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FIRST VOYAGE TO NEW ORLEANS.
FIRST VOYAGE TO NEW ORLEANS.
the age of eighteen, Abraham longed to see more of the great world than his se
cluded life had yet brought to his view. A pleasure trip by post-roads and public conveyances was out of the question. But combining toil with pleasure, with the assistance of a few neighbors, he built a little flat-boat, launched it on the Ohio, loaded it with such produce as his neighbors were willing to risk in the adventure, and with one companion, pushed off to find the far-distant market at New Orleans. While he was preparing to start, a little occurrence took place, which, insignificant as it seems, produced a marked impression on his mind. As he stood at the landing loading his boat, two passengers came up, who wished to be placed on an approaching steamer. Abe volunteered, and having safely placed them on board and handed up
their baggage, they each threw back into the bottom of his canoe a silver half dollar. “I could scarcely believe my eyes," said the President afterward, in relating this incident, “I could scarcely believe that I, a poor boy, had earned a dollar in less than a day. The world seemed wider and fairer to me. I was a more hopeful and confident being from that time."
The vast extent and power of our country must have been strongly impressed upon his mind by that voyage of eighteen hundred miles. Floating slowly down for days and weeks upon the mighty rivers, the hills and rocks, prairies and forests, with ever-varying scenery, which rose upon his vision, were all new, vast, and strange to him as they were to Marquette, whose canoe, first of any white explorer, traversed those great rivers. He and his companion alternately slept in a little bunk on the deck, keeping watch at night when there was light enough to keep the boat off the bars and snags, and approaching the shore when it was necessary to cook their simple meals of mush and venison, or rashers of pork.
Arriving at a little town below Natchez, Abe had his first acquaintance with some of the fea
CARRYING THE WAR INTO AFRICA.":
tures of slavery. During the night, when he and his companion were asleep, seven stout negro slaves, in quest of more liberal rations than the negro quarters afforded them, undertook to rob the boat. Abe suddenly awoke before they had succeeded in boarding his deck, and, seizing a handspike, knocked four of them off the plank into the water. The other three fled, but Abe's blood was up, and he and his companion pursued and administered a severe pounding to each of them. The next castigation he inflicted in that “sunny land” was on a much larger scale, and the subjects of it were robbers of loftiest pretentions.
Having disposed of his cargo and the boat which contained it, he returned home on foota weary journey of weeks.
The family had attained to years of maturity. Sarah Lincoln, Abraham's only sister, married a man named Aaron Grigsby, and about a year afterward died. His two step-sisters also married. The hard labor of clearing away the heavy timber to convert the land into productive fields was discouraging to the young people; and in addition to this, they suffered much from that obstinate and enervating affliction the fever
and ague. Hearing much of the wide and fertile prairies of Illinois, they longed to find more pleasant homes and a more tractable soil from which to win their bread. The matter was discussed around the parental hearth many an evening during the winter of 1830, and they concluded to abandon the wooded hills for the far-famed prairies in the following spring. On the 30th of March they all, sons, daughters, husbands, and little ones, with their effects, loaded in ox-wagons, started on their westward way. The streams were swollen, the roads deep with mud, and the progress consequently slow and wearisome. After fifteen days' journeying, they rested on the north side of the Sangamon River, in Mason County, Illinois, about twelve miles west of Decatur. Abraham Lincoln entered Illinois on foot, in a threadbare suit of walnut jeans, splashed and smeared with mud, driving an ox-wagon; he left it the trusted President of his country, honoring the office more than it honored him.
Again the work of constructing a cabin was to be done, and in a few days one was built on a ridge which divided the woodland from the prairie-mostly the result of the stout arms of
RAILS FOR RAIMENT.
Abraham. He then set to work and split rails enough to fence ten acres, plowed and planted it before the first of June; and, having thus provided for his father's family, set out to seek his own fortune.
He was sadly in need of sufficient clothing to cover his lank but muscular limbs, and the first necessity was to provide himself a new suit. A widow named Mrs. Nancy Miller had a loom and plenty of flax and wool. Abe opened negotiations with her on the subject of his necessities, and concluded a bargain to chop and split twenty-nine hundred good rails for a suit of jeans, to be spun, woven, and made to fit. The widow and the axman each performed their part of the contract, and Mr. Lincoln rejoiced in a substantial suit of new clothes, shirt included.
Their old enemy, the fever and ague, again visited the Lincoln family, and the following spring they again abandoned their homes, this time removing to Coles County. Here Abraham worked about among the farmers, at such labor as he could get, for two years. It is related that a respectable-looking traveler stopped one evening at a farm-house where he was working, and requested a lodgment for the night. The host