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Lincoln during his brief military campaign. All his soldiers voted for him, and worked for his election wherever they had influence. But he was defeated on the general vote, and immediately looked about to find what there was for him to do.
It is interesting to recall the fact that at this time he 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" prerogatives by irregularly breaking in 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, looking around, 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 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 his 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 had paid for Berry-he, Lincoln, being legally bound to pay the liabilities of his partner.
About this time Mr. Lincoln was appointed postmaster by President Jackson. The office was too insignificant to be considered politically, and it was given to the young man because everybody liked him, and because he was the only man willing to take it who could make out the returns. He was exceedingly pleased with the appointment, because it gave him a chance to read every newspaper that was taken in the vicinity. He had never been able to get half the newspapers he wanted before, and the office gave him the prospect of a constant feast. Not wishing to be tied to the office, as it yielded him no revenue that would reward him for the confinement, he made a post-office of his hat. Whenever he went out, the letters were placed in his hat. When an anxious looker for a letter found the postmaster, he had found his office; and the public officer, taking off his hat, looked over his mail wherever the public might find him. He kept the office until it was discontinued, or removed to Petersburgh.
One of the most beautiful exhibitions of Mr. Lincoln's rigid honesty occurred in connection with the settlement of his accounts with the post-office department, several years afterwards. It was after he had become a lawyer, and had been a legislator. He had passed through a period of great poverty, had acquired his education in the law in the midst of many perplexities, inconveniences and hardships, and had met with temptations, such as few men could resist, to make a temporary use of any money he might have in his hands. One day, seated in the law office of his partner, the agent of the postoffice department entered, and inquired if Abraham Lincoln
was within. Mr. Lincoln responded to his name, and was informed that the agent had called to collect a balance due the department since the discontinuance of the New Salem office. A shade of perplexity passed over Mr. Lincoln's face, which did not escape the notice of friends who were present. One of them said at once: "Lincoln, if you are in want of money, let us help you." He made no reply, but suddenly rose, and pulled out from a pile of books a little old trunk, and, returning to the table, asked the agent how much the amount of his debt was. The sum was named, and then Mr. Lincoln opened the trunk, pulled out a little package of coin wrapped in a cotton rag, and counted out the exact sum, amounting to something more than seventeen dollars. After the agent had left the room, he remarked quietly that he never used any man's money but his own. Although this sum had been in his hands during all these years, he had never regarded it as available, even for any temporary purpose of his own.
The store having "winked out," to use his own expression, he was ready for something else, and it came from an unexpected quarter. John Calhoun, a resident of Springfield, and since notorious as President of the Lecompton Constitutional Convention, in Kansas, was the surveyor of Sangamon County. The constant influx of immigrants made his office a busy one, and, looking around for assistance, he fixed upon Lincoln, and deputed to him all his work in the immediate vicinity of New Salem. Lincoln had not the slightest knowledge of surveying, and but the slenderest acquaintance with the science upon which it was based. He would be obliged to fit himself for his work in the shortest possible time, and he did. Mr. Calhoun lent him a copy of Flint and Gibson, and after a brief period of study, he procured a compass and chain (the old settlers say that his first chain was a grape-vine,) and went at his work. The work procured bread, and, what seemed quite as essential to him, books; for during all these months he was a close student, and a constant reader. Mr. Lincoln surveyed the present town of Petersburgh, and much of the adjacent territory. He pursued this business steadily
for a year or more, and with such success that the accuracy of his surveys has never been called in question. One interruption must have occurred in his work, though it was brief. His compass and chain were attached and sold to pay a debt of Berry's, for which he was surety, but they were bought by a man named James Short, who immediately gave them back to him.
HITHERTO the life of our subject has run in a single stream. His history thus far has related to his private career—to his birth, education, growth of mind and character, and personal struggles. Before entering upon that period of his life through which we are to trace a double current, a private and a public one, it will be proper to inquire what kind of a man he had become.
No man ever lived, probably, who was more a self-made man than Abraham Lincoln. Not a circumstance of his life favored the development which he had reached. He was self-moved to study under the most discouraging conditions. He had few teachers, few books, and no intellectual companions. His father could neither read nor write. His mother died when he was a child. He had none of those personal attractions which would naturally enlist the sympathies and assistance of any refined men and women with whom he must occasionally have come in contact. He was miserably poor, and was compelled to labor among poor people to win his daily bread. There was not an influence around him except that left upon him by his "angel mother," which did not tend rather to drag him down than lift him up. He was not endowed with a hopeful temperament. He had no force of selfesteem-no faith in himself that buoyed him up amid the contempt of the proud and prosperous. He was altogether a humble man-humble in condition, and humble in spirit. Yet, by the love of that which was good and great and true,