society Publication.

     _White, Money and Banking_: Money and Banking, illustrated by
     American history. By Horace White. Boston: Ginn & Co. 1896.

     _Whitney_: Life on the Circuit with Lincoln. With Sketches of
     Generals Grant, Sherman, and McClellan, Judge Davis, Leonard Swett,
     and other contemporaries. By Henry C. Whitney. Boston: Estes &
     Lauriat. 1892.

     _Whitney’s Life_: Life of Lincoln. By Henry C. Whitney. Edited by
     Marion Mills Miller, Litt.D. Two Volumes: Vol. I., Lincoln, The
     Citizen; Vol. II., Lincoln, The President. New York: The Baker &
     Taylor Company. 1908.

     _Williams_: The Burden Bearer, an Epic of Lincoln. By Francis
     Williams. Philadelphia: Jacobs & Co. 1908.

     _Wilson’s Washington_: George Washington. By Woodrow Wilson.
     Illustrated by Howard Pyle. New York: Harper & Bros. 1905.

     _Works_: Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln. Edited by John G.
     Nicolay and John Hay. With a General Introduction by Richard Watson
     Gilder, and Special Articles by Other Eminent Persons. New and
     Enlarged Edition. Twelve Volumes. New York: Francis D. Tandy
     Company. 1905.



NOTES


The author would have wished to acknowledge his indebtedness to the many
admirers of Abraham Lincoln who so cheerfully and readily replied to his
inquiries. The responsiveness of all to whom he applied for information
and particularly the eagerness with which collectors entrusted precious
pamphlets and scrap-books to him were a constant source of gratification
and encouragement.

In the following notes there are frequent references to secondary
authorities. They are given, not to authenticate what has been said on
direct authority, but for the convenience of readers and the service of
students. The reader may find one book more available than another; and
the student, who may wish to collate all that has been published on a
subject, will have at hand an adequate bibliography.


CHAPTER I

 [i-1] Henry Pirtle, quoted in Herndon, i, 7. See, also, W. F. Booker,
 in Barrett (New), i, 6; Irelan, xvi, 21.

 [i-2] George B. Balch in Browne, 87; Samuel Haycraft in Barrett (New),
 i, 8; Rev. Thomas Goodwin, _ibid._, 115.

 [i-3] Atkinson, 44-45.

 [i-4] Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks were married near Beechland, in
 Washington County, Kentucky, on the 12th of June, 1806.

 [i-5] Usher F. Linder, who was born in Hardin County, Kentucky,
 became a prominent Democratic leader in Illinois. Delivering a eulogy
 of Lincoln in 1865 and speaking from his recollections of the old
 Kentucky days, he said: “They were a good family. They were poor, and
 the very poorest people, I might say, of the middle classes, but they
 were true.”

 [i-6] Sarah Lincoln was born February 10, 1807. The removal to Nolin
 Creek is said to have occurred in the following year.

 [i-7] Speed, 30; Browne, 489; Barrett (New), ii, 122-23; Morgan,
 255-56.

 [i-8] The reader who wishes to follow Thomas Lincoln in his migrations
 is referred for some of the fuller accounts to: Lamon, 12-15, 19-22,
 25-26, 73-75; Herndon, i, 15-18, 57-61; Holland, 24-26, 38-41;
 Brockett, 37-40, 51-54, 57; Barrett, 21-24, 30-34; Barrett (New), i,
 9-10, 12-14, 25-26; Brooks, 6, 8-13, 44-45; Browne, 42, 45-51, 80-85;
 Tarbell’s _Early Life_, 40, 51-55, 94-101; Tarbell, i, 13-15, 18-19,
 45-49, 59; Nicolay and Hay, i, 24-30, 45-47; Whitney’s _Life_, i,
 21-28, 57-64; Stoddard, 10-18, 57-59; Coffin, 18-29, 46-49; Irelan,
 xvi, 34-40, 64-65; Curtis’s _Lincoln_, 19-22, 26, 30; _Works_, vi,
 26-31.

 [i-9] Gridley, 47-48. For the story of a previous speculation, of a
 similar nature, that resulted disastrously, see Dr. C. C. Graham in
 Tarbell’s _Early Life_, 233; also, Hitchcock, 93-97, and Gridley,
 47. The loss of the cargo by an accident to the vessel, however, as
 told by Dr. Graham, bears a striking, perhaps suspicious resemblance
 to what befell Thomas Lincoln (note 8) when he tried to move his
 belongings by water from Kentucky to Indiana.

 [i-10] Nancy Hanks Lincoln died at Little Pigeon Creek, Indiana, on
 October 5, 1818, in her thirty-fifth year.

 [i-11] Holland, 23; Arnold in Oldroyd, 33; Barrett (New), i, 16;
 Browne, 43-44; Coffin, 28; Ketcham, 12; Hart’s _Sketch_, 5; L. S.
 Portor, in the _Woman’s Home Companion_, February 1909, pp. 10, 64;
 see, also, Speed, 19. Attention is called to the slight variations in
 the language as reported by these several writers.

 [i-12] In the Little Pigeon Creek cabin were Abraham, his sister
 Sarah, and cousin Dennis Hanks, sometimes called Dennis Friend, whom
 luckless chance had made a member of the Lincoln family. The Johnston
 children comprised John D., Sarah, and Matilda.

 [i-13] Thomas Lincoln and Sarah Bush Johnston were married on December
 2, 1819. The episode of the debts is related in Barrett (New), i, 17;
 Herndon, i, 26; Lamon, 29; Coffin, 31; McClure’s _Stories_, 272-74;
 Tarbell’s _Early Life_, 52.

 [i-14] But see charges or surmises that Thomas Lincoln, in his anxiety
 to win Mrs. Johnston, had misrepresented conditions at home: Lamon,
 11, 30-31; also Herndon, i, 27; Brooks, 28; French, 28; Leland, 18;
 Irelan, xvi, 44; Hapgood, 9; Stoddard, 21-22, 24; Sheppard, 118. These
 latter writers, following the lead of Lamon, have done so, apparently,
 to explain what needs no historical explanation--an improvident
 marriage; and Lamon quotes neither chapter nor verse for the faith,
 or, more accurately speaking, the lack of faith, that is in him. On
 the other hand, Cousin Dennis Hanks, though not always a trustworthy
 witness, offers what look like sufficient reasons for the lady’s
 course. “Tom,” he says, “had a kind o’ way with the women, an’ maybe
 it was somethin’ she tuk comfort in to have a man that didn’t drink
 an’ cuss none.” (Atkinson, 21.)

 [i-15] Irelan, xvi, 26-27, 41; Lamon, 32; Leland, 20; Jones, 4;
 Hapgood, 8; Janes, 7; E. I. Lewis in St. Louis _Globe-Democrat_,
 February 12, 1899.

 [i-16] Brooks, 28; Short Autobiography, in _Works_, vi, 27.

 [i-17] Danville (Ill.) _News_, February 12, 1904.

 [i-18] Probably Webster’s _American Spelling Book_, Dilworth’s
 _Spelling Book_, Pike’s _Arithmetic_, Murray’s _English Reader_,
 Scott’s _Lessons in Elocution_, and the _Kentucky Preceptor_. Lincoln
 studied Kirkham’s _Grammar_ after he left home. See Dodge, 4-6;
 Sumner, ix, 375; Scripps, 3; Herndon, i, 34, 44-45, note, 75-76;
 Lamon, 37, note, 50; Hitchcock, 87; Atkinson, 18; Leland, 22; Browne,
 70, 96; Brooks, 54; Morse, i, 19; Holland, 46; Tarbell’s _Early Life_,
 124-25, 132; Tarbell, i, 66-67; Nicolay and Hay, i, 84; Nicolay,
 25-26; Nicolay’s _Boy’s Life_, 36-37; Ketcham, 66; Howells, 29-30;
 Irelan, xvi, 96-97; Stoddard, 70; Browne’s _Lincoln and Men_, i,
 158-59; Jones, 8.

 [i-19] Scripps, 3; Speed, 38; Herndon, i, 36; Lamon, 37, 57 note;
 Tarbell, i, 29-34; Binns, 18-19; Atkinson, 23-27; Selby, 45; Stowe,
 15; Nicolay and Hay, i, 35; Oldroyd, 33-34; McClure’s _Stories_,
 22-23; Schurz’s _Essay_, 4-5; Chittenden, 433-34; Nicolay, 14;
 Nicolay’s _Boy’s Life_, 23; Morse, i, 13; Swett’s _Reminiscences_,
 in Rice, 459; Raymond, 22; Hobson, 30-31; Barrett (New), i, 23-24;
 Arnold, 21; Brooks, 23-24, 29-30; Browne, 66-68; Holland, 31;
 Morgan, 19-21; Whitney’s _Life_, i, 41-42; Tarbell’s _Early Life_,
 69-71; French, 24-25; Hitchcock, 87-88; Leland, 22; Stoddard, 32-33,
 36-37, 43; Sumner, ix, 375; Curtis’s _Lincoln_, 56-58; Beach, 8-9; H.
 W. Mabie, in the _Chautauquan_, April, 1900, pp. 33-34, and in the
 _Outlook_, February 20, 1904, pp. 454-55. See also _infra_, p. 331.

 [i-20] According to most of our authorities this was the book by
 Mason L. Weems, entitled _The Life of George Washington; with curious
 anecdotes, equally honourable to himself and exemplary to his young
 countrymen_. But Scripps (3), Raymond (21-22), Brockett (47), and
 Holland (32) are apparently accurate in stating that the work was Dr.
 David Ramsay’s _The Life of Washington_. It should be remembered that
 Mr. Lincoln himself, looking with uncommon care through the advance
 sheets of Scripps’s biography, published in 1860, made no correction
 as to the name Ramsay there employed in connection with the anecdote.
 Lincoln’s reference to Weems’s _Life_, moreover, in the speech at
 Trenton (_Works_, vi, 150-51), indicates that he had read that book
 during his early childhood--some years before he could as a “tall and
 long-armed” youth have “made a clean sweep” of Crawford’s fodder-corn.

 [i-21] Herndon, i, 52, note.

 [i-22] For the fuller accounts of this episode see: Whitney’s _Life_,
 i, 42-43; Arnold, 23; Raymond, 21-22; Lamon, 38, 50-51, 55, 66,
 note; Scripps, 3; Holland, 31-32; Brockett, 47-48; Herndon, i, 37,
 52, note; Stoddard, 37-38; French, 26; Irelan, xvi, 55-56; Brooks,
 24-25; Barrett, 25-26; Browne, 67, 69-70; Bartlett, 116-17. A somewhat
 fanciful narrative may be read in Thayer, 120-30, 177.

 [i-23] Herndon, i, 29-31; Pratt, 11-12; Hapgood, 18-19. An instance of
 truth-telling by Lincoln, regardless of impending punishment, quite
 after the Weems manner, is related by Thayer (110-11), in his story
 about the broken buck’s horn.

 [i-24] Lamon, 71.

 [i-25] How serious these abuses ultimately became may be inferred from
 Merrick’s narrative (174-80), and from what Horace White says on the
 subject, in _Money and Banking_, pp. 351-52:--

 “The bewildering state of the paper currency before the Civil War
 may be learned from the numerous bank-note reporters and counterfeit
 detectors of the period. It was the aim of these publications to give
 early information to enable the public to avoid spurious and worthless
 notes in circulation. These were of various kinds: (1) ordinary
 counterfeits; (2) genuine notes altered from lower denominations to
 higher ones; (3) genuine notes of failed banks altered to the names
 of solvent banks; (4) genuine notes of solvent banks with forged
 signatures; (5) spurious notes, such as those of banks that had no
 existence; (6) spurious notes of good banks, as 20’s of a bank that
 never issued 20’s; (7) notes of old, closed banks still in circulation.

 “The number of counterfeit and spurious notes was quite appalling,
 and disputes between payer and payee as to the goodness of notes were
 of frequent occurrence, ranging over the whole gamut of doubts,--as
 to whether the issuing bank was sound or unsound, whether the note
 was genuine or counterfeit, and, if sound and genuine, whether the
 discount was within reasonable limits.”

 [i-26] For a severe, though manifestly biased comment on the bad money
 episode, so far as it concerned Lincoln, see Edmonds, 47-48.

 [i-27] Wilson’s _Washington_, 11-12.

 [i-28] Hill, 219-20.

 [i-29] New Salem, Illinois, when Lincoln took up his residence there
 in the summer of 1831, was a busy little village of recent origin,
 near the west bank of the Sangamon River, in the county of that name.
 Its site--for the place has long since fallen into decay--is within
 the present limits of Menard County, about twenty miles northwest of
 Springfield.

 [i-30] The anecdote is from Parkinson’s _Tour in America_, ii, 436-37
 (London, 1805). Whether or not it had come under Lincoln’s notice we
 have no means of knowing.

 [i-31] William McNeely, in Oldroyd, 393-94; Browne, 104.

 [i-32] John Rowan Herndon, in Herndon, i, 98.

 [i-33] William G. Greene, in Browne, 116-17; and in Onstot, 81-83.
 A more circumstantial account, based on correspondence with Greene,
 may be found in Coffin, 73-76. See, also, Nicolay and Hay, i, 110-11;
 Herndon, i, 98-99; Lamon, 136-37; Tarbell, i, 92; Tarbell’s _Early
 Life_, 160; Holland, 54; Brooks, 66.

 [i-34] Lincoln’s experience with Berry reminds one of Benjamin
 Franklin’s trials with his partner Hugh Meredith, who was “often seen
 drunk in the streets, and playing at low games in the ale houses.”
 It is an interesting coincidence, moreover, that both Franklin and
 Lincoln were aided, at these critical junctures, by generous friends.

 [i-35] Dennis Hanks, in Atkinson, 50.

 [i-36] Leonard Swett, in Rice, 465-66.

 [i-37] At about the time Abraham Lincoln thus spoke to his creditors
 in Illinois, a young man in far-away Maine named Hannibal Hamlin,
 destined to share his electoral honors, used somewhat similar language
 under corresponding circumstances. He had gone on the bond of a
 certain deputy sheriff for four thousand dollars. That officer became
 a defaulter, and the people who had claims against him looked to his
 bondsmen. Hamlin, having called the creditors together, said: “My
 friends, I have lived among you only a few years, but I think you know
 that I keep my word. I am poor, young, and struggling for an honest
 support for myself. This struggle will continue right among you, my
 neighbors. I am unable now to meet this just debt; but if you will
 give me time, and God will give me strength, I will pay off every
 dollar I owe you, even if it takes me a lifetime to do it.”

 He redeemed his promise to the last cent; but at what cost may be
 inferred from his exclamation, many years later, in telling the story:
 “Heavens! how long it kept my nose on the grindstone.”

 A fuller narrative of the incident may be found in Hamlin, 46. For
 another somewhat similar episode, in the early life of Andrew Jackson,
 the reader is referred to Brady, 56-57.

 [i-38] A patron of Samuel Hill’s store, Harvey Ross who carried the
 mails, once told how he, as well as others, was impressed by Lincoln’s
 straightforward methods. His narrative which belongs perhaps to this
 period may be found in Onstot, 76-77.

 “Mr. Lincoln,” said Ross, “was very attentive to business; was kind
 and obliging to the customers, and they had so much confidence in
 his honesty that they preferred to trade with him rather than Hill.
 This was true of the ladies who said he was honest and would tell the
 truth about the goods. I went into the store one day to buy a pair of
 buckskin gloves, and asked him if he had a pair that would fit me. He
 threw down a pair on the counter: ‘There is a pair of dogskin gloves
 that I think will fit you, and you can have them for seventy-five
 cents.’ When he called them dogskin I was surprised, as I had never
 heard of such a thing before. At that time no factory gloves had
 been brought into the county. All the gloves and mittens then worn
 were made by hand, and by the women of the neighborhood from tanned
 deerskins, and the Indians did the tanning. A large buckskin could be
 bought for fifty to seventy-five cents. So I said to Lincoln: ‘How do
 you know they are dogskin?’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I’ll tell you how I know
 they are dogskin. Jack Clary’s dog killed Tom Watkins’s sheep, and
 Tom Watkins’s boy killed the dog, old John Mounts tanned the dogskin,
 and Sally Spears made the gloves, and that is the way I know they
 are dogskin gloves.’ So I asked no more, but paid six bits, took the
 gloves, and can truly say that I have worn buckskin and dogskin gloves
 for sixty years and never found a pair that did me such service as the
 pair I got from Lincoln.”

 [i-39] Lincoln to George Spears, _Works_, i, 11. A facsimile of the
 letter is reproduced from the Menard-Salem-Lincoln Souvenir Album, in
 Tarbell, i, 97.

 [i-40] Tarbell’s _Early Life_, 190, note.

 [i-41] This kind act is attributed to James Short and one of the
 Greenes,--whether Bowling or William G. appears to be in doubt. See
 Lamon, 138-39, 149-50; Arnold, 41-42; Herndon, i, 114-15; Leland,
 43-44; Barrett (New), i, 40; Morse, i, 42; Curtis’s _Lincoln_, 33-34;
 Stoddard, 88-89; Irelan, xvi, 109; Tarbell, i, 105-06; Tarbell’s
 _Early Life_, 188-90.

 [i-42] William H. Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner, relates (Herndon, i,
 100): “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 and Lincoln
 indebtedness. But in time he extinguished it all, even to the last
 penny.”

 According to Nicolay (36): “It was not until his return from Congress,
 seventeen years after the purchase of the store, that he finally
 relieved himself of the last installment of his ‘national debt.’”

 [i-43] Several decades thereafter, when reference was made in
 President Lincoln’s hearing to the large tracts of valuable land
 acquired by Surveyor-General Edward F. Beale, in California, the
 Executive may be said to have suffered no twinges of conscience if he
 remarked, as was reported: “Yes, they say Beale is monarch of all he
 surveyed.”

 [i-44] Henry McHenry, in Herndon, i, 113.

 [i-45] The Grigsby affair. (Master, 16-17.)

 [i-46] Frank E. Stevens, in _Magazine of History_, February, 1905, pp.
 86-90.

 [i-47] William G. Greene, who was present, so quotes Lincoln; but
 Lamon (111) and Stevens (_Black Hawk_, 283) report him to have said:
 “Boys, the man actually threw me once fair, broadly so; and the second
 time, this very fall, he threw me fairly, though not so apparently so.”

 [i-48] _Magazine of History_, February, 1905, pp. 86-90. See also
 Stevens’s _Black Hawk_, 281-83; Oldroyd, 516-17; Browne, 112-13;
 Lamon, 109-12; Herndon, i, 87-88; Nicolay and Hay, i, 94; Thayer,
 239-40; Lincoln and Douglas, 194a-194b; Master, 39-40.

 [i-49] The whole experience left a deep impression in Lincoln’s mind.
 After his first nomination to the Presidency, he received one day a
 delegation of college men, among whom was Professor Risdon M. Moore,
 the son of Jonathan, that quondam referee.

 “Which of the Moore families do you belong to?” inquired the
 candidate, with a twinkle of the eye. “I have a grudge against one of
 them.”

 To which the Professor, with a still merrier twinkle, replied: “I
 suppose it is my family you have the grudge against; but we are going
 to elect you President, and call it even.”

 Thereupon Mr. Lincoln, narrating to those who were present the story
 of his defeat by Thompson, concluded with the words: “I never had been
 thrown in a wrestling-match until the man from that company did it. He
 could have thrown a grizzly bear.”

 Nor did the reminiscences concerning that memorable encounter cease
 there. Discussing former days with old friends who visited him at
 the White House, President Lincoln several times referred to the
 occurrence. One of these interviews is thus related by Mr. Greene:
 “During the rebellion, in 1864, I had occasion to see Mr. Lincoln in
 his office at Washington, and, after having recalled many of our early
 recollections, he said, ‘Bill, whatever became of our old antagonist,
 Thompson,--that big curly-headed fellow who threw me at Rock Island?’
 I replied I did not know, and wondered why he asked. He playfully
 remarked that if he knew where he was living, he would give him a
 post-office, by way of showing him that he bore him no ill-will.”

 [i-50] Henry McHenry, in Lamon, 154; Browne, 104.

 [i-51] Confidence in Lincoln as an arbitrator continued through his
 later career. This is evinced by the following telegram, quoted by
 Hill (250) from the Orendorff collection:--


CHICAGO, Oct. 14, 1853.


To ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
Springfield, Ill.

     Can you come here immediately and act as arbitrator in the
     crossing case between the Illinois Central and Northern Indiana
     R.R. Companies if you should be appointed? Answer and say yes if
     possible.

(Signed)   J. F. JOY.



 [i-52] Address on Benjamin Ferguson, delivered at a meeting of the
 Washington Temperance Society on February 8, 1842.

 [i-53] Lincoln read this book during a series of visits that he made
 for the purpose to the home of David Turnham, a constable, who owned
 the volume. It was entitled: “The Revised Laws of Indiana, adopted
 and enacted by the General Assembly at their eighth session. To which
 are prefixed the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of
 the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Indiana, and
 sundry other documents connected with the Political History of the
 Territory and State of Indiana. Arranged and published by authority
 of the General Assembly. Corydon: Printed by Carpenter and Douglass.
 1824.”

 [i-54] Herndon, i, 52; Tarbell’s _Early Life_, 72.

 [i-55] Alban Jasper Conant, in _Liber Scriptorum_, 172; and in
 _McClure’s Magazine_, March, 1909, p. 514. That Lincoln’s picture
 of close application was not overdrawn may be inferred from this
 paragraph in Lamon (140), based on the recollections of an old
 settler: “‘He used to read law,’ says Henry McHenry, ‘in 1832 or 1833,
 barefooted, seated in the shade of a tree, and would grind around with
 the shade, just opposite Berry’s grocery store, a few feet south of
 the door.’ He occasionally varied the attitude by lying flat on his
 back, and ‘putting his feet up the tree,’--a situation which might
 have been unfavorable to mental application in the case of a man with
 shorter extremities.” See, also: Nicolay and Hay, i, 112-13; Herndon,
 i, 101-02; Browne, 121-23.

 [i-56] Report of an interview by Albert B. Orr, with C. F. Warden, in
 the McKeesport (Pa.) _Times_, February 12, 1909: also a letter from
 Mr. Orr to the author.

 [i-57] In response to the writer’s inquiries Henry B. Rankin of
 Springfield, Illinois, at one time a clerk in Lincoln and Herndon’s
 office, furnished a statement that is of topographical interest. The
 communication was addressed to the Hon. James R. B. Van Cleave of that
 city, through whose courtesy it is here published:

 “The route Mr. Lincoln went over, in and out of Springfield from Salem
 when he made his home in that village was entirely on the south side
 of the Sangamon river, not the north as the travel from that vicinity
 has been for the past fifty years. There was no bridge over the
 Sangamon river in its entire length while Mr. Lincoln was at Salem.
 The first bridge over this river was built in the early ’40s at the
 then Carpenter’s Mills in this county. The next at Petersburg a few
 years later, in the ’40s, and _via_ Athens in 1843.

 “Mr. Lincoln’s trips to Springfield were usually made by the road
 as now located, for the first few miles bearing south out from
 Salem,--from that on into the city there have been more or less minor
 changes since, at various places,--on to the junction with the present
 ‘Jacksonville and Springfield road,’ and _via_ it, entered the city on
 the west. Quite occasionally he walked from Salem to Springfield, and
 these trips were ‘across country,’ skirting the bluffs and breaks on
 the south bank of the Sangamon river ‘as the crow flies,’--by shortest
 angles, some five miles shorter trip in.

 “I have heard Mr. Lincoln in the old Lincoln and Herndon law office
 refer to these trips on foot into the city across the then unfenced
 prairie and woods. So many writers about Mr. Lincoln’s early years
 have traveled over the road from Springfield to Petersburg _via_
 Athens,--now the nearest and always chosen one,--that you will please
 pardon me for the stress I place on the difference between the two
 roads. The road south of Salem across the ‘Rocky ford’ of ‘Rock
 Creek,’ and several other streams,--then called ‘creeks,’ had to
 bear westerly after leaving the Sangamon bottoms south of Salem, and
 cross these creeks at the most favorable places between banks best
 fitted to span crude bridges over. This made the ‘foot-path way’ from
 Springfield to Salem, a much shorter one than the wagon road between
 them. This wagon road as _then_ traveled was fully twenty-five miles
 between Salem and the Capital City.”

 [i-58] A reminder of this toilsome period is to be found, many years
 later, in the letter addressed to J. M. Brockman:--


SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, September 25, 1860.

     DEAR SIR: Yours of the 24th, asking “the best mode, of obtaining
     a thorough knowledge of the law,” is received. The mode is very
     simple, though laborious and tedious. It is only to get the
     books and read and study them carefully. Begin with Blackstone’s
     “Commentaries,” and after reading it carefully through, say twice,
     take up Chitty’s “Pleadings,” Greenleaf’s “Evidence,” and Story’s
     “Equity,” etc., in succession. Work, work, work, is the main
     thing. Yours very truly,

A. LINCOLN.



 [i-59] The Revised Laws of Illinois, edition of 1833, pp. 99-102, §1
 and §9. Hill (57-58) is the only writer on Lincoln that has taken
 notice of this prohibition.

 [i-60] There appears to be some ground for controversy as to when
 Lincoln was admitted to the bar. He, himself, preparing notes of his
 life for the Scripps biography, sometime during 1860, wrote: “In the
 autumn of 1836 he obtained a law license.” (See _Works_, vi, 33.)

 And Jesse W. Weik, Herndon’s collaborator, referring to the records,
 states (_Century Magazine_, June, 1904, p. 279): “The first step in
 Lincoln’s legal career is thus set forth in an entry found in the
 records of the Circuit Court of Sangamon County, Illinois, dated
 March 24, 1836. ‘It is ordered by the Court that it be certified that
 Abraham Lincoln is a person of good moral character.’ After this
 necessary preliminary, as appears from the records of the clerk of the
 Supreme Court, he was on September 9 duly licensed to practise in all
 the courts of the State.”

 But Hill (61) asserts: “He was legally qualified on March 24, 1836,
 and his professional life properly dates from that day.”

 Reaffirming this conclusion, Mr. Hill writes to the author: “There is
 no doubt that Lincoln was legally admitted to practice March 24, 1836,
 as is shown by the papers on file; but casting back to find out when
 he was admitted to the bar, Lincoln undoubtedly relied upon the rolls
 of attorneys for the year 1836, in which his name appeared September
 9th of that year.”

 Summarizing the facts, Judge John P. Hand, of the Illinois Supreme
 Court, said in a Lincoln memorial address delivered on February 11,
 1909: “He was licensed as an attorney, September 9, 1836, enrolled
 March 1, 1837, and commenced practice April 21, 1837.” (See Illinois
 Reports, ccxxxviii, 13; and MacChesney, 204.)

 Yet beyond a doubt, Lincoln appeared as an attorney in actions at law,
 previous to April 21, 1837. Following the rather offhand ways of the
 day, he tried some cases at the bar, as we have seen, before all the
 requirements for his admission had been complied with. The present
 writer ventures the opinion that, according to statute, three steps
 must have been taken before a person was, at this period, legally
 qualified to practice as an attorney or counselor at law, within
 the State. First, he had to obtain a certificate “of his good moral
 character,” from a County Court; second, he had to secure a license
 signed by two justices of the Supreme Court; and third, having taken
 the oath of office, he had to have his name entered on the roll kept
 by the clerk of that court. It was not, therefore, until Lincoln had
 been formally enrolled that his career as a lawyer may correctly be
 said to have begun. (See Revised Laws of Illinois for 1833, pp.
 99-100; and a decision of the Supreme Court, December Term, 1840, in
 the matter of E. C. Fellows, an attorney who had failed to have his
 name enrolled--Illinois Reports, iii, 369.)


CHAPTER II

 [ii-1] Nicolay, 53. See, also, Browne, 150-51; Coffin, 94.

 [ii-2] This narrative of the interview has been collated from the
 several accounts of it given by Mr. Speed at various times. See
 Oldroyd, 145-46; Whitney, 16-17; Browne, 152-53; Clarke, 341-42;
 Herndon, i, 175-76. See, also, Arnold, 53-54; Brooks, 80; Coffin, 95;
 Hapgood, 61-62.

 [ii-3] There are a number of variations in the different accounts of
 this episode, but the essential facts appear to be as here related.
 Comprehensive versions are given by Arnold, 39-40; Stowe, 19-20;
 Holland, 55-56; Browne, 119-20; Onstot, 89-90; Brockett, 710; Jayne,
 10; Noah Brooks, in _Harper’s Magazine_, July, 1865, p. 226.

 [ii-4] According to Major Stuart, Lincoln was his partner from April
 27, 1837, to April 14, 1841; Judge Stephen T. Logan’s, from April
 14, 1841, to about September 20, 1843; and William H. Herndon’s,
 from about September 20, 1843, until the death of Mr. Lincoln. There
 appears to be some ground for the belief that the last partnership was
 formed some months later than is here stated.

 [ii-5] The oft-repeated statement that Lincoln disdained to keep
 accounts has, in his case as in that of another eminent lawyer,
 Patrick Henry, been confuted by the evidence of the fee-books
 themselves.

 [ii-6] Onstot, 58.

