McClure's Magazine, March, 1896, Vol. VI., No. 4.
Author: Various
1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[Note: The Table of Contents and the list of illustrations were added by the transcriber.]


MARCH, 1896.

VOL. VI. NO. 4.


ILLUSTRATIONS. ABRAHAM LINCOLN. By Ida M. Tarbell. Lincoln Is Admitted to the Bar. Lincoln in the Tenth Assembly of Illinois. The Removal of the Capital to Springfield. Lincoln's First Reported Speech. Abraham Lincoln's First Protest Against Slavery. Social Life in Vandalia in 1836 and 1837. Lincoln Moves to Springfield. Lincoln's Position in Springfield. THE SHIP THAT FOUND HERSELF. By Rudyard Kipling. A CENTURY OF PAINTING. By Will H. Low. CY AND I. By Eugene Field. A YOUNG HERO. By John Hay. CHAPTERS FROM A LIFE. By Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. LOST YOUTH. By R.L. Stevenson. THE DIVIDED HOUSE. By Julia D. Whiting. SCIENTIFIC KITE-FLYING. By Cleveland Moffett. How to Make a Scientific Kite. How to Send Up a Kite. Runaway Tandems. The Lifting Power of Kites. The Meteorological Use of Kites. The Highest Flight Ever Made by a Kite. Drawing Down Electricity by a Kite-string. The Use of Kites in Photography. Possible Use of Kites in War. A DRAMATIC POINT. By Robert Barr. EDITORIAL NOTES. "Justice, Where Art Thou?" "A Disgrace to Civilization." The Real Lincoln. Lincoln in 1860—J. Henry Brown's Journal.




From an ambrotype taken in Springfield, Illinois, on August 13, 1860, and now owned by Mr. William H. Lambert of Philadelphia, through whose courtesy we are allowed to reproduce it here. This ambrotype was bought by Mr. Lambert from Mr. W.P. Brown of Philadelphia. Mr. Brown writes of the portrait: "This picture, along with another one of the same kind, was presented by President Lincoln to my father, J. Henry Brown, deceased (miniature artist), after he had finished painting Lincoln's picture on ivory, at Springfield, Illinois. The commission was given my father by Judge Read (John M. Read of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania), immediately after Lincoln's nomination for the Presidency. One of the ambrotypes I sold to the Historical Society of Boston, Massachusetts, and it is now in their possession." The miniature referred to is now owned by Mr. Robert T. Lincoln. It was engraved by Samuel Sartain, and circulated widely before the inauguration. After Mr. Lincoln grew a beard, Sartain put a beard on his plate, and the engraving continued to sell extensively. While Mr. Brown was in Springfield painting the miniature he kept a journal, which Mr. Lambert also owns and which he has generously put at our disposal. It will be found on page 400.]


VOL. VI. MARCH, 1896. No. 4.




The first twenty-six years of Abraham Lincoln's life have been traced in the preceding chapters. We have seen him struggling to escape from the lot of a common farm laborer, to which he seemed to be born; becoming a flatboatman, a grocery clerk, a store-keeper, a postmaster, and finally a surveyor. We have traced his efforts to rise above the intellectual apathy and the indifference to culture which characterized the people among whom he was reared, by studying with eagerness every subject on which he could find books,—biography, state history, mathematics, grammar, surveying, and finally law. We have followed his growth in ambition and in popularity from the day when, on a keg in an Indiana grocery, he debated the contents of the Louisville "Journal" with a company of admiring elders, to the time when, purely because he was liked, he was elected to the State Assembly of Illinois by the people of Sangamon County. His joys and sorrows have been reviewed from his childhood in Kentucky to the day of the death of the woman he loved and had hoped to make his wife. These twenty-six years form the first period of Lincoln's life. It was a period of makeshifts and experiments, ending in a tragic sorrow; but at its close he had definite aims, and preparation and experience enough to convince him that he dared follow them. Law and politics were the fields he had chosen, and in the first year of the second period of his life, 1836, he entered them definitely.

The Ninth General Assembly of Illinois, in which Lincoln had done his preparatory work as a legislator, was dissolved, and in June, 1836, he announced himself as a candidate for the Tenth Assembly. A few days later the "Sangamon Journal" published his simple platform:


"In your paper of last Saturday I see a communication over the signature of 'Many Voters,' in which the candidates who are announced in the 'Journal' are called upon to 'show their hands.' Agreed. Here's mine:

I go for all sharing the privileges of the government who assist in bearing its burdens. Consequently, I go for admitting all whites to the right of suffrage who pay taxes or bear arms (by no means excluding females).

If elected, I shall consider the whole people of Sangamon my constituents, as well those that oppose as those that support me.

While acting as their representative, I shall be governed by their will on all subjects upon which I have the means of knowing what their will is; and upon all others, I shall do what my own judgment teaches me will best advance their interests. Whether elected or not, I go for distributing the proceeds of the sales of public lands to the several States, to enable our State, in common with others, to dig canals and construct railroads without borrowing money and paying the interest on it.

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

"Very respectfully, "A. LINCOLN."

The campaign which Lincoln began with this letter was in every way more exciting for him than those of 1832 and 1834. Since the last election a census had been taken in Illinois which showed so large an increase in the population that the legislative districts had been reapportioned and the General Assembly increased by fifty members. In this reapportionment Sangamon County's delegation had been enlarged to seven representatives and two senators. This gave large new opportunity to political ambition, and doubled the enthusiasm of political meetings.

But the increase of the representation was not all that made the campaign exciting. Party lines had never before been so clearly drawn, nor personal abuse quite so intense. One of Lincoln's first acts was to answer a personal attack. He did it in a letter marked by candor, good-humor, and shrewdness.

"NEW SALEM, June 21, 1836. "DEAR COLONEL:

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

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

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

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

"Very respectfully, "A. LINCOLN."


Usually during the campaign Lincoln was obliged to meet personal attacks, not by letter, but on the platform. Joshua Speed, who later became the most intimate friend that Lincoln probably ever had, tells of one occasion when he was obliged to meet such an attack on the very spur of the moment. A great mass-meeting was in progress at Springfield, and Lincoln had made a speech which had produced a deep impression. "I was then fresh from Kentucky," says Mr. Speed, "and had heard many of her great orators. It seemed to me then, as it seems to me now, that I never heard a more effective speaker. He carried the crowd with him, and swayed them as he pleased. So deep an impression did he make that George Forquer, a man of much celebrity as a sarcastic speaker and with a great reputation throughout the State as an orator, rose and asked the people to hear him. He began his speech by saying that this young man would have to be taken down, and he was sorry that the task devolved upon him. He made what was called one of his 'slasher-gaff' speeches, dealing much in ridicule and sarcasm. Lincoln stood near him, with his arms folded, never interrupting him. When Forquer was done, Lincoln walked to the stand, and replied so fully and completely that his friends bore him from the court-house on their shoulders.

"So deep an impression did this first speech make upon me that I remember its conclusion now, after a lapse of thirty-eight years. Said he:

"'The gentleman commenced his speech by saying that this young man would have to be taken down, and he was sorry the task devolved upon him. I am not so young in years as I am in the tricks and trade of a politician; but live long or die young, I would rather die now than, like the gentleman, change my politics and simultaneous with the change receive an office worth three thousand dollars a year, and then have to erect a lightning-rod over my house to protect a guilty conscience from an offended God.'

