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they professed to dread as the avowed enemies of the institutions of the South. The result, easily foreseen, soon occurred. As it became evident that Lincoln would be elected, the conspirators of the South, some of whom were in the highest places of the States and of the Union, began, through message, speech, and the press, to denounce the Republican candidate as an abolitionist, whose purpose, at the head of a powerful party, was to interfere with Southern slavery, and by incendiary appeals to excite the people to resistance. In South Carolina, the conspirators, confident of the sympathy of the misguided people, did not hesitate to declare their rebellious purposes. On the day before the Presidential election, the governor of South Carolina delivered a message to the Legislature, in which he boldly avowed the principles of secession, and recommended the appointment of delegates to a convention


to be assembled for the purpose of dissolving all connection with the United


Even in Virginia, Governor Letcher, at that early date, did not fear to suggest treason, and declared in his message to the Legislature: "It is useless to attempt to conceal the fact, that in the present temper of the Southern people, it [alluding to the probable election of Lincoln] can not and will not be submitted to. * * * The idea of permitting such a man to have the control and direction of the army and navy of the United States, and the appointment of high judicial and executive officers, postmasters included, can not be entertained by the South for a moment." On November the 6th the election took place, and Abraham Lincoln, as was foreseen, was elected President of the United States. His principles and character will be best illustrated by a cursory history of his life and political career.


Birth of Lincoln.—His Ancestry.—Humble Parentage.—Early Education.—Small Accomplishments extensively Util-
ized.—Handling of the Axe.—Death of his Mother.—Study of the Bible.—Second Marriage of his Father.—Young
Lincoln's earliest Literary Acquirements.—Later pursuits of Learning.—Bodily Development and Accomplish-
ments.—First Trip on a Flat Boat.—A Migration to Illinois.—A feat of "Splitting Rails."—A Hand on a Flat
Boat.—Reward of Industry and Integrity.—General Manager of a Shop and Mill.—A Volunteer in the Black
Hawk War.—A sudden and unexpected Promotion.—Return to Civil Life.—A Candidate for the Legislature.—A
Partnership in a Shop.—Failure.—An extemporaneous Surveyor—Elected Member of the Legislature.—Good
opinion of his Constituents.—Reading Law.—Admission to the Bar.—Professional Success.—Prominent among the
Politicians.—A Canvass of the State.—Elected Whig Member of Congress.—His Votes and Opinions on the Slave
Question.—Return to practice as a Lawyer.—Member of Whig National Convention.—A Champion of the Repub-
lican Party.—Nominated a United States Senator.—Canvass of the State.—Contest with Douglas.—A Victory and a
Defeat.—His candid Answers to Questions on Slavery.—Nominated for the Presidency.—Enthusiasm of his Party.—
An exciting Canvass.—Elected President.—Sudden Elevation.—"Honest Abe."—Character and Manners.

Abraham Lincoln was born in Hardin
County, Kentucky, on the 12th of Feb-
ruary, 1809. From the dark and con-
fused traditions of an humble ancestry,
a mole-eyed investigator has traced
back the lineage of our President to
some forefathers who emigrated from
England to America, and settled in
Berks County, Pennsylvania, where they
were engaged in the tranquil pursuit of
farming, and known as peaceful mem-
bers of the "Society of Friends." One
of them, however, the great-grandfather
of Abraham Lincoln, removed to Vir-
ginia, where his grandson, Thomas Lin-
coln, the father of the President, was
born. The family soon migrated to
Kentucky. Here Thomas, Abraham's
father, being left poor and uneducated,
led the life of an itinerant laborer, ready
to put his shoulder to any work that
promised a fair day's wages. He, how-
ever, on marrying Nancy Hanks, in
1806, became less movable, and fixed
himself a settler in Hardin County,
where our President was born. With-

out property and without education,
Thomas Lincoln found himself in the
unenviable position of one of those
"poor whites" who in a society based
on slavery are contemned alike by the
negro and his master. He therefore de-
termined to emigrate to a free State,
where personal labor was deemed no
humiliation and honest poverty no dis-
grace. He accordingly moved, in the
autumn of 1816, to Spencer County,
Indiana, when his son Abraham had
reached the age of eight years. The
youth had already, while in Kentucky,
picked up some stray scraps of learning,
and could not only read and cipher, but
write. This rare accomplishment of the
juvenile scholar proved invaluable to
the Lincoln family and the illiterate
neighbors of their forest home in Indi-
ana. They had left relatives and friends
in Kentucky, and were naturally desir-
ous of keeping up a correspondence
with them. Young Abraham's Lin-
coln's services were accordingly put into
requisition as the secretary, not only of
his father, who could barely sign his name, and of his mother, who, "though a ready reader, had not been taught the accomplishment of writing," but of many of the other rude settlers of the wilderness. He thus early acquired a facility of expression which proved of good service to him in after time, and aided his future advancement in life.


This, however, was only the occupation of his rare intervals of leisure. He more frequently handled the axe than the pen. A log-house was to be built, and his father's land to be cleared of its forest growth of oaks and hickories. Abraham was young, but well-grown, and wondrously strong for his age, and took to the rude labor with instinctive readiness. "An axe was at once placed in his hands, and from that time until he attained his twenty-third year, when not employed in labor on the farm, he was almost constantly wielding that most useful instrument."*

In 1818, young Lincoln lost his mother, a pious woman of the Baptist persuasion, who had taken care that no Sunday should pass without having a chapter of the Bible read either by herself or one of her children. Her son is said thus to have acquired a familiarity with the words and principles of the Scriptures, which made an abiding impression upon his memory and conduct. His father, however, soon provided himself with another wife, by marrying a Mrs. Sally Johnston, of Kentucky, who proved a worthy substitute to her not

° "Life of Abraham Lincoln." Horace Greeley & Co., New York.


able predecessor. Schooling was too dear, and the necessity of hard work too pressing, to allow of much devotion to study, and Abraham was left chiefly to his own unaided exertions for his education. With barely a year's instruction in all, he succeeded, by diligently reading the rare books that fell in his way, in developing his naturally vigorous understanding, and preparing himself for the success which has marked his life. His earliest literary acquisitions, after his spelling-book and the Bible, were a stray copy of Esop's Fables, which he conned until he learned it by heart; the Pilgrim's Progress, Franklin's Autobiography, Weems' picturesque Life of Washington, and Riley's wondrous narrative of travel. At the age of fifteen he earned, by three days' work, in reaping a distant neighbor's corn, Ramsay's History of the Revolution, and soon after crowned his arduous pursuit of literature with the acquisition of a copy of Plutarch's Lives. '' He studied English grammar after he was twenty-three years of age; at twenty-five he mastered enough of geometry, trigonometry, and mensuration to enable him to take the field as a surveyor; and he studied the six books of Euclid after he had served a term in Congress, and when he was forty years of age, amid the pressure of an extensive legal practice, and of frequent demands upon his time by the public."*

In the mean time, while young Lincoln was striving against every disad

0 " Life of Abraham Lincoln." Horace Greeley & Co., New York.

vantage for mental progress, he was advancing rapidly in physical stature and robustness. His rough backwoods hfe was hardening his muscle and knitting his stalwart frame, so that he soon became not only foremost in felling a tree or "splitting a rail," but the most noted among his comrades in feats of wrestling, leaping, and throwing the bar. His spirit of independence and adventure was displayed in a trip on a flat-boat to New Orleans, which he made at the age of nineteen, as one of the hands.

The fame of the prairie lands of Illinois, with their seductive promise of cheap lands and natural richness of soil, had reached the Lincoln family, and tempted them to seek its "fresh fields and pastures new." Accordingly, in the spring of 1830, Thomas Lincoln, with his wife and children, abandoned his home in Indiana and journeyed to the new land of promise. Ox-carts loaded with the women folk, the household goods, the farming utensils, and provision of corn and bacon for the journey, and driven by the patriarch and his son, our present President, carried all the hopes and fortunes of the Lincolns to their new home. After a slow and long journey through an unfrequented country, picturesque to the eye with its diversified scenery, but trying to the endurance of the traveler with its mountain acclivities, its deep watercourses, and perplexing forests, they finally arrived in Illinois. Here the Lincolns settled in Macon County, where the strong arm and skilled labor of Abraham, now one-and-twenty years

of age, were at once put to service. The summer was mostly spent in building the log-house, as a protection against the storms and frosts of the approaching autumn and winter. The next step was to prepare the bit of prairie which had fallen to the lot of the Lincolns, for a crop of Indian corn. It was now that Abraham accomplished that memorable feat of "splitting the rails" for the tenacre field, which has subsequently been cultivated to such advantage by the fertilizing rhetoric of political orators.

The winter compelling an intermission of labor on the farm, and the severity of the season restricting the means of livelihood at home, young Lincoln was induced to accept the offer of a neighbor to assist in floating a flat-boat from Beardstown, on the Illinois River, to New Orleans. Having performed this service greatly to the satisfaction of his employer, he was rewarded by him with the appointment of general manager of his shop and mill in New Salem. He had been thus occupied for several months, when, on the breaking out of the Black Hawk war in 1832, he joined a company of volunteers. Lincoln was at once chosen the captain, an unexpected elevation, which he declared gave him more pleasure than any subsequent honor which has fallen to his lot. The war being soon brought to a close, Lincoln returned to civil life, after the brief military career of three months.

On reaching New Salem, he was induced to offer himself as a " Whig" candidate for the Legislature, but was defeated by his Democratic opponent. He MEMBER OF

now formed a partnership, and buying a stock of goods on credit, opened a country store. He was also appointed postmaster at New Salem. The business, however, not proving successful, nor the office remunerative, he was soon in such pecuniary straits as to be forced to close his doors. His next effort for a livelihood was as an extemporaneous assistant surveyor, for which he readily prepared himself by obtaining a field compass, a chain, and a treatise on surveying.

In 1834, Lincoln was elected a member of the Legislature of Illinois. Although reticent of speech, he by the faithful discharge of his duties, and his personal and political rectitude of conduct, won so much of the good opinion of his constituents that^they re-elected him for three successive terms.

Even while practicing as a surveyor, Lincoln had been in the habit of reading books on law. After entering the Legislature, he began to study them with increased attention, and in 1836 had made such progress that he was admitted to the bar. In April of the following year he became a partner of a Mr. John F. Stuart, and removed to Springfield, where he began the practice of his profession. His success as a lawyer was immediate, and he soon attained to such eminence, that he ranked among the chief legal practitioners of the neighborhood. His forte was in the management of jury cases. Though laboriously occupied with his profession, Lincoln took a prominent lead in politics. His sympathies were with the Whigs, and having been chosen a candi


date for Presidential elector in 1844, he canvassed the whole State of Illinois and a portion of Indiana in favor of Henry Clay. In 1846 he was elected by the Whigs a member of Congress, and in December, 1847, took his seat in the House of Representatives. Though opposed to the annexation of Texas and the war with Mexico, which had been then brought to a triumphant close by the conquest of the Mexican capital, Lincoln never failed to recognize the good service of our soldiers, and to join in all the congressional votes of acknowledgment and reward.

At an early period Lincoln had manifested those opinions on slavery which secured for him the nomination of the Republican party, and elevated him to his present high position. In a protest, which is recorded upon the journal of the Illinois Legislature on the 3d of March, 1837, he united with a fellow-member in saying that: "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 the 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 said District."

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