moved over or near them. On the next day after chap.v. we left Pekin we overhauled a raft of saw-logs, with two men afloat on it to urge it on with poles and to guide it in the channel. We immediately pulled up to them and went on the raft, where we were made welcome by various demonstrations, especially by an invitation to a feast on fish, corn-bread, eggs, butter, and coffee, just prepared for our benefit. Of these good things we ate almost immoderately, for it was the only warm meal we had made for several days. While preparing it, and after dinner, Lincoln entertained them, and they entertained us for a couple of hours very amusingly." Kindly human companionship was a luxury in that green wilderness, and was readily appreciated and paid for.
The returning warriors dropped down the river to the village of Havana — from Pekin to Havana in a canoe! The country is full of these geographical nightmares, the necessary result of freedom of nomenclature bestowed by circumstances upon minds equally destitute of taste or education. There they sold their boat,—no difficult task, for a canoe was a staple article in any river-town,—and again set out " the old way, over the sand-ridges, for Petersburg. As we drew near home, the impulse became stronger and urged us on amazingly. The long strides of Lincoln, often slipping back in the loose sand six inches every step, were just right for me ; and he was greatly diverted when he noticed me behind him stepping along in his tracks to keep from slipping." Thus the two comrades came back from their soldierings to their humble homes, from which Lincoln was soon to start on
chap.v. the way marked out for him by Providence, with strides which no comrade, with whatever goodwill, might hope to follow.
He never took his campaigning seriously. The politician's habit of glorifying the petty incidents of a candidate's life always seemed absurd to him, and in his speech, made in 1848, ridiculing the effort on the part of General Cass's friends to draw some political advantage from that gentleman's respectable but obscure services on the frontier in the war with Great Britain, he estopped any future eulogist from painting his own military achievements in too lively colors. " Did you know, Mr. Speaker," he said, " I am a military hero! In the days of the Black Hawk war I fought, bled, and came away. I was not at Still-man's defeat, but I was about as near it as General Oass was to Hull's surrender; and, like him, I saw the place very soon afterwards. It is quite certain I did not break my sword, for I had none to break, but I bent my musket pretty badly on one occasion. If General Cass went in advance of me picking whortleberries, I guess I surpassed him in charges on the wild onions. If he saw any live righting Indians, it was more than I did, but I had a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes; and although I never fainted from loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very hungry. If ever I should conclude to doff whatever our Democratic friends may suppose there is of black-cockade Federalism about me, and thereupon they shall take me up as their candidate for the Presidency, I protest that they shall not make fun of me, as they have of General Cass, by attempting to write me into a military hero."
SURVEYOR AND REPRESENTATIVE
discharged volunteer arrived in New chap.vi. JL Salem only ten days before the August elec- W32. tion, in which he had a deep personal interest. Before starting for the wars he had announced himself, according to the custom of the time, by a handbill circular, as a candidate for the Legislature from Sangamon County.1 He had done this in accordance with his own natural bent for public life and desire for usefulness and distinction, and not without strong encouragement from friends whose opinion he valued. He had even then considerable experience in speaking and thinking on his feet. He had begun his practice in that direction before leaving Indiana, and continued it everywhere he had gone. Mr. William Butler tells us that on one occasion, when Lincoln was a farmhand at Island .Grove, the famous circuit-rider, Peter Cartwright, came by, electioneering for the Legislature, and Lincoln at once engaged in a discussion with him in the cornfield, in which the
We are aware that all formercircular is dated March. 9, 1832,
biographers have stated that and the "Sangamo Journal"
Lincoln's candidacy for the Leg-mentions his name among the
islature was subsequent to his candidates in July, and apologizes
return from the war, and a con-for having accidentally omitted
sequence of his service. But hisit in May.
chap. vi. great Methodist was equally astonished at the close reasoning and the uncouth figure of Mr. Brown's extraordinary hired man. At another time, after one Posey, a politician in search of office, had made a speech in Macon, John Hanks, whose admiration of his cousin's oratory was unbounded, said that " Abe could beat it." He turned a keg on end, and the tall boy mounted it and made his speech. "The subject was the navigation of the Sangamon, and Abe beat him to death," says the loyal Hanks. So it was not with the tremor of a complete novice that the young man took the stump during the few days left him between his return and the election.
He ran as a Whig. As this has been denied on authority which is generally trustworthy, it is well enough to insist upon the fact. We have a memorandum in Mr. Lincoln's own handwriting in which he says he ran as " an avowed Clay man." In one of the few speeches of his, which, made at this time, have been remembered and reported, he said : "I am in favor of a national bank; I am in favor of the internal improvement system, and of a high protective tariff. These are my sentiments and political principles." Nothing could be more unqualified or outspoken than this announcement of his adhesion to what was then and for years afterwards called " the American System" of Henry Clay. Other testimony is not wanting to the same effect. Both Major Stuart and Judge Logan lsay that Lincoln ran in 1832 as a Whig, and that his speeches were unevasively in defense of
1 The Democrats of New Salem was the general understanding worked for Lincoln out of their of the matter here at the time, personal regard for him, That In this he made no concession of
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the principles of that party. Without discussing chap.vt, the merits of the party or its purposes, we may insist that his adopting them thus openly at the qutset of his career was an extremely characteristic act, and marks thus early the scrupulous conscientiousness which shaped every action of Ms life. The State of Illinois was by a large majority Democratic, hopelessly attached to the person and policy of Jackson. Nowhere had that" despotic leader more violent and unscrupulous partisans than there. They were proud of their very servility, and preferred the name of "whole-hog Jackson men " to that of Democrats. The Whigs embraced in their scanty ranks the leading men of the State, those who have since been most distinguished in its history, such as S.T.Logan, Stuart, Browning, Dubois, Hardin, Breese, and many others. But they were utterly unable to do anything except by dividing the Jackson men, whose very numbers made their party unwieldy, and by throwing their votes with the more decent and conservative portion of them. In this way, in the late election, they had secured the success of Governor Reynolds — the Old Ranger—against Governor Kinney, who represented the vehement and proscriptive spirit which Jackson had just breathed into the party. He had visited the General in Washington, and had come back giving out threatenings and slaughter against the Whigs in the true Tennessee style, declaring that " all Whigs should be whipped out of office like dogs
principle whatever. He was aspopular — because he was Lin-
stiff as a man could be in hiscoin,
Whig doctrines. They did thisstephen T. logan,
for him simply because he wasJuly 6, 1875.
" My Own
chap. vi. out of a meat-house "; the force of south-western simile could no further go. But the great popularity of Eeynolds and the adroit management of the Whigs carried him through successfully. A single fact will show on which side the people who could read were enlisted. The " whole-hog" party had one newspaper, the opposition five. Of course it would have been impossible for Eeynolds to poll a respectable vote if his loyalty to Jackson had been seriously doubted. As it was, he lost many votes through a report that he had been guilty of saying that " he was as strong for Jackson as any reasonable man should be." The Governor himself, in his naive account of the canvass, acknowledges the damaging nature of this accusation, and comforts himself with quoting an indiscretion of Kinney's, who opposed a projected canal on the ground that "it would flood the country with Yankees,"
It showed some moral courage, and certainly an absence of the shuffling politician's fair-weather policy, that Lincoln, in his obscure and penniless youth, at the very beginning of his career, when he was not embarrassed by antecedents or family connections, and when, in fact, what little social influence he knew would have led him the other way, chose to oppose a furiously intolerant majority, and to take his stand with the party which was doomed to long-continued defeat in Illinois. The motives which led him to take this decisive course are not difficult to imagine. The better sort of people in Sangamon County were Whigs, though the majority were Democrats, and he preferred through life the better sort to the
SURVEYOR AND REPRESENTATIVE105
majority. The papers he read were the Louisville chap.vi. "Journal" and the "Sangamo Journal," both Whig. Eeading the speeches and debates of the day, he sided with Webster against Calhoun, and with Clay against anybody. Though his notions of politics, like those of any ill-educated young man of twenty-two, must have been rather crude, and not at all sufficient to live and to die by, he had adopted them honestly and sincerely, with no selfish regard to his own interests; and though he ardently desired success, he never abated one jot or tittle of his convictions for any possible personal gain, then or thereafter.
In the circular in which he announced his candidacy he made no reference to national politics, but confined himself mainly to a discussion of the practicability of improving the navigation of the Sangamon, the favorite hobby of the place and time. He had no monopoly of this "issue." It formed the burden of nearly every candidate's appeal to the people in that year. The excitement occasioned by the trip of the Talisman had not yet died away, although the little steamer was now dust and ashes, and her bold commander had left the State to avoid an awkward meeting with the sheriff. The hope of seeing Springfield an emporium of commerce was still lively among the citizens of Sangamon County, and in no one of the handbills of the political aspirants of the season was that hope more judiciously encouraged than in the one signed by Abraham Lincoln. > It was a well-written circular, remarkable for its soberness and. , reserve when we consider the age and the limited advantages of the writer. It concluded in these
chap. vi. words: "Upon the subjects of which I have treated, I have spoken as I have thought. I may be wrong in regard to any or all of them; but holding it a sound maxim that it is better only sometimes to be right than at all times wrong, so soon as I discover my opinions to be erroneous I shall be ready to renounce them. . . . Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one, that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow-men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem. How far I shall succeed in gratifying this ambition is yet to be developed. I am young, and unknown to many of you. I was born and have ever remained in the most humble walks of life. I have no wealthy or powerful relations or friends to recommend me. My case is thrown exclusively upon the independent voters of the county; and, if elected, they will have conferred a favor upon me, for which I shall be unremitting in my labors to compensate. But if the good people in their wisdom shall see fit to keep me in the background, I have been too familiar with disappointments to be very much chagrined."