"To understand the point of this it must be explained that Forquer had been a Whig, but had changed his politics, and had been appointed Register of the Land Office; and over his house was the only lightning-rod in the town or country. Lincoln had seen the lightning-rod for the first time on the day before."


From a carbon enlargement, made by Sherman and McHugh of New York City, of an ambrotype owned by Mr. A. Montgomery of Columbus, Ohio, to whose generosity we owe the right of reproduction. This portrait of Lincoln was made in June, 1860, by Butler, a Springfield (Illinois) photographer. On July 4th of that year, Mr. Lincoln delivered an address at Atlanta, Illinois, where he was the guest of Mr. Vester Strong. Before leaving town he handed Mr. Strong the ambrotype which we copy here. Mr. Strong valued the picture highly, but as he had no children to whom to leave it, and as he wished it to be in the care of one who would appreciate its value, he gave it a few years ago to Mr. Montgomery.]

This speech has never been forgotten in Springfield, and on my visits there I have repeatedly had the site of the house on which this particular lightning-rod was placed pointed out, and one or another of the many versions which the story has been given, related to me.

It was the practice at that date in Illinois for two rival candidates to travel over the district together. The custom led to much good-natured raillery between them; and in such contests Lincoln was rarely, if ever, worsted. He could even turn the generosity of his rival to account by his whimsical treatment, as the following shows: He had driven out from Springfield in company with a political opponent to engage in joint debate. The carriage, it seems, belonged to his opponent. In addressing the gathering of farmers that met them, Lincoln was lavish in praise of the generosity of his friend. "I am too poor to own a carriage," he said, "but my friend has generously invited me to ride with him. I want you to vote for me if you will; but if not, then vote for my opponent, for he is a fine man." His extravagant and persistent praise of his opponent appealed to the sense of humor in his farmer audience, to whom Lincoln's inability to own a carriage was by no means a disqualification.[1]

The election came off in August, and resulted in the choice of a delegation from Sangamon County famous in the annals of Illinois. The nine successful candidates were Abraham Lincoln, John Dawson, Daniel Stone, Ninian W. Edwards, William F. Elkins, R.L. Wilson, Andrew McCormick, Job Fletcher, and Arthur Herndon. Each one of these men was over six feet in height, their combined stature being, it is said, fifty-five feet. The "Long Nine" was the name Sangamon County gave them.

[Illustration: EBENEZER PECK.

Ebenezer Peck, who was chiefly instrumental in introducing the convention system into Illinois politics, was born in Portland, Maine, May 22, 1805. He lived for some time in Peacham, Vermont, where he was educated. While yet a boy, removed with his parents to Canada. He studied law at Montreal, and practised there; became King's Counsel for Canada East, and was finally elected to the provincial parliament on the Reform ticket. In the summer of 1835 he removed to Chicago, and there, as a lawyer and a politician, he at once made his mark. He was a delegate to the first Democratic State convention in Illinois, held at Vandalia, December 7, 1835, and was the chief advocate of the general adoption of the convention system—a system which was at first opposed and ridiculed by the Whigs, but which very soon they were forced to adopt. In 1837 Mr. Peck was made one of the Internal Improvement Commissioners. In 1838 he was elected to the State Senate, and in 1840 to the House. He was clerk of the Supreme Court from 1841 to 1848, and reporter of that court from 1849 to 1863. His anti-slavery sentiments led him to abandon the Democratic party in 1853, and in 1856 he helped establish the Republican party in the State. He was again elected to the legislature in 1858. In 1863 President Lincoln appointed him a judge of the Court of Claims, and he held this position until 1875. He died May 25, 1881.—J. McCan Davis.]


As soon as the election was over Lincoln occupied himself in settling another matter, of much greater moment, in his own judgment. He went to Springfield to seek admission to the bar. The "roll of attorneys and counsellors at law," on file in the office of the clerk of the Supreme Court at Springfield, Illinois, shows that his license was dated September 9, 1836, and that the date of the enrollment of his name upon the official list was March 1, 1837. The first case in which he was concerned, as far as we know, was that of Hawthorn against Woolridge. He made his first appearance in court in October, 1836.

Although he had given much time during this year to politics and the law, he had by no means abandoned surveying. Indeed he never had more calls. Surveying was particularly brisk at the moment, and he frequently was obliged to be away for three and four weeks at a time, laying out towns or locating roads. "When he got a job," says the Hon. J.M. Ruggles, a friend and political supporter of Mr. Lincoln, "there was a picnic and jolly time in the neighborhood. Men and boys would gather around, ready to carry chain, drive stakes, and blaze trees, but mainly to hear Lincoln's odd stories and jokes. The fun was interspersed with foot races and wrestling matches. To this day the old settlers around Bath repeat the incidents of Lincoln's sojourns in their neighborhood while surveying that town."



NINIAN W. EDWARDS was born in Kentucky in 1809, a son of Ninian Edwards, who in the same year was appointed Governor of the new Territory of Illinois. Mr. Edwards was appointed Attorney-General of Illinois in 1834; in 1836 was elected to the legislature; was reelected in 1838; served in the State Senate from 1844 to 1848, and again in the House from 1848 to 1852. He was a member of the constitutional convention of 1847. He died at Springfield, September 2, 1889.

JOB FLETCHER, SR., was born in Virginia in 1793; removed to Sangamon County, Illinois, in 1819. In 1826 he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, and in 1834 to the State Senate, where he served six years. He died in Sangamon County in 1872.

WILLIAM F. ELKINS was born in Kentucky in 1792. He went to Sangamon County, Illinois, in 1825. In 1828, 1836, and 1838 he was elected to the legislature. In 1831 he raised a company for the Black Hawk War, and was its captain. In 1861 President Lincoln appointed him Register of the United States Land Office at Springfield, an office which he held until 1872, when he resigned. He died at Decatur, Illinois, 1880.

ROBERT LANG WILSON was born in Pennsylvania in 1805. In 1831 he went to Kentucky; in 1833 removed to Sangamon County, Illinois; in 1836 was elected to the Illinois House. He removed to Sterling, Illinois, in 1840, and died there in 1880. For some years he was paymaster in the United States Army.

JOHN DAWSON was born in Virginia in 1791; he removed to Sangamon County, Illinois, in 1827. He was elected to the lower house of the legislature in 1830, 1834, 1836, 1838, and 1846. He was a member of the constitutional convention of 1847. He died November 12, 1850.

The other members of the "Long Nine" were Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Stone, Andrew McCormick, and Arthur Herndon.]


