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NOTES TO CHAPTER VII.
(1) J. G. Holland, “Life of Abraham Lincoln,” p. 81. (°) W. H. Herndon, "Lincoln," p. 340 (edition 1889). (*) Ibid., p. 327. (*) Ibid., p. 343. (©) Joshua F. Speed, Lecture on Abraham Liucoln, p. 31. () W. H. Herudov, “Lincolu," p. 215 (edition 1889). (°) Letter to J. T. Stuart, quoted in Herndon's "Lincolu," p. 215 (edition 1889). (*) Joshua F. Speed, Lecture on Abraham Lincoln, p. 39. (°) Governor Ford, “ History of Illinois.” (10) Joshua F. Speed, Lecture on Abraham Lincolu, p. 39. (") "Century Magazine," January, 1887. (1) Ibid.
SEVEN YEARS OF ACTIVE LIFE.
FRO "ROM the restful retreat in the home of Lucy Gilman Speed, Mr.
Lincoln, with new hopes and ambitions, took passage on a steamboat down the Ohio and up the Mississippi and the Illinois rivers to
his home. It was the most convenient route of travel. With
out doubt, when he reached Gentry's Landing he recollected the day when he ferried two passengers out to a passing boat, and received in return two shining half-dollars, which seemed a fortune at the time. It was the locality where Katy Robie had made the evening hours pleasant by her presence. It was the home of Judge Pitcher, who had been so kind to him. From that point to the junction of the Ohio with the Mississippi he had pulled an oar on a flatboat. From the Mississippi to Beardstown he would be once more amid the familiar scenes of his second trip to New Orleans. There is little question that the recollections of the auction of human beings came back to him, for once more he beheld the barbarism of the institution of slavery. In the Kentucky home where he had found such restfulness he had seen slavery in its most attractive form--the slaves cared for as members of the household, and a tender affection existing between them and their mistress. In such a home, the institution was patriarchal and seemingly beneficial, but upon the steamboat the illusion faded. In a letter to Miss Mary Speed he said :
“A fine example was presented on board the boat for contemplating the effect of condition upon human happiness. A gentleman had purchased twelve negroes in different parts of Kentucky, and was taking them to a farm in the South. They were chained six and six together; a small iron clevis was around the left wrist of each, and this was fastened to the main chain by a shorter one at a convenient distance from the others, so that the negroes were strung together precisely like so many fish upon a trout-line. In this condition they were being separated forever from the scenes of their childhood, their friends, their fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters, and many of them from their wives and children, and going into perpetual slavery, where the lash of the master is proverbially more ruthless than anywhere else; and yet amid all these distressing circumstances, as we would think them, they were the most cheerful and apparently happy people on board. One, whose offence for which he was sold was an over-fondness for his wife, played the fiddle almost continually, and others danced, sang, cracked jokes, and played various games with cards from day to day. How true it is that God tempers the wind to the shorn lainb, or, in other words, that He renders the worst of human conditions tolerable, while He permits the best to be nothing better than tolerable." (*)
In Kentucky slavery was in some respects patriarchal. Kind-hearted planters felt a degree of responsibility for the physical and moral wel. fare of their slaves. Those of the household had many liberties, and enjoyed rollicking times in the kitchen, singing songs and dancing. It was for the planter's interest to provide them comfortable cabins. Each had its patch of ground for a garden. In sickness they received kindly care. The dark side was revealed when they were sold to enable the master to pay his debts. There were mournful scenes when the law stepped in to settle an estate of a deceased planter. The inexpressible hideousness of the institution was revealed when hard-hearted men disposed of their slaves for gain, just as they sold cattle and pigs.
Mr. Lincoln did not write to Miss Speed the effect that the spectacle had upon himself, but it intensified his abhorrence of such a condition of affairs in a free republic.
Times were hard. The period which people were looking for when every body was to be rich had not arrived, but seemed farther off than
There had been a period of speculation in the East and South as well as in the West. In Illinois the inhabitants were feeling the outcome of the legislation which appropriated $12,000,000 for the construction of railroads and a canal. The bonds had been printed and a portion of them sold; but the rich men of New York and Boston, who were expected to purchase them, had themselves been speculating, buying farms and house - lots, borrowing money from the banks. When their notes became due they were unable to pay them. The banks had no more money to loan and were crippled. A firm in New Orleans, which had been buying cotton at high prices and borrowing money, failed to pay its notes when due. It was the beginning of a financial crash. Men who supposed themselves rich suddenly found they were penniless. Banks and individuals alike failed. Trade was at a stand