Page images

widow fainted in the arms of her son, who divided his attention between his services to her and his thanks to his deliverer. And thus the kind woman who cared for the poor young man, and showed herself a mother to him in his need, received the life of a son, cruel conspiracy, as her reward, from the grateful beneficiary.


saved from a

hand of her

Some of Lincoln's "Cases" and How He Treated


A sheep-grower on a certain occasion sold a number of sheep at a stipulated average price. When he delivered the animals, he delivered many lambs, or sheep too young to come fairly within the terms of the contract. He was sued for damages by the injured party, and Mr. Lincoln was his attorney. At the trial, tee facts as to the character of the sheep were proved, and several witnesses testified as to the usage by which all under a certain age were regarded as lambs, and of inferior value. Mr. Lincoln, on comprehending the facts, at once changed his line of effort, and confined himself to ascertaining the real number of inferior sheep delivered. On addressing the jury, he said that from the facts proved, they must give a verdict against his client, and he only asked their scrutiny as to the actual damage suffered.

In another case, Mr. Lincoln was conducting a suit against a railroad company. Judgment having been given in his favor, and the court being about to allow the amount claimed by him, deducting an approved and allowed offset, he rose and stated that his opponents had not proved all that was justly due them in an offset; and

proceeded to state and allow a further sum against his client, which the court allowed in its judgment. His desire for the establishment of exact justice overcame his own selfish love of victory, as well as his partiality for his clients' feelings and interests.


Lincoln's Pungent Retort.

A little incident occurred during a political campaign that illustrated Mr. Lincoln's readiness in turning a political point. He was making a speech at Charleston, Coles County, Illinois, when a voice called out:

"Mr. Lincoln, is it true that you entered this State barefoot, driving a yoke of oxen?"

Mr. Lincoln paused for full half a minute, as if considering whether he should notice such cruel impertinence, and then said that he thought he could prove the fact by at least a dozen men in the crowd, any one of whom was more respectable than his questioner. But the question seemed to inspire him, and he went on to show what free institutions had done for himself, and to exhibit the evils of slavery to the white man wherever it existed, and asked if it was not natural that he should hate slavery and agitate against it.

"Yes," said he, "we will speak for freedom and against slavery, as long as the Constitution of our country guarantees free speech, until everywhere on this wide land the sun shall shine, and the rain shall fall, and the wind shall blow upon no man who goes forth to unrequitted toil."

A Revolutionary Pensioner Defended by Lincoln.

An old woman of seventy-five years, the widow of a revolutionary pensioner, came tottering into his law office one day, and, taking a seat, told him that a certain pension agent had charged her the exhorbitant fee of two hundred dollars for collecting her claim. Mr. Lincoln was satisfied by her representations that she had been swindled, and finding that she was not a resident of the town, and that she was poor, gave her money, and set about the work of procuring restitution. He immediately entered suit against the agent to recover a portion of his ill-gotten money. The suit was entirely successful, and Mr. Lincoln's address to the jury before which the case was tried is remembered to have been peculiarly touching in its allusions to the poverty of the widow, and the patriotism of the husband she had sacrificed to secure the Nation's independence. He had the gratification of paying back to her a hundred dollars, and sending her home rejoicing.


Lincoln Threatens a Twenty Years' Agitation in Illinois.

One afternoon an old negro woman came into the office of Lincoln & Herndon, in Springfield, and told the story of her trouble, to which both lawyers listened. It appeared that she and her offspring had been born slaves in Kentucky, and that her owner, one Hinkle, had brought the whole family into Illinois, and given them their freedom. Her son had gone down the Mis

sissippi as a waiter or deck hand, on a steamboat. Arriving at New Orleans, he had imprudently gone ashore, and had been snatched up by the police, in accordance with the law then in force concerning free negroes from other States, and thrown into confinement. Subsequently, he was brought out and tried. Of course he was fined, and, the boat having left, he was sold, or was in


W. H. HERNDON, LINCOLN'S LAW PARTNER. immediate danger of being sold, to pay his fine and expenses. Mr. Lincoln was very much moved, and requested Mr. Herndon to go over to the State House, and inquire of Governor Bissel if there was not something he could do to obtain possession of the negro.

Mr. Herndon made the inquiry, and returned with the report that

the Governor regretted to say that he had no legal or constitutional right to do anything in the premises. Mr. Lincoln rose to his feet in great excitement and exclaimed:

"By the Almighty, I'll have that negro back here, or I'll have a twenty years' agitation in Illinois, until the Governor does have a legal and constitutional right to do something in the premises."

He was saved from the latter alternative-at least in the direct form which he proposed. The lawyers sent money to a New Orleans correspondent-money of their own-who procured the negro, and returned him to his . mother.


How Lincoln Always Turned a Story to His Advantage.

One of his modes of getting rid of troublesome friends, as well as troublesome enemies, was by telling a story. · He began these tactics early in life; and he grew wonderfully adept in them. If a man broached a subject which he did not wish to discuss, he told a story which changed the direction of the conversation. If he was called upon to answer a question, he answered it by telling a story. He had a story for everything—something had occurred at some place where he used to live, that illustrated every possible phase of every possible subject. with which he might have connection. His faculty of making or finding a story to match every event in his history, and every event to which he bore any relation, was really marvelous.

That he made, or adapted, some of his stories, there is no question, It is beyond belief that those which en

« PreviousContinue »