Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Biographical > The Life of Abraham Lincoln > CHAPTER V.
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
When A-bra-ham Lin-coln was a score and five years old, a great chance to step up came to him. His friends sent him to the Il-li-nois Leg-is-la-ture. He had then not one dol-lar with which he could buy clothes to wear to that place. A friend let him have the funds of which he was in need, sure that they would come back to him.
At first, the young man in the new place did not talk or do much. He felt that it was best for him, then, to wait and learn. He made a stud-y of the new sort of men a-bout him at that time. When it came his turn to speak, he said just what he thought on the theme that came up. His mind told him that all who paid tax-es or bore arms ought to have the right to vote. He was not a-fraid to say that, though men of more years and more fame than he took the oth-er side. He was brave, but not rash. His speech was plain, but to the point. He did not boast. He did not try to hide the fact that he was poor. There were, some-times,
 those who called them-selves “men,” who would point at his plain clothes of “blue jeans” and laugh at them, and try to get oth-ers to do the same. The great length of bod-y, the toil-worn hands, the back-woods ways made talk for foes, but Lin-coln bore these “flings” well, and oft-en used them for jokes.
Though this high post had come to A-bra-ham Lin-coln he did not feel too proud to do the “sim-ple deeds of kind-ness” which he had done all through his life. It seems that one day he went out with some law-mak-ers, for a ride on the prai-ries. He passed a place where a pig was stuck in the mud. The poor beast looked up at him as if beg-ging his help. The look plain-ly said that death must soon come un-less the horse-man gave his
 aid. Lin-coln was wear-ing his best clothes at that time. They had been bought with the mon-ey his friend had loaned him. A new suit could not be his for a long time. And yet, e-ven though gone past, and at the risk of jeers from his com-rades, he went back, got off his horse, and pulled the pig out up-on firm land. To be sure there was mud on his clothes, but his heart was free from re-gret.
Though A-bra-ham Lin-coln had been ad-mit-ted to the Bar and had been made a mem-ber of the Leg-is-la-ture, still he went on with his stud-ies, nev-er let-ting a day go by on which he did not give some hours to books. These books told a-bout math-e-mat-ics, as-tron-o-my, rhet-o-ric, lit-er-a-ture, log-ic and oth-er things with hard names.
While at work with chain and tools, tak-ing the length and breadth of the land, Mr. Lin-coln earned from $12.00 to $15.00 each month. He used a part of this small sum to pay up an old debt and al-so had to help his kin from week to week. But he felt he must give up this small sure mon-ey for the sake of his new start in life, though the gains were by no means sure to be large. He said he would “take his chance” at the law.
It was in A-pril, 1837, that Mr. Lin-coln rode in-to Spring-field, Ill., on a horse a friend had loaned him. A few clothes were all that he owned, and these he had in a pair of sad-dle bags, strapped on his horse. He drew up his steed in front of Josh-u-a Speed’s store and went in.
“I want a room, and must have a bed-stead and some bed-ding. How much shall I pay?” he asked.
His friend Speed took his slate and count-ed up the price of these things. They came to $17.00.
“Well,” said A-bra-ham Lin-coln, “I’ve no doubt but that is cheap but I’ve no mon-ey to pay for them. If you can trust me till Christ-mas, and I earn an-y-thing at law, I’ll pay you then. If I fail, I fear I shall nev-er be a-ble to pay you.”
Lin-coln’s face was sad. He had worked hard all his life, had helped scores of folks, and now, af-ter so man-y years, when he much need-ed mon-ey, he had none.
The friend-ly store-keep-er tried to cheer the good man. “I can fix things bet-ter than that,” he said. “I have a large room and a dou-ble bed up stairs. You are wel-come to share my room and bed with me.”
So A-bra-ham Lin-coln took his sad-dle-bags up
 stairs, and then came down with a bright look on his face, and said, “There, I am moved!”
In Spring-field at that time was a man who had been with Lin-coln as a sol-dier in the In-di-an war. This was Ma-jor John T. Stu-art. He took Lin-coln in with him as a law-part-ner and their firm name was Stu-art & Lin-coln.
A-bra-ham Lin-coln’s first fee was three dol-lars made in Oc-to-ber, 1837. There was not much law work the first sum-mer. What there was had to be paid for, oft-en, in but-ter, milk, fruit, eggs, or dry goods.
In those days folks lived so far a-part, that courts were held first in one place and then in an-oth-er. So Lin-coln rode a-bout the land, to go with the courts and pick up a case here and there. In this way he saw lots of peo-ple, made warm friends, and told scores of bright tales.
At no time did he use a word which was not clear to the dull-est ju-ry-man. All things were made plain when Lin-coln tried a case. Not on-ly was he plain and straight in what he said and did, but his heart was ev-er ten-der and true.
A sto-ry is told of a thing that took place on one of
 the “cir-cuit rid-ing” trips. Lin-coln saw two lit-tle birds that the wind had blown from their nest, but where that nest was one could not say. A close search at last brought the nest to light, and Lin-coln took the birds o-ver to it and placed them in it. His com-rades laughed at him as he jumped on his horse and was rid-ing a-way.
“That’s all right, boys,” said he. “But I couldn’t sleep to-night un-less I had found the moth-er’s nest for those birds.”
All ha-bits of stud-y were kept up, and in time fame as a speak-er came to A-bra-ham Lin-coln. As a wri-ter, too, he was prized. E-ven at the age of a score and nine years he wrote so well up-on themes of the day that the San-ga-mon Jour-nal and oth-er pa-pers would print his ar-ti-cles in full.
In the year 1840, Miss Ma-ry Todd of Ken-tuc-ky be-came Lin-coln’s wife, and helped him save his funds so well that, in a short time he was a-ble to buy a small house in Spring-field. Then, soon, he bought a horse and he was ver-y glad to do so.
By that year so well did Lin-coln speak that his name was put up-on the “Har-ri-son E-lec-to-ral Tick-et,” that
 he should “can-vass the State.” As he went a-bout the land he oft-en met old friends, those who had known him as a poor boy. Some-times it chanced that he could be of use to them.
There was a Jack Arm-strong who once fought Lin-coln when he was a clerk at Of-futt’s. The son of this man was in trou-ble. The charge was mur-der. His fa-ther be-ing dead, the moth-er, Han-nah, who knew and had been kind to the boy Lin-coln, went, now, to the man Lin-coln to plead with him to save her son. The case was tak-en up, and much time and thought giv-en to it. Things which were false had been told but Lin-coln was a-ble to search out and find the truth, and when at last he saw it and made oth-ers see it, the lad went free.
Though, at first, A-bra-ham Lin-coln thought much of An-drew Jack-son, as time went on he found that Jack-son held views that he could not hold. So he came to be known as an an-ti-Jack-son man and made his first en-try in-to pub-lic life as such. At the age of 31 he was known as the a-blest Whig stump speak-er in Il-li-nois. Two great Whigs at that time were Dan-iel Web-ster and Hen-ry Clay. Lin-coln was
 sent, as a Whig, in 1846, to the Con-gress of the U-ni-ted States, and he was the sole Whig mem-ber from Il-li-nois.
Of course, friends were proud to feel that the poor back-woods lad had come to so much fame. Some of the old folks said they “knew it was in him.” Oth-ers said “I told you so!”
Lin-coln had the same good sense that he had from the start.
He made up his mind to watch and wait. He knew that he could learn a deal from such great men as Web-ster and Clay. When he had to speak he said just what he thought in a plain strong way. He did not want war with Mex-i-co. He was not a-lone in this. But he thought that men who fought in that war, brave sol-diers, should have their re-ward.
A thing that was of great weight Lin-coln did at that time. He put in a bill which was to free the slaves in the Dis-trict of Co-lum-bia. By his vote more than once for the famed “Wil-mot Pro-vi-so” he hoped to keep sla-ver-y from the Ter-ri-to-ries gained through the war with Mex-i-co.
Though some fame came then to Lin-coln, funds did
 not. Spring-field, home, and law work fol-lowed when the term in Con-gress was o-ver.
Those who took the oth-er side from Whigs were called Dem-o-crats. They made a strong par-ty in Il-li-nois, and were led by a bright man whose name was Ste-phen A. Doug-las. His friends called him “the Lit-tle Gi-ant.” This, they thought, would make known to all that though he was small in size he was great in mind. He was well thought of as a mem-ber of Con-gress, could make a good speech, was a fine law-yer, knew how to dress well, and had a way of mak-ing folks think as he did.
While hard at work in law ca-ses, all at once, the calm of Lin-coln’s life was bro-ken by a thing that took place in 1854. A plan or pro-mise had been made that
 sla-ver-y should not spread north of the state of Mis-sou-ri. When the new states of Kan-sas and Ne-bra-ska were a-bout to be made, this good pro-mise was thrown a-side and a bill was passed by Con-gress which said that the folks who had their homes in those states might say that there should or should not be sla-ver-y there.
The man who put in that bill was Ste-phen A. Doug-las. The bill roused great rage in those who felt that sla-ver-y had gone quite far e-nough.
Most folks at the North felt that the time had come to cry “halt.” All through the states this theme was so much talked a-bout that two sides were made, one of which was formed of those who were will-ing that sla-ver-y should go on and spread, while the oth-er was
 formed of those who did not wish to have black men held as slaves in the new lands.
Speech-es were made in great halls, and crowds came to hear what the speak-ers had to say. In Il-li-nois, Lin-coln, who all his life had been a-gainst sla-ver-y, spoke straight to the peo-ple, show-ing them the wrong or the “in-jus-tice” of that bill. His first speech on this theme, has been called “one of the great speech-es of the world.” He was brave and dared to say that “if A-mer-i-ca were to be a free land, the stain of sla-ver-y, must be wiped out.”
He said “A house di-vi-ded a-gainst it-self can-not stand. I be-lieve this gov-ern-ment can-not en-dure half slave and half free. I do not ex-pect the Un-ion to be dis-solved; I do not ex-pect the house to fall; but I ex-pect it will cease to be di-vi-ded. It will be-come all one thing or all the oth-er. Ei-ther the op-po-nents of sla-ver-y will ar-rest the fur-ther spread of it and place it where the pub-lic mind shall rest in the be-lief that it is in the course of ul-ti-mate ex-tinc-tion, or the ad-vo-cates will push it for-ward till it shall be-come a-like law-ful in all the states—old as well as new, North as well as South.”
This speech made a great stir in the land. Some men and wom-en had worked for years to do and say the best thing for the slave but not one had put things just right till Lin-coln said that “if A-mer-i-ca would live it must be free.”
Lin-coln’s friends told him that they felt that his speech would make foes for him and keep him from be-ing sen-a-tor. The good man then said:
“Friends, this thing has been re-tard-ed long e-nough. The time has come when those sen-ti-ments should be ut-tered; and if it is de-creed that I should go down be-cause of this speech, then let me go down linked to the truth—let me die in the ad-vo-ca-cy of what is just and right.”
From the first, Lin-coln felt as if he were in the hands of God and led by Him in what he was to say and do in the cause of Free-dom for all. He felt that he, him-self, was not much, but that “Jus-tice and Truth” would live though he might go down in their de-fence.
Though not quite half a cen-tu-ry had then gone by since his dear moth-er had held him in her arms in their poor Ken-tuc-ky home, and it was less, too, than a score and five years since he swung his axe in the
 woods on the banks of the San-ga-mon to earn his bread and that of his kin from day to day, still, with the great prize be-fore him of that high post in the land, which he had long hoped to gain, he casts from him all chan-ces for his fur-ther rise, and in that hour stands forth one of the tru-est, no-blest men of all time.
Friends kept say-ing to Lin-coln “You’ve ruined your chan-ces. You’ve made a mis-take. Aren’t you sor-ry? Don’t you wish you hadn’t writ-ten that speech?”
Straight came the an-swer, and it was this:
“If I had to draw a pen a-cross my whole life and e-rase it from ex-ist-ence, and I had one poor lit-tle gift or choice left as to what I should save from the wreck, I should choose that speech and leave it to the world as it is.”
Men then be-gan to think as they had nev-er thought be-fore. It seemed as if a death-shot had been sent straight to the heart of sla-ver-y. That speech was, how-ev-er, but the first of a hard and fierce strug-gle be-tween two sides of one of the great-est ques-tions ev-er brought be-fore an-y na-tion.
Lin-coln and Doug-las went up and down the state
 of Il-li-nois talk-ing in halls and in “wig-wams” as the build-ings were called where they spoke. Some-times they made a speech on the same day, out of doors, where large crowds would come. Both oft-en held forth in the same hall, one mak-ing his views known be-fore din-ner and the oth-er talk-ing on the oth-er side af-ter din-ner. Lin-coln was not known to make fun of an-y one, but there were scores who made fun of him, and tried to make him an-gry. But he an-swered all their scoff with sound state-ments, and found friends where oth-ers would have made foes. Doug-las had a way of tell-ing folks that Lin-coln said some things which he did not say. This was hard to bear, but Lin-coln would tell the crowds just what he did say at such and such a meet-ing and peo-ple would be-lieve him.
Lin-coln’s print-ed speech-es went through all the states, and soon folks out-side of his own state had a wish to hear him. They felt that he was at the head of the par-ty for real lib-er-ty. So the time came when A-bra-ham Lin-coln spoke East and West, in Il-li-nois, O-hi-o, Con-nect-i-cut, New Hamp-shire, Rhode Is-land, Kan-sas, and New York, and crowds would be still while he pled the cause of lib-er-ty and struck blows
 at sla-ver-y. It is said that when he spoke in New York he ap-peared, in ev-er-y sense of the word, like one of the plain folks a-mong whom he loved to be count-ed. At first sight one could not see an-y-thing great in him save his great size, which would strike one e-ven in a crowd; his clothes hung in a loose way on his gi-ant frame, his face was dark and had no tinge of col-or. His face was full of seams and bore marks of his long days of hard toil; his eyes were deep-set and had a look of sad-ness in them. At first he did not seem at ease. The folks who were in that place to hear him were men and wom-en of note as well as those not so well known. There was a sea of ea-ger fa-ces to greet him and to find out what that rude child of the peo-ple was like. All soon formed great i-de-as of him, and these held to the end of his talk. He met with praise on all sides. He rose to his best when he saw what the folks thought of him. He spoke in his best vein. His eyes shone bright, his voice rang, his face seemed to light up the whole place. For an hour and a half he held sway in that hall and spoke straight to the point, clos-ing with these words,
“Let us have faith that right makes might, and in
 that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our du-ty as we un-der-stand it.”
A tale is told of Lin-coln’s go-ing with a friend, while in New York, to vis-it a Sun-day School at Five Points, a place where waifs were brought each Sab-bath to meet kind men and wom-en whose wish was to help them.
As the good man saw the poor chil-dren from the slums of the cit-y, his ten-der heart was deep-ly touched. His own poor child-hood came up be-fore him, and when urged to speak he said words which brought tears to all eyes. He told them that he, too, had been poor; that his toes stuck out through worn shoes in win-ter, that his arms were out at the el-bows and he shiv-ered with the cold. He said he had found that there was on-ly one rule—“al-ways do the best you can.” He said he had al-ways tried to do the best he could, and that if they would fol-low that rule that they “would get on some-how.” When he felt that he had talked long e-nough and tried to bring his words to a close, there were cries of “Go on!” “Do go on!” and so he told his young hear-ers man-y things that they were glad to hear. Then they sang some of their songs for him, and one of
 these moved him to tears. He asked for the book where those words were print-ed, and a cop-y hav-ing been giv-en to him he put the lit-tle hym-nal in-to his pock-et, and man-y a time in af-ter days drew it out to read.
At last, as he was leav-ing the school, one teach-er, who had not caught his name, when the head of the Mis-sion, Mr. Pease, gave it out, went up to him as he passed and asked what it was. The great man said, in low and qui-et tones, “A-bra-ham Lin-coln, from Il-li-nois.”

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved