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teers in the Black Hawk War while Lincoln was captain, and who, together with Lincoln, had reënlisted as a private in the Independent Spy Battalion. There is every likelihood that the two had begun a personal friendship during their military service, which was of course strongly cemented by their being fellow-candidates and both belonging to the Whig party. Mr. Lincoln relates:

"Major John T. Stuart, then in full practice of the law [at Springfield], was also elected. During the canvass, in a private conversation he encouraged Abraham to study law. After the election, he borrowed books of Stuart, took them home with him, and went at it in good earnest. He studied with nobody. In the autumn of 1836 he obtained a law license, and on April 15, 1837, removed to Springfield and commenced the practice, his old friend Stuart taking him into partnership."

From and after this election in 1834 as a representative, Lincoln was a permanent factor in the politics and the progress of Sangamon County. At a Springfield meeting in the following November to promote common schools, he was appointed one of eleven delegates to attend a convention at Vandalia called to deliberate on that subject. He was reëlected to the legislature in 1836, in 1838, and in 1840, and thus for a period of eight years took a full share in shaping and enacting the public and private laws of Illinois, which in our day has become one of the leading States in the Mississippi valley. Of Lincoln's share in that legislation, it need only be said that it was as intelligent and beneficial to the public interest as that of the best of his colleagues. The most serious error committed by the legislature of Illinois during that period was that it enacted laws setting on foot an extensive system of



internal improvements, in the form of railroads and canals, altogether beyond the actual needs of transportation for the then existing population of the State, and the consequent reckless creation of a State debt for money borrowed at extravagant interest and liberal commissions. The State underwent a season of speculative intoxication, in which, by the promised and expected rush of immigration and the swelling currents of its business, its farms were suddenly to become villages, its villages spreading towns, and its towns transformed into great cities, while all its people were to be made rich by the increased value of their land and property. Both parties entered with equal recklessness into this ill-advised internal improvement system, which in the course of about four years brought the State to bankruptcy, with no substantial works to show for the foolishly expended millions.

In voting for these measures, Mr. Lincoln represented the public opinion and wish of his county and the whole State; and while he was as blamable, he was at the same time no more so than the wisest of his colleagues. It must be remembered in extenuation that he was just beginning his parliamentary education. From the very first, however, he seems to have become a force in the legislature, and to have rendered special service to his constituents. It is conceded that the one object which Springfield and the most of Sangamon County had at heart was the removal of the capital from Vandalia to that place. This was accomplished in 1836, and the management of the measure appears to have been intrusted mainly to Mr. Lincoln.

One incident of his legislative career stands out in such prominent relation to the great events of his after life that it deserves special explanation and emphasis. Even at that early date, a quarter of a century before

the outbreak of the Civil War, the slavery question was now and then obtruding itself as an irritating and perplexing element into the local legislation of almost every new State. Illinois, though guaranteed its freedom by the Ordinance of 1787, nevertheless underwent a severe political struggle in which, about four years after her admission into the Union, politicians and settlers from the South made a determined effort to change her to a slave State. The legislature of 1822-23, with a two-thirds pro-slavery majority of the State Senate, and a technical, but legally questionable, two-thirds majority in the House, submitted to popular vote an act calling a State convention to change the constitution. It happened, fortunately, that Governor Coles, though a Virginian, was strongly antislavery, and gave the weight of his official influence and his whole four years' salary to counteract the dangerous scheme. From the fact that southern Illinois up to that time was mostly peopled from the slave States, the result was seriously in doubt through an active and exciting campaign, and the convention was finally defeated by a majority of eighteen hundred in a total vote of eleven thousand six hundred and twelve. While this result effectually decided that Illinois would remain a free State, the propagandism and reorganization left a deep and tenacious undercurrent of pro-slavery opinion that for many years manifested itself in vehement and intolerant outcries against "abolitionism," which on one occasion caused the murder of Elijah P. Lovejoy for persisting in his right to print an antislavery newspaper at Alton.

Nearly a year before this tragedy the Illinois legislature had under consideration certain resolutions from the Eastern States on the subject of slavery, and the committee to which they had been referred reported a


set of resolves "highly disapproving abolition societies," holding that "the right of property in slaves is secured to the slaveholding States by the Federal Constitution," together with other phraseology calculated on the whole to soothe and comfort pro-slavery sentiment. After much irritating discussion, the committee's resolutions were finally passed, with but Lincoln and five others voting in the negative. No record remains whether or not Lincoln joined in the debate; but, to leave no doubt upon his exact position and feeling, he and his colleague, Dan Stone, caused the following protest to be formally entered on, the journals of the House:


"Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having passed both branches of the General Assembly at its present session, the undersigned hereby protest against the passage of the same.

"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 the District.

"The difference between these opinions and those contained in the said resolutions is their reasons for entering this protest."

In view of the great scope and quality of Lincoln's public service in after life, it would be a waste of time to trace out in detail his words or his votes upon the

multitude of questions on which he acted during this legislative career of eight years. It needs only to be remembered that it formed a varied and thorough school of parliamentary practice and experience that laid the broad foundation of that extraordinary skill and sagacity in statesmanship which he afterward displayed in party controversy and executive direction. The quick proficiency and ready aptitude for leadership evidenced by him in this, as it may be called, his preliminary parliamentary school are strikingly proved by the fact that the Whig members of the Illinois House of Representatives gave him their full party vote for Speaker, both in 1838 and 1840. But being in a minority, they could not, of course, elect him.

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