In December Lincoln put away his surveying instruments to go to Vandalia for the opening session of the Tenth Assembly. Larger by fifty members than its predecessor, this body was as much superior in intellect as in numbers. It included among its members a future President of the United States, a future candidate for the same high office, six future United States Senators, eight future members of the National House of Representatives, a future Secretary of the Interior, and three future Judges of the State Supreme Court. Here sat side by side Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas; Edward Dickinson Baker, who represented at different times the States of Illinois and Oregon in the national councils; O.H. Browning, a prospective senator and future cabinet officer, and William L.D. Ewing, who had just served in the senate; John Logan, father of the late General John A. Logan; Robert M. Cullom, father of Senator Shelby M. Cullom; John A. McClernand, afterward member of Congress for many years, and a distinguished general in the late Civil War; and many others of national repute.[2]


From a silhouette loaned by Mr. Owen Lovejoy of Princeton, Illinois. Elijah Lovejoy was born in Maine in 1802. When twenty-five years old he emigrated to St. Louis, where he at first did journalistic work on a Whig newspaper. In 1833 he entered the ministry, and was soon after made editor of a religious newspaper, the "St. Louis Observer." Mr. Lovejoy began, in 1835, to turn his paper against slavery, but the opposition he found in Missouri was so strong that in the summer of 1836 he decided to move his paper to Alton, Illinois. Before he could get his plant out of St. Louis a mob destroyed the greater part. The remainder he succeeded in getting to Alton, but a mob met it there and threw it into the river. The citizens of Alton, ashamed of this act, gave Mr. Lovejoy money to buy a new press. At first the tone of the paper was moderate, but gradually it grew more emphatic in its utterances against slavery. The pro-slavery element of the town protested, indignation meetings were held, and in August, 1837, his press was thrown into the river. Another was immediately bought, which, in September, followed its predecessor to the bottom of the Mississippi. When it was known in Alton that Mr. Lovejoy had ordered a fourth press, and had resolved to fight the opposition to the end, a public meeting was called, at which many speeches were made on both sides, and he was urged to leave Alton. This he refused to do, and his fourth press was landed on November 6, 1837. The next night a mob attacked the warehouse where it was placed, and in the riot one of the assailants, Lyman Bishop, and Elijah Lovejoy himself were killed.]

The members came to Vandalia full of hope and exultation. In their judgment it needed only a few months of legislation to put their State by the side of New York; and from the opening of the session they were overflowing with excitement and schemes. In the general ebullition of spirits which characterized the Assembly, Lincoln had little share. Only a week after the opening of the session he wrote to a friend, Mary Owens, at New Salem, that he had been ill, though he believed himself to be about well then; and he added: "But that, with other things I cannot account for, have conspired, and have gotten my spirits so low that I feel I would rather be any place in the world than here. I really cannot endure the thought of staying here ten weeks."

Though depressed, he was far from being inactive. The Sangamon delegation, in fact, had their hands full, and to no one of the nine had more been entrusted than to Lincoln. In common with almost every delegation, they had been instructed by their constituents to adopt a scheme of internal improvements complete enough to give every budding town in Illinois easy communication with the world. This for the State in general; for Sangamon County in particular, they had been directed to secure the capital. The change in the State's centre of population made it advisable to move the seat of government northward from Vandalia, and Springfield was anxious to secure it. To Lincoln was entrusted the work of putting through the bill to remove the capital. In the same letter quoted from above he tells Miss Owens, "Our chance to take the seat of government to Springfield is better than I expected." Regarding the internal improvements scheme he feels less confident: "Some of the legislature are for it, and some against; which has the majority, I cannot tell."

[Illustration: Frontispiece of "Alton Trials," a small volume published in 1838, containing full notes taken at the time of the trial of the persons engaged in what is called the "Alton riot." Twelve persons were indicted "for the crime of riot committed on the night of the 7th of November, 1837, while engaged in defending a Printing Press from an attack made on it at that time by an Armed Mob;" eleven others were indicted "for a riot committed in Alton on the night of the 7th of November, 1837, in unlawfully and forcibly entering the warehouse of Godfrey Gilman and Company, and breaking up and destroying a printing press." In both cases the juries returned a verdict of "not guilty." (See note on Elijah Lovejoy.)]

It was not long, however, before all uncertainty about internal improvements was over. The people were determined to have them, and the Assembly responded to their demands by passing an act which provided, at State expense, for railroads, canals, or river improvements in almost every county in Illinois. To compensate those counties to which they could not give anything else, they voted them a sum of money for roads and bridges. No finer bit of imaginative work was ever done, in fact, by a legislative body, than the map of internal improvements made by the Tenth Assembly of Illinois.

There was no time to estimate exactly the cost of these fine plans. Nor did they feel any need of estimates; that was a mere matter of detail. They would vote a fund, and when that was exhausted they would vote more; and so they appropriated sum after sum: one hundred thousand dollars to improve the Rock River; one million eight hundred thousand dollars to build a road from Quincy to Danville; four million dollars to complete the Illinois and Michigan Canal; two hundred and fifty thousand for the Western Mail Route—in all, some twelve million dollars. To carry out the elaborate scheme, they provided a commission, one of the first duties of which was to sell the bonds of the State to raise the money for the enterprise. The majority of the Assembly seem not to have entertained for a moment an idea that there would be any difficulty in selling at a premium the bonds of Illinois. "On the contrary," as General Linder says in his "Reminiscences," "the enthusiastic friends of the measure maintained that, instead of there being any difficulty in obtaining a loan of the fifteen or twenty millions authorized to be borrowed, our bonds would go like hot cakes, and be sought for by the Rothschilds, and Baring Brothers, and others of that stamp; and that the premiums which we would obtain upon them would range from fifty to one hundred per cent., and that the premium itself would be sufficient to construct most of the important works, leaving the principal sum to go into our treasury, and leave the people free from taxation for years to come."


Although Lincoln favored and aided in every way the plan for internal improvements, his real work was in securing the removal of the capital to Springfield. The task was by no means an easy one to direct; for outside of the "Long Nine" there was, of course, nobody particularly interested in Springfield, and there were delegations from a dozen other counties hot to secure the capital for their own constituencies. It took patient and clever manipulation to put the bill through. Certain votes Lincoln, no doubt, gained for his cause by force of his personal qualities. Thus Jesse K. Dubois says that he and his colleagues voted for the bill because they liked Lincoln, and wanted to oblige him. But probably the majority were won by skilful log-rolling. Not that Lincoln ever sanctioned "trading" to the sacrifice of his own convictions. General T.H. Henderson, of Illinois, says in some interesting reminiscences of Lincoln, prepared for this Life and hitherto unpublished: "Before I had ever seen Abraham Lincoln I heard my father, who served with him in the legislature of 1838-39 and of 1840-41, relate an incident in Mr. Lincoln's life which illustrates his character for integrity and his firmness in maintaining what he regarded as right in his public acts, in a marked manner.

"I do not remember whether this incident occurred during the session of the legislature in 1836-37 or 1838-39. But I think it was in that of 1836-37, when it was said that there was a great deal of log-rolling going on among the members. But, however that may be, according to the story related by my father, an effort was made to unite the friends of capital removal with the friends of some measure which Mr. Lincoln, for some reason, did not approve. What that measure was to which he objected, I am not now able to recall. But those who desired the removal of the capital to Springfield were very anxious to effect the proposed combination, and a meeting was held to see if it could be accomplished. The meeting continued in session nearly all night, when it adjourned without accomplishing anything, Mr. Lincoln refusing to yield his objections and to support the obnoxious measure."

"Another meeting was called, and at this second meeting a number of citizens, not members of the legislature, from the central and northern parts of the State, among them my father, were present by invitation. The meeting was long protracted, and earnest in its deliberations. Every argument that could be thought of was used to induce Mr. Lincoln to yield his objections and unite with his friends, and thus secure the removal of the capital to his own city; but without effect. Finally, after midnight, when everybody seemed exhausted with the discussion, and when the candles were burning low in the room, Mr. Lincoln rose amid the silence and solemnity which prevailed, and, my father said, made one of the most eloquent and powerful speeches to which he had ever listened. And he concluded his remarks by saying, '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.' And the meeting adjourned."

If Lincoln did not support measures which he considered doubtful, he did, now and then, "tack a provision" on a bill to please a friend, as the following letter, hitherto unpublished, shows:[3]



"Mr. Edwards tells me you wish to know whether the act to which your town incorporation provision was attached passed into a law. It did. You can organize under the general incorporation law as soon as you choose.