This is almost precisely the style of his later years. The errors of grammar and construction which spring invariably from an effort to avoid redundancy of expression remained with him through life. He seemed to grudge the space required for necessary parts of speech. But his language was at twenty-two, as it was thirty years later, the simple and manly attire of his thought, with little attempt at ornament and none at disguise. There was an intermediate time when he
SUKVEYOB AND BEPBESENTATIVE107
sinned in the direction of fine "writing; but this chap.vi. ebullition soon passed away, and left that marvel-ously strong and transparent style in which his two inaugurals were written.
Of course, in the ten days left him after his return from the field, a canvass of the county, which was then—before its division — several thousand square miles in extent, was out of the question. He made a few speeches in the neighborhood of New Salem, and at least one in Springfield. He was wholly unknown there except by his few comrades in arms. We find him mentioned in the county paper only once during the summer, in an editorial note adding the name of Captain Lincoln to those candidates for the Legislature who were periling their lives on the frontier and had left their reputations in charge of their generous fellow-citizens at home. On the occasion of his speaking at Springfield, most of the candidates had come together to address a meeting there to give their electors some idea of their quality. These were severe ordeals for the rash aspirants for popular favor. Besides those citizens who came to listen and judge, there were many whose only object was the free whisky provided for the occasion, and who, after potations pottle-deep, became not only highly unparliamentary but even dangerous to life and limb. This wild chivalry of Lick Creek was, however, less redoubtable to Lincoln than it might be to an urban statesman unacquainted with the frolic brutality of Clary's Grove. Their gambols never caused him to lose his self-possession. It is related that once, while he was speaking, he saw a ruffian attack a friend of his in
chap. vi. the crowd, and the rencontre not resulting according to the orator's sympathies, he descended from the stand, seized the objectionable fighting man by the neck, "threw him some ten feet," then calmly mounted to his place and finished his speech, the course of his logic undisturbed by this athletic parenthesis. Judge Logan saw Lincoln for the first time on the day when he came up to Springfield on his canvass this summer. He thus speaks of his future partner: " He was a very tall, gawky, and rough-looking fellow then; his pantaloons did n't meet his shoes by six inches. But after he began speaking I became very much interested in him. He made a very sensible speech. His manner was very much the same as in after life; that is, the same peculiar characteristics were apparent then, though of course in after years he evinced more knowledge and experience. But he had then the same novelty and the same peculiarity in presenting his ideas. He had the same individuality that he kept through all his life."
There were two or three men at the meeting whose good opinion was worth more than all the votes of Lick Creek to one beginning life: Stephen T. Logan, a young lawyer who had recently come from Kentucky with the best equipment for a nisi prius practitioner ever brought into the State; Major Stuart, whom we have met in the Black Hawk war, once commanding a battalion and then marching as a private ; and William Butler, afterwards prominent in State politics, at that time a young man of the purest Western breed in body and character, clear-headed and courageous, and ready for any emergency where a friend was to be
SUBVEYOR AND BEPRESENTATIVE109
defended or an enemy punished. We do not know chap.vi. whether Lincoln gained any votes that day, but he gained what was far more valuable? the active friendship of these able and honorable men, all Whigs and all Kentuckians like himself.
The acquaintances he made in his canvass, the practice he gained in speaking, and the added confidence which this experience of measuring his abilities with those of others gave, were all the advantages which Lincoln derived from this attempt. He was defeated, for the only time in Ms life, in a contest before the people. The fortunate candidates were E. D. Taylor, J. T. Stuart, Achilles Morris, and Peter Cartwright, the first of whom received 1127 votes and the last 815. Lincoln's position among the eight defeated candidates was a very respectable one. He had 657 votes, and there were five who fared worse, among them his old adversary Kirkpatrick. What must have been especially gratifying to him was the fact that he received the almost unanimous vote of his own neighborhood, the precinct of New Salem, 277 votes against 3, a result which showed more strongly than any words could do the extent of
the attachment and the confidence which his genial August ii, and upright character had inspired among those 1832> who knew him best.
Having been, even in so slight a degree, a soldier and a politician, he was unfitted for a day laborer; but being entirely without means of subsistence, he was forced to look about for some suitable occupation. We know he thought seriously at this time of learning the trade of a blacksmith, and using in that honest way the sinew and brawn which nature