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Reminiscences-The Turning Point.
It was while young Lincoln was engaged in the duties of Offutt's store that the turning point in his life occurred. Here he commenced the study of English grammar. There was not a text-book to be obtained in the neighborhood, but, hearing that there was a copy of Kirkham's Grammar in the possession of a person seven or eight miles distant, he walked to his house and succeeded in borrowing it.
L. M. Green, a lawyer in Petersburg, Menard County, says that every time he visited New Salem, at this period, Lincoln took him out upon a hill and asked him to explain some point in Kirkham that had given him trouble. After having mastered the book, he remarked to a friend that if that was what they called a science, he thought he could subdue another."
Mr. Green says that Mr. Lincoln's talk at this time showed that he was beginning to think of a great life and a great destiny. Lincoln said to him, on one occasion, that all his family seemed to have good sense, but, somehow, none had ever become distinguished. He thought that perhaps he might become so. He had talked, he said, with men who had the reputation of being great men, but he could not see that they differed much from others!
During this year he was also much engaged with debating clubs, often walking six or seven miles to attend them. One of these clubs held its meetings at an old storehouse in New Salem, and the first speech young Lincoln ever made was made there.
He used to call the exercise "practicing polemics."
As these clubs were composed principally of men of no education whatever, some of their "polemics" are remembered as the most laughable of farces.
His favorite newspaper, at this time, was the Louisville Journal, a paper which he received regularly by mail, and paid for during a number of years when he had not money enough to dress decently He liked its politics, and was particularly delighted with its wit and humor, of which he had the keenest appreciation. When out of the store, he was always busy in the pursuit of knowledge.
One gentlemen who met him during this period says that the first time he saw him he was lying on a trundlebed covered with books and papers, and rocking a cradle with his foot.
The whole scene, however, was entirely characteristic -Lincoln reading and studying, and at the same time helping his landlady by quieting her child.
"My early history," said Mr. Lincoln to J. L. Scripps, "is perfectly characterized by a single line of Gray's Elegy:
"The short and simple annals of the poor.'
A gentleman who knew Mr. Lincoln well in early manhood says: "Lincoln at this period had nothing but plenty of friends.
Says J. G. Holland:
"No man ever lived, probably,
who was more a self-made man than Abraham Lincoln. Not a circumstance of life favored the development which he had reached."
After the customary handshaking on one occasion at Washington, several gentlemen came forward and asked
the President for his autograph.
One of them gave his name as “ Cruikshank.” "That reminds me," said Mr. Lincoln, "of what I used to be called when a young man -Long-shanks!""
Mr. Holland says: "Lincoln was a religious man. · The fact may be stated without any reservation-with only an explanation. He believed in God, and in His personal supervision of the affairs of men. He believed himself to be under His control and guidance. He believed in the power and ultimate triumph of the right, through his belief in God."
Governor Yates, in a speech at Springfield, before a meeting at which William G. Greene presided, quoted Mr. Greene as having said that the first time he ever saw Lincoln he was "in the Sangamon River, with his trowsersrolled up five feet, more or less, trying to pilot a flatboat over a mill-dam. The boat was so full of water that it was hard to manage. Lincoln got the prow over, and then, instead of waiting to bail the water out, bored a hole through the projecting part, and let it run out."
"Lincoln was a childlike
A prominent writer says: man. No public man of modern days has been fortunate enough to carry into his manhood so much of the directness, truthfulness and simplicity of childhood as distinguished him. He was exactly what he seemed."
Mr. Lincoln and Douglas met for the first time when the latter was only 23 years of age. Lincoln, in speaking of the fact, subsequently said that Douglas was then "the least man he ever saw." He was not only very short, but very slender.
Lincoln's mother died in 1818, scarcely two years after her removal to Indiana from Kentucky, and when Abraham was in his tenth year. They laid her to rest under the trees near the cabin, and, sitting on her grave, the little boy wept his irreparable loss.
The Blackhawk war was not a very remarkable affair. It made no military reputations, but it was noteworthy in the single fact that the two simplest, homliest and truest men engaged in it afterwards became Presidents of the United States, viz: General (then Colonel) Zachary Taylor, and then Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Lincoln never spoke of it as anything more than an interesting episode in his life, except upon one occasion when he used it as an instrument for turning the military pretensions of another into ridicule.
How Lincoln Treated His Early Friend, Dennis Hanks, in Washington.
Dennis Hanks was once asked to visit Washington to secure the pardon of certain persons in jail for participation in copperheadism. Dennis went and arrived in Washington, and instead of going, as he said, to a "tavern," he went to the White House.
on guard, and he asked:
"Is Abe in?"
There was a porter
"Do you mean Mr. Lincoln," asked the porter.
"Yes: is he in there?" and brushing the porter aside he strode into the room and said: " Hello, Abe, how are you?"
"And Abe said: "Well, well," and just gathered him up in his arms and talked of the days gone by.
O, the days gone by! They talked of their boyhood days, and by and by Lincoln said:
What brings you here all the way from Illinois?"
And then Dennis told him his mission and Lincoln replied:
"I will grant it, Dennis, for old times' sake. I will send for Mr. Stanton. It is his business."
Stanton came into the room and strode up and down and said the men ought to be punished more than they Mr. Lincoln sat quietly in his chair and awaited for the tempest to subside and then quietly said to Stanton he would like to have the papers the next day.
When he had gone Dennis said:
"Abe, if I was as big and ugly as you are I would take him over my knee and spank him."
Lincoln replied: "No, Stanton is an able and valuable man to this nation, and I am glad to bear his anger for the service he can give this nation.
Judge Ewing's Story.
Judge Ewing, at a Lincoln banquet in Chicago, February, 1894, speaking on the "Reminiscences of Lincoln," said his first acquaintance with the war President was very early in his own life.
"It was in McLean County, Illinois;" he said, “about 1840. My father was then a candidate for the State Senate, on the Democratic ticket. Mr. Lincoln was stumping the State as an elector for William Henry Harrison. One day he stopped at my father's house and, after a friendly discussion of antagonistic party principles, said, by way of a partial compromise: You have got a lot of