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thought I, 'I have said it, and, be the consequences what they may, it shall not be my fault if I fail to do it.' All this while, although I was fixed 'firm as the surge-repelling rock' in my resolution, I found I was continually repenting the rashness which had led me to make it. Through life I have been in no bondage, either real or imaginary, from the thraldom of which I so much desired to be free. . . . After I had delayed the matter as long as I thought I could in honor do (which, by the way, had brought me round into last fall), I concluded I might as well bring it to a consummation without further delay, and so I mustered my resolution and made the proposal to her direct; but, shocking to relate, she answered, No. At first I supposed she did it through an affectation of modesty, which I thought but ill became her under the peculiar circumstances of her case, but on my renewal of the charge I found she repelled it with greater firmness than before. I tried it again and again, but with the same success, or rather with the same want of success. I finally was forced to give it up, at which I very unexpectedly found myself mortified almost beyond endurance. I was mortified, it seemed to me, in a hundred different ways. My vanity was deeply wounded by the reflection that I had so long been too stupid to discover her intentions, and at the same time never doubting that I understood them perfectly; and also that she, whom I had taught myself to believe nobody else would have, had actually rejected me with all my fancied greatness. And, to cap the whole, I then for the first time began to suspect that I was really a little in love with her."
The serious side of this letter is undoubtedly genuine and candid, while the somewhat over-exaggeration of the comic side points as clearly that he had not fully
recovered from the mental suffering he had undergone in the long conflict between doubt and duty. From the beginning, the match-making zeal of the sister had placed the parties in a false position, produced embarrassment, and created distrust. A different beginning might have resulted in a very different outcome, for Lincoln, while objecting to her corpulency, acknowledges that in both feature and intellect she was as attractive as any woman he had ever met; and Miss Owens's letters, written after his death, state that her principal objection lay in the fact that his training had been different from hers, and that "Mr. Lincoln was deficient in those little links which make up the chain of a woman's happiness." She adds: "The last message I ever received from him was about a year after we parted in Illinois. Mrs. Able visited Kentucky, and he said to her in Springfield, 'Tell your sister that I think she was a great fool because she did not stay here and marry me.' She was even then not quite clear in her own mind but that his words were true.
Springfield Society-Miss Mary Todd-Lincoln's Engagement His Deep Despondency-Visit to Kentucky—Letters to Speed-The Shields Duel-Marriage -Law Partnership with Logan-Hardin Nominated for Congress, 1843-Baker Nominated for Congress, 1844-Lincoln Nominated and Elected, 1846
THE deep impression which the Mary Owens affair
made upon Lincoln is further shown by one of the concluding phrases of his letter to Mrs. Browning: "I have now come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying." But it was not long before a reaction set in from this pessimistic mood. The actual transfer of the seat of government from Vandalia to Springfield in 1839 gave the new capital fresh animation. Business revived, public improvements were begun, politics ran high. Already there was a spirit in the air that in the following year culminated in the extraordinary enthusiasm and fervor of the Harrison presidential campaign of 1840, that rollicking and uproarious party carnival of humor and satire, of song and jollification, of hard cider and log cabins. While the State of Illinois was strongly Democratic, Sangamon County was as distinctly Whig, and the local party disputes were hot and aggressive. The Whig delegation of Sangamon in the legislature, popularly called the "Long Nine," because the sum of the stature of its members was fifty-four feet, became noted for its influence in legislation in a body where the majority
was against them; and of these Mr. Lincoln was the "tallest" both in person and ability, as was recognized by his twice receiving the minority vote for Speaker of the House.
Society also began organizing itself upon metropolitan rather than provincial assumptions. As yet, however, society was liberal. Men of either wealth or position were still too few to fill its ranks. Energy, ambition, talent, were necessarily the standard of admission; and Lincoln, though poor as a church mouse, was as welcome as those who could wear ruffled shirts and carry gold watches. The meetings of the legislature at Springfield then first brought together that splendid group of young men of genius whose phenomenal careers and distinguished services have given Illinois fame in the history of the nation. It is a marked peculiarity of the American character that the bitterest foes in party warfare generally meet each other on terms of perfect social courtesy in the drawing-rooms of society; and future presidential candidates, cabinet members, senators, congressmen, jurists, orators, and battle heroes lent the little social reunions of Springfield a zest and exaltation never found-perhaps impossible amid the heavy, oppressive surroundings of conventional ceremony, gorgeous upholstery, and magnificent decorations.
It was at this period also that Lincoln began to feel and exercise his expanding influence and powers as a writer and speaker. Already, two years earlier, he had written and delivered before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield an able address upon "The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions," strongly enforcing the doctrine of rigid obedience to law. In December, 1839, Douglas, in a heated conversation, challenged the young Whigs present to a political dis
MISS MARY TODD
cussion. The challenge was immediately taken up, and the public of Springfield listened with eager interest to several nights of sharp debate between Whig and Democratic champions, in which Lincoln bore a prominent and successful share. In the following summer, Lincoln's name was placed upon the Harrison electoral ticket for Illinois, and he lent all his zeal and eloquence to swell the general popular enthusiasm for “Tippecanoe and Tyler too."
In the midst of this political and social awakening of the new capital and the quickened interest and high hopes of leading citizens gathered there from all parts of the State, there came into the Springfield circles Miss Mary Todd of Kentucky, twenty-one years old, handsome, accomplished, vivacious, witty, a dashing and fascinating figure in dress and conversation, gracious and imperious by turns. She easily singled out and secured the admiration of such of the Springfield beaux as most pleased her somewhat capricious fancy. She was a sister of Mrs. Ninian W. Edwards, whose husband was one of the "Long Nine." This circumstance made Lincoln a frequent visitor at the Edwards house; and, being thus much thrown in her company, he found himself, almost before he knew it, entangled in a new love affair, and in the course of a twelvemonth engaged to marry her.
Much to the surprise of Springfield society, however, the courtship took a sudden turn. Whether it was caprice or jealousy, a new attachment, or mature reflection will always remain a mystery. Every such case is a law unto itself, and neither science nor poetry is ever able to analyze and explain its causes and effects. The conflicting stories then current, and the varying traditions that yet exist, either fail to agree or to fit the sparse facts which came to light. There re