"I also tacked a provision on to a fellow's bill, to authorize the relocation of the road from Salem down to your town, but I am not certain whether or not the bill passed. Neither do I suppose I can ascertain before the law will be published—if it is a law. Bowling Green, Bennett Abell, and yourself are appointed to make the change.

"No news. No excitement, except a little about the election of Monday next. I suppose, of course, our friend Dr. Henry stands no chance in your 'diggings.'

"Your friend and honorable servant,



As was to be expected, the Democrats charged that the Whigs of Sangamon had won their victory by "bargain and corruption." These charges became so serious that, in an extra session called in the summer of 1837, a few months after the bill passed, Lincoln had a bitter fight over them with General L.D. Ewing, who wanted to keep Vandalia as the capital. "The arrogance of Springfield," said General Ewing, "its presumption in claiming the seat of government, is not to be endured; the law has been passed by chicanery and trickery; the Springfield delegation has sold out to the internal improvement men, and has promised its support to every measure that would gain a vote to the law removing the seat of government."

Lincoln answered in a speech of such severity and keenness that the House believed he was "digging his own grave;" for Ewing was a high-spirited man who would not hesitate to answer by a challenge. It was, in fact, only the interference of their friends which prevented a duel at this time between Ewing and Lincoln. This speech, to many of Lincoln's colleagues, was a revelation of his ability and character. "This was the first time," said General Linder, "that I began to conceive a very high opinion of the talents and personal courage of Abraham Lincoln."

A few months later the "Long Nine" were again attacked, Lincoln specially being abused. The assailant this time was a prominent Democrat, Mr. J.B. Thomas. When he had ended, Lincoln replied in a speech which was long known in local political circles as the "skinning of Thomas."


No one doubted after this that Lincoln could defend himself. He became doubly respected as an opponent, for his reputation for good-humored raillery had been established in his campaigns. In a speech made in January he gave another evidence of his skill in the use of ridicule. A resolution had been offered by Mr. Linder to institute an inquiry into the management of the affairs of the State bank. Lincoln's remarks on the resolution form his first reported speech. This speech has been unnoticed by his biographers hitherto; and it appears in none of the editions of his speeches and letters. It was discovered in the "Sangamo Journal" for January 28, 1837, by Mr. J. McCan Davis, in the course of a search through the files instituted by this Magazine.

Lincoln began these remarks by good-humored but nettling chaffing of his opponent.

"Mr. Chairman," he said: "Lest I should fall into the too common error of being mistaken in regard to which side I design to be upon, I shall make it my first care to remove all doubt on that point, by declaring that I am opposed to the resolution under consideration, in toto. Before I proceed to the body of the subject, I will further remark, that it is not without a considerable degree of apprehension that I venture to cross the track of the gentleman from Coles [Mr. Linder]. Indeed, I do not believe I could muster a sufficiency of courage to come in contact with that gentleman, were it not for the fact that he, some days since, most graciously condescended to assure us that he would never be found wasting ammunition on small game. On the same fortunate occasion he further gave us to understand that he regarded himself as being decidedly the superior of our common friend from Randolph [Mr. Shields]; and feeling, as I really do, that I, to say the most of myself, am nothing more than the peer of our friend from Randolph, I shall regard the gentleman from Coles as decidedly my superior also; and consequently, in the course of what I shall have to say, whenever I shall have occasion to allude to that gentleman I shall endeavor to adopt that kind of court language which I understand to be due to decided superiority. In one faculty, at least, there can be no dispute of the gentleman's superiority over me, and most other men; and that is, the faculty of entangling a subject so that neither himself, or any other man, can find head or tail to it."

Taking up the resolution on the bank, he declared its meaning:

"Some gentlemen have their stock in their hands, while others, who have more money than they know what to do with, want it; and this, and this alone, is the question, to settle which we are called on to squander thousands of the people's money. What interest, let me ask, have the people in the settlement of this question? What difference is it to them whether the stock is owned by Judge Smith or Sam Wiggins? If any gentleman be entitled to stock in the bank, which he is kept out of possession of by others, let him assert his right in the Supreme Court, and let him or his antagonist, whichever may be found in the wrong, pay the costs of suit. It is an old maxim, and a very sound one, that he that dances should always pay the fiddler. Now, sir, in the present case, if any gentlemen whose money is a burden to them, choose to lead off a dance, I am decidedly opposed to the people's money being used to pay the fiddler. No one can doubt that the examination proposed by this resolution must cost the State some ten or twelve thousand dollars; and all this to settle a question in which the people have no interest, and about which they care nothing. These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people; and now that they have got into a quarrel with themselves, we are called upon to appropriate the people's money to settle the quarrel."

The resolution had declared that the bank practised various methods which were "to the great injury of the people." Lincoln took the occasion to announce his ideas of the people and the politicians.

"If the bank really be a grievance, why is it that no one of the real people is found to ask redress of it? The truth is, no such oppression exists. If it did, our people would groan with memorials and petitions, and we would not be permitted to rest day or night till we had put it down. The people know their rights, and they are never slow to assert and maintain them when they are invaded. Let them call for an investigation, and I shall ever stand ready to respond to the call. But they have made no such call. I make the assertion boldly, and without fear of contradiction, that no man who does not hold an office, or does not aspire to one, has ever found any fault of the bank. It has doubled the prices of the products of their farms, and filled their pockets with a sound circulating medium; and they are all well pleased with its operations. No, sir, it is the politician who is the first to sound the alarm (which, by the way, is a false one). It is he who, by these unholy means, is endeavoring to blow up a storm that he may ride upon and direct. It is he, and he alone, that here proposes to spend thousands of the people's public treasure, for no other advantage to them than to make valueless in their pockets the reward of their industry. Mr. Chairman, this work is exclusively the work, of politicians—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. I say this with the greater freedom, because, being a politician myself, none can regard it as personal."


During the special session of the legislature convened in the fall of 1839 (the first one held at Springfield), the House of Representatives occupied this church, the State House being unfinished. At the short special session which opened November 23, 1840, the House first went into the Methodist church, but on the second day Representative John Logan (father of General John A. Logan) offered a resolution "that the Senate be respectfully requested to exchange places of convening with this House for a short time on account of the impossibility of the House discharging its business in so small a place as the Methodist church." This was adopted, and the House moved over to the Second Presbyterian church. At this special session the Whigs were interested in preventing a sine die adjournment (because they desired to protect the State bank, which had been authorized in 1838 to suspend specie payment until after the adjournment of the next session of the General Assembly), and to this end they sought to break the quorum. All the Whigs walked out, except Lincoln and Joseph Gillespie, who were left behind to demand a roll-call when deemed expedient. A few were brought in by the sergeant-at-arms. Lincoln and Gillespie, perceiving that there would be a quorum if they remained, started to leave; and finding the doors locked, Lincoln raised a window, and both men jumped out—an incident, as Mr. Herndon says, which Lincoln "always seemed willing to forget." It was in this church, too, that Lincoln delivered an address before the Washingtonian Temperance Society, on Washington's birthday, in 1842. The church was erected in 1839, and stood until torn down, some thirty years later, to make room for a new edifice.—J. McCan Davis.]

The speech was published in full in the "Sangamo Journal" and the editor commented:

"Mr. Lincoln's remarks on Mr. Linder's bank resolution in the paper are quite to the point. Our friend carries the true Kentucky rifle, and when he fires he seldom fails of sending the shot home."


