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night. My only outing has been 75 cents for some cider, which I bought for some farm-hands.”
He saw no harm in the drinking of cider. He may have thought a little given to a gang of men whom he met in the harvest - field would not harm them, and might be of some benefit to himself on election-day.
In the Capitol at Washington, as a member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Lincoln met men whose names are inseparably associated
with the history of the country: Robert C. Winthrop, of Massa
chusetts, Speaker of the House ; John Quincy Adams, ex-President of the United States, member of the House ; George Ashmun, from the same State; Caleb B. Smith, of Indiana ; Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee; Alexander H. Stephens, Howell Cobb, and Robert Toombs, of Georg and Barnwell Rhett, of South Carolina. On the same day Stephen A. Douglas became a Senator from Illinois, meeting Daniel Webster, of Massachusetts; John P. Hale, of New Hampshire; John Adams Dix, of New York; Lewis Cass, of Ohio; Thomas R. Benton, of Missouri ; Simon Cameron, of Pennsylvania ; John J. Crittenden, of Kentucky; James M. Mason, and R. M. T. Hunter, of Virginia ; John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina ; and Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, all of whom were to appear in the great drama in which Abraham Lincoln was to take the leading part.
Mr. Lincoln was meeting the foremost men of the nation as their equal in making laws for the country. He introduced a resolution calling upon the President to furnish the House with a statement of facts relating to the war with Mexico, and advocated its passage in a very able speech.
While member of Congress he was greatly exercised at seeing gangs of slaves in chains marched away from the slave - prison to be sold in Southern markets. He looked upon it as a national disgrace. Mr. Galt, member from New York, introduced a resolution prohibiting the slave - trade in the District of Columbia. Mr. Lincoln was in favor not only of prohibiting slavery in the district, but he would make free all children born after January 1, 1850; and if owners of slaves were willing to part with them, he would have the Government pur. chase their freedom. He soon discovered, however, that the members from the slave-holding States were bitterly opposed to any such beneficent measure. They would not listen to any proposition which in the remotest degree would interfere with the institution.
General Lewis Cass, of Michigan, was the candidate of the Democratic Party for President, in opposition to General Zachary Taylor,
the candidate of the Whigs. The partisans of Cass unwisely July 27, magnified his military services. Mr. Lincoln, in common with
many other members, made a speech upon the political situation, in which General Cass was held up to ridicule, especially in regard to extra charges upon the Treasury. Mr. Lincoln said:
“I have introduced General Cass's accounts here chiefly to show the wonderful physical capacities of the man. They show that he not only did the labor of several men at the same time, but he often did it in several places many hundred miles apart at the same time. And as to eating, too, his capacities are shown to be quite as wonderful. From October, 1821, to May, 1822, he ate ten rations a day in Michigan, ten rations a day here in Washington, and nearly $5 worth a day, besides, partly on the road between the two places. And then there is an important discovery in his example—the act of being paid for what one eats, instead of baving to pay for it. Hereafter, if any nice young man shall owe a bill which he cannot pay in any other way, he can just board it out. We have all heard of the animal standing in doubt between two stacks of hay and starving to death ; the like of that would never happen to General Cass. Place the stacks a thousand miles apart, and he would stand stock-still midway between them and eat them both at once, and the green grass along the line would be apt to suffer some, too, at the same time. By all means, make him President, gentlemen. He will feed you bounteously, if-if-there is any left after he shall have helped himself.”
Just before the close of Mr. Lincoln's term in Congress the thought came to him that he might possibly obtain an appointment from the President as Commissioner of the General Land Office, which would give him a fair salary. He applied for the situation, but his friend, Edwin D. Baker, from Illinois, also wanted the office. Fortunately for themselves and for the country neither of them received the appointment.
Mr. Lincoln visited New York and Boston. He gave an address at Worcester, Mass., which was much liked by those who heard it. He journeyed to Niagara. He beheld the swirling stream above the falls, the cataract, and the fury of the current below. A Yankee thought it might be a good place to wash sheep. Mr. Lincoln was not thinking about washing sheep, or of setting Niagara to turning millwheels, but wondered where all the water came from. The most comfortable route home was by steamboat down the Ohio River and up the Illinois. The water was low, and the boat grounded on a bar. The firemen stuffed wood under the boilers, and black clouds of smoke rolled out from the chimneys. Louder the puffing of the steam, but the boat was hard and fast upon the sand. “Get out those empty barrels!" the order of the captain. The crew pitched a lot of empty casks into the
river and fastened them with ropes under the bow of the boat, thus lifting it till clear of the obstruction. A thought came to the man who looked down upon the operation from the deck of the steamer. Quite likely he recalled the days when he took the Talisman over the sandbars of the Sangamon. Why not get up a contrivance-a flexible airchamber, to be attached to the hull of the boat? It could be pumped full of air whenever the vessel grounded, and so enable it to glide over. He thought about it all the way to Springfield ; set Walter Davis, a carpenter, to work making a model, which he sent to the Patent Office, and received a patent for his invention; but, like most of the patents issued, it came to nothing.
Zachary Taylor, who won the battle of Buena Vista in the war with Mexico, had been elected President. During the campaign Mr. Lincoln made many speeches favoring his election, and as a reward for what he had done could have an office. He started for Washington to see what the President would give him. In the early morning he took his seat in the stage at Ramsdell's tavern. There was only one other passenger, a Kentuckian, who took a plug of tobacco from his pocket, bit off a quid, and handed it to the silent man beside him.
“No, I thank you, sir; I do not chew."
"Perhaps you will take a cigar?" and the Kentuckian held out a case well filled with cigars.
“Much obliged to you, but I do not smoke."
“Well, stranger, seeing you don't chew or smoke, perhaps you will take a little nice French brandy ?" said the man, taking a flask from his pocket.
“You are very kind, but I am not in the habit of drinking,” replied Lincoln. The stage reached the tavern where the horses were changed, and where the Kentuckian was to stop. He did not quite understand the man who had declined the offered courtesies.