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Here, for the first season of his abode in the new State he continued to assist the father in his farm-work. One of the first duties was to fence in a field on the rich bottom-lands, which had been selected for cultivation. For this purpose, with the help of one laborer, Abraham Lincoln, it is said split three thousand rails*—the crowning work of a long laborious period of his life. The hand who aided him in this exploit, named John Hanks, a distant relative of his mother, bears earnest testimony to the strength and skill with with which the maul and the wedge were employed on this occasion.
For some unexplained reason, the family did not remain on this place but a single year. Abraham was now of age, and when, in the spring of 1831, his father set out for Coles county, sixty or seventy miles to the eastward, on the upper waters of the Kaskaskia and Embarras, a separation took place, the son for the first time, assuming his independence, and commencing life on his own account. The scene of these labors he never again visited. His father was soon after comfortably settled in the place to which he had turned his course, and spent the remainder of his adventurous days there, arriving at a good old age. He died in Coles county, on the 17th day of January, 1851, being in his seventy-third year. The farm on the Sangamon subsequently came into the possession of a Mr. Whitley, who erected a mill in the vicinity.
While there was snow on the ground, at the close of the year 1830, or early in 1831, a man came to that part of Macon county where young Lincoln was living, in pursuit of hands to aid him in a flatboat voyage down the Mississippi. The fact was known that the youth had once made such a trip, and his services were sought for the occasion. As one who had his own subsistence to earn, with no capital but his hands, and with no immediate opportunities for commencing professional study, if his thoughts bad as yet been turned in that direction, he accepted the proposition made him. Perhaps there was something of his inherited and acquired fondness for exciting adventure, impelling him to this decision. With him, were
*The number is uncertain, but the main fact rests on the best Authority
also employed, his former fellow-laborer, John Hanks, and a son of his step-mother, named John Johnston. In the spring of 1831 Lincoln set out to fulfill his engagement. The floods had so swollen the streams that the Sangamon country was a vast sea before him. His first entrance into that county was over these wide-spread waters, in a canoe. The time had come to join his employer on his journey to New Orleans, but the latter had been disappointed by another person on whom he relied to furnish him a boat, on the Illinois river. Accordingly, all hands set to work, and themselves built a boat, on that river, for their purposes. This done, they set out on their long trip, making a successful voyage to New Orleans and back. It is reported by his friends, that Mr. Lincoln refers with much pleasant humor to this early experience, so relating some of its incidents as to afford abundant amusement to his auditors. In truth, he was a youth who could adapt himself to this or any other honest work which his circumstances required of him, and with a cheerfulness and alacrity—a certain practical humor-rarely equaled. He could turn off the hardest labor as a mere pastime; and his manly presence, to other laborers, was as a constant inspiration and a charm to lighten their burdens.
It was midsummer when the flatboatman returned from this his second and last trip, in that capacity. The man who had commanded this little expedition now undertook to establish himself in business at New Salem, twenty miles below Springfield, in Menard county-a place of more relative consequence then than now—two miles from Petersburg, the county-seat. He had found young Lincoln a person of such sort that he was anxious to secure his services in the new enterprise he was about to embark in. He opened a store at. New Salem, and also had a mill for flouring grain. For want of other immediate employment, and in the same spirit which had heretofore actuated him, Abraham Lincoln now entered upon the duties of a clerk, having an eye to both branches of the business carried on by his employer. This connection continued for nearly a year, all the duties of his position being faithfully performed.
It was to this year's humble but honorable service-one that would have been ennobled by his alacrity in discharging it, as a necessity of his lot, were the employment far less dig. nified than it really was—that Mr. Douglas tauntingly alluded, in one of his speeches during the canvass of 1858, as “ keeping a grocery.” In his reply, Mr. Lincoln declared his adversary to be “woefully at fault” as to the fact, in alleging him to have been a grocery-keeper, though it might be no great sin had the statement been well founded. He added that, in truth, he had “never kept a grocery anywhere in the world.”
The business of this country merchant at New Salem did not prove remarkably successful. In any event, the employment was not such as could have permanently suited an active, muscular person, like young Lincoln, with a lurking passion for adventure, and for more exciting scenes. His clerkship days, however, were brought to an abrupt close, probably much sooner than they otherwise would have been, by the breaking out of the Black-Hawk war, in which he was eager to bear an honorable part.
