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The women departed, and the bully dared Lincoln to touch him. Little did the ruffian comprehend the strength and resolution of the man whom he had incensed. Suddenly he found himself lying on the ground and blows falling upon him like the strokes of a hammer. He begged for mercy,

and Lincoln bathed the fellow's face with water to relieve the pain.(")

" He can lift more than any other man in Sangamon County; and when it comes to wrestling, he can throw the whole crowd,” said Offut.

The “ Clary Grove boys," as they were called, heard of it. They were a wild and lawless set of fellows, who lived seven or eight miles from New Salem. Jack Armstrong was their champion wrestler and leader. They found pleasure in picking upon a stranger, and having fun with any one weaker than themselves. It was delightful sport to put a man into a cask and set it rolling down a hill. They rode through the settlements at night whooping, swearing, frightening women and children. They cared nothing for law or order, and were a terror to the country.

“ Jack Armstrong will put Offut's clerk on his back in a twinkling," said one of the gang.

“I'll bet that Lincoln will use him to wipe his feet on,” said Offut. “I'll bet $10 that Jack is the better man,” responded Bill Clary.

“I'll take that bet, and as much more as you and your gang will put up."

“I do not want to wrestle," said Lincoln, when Offut asked him to engage in a contest with Jack Armstrong. He was no longer a boatman; he was drifting away from former things. There was something in life better than wrestling. He looked every day into the faces of noble women and pure-hearted girls as they examined the goods which he placed before them. What would they think of him if he found his greatest pleasure in wrestling with Jack?

"I want you to teach those fellows a lesson,” said Offut. “They are a set of bullies, and I want you to take them down."

Quite likely Abraham Lincoln was not averse to teaching them a lesson, and there would be some satisfaction in putting their champion upon the ground. The match was arranged, and the day fixed. All the Clary Grove fellows, and others up and down the Sangamon, heard of it, and laid their plans to be present, some staking their money on Armstrong, others on Offut's clerk. The day arrives ; New Salem is astir. The spectators tie their horses beneath the trees and take a drink of whiskey. The ring is formed. There is a friendly hand-shaking as

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THE LINCOLN HOME, FARMINGTON, ILL. Abraham Lincoln assisted his father in building this homo after his return from the second trip to New

Orleans, and here saw his father for the last time.)

[From a photograph taken in 1890.

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the contestants enter it; then comes the grappling, turning, the straining of muscles. If Jack Armstrong imagined it would be an easy victory, he found himself mistaken. He tries his peculiar tricks, which have given him victory over other wrestlers; but soinehow this clerk of Offut's, who spends so much time in reading, does not go down. He seems to be playing with Jack, and biding his time. Jack's friends do not like the looks of things; if he is vanquished they will lose their bets, and it will be humiliating. One of the gang attempts to interfere in behalf of Armstrong.

“Fair play!” “Stand back!" “ Let them alone!” were the cries from the excited crowd. Lincoln sees that the Clary Grove fellows intend to help Jack gain an advantage; like another Samson he puts forth his strength, and the hitherto champion of Sangamon goes to the ground.

Armstrong's friends are amazed and angry. But there is good stuff in Jack. He knows that he has been fairly thrown, and exhibits his manhood by rising and shaking hands with Lincoln. From that moment through life he will be a steadfast friend. The Clary Grove boys have lost their bets, but forget their anger in their admiration for the man who does not crow over what he has done. ("")

Abraham Lincoln was champion ; but instead of wrestling, he wanted to study grammar. Mentor Graham thought that Mr. Vaner might possibly have a text-book. Although it was several miles, he walked to Vaner's house, and returned with a copy of “ Kirkham's Grammar." Customers who came to trade the next day found him lying on the counter with the book in hand, his head pillowed on a pile of cotton goods. He knew that his language was not grammatical. He wanted to express himself clearly and correctly. It was a pleasure to read the editorial articles in the “ Louisville Journal,” because they were so well written. Ile would like to be able to write so that people would understand just what he intended to say. With that object in view, he de. termined to know the parts of speech and the rules which govern the construction of language. He had no one to teach him, but went on as best he could. ("")

While the clerk was waiting upon customers, keeping exact accounts, and getting on with his grammar, Offut was buying produce, trading horses, and speculating generally; giving his notes, which were not paid when due. He transacted business in such a lucky-go-easy way that the day came when the sheriff took possession of the store.

Abraham Lincoln was adrift once more. Good news came. Captain Bogue, of Springfield, had gone to Cincinnati to obtain a steamboat

1832.

which was to navigate the Sangamon. Meetings were held in Springfield, New Salem, and other towns, to help on the enterprise. The

merchants at Springfield informed their customers that their

goods were to be brought direct from Cincinnati by the steamboat * Talisman,” which would ascend the Illinois and the Sangamon rivers. It was April, and the spring floods enabled Captain Bogue to make the upward trip without much difficulty. Some work must be done, however, in cutting away trees to enable the boat to reach New Salem. Abraham Lincoln was one of the first to volunteer his services as a wood-chopper. At the Springfield landing the people welcomed him with speeches and plenty of liquor. A young lawyer wrote a “poem :"

“Now we are up the Sangamon,

And here we'll have a grand hurrah ;
So fill your glasses to the brim
With whiskey, brandy, wine, and gin." (14)

The "Talisman" went on to Decatur. But the water was falling, and the captain despaired of ever getting back, on account of the sand-bars and drift-wood embedded in the mud; so he wisely employed the two boatmen, who had navigated the Mississippi to New Orleans, to take the craft down to the Illinois. They had much difficulty to get past the mill-dam at New Salem, but Beardstown was finally reached, and the boatmen received $40 each for their labor.

The Sac and Fox Indians of Wisconsin, who had given up their lands to the United States and moved to Iowa, determined to return to their old hunting-grounds. Their chief, Black Hawk, began war by committing outrages upon the settlers of that section. The Governor of Illinois called for soldiers. Abraham Lincoln enlisted. The young men along the Sangamon volunteered in sufficient numbers to form a company. They elected him captain. He knew nothing of military tactics, and his soldiers were equally ignorant. With rifle, powder-horn, knapsack, and canteen the march was begun to Yellow Bank, on the Mississippi River. The company is marching battalion front, and comes to a fence which has a narrow opening Captain Lincoln does not know what order he ought to give to get them into single file, and were he to give it correctly the company might not know how to execute it. Ile sees that something must be done: his soldiers will laugh at him if they are brought to a stand-still by a rail-fence. There is one order which they will comprehend.

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