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SURVEYOR AND LAWYER.
N the winter of 1834, Abraham obtained a book on surveying, which had an in
troductory chapter on such principles of geometry and trigonometry as were necessary in the art of measuring heights and distances. This gave him a taste for those sciences, and he did not desist from their pursuit till he had mastered Euclid. He afterward remarked, that from that time he was never satisfied with any argument short of the nearest possible approach to mathematical demonstration.
The following spring he was so fortunate as to have the opportunity to turn his mathematical acquirements to good account. John Calhoun, afterward well known—or rather infamously known-during the Kansas-Nebraska contest of 1855–6, as “Lecompton Calhoun," was then surveyor for Sangamon County. The great im
STUDY OF THE LAW.
migration into that part of the State gave him more business than he could manage. Hearing of young Lincoln's acquirements in his line, he gave him employment. Abe soon became an accurate and reliable surveyor.
Happening at a book auction, at Springfield, he purchased an old copy of Blackstone's Commentaries, and, as was his habit with any book new to him, plunged at once into the devions mazes of English law. A fresh book to him was as a defiant kingdom to Alexander—a new conquest to be undertaken, and achieved without delay. Alternately surveying for bread and clothing, and wherewithal to buy more books, Abe pushed forward in the study of law. His studio was some shady tree in the edge of the woods in summer, and by a lard lamp at some hospitable fireside in the winter. His devotion to his studies rendered him absent-minded; and some of his neighbors, noticing the change that had come over him, reported that he was becoming insane. These fits of abstraction continued to mark him during the remainder of his life.' He would sometimes sit down at the family board, eat mechanically, and without noticing conversation addressed to him; but suddenly recalling himself, as from a dream, he would launch out some witty allusion or quotation of poetry, and at once enter upon the topic which came up in the circle, with great humor and vivacity.
In the fall of 1834, two years after his first candidacy for the Legislature, he was again nominated, and this time elected by a majority of two hundred and fifty above that of the others on his ticket. During this campaign he met his opponent at various places in public debate, and acquitted himself as a logical, witty, and effective public speaker. The State of Illinois was then, and so remained for twenty years afterward, overwhelmingly Democratic, the Whig party forming scarcely a respectable opposition. Had Mr. Lincoln sought popular favor and the honors and emoluments of office, without regard to his convictions of right, he could have placed himself at the head of the party in the State, and shared with Mr. Douglas the political triumphs which that leader achieved; but he was convinced that the principles advocated by the minority were just, that the majority were wrong, and he would not sacrifice an iota of what he regarded as truth for political success or pecuniary gain.
The capital of the state was then at Vandalia,
WIIY ABE WAS COLD.
about one hundred miles from Salem, the home of Mr. Lincoln. The Legislature met in December, when the roads were deep and the weather inclement. But he had not the means to pay his way by public conveyance or to purchase a horse; he therefore walked all the way to the capital, and at the close of the term walked back again. As he returned in the spring the weather was severe, and he, being thinly clad, complained of the cold. One of his colleagues, all of whom were upon horseback, in allusion to his big feet, said: “It is no wonder Abe is cold; there's 80 much of him on the ground!” Lincoln laughed as heartily at this broad joke as any of his companions.
During this session of the Legislature, a series of resolutions were passed pledging the legislators, and, so far as their influence could extend, the people of the State, to vile subserviency to slaveholders. Mr. Lincoln and one other independent and honorable man, DANIEL STONE, would not submit to this humiliation, but entered a vigorous protest upon the journal of the House. By that one manly act “Dan Stone” will be remembered as a just and fearless man, even if all other events of his life are forgotten.
At the close of the second session of the Legislature, Major Stewart, of Springfield, offered him a partnership in the practice of law, which flattering proposal he immediately accepted, and, packing up his scanty wardrobe and library, turned his back upon his old home, with its rough toils, but with its many pleasant associations, for a new and broader field of usefulness. In thus leaving the scene of so many hardships and privations, he also left friends who knew him best and trusted him most-friends who had honored him with his first political success. But mingled with his regret were high hopes as he looked forward to the expanding and brightening future.
The young lawyer did not pack an expensive trunk, with stores of glossy linen, patent collars, and fancy toilet fixtures, as a preparation for this journey to Springfield. He would have been well suited to tie up his extra cotton shirt in a handkerchief, and make a straight line for his new home across lots, taking advantage of his lengthy supply of legs to ford the streams, as he often had done before, and did afterward. But he accumulated a burden of wealth, in the shape of law-books, which he could not carry