One other act of his in this session cannot be ignored. It is a sinister note in the hopeful chorus of the Tenth Assembly. For months there had come from the Southern States violent protests against the growth of abolition agitation in the North. Garrison's paper, the "infernal Liberator," as it was called in the pro-slavery part of the country, had been gradually extending its circulation and its influence; and it already had imitators even on the banks of the Mississippi. The American Anti-slavery Society was now over three years old. A deep, unconquerable conviction of the iniquity of slavery was spreading through the North. The South felt it and protested, and the statesmen of the North joined them in their protest. Slavery could not be crushed, said the conservatives. It was sanctioned by the Constitution. The South must be supported in its claims, and agitation stopped. But the agitation went on, and riots, violence, and hatred pursued the agitators. In Illinois, in this very year, 1837, we have a printing-office raided and an anti-slavery editor, Elijah Lovejoy, killed by the citizens of Alton, who were determined that it should not be said among them that slavery was an iniquity.

To silence the storm, mass-meetings of citizens, the United States Congress, the State legislatures, took up the question and voted, again and again, resolutions assuring the South that the Abolitionists were not supported; that the country recognized their right to their "peculiar institution," and that in no case should they be interfered with. At Springfield, this same year (1837) the citizens convened and passed a resolution declaring that "the efforts of Abolitionists in this community are neither necessary nor useful." When the riot occurred in Alton, the Springfield papers uttered no word of condemnation, giving the affair only a laconic mention.

The Illinois Assembly joined in the general disapproval, and on March 3d passed the following resolutions:

"Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of Illinois:

"That we highly disapprove of the formation of Abolition societies, and of the doctrines promulgated by them.

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

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

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

Lincoln refused to vote for these resolutions. In his judgment no expression on the slavery question should go unaccompanied by the statement that it was an evil, and he had the boldness to protest immediately against the action of the House. He found only one man in the Assembly willing to join him in his action. These two names are joined to the document they presented:

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

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

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

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

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



"Representatives from the County of Sangamon."

[Illustration: WILLIAM BUTLER.

From a photograph owned by his grandson, Hon. William J. Butler, Springfield, Illinois. William Butler was a native of Kentucky, being born in Adair County, that State, December 15, 1797. In the war of 1812, he carried important despatches from the Governor of Kentucky to General Harrison in the field, travelling on horseback. He went to Sangamon County, Illinois, in 1828. In 1836 he was appointed clerk of the Circuit Court by Judge Logan, whom he had known in Kentucky. In 1859 he was appointed by Governor Bissell State treasurer of Illinois, to fill a vacancy, and in 1860 was elected to that office. He was married to Elizabeth Rickard, December 18, 1863. He died in Springfield, January 11, 1876. Soon after becoming a resident of Springfield, Lincoln went to William Butler's house to board. There he was like a member of the family. He lived with Mr. Butler until his marriage in 1842. The two men were ever the warmest personal and political friends.]


The Tenth Assembly was important to Lincoln not only in its legislation; it greatly increased his circle of acquaintances. The character of the work of the session called to Vandalia numbers of persons of influence from almost every county in the State. They were invariably there to secure something for their town or county, and naturally made a point of getting acquainted. Game suppers seem to have been the means usually employed by visitors for bringing people together. The lobbyists were not the only ones in Vandalia who gave suppers, however. Not a bill was passed nor an election decided that a banquet did not follow. Mr. John Bryant, the brother of William Cullen, was in Vandalia that winter in the interest of his county, and he attended one of these banquets, given by the successful candidate for the United States Senate. Lincoln was present, of course, and so were all the prominent politicians of the State.

"After the company had gotten pretty noisy and mellow from their imbibitions of Yellow Seal and 'corn juice,'" says Mr. Bryant, "Mr. Douglas and General Shields, to the consternation of the host and intense merriment of the guests, climbed up on the table, at one end, encircled each other's waists, and to the tune of a rollicking song, pirouetted down the whole length of the table, shouting, singing, and kicking dishes, glasses, and everything right and left, helter skelter. For this night of entertainment to his constituents, the successful candidate was presented with a bill, in the morning, for supper, wines, liquors, and damages, which amounted to six hundred dollars."

But boisterous suppers were not by any means the important feature of Lincoln's social life that winter in Vandalia. There was another and quieter side in which he showed his rare companionableness and endeared himself to many people. In the midst of the log-rolling and jubilations of the session he would often slip away to some acquaintance's room and spend hours in talk and stories. Mr. John Bryant tells of his coming frequently to his room at the hotel, and sitting "with his knees up to his chin, telling his inimitable stories and his triumphs in the House in circumventing the Democrats."

Major Newton Walker, of Lewiston, was in Vandalia at the time; and still talks with pleasure not only of the Assembly's energetic legislation, but of the way Lincoln endeared himself to him and to his colleague. "We both loved him," says Major Walker, "but I little thought then that he would become the greatest man that this country ever produced, or perhaps ever will. Many a night I have sat up listening to Lincoln's wonderful stories. That was a long time ago—nearly sixty years. I shall be ninety-two years old in a few days. I was six years older than Lincoln."

"I used to play the fiddle a great deal, and have played for Lincoln a number of times. He used to come over to where I was boarding and ask me to play the fiddle for him; and I would take it with me when I went over to visit him, and when he grew weary of telling stories he would ask me to give him a tune, which I never refused to do."


As soon as the Assembly closed, Lincoln returned to New Salem; but it was not to stay. He had determined to go to Springfield. Major John Stuart, the friend who had advised him to study law and who had lent him books and with whom he had been associated closely in politics, had offered to take him as a partner. It was a good opening, for Stuart was one of the leading lawyers and politicians of the State, and his influence would place Lincoln at once in command of more or less business. From every point of view the change seems to have been wise; yet Lincoln made it with foreboding.

To practise law he must abandon his business as surveyor, which was bringing him a fair income; he must for a time, at least, go without any certain income. If he failed, what then? The uncertainty weighed on him heavily, the more so because he was burdened by the debts left from his store and because he was constantly called upon to aid his father's family. Thomas Lincoln had remained in Coles County, but he had not, in these six years in which his son had risen so rapidly, been able to get anything more than a poor livelihood from his farm. The sense of responsibility Lincoln had towards his father's family made it the more difficult for him to undertake a new profession. His decision was made, however, and as soon as the session of the Tenth Assembly was over he started for Springfield. His first appearance there is as pathetic as amusing.

"He had ridden into town," says Joshua Speed, "on a borrowed horse, with no earthly property save a pair of saddle-bags containing a few clothes. I was a merchant at Springfield, and kept a large country store, embracing dry-goods, groceries, hardware, books, medicines, bed-clothes, mattresses—in fact, everything that the country needed. Lincoln came into the store with his saddle-bags on his arm. He said he wanted to buy the furniture for a single bed. The mattress, blankets, sheets, coverlid, and pillow, according to the figures made by me, would cost seventeen dollars. He said that perhaps was cheap enough; but small as the price was, he was unable to pay it. But if I would credit him till Christmas, and his experiment as a lawyer was a success, he would pay then; saying in the saddest tone, 'If I fail in this I do not know that I can ever pay you.' As I looked up at him I thought then, and I think now, that I never saw a sadder face.

"I said to him: 'You seem to be so much pained at contracting so small a debt, I think I can suggest a plan by which you can avoid the debt, and at the same time attain your end. I have a large room with a double bed upstairs, which you are very welcome to share with me.'

"'Where is your room?' said he.

"'Upstairs,' said I, pointing to a pair of winding stairs which led from the store to my room.

"He took his saddle-bags on his arm, went upstairs, set them on the floor, and came down with the most changed expression of countenance. Beaming with pleasure, he exclaimed:

"'Well, Speed, I am moved.'"

Another friend, William Butler, with whom Lincoln had become intimate at Vandalia, took him to board; life at Springfield thus began under as favorable auspices as he could hope for.

After Chicago, Springfield was at that day the most promising city in Illinois. It had some fifteen hundred inhabitants, and the removal of the capital was certain to bring many more. Already, in fact, the town felt the effect. Houses and blocks were started; lawyers, politicians, tradesmen, laborers, were pouring in. Hitherto most of the dwellings had been of log or frame; now, however, there was an increase in brick buildings.

The effect was apparent too, in society. "We used to eat all together," said an old man who in the early thirties came to Springfield as a hostler; "but about this time some one came along and told the people they oughtn't to do so, and then the hired folks ate in the kitchen." This differentiation was apparent to Lincoln and a little discouraging. He was thinking vaguely, at the time of this removal to Springfield, that perhaps he best marry a Miss Mary Owens, with whom he had become intimately acquainted in 1836 in New Salem; but Springfield society, and the impossibility of his supporting a wife in it, discouraged him.

"I am often thinking of what we said about your coming to live at Springfield," he wrote her in May.

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

This decidedly dispassionate view of their relation seems not to have brought any decision from Miss Owens; for three months later Mr. Lincoln wrote her an equally judicial letter, telling her that he could not think of her "with entire indifference," that he in all cases wanted to do right and "most particularly so in all cases with women," and summing up his position as follows:

"What I do wish is that our further acquaintance shall depend upon yourself. If such further acquaintance would contribute nothing to your happiness, I am sure it would not to mine. If you feel yourself in any degree bound to me, I am now willing to release you, provided you wish it; while, on the other hand, I am willing and even anxious to bind you faster, if I can be convinced that it will in any considerable degree add to your happiness. This, indeed, is the whole question with me. Nothing would make me more miserable than to believe you miserable—nothing more happy than to know you were so."

Miss Owens had enough discernment to recognize the disinterestedness of this love-making, and she refused Mr. Lincoln's offer. She found him "deficient in those little links which make up the chain of a woman's happiness," she said. The affair seems to have been a rather vigorous flirtation on her part, which had interested and perhaps flattered Mr. Lincoln. In the sincerity of his nature he feared he had awakened a genuine attachment, and his notions of honor compelled him to find out. When finally refused, he wrote a description of the affair to a friend, in which he ridiculed himself unmercifully:

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


It was not long before Lincoln became a favorite figure in Springfield. The skill, the courage, and the good-will he had shown in his management of the bill for the removal of the capital gave him at once, of course, special prominence. The entire "Long Nine," indeed, were regarded by the county as its benefactors, and throughout the summer there were barbecues and fireworks, dinners and speeches in their honor. "The service rendered Old Sangamon by the present delegation" was a continually recurring toast at every gathering. At one "sumptuous dinner" the internal improvement scheme in all its phases was toasted again and again by the banqueters, "'The Long Nine' of Old Sangamon—well done, good and faithful servants," drew forth long applause. Among those who offered volunteer toasts at this dinner were "A. Lincoln, Esq.," and "S.A. Douglas, Esq."

At a dinner at Athens, given to the delegation, eight formal toasts and twenty-five volunteers are quoted in the report of the affair in the "Sangamo Journal." Among them were the following:

A. Lincoln. He has fulfilled the expectations of his friends and disappointed the hopes of his enemies.

A. Lincoln. One of nature's noblemen.

By A. Lincoln. Sangamon County will ever be true to her best interests, and never more so than in reciprocating the good feelings of the citizens of Athens and neighborhood.

Lincoln had not been long in Springfield before he soon was able to support himself, a result due, no doubt, very largely to his personal qualities and to his reputation as a shrewd politician. Not that he made money. The fee-book of Lincoln and Stuart shows that the returns were modest enough, and that sometimes they even "traded out" their account. Nevertheless it was a satisfaction to earn a livelihood so soon. Of his peculiar methods as a lawyer at this date we know very little. Most of his cases are utterly uninteresting. The very first year he was in Springfield, however, he had one case which created a great sensation, and which, so far as we know, has been overlooked entirely by his biographers. It is an admirable example of the way Lincoln could combine business and politics as well as of his merciless persistency in pursuing a man whom he believed unjust.

It seems that among the offices to be filled at the August election of 1837 was that of probate justice of the peace. One of the candidates was General James Adams, a man who had come on from the East in the early twenties, and who had at first claimed to be a lawyer. He had been an aspirant for various offices, among them that of governor of the State, but with little success. A few days before the August election of 1837 an anonymous hand-bill was scattered about the streets. It was an attack on General Adams, charging him with having acquired the title to a ten-acre lot of ground near the town by the deliberate forgery of the name of Joseph Anderson, of Fulton County, Illinois, to an assignment of a judgment. Anderson had died, and the widow, upon going to Springfield to dispose of the land, was surprised to find that it was claimed by General Adams, and she employed Stuart and Lincoln to look into the matter. The hand-bill, which went into all of the details at great length, concluded as follows: "I have only made these statements because I am known by many to be one of the individuals against whom the charge of forging the assignment and slipping it into the general's papers has been made; and because our silence might be construed into a confession of the truth. I shall not subscribe my name; but hereby authorize the editor of the 'Journal' to give it up to any one who may call for it.".

After the election, at which General Adams had been elected, the hand-bill was reproduced in the "Sangamo Journal," with a card signed by the editor, in which he said: "To save any further remarks on this subject, I now state that A. Lincoln, Esq., is the author of the hand-bill in question." The same issue of the paper contained a lengthy communication from General Adams, denying the charge of fraud.

The controversy was continued for several weeks. General Adams used, mostly, the columns of the "Springfield Republican," filling six columns of a single issue. He charged that the assault upon him was the result of a conspiracy between "a knot of lawyers, doctors, and others," who wished to ruin his reputation. Lincoln's answers to Adams are most emphatic. In one case, quoting several of his assertions, he pronounced them "all as false as hell, as all this community must know." Adams's replies were always voluminous. "Such is the turn which things have lately taken," wrote Lincoln, "that when General Adams writes a book I am expected to write a commentary on it." Replying to Adams's denunciation of the lawyers, he said: "He attempted to impose himself upon the community as a lawyer, and he actually carried the attempt so far as to induce a man who was under the charge of murder to entrust the defence of his life to his hands, and finally took his money and got him hanged. Is this the man that is to raise a breeze in his favor by abusing lawyers? ... If he is not a lawyer, he is a liar; for he proclaimed himself a lawyer, and got a man hanged by depending on him." Lincoln concluded: "Farewell, General. I will see you again at court, if not before—when and where we will settle the question whether you or the widow shall have the land." The widow did get the land, but this was not the worst thing that happened to Adams. The climax was reached when the "Sangamo Journal" published a long editorial (written by Lincoln, no doubt) on the controversy, and followed it with a copy of an indictment found against Adams in Oswego County, New York, in 1818. The offence charged in this indictment was the forgery of a deed by Adams—"a person of evil name and fame and of a wicked disposition."

