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Engages in Politics.
Elected to the Legislature.
reminds me of my own. I was not at Stillman's defeat, but I was about as near it as Cass to Hull's surrender; and like him, I saw the place very soon afterward. It is quite certain I did not break my sword, for I had none to break; but I bent a musket pretty badly on one occasion. If Cass broke his sword, the idea is, he broke it in desperation; I bent the musket by accident. If General Cass went in advance of me in picking whortleberries, I guess I surpassed him in charges upon the wild onions. If he saw any live, fighting Indians, it was more than I did, but I had a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes; and although I never fainted from loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very hungry.
"Mr. Speaker, if I should ever conclude to doff whatever our Democratic friends may suppose there is of black-cockade Federalism about me, and, thereupon, they should take me up as their candidate for the Presidency, I protest they shall not make fun of me as they have of General Cass, by attempting to write me into a military hero."
This bit of adventure over, Mr. Lincoln-who had determined to become a lawyer, in common with most energetic, enterprising young men of that period and section-embarked in politics, warmly espousing the cause of Henry Clay, in a State at that time decidedly opposed to his great leader, and received a gratifying evidence of his personal popularity where he was best known, in securing an almost unanimous vote in his own precinct in Sangamon county as a candidate for representative in the State Legislature, although a little later in the same canvass General Jackson, the Democratic candidate for the Presidency, led his competitor, Clay, one hundred and fifty-five votes.
While pursuing his law studies, he engaged in land surveying as a means of support. In 1834, not yet having been admitted to the bar-a backwoodsman in manner, dress, and expression-tall, lank, and by no means prepossessing-he was first elected to the Legislature of his adopted State,
His views of Slavery in 1836.
Acquaintance with Douglas.
being the youngest member, with a single exception. During this session he rarely took the floor to speak, content to play the part of an observer rather than of an actor. It was at this period that he became acquainted with Stephen A. Douglas, then a recent immigrant from Vermont, in connection with whom he was destined to figure so prominently before the country.
In 1836, he was elected for a second term. During this session, he put upon record, together with one of his colleagues, his views relative to slavery, in the following protest, bearing date March 3d, 1837 :
"Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having passed both branches of the General Assembly, at its present session, the undersigned hereby protest against the passage of the same.
"They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy; but that the promulgation of abolition doctrines tends rather to increase than abate its evils.
"They believe that the Congress of the United States has no power, under the Constitution, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the different States.
"They believe that the Congress of the United States has the power, under the Constitution, to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia; but that the power ought not to be exercised, unless at the request of the people of said district."
In 1838 and 1840, he was again elected and received the vote of his party for the speakership. First elected at twenty-five, he had been continued so long as his inclination allowed, and until by his kind manners, his ability, and unquestioned integrity, he had won a position, when but a little past thirty, as the virtual leader of his party in Illinois. His reputation as a close and logical debater had been established; his native talent as an orator had been developed; his earnest zeal for his party had brought around him troops of friends;
while his acknowledged goodness of heart had knit many to him, who, upon purely political grounds, would have held themselves aloof.
Settles at Springfield.
While a member of the Legislature, he had devoted himself, as best he could-considering the necessity he was under of eking out a support for himself, and the demands made upon his time by his political associates-to mastering his chosen profession, and in 1836 was admitted to practice. Securing at once a good amount of business, he began to rise as a most effective jury advocate, who could readily perceive, and promptly avail himself of, the turning points of a case. A certain quaint humor, withal, which he was wont to employ in illustration-combined with his sterling, practical sense, going straight to the core of things-stamped him as an original. Disdaining the tricks of the mere rhetorician, he spoke from the heart to the heart, and was universally regarded by those with whom he came in contact as every inch a man, in the best and broadest sense of that term. His thoughts, his manner, his address were eminently his own. Affecting none of the cant of the demagogue, the people trusted him, revered him as one of the best, if not the best, among them. Their sympathies were his-their weal his desire, their interests a common stock with his own.
Having permanently located himself at Springfield, the seat of Sangamon county-which ever after he called his home-he devoted himself to the practice of his profession, and on the 4th of November, 1842, married Mary Todd, daughter of the Hon. Robert S. Todd, of Lexington, Kentucky, a lady of accomplished manners and refined social tastes.
Although he had determined to retire from the political arena and taste the sweets which a life with one's own family can alone secure, his earnest wishes were at length overruled by the as earnest demands of that party with the success of which he firmly believed his country's best interests iden
Elected to Congress.
A Whig throughout.
tified, and in 1844 he thoroughly canvassed his State in behalf of Clay-afterward passing into Indiana, and daily addressing immense gatherings until the day of election. Over the defeat of the great Kentuckian he sorrowed as one almost without hope; feeling it, indeed, far more keenly than his generous nature would have done, had it been a merely personal discomfiture.
Two years later, in 1846, Mr. Lincoln was persuaded to accept the Whig nomination for Congress in the Sangamon district, and was elected by an unprecedently large majority. Texas had meanwhile been annexed; the Mexican war was in progress; the Tariff of 1842 had been repealed.
With the opening of the Thirtieth Congress-December 6th, 1847-Mr. Lincoln took his seat in the lower house of Congress, Stephen A. Douglas also appearing for the first time as a member of the Senate.
IN CONGRESS AND ON THE STUMP.
The Mexican War-Internal Improvements-Slavery in the District of Columbia-Public Lands-Retires to Private Life - Kansas-Nebraska Bill-Withdraws in favor of Senator Trumbull-Formation of Republican Party-Nominated for U. S. SenatorOpening Speech of Mr. Lincoln-Douglas Campaign-The Canvass-Tribute to the Declaration of Independence-Result of the Contest.
MR. LINCOLN was early recognized as one of the foremost of the Western men upon the floor of the House. His Congressional record is that of a Whig of those days. Believing that Mr. Polk's administration had mismanaged affairs with Mexico at the outset, he, in common with others of his party, was unwilling, while voting supplies and favoring suitable rewards for our gallant soldiers, to be forced into an unqualified indorsement of the war with that country from its beginning to its close.
Resolutions of Inquiry.
Slavery in the District of Columbia.
Accordingly, December 22d, 1847, he introduced a series of resolutions of inquiry concerning the origin of the war, calling for definite official information, which were laid over under the rule, and never acted upon. Upon a test question on abandoning the war, without any material result accomplished, he voted with the minority in favor of laying that resolution upon the table.
In all questions bearing upon the matter of internal improvements, he took an active interest. He took manly ground in favor of the unrestricted right of petition, and favored a liberal policy toward the people in disposing of the public lands. He exerted himself during the canvass of 1848, to secure the election of General Taylor, delivering several effective campaign speeches in New England and the West.
At the second session of the Thirtieth Congress, he voted in favor of laying upon the table a resolution instructing the Committee on the District of Columbia to report a bill prohibiting the slave-trade in the District, and subsequently read a substitute which he favored. This substitute contained the
form of a bill enacting that no person not already within the District, should be held in slavery therein, and providing for the gradual emancipation of the slaves already within the District, with compensation to the owners, if a majority of the legal voters of the District should assent to the act, at an election to be holden for the purpose. It made an exception of the right of citizens of the slave-holding States coming to the District on public business, to be attended into and out of said District, and while there, by the necessary servants of themselves and their families."
In regard to the grant of public lands to the new States, to aid in the construction of railways and canals, he favored the interests of his own constituents, under such restrictions as the proper scope of these grants required.
Having declined to be a candidate for re-election, he retired