 [ii-7] The parallel between Lincoln and his running mate in the
 successful canvass of 1860 might be drawn at this point also.
 Referring to Hamlin’s early days in the practice of law, his
 biographer says: “He handled a good deal of money belonging to his
 clients, and it often happened that they did not call for it until
 some time after it had been collected. Mr. Hamlin, therefore, had
 at times considerable sums of money in his possession, and on one
 occasion he told a friend what disposition he made of such money and
 his reasons. He said, ‘When I collect money for a client, I inclose
 it in an addressed package, and lock the package up in my trunk until
 it is called for. I will not touch or use that money for my purposes
 under any circumstances, unless, of course, the owner should authorize
 it. The money belongs to the owner. I have no more right to use it,
 even if I could replace it in five minutes, than I would have to take
 money that he might happen to have in his pocket-book.’” (Hamlin, 45.)

 [ii-8] This principle was recognized as early as Cicero’s time.
 In his _Ninth Philippic_, eulogizing Servius Sulpicius, that most
 profound of Roman advocates, the orator said, according to Forsyth’s
 version: “He did not consider himself a lawyer rather than a servant
 of justice, and his constant endeavor was to temper the severity of
 law, by reference to principles of equity. He had less pleasure in
 advising that actions should be brought, than in removing all cause
 for litigation.”

 [ii-9] _Works_, ii, 142. Lincoln’s comment--“the nominal winner is
 often a real loser”--suggests the similarity between his advice and
 that of Professor Porson, as expressed in that learned humorist’s mock
 examination questions for students:--

 “What happens if you win your cause?”

 “You are nearly ruined.”

 “What happens if you lose your cause?”

 “You are quite ruined.”

 [ii-10] Browne’s _Lincoln and Men_, i, 338; Browne, 220.

 [ii-11] For a few of these stories the reader is referred to Onstot,
 20; Stringer, i, 218; McClure’s _Yarns_, 380; Gallaher, 46-47;
 _Lincolnics_, 30-31; MacChesney, 299-300; Depew’s _Speech_, February
 12, 1909, pp. 6-7; Dr. George M. Angell, in Bloomington (Ill.)
 _Pantagraph_, February 12, 1909.

 Lincoln was not the only great lawyer concerning whom such anecdotes
 might be told. The eminent New England advocate, Jeremiah Mason, is
 said to have been equally successful in bringing about compromises.
 “Mr. Mason,” writes one who knew him well, “magnified his position by
 exerting all his influence to prevent litigation, or the commencement
 of suits upon mere quibbles, or for the purpose of procrastination, or
 to gratify personal vindictiveness, or retaliation. He was eminently
 a peacemaker, and was instrumental in healing many a wound, and in
 preventing the useless expenditure of money, by a set of litigants,
 who were in the habit of annoying (employing?) lawyers to aid them
 in schemes of malice or revenge.” (John P. Lord, quoted in Hillard’s
 _Memoir and Correspondence of Jeremiah Mason_, 46.)

 [ii-12] Browne’s _Lincoln and Men_, i, 339.

 [ii-13] Herndon, ii, 14.

 [ii-14] Browne, 218-19. Lincoln’s expedient for preventing trivial
 litigation was similar in its essence to that of the New York attorney
 concerning whom Edwards, in his _Pleasantries about Courts and
 Lawyers_, tells this anecdote:--

 “In a certain part of our State, two Dutchmen, who built and used in
 common, a small bridge over a little stream which ran through their
 farms, had a dispute concerning certain repairs which it required.
 One of them declined to bear any portion of the expense necessary to
 the purchase of two or three planks. The aggrieved party went to a
 neighboring attorney and placing ten dollars, in two notes of five
 dollars each, in his hand, said--

 “‘I’ll give you all dish monies if you’ll make Hans do justice mit de
 pridge.’

 “‘How much will it cost to repair this bridge?’ asked the attorney.

 “‘Well, den, not more ash five tollars.’

 “‘Very well,’ said the legal gentleman, pocketing one of the notes and
 giving the Dutchman the other, ‘take this and go and get the bridge
 repaired. It’s the best course you can take.’

 “‘Yaas,’ responded the client slowly, ‘y-a-a-s, dat ish more better as
 to quarrel mit Hans.’

 “But as he went home, he shook his head frequently, as if unable,
 after all, quite clearly to see how he had gained anything by going to
 the lawyer.”

 [ii-15] This narrative is based on two interviews, secured for the
 author from Henry Rice, in the autumn of 1907 and in the spring of
 1908, respectively. See, also, Markens, 24.

 [ii-16] Lincoln’s refusal to take what he considered a bad case is
 in harmony, as far as civil actions go, with the practice of every
 high-minded lawyer. David Hoffman, of the Baltimore bar, drawing up,
 early in the nineteenth century, a code of ethics for the guidance of
 his students throughout their professional careers, prescribed as the
 eleventh of fifty resolutions: “If, after duly examining a case, I
 am persuaded that my client’s claim or defense (as the case may be)
 cannot, or rather ought not to be sustained, I will promptly advise
 him to abandon it. To press it further in such a case, with the hope
 of gleaning some advantage by an extorted compromise, would be lending
 myself to a dishonorable use of legal means in order to gain a portion
 of that, the whole of which I have reason to believe would be denied
 to him both by law and justice.”

 [ii-17] Holland, 126; Browne, 162. But see Lamon, 317, for McHenry’s
 account of a somewhat similar interview that had a different
 termination.

 [ii-18] “Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found
 than one who does this.” (Notes for Law Lecture, in _Works_, ii, 142.)

 [ii-19] Tarbell, i, 248; McClure’s _Yarns_, 359-60.

 [ii-20] Lamon, 325.

 [ii-21] It should, perhaps, be noted that in refusing Matteson’s case
 Lincoln turned his back on one of his own influential clients, whom
 he had represented in the Supreme Court but a short time before this
 happened. See the appeal of Constant vs. Matteson _et al._, argued
 at the January term of 1859, in the Second Grand Division. (Illinois
 Reports, xxii, 546-62.)

 [ii-22] James Judson Lord to William H. Herndon, in Herndon, ii,
 14-15, note; Letter of Mrs. Katherine Lord Driscoll to the author.

 [ii-23] General John H. Littlefield, in _Success_, February, 1901, p.
 600; _Lincolnics_, 31. An interview, somewhat like these two, culled
 from the practice of the eminent Southern lawyer and statesman, Robert
 Toombs, is thus related by his biographer: “On one occasion he said
 to a client who had stated his case to him, ‘Yes, you can recover in
 this suit, but you ought not to do so. This is a case in which law
 and justice are on opposite sides.’ The client told him he would push
 the case, anyhow. ‘Then,’ replied Mr. Toombs, ‘you must hire some
 one else to assist you in your damned rascality.’” (Stovall, 18-19.)
 Another distinguished Southerner, Alexander H. Stephens, held equally
 conscientious opinions as to what constitutes a lawyer’s duty. These
 views, based on a long and honorable career, occupy a notable place in
 his _Recollections_. (See Stephens, 383-89.)

 [ii-24] Rev. John Putnam Gulliver, in the New York _Independent_,
 September 1, 1864. The article is reprinted in Carpenter, 309-17.

 [ii-25] Atkinson, 28-29; Lamon, 40, note.

 [ii-26] For details concerning these and other similar incidents the
 reader is referred to: Curtis’s _Lincoln_, 77; Browne, 646-47; Brooks,
 426; Carpenter, 78, 114-15; Hill, 131, 198; Tarbell, i, 254; Bateman,
 30-32; Flower, 63; Emerson, 5-9; _Works_, ii, 70, 368; _ibid._, iii,
 32; _ibid._, ix, 26, 84-85; _Debates_, 13, 26; _Scribner’s Magazine_,
 February, 1878, p. 565. See, also, Speed, 18.

 [ii-27] From the response by Justice David Davis, of the United States
 Supreme Court, to resolutions presented upon the death of Lincoln, at
 a session of the Federal Circuit Court held in Indianapolis, May 19,
 1865.

 [ii-28] Ex-Chief Justice Caton’s address to the Supreme Court of
 Illinois, May 3, 1865, in Caton, 12; Illinois Reports, xxxvii, 13.

 [ii-29] Barrett, 818; Browne, 235-36; Nicolay and Hay, i, 303-04.

 [ii-30] Swett to Herndon, in Herndon, ii, 246-47.

 [ii-31] Whitney, 261.

 [ii-32] Lamon, 324.

 [ii-33] This account of the incident is based chiefly on statements
 made by District Attorney Ward Hill Lamon, himself (Lamon, 322), and
 by Judge David Davis, who probably referred to the affair in a story
 which he recalled, with unimportant variations, many years later, for
 the entertainment of Ratcliffe Hicks, a contributor to the _Century
 Magazine_ of February, 1894, p. 638. Henry C. Whitney, it should be
 added, writing after Lamon but before Hicks, contradicted the former’s
 narrative in almost every important particular. A careful reading,
 however, of Whitney’s book (at pages 130-32 and 534), leads to the
 conclusion that the error lies with him rather than with Lamon and
 Davis; for he obviously confused the Patterson trial, in his memory,
 with another Champaign County case.

 [ii-34] Letter from Abraham Lincoln to H. Keeling, dated March 3,
 1858, and quoted from manuscript in Herndon, i, 326.

 [ii-35] Shaw’s letter of June 13, 1866, quoted from manuscript in
 Herndon, i, 323.

 [ii-36] Holland, 130; Stowe, 22.

 [ii-37] Joseph Gillespie’s manuscript letter of October 8, 1886,
 quoted in Herndon, ii, 13-14; Lamon, 321-22. Gillespie was, to a
 precise degree, Lincoln’s contemporary at the bar. Their enrollment
 dates from the same year--1837.

 [ii-38] The same figure of speech was used, to describe a similar
 attitude of mind, by that other eminent lawyer, Horace Binney, leader
 for many years of the Philadelphia bar. In his private record, written
 for the eyes of his children, we find: “I never prosecuted a cause
 that I thought a dishonest one, and I have washed my hands of more
 than one that I discovered to be such after I had undertaken it.”
 (Binney, 443.)

 [ii-39] For the details of this anecdote the author collated the
 accounts in Browne, 228; Lamon, 324; and Stringer, i, 217. According
 to the last-mentioned authority, however, Lincoln was found, not at
 the tavern, but in the Postville Park, playing townball with the boys.

 [ii-40] Whitney, 130-32, 262; see, also, 136. It was probably
 concerning this incident that the same colleague wrote in another
 work; “On one occasion, Swett and I sat on a bench in the extreme
 rear of the court-room while Lincoln closed to the jury on our side,
 and we were utterly astonished at the cruel mode in which he applied
 the knife to all the finespun theories we had crammed the jury with.”
 (Whitney’s _Life_, i, 175.)

 [ii-41] The authenticity of this story has been questioned. It
 certainly calls for confirmation, as the first case in which Lincoln
 appeared before the State Supreme Court, according to the printed
 records (Illinois Reports, iii, 456-57), was that of Scammon vs.
 Cline. Here he was associated with another attorney, James L. Loop,
 of Belvidere, and represented, not the appellant, but the defendant
 in error. The discrepancies are striking rather than vital. From the
 peculiar nature of that case Lincoln may well, at the time, have
 made the brief oral statement attributed to him; and, as we know,
 the decision which followed was, in fact, against his client. On the
 other hand, perhaps the scene did not take place during the argument
 on Scammon _vs._ Cline. If Judge Treat’s narrative is correct in every
 particular, Lincoln must have made his first bow before the Supreme
 Court sometime during the three and a half years of practice that
 preceded this hearing. And he might have done so, too, without that
 fact appearing in the records. For the reporter, finding the early
 material incomplete, and seeking to limit the size of the published
 volumes, did not include all the cases. It may be added that an
 account of this incident has, in some form, been accepted by Herndon,
 i, 322-23; Lamon, 321; Schurz, 16; Leland, 61; and Stoddard, 119. All
 these men knew Lincoln--some of them throughout almost his entire
 legal career. That they believed him capable of the course described
 in the anecdote is, perhaps, as significant as the story itself.

 An essay, giving the results of careful researches into the case of
 Scammon _vs._ Cline, by Richard V. Carpenter, was printed in the
 _Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society_ for October, 1911,
 pp. 317-23.

 [ii-42] “Judge Davis often delegated his judicial functions to others.
 I have known of his getting Moon of Clinton to hold court for him
 in Bloomington for whole days; Lincoln to hold an entire term, and
 frequently to sit for short times; and I even knew of Colonel Bryant
 of Indiana to hold court for him in Danville. All judgments rendered
 by these lawyers were voidable. Time has probably now cured them. It
 was a hazardous business for them and the sheriff and suitors in their
 cases.” (Whitney’s _Life_, i, 192.)

 One of these irregular judges, it may be said in passing, more than
 returned the compliment, some years later, by elevating Davis to the
 bench of the United States Supreme Court; and the legality of that
 appointment has not been questioned.


CHAPTER III

 [iii-1] It would not be correct, however, to say, as is sometimes
 said, that Lincoln won every case which he should have won.
 Contemporary lawyers testify to the contrary.

 [iii-2] Herndon, ii, 3; Whitney, 251.

 [iii-3] Hill, 225-26.

 [iii-4] Whitney, 259; Whitney’s _Life_, i, 177.

 [iii-5] Anthony Thornton, in the Chicago _Tribune_, February 12, 1900,
 p. 14.

 [iii-6] Illinois Reports, xxxvii, 15.

 [iii-7] Whitney, 262-63; Whitney’s _Life_, i, 196.

 These tributes to Lincoln’s honorable methods again recall the
 principles that contributed not a little toward Horace Binney’s
 preëminence. In the review of his career he wrote: “I at all times
 disdained to practise any stratagem, trick or artifice for the purpose
 of gaining an advantage over my adversary; and unless I thought him
 unfair, I was generally willing that he should see all my cards while
 I played them. I can truly say that I am not conscious of having
 lost anything by this candor; but, on the contrary, have repeatedly
 gained by it. If my client was at any time suspected, I had no reason
 to think that I was, by either the Court or the bar; and how many
 balancing cases, in the course of thirty-five years’ practice, this
 sort of reputation assisted, I need not say.” (Binney, 443.)

 [iii-8] Herndon, i, 326-28; _Atlantic Monthly_, April, 1867, p. 412.

 Whatever the practice at the Springfield bar may have been, Lincoln’s
 objection to the making of a fictitious plea was of course not
 finical. No less an authority than Chief Justice Holt had said: “The
 attorney, if he puts in a false plea to delay justice, breaks his
 oath, and may be fined for putting a deceit on the Court.” (Pierce
 _vs._ Blake, Salkeld’s Reports, ii, 515. See, also, Johnson _vs._
 Alston, Campbell’s Reports, i, 176.)

 [iii-9] Whitney, 263-64; Herndon, ii, 17-18. It should be noted that
 April 24, 1856, fell on a Thursday, not a Saturday. Whether the 4 is
 a misprint for 6, or whether this term of court extended to Saturday,
 May 24, or whether the error lies elsewhere, cannot now be determined.

 [iii-10] Browne’s _Lincoln and Men_, i, 360-62.

 [iii-11] Lincoln to Trumbull, December 18, 1857, in the _Century
 Magazine_, February, 1909, p. 620.

