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himself in direct opposition to Douglas by another protest. The Democrats, in order to enable the aliens-virtually the Irishmen in their state to vote on six months' residence, passed a Bill known as the Douglas Bill, remodelling the judiciary in such a way as to secure judges who would aid them. Against this, Lincoln, E. D. Baker, and others protested vigorously, but without avail. Both of these protests, though failures at the time, were in reality the beginnings of the two great principles which led to Lincoln's great success, and the realisation of his utmost ambition. During his life, defeat was always a step to victory.
Lincoln settles at Springfield as a Lawyer-Candidate for the Office of Presidential Elector-A Love Affair-Marries Miss Todd-Religious Views-Exerts himself for Henry Clay-Elected to Congress in 1846Speeches in Congress-Out of Political Employment until 1854-Anecdotes of Lincoln as a Lawyer.
LINCOLN'S career was
now clear. He was to follow the law for a living, as a step to political eminence. And as the seat of State Government was henceforth to be at Springfield, he determined to live where both law and politics might be followed to the greatest advantage, since it was in Springfield that, in addition to the State Courts, the Circuit and District Courts of the United States sat. He obtained his license as an attorney in 1837, and commenced his practice in the March of that year. He entered into partnership with his friend, J. T. Stewart, and lived with the Hon. W. Butler, who was of great assistance to him in the simple matter of living, for he was at this time as poor as ever. During 1837, he delivered several addresses, in which there was a strong basis of common sense, though they were fervid and figurative to extravagance, as suited the tastes of his hearers. In these speeches he predicted the great struggle on which
the country was about to enter, and that it would never be settled by passion but by reason-" cold, calculating, unimpassioned reasoning, which must furnish all the materials for our future defence and support." He also distinguished himself in debate and retort, so that ere long he became unrivalled, in his sphere, in ready eloquence. From this time, for twenty years, he followed his great political rival, