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Hanks, and a
In the spring
also employed, his former fellow-laborer, John son of his step-mother, named John Johnston. of 1831 Lincoln set out to fulfill his engagement. The floods had so swollen the streams that the Sangamon country was a vast sea before him. His first entrance into that county was over these wide-spread waters, in a canoe. The time had come to join his employer on his journey to New Orleans, but the latter had been disappointed by another person on whom he relied to furnish him a boat, on the Illinois river. Accordingly, all hands set to work, and themselves built a boat, on that river, for their purposes. This done, they set out on their long trip, making a successful voyage to New Orleans and back. It is reported by his friends, that Mr. Lincoln refers with much pleasant humor to this early experience, so relating some of its incidents as to afford abundant amusement to his auditors. In truth, he was a youth who could adapt himself to this or any other honest work which his circumstances required of him, and with a cheerfulness and alacrity—a certain practical humor-rarely equaled. He could turn off the hardest labor as a mere pastime; and his manly presence, to other laborers, was as a constant inspiration and a charm to lighten their burdens.
It was midsummer when the flatboatman returned from
this his second and last trip, in that capacity. The man who had commanded this little expedition now undertook to establish himself in business at New Salem, twenty miles below Springfield, in Menard county-a place of more relative consequence then than now-two miles from Petersburg, the county-seat. He had found young Lincoln a person of such sort that he was anxious to secure his services in the new enterprise he was about to embark in. He opened a store at New Salem, and also had a mill for flouring grain. For want of other immediate employment, and in the same spirit which had heretofore actuated him, Abraham Lincoln now entered upon the duties of a clerk, having an eye to both branches of the business carried on by his employer. This connection continued for nearly a year, all the duties of his position being faithfully performed.
It was to this year's humble but honorable service-one that would have been ennobled by his alacrity in discharging it, as a necessity of his lot, were the employment far less dignified than it really was-that Mr. Douglas tauntingly alluded, in one of his speeches during the canvass of 1858, as keeping a grocery." In his reply, Mr. Lincoln declared his adversary to be "woefully at fault" as to the fact, in alleging him to have been a grocery-keeper, though it might be no great sin had the statement been well founded. He added that, in truth, he had "never kept a grocery anywhere in the world."
The business of this country merchant at New Salem did not prove remarkably successful. In any event, the employment was not such as could have permanently suited an active, muscular person, like young Lincoln, with a lurking passion. for adventure, and for more exciting scenes. His clerkship
days, however, were brought to an abrupt close, probably much sooner than they otherwise would have been, by the breaking out of the Black-Hawk war, in which he was eager to bear an honorable part.
It was during this year that he was appointed Postmaster at New Salem-not from political affinity with the administration of Jackson, to which he was, in fact, opposed, but because he was thought better fitted for the place than any of his neighbors. He discharged his duties well; and instead of even temporarily using any of the public money to supply his then pressing wants, he carefully laid up whatever belonged to the Government, from day to day, and at the final settlement he had a bag of coin, containing the proper amount, ready to be paid over.
SERVICE IN THE BLACK-HAWK WAR-1832.
Breaking out of the Black-Hawk War.-The Invasion of 1831.-The Rock-river Country Threatened.-Prompt Action of Gov. Reynolds.— Retreat of Black-Hawk. — Treaty of 1804 Re-affirmed. — Bad Faith of the Indians.-Invasion of 1832.-Volunteers Called For.Abraham Lincoln one of a Company from Menard County. He is chosen Captain.-Rendezvous at Beardstown.-Hard Marches across the Country to Oquawka, Prophetstown and Dixon.-Expected Battle Avoided by the Enemy.-Discontent among Volunteers.-They are Disbanded. Captain Lincoln Remains, Volunteering for Another Term of Service.-Skirmishing Fights.-Arrival of New Levies.— Encounter at Kellogg's Grove.-Black-Hawk at the Four Lakes.— He Retreats.Battle on the Wisconsin.---Hastens Forward to the Mississippi. Battle of the Bad-ax.---End of Lincoln's First Campaign. Autobiographic Note.
WHILE Abraham Lincoln was quietly performing his duties in the pioneer "store," in Menard county, reports were received of an alarming Indian invasion, on the western border of the State. In the spring of 1831, the noted Black-Hawk, an old chief of the Sac tribe of Indians, repudiating the treaty by the terms of which they had been removed beyond the Father of Waters, re-crossed the river with his women and children, and three hundred warriors of the Sacs, together with allies from the Kickapoo and Pottawatomie nations. His object was again to take possession of his old hunting-grounds, and to establish himself where the principal village of his nation. before had been, in the Rock-river country. The Indians began committing depredations upon the property of the white. settlers, destroying their crops, pulling down their fences, driving off and slaughtering their cattle, and ordering the settlers themselves to leave under penalty of being massacred.
In response to the representations of Gov. Reynolds, to whom the settlers applied for protection, Gen. Gaines, commander of the United States forces in that quarter, took prompt and decisive measures to expel these invaders from the State. With a few companies of regular soldiers, Gen. Gaines at once took up his position at Rock Island, and at his call, several hundred volunteers, assembled from the northern and central parts of the State, upon the proclamation of Gov. Reynolds, joined him a month later. His little army distributed into two regiments, an additional battalion, and a spy battalion, was the most formidable military force yet seen in the new State. The expected battle did not take place, the Indians having suddenly and stealthily retired again, in their canoes, across the river. The troops had been advanced to Vandruff's Island, opposite the Indian town, where the engagement was anticipated, and there was much dissatisfaction among the volunteers, and some complaints against the generals, Gaines and Duncan, for permitting the enemy to escape.
Whether or not either of these commanders was chargeable with blame, this retreat of Black-Hawk only prolonged the difficulties impending, and prepared the way for a more formidable and eventful campaign the next season. Gen. Gaines, however had taken measures to preclude any such possibility, so far as the deliberate engagements of the uneasy chief could avail for that purpose. Intimidated by the threats of Gaines to cross the river, and to prosecute the war on that ground, Black-Hawk sued for peace. A treaty was entered into, by which he agreed that he and his tribe should ever after remain on the west side of the river, unless by permission of the State Governor, or of the President. Thus was the treaty of 1804 re-affirmed, by which the lands they were claiming had been distinctly conveyed to the United States Government, which, in turn, had sold them to the present settlers.
In express violation, however, of this second deliberate engagement, Black-Hawk and his followers began, early in the spring of 1832, as we have seen, to make preparations for another invasion. Many and grievous wrongs have undoubtedly been inflicted upon the savage tribes by the superior race,
that has gradually, but steadily driven the former from their ancient homes. But the bad faith shown in this case, and the repeated violation of deliberate and voluntary agreements, was wholly without justification or excuse. No provocation or plausible pretext had arisen after the treaty of the previous June; yet Black-Hawk, under the misguided influence and false representations of the "Prophet," who persuaded him to believe that even the British (to whom Black-Hawk had always been a fast friend), as well as the Ottawas, Chippewas, Winnebagoes and Pottawatomies, would aid them in regaining their village and the adjoining lands. Under this delusion, to which the wiser Keokuk refused to become a dupe, though earnestly invited to join them, Black-Hawk proceeded to gather as strong a force as possible. He first established his headquarters at the old site of Fort Madison, west of the Mississippi. After his preparations, of which the people of Illinois were advised, had been completed, he proceeded up the river with his women and children, his property and camp equipage, in canoes, while his warriors, armed and mounted, advanced by land. In spite of the warning he had received, that there was a strong force of white soldiers at Fort Armstrong, on Rock Island, he continued on to the mouth of Rock river, where, in utter recklessnes and bad faith-paying not the slightest regard to his solemn agreement of the last year-the whole party crossed to the east side of the Mississippi, with a declared purpose of ascending Rock river to the territory of the Winnebagoes. This was in the early part of April, 1832. Black-Hawk, after he had gone some distance up this latter river, was overtaken by a messenger from Gen. Atkinson, who had command of the troops on Rock Island, and ordered to return beyond the Mississippi. This was defiantly refused.
Gov. Reynolds again issued a call for volunteers to protect the settlers from this invasion. A company was promptly raised in Menard county, in the formation of which Abraham Lincoln was one of the most active. From New Salem, Clary's Grove, and elsewhere in the vicinity, an efficient force was gathered, and in making their organization, Lincoln was elected Captain. This was the first official honor he had ever