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Notwithstanding this, however, Mr. Carpenter was inclined to believe Mr. Simmons was not far out of the way, and thought this seemed very characteristic of what Abraham Lincoln may be supposed to have been at twenty-three or twenty-five years of age.
AN UNSUCCESSFUL VENTURE AS A MERCHANT IN NEW SALEM.
It is interesting to recall the fact that at one time Mr. Lincoln seriously took into consideration the project of learning the blacksmith's trade. He was without means, and felt the immediate necessity of undertaking some business that would give him bread. It was while he was entertaining this project that an event occurred which in his undetermined state of mind seemed to open a way to success in another quarter.
A man named Reuben Radford, the keeper of a small store in the village of New Salem, had somehow incurred the displeasure of the Clary's Grove Boys, who had exercised their "regulating" derogatives by irregularly breaking his windows. William G. Greene, a friend of young Lincoln, riding by Radford's store soon afterward, was hailed by him, and told that he intended to sell out. Mr. Greene went into the store, and offered him at random four hundred dollars for his stock. The offer was immediately accepted.
Lincoln happening in the next day, and being familiar with the value of the goods, Mr. Greene proposed to him to take an inventory of the stock, and see what sort of a bargain he had made. This he did, and
it was found that the goods were worth six hundred dollars. Lincoln then made him an offer of a hundred and twenty-five dollars for his bargain, with the proposition that he and a man named Berry, as his partner, should take his (Greene's) place in the notes given to Radford. Mr. Greene agreed to the arrangement, but Radford declined it, except on condition that Greene would be their security, and this he at last assented to.
Berry proved to be a dissipated, trifling man, and the business soon became a wreck. Mr. Greene was obliged to go in and help Mr. Lincoln close it up, and not only do this but pay Radford's notes. All that young Lincoln won from the store was some very valuable experience, and the burden of a debt to Greene which, in conversations with the latter, he always spoke of as the national debt. But this national debt, unlike the majority of those which bear the title, was paid to the utmost farthing in after years.
Six years afterwards, Mr. Greene, who knew nothing of the law in such cases, and had not troubled himself to inquire about it, and who had in the meantime removed to Tennessee, received notice from Mr. Lincoln that he was ready to pay him what he paid for Berry-he (Lincoln) being legally bound to pay the liabilities of his partner.
HOW LINCOLN BECAME A CAPTAIN IN THE BLACK HAWK WAR.
In the threatening aspect of the Black Hawk War, Governor Reynolds issued a call for volunteers, and among the companies that immediately responded was
one from Menard County, Illinois. Many of the volunteers were from New Salem and Clary's Grove, and Lincoln, being out of business, was first to enlist. The company being full, they held a meeting at Richland for the election of officers. Lincoln had won many hearts, and they told him that he must be their captain. It was an office that he did not aspire to, and one for which he felt that he had no special fitness; but he consented to be a candidate. There was but one other candidate for the office (a Mr. Kirkpatrick), and he was one of the most influential men of the County. Previously, Kirkpatrick had been an employer of Lincoln, and was so overbearing in his treatment of the young man that the latter left him.
The simple mode of their electing their captain, adopted by the company, was by placing the candidates apart, and telling the men to go and stand with the one they preferred. Lincoln and his competitor took their positions, and then the word was given. At least three out of every four went to Lincoln at once. When it was seen by those who had arranged themselves with the other candidate that Lincoln was the choice of the majority of the company, they left their places, one by one, and came over to the successful side, until Lincoln's opponent in the friendly strife was left standing almost alone.
"I felt badly to see him cut so," says a witness of the scene.
Here was an opportunity for revenge. The humble laborer was his employer's captain, but the opportunity was never improved. Mr. Lincoln frequently confessed that no subsequent success of his life had given him half the satisfaction that this election did.
He had achieved public recognition; and to one so humbly bred, the distinction was inexpressibly delightful.
LINCOLN APPLIES FOR A PATENT.
That he had enough mechanical genius to make him a good mechanic there is no doubt. With such rude tools as were at his command he had made cabins and flatboats; and after his mind had become absorbed in public and professional affairs, he often recurred to his mechanical dreams for amusement. One of his dreams took form, and he endeavored to make a practical matter of it. He had had experience in the early navigation of the Western rivers. One of the most serious hindrances to this navigation was low water, and the lodgment of the various craft on the shifting shoals and bars with which these rivers abound. He undertook to contrive an apparatus which, folded to the hull of the boat like a bellows, might be inflated on occasions, and, by its levity, lifted over any obstruction upon which it might rest. On this contrivance, illustrated by a model whittled out by himself, and now preserved in the Patent Office in Washington, he secured letters patent; but it is certain that the navigation of the Western rivers was not revolutionized by it.
LINCOLN THE TALLEST OF THE "LONG NINE."
The Sangamon County delegation to the Illinois Legislature, in 1834, of which Lincoln was a member, consisting of nine representatives, was so remarkable for the physical altitude of its members that they were
known as "The Long Nine." Not a member of the number was less than six feet high, and Lincoln was the tallest of the nine, as he was the leading man intellectually in and out the House.
Among those who composed the House were Gen. John A. McClernand, afterward a member of Congress; Jesse K. DeBois, afterwards Auditor of the State; James Semple, afterwards twice the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and subsequently United States Senator; Robert Smith, afterwards member of Congress; John Hogan, afterwards a member of Congress from St. Louis; Gen. James Shields, afterwards United States Senator (who died recently); John Dement, who has since been Treasurer of the State; Stephen A. Douglas, whose subsequent career is familiar to all; Newton Cloud, President of the Convention which framed the present State Constitution of Illinois; John J. Hardin, who fell at Buena Vista; John Moore, afterward Lieutenant-Governor of the State; William A. Richardson, subsequently United States Senator, and William McMurtry, who has since been Lieutenant-Governor of the State.
This list does not embrace all who had then, or who have since been distinguished, but it is large enough to show that Lincoln was, during the term of this Legislature, thrown into association and often into antagonism, with the brightest men of the new State.
LINCOLN'S ENTRANCE INTO PUBLIC LIFE.
In 1834, Lincoln was a candidate for the Legislature, and was elected by the highest vote cast for any candidate. Major John T. Stuart, an officer in the Black