ture his employers were so well pleased, that upon
his return they placed a store and mill under his
In 1832, at the outbreak of the
Black Hawk war, he enlisted and was chosen captain of
a company. He returned to Sangamon County, and
although only 23 years of age, was a candidate for the
Legislature, but was defeated. He soon after received
from Andrew Jackson the appointment of Postmaster of
New Salem. His only post-office was his hat. All the
letters he received he carried there ready to deliver
to those he chanced to meet. He studied surveying, and
soon made this his business. In 1834 he again became a
candidate for the Legislature, and was elected. Mr.
Stuart, of Springfield, advised him to study law. He
walked from New Salem to Springfield, borrowed of Mr.
Stuart a load of books, carried them back and began
his legal studies. When the Legislature assembled he
trudged on foot with his pack on his back one hundred
miles to Vandalia, then the capital. In 1836 he was
re-elected to the Legislature. Here it was he first
met Stephen A. Douglas. In 1839 he removed to
Springfield and began the practice of law. His success
with the jury was so great that he was soon engaged in
almost every noted case in the circuit.
In 1854 the great discussion began
between Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas, on the slavery
question. In the organization of the Republican party
in Illinois, in 1856, he took an active part, and at
once became one of the leaders in that party. Mr.
Lincoln's speeches in opposition to Senator Douglas in
the contest in 1858 for a seat in the Senate, form a
most notable part of his history. The issue was on the
slavery question, and he took the broad ground of the
Declaration of Independence, that all men are created
equal. Mr. Lincoln was defeated in this contest, but
won a far higher prize.
The great Republican Convention met
at Chicago on the 16th of June, 1860. The delegates
and strangers who crowded the city amounted to
twenty-five thousand. An immense building called "The
Wigwam," was reared to accommodate the Convention.
There were eleven candidates for whom votes were
thrown. William H. Seward, a man whose fame as a
statesman had long filled the land, was the most
prominent. It was generally supposed he would be the
nominee. Abraham Lincoln, however, received the
nomination on the third ballot. Little did he then
dream of the weary years of toil and care, and the
bloody death, to which that nomination doomed him: and
as little did he dream that he was to render services
to his country, which would fix upon him the eyes of
the whole civilized world, and which would give him a
place in the affections of his countrymen, second
only, if second, to that of Washington.
Election day came and Mr. Lincoln
received 180 electoral votes out of 203 cast, and was,
therefore, constitutionally elected President of the
United States. The tirade of abuse that was poured
upon this good and merciful man, especially by the
slaveholders, was greater than upon any other man ever
elected to this high position. In February, 1861, Mr.
Lincoln started for Washington, stopping in all the
large cities on his way making speeches. The whole
journey was frought with much danger. Many of the
Southern States had already seceded, and several
attempts at assassination were afterwards brought to
light. A gang in Baltimore had arranged, upon his
arrival to "get up a row," and in the confusion to
make sure of his death with revolvers and
hand-grenades. A detective unravelled (sic) the plot.
A secret and special train was provided to take him
from Harrisburg, through Baltimore, at an unexpected
hour of the night. The train started at half-past ten;
and to prevent any possible communication on the part
of the Secessionists with their Confederate gang in
Baltimore, as soon as the train had started the
telegraph-wires were cut. Mr. Lincoln reached
Washington in safety and was inaugurated, although
great anxiety was felt by all loyal people.
In the selection of his cabinet Mr.
Lincoln gave to Mr. Seward the Department of State,
and to other prominent opponents before the convention
he gave important positions.
During no other administration have
the duties devolving upon the President been so
manifold, and the responsibilities so great, as those
which fell to the lot of President Lincoln. Knowing
this, and feeling his own weakness and inability to
meet, and in his own strength to cope with, the
difficulties, he learned early to seek Divine wisdom
and guidance in determining his plans, and Divine
comfort in all his trials, both personal and national.
Contrary to his own estimate of himself, Mr. Lincoln
was one of the most courageous of men. He went
directly into the rebel capital just as the retreating
foe was leaving, with no guard but a few sailors. From
the time he had left Springfield, 1861, however, plans
had been made for his assassination, and he at last
fell a victim to one of them. April 14, 1865. He, with
Gen. Grant, was urgently invited to attend Fords'
Theater. It was announced that they would be present.
Gen. Grant, however, left the city. President Lincoln,
feeling, with his characteristic kindliness of heart,
that it would be a disappointment if he should fail
them, very reluctantly consented to go. While
listening to the play an actor by the name of John
Wilkes Booth entered the box where the President and
family were seated, and fired a bullet into his
brains. He died the next morning at seven o'clock.
Never before, in the history of the
world was a nation plunged into such deep grief by the
death of its ruler. Strong men met in the streets and
wept in speechless anguish. It is not too much to say
that a nation was in tears. His was a life which will
fitly become a model. His name as the savior of his
country will live with that of Washington's, its
father; his countrymen being unable to decide which is