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him undertake it-the compensation will be six hundred dollars.'
"Pleased as I could be, I hastened to Abe, after I got home, with an account of what I had secured for him. He was sitting before the fire in the log cabin when I told him; and what do you think was his answer? When I finished, he looked up very quietly, and said:
"Mr. Simmons, I thank you very sincerely for your kindness, but I don't think I will undertake the job.'
"In the name of wonder,' said I, 'why? Six hundred dollars does not grow upon every bush out here in Illinois.'
"I know that,' said Abe, 'and I need the money bad enough, Simmons, as you know; but I have never been under obligation to a Democratic administration, and I never intend to be so long as I can get my living another way. General Ewing must find another man to do his work.'"
Mr. Carpenter related this story to the President one day, and asked him if it were true.
"Pollard Simmons!" said Lincoln, "well do I remember him. It is correct about our working together, but the old man must have stretched the facts somewhat about the survey of the county. I think I should have been very glad of the job at that time, no matter what administration was in power."
Notwithstanding this, however, Mr. Carpenter was inclined to believe Mr. Simmons was not far out of the way and thought this seemed very characteristic of what Abraham Lincoln may be supposed to have been at wenty-three or twenty-five years of age.
How Lincoln Became a Captain.
In the threatening aspect of affairs at the time of the Black Hawk War, Governor Reynolds issued a call for volunteers. an among the companies that immediately responded was one from Menard County, Illinois. Many of the volunteers were from New Salem and Clarey's Grove, and Lincoln, being out of business, was first to enlist. The company being full, they held a meeting at Richland for the election of officers. Lincoln had won many hearts and they told him that he must be their captain. It was an office that he did not aspire to, and one for which he felt that he had no special fitness; but he consented to be a candidate. There was but one other candidate for the office (a Mr. Kirkpatrick), and he was one of the most influential men in the county. Previously, Kirkpatrick had been an employer of Lincoln, and was so overbearing in his treatment of the young man that the latter left him.
The simple mode of electing their captain, adopted by the company, was by placing the candidates apart, and telling the men to go and stand with the one they preferred. Lincoln and his competitor took their positions, and then the word was given. At least three out of every four went to Lincoln at once. When it was seen by those who had ranged themselves with the other candidate that Lincoln was the choice of the majority of the company, they left their places, one by one, and came over to the successful side, until Lincoln's opponent in the friendly strife was left standing almost alone.
"I felt badly to see him cut so," says a witness of the
Here was an opportunity for revenge. The humble laborer was his employer's captain, but the opportunity was never improved. Mr. Lincoln frequently confessed that no subsequent success of his life had given him half the satisfaction that this election did. He had acheived public recognition; and to one so humbly bred, the distinction was inexpressibly delightful.
A Humorous Speech - Lincoln in the Black Hawk War.
The friends of General Cass, when that gentleman was a candidate for the Presidency, endeavored to endow him with a military reputation. Mr. Lincoln. at that time a representative in Congress, delivered a speech before the House, which in its allusions to Mr. Cass, was exquisitely sarcastic and irresistably' humorous:
"By the way, Mr. Speaker," said Mr. Lincoln, "do you know I am a military hero? "Yes, sir, in the days of the Black Hawh War, I fought, bled and came away. Speaking of General Cass' career reminds me of my own. I was not at Stillman's Defeat, but I was about as near it as Cass to Hull's surrender; and like him I saw the place very soon afterward. It is quite certain I did not break my sword, for I had none to break, but I bent my musket pretty badly on one occasion. General Cass went in advance of me in picking whortleberries, I guess I surpassed him in charges upon the wild onion. If he saw any live; fighting Indians, it is more than I did, but I had a good many bloody strugles with the musquitoes, and although I never fainted from loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very hungry."
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Mr. Lincoln concluded by saying that if he ever turned Democrat and should run for the Presidency, he hoped they would not make fun of him by attempting to make him a military hero!
Elected to the Legislature.
In 1834, Lincoln was a candidate for the legislature, and was elected by the highest vote cast for any candidate. Major John T. Stuart, an officer in the Black Hawk War, and whose acquaintance Lincoln made at Beardstown, was also elected. Major Stuart had already conceived the highest opinion of the young man, and seeing much of him during the canvass for the election, privately advised him to study law. Stuart was himself engaged in a large and lucrative practice at Springfield.
Lincoln said he was poor-that he had no money to buy books, or to live where books might be borrowed or used. Major Stuart offered to lend him all he needed, and he decided to take the kind lawyer's advice, and accept his offer. At the close of the canvass which resulted in his election, he walked to Springfield, borrowed "a load" of books of Stuart, and took them home with him to New Salem.
Here he began the study of law in good earnest, though with no preceptor. He studied while he had bread, and then started out on a surveying tour to win the money that would buy more.
One who remembers his habits during this period says that he went, day after day, for weeks, and sat under an oak tree near New Salem and read, moving around