It was during this year that he was appointed Postmaster at New Salem-not from political affinity with the administration of Jackson, to which he was, in fact, opposed, but because he was thought better fitted for the place than any of his neighborg. He discharged his duties well; and instead of even temporarily using any of the public money to supply his then pressing wants, he carefully laid up whatever belonged to the Government, from day to day, and at the final settlement he had a bag of coin, containing the proper amount, ready to be paid over.
SERVICE IN THE BLACK-HAWK WAR—1832.
Breaking out of the Black-Hawk War. The Invasion of 1831.-The
Rock-river Country Threatened.-Prompt Action of Gov. Reynolds. Retreat of Black-Hawk. - Treaty of 1804 Re-affirmed. - Bad Faith of the Indians.- Invasion of 1832.- Volunteers Called For.Abraham Lincoln one of a Company from Menard County.
He is chosen Captain.-Rendezvous at Beardstown.-Hard Marches across the Country to Oquawka, Prophetstown and Dixon.--Expected Battle Avoided by the Enemy.-Discontent among Volunteers. They are Disbanded. Captain Lincoln Remains, Volunteering for Another Term of Service.-Skirmishing Fights.-Arrival of New Levies.Encounter at Kellogg's Grove.-Black-Hawk at the Four Lakes.--. He Retreats.---Battle on the Wisconsin..--Hastens Forward to the Mississippi.---Battle of the Bad-ax.---End of Lincoln's First Campaign.---Autobiographic Note.
WHILE Abraham Lincoln was quietly performing his duties in the pioneer "store,” in Menard county, reports were received of an alarming Indian invasion, on the western border of the State. In the spring of 1831, the noted Black Hawk, an old chief of the Sac tribe of Indians, repudiating the treaty by the terms of which they had been removed beyond the Father of Waters, re-crossed the river with his women and children, and three hundred warriors of the Sacs, together with allies from the Kickapoo and Pottawatomie nations. His object was again to take possession of his old hunting-grounds, and to establish himself where the principal village of his nation before had been, in the Rock-river country. The Indians began committing depredations upon the property of the white settlers, destroying their crops, pulling down their fences, driving off and slaughtering their cattle, and ordering the settlers themselves to leave under penalty of being massacred.
In response to the representations of Gov. Reynolds, to whom the settlers applied for protection, Gen. Gaines, commander of the United States forces in that quarter, took prompt and decisive measures to expel these invaders from the State. With a few companies of regular soldiers, Gen. Gaines at once took up his position at Rock Island, and at his call, several hundred volunteers, assembled from the northern and central parts of the State, upon the proclamation of Gov. Reynolds, joined him a month later. His little army distributed into two regiments, an additional battalion, and a spy battalion, was the most formidable military force yet seen in the new State. The expected battle did not take place, the Indians having suddenly and stealthily retired again, in their canoes, across the river. The troops had been advanced to Vandruff's Island, opposite the Indian town, where the engagement was anticipated, and there was much dissatisfaction among the volunteers, and some complaints against the generals, Gaines and Duncan, for permitting the enemy to escape.
Whether or not either of these commanders was chargeable with blame, this retreat of Black-Hawk only prolonged the difficulties impending, and prepared the way for a more formidable and eventful campaign the next season. Gen. Gaines, however had taken measures to preclude any such possibility, so far as the deliberate engagements of the uneasy chief could avail for that purpose. Intimidated by the threats of Gaines to cross the river, and to prosecute the war on that ground, Black-Hawk sued for peace. A treaty was entered into, by which he agreed that he and his tribe should ever after remain on the west side of the river, unless by permission of the State Governor, or of the President. Thus was the treaty of 1804 re-affirmed, by which the lands they were claiming had been distinctly conveyed to the United States Government, which, in turn, had sold them to the present settlers.
In express violation, however, of this second deliberate engagement, Black-Hawk and his followers began, early in the spring of 1832, as we have seen, to make preparations for another invasion. Many and grievous wrongs have undoubtedly been inflicted upon the savage tribes by the superior race,