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Whigs actively followed up their advantages. So overwhelming had been the strength of their opponents, however, from the time that Mr. Lincoln first appeared on the political stage, and long before, that while a great change was visible in the results of the next election, the revolution was not yet to be completed.
In 1838, Mr. Lincoln was for the third time elected a representative in the Legislature, for the two years ensuing. Among the other six representatives of Sangamon county was John Calhoun, since notorious for his connection with the Lecompton Constitution. Availing himself of some local issue or other, and being a man of conceded ability, of highly respectable Whig antecedents and connections, he had slipped in by a small majority, crowding out the lowest candidate on the Whig ticket. The remaining five were Whigs, including E. D. Baker, Ninian W. Edwards, and A. McCormick. The strength of the two parties in the House was nearly evenly balanced, the Democrats having only three or four majority, rendering this unexpected gain particularly acceptable.
So well recognized was now the position of Mr. Lincoln in his party that, by general consent, he received the Whig vote for the Speakership. There was a close contest, his Democratic competitors being Col. William Lee D. Ewing, who had served with Lincoln in the Black-Hawk war. On the fourth ballot, Ewing had a majority of one over all others, two Whigs (including Mr. Lincoln) and two Democrats having scattered their votes.
At the State election, in August, 1838, the Whig candidate for Governor made an excellent run, but was defeated by Thomas Carlin, Democrat. State affairs were hardly brought in issue in the general canvass. A majority of the Legislature, at the first session, was opposed to the repeal or modification of the public works system, but voted additional expenditures thereon, to the amount of $800,000. At a special session, however, this body repealed the system, and made provisions for its gradual winding up. Mr. Lincoln, as the Whig leader, had his position on the Committee on Finance, and exerted his influence in favor of wise counsels,
and such a determination of affairs as would best remedy the evils resulting from this loose Democratic tampering with measures of Whig policy.
Aside from these financial questions, there were few matters of any general interest before this Legislature. This session of 1838-9 was the last held at Vandalia. A special session in 1839, inaugurated the new state-house at Springfield. The great contest of 1840 was already casting its shadow before, and began chiefly to engross the attention of persons in political life. Whig candidates for electors were nominated in November of this year, and discussions commenced in earnest. Mr. Lincoln, who was deemed one of the strongest champions of the cause before the people, was repeatedly called on to encounter the foremost advocates of the Democratic partywhat no man in Illinois, it was now manifest, could do more successfully.
For the fourth time in succession, Mr. Lincoln was elected to the Legislature in 1840-the last election to that position. which he would consent to accept from his strongly attached constituents of Sangamon county. In this Legislature, like all previous ones in which he had served, the Democrats had a majority in both branches, and the responsibility of all legislation was with them. It was at this session that, to overrule a decision unacceptable to Democrats, and for political and personal reasons of common notoriety in Illinois, the judicial system of the State was changed, as desired by Mr. Douglas, against the judgment of many leading Democrats, and five new judges, of whom Mr. Douglas was one, were added to the Supreme Court of the State. This is now generally felt to be a measure conferring little credit upon those concerned in concocting the scheme, and was never heartily approved by the people.
There was but one session during the two years for which this Legislature was chosen. Mr. Lincoln, as in the last, was the acknowledged Whig leader, and the candidate of his party for Speaker. First elected at twenty-five, he had continued in office without interruption so long as his inclination allowed, and until, by his uniform courtesy and kindness of manners,
his marked ability, and his straight-forward integrity, he had won an enviable repute throughout the State, and was virtually, when but a little past thirty, placed at the head of his party in Illinois.
Begun in comparative obscurity, and without any adventitious aids in its progress, this period of his life, at its termination, had brought him to a position where he was secure in the confidence of the people, and prepared, in due time, to enter upon a more enlarged and brilliant career, as a national statesHis fame as a close and convincing debater was established. His native talent as an orator had at once been demonstrated and disciplined. His zeal and earnestness in behalf of a party whose principles he believed to be right, had rallied strong troops of political friends about him, while his unfeigned modesty and his unpretending and simple bearing, in marked contrast with that of so many imperious leaders, had won him general and lasting esteem. He preferred no claim as a parti san, and showed no overweening anxiety to advance himself, but was always a disinterested and generous co-worker with his associates, only ready to accept the post of honor and of responsibility, when it was clearly their will, and satisfactory to the people whose interests were involved. At the close of this period, with scarcely any consciousness of the fact himself, and with no noisy demonstrations or flashy ostentation in his behalf from his friends, he was really one of the foremost political men in the State. A keen observer might even then have predicted a great future for the "Sangamon Chief," as he was sometimes called in Illinois; and only such an observer, perhaps, would then have adequately estimated his real power as a natural orator, a sagacious statesman, and a gallant TRIB
UNE OF THE PEOPLE.
HIS SETTLEMENT AT SPRINGFIELD AND HIS MARRIAGE.1837-42.
Mr. Lincoln's Law Studies.-His Perseverance under Adverse Circumstances.-Licensed to Practice in 1836.-His Progress in his Profession. His Qualities as an Advocate.-A Romantic and Exciting Incident in his Practice.-A Reminiscence of his Early Life.-He Renders a Material Service to the Family of an Old Friend.—An Affecting Scene.-Mr. Lincoln Removes to Springfield in 1837.— Devotes Himself to his Profession, Giving up Political Life.-His Marriage. The Family of Mrs. Lincoln.-Fortunate Domestic Relations. His Children and their Education.-Denominational Tendencies.-Four Years' Retirement.
DURING the time of his service in the Legislature, Mr. Lincoln was busily engaged in mastering the profession of law. This he was, indeed, compelled to do somewhat at intervals, and with many disadvantages, from the necessity he was under to support himself meanwhile by his own labor, to say nothing of the attention he was compelled to give to politics, by the position he had accepted. Nothing, however, could prevent his consummating his purpose. He completed his preliminary studies, and was licensed to practice in 1836. His reputation was now such that he found a good amount of business, and began to rise to the front rank in his profession. He was a most effective jury advocate, and manifested a ready perception and a sound judgment of the turning legal points of a His clear, practical sense, and his skill in homely or humorous illustration, were noticeable traits in his arguments. The graces and the cold artificialities of a polished rhetoric, he certainly had not, nor did he aim to acquire them. His style of expression and the cast of his thought were his own, having all the native force of a genuine originality.
The following incident, of which the narration is believed to be substantially accurate, is from the pen of one who professes to write from personal knowledge. It is given in this connection, as at once illustrating the earlier struggles of Mr. Lincoln in acquiring his profession, the character of his forensic efforts, and the generous gratitude and disinterestedness of his nature:
Having chosen the law as his future calling, he devoted himself assiduously to its mastery, contending at every step with adverse fortune. During this period of study, he for some time found a home under the hospitable roof of one Armstrong, a farmer, who lived in a log house some eight miles from the village of Petersburg, in Menard county. Here, young Lincoln would master his lessons by the firelight of the cabin, and then walk to town for the purpose of recitation. This man Armstrong was himself poor, but he saw the genius struggling in the young student, and opened to him his rude. home, and bid him welcome to his course fare. How Lincoln graduated with promise-how he has more than fulfilled that promise-how honorably he acquitted himself, alike on the battle-field, in defending our border settlements against the ravages of savage foes, and in the halls of our national legislature, are matters of history, and need no repetition here. But one little incident, of a more private nature, standing as it does as a sort of sequel to some things already alluded to, I deem worthy of record. Some few years since, the oldest son of Mr. Lincoln's old friend Armstrong, the chief support of his widowed mother-the good old man having some time previously passed from earth-was arrested on the charge of murder. A young man had been killed during a riotous melee, in the night-time, at a camp-meeting, and one of his associates stated that the death-wound was inflicted by young Armstrong. A preliminary examination was gone into, at which the accuser testified so positively, that there seemed no doubt of the guilt of the prisoner, and therefore he was held for trial. As is too often the case, the bloody act caused an undue degree of excitement in the public mind. Every improper incident in the life of the prisoner-each act which bore the least semblance of rowdyism-each school-boy quarrelwas suddenly remembered and magnified, until they pictured him as a fiend of the most horrid hue. As these rumors spread abroad, they were received as gospel truth, and a feverish desire for vengeance seized upon the infatuated populace, while only prison-bars prevented a horrible death at the