 [iii-12] Justice David Davis from the bench of the Federal Circuit
 Court, at Indianapolis, May 19, 1865.

 [iii-13] Holland, 130; Lamon’s _Recollections_, 19-20; Stowe, 22;
 Browne, 162.

 [iii-14] Koerner, ii, 110.

 [iii-15] Recollections of Colonel Richard J. Hinton, in the Chicago
 _Times-Herald_, November 17, 1895.

 [iii-16] Holland, 80. See, also, Nicolay and Hay, i, 307; Ward, 205,
 270; Browne, 238.

 [iii-17] Mrs. Norman B. Judd, in Oldroyd, 523; also, in Tarbell,
 i, 277-78. A report of Lincoln’s argument, rather full, though far
 from complete, has been reprinted from the Chicago _Daily Press_, in
 _Works_, ii, 340-54, and Tarbell, ii, 324-30.

 [iii-18] Admissions that seemed to be of a more damaging nature than
 those which were made in this case have at times been known to assist,
 rather than interfere with, the winning of a verdict. How far counsel
 may go, along such lines, was illustrated in the practice of Daniel
 Webster. A more brilliant, though less scrupulous, advocate than
 Lincoln, he went the limit.

 Once in Boston, defending a man who had been indicted for forgery, his
 first act--at the very beginning of the trial, before a witness had
 been called--was to arise and say: “May it please the Court, we admit
 the forgery, so that evidence on this point will be unnecessary. We
 deny that the note was uttered in this county.”

 The astonishment of those present gave way to comprehension, when
 it became evident that the prosecution could easily have made out
 a case of forgery against the prisoner; but that it could not so
 readily have proven, what was of equal importance, the issuing of the
 forged instrument in Suffolk County. For want of sufficient proof,
 on this very point, the defendant was acquitted. He might have fared
 differently if both the questions of forgery and utterance had been
 presented to the jury. It is not unlikely that had they listened to
 evidence on the crime itself, those facts would have so overshadowed
 other considerations in their minds as to bring about a conviction.
 Webster’s avowal prevented this, and saved his unworthy client.

 [iii-19] Herndon, ii, 3; Whitney, 251.

 [iii-20] Lincoln to Linder, February 20, 1848, _Works_, ii, 3.

 [iii-21] Herndon, ii, 7.

 [iii-22] Arnold, 84. See, also, Whitney’s _Life_, i, 173; Oldroyd, 37;
 Nicolay and Hay, i, 307.

 [iii-23] Herndon, ii, 7.

 [iii-24] Gibson W. Harris, quoted in Browne, 220.

 [iii-25] Letter of Justice David J. Brewer to the author; and an
 article by him in the _Atlantic Monthly_, November, 1906, p. 591.

 [iii-26] Caton, 13; Illinois Reports, xxxvii, 13.

 [iii-27] A statement made by Judge David Davis.

 [iii-28] Hill, 211-12.

 [iii-29] Letter of Hon. Shelby M. Cullom to the author; Bateman,
 13-15. See, also, Hill, 236-37; and T. W. S. Kidd, the crier of the
 court, in Tarbell, i, 273-75.

 [iii-30] Judge Lawrence Weldon, quoted in Hill, 212-15.

 [iii-31] A letter said to have been written by Lincoln to Mrs.
 Armstrong, offering her his services, is published in Selby (254), and
 Hobson (41-42); yet neither of these writers, responding to inquiries
 by the author, has been able to throw any light on the question of its
 authenticity. According to other biographers, a communication of such
 a nature was received by Mrs. Armstrong, who stated, as they allege,
 that it had been lost. On the other hand, “Duff” himself, in his
 detailed narrative, makes no reference to a letter from Mr. Lincoln;
 and John, his younger brother, in an equally full account of the
 affair, taken down for the author by Thomas D. Masters of Springfield,
 Illinois, expresses the opinion that no written message on the subject
 was ever received. The Masters notes concerning this topic read:--

 “Mr. Armstrong has no recollection of hearing of any letter being
 written by Mr. Lincoln to his mother, at the time his brother got into
 the trouble in question; and he requests me to say to you that he is
 quite sure that had such a letter been written he would have known of
 it. He points out to me that his mother was unable to read, and in
 that early day, had she received a letter from a man such as Lincoln
 then was,--a much-talked-about lawyer in Springfield,--that by reason
 of the exigencies of the occasion, and the interest such a letter
 would have excited in the household, he certainly would have known of
 it. His recollection is that his mother, probably after the cause was
 venued to Cass County, made a trip to Springfield, of course, knowing
 Mr. Lincoln, and feeling friendly to him, and having confidence in
 him, for the purpose of employing him to assist in the defense of her
 son at Beardstown.”

 [iii-32] A singular parallel presents itself in ancient Athenian
 history, where Alcibiades and his friends were charged, as Plutarch
 relates, with mutilating the images of Mercury, on a certain night.
 When one of the informers was asked how he managed to recognize the
 features of the accused in the darkness, he answered,--“I saw them
 by the light of the moon,”--a palpable misstatement, as the affair
 happened at the time of a new moon which gave practically no light.
 This anecdote, however, could hardly have prompted Lincoln to consult
 an almanac in the Armstrong case, because he had not read Plutarch’s
 _Lives_ at the time of that trial, and only did so two years later.

 [iii-33] Judge Abram Bergen, quoted by James L. King, in the _North
 American Review_, February, 1898, pp. 193-94. Bergen’s testimony
 should be supplemented by a statement which “Duff” Armstrong himself
 made, in his respectable old age, to J. McCan Davis. It was published
 in the New York _Sun_ of June 7, 1896. According to this report
 Armstrong then declared: “The almanac used by Lincoln was one which my
 cousin, Jake Jones, furnished him. On the morning of the trial I was
 taken outside the court-room to talk to Lincoln. Jake Jones was with
 us. Lincoln said he wanted an almanac for 1857. Jake went right off
 and got one, and brought it to ‘Uncle Abe.’ It was an almanac for the
 proper year, and there was no fraud about it.”

 [iii-34] Ram, 269-70, note, 505. It is interesting to note that a
 somewhat similar tale is frequently met with among the anecdotes
 of the English bar. A barrister at the “Old Bailey,” according to
 this version, secured the acquittal of a client charged with highway
 robbery by introducing an almanac to prove that there was darkness
 on a certain night, instead of the bright moonlight, in which the
 prosecuting witness claimed to have distinguished the prisoner’s
 features. The almanac, however, as afterwards transpired, had been
 fraudulently so printed for that occasion.

 [iii-35] Those who wish to collate what has been published about the
 Armstrong affair may find these references of service: Gridley’s
 _Defense_, 3-23; Hill, 229-34; Hobson, 40-50; Tarbell, i, 270-73;
 Lamon, 327-31; Arnold, 87-89; Onstot, 98-100; Irelan, xvi, 142-44;
 Oldroyd, 213-15; Herndon, ii, 26-28; Barrett, 63-66; Barrett (New),
 i, 152-54; Holland, 128-29; Browne, 224-27; Brockett, 82-85; Selby,
 94-97, 254; Phillips’s _Men Who Knew_, 62-63; Stoddard, 157-60;
 Raymond, 29-31; Brooks, 127-29; French, 75-76; Whipple, 261-65;
 Bartlett, 111-15; Curtis’s _Lincoln_, 75; Coffin, 162-63; Stowe,
 23-25; Morgan, 102-03; Nicolay’s _Boy’s Life_, 94-97; Hanaford, 44-48;
 Pratt, 78-82; Thayer, 285-93; McClure’s _Stories_, 97-99; Williams,
 68-73; _Lincolnics_, 64-66; Jones, 15; Master, 20-22; New York _Sun_,
 June 7, 1896; _North American Review_, February, 1898, pp. 191-95;
 Kankakee (Ill.) _Republican_, February 12, 1909, Bloomington (Ill.)
 _Pantagraph_, January 20, 1912; also Eggleston’s _The Graysons_, in
 which the trial and the almanac incident are used by the novelist with
 good effect.

 [iii-36] Tarbell, i, 265; Emerson, 5.

 [iii-37] From an unpublished manuscript entitled “Lincoln on the Stump
 and at the Bar,” by Judge Scott, quoted in Tarbell, i, 253-54.

 [iii-38] Judge William M. Dickson, in _Harper’s Magazine_, June, 1884,
 p. 63; Barrett (New), i, 121-22. See, also, Alban J. Conant, in _Liber
 Scriptorum_, 175-76, and in _McClure’s Magazine_, March, 1909, p. 516;
 Chauncey M. Depew, in Rice, 432; Browne, 229-30; Curtis’s _Lincoln_,
 85; McClure’s _Yarns_, 457; McClure’s _Stories_, 92; Pratt, 59-60.

 [iii-39] Collated from accounts by George W. Minier, in Oldroyd,
 187-89, and in Herndon, ii, 327-28; also: Arnold, 85-87; Brooks,
 122-24; Coffin, 108; Pratt, 68-69.

 [iii-40] Binney, 444.

 [iii-41] Lincoln would doubtless have approved of David Hoffman’s rule
 on this subject. It read: “I will never plead or otherwise avail of
 the bar of infancy against an honest demand. If my client possesses
 the ability to pay, and has no other legal or moral defense than that
 it was contracted by him when under the age of twenty-one years, he
 must seek for other counsel to sustain him in such a defense. And
 although in this, as well as in that of limitation, the law has given
 the defense, and contemplates in the one case to induce claimants to
 a timely prosecution of their rights, and in the other designs to
 protect a class of persons who by reason of tender age are peculiarly
 liable to be imposed on, yet in both cases I shall claim to be the
 sole judge (the pleas not being compulsory) of the occasions proper
 for their use.”

 [iii-42] Remarks of Justice David Davis in the Federal Circuit Court
 at Indianapolis, May 19, 1865.

 [iii-43] It may be of interest to note that these same revolutionary
 properties, and the same stage-setting of frozen ground flecked with
 the blood of patriots’ unshod feet, had served Patrick Henry, many
 years before, in the defense of John Venable, Commissary of the
 Continental Army, sued by John Hook, a Tory, for the value of some
 steers seized to feed the hungry troops. But Henry’s eloquence had
 not prevailed as fully as Lincoln’s did; for the jury found a verdict,
 though in a nominal sum, against the great Virginian’s client.

 [iii-44] Herndon, ii, 9-11; see, also, Holland, 127. For brief
 accounts and comments based on Herndon’s and on Holland’s narratives
 the reader is referred to: Hapgood, 108; Browne, 162-63; Hill, 215-16;
 Coffin, 104-05; Tarbell, i, 250; Pratt, 74-76; Selby, 97-98; McClure’s
 _Stories_, 101.

 [iii-45] Herndon, i, 328-30.

 A brief and less picturesque account of the incident was furnished to
 the author, about half a century after the event, by the Honorable
 Shelby M. Cullom, one of the counsel for the defense. He wrote:
 “During the trial, a question was raised as to the admissibility of
 certain testimony, which was very important to the defense. The Judge
 took an hour to come to a conclusion as to what he ought to do; and
 when he began to decide the question, he seemed to be leaning against
 the admissibility of the testimony. Lincoln saw that he was inclined
 that way, and sprang upon his feet, and manifested such intense
 earnestness that it appeared to change the Judge’s disposition, and he
 decided in favor of the admissibility of the testimony.”

 Still, Herndon probably did not overstate the case. For the official
 crier, Captain Thomas W. S. Kidd, referring to that same episode,
 said: “Mr. Lincoln made a display of anger, the like of which I never
 saw exhibited by him before or after. He roared in the excess of his
 denunciation of the action of the Court.” (Rochester _Herald_, January
 17, 1904. See Kidd, also, in Tarbell, i, 251-52.)


CHAPTER IV

 [iv-1] Though under very different circumstances, Lincoln’s elation
 seems not unlike that of another famous man whose later life touched
 his at several points. The first dollar earned by Frederick Douglass,
 on free soil, in New Bedford, was paid to him, as he tells us, for
 stowing away a pile of coal for Mrs. Ephraim Peabody, the wife of
 a Unitarian minister. “I was not long in accomplishing the job,”
 runs his story, “when the dear lady put into my hand two silver
 half-dollars. To understand the emotion which swelled my heart as I
 clasped this money, realizing that I had no master who could take it
 from me,--that it was mine,--that my hands were my own, and could earn
 more of the precious coin,--one must have been in some sense himself a
 slave.” (Douglass, 210.)

 [iv-2] Lamon, pointing out some inconsistencies in the details of
 this anecdote as it is generally quoted, expresses doubts concerning
 its authenticity. He evidently did not know how often Lincoln had
 told the story to different persons. Their versions, as might be
 expected, vary somewhat, but they agree in the essential facts. See:
 Carpenter, 96-98; William D. Kelley, in Rice, 279-80; Leonard Swett,
 in Rice, 457-58; Holland, 33-34; Brooks, 38; Pratt, 16-18; Morgan,
 27-28; Lamon, 72; McClure’s _Stories_, 17-18; Hanaford, 156-58;
 Boyden, 83-84; Irelan, xvi, 62-64; Tarbell, i, 38-39; Browne, 72-73;
 Banks, 14-16; Ward, 277-78; Thayer, 169-71; Ludlow, 66-68; Curtis’s
 _Lincoln_, 24-25; Whipple, 62-63; Selby, 52-53; Raymond, 754; Onstot,
 51-52; Egbert L. Viele, in _Scribner’s Magazine_, October, 1878, p.
 817; Alban J. Conant, in _McClure’s Magazine_, March, 1909, p. 514;
 interview with Governor Frank Fuller, in the New York _Times_, October
 1, 1911, p. 10.

 [iv-3] Browne’s _Lincoln and Men_, i, 259-61, 356; ii, 90-91.

 [iv-4] Holland, 93.

 [iv-5] See Lincoln to Speed, June 19, 1841, in _Works_, i, 168-75,
 and in Lamon, 318-19; also, Gibson W. Harris, in Columbia (Ky.)
 _Spectator_, January 27, 1905.

 [iv-6] Oldroyd, 394-95.

 [iv-7] Onstot, 41-44.

 [iv-8] Lincoln to Whitney, December 18, 1857, in _Works_, xi, 103.

 [iv-9] Brockett, 702-03; McClure’s _Yarns_, 341-42; Barrett (New),
 i, 154-55; interview with Mrs. Rose Linder Wilkinson, in Chicago
 _Times-Herald_, September 11, 1895.

 [iv-10] The nature of these kindnesses may be inferred from the
 following despatch:--


EXECUTIVE MANSION, December 26, 1863.


HON. U. F. LINDER,
Chicago, Ill.:

     Your son Dan has just left me, with my order to the Secretary of
     War, to administer to him the oath of allegiance, discharge him,
     and send him to you.

A. LINCOLN.



 (_Works_, ix, 275; see, also, _ibid._, 272.)

 [iv-11] Boston _Advertiser_, February 12, 1909, p. 7.

 [iv-12] Stowe, 21; Carpenter, 245; Browne, 229; French, 80; McClure’s
 _Stories_, 89-91; Thayer, 284-85; Gallaher, 39-40.

 [iv-13] Gibson W. Harris, in Browne, 220.

 [iv-14] Koerner, ii, 112.

 [iv-15] Caroline H. Dall, in _Atlantic Monthly_, April, 1867, p. 413.

 [iv-16] Tarbell, i, 267-68; Curtis’s _Lincoln_, 74-75; Thomas Lewis,
 in _Leslie’s Weekly_, February 16, 1899.

 [iv-17] Browne, 224.

 [iv-18] G. W. Nance, in Oldroyd, 557.

 [iv-19] Charles W. Moores, in _American Law Review_, January-February,
 1911, p. 92.

 [iv-20] Henry Rickel, in Cedar Rapids _Gazette_, February 6, 1909, p.
 1.

 [iv-21] Ward, 242-46; Jennings, 93-98.

 [iv-22] Father Chiniquy reproduces in his book an engraved facsimile
 of the due-bill, dated May 23, 1856. It is undeniably in Lincoln’s
 handwriting, but no explanation has been offered to reconcile the date
 with the priest’s statement that the paper was written in October, at
 the time of the second trial. The author based his narrative of this
 affair upon Chiniquy, 566, 620-67; Whitney, 53-55, 136-37; and a brief
 of the Circuit Court records at Urbana, Illinois, made for the writer
 by Judge Joseph O. Cunningham.

 [iv-23] George P. Floyd, in _McClure’s Magazine_, January, 1908, p.
 303.

 [iv-24] Lamon’s _Recollections_, 17-19; see, also, Browne’s _Lincoln
 and Men_, i, 348-51. There are a few other examples, in legal history,
 of high-minded lawyers rejecting what they regarded as excessive
 fees. One notable English instance is thus related by Lord Brougham
 concerning Topping:--

 “A general retainer of a thousand guineas was brought to him to cover
 the Baltic cases then in progress. His answer was, that this indicated
 either a doubt of his doing his duty on the ordinary terms known
 in the profession (one guinea particular, and five guineas general
 retainer)--or an expectation that he should, on being thus retained,
 do something beyond the line of his duty; and therefore he must
 decline it. His clerk then accepted of the usual sum of five guineas,
 and he led on those important cases, for the defendants.”

 So also Charles O’Conor, leader for many years of the New York bar,
 subordinated money-making to a sense of professional propriety. His
 friend, William H. Winters, Librarian of the Law Institute, relates
 that a client once urged the famous pleader, with some insistence, to
 accept a very much larger fee than the lawyer had charged. O’Conor,
 becoming indignant, manifested in his own forcible way how this
 annoyed him. He denied the right of any one to dictate what his pay
 for legal services should be, and dismissed the presumptuous client
 without ceremony.

 [iv-25] There is a companion tale current among English lawyers
 concerning another member of the bar, at an earlier period, who was
 accused by his fellow barristers of having degraded their order
 by accepting payment for services in copper. Upon being arraigned
 for this offense at their Common Hall he defended himself,--so the
 tradition runs,--with the following plea in confession and avoidance:
 “I fully admit that I took a fee from him in copper, and not one but
 several, and not only fees in copper but fees in silver. But I pledge
 my honor, as a Sergeant, that I never took a single fee from him in
 silver until I had got all his gold, and that I never took a fee from
 him in copper until I had got all his silver,--and you don’t call that
 a degradation of our order.”

 [iv-26] Whitney, 81.

 [iv-27] Works, xi, 98-99.

 [iv-28] E. S. Nadal, in _Scribner’s Magazine_, March, 1906, p. 368.

 [iv-29] Herndon, i, 324-25.

 [iv-30] That baffling question as to how the value of a lawyer’s
 services should be arrived at was thus stated in Lincoln’s trial
 brief: “Are or not the _amount_ of _labor_, the _doubtfulness_
 and _difficulty_ of the _question_, the _degree_ of _success_ in
 the _result_, and the _amount_ of pecuniary interest _involved_,
 not merely in the particular case, but covered by the principle
 decided, and thereby _secured_ to the client, all proper elements,
 by the custom of the profession to consider in determining what is a
 reasonable fee in a given case?”

 For an answer that may serve, in part, at least, the reader is
 referred to an opinion, which had been delivered some years previously
 by Chief Justice John B. Gibson, of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
 Discussing the fees earned by an attorney in important litigation, he
 said: “It is not to be doubted that responsibility, in a confidential
 employment, is a legitimate subject of compensation, and in proportion
 to the magnitude of the interests committed to the agents.... A lawyer
 charged with particular preparations for a lawsuit, is not to be made
 responsible, or paid, as a porter or a shoemaker.” (Pennsylvania
 Reports, vii, 545-46.)

 [iv-31] Lincoln’s attitude in this particular affords another striking
 contrast to that of David Hoffman, who lays down the rule: “I will
 charge for my services what my judgment and conscience inform me is my
 due, and nothing more. If that be withheld, it will be no fit matter
 for arbitration; for no one but myself can adequately judge of such
 services, and after they are successfully rendered they are apt to be
 ungratefully forgotten. I will then receive what the client offers, or
 the laws of the country may award, but in either case he must never
 hope to be again my client.”

 [iv-32] The most fruitful references on this topic are: Herndon,
 ii, 21-22; Whitney’s _Life_, i, 184-85; Hill, 250-54, 261, 316-19;
 Tarbell, i, 258-60; _Works_, ii, 288-89; _Lincoln as Attorney_,
 _passim_; Curtis’s _Lincoln_, 72; Illinois Reports, xvii, 291-99;
 Koerner, ii, 111-12.

 [iv-33] Jesse W. Weik, in _Century Magazine_, June, 1904, pp. 282,
 286; Herndon, i, 251.

 [iv-34] Lincoln to Speed, July 4, 1842, in Lamon, 251; _Works_, i, 219.

 [iv-35] Browne, 180-82; Coffin, 123; Gallaher, 31; Hapgood, 85; Jesse
 W. Weik, in _Century Magazine_, June, 1904, p. 280.

 [iv-36] Four children, in all, were born to Abraham and Mary Todd
 Lincoln. They were: Robert Todd, August 1, 1843; Edward Baker, March
 10, 1846; William Wallace, December 21, 1850; and Thomas, April 4,
 1853.

 [iv-37] Some years after the purchase of this cottage, its modest
 dimensions were enlarged by the addition of another story to meet the
 requirements of an increased family.

 [iv-38] Leonard W. Volk, quoted in the _Outlook_, February 13, 1909,
 p. 348.

 [iv-39] Lincoln’s straightway habit of waiting on himself had striking
 illustration while he was in Congress. Calling for some law books at
 the library of the Supreme Court, as the librarian relates, he tied
 them in a huge bandana handkerchief which he took from his pocket,
 passed a stick, brought for the purpose, through the knotted ends,
 slung the bundle across his shoulder and carried it thus to his
 lodgings, whence the volumes were returned later in the same primitive
 fashion. When a still greater public honor than that of Congressman
 came to him, one of his neighbors in Springfield exclaimed: “What!
 Abe Lincoln nominated for President of the United States! Can it be
 possible? A man that buys a ten-cent beefsteak for his breakfast, and
 carries it home himself.”

 [iv-40] Herndon, ii, 16.

 [iv-41] Joseph Gillespie, in Oldroyd, 462. Still another one of the
 famous cavalcade, Leonard Swett, said: “Beds were always too short,
 coffee in the morning burned or otherwise bad, food often indifferent,
 roads simply trails, streams without bridges and often swollen, and
 had to be swum, sloughs often muddy and almost impassable, and we had
 to help the horses, when the wagon mired down, with fence-rails for
 pries, and yet I never heard Lincoln complain of anything.”

 In the same vein, Henry C. Whitney wrote: “At the table, he ate what
 came first, without discrimination or choice. Whatever room at the
 hotel came handy, or whatever bed he came to first, he took without
 criticism or inspection.”

 [iv-42] Quoted from manuscript of Ninian W. Edwards by Herndon, i,
 186; also: Lamon, 190; French, 60; Coffin, 99; Browne, 138-39; Master,
 55-56.

 [iv-43] Whitney, 32; see, also, Herndon, ii, 15-16.

 [iv-44] Schurz, ii, 90-91.

 [iv-45] Chief Justice John Marshall, whom Lincoln resembled in not
 a few particulars, is said to have made a similarly unfavorable
 impression upon a prospective client, during his younger days at
 the Richmond bar. But in the Virginian’s case, the critical suitor
 discovered, even before the trial began, that a poorly dressed lawyer
 is not necessarily a poor advocate. So Marshall was retained, at the
 eleventh hour, to assist an immaculately attired colleague, whose
 ability was found to fall far short of the promise held forth by
 broadcloth and powdered wig.

 [iv-46] Master, 224-25, 469.

 [iv-47] _Works_, iv, 199.

 [iv-48] Jayne, 11; and Dr. William Jayne to the author, October 2,
 1912.

 [iv-49] Gibson W. Harris, quoted in Columbia (Ky.) _Spectator_,
 January 27, 1905. The same witness, writing elsewhere (Browne, 219)
 on the same theme, says: “Mr. Lincoln had a heart that was more a
 woman’s than a man’s,--filled to overflowing with sympathy for those
 in trouble, and ever ready to relieve them by any means in his power.”

 [iv-50] Mrs. Lincoln to Mrs. Keckley, November 15, 1867, in Keckley,
 352.

 [iv-51] John F. Mendonsa to the author, August 31, 1912.

 [iv-52] Haynie, 7-8.

 [iv-53] Fellowship, 1908, pp. 12-13; see, also, _Works_, ii, 313-14.

 [iv-54] Lincoln to Johnston, January 12, 1851, _Works_, ii, 148.

 [iv-55] _Works_, ii, 96.

 [iv-56] This deed may be found in Coles County Deed Records, G, p. 5.
 Of the same date, October 25, 1841, entered in Mortgage Record, i, p.
 43, is an instrument whereby Abraham Lincoln binds himself and his
 heirs to convey the property to John D. Johnston or his heirs, after
 the death of the parents, upon repayment of the two hundred dollars,
 without interest and without regard to any increase in the value of
 the tract.

 [iv-57] For further light on these matters the reader is referred to
 the letters from Lincoln to Johnston in _Works_, ii, 135, 144-46,
 147-53; and to the deed published in Gridley, 145-46.

 [iv-58] Lincoln’s ownership of this land, in the town named for him,
 is further evidence of his ready amiability toward friends, where
 monetary matters were concerned. The lot, situated on the south side
 of the court-house square, had belonged to James Primm, a well-known
 court official and public man of Logan County. Finding himself in
 financial difficulties, he had borrowed four hundred dollars on his
 promise to pay, which Lincoln obligingly endorsed. But when the time
 for payment arrived, the maker of the note was unable to meet it, so
 the endorser had found himself obliged to pay. Lincoln did so, and
 some time later Primm, by way of reimbursement, had given him a deed
 of the lot. (See Stringer, i, 221-22.)

 [iv-59] E. J. Edwards, in New York _Times_, January 24, 1909. For
 other accounts see: Raymond, 100; Browne, 314-15; Curtis’s _Lincoln_,
 45; Ward, 281; Thayer, 313-14; _Lincolnics_, 93-94. As having a
 further bearing on the question of Lincoln’s estate in 1860, these
 references may be serviceable: _Works_, vi, 31; Arnold, 83, 154-55;
 Whitney, 26; Herndon, i, 91-92; Oldroyd, 32; Lamon, 472; Lamon’s
 _Recollections_, 20; Holland, 127; Hobson, 100-04; Browne, 200-01;
 Rice, 587; Curtis’s _Lincoln_, 74; _McClure’s Magazine_, March, 1909,
 pp. 514-15; New York _Times_, October 1, 1911, p. 10.


CHAPTER V

 [v-1] Lamon, 126; _Works_, xi, 97; see, also, the Autobiography, in
 _Works_, vi, 31.

 [v-2] _Works_, vi, 31.

 [v-3] Address to the People of Sangamon County, March 9, 1832, in
 _Works_, i, 8.

 [v-4] These scenes, until then happily without parallel in American
 history, recall the political slaughter with which Charles James Fox
 had seventy years before signalized a crushing victory in the British
 House of Commons. To quote his biographer: “The fight was over, and
 the butchery began. Every one who belonged to the beaten party was
 sacrificed without mercy, with all his kindred and dependents; and
 those public officers who were unlucky enough to have no political
 connections fared as ill as the civil population of a district which
 is the seat of war between two contending armies. Clerks, messengers,
 excisemen, coast-guardsmen, and pensioners were ruined by shoals
 because they had no vote for a member of Parliament, or because they
 had supported a member who had opposed the peace.” (Trevelyan’s _Fox_,
 28.)

 [v-5] Greeley, 20.

 [v-6] During Lincoln’s first year in the Illinois Legislature he voted
 steadily with the minority against the adoption of resolutions which
 the Democratic majority had introduced to uphold President Jackson
 in his memorable struggle against the United States Bank. But when
 it came to voting on one resolution which condemned the National
 Senate for discourteous treatment of the old hero, and on another
 which commended the Illinois delegation in Congress for supporting the
 Administration, Lincoln turned away from his political associates, and
 had himself recorded, both times, in Jackson’s favor. (See Illinois
 House Journal, 1835, pp. 213-17, 258-63.)

 [v-7] _Works_, vi, 31-32.

 [v-8] The whole number of citizens who voted at New Salem, on August
 6, 1832, amounted to 300; but as 10 of these refrained from expressing
 their preferences for Representatives, only 13 actually appear on the
 records as voting against Lincoln. No election-tickets or ballot-boxes
 were used in Illinois at this time. The _viva-voce_ method was
 employed; and as each voter stated his choice, he saw it recorded
 opposite his name in the poll-book.

 [v-9] It is interesting to add that in this election of 1832, the
 country at large gave Jackson 219 electoral votes, and Clay 49.

 [v-10] Letter from Judge Stephen T. Logan, quoted in Nicolay and Hay,
 i, 102-03, note; and Master, 47.

 [v-11] The practice of carrying documents in his hat became a habit
 with Lincoln. While at the bar in Springfield, long after the
 postmastership had become a memory, he explained his failure to answer
 a communication promptly, by writing: “When I received your 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.” (See
 Tarbell, i, 98; and Tarbell’s _Early Life_, 179.)

 [v-12] Lincoln was appointed Postmaster at New Salem on May 7,
 1833. He served until May 30, 1836, by which time the population
 of the place had fallen off to such an extent that the office was
 discontinued, and its business transferred to Petersburg.