Lincoln's victory in this controversy undoubtedly did much to impress the community, not necessarily that he was a good lawyer, but rather that he was a clever strategist and a fearless enemy. It was not, in fact, as a lawyer that he was prominent in the first years after he came to Springfield. Reelected to the Assembly in 1838, and again in 1840, his real impress on the community was made as a politician. The qualities which he had already shown in public life were only strengthened as he gained experience and self-confidence. He was the terror of the pretentious and insincere, and had a way of exposing their shams by clever tricks which, to voters, were unanswerable arguments. A case in point happened in 1840. It was considered necessary, at that day, by a candidate to prove to the farmers that he was poor and, like themselves, horny-handed. Those politicians who wore good clothes and dined sumptuously were careful to conceal their regard for the elegancies of life from their constituents. One of the Democrats who in this campaign took particular pains to decry the Whigs for their wealth and aristocratic principles was Colonel Dick Taylor, generally known in Illinois as "ruffled-shirt Taylor." He was a vain and handsome man, who habitually arrayed himself as gorgeously as the fashion allowed. One day when he and Lincoln had met in debate at a countryside gathering, Colonel Dick became particularly bitter in his condemnation of Whig elegance. Lincoln listened for a time, and then, slipping near the speaker, suddenly caught his coat, which was buttoned up close, and tore it open. A mass of ruffled shirt, a gorgeous velvet vest, and a great gold chain from which dangled numerous rings and seals, were uncovered to the crowd. Lincoln needed to make no further reply that day to the charge of being a "rag baron."

Lincoln loved fair play as he hated shams; and throughout these early years in Springfield are examples of his boldness in insisting that friend and enemy have the chance due them. A most dramatic case of this kind occurred at a political meeting held one evening in the Springfield court-room, which at that date was temporarily in a hall under Stuart and Lincoln's law office. Directly over the platform was a trap-door. Lincoln frequently would lie by this opening during a meeting, listening to the speeches. One evening one of his friends, E.D. Baker, in speaking angered the crowd, and an attempt was made to "pull him down." Before the assailants could reach the platform, however, a pair of long legs dangled from the trap-door, and in an instant Lincoln dropped down beside Baker, crying out, "Hold on, gentlemen, this is a land of free speech." His appearance was so unexpected, and his attitude so determined, that the crowd soon was quiet, and Baker went on with his speech.

In all the intellectual life of the town he took a place. With a few of the leading young men he formed a young men's lyceum. One of his speeches before this body has been preserved in full. Its subject is "The Perpetuation of our Political Institutions."[4] The speech has not, however, any of the peculiarly original style which usually characterized his efforts.

He came immediately to be a favorite figure in all sorts of local affairs. What he said and did on these occasions is still recollected by those interested in them. "When the seat of government was removed from Vandalia to Springfield in 1836," says the Rev. Peter Wallace of Chicago "I obtained the contract of taking down the court-house to make a place for the State House. Lincoln, with others, was present to receive the job. 'Peter,' he said to me, 'if you succeed as well in building houses as you have in tearing this one down, you will make your mark as a builder.'" Mr. Wallace tells, too, of hearing Lincoln say in a speech, at the funeral of one of their friends: "I read in a book whose author never errs, 'Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you.' Our friend will escape that woe, for he would be the exception had he no enemies."

The most pleasing feature of his early life in the town was the way in which he attached all classes of people to him. He naturally, from his political importance and from his relation to Mr. Stuart, was admitted to the most exclusive circle of society. But Lincoln was not received there from tolerance of his position only. The few members left of that interesting circle of Springfield in the thirties are emphatic in their statements that he was recognized as a valuable social factor. If indifferent to forms and little accustomed to conventional usages, he had a native dignity and self-respect which stamped him at once as a superior man. He had a good will, an easy adaptability to people, which made him take a hand in everything that went on. His name appears in every list of banqueters and merry-makers reported in the Springfield papers. He even served as committee-man for cotillion parties. "We liked Lincoln, though he was not gay," said one charming and cultivated old lady to me in Springfield. "He rarely danced, he was never very attentive to ladies, but he was always a welcome guest everywhere, and the centre of a circle of animated talkers. Indeed, I think the only thing we girls had against Lincoln was that he always attracted all the men around him."

Lincoln's kindly interest and perfectly democratic feeling attached to him many people whom he never met save on the streets. Indeed his life in the streets of Springfield is a most touching and delightful study. He concerned himself in the progress of every building which was put up, of every new street which was opened; he passed nobody without recognition; he seemed always to have time to stop and talk. He became, in fact, part of Springfield street life, just as he had of the town's politics and society. By 1840 there was no man in the town better known, better liked, more sought for; though there were more than one whose future was considered brighter.

* * * * *

[Footnote 1: Reminiscences of Mr. Weir, a former resident of Sangamon County, related by E.B. Howell of Butte, Montana.]

[Footnote 2: Summary condensed from Moses's "History of Illinois."]

[Footnote 3: The original of this letter is owned by E.R. Oeltjen of Petersburg, Illinois.]

[Footnote 4: Lincoln's address on "The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions" is dated January 27, 1837, in most biographies, but it was published in the "Sangamo Journal" of February 3, 1838. The address is preceded by the following resolution:

"YOUNG MEN'S LYCEUM, SPRINGFIELD, January 27, 1837[8].

"Resolved, That the thanks of this Lyceum be presented to A. Lincoln, Esq., for the lecture delivered by him this evening, and that he be solicited to furnish a copy for publication.

"JAS. H. MATHENY, Secretary"

The confusion as to the date of the delivery of this address evidently arises from the fact that the resolution here quoted bears the date of "1837"—a mere slip of the pen, of course. In January, 1837, Lincoln was in the legislature at Vandalia. He had not yet become a resident of Springfield. According to Mr. Herndon, who was a member of the Young Men's Lyceum, that society was not formed until the fall of 1837.]



Author of "The Jungle Book," "Plain Tales from the Hills," etc.

It was her first voyage, and though she was only a little cargo steamer of two thousand five hundred tons, she was the very best of her kind, the outcome of forty years of experiments and improvements in framework and machinery; and her designers and owners thought just as much of her as though she had been the "Lucania." Any one can make a floating hotel that will pay her expenses, if he only puts enough money into the saloon, and charges for private baths, suites of rooms, and such like; but in these days of competition and low freights every square inch of a cargo boat must be built for cheapness, great hold capacity, and a certain steady speed. This boat was perhaps two hundred and forty feet long and thirty-two feet wide, with arrangements that enabled her to carry cattle on her main and sheep on her upper deck if she wanted to; but her great glory was the amount of cargo that she could store away in her holds. Her owners—they were a very well-known Scotch family—came round with her from the North, where she had been launched and christened and fitted, to Liverpool, where she was to take cargo for New York; and the owner's daughter, Miss Frazier, went to and fro on the clean decks, admiring the new paint and the brass-work and the patent winches, and particularly the strong, straight bow, over which she had cracked a bottle of very good champagne when she christened the steamer the "Dimbula." It was a beautiful September afternoon, and the boat in all her newness (she was painted lead color, with a red funnel) looked very fine indeed. Her house flag was flying, and her whistle from time to time acknowledged the salutes of friendly boats, who saw that she was new to the sea and wished to make her welcome.

"And now," said Miss Frazier, delightedly, to the captain, "she's a real ship, isn't she? It seems only the other day father gave the order for her, and now—and now—isn't she a beauty?" The girl was proud of the firm, and talked as though she were the controlling partner.

