Page images
PDF
EPUB

DEATH OF MRS. LINCOLN_“ABE” LEARNS TO

1 WRITE. A little more than a year after removing to Spencer county, Mrs. Lincoln died, an event which brought desolation to the hearts of her husband and children, but to none so much as to A be. He had been a dutiful son, and she one of the most devoted of mothers, and to ber in. struction may be traced many of those traits and characteristics for which even now he is remarkable. Soon after her death, the bereaved lad had an offer which prom. ised to afford him other employment during the long, monotonous evenings, than the reading of books, a young man who had removed into the neighborhood having offered to teach him how to write. The opportunity was too fraught with benefit to be rejected, and after a few weeks of practice under the eye of his instructor, and also out of doors with a piece of chalk or charred stick, he was able to write his name, and in less than twelve months could and did write a letter.

HIS FATHER MARRIES AGAIN-ABE FINISHES

HIS EDUCATION. During the next year Mr. Lincoln married Mrs. Sally Joboston, of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, a widow-lady with three children, and who was admirably adapted to supply the vacancy which existed in the Lincoln family; and a superior woman, between whom and Abe a most devoted attachment sprung up, which ever afterwards continued. About the same time a person named Crawford moved into the neighborhood, and understanding how to read and write and the rudiments of arithmetic, was induced to open a school, to which Abe was sent, and in which he greatly improved his knowledge of the first two branches, and soon mastered the second. His school-garb comprised

& suit of dressed buckskin and a cap made from a raccoon skin. His memory was retentive, and as he took an unuisual pride in his studies, bis close application made him a favorite scholar with his teacher, while his superior knowledge, limited though it was, caused him to be used by the more ignorant settlers as their scribe whenever they had letters to be written. A brief period at this school, and to use a fashionable phrase, his education was finished. Six months of instruction within the walls of an insignificant school-house is all the education that Abraham Lincoln has received during a long lifetime, a greater portion of wbich has been spent in public positions, where ability and talent were indispensable requisites. BECOMES A HIRED HAND ON A FLATBOAT.

For four or five years after leaving school, or until he was eighteen, he constantly labored in the woods with his axe, cutting down trees and splitting rails, and during the evenings, read such works as he could borrow from the other settlers. A year later, he was hired by a man living near by, at ten dollars a month, to go to New.... Orleans on a flatboat loaded with stores, which were destined for sale at the plantations on the Mississippi river, near the Crescent City, and with but one companion started on his rather dangerous journey. At night they tied up alongside of the bank, and rested upon the hard deck with a blanket for a covering, and during the hours of light, whether their lonely trip was cheered by a bright sun or made disagreeable in the extreme by violent storms, their craft floated down the stream, its belmsmen never for a moment losing their spirits, or regretting their acceptance of the positions they occupied. Nothing occurred to mar the success of the trip, nor the excitement naturally inçident to a flatboat expedition of some eighteen hundred miles, save a midnight attack bv a party of negroes, who,

after a severe conflict, were whipped by Abe and his comrade and compelled to flee, and after selling their goods at a kandsome profit, the young merchants returned to Indiana

THE FAMILY REMOVE TO ILLINOIS—ABE

SEEKS HIS FORTUNE AMONG STRANGERS.

In March, 1830, Mr. Thomas Lincoln removed his family to Illinois, their household articles being transported thither in large wagons drawn by oxen, Abe himself driving one of the teams. Upon the journey, and while crossing the bottom lands of the Kaskaskia river, the males of the family were compelled to wade through water up to their waists. In two weeks they reached Decatur, Macon county, Illinois, near the centre of that State, and in another day were at the tract of land (ten acres) on the north side of the Sangamon river, and about ten miles west of Decatur. A log cabin was immediately erected, and Abe proceeded to split the rails for the fence with which the lot was to be enclosed. As a rail-splitter, as a tiller of the soil, or as a huntsman, to whose accuracy of aim the family depended in a great measure for their daily food, young Abraham Lincoln was active, earnest and laborious, and when in the following spring he signified his intention to leave his home to seek his fortune among strangers, the tidings were received by his parents and friends with the most profound sorrow.

Confident that a more extended field of observation and action would be more suitable to his tastes and disposition, he packed up what little clothing he possessed, and went westward into Menard county. He worked on a farm in the vicinity of Petersburg, during the ensuing summer and winter, at the same time improving himself, in reading, writing, grammar, and arithmetic.

HE TAKES ANOTHER TRIP TO NEW ORLEANS

BECOMES MILLER AND SALESMAN. Early in the following spring he was hired by a man named Offutt, to assist in taking a flatboat to New Orleans; and, as it was found impossible to purchase a suitable boat, Abe lent a willing and industrious hand in building one at Sangamon, from whence, when completed, it was floated into the Mississippi river. The trip was made, and his employer was so much gratified with the industry and tact of his hired hand, that he engaged him to take charge of his mill and store in the village of New Salem. In this position, “Honest Abe," as he was now called, won the respect and confidence of all with whom he had business dealings, while socially, he was much beloved by the residents-young and old—of the place. He was affable, generous, ever ready to assist the needy or to sympathize with the distressed, and never was known to be guilty of a dishonorable act.

HIS SERVICES IN THE BLACK HAWK WAR.

Early in the following year the Black Hawk War broke ! out, and the Governor of Illinois calling for troops, Abe determined to offer his services; and a recruiting station being opened in New Salem, he placed his name the first on the roll; and by his influence inducing many of his friends and companions to do likewise, a company was soon organized, and Abe was unanimously elected captain. The company marched to Beardstown, and from there to the seat of war; but during their term of enlistmentthirty days—were not called into active service. A new levy was then called for, and he re-enlisted as a private, and at the end of thirty days again re-enlisted, and remained with his regiment until the war ended.

IS NOMINATED FOR THE LEGISLATURE AND

IS DEFEATED. Soon after his return from this campaign, in the progress of which he proved himself an efficient and zealous soldier, although his regiment was not brought in conflict with the enemy, or as he subsequently expressed it, he “ did not see any live fighting Indians, but had a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes," he was waited upon by several of the influential citizens of New Salem, who asked his consent to nominate him for the Legislature. He had only been a resident of the county for nine months, but as a thorough-going “Henry Clay man" was needed, he was deemed the most suitable person to run, particularly as it was believed that his popularity would ensure success in a county which had, the year before, given General Jackson a large majority for President. There were eight aspirants for the legislative position; but, although Abraham received two hundred and seventyseven votes out of two hundred and eighty-four, cast in New Salem, he was not elected, the successful candidate leading him a few votes.

BECOMES A MERCHANT AND SURVEYOR.. Soon after his political defeat he engaged in the mercantile business, but in a few months sold out, and under the tuition of John Calhoun (in later years President of the Lecompton Constitutional Convention) became proficient in surveying, an occupation which for more than a year he found very remunerative for a novice. He was also for a time Postmaster of New Salem.

IS ELECTED TO THE LEGISLATURE-STUDIES

LAW In August, 1834, he was again nominated for the Legis. lature, and was elected by a large majority; and in 1836,

« PreviousContinue »