 [v-13] Herndon, i, 111. See, also: Onstot, 249; Tarbell’s _Early
 Life_, 181; Tarbell, i, 99; Coffin, 81. Some currency having been
 given to an exaggerated and obviously erroneous report of the
 incident, Mr. Carpenter (110-12) repeated that version one day in the
 White House to Mr. Lincoln. The President thought they had “stretched
 the facts somewhat”; but his denial, such as it was, leaves the
 original story told by Simmons to Herndon, practically unimpeached.

 [v-14] For a comprehensive note in which the local election returns of
 1834 are collated, the reader is referred to Master, § 22, pp. 445-46.

 [v-15] In a referendum of the question submitted to the people at
 the election of 1834, 7514 voters expressed a preference for Alton,
 7148 for Vandalia, 7044 for Springfield, 744 for Illiopolis the
 geographical center, 486 for Peoria, and 272 for Jacksonville. When
 the final balloting took place in the General Assembly, twenty-nine
 places were voted upon. (See Parrish’s _Illinois_, 313.)

 [v-16] Whitney, i, 139; Nicolay and Hay, i, 139.

 [v-17] Details of these encounters are related in Master, 60-62.

 [v-18] Lamon, 195; Herndon, i, 166.

 [v-19] General T. H. Henderson, in Tarbell, i, 139.

 [v-20] Whitney’s _Life_, i, 146.

 [v-21] Statement of Coleman Smoot, in Lamon, 157. As Lincoln was thus
 supplied with sufficient means to defray his traveling expenses, the
 oft-repeated story, which depicts him as trudging, pack on back, over
 the road to Vandalia, may perhaps, with propriety, be assigned to a
 place among those pleasing traditions of history that are found, upon
 close scrutiny, to be more picturesque than plausible.

 [v-22] Nicolay and Hay, i, 158; Pratt, 52-53; Coffin, 125-27;
 Nicolay’s _Boy’s Life_, 59. Lincoln’s experience, it should be noted,
 in canvassing his district with a nominal outlay of money, was not
 uncommon. Gustav Koerner, running for the Illinois Legislature on
 the Democratic ticket, a few years later, did so under similar
 circumstances. “There were hardly,” he tells us, “any election
 expenses. We always stayed with friends when traveling through the
 county. We had our horses anyway. My entire electioneering expenses
 amounted to four dollars, and that for the printing of tickets. One
 Democratic Frenchman from the Bottom afterwards sent me a bill of
 $6.65 for which he said he had gratuitously treated for me. As he was
 a good fellow, I paid him, although I had not given him the slightest
 authority to do so.” (Koerner, i, 468-69.)

 [v-23] See letter of Lincoln to Stuart, February 14, 1839, in _Works_,
 xi, 98.

 [v-24] _Works_, i, 6-7.

 [v-25] This is exclusive of what was appropriated for the Illinois
 and Michigan Canal, then already in process of construction. That
 enterprise, the other improvement projects, and a few smaller
 public outlays carried the State debt, by the close of 1842, above
 $15,000,000.

 [v-26] _Works_, i, 146.

 [v-27] An Act to establish and maintain a General System of Internal
 Improvements. Approved February 27, 1837. Section 22, Illinois Session
 Laws, 1836-37.

 [v-28] _Works_, i, 154-55; Lamon, 213-15.

 [v-29] Gillespie, 24-25; Lamon, 216-17; Nicolay and Hay, i, 161-62;
 Davidson, 422-27; Herndon, i, 217; Morse, i, 60; Hapgood, 72-73.
 It may be of interest to note that Lincoln and his two colleagues
 were not the only acrobatic legislators revealed by our early local
 histories. General Lew Wallace, in his _Autobiography_ (i, 251),
 tells, with contrition, how he bolted from the Indiana Senate
 to prevent an election of United States Senator; and Thaddeus
 Stevens, during his turbulent days in the Pennsylvania House of
 Representatives, jumped from a window after a scene of violence, in
 which, by a singular coincidence, he too had acted as the Whig leader.

 [v-30] Lamon, 324; Browne, 237.

 [v-31] _Works_, i, 27.

 [v-32] _Works_, i, 135-37.

 [v-33] Joshua F. Speed in Herndon, i, 161-63; Speed, 17-18; Speed, in
 Oldroyd, 143-45; Master, 50-52, 446.

 [v-34] Holland, 97-98.

 [v-35] Eulogy on Henry Clay, in _Works_, ii, 165.

 [v-36] In the ballot for Speaker of the Illinois House of
 Representatives on December 3, 1838, William Lee D. Ewing received 43
 votes, and Abraham Lincoln 38 votes. In a similar contest on November
 24, 1840, Ewing received 46 votes, and Lincoln 36 votes.

 [v-37] Browne’s _Lincoln and Men_, 185.

 [v-38] White, 19-20.

 [v-39] Joseph D. Roper, in Springfield (Ill.) _Journal_, January 30,
 1909.

 [v-40] Gibson W. Harris, in _Woman’s Home Companion_, December, 1903,
 p. 15.

 [v-41] Herndon, ii, 45.

 [v-42] _Works_, i, 142-45.

 [v-43] During Lincoln’s last term in the Illinois House of
 Representatives he offered the following resolution:--

 “RESOLVED, that so much of the Governor’s message as relates to
 fraudulent voting, and other fraudulent practices at elections, be
 referred to the Committee on Elections, with instructions to said
 committee to prepare and report to the House a bill for such an act as
 may, in their judgment, afford the greatest possible protection of the
 elective franchise against all frauds of all sorts whatsoever.”

 This failed of adoption, and in its stead was passed a substitute
 offered by John A. McClernand, one of the Democratic leaders. (See
 Illinois House Journals, 1840-41, p. 34; and _Works_, i, 152-53.)

 [v-44] Horace White, in Herndon, i, xxii.

 [v-45] Lincoln to Herndon, June 22, 1848, _Works_, ii, 50. See, also:
 Herndon, i, 270-72; Lamon, 295.

 [v-46] Phillips’s _Men Who Knew_, 160-62.

 [v-47] Whitney, 117.

 [v-48] Schurz, ii, 91.

 [v-49] The sequel to this little adventure, as Mr. Nelson tells it,
 should not be omitted. “I had many opportunities after the stage
 ride,” he relates, “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.”
 (Herndon, i, 303-06. See, also: Coffin, 132; Selby, 89-90; Williams,
 136-37; McClure’s _Yarns_, 410.)

 [v-50] Herndon, i, 253.

 [v-51] The affair with James Shields. See Master, 65-77.

 [v-52] Lincoln to Martin M. Morris, March 26, 1843, _Works_, i, 262.

 [v-53] A. Y. Ellis, in Lamon, 143; and in Herndon, i, 255.

 [v-54] For an amusing account of how Lincoln exposed one of these
 demagogues to public ridicule, on the stump, see Master, 54-56.

 [v-55] _Works_, v, 238-39.

 [v-56] “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.’” (Herndon,
 i, 256; Lamon, 273.)

 [v-57] Lincoln’s second son, born a few years later, on March 10,
 1846, was named for Baker.

 [v-58] Lincoln to Speed, March 24, 1843, _Works_, i, 261.

 [v-59] Lincoln to Morris, March 26, 1843, _Works_, i, 262-65. See,
 also, the letter to Morris of April 14, 1843, _Works_, i, 265-66.

 [v-60] General J. M. Ruggles, quoted in Tarbell, i, 195-96; Curtis’s
 _Lincoln_, 138.

 [v-61] Lincoln to Speed, May 18, 1843, _Works_, i, 268. This letter
 was written after the convention. To accord with that fact, the
 obvious printer’s error in punctuation has been corrected.

 [v-62] Lincoln to Hardin, May 11, 1843, _Works_, i, 266-67.

 [v-63] Lincoln’s Autobiography, in _Works_, vi, 36-37; Scripps, 18,
 the authorized campaign biography of which Lincoln critically read
 the advance sheets. See, also: Nicolay, 73-74, 90; Newton, 19; Dr.
 Robert Boal, in Peoria (Ill.) _Herald_, February 14, 1899; Gibson W.
 Harris, in _Woman’s Home Companion_, December, 1903, p. 15. But to
 the contrary see: Lamon, 275-77; Herndon, i, 257; Nicolay and Hay, i,
 242-43; Morse, i, 72.

 [v-64] Baker resigned from Congress to engage in the Mexican War, a
 few months before the end of his term. The short period that remained
 was of no interest to the leading Whigs, so a local politician named
 John Henry secured the office for the unexpired time.

 [v-65] Lincoln to Hardin, January 19, 1845, _Works_, i, 271-74. This
 letter is also printed in the Lapsley Edition of the _Works_, ii, 5-8,
 as of 1845. But the date evidently should be 1846. See also Lincoln to
 B. F. James, January 16, 1846, _Works_, i, 285-86.

 [v-66] _Woman’s Home Companion_, December, 1903, p. 15; Browne, 222.

 [v-67] Lamon, 277-78; Nicolay and Hay, i, 248-49.

 [v-68] Browne’s _Lincoln and Men_, i, 300.

 [v-69] Lincoln to Speed, October 22, 1846, in _Works_, i, 298.



INDEX


=Alcibiades=, concerned in incident parallel to Armstrong case, 344.

=Armstrong, Hannah=, befriended Lincoln in his childhood, 109;
  her alleged letter from Lincoln, 344.

=Armstrong, Jack=, one of “Clary’s Grove boys,” 109.

=Armstrong, William= (“=Duff=”), his murder case, 108; 344.

=Atlantic Railroad Co.=, represented by Lincoln in suit, 144-145.


=Baddeley, John W.=, refuses to retain Lincoln, 181.

=Baker, Edward D.=, associated with Lincoln in Trailor case, 137;
  Lincoln’s opponent for congressional nomination, 267;
  resigns from congress, 359;
  Lincoln’s son named for, 359.

=Balch, George B.=, describes Thomas Lincoln, 2, 323.

=Beale, Edward F.=, acquires large tracts of land, 330.

=Beardstown, Ill.=, 109.

=Beasley, J. D.=, 90.

=Bergen, Judge Abram=, on the Armstrong case, 112-114;
  on authenticity of almanac, 345.

=Berry, Rev. John M.=, father of William F. Berry, 23.

=Berry, William F.=, buys share in Herndon store, 21;
  partner of Lincoln, 22;
  idleness, intemperance, and death of, 23.

=Binney, Horace=, attitude toward Statute of Limitations, 123;
  attitude when suspects client’s guilt during trial, 340;
  compared to Lincoln, 342.

=Black Hawk War=, Lincoln in, 21;
  Lincoln’s wrestling match in, 29-31.

=Blackstone’s Commentaries=, read by Lincoln, 37.

=Blackwell, Henry B.=, anecdote about Lincoln, 143-144.

=Blackwell, Robert S.=, endorses Lincoln’s charge against Illinois Central R.R., 168.

=Bloomington, Ill.=, 82.

=Booker, William F.=, on character of Mordecai and Josiah Lincoln, 323.

=Boyle, Benjamin=, shot by Gen. Linder’s son, 141.

=Breese, Judge Sidney=, on Lincoln’s honesty, 86.

=Brewer, Justice David J.=, anecdote on Lincoln and law, 103; 343.

=Brockman, James M.=, receives letter from Lincoln on how to study law, 333.

=Brokaw, Abraham=, anecdote of Lincoln and money, 148.

=Brougham, Henry Peter, Baron=, on legal fees, 349.

=Browning, Orville H.=, endorses Lincoln’s charge against Illinois Central R.R., 168.

=Bunn, John W.=, anecdote on Lincoln’s moderate charges, 150;
  on Lincoln and politics, 258.

=Bush, Sally=, see =Mrs. Johnston.=

=Butler, William=, tenders Lincoln hospitality, 42.


=Calhoun, John=, surveyor of Sangamon County, appoints Lincoln Deputy Surveyor, 25, 28, 204.

=Carter, Robert Nicholas=, turns over practice to Patrick Henry, 71.

=Cartwright, Dr. Peter=, Methodist circuit-rider, 105;
  Lincoln’s opponent for Congress, 278, 279.

=Caton, Judge John D.=, on Lincoln’s honesty, 64;
  on Lincoln and law, 103-104.

=Chaddon, L. D.=, 90.

=Chew, Henry=, recipient of generosity from Lincoln, 184;
  fails to pay bill guaranteed by Lincoln, 185.

=Chiniquy, Father Charles=, sued for slander, 155;
  retains Lincoln, 156;
  overwhelmed by Lincoln’s generosity, 158.

=Chiniquy Slander Case=, 155-158.

“=Clary’s Grove Boys=,” wreck Radford’s store, 22.

=Cicero, Marcus Tullius=, eulogy of Servius Sulpicius, 336.

=Clay, Henry=, Lincoln’s admiration for, 200;
  political programme, 201.

=Clinton, De Witt=, Lincoln’s emulation of, 218.

=Cogdal, Isaac=, generously treated by Lincoln, 137.

=Conant, Alban J.=, on Lincoln’s study of Blackstone’s Commentaries, 331.

=Constable, Charles H.=, disloyalty to his party, 244-245.

=Counterfeit money=, in common circulation, 15;
  Lincoln’s experience with, 15-16;
  Lincoln secures acquittal of man charged with passing it, 16.

=Crafton, Greek=, killed by Quinn Harrison, 105.

=Crawford, Josiah=, makes Lincoln work for damaged book, 11;
  lampooned by Lincoln, 12.

=Cullom, Shelby M.=, associated with Lincoln in Harrison case, 106;
  on Lincoln’s methods of meeting personal attacks, 344;
  on Lincoln as an advocate, 337.


=Davis, David=, on Lincoln’s honesty, 63-64;
  appoints Lincoln to sit as judge for him, 89, 90;
  on Lincoln and the law, 123-124;
  rebukes Lincoln for undercharging, 161;
  presides at mock-trial, 162;
  his “Midas touch,” 172;
  delegates his judicial functions to others, 341.

=Davis, J. McCan=, on authenticity of almanac in Armstrong case, 345.

=Dawson, John=, one of the “Long Nine,” 211.

=Democratic Party=, under Andrew Jackson, 198;
  in power when Lincoln enters politics, 199;
  lashed by Lincoln, 241-242.

=Deskins, Dr. John=, sheriff sent in pursuit of Lincoln, 70.

=Dick, James A.=, sheriff in “Duff” Armstrong case, 110.

=Dickson, Judge William M.=, describes Lincoln’s humor as advocate, 346.

=Disraeli, Benjamin=, his similarities to Lincoln, 240.

=Douglas, Stephen A.=, dunned by Lincoln, 148-149;
  elected Register of Land Office, 223.

=Douglass, Frederick=, tells of first money he earned, 347.

=Dowling, Mrs. John=, daughter of Dennis Hanks, praises Thomas Lincoln, 2, 3.

=Dresser, Rev. Charles=, officiates at Lincoln’s wedding, 174.

=Driscoll, Mrs. Katherine Lord=, anecdote on Lincoln’s refusal of bad cases, 338.

=Drummond, Judge Thomas=, on Lincoln’s honesty, 64.