"Oh, she's no so bad," the skipper replied, cautiously. "But I'm sayin' that it takes more than the christenin' to mak' a ship. In the nature o' things, Miss Frazier, if ye follow me, she's just irons and rivets and plates put into the form of a ship. She has to find herself yet."

"But I thought father said she was exceptionally well found."

"So she is," said the skipper, with a laugh. "But it's this way wi' ships, Miss Frazier. She's all here, but the parts of her have not learned to work together yet. They've had no chance."

"But the engines are working beautifully. I can hear them."

"Yes, indeed. But there is more than engines to a ship. Every inch of her, ye'll understand, has to be livened up, and made to work wi' its neighbor—sweetenin' her, we call it, technically."

"And how will you do it?" the girl asked.

"We can no more than drive and steer her and so forth; but if we have rough weather this trip—it's likely—she'll learn the rest by heart! For a ship, ye'll obsairve, Miss Frazier, is in no sense a reegid body, closed at both ends. She's a highly complex structure o' various an' conflictin' strains, wi' tissues that must give an' tak' accordin' to her personal modulus of eelasteecity." Mr. Buchanan, the chief engineer, in his blue coat with gilt buttons, was coming toward them. "I'm sayin' to Miss Frazier, here, that our little 'Dimbula' has to be sweetened yet, and nothin' but a gale will do it. How's all wi' your engines, Buck?"

"Well enough—true by plumb an' rule, of course; but there's no spontaneeity yet." He turned to the girl. "Take my word, Miss Frazier, and maybe ye'll comprehend later, even after a pretty girl's christened a ship it does not follow that there's such a thing as a ship under the men that work her."

"I was sayin' the very same, Mr. Buchanan," the skipper interrupted.

"That's more metaphysical than I can follow," said Miss Frazier, laughing.

"Why so? Ye're good Scotch, an'—I knew your mother's father; he was fra' Dumfries—ye've a vested right in metapheesics, Miss Frazier, just as ye have in the 'Dimbula,'" the engineer said.

"Eh, well, we must go down to the deep watters, an' earn Miss Frazier her deevidends. Will you not come to my cabin for tea?" said the skipper. "We'll be in dock the night, and when you're goin' back to Glasgie ye can think of us loadin' her down an' drivin' her forth—all for your sake."

In the next four days they stowed nearly four thousand tons dead weight into the "Dimbula," and took her out from Liverpool. As soon as she met the lift of the open water she naturally began to talk. If you put your ear to the side of the cabin the next time you are in a steamer, you will hear hundreds of little voices in every direction, thrilling and buzzing, and whispering and popping, and gurgling and sobbing and squeaking exactly like a telephone in a thunder storm. Wooden ships shriek and growl and grunt, but iron vessels throb and quiver through all their hundreds of ribs and thousands of rivets. The "Dimbula" was very strongly built, and every piece of her had a letter or a number or both to describe it, and every piece had been hammered or forged or rolled or punched by man and had lived in the roar and rattle of the shipyard for months. Therefore, every piece had its own separate voice in exact proportion to the amount of trouble spent upon it. Cast iron, as a rule, says very little; but mild steel plates and wrought iron, and ribs and beams that have been bent and welded and riveted a good deal, talk continuously. Their conversation, of course, is not half as wise as human talk, because they are all, though they do not know it, bound down one to the other in black darkness, where they cannot tell what is happening near them, nor what is going to happen next.

A very short while after she had cleared the Irish coast a sullen, gray-headed old wave of the Atlantic climbed leisurely over her straight bows, and sat down on the steam capstan, used for hauling up the anchor. Now, the capstan and the engine that drove it had been newly painted red and green; besides which, nobody cares for being ducked.

"Don't you do that again," the capstan sputtered through the teeth of his cogs. "Hi! Where's the fellow gone?"

The wave had slouched overside with a plop and a chuckle; but "Plenty more where he came from," said a brother wave, and went through and over the capstan, who was bolted firmly to an iron plate on the iron deck beams below.

"Can't you keep still up there," said the deck beams. "What's the matter with you? One minute you weigh twice as much as you ought to, and the next you don't."

"It isn't my fault," said the capstan. "There's a green brute from outside that comes and hits me on the head."

"Tell that to the shipwrights. You've been in position up there for months, and you've never wriggled like this before. If you aren't careful you'll strain us."

"Talking of strain," said a low, rasping, unpleasant voice, "are any of you fellows—you deck beams, we mean—aware that those exceedingly ugly knees of yours happen to be riveted into our structure—ours?"

"Who might you be?" the deck beams inquired.

"Oh, nobody in particular," was the answer. "We're only the port and starboard upper-deck stringers; and, if you persist in heaving and hiking like this, we shall be reluctantly compelled to take steps."

Now, the stringers of the ship are long iron girders, so to speak, that run lengthways from stern to bow. They keep the iron frames (what are called ribs in a wooden ship) in place, and also help to hold the ends of the deck beams which go from side to side of the ship. Stringers always consider themselves most important, because they are so long. In the "Dimbula" there were four stringers on each side—one far down by the bottom of the hold, called the bilge stringer; one a little higher up, called the side stringer; one on the floor of the lower deck; and the upper-deck stringers that have been heard from already.

"You will take steps, will you?" This was a long, echoing rumble. It came from the frames; scores and scores of them, each one about eighteen inches distant from the next, and each riveted to the stringers in four places. "We think you will have a certain amount of trouble in that;" and thousands and thousands of the little rivets that held everything together whispered: "You will! You will! Stop quivering and be quiet. Hold on, brethren! Hold on! Hot punches! What's that?"

Rivets have no teeth, so they can't chatter with fright; but they did their best as a fluttering jar swept along the ship from stern to bow, and she shook like a rat in a terrier's mouth.

An unusually severe pitch, for the sea was rising, had lifted the big throbbing screw nearly to the surface, and it was spinning round in a kind of soda water—half sea and half air—going much faster than was right, because there was no deep water for it to work in. As it sank again, the engines—and they were triple-expansion, three cylinders in a row—snorted through all their three pistons: "Was that a joke, you fellow outside? It's an uncommonly poor one. How are we to do our work if you fly off the handle that way?"

"I didn't fly off the handle," said the screw, twirling huskily at the end of the screw shaft. "If I had, you'd have been scrap iron by this time. The sea dropped away from under me, and I had nothing to catch on to. That's all."

"That's all, d'you call it?" said the thrust-block, whose business it is to take the push of the screw; for if a screw had nothing to hold it back it would crawl right into the engine room. (It is the holding back of the screwing action that gives the drive to a ship.) "I know I do my work deep down and out of sight, but I warn you I expect justice. All I ask is justice. Why can't you push steadily and evenly, instead of whizzing like a whirligig and making me hot under all my collars?" The thrust-block had six collars, each faced with brass, and he did not want to get them heated.

All the bearings that supported the fifty feet of screw shaft as it ran to the stern whispered: "Justice—give us justice."

"I can only give you what I get," the screw answered. "Look out! It's coming again!"

He rose with a roar as the "Dimbula" plunged; and "whack—whack—whack—whack" went the engines furiously, for they had little to check them.

"I'm the noblest outcome of human ingenuity—Mr. Buchanan says so," squealed the high-pressure cylinder. "This is simply ridiculous." The piston went up savagely and choked, for half the steam behind it was mixed with dirty water. "Help! Oiler! Fitter! Stoker! Help! I'm choking," it gasped. "Never in the history of maritime invention has such a calamity overtaken one so young and strong. And if I go, who's to drive the ship?"

1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse