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questions which arose, were settled. No better school for intellectual training could be found anywhere. Lincoln rapidly rose to be among the first at the Illinois bar. He continued his general studies, reading history and English literature, so far as the few books he could procure would enable him. He mastered Euclid, while traveling the circuit. As a lawyer, he had some very striking peculiarities. First, he thoroughly mastered every case. In his power of analysis and clearness of statement, he had no superior, if any equal. His love of truth, fairness and justice were never, to any extent, perverted by his profession; consequently, on the wrong side, he was weak, but on the right side, he was perfectly irresistible with court and jury. He was always popular with the bench, the bar, the jury and the spectators. His humor and power of illustration by apt comparison and story-telling, his power to ridicule by apt and ludicrous anecdotes were inexhaustible. “Riding the circuit” involved all sorts of personal adventures. Hard fare, at miserable country taverns, sleeping on the floor, and fording streams are among the common everyday incidents. In fording streams, the future President, was sometimes sent forward as a pioneer. His extremely long legs enabled him, by removing his pantaloons, boots and stockings, and taking his coat-tails under his arms, to ascertain without wetting his garments, where the streams offered the best fording places, and often to pilot the party, through streams, that, at first sight, seemed unfordable.
It was the habit of Mr. Lincoln, always in an important case, to make, mentally, an argument against his side of the case, and answer it.
His statement of his case as a lawyer, or as a stump speaker, was generally a demonstration. He had the power of divesting it of all extraneous circumstances, and stating simply and clearly the exact issue, the precise turning point in the discussion.
He was always so unassuming, so modest, and so respectful, and yet so dignified in the assertion of a right, that he disarmed opposition, and nobody, whose opinion had not already been formed, could listen to Lincoln long, without wishing his to be the winning side. Indeed he was a great
favorite on the circuit, and his arrival at court was always hailed with joy by bench and bar. His inexhaustible store of anecdotes, his good humor and kind feelings made him, always most welcome.
It was the universal practice of Mr. Lincoln to aid by his counsel and advice, the younger members of the bar, in the preparation and management of their cases. He never took a technical advantage, and would, if his opponent was young, or a stranger, point out to him formal errors in his pleading or practice. He wished to succeed only on the merits of his
His manner of conducting jury trials was peculiar: he was familiar, frequently colloquial ; often, at the summer term, taking off his coat, and leaning upon the rail of the jury box, he would single out a leading jury man and addres
a sing him, in a conversational tone, would with the utmost candor and fairness, reason the case. When he perceived that he had secured the judgment of the one so addressed, he would then turn to another, and address him in the same manner, until he was satisfied the jury were with him. But at times, when thoroughly aroused by injustice, fraud, or falsehood, his denunciation was of crushing severity. There have been instances in which parties and witnesses, unable to withstand his exposure and invective, were driven from the court room.
He was very felicitous in his examination of witnesses. He generally kept them in good humor with himself, and his own love of humor and story-telling, led him sometimes, to ask a witness if he had ever heard a particular story; this was sure to be a story so apt in its illustration of the point he was making, that it furnished an argument which the jury did not forget.
A year or two before his marriage, Mr. Lincoln, was induced to accept a challenge to fight a duel with James Shields, since Senator and General.
Shields was at that time a young, hot-blooded, gallant Irish barrister, living at Springfield.
A practical joke had been played upon the gallant, and susceptible yoring Irishman, by some of the lively, and thoughtless young ladies of the city, and in allusion to it, a
LINCOLN ACCEPTS CHALLENGE FROM SHIELDS.
sarcastic, and witty poem appeared in the Sangamon Journal, then edited by Simeon Francis; Shields' hot blood was roused, and he went at once to Francis, and demanded the name of the author, otherwise he would hold Francis personally responsible. The poem was in fact written by a young lady. Francis was not willing to expose the young lady, and yet was without the courage to meet the fiery Irishman in the field. Remembering that Lincoln was a friend of this young lady, he in his dilemma, sought his advice.
Lincoln, at once, told Francis to say to Shields, that he might hold him responsible for the poem. Shields immediately challenged Lincoln, and he accepted the challenge, selecting broadswords as the weapons. The place of meeting was an island in the Mississippi. Arrangements for the meeting were completed, and the parties started to go to it, but through the influence of friends, the matter was arranged. Lincoln stated afterwards, that he selected broadswords, because his arms were long, and he believed, that without hurting Shields, he could protect himself.
In November, 1842, he married Miss Mary Todd, daughter of Hon. Robert S. Todd, of Kentucky. With her he lived most happily, until he fell, covering her with his blood, when so fiendishly assassinated by Booth, the wretched instrument of the slaveholders. He was ever a devoted and most affectionate husband and father; and in all his domestic relations, indulgent, kind and loving.
At the July term of the Supreme Court, 1841, Mr. Lincoln brought before it a case involving a discussion of the ordinance of 1787, prohibiting slavery in the Northwest territory, and the Constitution of Illinois prohibiting slavery within that State.
Slaves were held by some of the French settlers in illinois, at the time of the adoption of the ordinance of 1787, and the Constitution of the State; but in violation of law.
A suit was brought and judgment rendered in the Circuit Court of Tazewell county, upon a note, given for a negro girl named “ Nance.” She was represented to have been an indentured slave or servant, and sold as such; the note was given for her, and judgment rendered upon it.
brought the case to the Supreme Court, and made an exhaustive argument against the judgment. He took the position that the note was void; that the girl, “ Nance," was free and could not be the subject of sale. That the girl, residing in Illinois, was free, by virtue of the ordinance of 1787, and the Constitution, prohibiting slavery. He argued, that the presumption of law was, that every person was free, and this without regard to color; the record showing, that the note in question was given for a negro girl, the note was absolutely, void. The court sustained these views, and reversed the judgment. It is believed that no attempt has since been made to sell a human being in the State of Illinois.*
In 1843, there were three prominent gentlemen spoken of for Congress, in the Springfield district, viz., Colonel E. D. Baker, afterwards Senator from Oregon, John J. Hardin, of Morgan county, and Mr. Lincoln. Baker's friends carried the Sangamon county delegates, and appointed Lincoln one of them, to go to the convention, instructing him to vote for Baker. He said, “ in trying to get the nomination for Baker, I shall be fixed' a good deal like the fellow who is made groomsman to the man, who has cut him out, and is marrying his own gal!"" General Hardin, however, secured the nomination, and was elected. In 1844 came the Presidential contest between Clay and Polk. From boyhood, Clay had been the political idol of Mr. Lincoln, and he went into the contest for him with his whole heart. As the candidate for Presidential elector, he canvassed the State of Illinois, and a portion of Indiana, for his favorite. In this canvass, he met Judge Douglas, and other leading Democrats, and established his position as one of the ablest political debaters of the country. He was greatly disappointed and chagrined by the defeat of Mr. Clay. In 1846, Mr. Lincoln visited Kentucky, to hear Mr. Clay make a speech upon gradual emancipation. Both the orator and the subject possessed great interest for him.
With all his modesty and personal kindness, no one ever doubted the courage of Lincoln. Any number of incidents illustrating this, could be cited. On one occasion, while Col
* An imperfect report of this case will be found in 3 Scammon, nl. Reps., p. 71.
LINCOLN IN CONGRESS.
onel Baker was speaking, some rowdies undertook to remove him from the stand. Baker was speaking directly under a scuttle, and it turned out that Lincoln was above, listening to the speech. No sooner were the threats made, and before the belligerents could reach the stand, the tall, athletic form of Lincoln descended through the opening and springing to the side of Baker, exclaimed, “ Gentlemen, let us not disgrace the age and country in which we live! This is a land where freedom of speech is guaranteed. Mr. Baker has a right to speak, and ought to be permitted to do so. I am here to protect him, and no man shall take him from this stand if I can prevent it.”
In 1812, Mr. Lincoln was nominated for Congress, and " stulpel" liis district as the candidate of the whig party. Texas had been annexed; the Mexican war was pending; the tariff of 1842, had been repealed. These subjects formed the topics of discussion, especially the annexation of Texas, in the interests of slavery. Lincoln received more than his party strength, in his county and district, showing his great personal popularity, and was elected. He tool: his scat, in the Thirtieth Congress, December, 1847, the only whig member from Illinois.
Mr. Douglas had, already, run a brilliant career in the House, and at this same session, took his seat for the first time, in the Senate. They had met in the Illinois Legistature. Douglas was, ever, the more adroit politician. IIe was acting with a party, strongly in the majority, which he marshaled and controlled. A reference to the Congressional Globe, of this period, will show as members of this Congress, John Quincy Adams, George Ashmun, Caleb B. Smith, John G. Palfrey, Robert E. Winthrop, Jacob Collamer, Andrew Johnson, Samuel F. Vinton; and also Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, Robert Barnwell Rhett, Howell Cobb, prominent leaders of the rebellion. In the Senate, were Daniel Webster, John Davis, John P. Hale, General John A. Dix, Daniel S. Dickinson, William L. Dayton, Simon Cameron, Mason and IIunter, from Virginia, John C. Calhoun, John J. Crittenden, Thomas Corwin, Jefferson Davis, Henry S. Foote, Thomas H. Benton, and Lewis Cass.