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and such a determination of affairs as would best remedy the evils resulting from this loose Democratic tampering with measures of Whig policy.
Aside from these financial questions, there were few matters of any general interest bëfore this Legislature. This session of 1838–9 was the last held at Vandalia. A special session in 1839, inaugurated the new state-house at Springfield. The great contest of 1840 was already casting its shadow before, and began chiefly to engross the attention of persons in political life. Whig candidates for electors were nominated in November of this year, and discussions commenced in earnest. Mr. Lincoln who was deemed one of the strongest champions of the cause before the people, was repeatedly called on to encounter the foremost advocates of the Democratic partywhat no man in Illinois, it was now manifest, could do more successfully.
For the fourth time in succession, Mr. Lincoln was elected to the Legislature in 1810—the last election to that position which he would consent to accept from his strongly attached . constituents of Sangamon county. In this Legislature, like all previous ones in which he had served, the Democrats had a majority in both branches, and the responsibility of all legislation was with them. It was at this session that, to overrule a decision unacceptable to Democrats, and for political and personal reasons of common notoriety in Illinois, the judicial system of the State was changed, at the instigation of Douglas, against the judgment of many leading Democrats, and five new judges, of whom Mr. Douglas was one, were added to the Supreme Court of the State. This is now generally felt to be a measure conferring little credit upon those concerned in concocting the scheme, and was never heartily approved by the people.
There was but one session during the two years for which this Legislature was chosen. Mr. Lincoln, as in the last, was the acknowledged Whig leader, and the candidate of his party for Speaker. First elected at twenty-five, he had continued in office without interruption so long as his inclination allowed, and until, by his uniform courtesy and kindness of manners,
his marked ability, and his straight-forward integrity, he had won an enviable repute throughout the State, and was virtually, when but a little past thirty, placed at the head of his party in Illinois.
Begun in comparative obscurity, and without any adventitious aids in its progress, this period of his life, at its termination, had brought him to a position where he was secure in the confidence of the people, and prepared, in due time, to enter upon a more enlarged and brilliant career, as a national statesman. His fame as a close and convincing debater was established. His native talent as an orator had at once been demonstrated and disciplined. His zeal and carnestness in behalf of a party whose principles he believed to be right, had rallied strong troops of political friends about him, while his unfeigned modesty and his unpretending and simple bearing, in marked contrast with that of so many imperious leaders, had won him general and lasting esteem. He preferred no claim as a partizan, and showed no overweening anxiety to advance himself, but was always a disinterested and generous co-worker with his associates, only ready to accept the post of honor and of responsibility, when it was clearly their will, and satisfactory to the people whose interests were involved. At the close of this period, with scarcely any consciousness of the fact himself, and with no noisy demonstrations or flashy ostentation in his behalf from his friends, he was really one of the foremnost political men in the State. A keen observer might even then have predicted a great future for the “ Sangamon Chief,” as people have been wont to call him; and only such an observer, perhaps, would then have adequately estimated his real power as a natural orator, a sagacious statesman, and a gallant TRIBUNE OF THE PEOPLE.
HIS SETTLEMENT AT SPRINGFIELD AND HIS MAR
Nr. Lincoln's Law Studies.--His Perseverance under Adverse Circum
stances.—Licensed to Practice in 1836.—His Progress in bis Profession.-His Qualities as an Advocate.- A Romantic and Exciting Incident in his Practice.-A Reminiscence of his Early Life. He Renders a Material Service to the Family of an Old Friend.-Secures an Acquittal in a Murder Case, in spite of a Strong Popular Prejudice Unjustly Excited Against the Prisoner.–An Affecting Scene.-Mr. Lincoln Removes to Springfield in 1837.-Devotes Himself to his Profession, Giving up Political Life.-His Marriage.- The Family of Mrs. Lincoln.-Fortunate Domestic Relations.--His Children and their Education.--Denominational Tendencies.--Four Years' Retirement.
DURING the time of his service in the Legislature, Mr. Lincoln was busily engaged in mastering the profession of law. This he was, indeed, compelled to do somewhat at intervals, and with many disadvantages, from the necessity he was under to support himself meanwhile by his own labor, to say nothing of the attention he was compelled to give to politics, by the position he had accepted. Nothing, however, could prevent his consummating his purpose. He completed his preliminary studies, and was licensed to practice in 1836. His reputation was now such that he found a good amount of business, and began to rise to the front rank in his profession. He was a most effective jury advocate, and manifested a ready perception and a sound judgment of the turning legal points of a case. His clear, practical sense, and his skill in homely or humorous illustration, were noticeable traits in his arguments. The graces and the cold artificialities of a polished rhetoric, he eertainly had not, nor did he aim to acquire them. His style of expression and the cast of his thought were his own, having all the native force of a genuine originality.
The following incident, of which the narration is believed to be substantially accurate, is from the pen of one who professes to write from personal knowledge. It is given in this connection, as at once illustrating the earlier struggles of Mr. Lincoln in acquiring his profession, the character of his forensic efforts, and the generous gratitude and disinterestedness of his nature:
Having chosen the law as his future calling, he devoted himself assiduously to its mastery, contending at every step with adverse fortune. During this period of study, he for some time found a home under the hospitable roof of one Armstrong, a farmer, who lived in a log house some eight miles from the village of Petersburg, in Menard county. Here, young Lincoln would master his lessons by the firelight of the cabin, and then walk to town for the purpose of recitation. This man Armstrong was himself poor, but he saw the genius struggling in the young student, and opened to him his rude home, and bid him welcome to his coarse fare. How Lincoln graduated with promise-how he has more than fulfilled that promise—how honorably he acquitted himself, alike on the battle-field, in defending our border settlements against the ravages of savage foes, and in the halls of our national legislature, are matters of history, and need no repetition here. But one little incident, of a more private nature, standing as it does as a sort of sequel to some things already alluded to, I deem worthy of record. Some few years since, the oldest son of Mr. Lincoln's old friend Armstrong, the chief support of his widowed mother-the good old man having some time previously passed from earth-was arrested on the charge of murder. A young man had been killed during' a riotous melee, in the night-time, at a camp-meeting, and one of his associates stated that the death-wound was inflicted by young Armstrong. A preliminary examination was gone into, at which the accuser testified so positively, that there seemed no doubt of the guilt of the prisoner, and therefore he was held for trial. As is too often the case, the bloody act caused an undue degree of excitement in the public mind. Every improper incident in the life of the prisoner-each act which bore the least semblance of rowdyism--each schoolboy quarrel was suddenly remembered and magnified, until they pictured him as a fiend of the most horrid hue. As these rumors spread abroad, they were received as gospel truth, and a feverish desire for vengeance seized upon the infatuated populace, while only prison-bars prevented a horrible death at the
hands of a mob. The events were heralded in the newspapers, painted in highest colors, accompanied by rejoicing over the certainty of punishment being meted out to the guilty party. The prisoner, overwhelmed by the circumstances in which he found himself placed, fell into a melancholy condition, bordering upon despair; and the widowed mother, looking through her tears, saw no cause for hope from earthly aid.
At this juncture, the widow received a letter from Mr. Lincoln, volunteering his services in an effort to save the youth from the impending stroke. Gladly was his aid accepted, although it seemed impossible for even his sagacity to prevail in such a desperate case; but the heart of the attorney was in his work, and he set about it with a will that knew no such word as fail. Feeling that the poisoned condition of the public mind was such as to preclude the possibility of impanpeling an impartial jury in the court having jurisdiction, he procured a change of venue, and a postponement of the trial. He then went studiously to work unraveling the history of the case, and satisfied himself that his client was the victim of malice, and that the statements of the accuser were a tissue of falsehoods. When the trial was called on, the prisoner, pale and emaciated, with hopelessness written on every feature, and accompanied by his half-hoping, half despairing mother-wlose only hope was in a mother's belief of her son's innocence, in the justice of the God she worshiped, and in the noble counsel, who, without hope of fee or reward upon earth, had undertaken the cause-took his seat in the prisoner's box, and with a “stony firmness " listened to the reading of the indictment.
Lincoln sat quietly by, while the large auditory looked on him as though wondering what he could say in defense of one whose guilt they regarded as certain. The examination of the witnesses for the State was begun, and a well-arranged mass of evidence, circumstantial and positive, was introduced, which seemed to in pale the prisoner beyond the possibility of extri. cation. The counsel for the defense propounded but few questions, and those of a character which excited no uneasiness on the part of the prosecutor-merely, in most cases, requiring the main witness to be definite as to time and place. When the evidence of the prosecution was ended, Lincoln introduced a few witnesses to remove some erroneous impressions in regard to the previous character of his client, who, though somewhat rowdyish, had never been known to commit a vicious act; and to show that a greater degree of illfeeling existed between the accuser and the accused, than the