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29 voters in the new State of Illinois were fired with an equal party zeal. During the months of January and February, 1832, no less than six citizens of Sangamon County announced themselves in the "Sangamo Journal" as candidates for the State legislature, the election for which was not to occur until August; and the "Journal" of March 15 printed a long letter, addressed "To the People of Sangamon County," under date of the ninth, signed A. Lincoln, and beginning:

"FELLOW-CITIZENS: Having become a candidate for the honorable office of one of your representatives in the next general assembly of this State, in accordance with an established custom and the principles of true republicanism, it becomes my duty to make known to you, the people whom I propose to represent, my sentiments with regard to local affairs." He then takes up and discusses in an eminently methodical and practical way the absorbing topic of the moment-the Whig doctrine of internal improvements and its local application, the improvement of the Sangamon River. He mentions that meetings have been held to propose the construction of a railroad, and frankly acknowledges that "no other improvement that reason will justify us in hoping for can equal in utility the railroad," but contends that its enormous cost precludes any such hope, and that, therefore, "the improvement of the Sangamon River is an object much better suited to our infant resources." Relating his experience in building and navigating his flatboat, and his observation of the stage of the water since then, he draws the very plausible conclusion that by straightening its channel and clearing away its driftwood the stream can be made navigable "to vessels of from twenty-five to thirty tons burden for at least one half of all common years, and to vessels of much greater burden a part

of the time." His letter very modestly touches a few other points of needed legislation-a law against usury, laws to promote education, and amendments to estray and road laws. The main interest for us, however, is in the frank avowal of his personal ambition.

"Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say, for one, that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow-men by rendering myself worthy of their esteem. How far I shall succeed in gratifying this ambition is yet to be developed. I am young, and unknown to many of you. I was born, and have ever remained, in the most humble walks of life. I have no wealthy or popular relations or friends to recommend me. My case is thrown exclusively upon the independent voters of the country, and if elected they will have conferred a favor upon me for which I shall be unremitting in my labors to compensate. But if the good people in their wisdom shall see fit to keep me in the background, I have been too familiar with disappointments to be very much chagrined.”

This written and printed address gives us an accurate measure of the man and the time. When he wrote this document he was twenty-three years old. He had been in the town and county only about nine months of actual time. As Sangamon County covered an estimated area of twenty-one hundred and sixty square miles, he could know but little of either it or its people. How dared a "friendless, uneducated boy, working on a flatboat at twelve dollars a month," with "no wealthy or popular friends to recommend" him, aspire to the honors and responsibilities of a legislator? The only answer is that he was prompted by that intuition of genius, that consciousness of powers which justify their claims by their achievements. When we scan



the circumstances more closely, we find distinct evidence of some reason for his confidence. Relatively speaking, he was neither uneducated nor friendless. His acquirements were already far beyond the simple elements of reading, writing, and ciphering. He wrote a good, clear, serviceable hand; he could talk well and reason cogently. The simple, manly style of his printed address fully equals in literary ability that of the average collegian in the twenties. His migration from Indiana to Illinois and his two voyages to New Orleans had given him a glimpse of the outside world. His natural logic readily grasped the significance of the railroad as a new factor in *ansportation, although the first American locomotive had been built only one year, and ten to fifteen years were yet to elapse before the first railroad train was to run in Illinois.

One other motive probably had its influence. He tells us that Offutt's business was failing, and his quick judgment warned him that he would soon be out of a job as clerk. This, however, could be only a secondary reason for announcing himself as a candidate, for the election was not to occur till August, and even if he were elected there would be neither service nor salary till the coming winter. His venture into politics must therefore be ascribed to the feeling which he so frankly announced in his letter, his ambition to become useful to his fellow-men-the impulse that throughout history has singled out the great leaders of mankind.

In this particular instance a crisis was also at hand, calculated to develop and utilize the impulse. Just about a month after the publication of Lincoln's announcement, the "Sangamo Journal" of April 19 printed an official call from Governor Reynolds, directed to General Neale of the Illinois militia, to organize six hundred volunteers of his brigade for mili

tary service in a campaign against the Indians under Black Hawk, the war chief of the Sacs, who, in defiance of treaties and promises, had formed a combination with other tribes during the winter, and had now crossed back from the west to the east side of the Mississippi River with the determination to reoccupy their old homes in the Rock River country toward the northern end of the State.

In the memoranda which Mr. Lincoln furnished for a campaign biography, he thus relates what followed the call for troops:

"Abraham joined a volunteer company, and, to his own surprise, was elected captain of it. He says he has not since had any success in life which gave him so much satisfaction. He went to the campaign, served near three months, met the ordinarv hardships of such an expedition, but was in no battle. Official documents furnish some further interesting details. As already said, the call was printed in the "Sangamo Journal" of April 19. On April 21 the company was organized at Richland, Sangamon County, and on April 28 was inspected and mustered into service at Beardstown and attached to Colonel Samuel Thompson's regiment, the Fourth Illinois Mounted Volunteers. They marched at once to the hostile frontier. As the campaign shaped itself, it probably became evident to the company that they were not likely to meet any serious fighting, and, not having been enlisted for any stated period, they became clamorous to return home. The governor therefore had them and other companies mustered out of service, at the mouth of Fox River, on May 27. Not, however, wishing to weaken his forces before the arrival of new levies already on the way, he called for volunteers to remain twenty days longer. Lincoln had gone to the frontier to perform



real service, not merely to enjoy military rank or reap military glory. On the same day, therefore, on which he was mustered out as captain, he reënlisted, and became Private Lincoln in Captain Iles's company of mounted volunteers, organized apparently principally for scouting service, and sometimes called the Independent Spy Battalion. Among the other officers who imitated this patriotic example were General Whiteside and Major John T. Stuart, Lincoln's later law partner. The Independent Spy Battalion, having faithfully performed its new term of service, was finally mustered out on June 16, 1832. Lincoln and his messmate, George M. Harrison, had the misfortune to have their horses stolen the day before, but Harrison relates:

"I laughed at our fate and he joked at it, and we all started off merrily. The generous men of our company walked and rode by turns with us, and we fared about equal with the rest. But for this generosity our legs would have had to do the better work; for in that day this dreary route furnished no horses to buy or to steal, and, whether on horse or afoot, we always had company, for many of the horses' backs were too sore for riding."

Lincoln must have reached home about August 1, for the election was to occur in the second week of that month, and this left him but ten days in which to push his claims for popular indorsement. His friends, however, had been doing manful duty for him during his three months' absence, and he lost nothing in public estimation by his prompt enlistment to defend the frontier. Successive announcements in the "Journal" had by this time swelled the list of candidates to thirteen. But Sangamon County was entitled to only four representatives, and when the returns came in Lincoln was among those defeated. Nevertheless, he made a very

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