=Duncan, Gov. Joseph=, calls special session of assembly, 231.

=Dungee, Jack=, sues Spencer for slander, 152-155.

=Dungee Slander Suit=, Lincoln’s fee, 154.

=Duperron, Cardinal=, and Henry III, 59.


=Edwards, Benjamin S.=, retained by Gov. Matteson, 55.

=Edwards, Ninian W.=, opposing advocate to Lincoln, 159;
  one of the “Long Nine,” 211;
  on Lincoln’s appearance, 179, 352.

=Elizabethtown, Ky.=, home of Thomas Lincoln, 4;
  home of Mrs. Johnston, 7.

=Ellis, James=, befriended by Lincoln, 24.

=Emerson, Ralph=, on Lincoln and the law, 116.

=Ewing, William Lee D.=, Lincoln’s opponent for speaker of Illinois House, 357.


=Ferguson, Benjamin=, eulogized by Lincoln, 331.

=Fisher, Archibald=, wrongly reported murdered, 138.

=Fletcher, Job, Sr.=, one of the “Long Nine,” 211.

=Floyd, George P.=, part of fee returned to him by Lincoln, 159-160, 349.

=Forquer, George=, publicly reproached by Lincoln, 242-244.

=Fox, Charles James=, his “political slaughter” of opponents, 354.

=Franklin, Benjamin=, trials with his partner, 328.


=Gentry, Allen=, makes trading voyage with Lincoln, 14.

=Gentry, James=, sends Lincoln on trading voyage to New Orleans, 14;
  commends Lincoln, 15.

=Gentryville=, home of Lincolns, 18.

=Gibson, Justice John B.=, dictum on legal fees, 356.

=Gillespie, Judge Joseph=, anecdote on Lincoln, 69;
  on Lincoln’s simplicity, 177-178, 352;
  colleague of Lincoln in the House, 236-237;
  letter to Herndon, 340.

=Globe Tavern=, first home of Lincoln and his wife, 175.

=Goodrich, Grant=, endorses Lincoln’s charge against the Illinois Central R.R., 168;
  offers Lincoln partnership, 192.

=Goodwin, Thomas=, describes Thomas Lincoln, 323.

=Graham, Mentor=, helps Lincoln study surveying, 26.

=Green, Squire Bowling=, complains of Lincoln’s interference as peacemaker, 34.

=Green, J. Parker=, bantered by Lincoln in cross-examination, 16.

=Greene, William G.=, buys Radford’s store, 22;
  sells store to Lincoln and Berry, 22, 327;
  Lincoln’s debt to, 24;
  on Lincoln’s sportsmanlike conduct, 31, 330.

=Gridley, Asahel=, opposing counsel in Hoblit _vs._ Farmer, 70-71;
  exit through church window with Lincoln, 237.

=Gulliver, Rev. John P.=, on Lincoln’s search for facts, 339.


=Hale, Sir Matthew=, dictum on receiving fees, 144.

=Hamlin, Hannibal=, his struggle with debt similar to Lincoln’s, 328;
  attitude to fees similar to Lincoln’s, 335.

=Hammond, Judge Abram=, hoodwinked by Lincoln, 263-265.

=Hanks, Dennis=, father of Mrs. Dowling, 3;
  on Thomas Lincoln’s frequent removals, 4;
  on Lincoln’s habit of asking questions, 60;
  on Thomas Lincoln’s “way with women,” 325;
  on Lincoln’s business ability, 328.

=Hanks Family=, considered “smart,” 3.

=Hanks, John=, Lincoln’s cousin, accompanies him on trading voyage, 17.

=Hanks, Nancy=, mother of Abraham Lincoln, sweetness and firmness of character, 3;
  Abraham’s earliest recollections of, 6, 7;
  hardships and death, 7, 324;
  influence on Abraham’s character, 7.

=Hardin, Gen. John J.=, Lincoln’s opponent for congressional nomination, 267, 273;
  “making a slate,” 274;
  turns against Lincoln, 276;
  fails to catch Lincoln in his trap, 360.

=Harding, Jacob=, refuses Lincoln space in his editorial columns, 254.

=Harriott, James=, presiding justice in Armstrong case, 109.

=Harris, Gibson W.=, clerk in Lincoln’s office, on Lincoln’s attitude toward clients, 50;
  on Lincoln as a politician, 252, 277, 278, 357;
  on Lincoln as a lawyer, 343;
  on Lincoln’s attitude toward fees, 349;
  on Lincoln’s generosity, 185, 353.

=Harrison, Quinn=, “Peachy,” murder case of, 105-106.

=Hawley, Isaac=, astonished by small fee Lincoln asks, 149.

=Henry III=, and Cardinal Duperron, 59.

=Henry, Dr. A. G.=, on Lincoln’s treatment of Post Office funds, 45-46.

=Henry, John=, secures Baker’s office, 359.

=Henry, Patrick=, compared to Lincoln, 71;
  evidence that he kept accounts, 335;
  uses Valley Forge hardships as appeal for sympathy, 346.

=Herndon, Archer G.=, one of the “Long Nine,” 211.

=Herndon, James=, sells interest in general store to Berry, 21.

=Herndon, Rowan=, sells interest in general store to Lincoln, 21;
  believes Lincoln honest, 21, 327;
  Lincoln’s debt to, 24.

=Herndon, William H.=, Lincoln’s partner, 335;
  anecdotes on Lincoln and law, 87-88, 124-126;
  associate counsel with Lincoln, 105;
  anecdote on Lincoln and money, 145, 166;
  expostulates with Lincoln on under-charges, 162;
  on Lincoln’s indebtedness, 329.

=Hicks, Ratcliffe=, on Lincoln and the Patterson case, 339.

=Hill, Samuel=, befriended by Lincoln, 24.

=Hinton, Col. Richard J.=, on Lincoln as lawyer, 95-96, 342.

=Hoblit, Hon. James T.=, on Lincoln and the law, 82-83.

=Hoblit _vs._ Farmer=, Lincoln’s handling of case, 70.

=Hoffman, David=, dictum on statute of limitations and infancy, 346;
  attitude toward fees, 351;
  refuses to take bad cases, 337.

=Holt, Chief Justice William Henry=, on fictitious pleas, 342.

=Illinois Central Railroad=, retains Lincoln, 166;
  disallows his claim for fees, 167;
  sued by Lincoln, 169;
  its recent statement of case, 170-171.

=Indiana Statutes=, read by Lincoln, 35, 331.

=Irwin, James S.=, receives letter from Lincoln regarding fees, 165.


=Jackson, Andrew=, his radical democratic doctrines, 198.

=Jacksonism=, its decline in popularity, 208.

=Jacksonville, Ill.=, 52.

=James, Benjamin F.=, 360.

=Jayne, Dr. William=, on Lincoln’s generosity, 184, 353.

=Johnson, Matilda=, wife of Dennis Hanks, 3.

=Johnston, Daniel=, first husband of Sally Bush, 7.

=Johnston, John D.=, Lincoln’s stepbrother, accompanies him on trading voyage, 17.

=Johnston, Mrs. Sarah Bush=, marries Thomas Lincoln, 7;
  character and influence on Abraham, 8-9.

=Jones, William=, his grocery store at New Salem, 18.

=Joy, James F.=, retains Lincoln for Illinois Central R.R., 166;
  disallows Lincoln’s claim, 167;
  asks Lincoln to act as arbitrator, 331.

=Judd, Norman B.=, attorney for Chicago and Rock Island R.R. Co., retains Lincoln, 97-98;
  endorses Lincoln’s charge against the Illinois Central R.R., 168.

=Judd, Mrs. Norman B.=, on Lincoln as a lawyer, 343.


=Kentucky=, 3.

=Kidd, Captain Thomas W. S.=, describes Lincoln’s anger in court, 347.

=Kingsbury, Enoch=, his case refused by Lincoln, 54-55.

=Knob-Creek, Ky.=, early home of Lincoln, 4.

=Knox, Joseph=, associate of Lincoln in Rock Island Bridge case, 97.

=Koerner, Justice Gustav=, on Lincoln’s fairness, 95;
  recommends Lincoln to Atlantic R.R. Co., 145.


=Lamon, Ward Hill=, forced by Lincoln to return fee, 159-160;
  on Lincoln and the Patterson case, 339.

“=Land-sharks=,” Lincoln’s aversion to, 135.

=Law=, relation of lawyer to client, 58-60, 71-75;
  sham pleas, 88, 342;
  technicalities, 117-119;
  statute of limitations, 122-123, 346;
  legal fees, 136-138, 144, 166, 335, 349, 350.

=Lincoln, Abraham=, genealogy, 1;
  born at Nolin Creek, Ky., 4;
  early poverty, 4;
  on his father’s lack of “money sense,” 5;
  influenced by father’s honesty, 6;
  earliest recollections of mother, 6, 7;
  “my angel mother,” 7, 9;
  influenced by stepmother, 9;
  frontier life and hardships, 10;
  lack of schooling, 10;
  ambition for learning, 10;
  borrows books, 11;
  damages Crawford’s book, 10;
  writes lampoons, 12;
  emulates Weems’s Washington, 13, 326;
  sent on trading voyage to New Orleans by Gentry, 14;
  experience with counterfeit money, 15, 16, 327;
  commended by Gentry, 15;
  cross-examination of J. Parker Green, 16;
  second trading voyage, 17;
  admired by Denton Offutt, 17, 18;
  hired as clerk by Offutt at New Salem, 18, 197;
  lack of mercantile ability, 18, 23, 131, 133;
  his honesty attracts attention, 20;
  in Black Hawk War, 21;
  fails for election to state legislature, 21, 202;
  buys Rowan Herndon’s share of general store, 21;
  stature, 21;
  buys Radford’s store from Greene, 22;
  buys business of Rutledge, 22;
  sells out to the Trents, 22;
  charitable to memory of Berry, 22;
  burden of debts, 24, 225;
  his debts compared to Hamlin’s, 328;
  appointed local postmaster, 24, 204, 355;
  meager living, 24;
  sensitiveness to honor, 25;
  deputy surveyor, 26, 133, 204, 206;
  sued by Van Vergen and Watkins, 26;
  “the national debt,” 27, 38, 42, 133, 223;
  feats of strength, 29;
  wrestling match, 29-31;
  sportsmanlike conduct, 31;
  borrows books from Justice Pitcher, 35;
  attends sessions at Boonville, 35;
  desire to study law, 35-36, 38;
  reads Blackstone’s commentaries, 37;
  elected to state legislature, 37;
  poverty, 38;
  uses Major Stuart’s library, 39;
  enters law, 40;
  journey to Springfield, 41-42;
  accepts Speed’s hospitality, 43;
  partner of Stuart, 44;
  treatment of the money of others, 45-47;
  attitude toward clients, 49-50, 66-70, 73-76;
  the Matheney case, 50;
  attitude toward fraudulent cases, 54-60;
  partnership with Logan, 55;
  refuses to take Matteson case, 56, 338;
  “law honesty,” 56-57;
  conscience in law, 56-59, 77-78;
  habit of asking questions, 60, 61;
  intellectual modesty, 61-63;
  admiration for Stanton, 62;
  logical reasoning powers, 63;
  freedom from guile, 65;
  attitude when suspects client’s guilt during trial, 66-70, 340;
  Patterson murder trial, 67, 339;
  Hoblit _vs._ Farmer, 70-71;
  skill as an advocate, 79-80, 97-100, 341, 342;
  his methods in court, 80-83, 101, 125;
  treatment of witnesses, 84-86;
  experience with sham pleas, 88;
  sits for Judge Davis, 89, 90;
  qualifications as judge, 92-93;
  Rock Island Bridge case, 96-98;
  his colleagues’ jealousy, 104;
  the Quinn Harrison murder case, 105-107;
  methods of meeting personal attacks, 107-108;
  “Duff Armstrong case,” 108-111, 344, 355;
  false reflections on his character, 108, 111-115, 215, 345;
  the almanac episode, 110-111;
  attitude toward slurs on his character, 114-115;
  attitude toward technicalities in law, 117-118;
  his wit, 119;
  dishonest litigants, 120-122;
  statute of limitations, 122-123, 346;
  love of justice, 127;
  attitude toward money, 130-135, 173;
  earns his first money, 132, 347;
  aversion to land-grabbers, 133-135;
  fee in Armstrong case, 136;
  the Trailor case, 137-138;
  generosity to Trailor brothers, 139;
  the “shirt sleeve court,” 140;
  generosity to Linder, 141-142, 348;
  represents Atlantic R.R. Co. in suit, 144-145;
  proneness to underrate his services, 147, 148;
  duns Douglas for money, 148, 149;
  charges Daniel Webster absurdly small fee, 151;
  Dungee slander suit, 152-155;
  Chiniquy case, 155;
  generosity to Chiniquy, 158;
  returns part of fee to Floyd, 159-160;
  forces Lamon to return part of fee, 160;
  rebuked by Davis for undercharging, 161;
  arraigned at mock trial, 162;
  writes to Irwin about fees, 169;
  does not speculate, 172;
  marries Mary Todd, 173, 267;
  at the Globe Tavern, 175;
  his simplicity, 176, 183, 352;
  makes unfavorable first impression, 178, 180, 182;
  lack of taste in dress, 179;
  his appearance, 180-182;
  demands on him as married man, 183;
  his generosity, 183-185, 353;
  his wife’s trials, 185-188;
  treatment of his father, 190-191, 353;
  refuses partnership with Goodrich, 192;
  indifference to wealth, 193;
  first entrance into politics, 195, 199;
  his ambition, 197, 260, 266;
  admires Clay, 200;
  analysis of results of his first campaign, 203, 355, 356;
  political sincerity, 207, 233, 238, 354;
  elected to state legislature, 208;
  appointed to committee on accounts and expenditures, 209;
  attracts notice as politician, 210;
  reëlected, 210;
  leader of the “Long Nine,” 211;
  campaign to transfer capital from Vandalia to Springfield, 212-219;
  “log-rolling,” 213-215, 216, 218, 239;
  emulates De Witt Clinton, 218;
  befriended by Wilson, 224;
  borrows money from Smoot, 225;
  takes up fight against usury, 227;
  secures law limiting rates of interest, 230;
  handling of financial troubles of state, 232-236;
  his exit through church window, 237;
  his part in debate on “Subtreasuries,” 240, 241;
  experience with political graft, 242;
  retort to Forquer, 242-243;
  his treatment of office-seekers, 245-246;
  elected Speaker of Illinois House, 247;
  his personality, 247;
  his qualities as a politician, 248-250, 252, 256, 258;
  his methods of appeal to the people, 253, 254;
  the Harrison campaign, 254;
  his system of political organization, 255;
  his aggressiveness, 257;
  his modesty, 259, 261;
  readiness to assist beginners, 262;
  campaign for Congress, 267;
  helps Schurz, 262;
  his candor, 269;
  member of delegation, 270;
  letter to Morris, 271;
  at the convention, 272;
  “making a slate,” 274;
  dissolution of partnership with Logan, 275;
  turned against by Hardin, 276;
  his candidacy for Congress, 277, 279;
  charged with impiety, 279, 280;
  elected to Congress, 281, 282;
  arbitrator of disputes, 28, 32-35, 48-49, 52-53, 331;
  his honesty, 1, 9, 18, 20, 28, 32, 45-46, 63-65, 85-86, 129, 245;
  attitude toward legal fees, 136, 139, 141, 142, 147, 150, 152, 158-160, 163, 165, 166, 171, 349, 350, 351;
  attitude toward fees similar to Hamlin’s, 335;
  sells “dogskin” gloves to Ross, 328;
  letter to Spears, 329;
  on Surveyor-General Beale, 330;
  on his prowess as wrestler, 330;
  eulogizes Ferguson, 331;
  date of his admission to bar, 333, 334;
  evidence that he kept accounts, 335;
  did not win every case he should have won, 341;
  compared to Horace Binney, 342;
  habit of waiting on himself, 351;
  habit of carrying documents under his hat, 205, 355;
  proposes resolution for bill against fraudulent voting, 358;
  his proposed duel with Shields, 268, 359;
  avoids traps set by Hardin, 360.
    =anecdotes about Lincoln=, 13, 16, 19, 25, 30-31, 36, 42, 45, 47, 64, 65, 92-93, 178, 182, 261, 272, 357, 359.
    =anecdotes about Lincoln and the law=, 49-51, 55, 57, 66-67, 68-69, 75-76, 77-78, 80-83, 89-91, 95, 98, 102, 103, 116, 118-119, 120-121, 124-126, 127-128, 338.
    =anecdotes about Lincoln and money=, 131-132, 137-141, 143, 145-147, 148-151, 154, 158-160, 164, 166, 172, 187, 189, 225, 351.
    =anecdotes about Lincoln and politics=, 206, 214, 219-221, 222-223, 226, 237, 242-244, 246, 254, 258, 269-270.
    =anecdotes by Lincoln=, 5-6, 59-60, 131-132, 229.

=Lincoln, Edward Baker=, second son of Abraham Lincoln, 351;
  named for Edward D. Baker, 359.

=Lincoln, Josiah=, uncle of Abraham, his probity, 2, 323.

=Lincoln, Matilda=, Abraham’s stepsister, axe anecdote, 13.

=Lincoln, Mordecai=, uncle of Abraham, his probity, 2, 323.

=Lincoln, Robert Todd=, oldest son of Abraham Lincoln, 351.

=Lincoln, Thomas=, father of Abraham, regarded as honest, 2, 6;
  one source of Abraham’s honesty, 3;
  frequent removal of residence, 4, 324;
  lack of success, 4, 5;
  hospitality, 5;
  lack of “money sense,” 5;
  influence on Abraham’s character, 6;
  marries Mrs. Johnston, 7, 324.

=Lincoln, Thomas=, fourth son of Abraham Lincoln, 351.

=Lincoln, William Wallace=, third son of Abraham Lincoln, 351.

=Lincoln, Ill.=, 82.

=Linder, Gen. Usher F.=, experiences Lincoln’s generosity, 141-142;
  on Lincoln’s family, 323;
  letter from Lincoln, 348.

LITTLE, S., collects money on bill guaranteed by Lincoln, 184.

=Littlefield, Gen. John H.=, on Lincoln’s refusal to take bad cases, 57, 338.

=Little Pigeon Creek=, home of Lincolns, 7.

=Logan, Milton=, foreman of jury in Armstrong case, testifies to authenticity of almanac, 114.

=Logan, Judge Stephen T.=, Lincoln’s partner, 55, 105, 335;
  in Trailor case, 137;
  dissolution of partnership with Lincoln, 275;
  on Lincoln’s popularity, 203, 355.

“=Log-rolling=,” Lincoln’s experience with, 213, 215-216, 218.

“=Long Nine, The=,” nickname of Sangamon representatives, 211;
  campaign to transfer state capital to Springfield, 212-215;
  “Log-Rolling,” 215, 216.

=Loop, James L.=, associated with Lincoln, 340.

=Lord, James J.=, anecdote on Lincoln’s refusal of bad cases, 57, 338.

=Lord, John P.=, describes Jeremiah Mason, 336.


=McClernand, John A.=, recommended by Lincoln, 53;
  in Harrison case, 105;
  secures passage
of bill against fraudulent voting, 358.

=McCormick, Andrew=, one of the “Long Nine,” 211.

=McCormick Reaper Suit=, Stanton’s handling of the case, 62.

=McHenry, Henry=, experience with Lincoln as lawyer, 54;
  on Lincoln as surveyor, 330;
  on Lincoln’s close application, 332.

=McLean, John=, presiding judge in Rock Island Bridge case, 96.

=McNeely, William=, one of “Clary’s Grove boys,” 139;
  on Lincoln’s attitude toward right and wrong, 327.

=McWilliams, Amzi=, prosecuting attorney in Harrison case, 105.

=Marshall, Chief Justice John=, resemblances to Lincoln, 352.

=Mason, Jeremiah=, tries to prevent litigation, 336.

=Matheney, Charles=, Lincoln and the Matheney case, 50.

=Matheney, James=, experiences Lincoln’s candor, 359.

=Matteson, Governor Joel A.=, Lincoln and Logan refuse to defend, 55-56, 338.

=Mendonsa, John F.=, anecdote about Lincoln and money, 185-187, 353.

=Minier, George W.=, describes Lincoln’s refusal to plead exemption on grounds of infancy, 346.

=Moore, Clifton H.=, opposing counsel to Lincoln in Dungee case, 153.

=Moore, Jonathan=, brother of Captain William Moore, 31.

=Moore, Risdon M.=, meets Lincoln, 330.

=Moore, William=, commander of company from St. Clair County in Black Hawk War, 30.

=Morris, Martin M.=, supporter of Lincoln in convention, 271, 273, 274.


=Nance, George W.=, on Lincoln’s charge for services, 150, 349.

“=National Debt=,” Lincoln’s burden of debt, 27, 38, 42, 133, 223.

=Neale, Thomas M.=, successor of John Calhoun, 28.

=Nelson, Thomas H.=, anecdote about Lincoln, 263;
  hoodwinked by Lincoln, 264-265;
  sequel to his adventure with Lincoln, 358.

=New Orleans, La.=, 5, 6;
  trading voyage to, 14.

=New Salem=, 327, 332, 355;
  Lincoln clerk in Offutt’s store at, 18.

=Nolin Creek, Ky.=, birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, 4.

=Norris, James A.=, convicted of manslaughter, 108.


=O’Conor, Charles=, subordinates money-making to professional propriety, 350.

=Offutt, Denton=, admiration for Lincoln, 17, 18;
  sends Lincoln on trading voyage, 17;
  hires Lincoln as clerk at New Salem, 18;
  business fails to prosper, 20-21.

=Orr, Albert B.=, tells of Lincoln’s decision to enter law, 332.

=Osgood, Uri=, attorney for Chiniquy, 155.


=Paddock, John W.=, attorney for Chiniquy, 155.

=Palmer, John M.=, in Harrison case, 105.

=Parks, Judge Samuel C.=, on Lincoln’s attitude toward law, 55;
  on Lincoln as a politician, 238.

=Patterson murder trial=, 67, 339.

=Pickering, Governor William=, on Lincoln’s mother and stepmother, 9.

=Pinkney, William=, conduct similar to Lincoln’s, 77-78.

=Pirtle, Henry=, on the character of Lincoln’s uncles, 323.

=Pitcher, Justice John=, lends Lincoln law books, 35;
  admiration for Lincoln, 36.

=Primm, James=, experiences Lincoln’s generosity, 353.

=Prince, Ezra Morton=, on Lincoln as a lawyer, 104.

=Purple, Norman H.=, endorses Lincoln’s charge against Illinois Central R.R., 168.


=Radford, Reuben=, store wrecked by “Clary’s Grove boys,” 22;
  sells store to Greene, 22;
  Lincoln’s debt to, 24.

=Rankin, Henry B.=, describes route Lincoln took from Springfield to New Salem, 332.

=Republican Party=, Lincoln fails for election to state Legislature in, 21.

=Reynolds, Gov. John=, on Lincoln as a politician, 247.

=Rice, Judge E. J.=, prejudiced at Harrison trial, 127.

=Rice, Henry=, experience with Lincoln as a lawyer, 52;
  on Lincoln’s handling of bankruptcy case, 337.

=Rickel, Henry=, on Lincoln and money, 151-152, 349.

=Rock Island Bridge Case=, Lincoln’s efforts in, 96-98.

=Rockport, Ind.=, home of Justice John Pitcher, 35.

=Roper, Joseph D.=, anecdote about Lincoln, 357.

=Rosette, John E.=, receives letter from Lincoln, 188.

=Ross, Harvey L.=, consults Lincoln in land case, 139;
  buys “dogskin” gloves of Lincoln, 328.

=Ross, Ossian M.=, postmaster at Havana, Ill., 139.

=Ruggles, James M.=, anecdote about Lincoln, 272, 359.

=Rutledge, James=, sells business to Lincoln and Berry, 22;
  Lincoln’s debt to, 24.


=Sadorus, Ill.=, 75.

=Schurz, Carl=, on Lincoln’s appearance, 180;
  first interview with Lincoln, 262.

=Shaw, J. Henry=, anecdote on Lincoln and law, 68.

=Shields, James=, his proposed duel with Lincoln, 268, 359.

“=Shirt sleeve court=,” held by Judge Thomas, 140-141.

=Short, James=, takes place of Van Bergen as Lincoln’s creditor, 329.

=Simmons, Pollard=, tenders Lincoln appointment as deputy surveyor, 206-207.

=Smoot, Coleman=, lends Lincoln money, 225, 356.

=Somers, James W.=, on Lincoln’s appearance, 179.

=Spears, George=, reprimanded by Lincoln for demanding receipt, 329.

=Speed, Joshua F.=, shares his room with Lincoln, 43;
  on Lincoln’s attitude toward his election to Congress, 360.

=Spencer, Joe=, sued by Dungee for slander, 152-155.

=Spink, Peter=, sues Father Chiniquy for slander, 155.

=Springfield, Ill.=, 37, 39, 41-42;
  Lincoln’s home, 42;
  made capital, 219;
  Lincoln’s route from Springfield to New Salem, 332.

=Stanton, Edward M.=, Lincoln’s admiration for, 62;
  his handling of the McCormick Reaper suit, 62.

=Starr, Norton, and McRoberts=, attorneys for Spink in Chiniquy case, 155.

=Stature=, Lincoln’s stalwartness, 21.

=Statute of Limitations=, Lincoln’s attitude toward, 122-123.

=Stephens, Alexander H.=, refuses to take bad cases, 338.

=Stevens, Frank E.=, investigates the “Black Hawk” wrestling match, 29, 330.

=Stone, Daniel=, one of the “Long Nine,” 211.

=Stuart, Maj. John T.=, attorney at Springfield, 37;
  fellow-candidate of Lincoln, 37;
  helps Lincoln study law, 39;
  partner of Lincoln, 44, 181, 335.

=Sulpicius, Servius=, believes in tempering the severity of law, 336.

=Swett, Leonard=, on Lincoln as arbitrator, 49;
  on Lincoln’s honesty, 64-65;
  on Lincoln and the law, 80-81, 98;
  on Lincoln’s simplicity, 352.


=Thomas, Judge Jesse B.=, holds “shirt sleeve court,” 140-141.

=Thompson, Lorenzo Dow=, beats Lincoln at wrestling, 30.

=Thornton, Anthony=, on Lincoln as an advocate, 341.

=Todd, Mary=, Lincoln’s wife, 174, 267;
  her trials with money-matters, 185, 188.

=Toombs, Robert=, refuses to take bad cases, 338.

=Trailor brothers=, defended on murder charge by Lincoln, 138.

=Treat, Judge Samuel H.=, presides in Hoblit _vs._ Farmer case, 70; 121;
  on Lincoln’s straightforwardness as an advocate, 340.

=Tremont, Ill.=, 120.

=Trent, Alexander and William=, buy out Lincoln and Berry on notes and abscond, 23.

=Turnham, David=, lends copy of Indiana Statutes to Lincoln, 331.


=Usury=, prevalence, 227;
  Lincoln takes up fight against, 228;
  law limiting rates of interest, 230.


=Van Bergen=, obtains judgment against Lincoln on note, 26.

=Van Cleave, James R. B.=, describes route Lincoln took from Springfield to New Salem, 332.

=Vandalia, Ill.=, 42;
  state capital transferred to Springfield, 219.

=Volk, Leonard W.=, describes Lincoln’s habit of waiting on himself, 351.


=Warburton, George=, one of parties in horse-race, 32.

=Warden, Charles E.=, tells of Lincoln’s decision to enter law, 332.

=Washington, George=, punctilious honesty compared to Lincoln’s, 19;
  Weems’s Life of, 12.

=Watkins, Thomas=, sues Lincoln for debt, 26.

=Webster, Daniel=, impressed with Lincoln’s moderation in fees, 150-151;
  resemblances to Lincoln, 224;
  attitude toward money, 225;
  secures acquittal of forger by his admissions, 343.

=Weems, Mason L.=, author of “Life of Washington,” 326.

=Weems’s “Life of Washington,”= influence on Lincoln, 12, 326.

=Weik, Jesse W.=, on date of Lincoln’s admission to the bar, 333;
  anecdote on Lincoln and money, 351.

=Weldon, Lawrence=, opposing counsel to Lincoln in Dungee case, 153;
  on Lincoln’s moderate fees, 154-155;
  on Lincoln’s methods of meeting personal attacks, 344.

=Whig Party=, Lincoln elected to State Legislature on, 37;
  Henry Clay its hero, 201.

=White, Horace=, on Lincoln as a politician, 256;
  on counterfeit money, 326.

=Whitney, Henry C.=, on Lincoln’s honesty, 65, 86, 87;
  on Lincoln and the law, 75-76;
  on Lincoln and money, 164;
  contradicts Lamon on Patterson case, 339;
  on Lincoln’s simplicity, 352.

=Williams, Archibald=, endorses Lincoln’s charge against the Illinois Central R.R., 168.

=Wilson, Robert L.=, one of the “Long Nine,” 211;
  befriends Lincoln, 224.

=Winters, William H.=, on O’Conor’s professional propriety, 350.

=Wythe, George=, method of guarding against deception of clients, 65-66.

                          The Riverside Press
                       CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS
                               U . S . A


Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

he has profaned a scared thing=> he has profaned a sacred thing {pg 280}

Commerical Advertiser=> Commercial Advertiser {pg 290}

=Clinton, deWitt=, Lincoln’s emulation of, 218.=> =Clinton, De Witt=,
Lincoln’s emulation of, 218. {pg 364}





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