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HOME > Biographical > The Life of Abraham Lincoln > CHAPTER VII.
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All this time A-bra-ham Lin-coln was go-ing on do-ing his work in law and help-ing as much as he could to fix in the minds of the peo-ple right i-de-as for the gui-dance of the na-tion.
Those who could un-der-stand the true needs of the hour, and saw how strong they were, felt that if they could place this man, who had ris-en up in the land to lead the for-ces to lib-er-ty, in a post where he could have full sway and do his best, they must name him for just that work, so, when the “Na-tion-al Re-pub-li-can Con-ven-tion” met at Chi-ca-go, May 16th, 1860, to pro-pose some one for their Chief, they named A-bra-ham Lin-coln, and said he was the man whom they want-ed to be the next Pres-i-dent of the U-ni-ted States.
Not on-ly was this a great thing for Lin-coln, but it was, al-so, a bless-ed tri-umph for the A-mer-i-can peo-ple. There were three oth-er men whose names were
 put up for the same post. These three men and their friends thought it a most un-wise act to name Lin-coln. But as time went on it was found that the e-lec-tion of A-bra-ham Lin-coln was the best thing that ev-er came to the coun-try.
At first, when Mr. Pick-ett, an ed-i-tor in Il-li-nois, wrote to Lin-coln, in A-pril, 1859, that he and his part-ner were off talk-ing to the Re-pub-li-can ed-i-tors of the state on the theme of hav-ing Lin-coln’s name come out at the same mo-ment from each pa-per, as a can-di-date for the Pres-i-den-cy, Lin-coln wrote to him in re-ply:
“I must, in truth, say that I do not think my-self fit for the Pres-i-den-cy.” Then he went on to say that he thanked his friends for their trust in him, but thought it would be best for the cause not to have such a step by all at the same time.
But some of Il-li-nois’ best men took the mat-ter se-ri-ous-ly in hand, and, at last, Lin-coln said they might “use his name.” Then his friends went to work, and in con-ven-tion it was found that A-bra-ham Lin-coln had not on-ly the whole vote of Il-li-nois to start with, but won votes on all sides, and did not make a foe of an-y ri-val.
The Dem-o-crat-ic par-ty had split in two on the slave theme. The ma-jor-i-ty of the Dem-o-crats who met at Bal-ti-more named Ste-phen A. Doug-las of Il-li-nois, the au-thor of the Kan-sas-Ne-bras-ka bill. Those Dem-o-crats who stuck close to the South put for-ward John C. Breck-in-ridge of Ken-tuc-ky. The “Con-sti-tu-tion-al Un-ion” par-ty, as it was called, which wished to make peace be-tween the an-gry sec-tions, named Bell of Ten-nes-see.
The Re-pub-li-cans were u-ni-ted and ea-ger. The e-lec-tion came on Nov. 6, 1860, and the re-sult was just what most thought it would be. The Re-pub-li-can e-lec-tors did not get a “ma-jor-i-ty,” of all the votes by near-ly a mil-lion, but the split of the Dem-o-crats left them a “plu-ral-i-ty.”
In the “E-lec-to-ral” col-le-ges A-bra-ham Lin-coln got a plu-ral-i-ty of 57 votes and so was the choice for Pres-i-dent of the U-ni-ted States.
A great crowd surged through the streets of Chi-ca-go at the time when the con-ven-tion nom-i-na-ted Lin-coln. Cheers rent the air, while can-non roared and bon-fires blazed. Then the men who had tak-en part in the work turned their steps home-ward.
The next morn-ing a pas-sen-ger car drawn by the fast-est en-gine of the “Il-li-nois Cen-tral Rail-road” rolled out from Chi-ca-go, and took some gen-tle-men straight to Spring-field to tell Mr. Lin-coln of his nom-i-na-tion, though, of course, the news had been sent there by wire the night be-fore.
It was eight o’clock in the morn-ing when the par-ty reached the Lin-coln home. The two sons, Wil-lie and Thom-as, or “Tad” as he was called, were sit-ting on the fence, laugh-ing with some boy friends. Tad stood up and shout-ed “Hoo-ray!” in wel-come to the com-mit-tee. A brief ad-dress was giv-en by the lead-er, and a
 short re-ply came from Lin-coln. Then they all went in-to the li-bra-ry and met Mrs. Lin-coln, and a light lunch was served. It was thought, by some, that Lin-coln would set wines be-fore his guests at this time, but he thought this thing one that was not best for folks, and did not do it. He had learned a sad les-son from what he saw of this sort in his young days.
Folks far and near then came to tell Mr. Lin-coln that they were glad of the good news.
One good wom-an with but-ter and eggs to sell from her farm, said she thought she “would like to shake hands with Mr. Lin-coln once more.” Then she told him, as he did not seem to re-mem-ber her, that he had stopped at her house to get some-thing to eat when he was ‘rid-ing the cir-cuit,’ and that one day he came when she had noth-ing but bread and milk to give him, and he said that it was good e-nough for the Pres-i-dent of the U-ni-ted States, “and now,” she said, “I’m glad that you are go-ing to be Pres-i-dent!”
An-oth-er guest came one day when Lin-coln was talk-ing with the Gov-ern-or of his state and a few more. The door o-pened and an old la-dy in a big sun bon-net and farm clothes walked in and told Mr. Lin-coln
 that she had a pres-ent for him. She said she had been want-ing to give him some-thing, and these were all she had. Then, with much pride, she put in-to his hands a pair of blue wool-len stock-ings, and said, “I spun the yarn and knit them socks my-self!”
The kind gift and thought pleased Mr. Lin-coln. He thanked her, asked for her folks at home, and walked with her to the door. When he came back he took up the socks and held them by their toes, one in each hand, while a queer smile came to his face and he said to his guest,—
“The old la-dy got my lat-i-tude and long-i-tude a-bout right, did-n’t she?”
The “plain peo-ple,” the sort from whom Lin-coln sprung, were ver-y proud of him, and day af-ter day some of them went to see him, bring-ing small gifts and kind words and wish-es.
One day, when Mr. Lin-coln, clad in a lin-en dus-ter, sat at the desk in his of-fice with a pile of let-ters and an ink-stand of wood be-fore him, he saw two shy young men peep in at the door. He spoke to them in a kind way and asked them to come in and make a call.
The farm hands thanked him and went in. Then they said that one of them, whose name was Jim, was quite tall. They had told him that he was as tall as the great A-bra-ham Lin-coln, and they had made up their minds to come to town and see if they could find out if that was the case.
So with a smile on his face Mr. Lin-coln left his desk, and the morn-ing’s mail, and asked the young man to stand up by the side of the wall. Then Mr. Lin-coln put a cane on the top of his head, and let the end of the stick touch the plas-ter-ing. Thus he found his height. Mr. Lin-coln told the man that it was now his turn to hold the cane and do the same for him. So Mr. Lin-coln stepped un-der the cane, and it was found that both were the same height. Jim’s friends had made a good guess.
Small deeds of kind-ness like these won hosts of friends for A-bra-ham.
As time went on the trains brought scores of folks to Spring-field. Some said they had just come to shake hands with Mr. Lin-coln, while more told a straight tale and said they came to ask for a post of some sort, and thought they would “take time by the fore-lock.” In
 fact the crowds of men who came to ask for pri-zes were so large that Mr. Lin-coln had to leave his old desk and go to a room in the State-house which the Gov-ern-or of Il-li-nois had placed at his use. Here he met all in his kind way.
While Lin-coln wait-ed, af-ter his nom-i-na-tion, he kept track of all the moves that were made. Still, he had so much trust that he said, “The peo-ple of the South have too much sense to ru-in the gov-ern-ment,” and he told his friends that they must not say or feel an-y ill will to those who were not of the same mind, but “re-mem-ber that all A-mer-i-cans are broth-ers and should live like broth-ers.”
But, ere long, it was plain that the storm which had been mak-ing its way slow-ly but sure-ly, was a-bout to burst.
As soon as Lin-coln’s e-lec-tion was known the South be-gan to throw off the ties which bound it to the Un-ion.
The Sen-a-tors from South Car-o-li-na gave up their posts four days lat-er. Six weeks from that time that state went out from the Un-ion and set up a new gov-ern-ment.
One af-ter an-oth-er, oth-er states in the South went out, al-so, and joined South Car-o-li-na, un-til, by the first of Feb-ru-a-ry, 1861, all the sev-en cot-ton states had with-drawn from the Un-ion. Their claim was that the rights of a state were high-er than those of the Un-ion when it thought it ought to do so.
Mem-bers of Con-gress and oth-ers tried to set-tle the trou-ble but to no a-vail, and there seemed no way a-head but a tri-al of the is-sue on the bat-tle-field.
Lin-coln was in Spring-field and could do naught then, save with his pen and words of ad-vice to Bu-chan-an who was then Pres-i-dent. With great sad-ness he read what had been done at the South.
There was still much to do in Spring-field in his plans to leave his law work, and Mr. Lin-coln felt that a great load of care was up-on him, and the task, which
 in a few brief months would be his, was sure to be more e-ven than that which fell to the first great Chief, George Wash-ing-ton. There were times when he spent whole days in deep thought, si-lent and sad.
Still, in the midst of all this work, there came times when in a light-er vein he would show mirth at in-ci-dents as they came up. A bus-i-ness trip had to be made. A group of small girls was met at the house of a friend. They gazed at the great man as if they would speak to him. He kind-ly asked them if he could help them in an-y way. One of them said that she would dear-ly like to have him write his name for her.
Lin-coln said he saw oth-er young girls there and thought that if he wrote his name for but one, the rest would “feel bad-ly.”
The child then told him there were “eight all told.” Then, with one of his bright smiles the kind man asked for eight slips of pa-per and pen and ink. He wrote his name so that each child might have it to take home with her.
There was a lit-tle girl, that same au-tumn, whose home was on the shores of Lake E-rie. She had a por-trait of Lin-coln and a pic-ture of the log-cab-in
 which he helped build for his fa-ther in 1830. She had great pride in Mr. Lin-coln, and it was her wish that he should look as well as he could. So she asked her moth-er if she might write a note to Mr. Lin-coln and ask him if he would let his beard grow, for she thought this would make his face more pleas-ing.
The moth-er thought this plan of her child was strange, but know-ing that she was a strong Re-pub-li-can, said there could be no harm in writ-ing such a let-ter. So the let-ter was writ-ten and sent to “Hon. A-bra-ham Lin-coln, Esq., Spring-field, Il-li-nois.”
This young girl, whose name was Grace Be-dell, told Mr. Lin-coln how old she was, and that she thought he would look bet-ter, and so that scores more folks would like him, if he “would let his whis-kers grow.” She said, too, that she liked the “rail fence, in the pic-ture, a-round that cab-in that he helped his fa-ther make.” Then she asked that if he were too bus-y to an-swer her let-ter that he would let his own lit-tle girl re-ply for him.
Mr. Lin-coln was in his State-house room when that let-ter, with scores of oth-ers, came in. He could but smile at the child’s wish, but he took the time to an-swer
 at once, in a brief note which be-gan, “Miss Grace Be-dell: My dear lit-tle Miss.” He told her of the re-ceipt of her “ver-y a-gree-a-ble let-ter.” He said he was “sor-ry to say that he had no lit-tle daugh-ter,” but that he “had three sons, one sev-en-teen, one nine, and one sev-en years of age.” He said he had nev-er worn whis-kers, and asked if folks would not think it sil-ly to be-gin, then, to wear them. The note closed with; “Your ver-y sin-cere well-wish-er, A. Lin-coln.”

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