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and religious liberty than any of which the history of former times tells us. We find ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or the establishment of them; they are a legacy bequeathed to us by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed, race of ancestors."
The words that fall from his lips are the utterances of a statesman—of one who is looking into the future, who comprehends in some degree the mighty forces that are shaping the future of the country. He speaks of the action of the mob which a few weeks before had burned a negro in St. Louis, and of the peril of the country. What sentences are these!
"There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.
"Many great and good men, sufficiently qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever be found whose ambition would aspire to nothing but a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or a presidential chair; but such belong not to the family of the lion or the brood of the eagle. What! Think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Cæsar, or a Napoleon? Never!
"Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. It does not add story to story upon the monuments of fame erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction, and, if possible, will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves or enslaving free men. Is it unreasonable, then, to expect that some man possessed with the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time spring up among us? And when such an one does, it will require the people to be united, attached to the Government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate the design." (')
Is this prophecy? Is there some unseen intelligence of another realm whispering to him of the part he is to play in the drama of his country's history? Why did he, six years before, raise his right hand to heaven, as he came from the heart-rending scene in the slave-market of New Orleans, swear a solemn oath that, if the opportunity ever came to him, he would hit the institution of slavery a staggering blow? Is it that his own spirit is already thirsting and burning for the emancipation of 3,000,000 slaves? Interpret the words as we may, they will ever stand as remarkable utterances -- seemingly prophetic when read in connection with the events of his subsequent life.
In the election of members for the Legislature, Mr. Lincoln was again a candidate. His opponent, Colonel Taylor, said the Whig party was composed of aristocrats, who wore broadcloth and rode in fine carriages, whereas the Democrats were poor men, who worked hard to get a living. The rich Whigs lived in luxurious homes, while the Democrats were found in log-cabins.
"My opponent," said Lincoln, in reply, "accuses the Whigs of riding in fine carriages and wearing ruffled shirts, kid-gloves, and gold watch-chains. Well, I was once a poor boy, and worked hard on a flatboat for $8 a month, and had only a pair of buckskin breeches. You know that buckskin after being wet is apt to shrink in drying, and as my breeches were often wet, the shrinking went on, the breeches getting shorter and shorter, till there were several inches of bare ankle between my stockings and the lower ends of the breeches. They were so tight that they left a blue streak around my shins. Now, if you call that aristocracy, I plead to the charge." (")
His opponent was a demagogue who, when making political speeches to obtain an office, liked to wear fine clothes and a showy watch-chain, but who, when trying to obtain votes, was careful to cover up his ruffled shirt and chain. Lincoln knew that he was deceiving the people, and by a sweep of his arm gave the fellow's vest a jerk, exposing the ruffle of his shirt and gold chain. The people roared with laughter, and the fellow left the platform, very red in the face. By the sweep of his arm he had upset all of Taylor's plans.
Edward Dickinson Baker was born in London, England. He was two years younger than Abraham Lincoln, and came to America early in life. He made Springfield his home. He was a young lawyer, and, like Lincoln, an ardent Whig. His voice was musical. He could play the piano, sing songs, and write poetry. He was an earnest advocate for the election of Harrison as President, and made a speech in the court-house to a great crowd. Many of those who gathered to hear him were Democrats. They were rough men; they chewed tobacco, drank whiskey, and became angry at what Baker was saying.
The office of Stuart & Lincoln was over the court-room. A trapdoor for ventilation, above the platform of the court-room, opened into their office. Lincoln, desiring to hear what Baker was saying, lifted the door, stretched himself upon the floor, and looked down upon the swaying crowd. Baker was talking about the stealings of the Democratic officials in the land-offices.
"Wherever there is a land-office there you will find a Democratic newspaper defending its corruptions," said Baker.
"Pull him down! Put him out! It is a lie!" the cry from a fellow in the crowd, whose brother was editor of a Democratic paper. There was a rush for the platform. Great the astonishment of the crowd at seeing a pair of long legs dangle from the scuttle, and then the body, shoulders, and head of Abraham Lincoln, who let himself down to the
platform. He lifted his hand, but the fellows did not heed his gesture. They saw him grasp a stone-ware water-pitcher and heard him say, "I'll break it over the head of the first man who lays a hand on Baker! Hold on, gentlemen! This is a free country-a land for free speech. Mr. Baker has a right to speak; let him be heard. I am here to protect him, and no man shall take him from this platform if I can prevent it." (")
It was as if he had said-as was said once before-" Peace, be still." The people knew how champion wrestlers had gone down before him; but it was not that which hushed the crowd to silence and stilled the storm. They knew his goodness-how kind-hearted, just, honest, and
true he was; that he stands ever for what is right. Baker goes on, no one daring to disturb him so long as Abraham Lincoln is there.
NOTES TO CHAPTER VI.
(1) Joshua F. Speed, Lecture on Abraham Lincoln, p. 17.
(*) Ibid., p. 18.
(*) "Sangamon Journal," June, 1836, quoted in "Herndon's Lincoln," p. 166 (edition 1889).
(*) W. H. Herndon, "Lincoln,” p. 167 (edition 1889). (*) J. G. Holland, “Life of Abraham Lincoln," p. 71. (*) W. H. Herndon, "Lincoln," p. 185 (edition 1889). (*) J. G. Holland, "Life of Abraham Lincoln," p. 55. (*) "Life of Rev. E. P. Lovejoy."
(*) "Sangamon Journal."
(10) W. H. Herndon, "Lincoln," p. 195 (edition 1889). (1) Ibid., p. 196.
RIDING THE CIRCUIT.
HE judicial districts of Illinois comprised several counties, in which the judge for the district held court, going from county to county; he was called "Circuit Judge." The leading lawyers in the district usually accompanied him to the different county seats-all on horseback. It was called "riding the circuit." The judge might be very grave and dignified when representing the majesty of the law in the court-room, but when mounted on his horse, with his law-books and an extra shirt in his saddle-bags, riding across the prairie, accompanied by a dozen or more jolly lawyers, his laugh was as loud as theirs. In the evenings judge and lawyer alike gathered in the bar-room of the tavern, and there was ever an admiring audience to listen to their stories. The coming of the Court was looked forward to by the people of the county as one of the most important events of the year.
Abraham Lincoln was a young lawyer. He could not be called a leading member of the bar, for he had been only a few months with his partner when he began to ride the circuit. He had very few cases in court, but hoped that somebody would want to employ him at the different county seats.
The census taken by the United States in 1840 showed that there were slaves in Illinois, although it was a free State. Settlers from Kentucky had brought them across the Ohio River. Unexpectedly a case came to Mr. Lincoln which greatly enlisted his sympathy and energy. Mr. Crowell sold his slave Nancy to Mr. Bailey, who, not having the money to pay for her, gave his note, which was not paid when due. Mr. Crowell did not want to lose his money, and brought suit in the Circuit Court. The judge decided that the note must be paid. An appeal was made to the Supreme Court. We do not know just how it came about, but possibly somebody had discovered that Abraham Lincoln was very kind-hearted, that he loved justice and right, and so employed him in behalf of the slave. He was thirty-two years old. He