Page images
[graphic][merged small]

of the Arkansas River they saw alligators sunning themselves along the banks. Farther down they beheld live-oaks with festoons of moss trailing from the wide-spreading branches.

At Baton Rouge the two boatmen had an opportunity to show of what stuff they were made. Their boat was moored for the night at the landing. They were awakened by a gang of negroes, who leaped on board, intending to help themselves to plunder. The negroes were slaves. White men had stolen them - their manhood, their natural rights, their labor. Why should they not help themselves to whatever they could find? The boatmen leap from their bunks and rush out from the caboose. They have no weapons, but Captain Lincoln pitches two into the river, a third is felled by Gentry, and the others, seeing the fate of their companions, take to their heels.

They had reached a section of the country where the people used the French language. Natchez was a very old town. The French settled it when they took possession of Louisiana. The people, language, houses, manners, and customs-all were different from what Lincoln and

his fellow-boatman had ever seen. At intervals they beheld large plantations with collections of cabins-the homes of the slaves.

The two young men beheld strange sights at New Orleans. Hundreds of flat-boats were moored along the levees; steamboats were coming and going; ships were anchored in the river. They heard languages which they could not understand-French and Spanish—and saw sailors from all parts of the world. In the old part of the citythat settled by the French--they felt themselves, as it were, in a foreign land. Having disposed of the cargo, they returned to Indiana. Mr. Gentry was well satisfied with the result of his venture.

Abraham Lincoln had reached a period in life which many another boy has reached-the period of restlessness and discontent. His father wanted him to be a carpenter, but he would like to do something more than push the plane and use a saw all his days. His world is larger than it was before he floated down the great river and saw vessels that had come from foreign lands. The money which he had earned is not his own, but his father's. It is lonesome in Pigeon Creek. Why stay at home? Why not strike out for himself? But before going he will talk about it with his good friend William Wood, at Gentry's Landing.

"No, Abraham, you must not go; you must stay at home till you are of age and can leave rightfully. It is a duty which you owe to yourself and to your parents." (2o)

The question is settled-duty! obligation! On Sunday evenings, in the old Kentucky home, when he was a little boy, his mother talked about doing right. He hears once more the words that fell from her lips as he stood by her side for the last time-"Be kind to your father!" With new strength and resolution he goes back to the Pigeon Creek home as went the Child of Nazareth--to be obedient to his parents.


(1) William H. Herndon, "Lincoln," p. 23 (edition 1889).
(2) Ibid., p. 28.

(3) Ibid.,
p. 29.

"Letters of Samuel Haycraft."

(*) Ibid., p. 40.

(5) J. G. Holland, "Life of Abraham Lincoln," p. 31.

(6) Ibid., p. 32.

(7) William H. Herndon, "Lincoln,” p. 59 (edition 1889).

(8) Joseph Gentry, of Gentryville, to Author, September, 1890.
(9) "Annals of North America," edited by Edward Howland.
(10) Ibid.

(1) Joseph Gentry to Author, September, 1890. (19) J. G. Holland, "Life of Abraham Lincoln," p. 33. (13) William H. Herndon, "Lincoln," p. 36 (edition 1889).

(14) Ibid., p. 31.

(15) Ibid., p. 44.

(16) Ibid., p. 58.

(1) J. G. Holland, "Life of Abraham Lincoln,” p. 34.

(18) William H. Herndon, "Lincoln," p. 39 (edition 1889).

(19) Ibid., p. 61.

(20) Ibid., p. 62.




LETTER came to Thomas Lincoln, postmarked Decatur, Ill., written by John Hanks, formerly of Elizabethtown, Ky. He said that Illinois was a beautiful State: there were vast reaches of prairie; the soil was rich; there were winding rivers and creeks, and groves of oak, maple, elm, and gum trees. Settlers were pouring in, many from Kentucky. If Thomas Lincoln would come, he would select a quarter-section of land for him, and have logs cut for a cabin. (1) The prospect was inviting. The disease which carried the first Mrs. Lincoln to her grave reappeared every autumn. There was no particular reason why the family should remain at Pigeon Creek. One of the step-daughters had married Levi Hall, and the other Dennis Hanks. They were ready to go. His own daughter Sarah, who married Aaron Grigsby, had died. There were no tender ties to be severed. Abraham was twenty-one years old, but ready to cast his lot with the rest. It would be a long and tedious journey, but by starting in March they would reach the Sangamon country with the beginning of spring. So the farm was sold and preparations made for the journey.


They were eight in all, besides beds, bedding, frying-pan, skillet, Dutch-oven, bags of meal, hams, and sides of bacon, in wagons drawn by It was in March-the month of snow, sleet, rain, mud, chilling winds. The rivers were filled with floating ice or overflowing their banks. If they could not find shelter in a cabin at night, they must build a camp in the woods or sleep in the wagons.

Abraham Lincoln is free to go where he will, but the fever and restlessness of former days have passed away. He has been a dutiful son, and will see his parents in their new home before he strikes out for himself. He drives the oxen, or takes his turn in swinging the axe to build a camp or a bridge across a creek. When the wagon sinks hub-deep in the mire he puts his shoulder to the wheel and lifts it out. A little dog trots by the side of the teamster. They come to a river

[ocr errors]
[graphic][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »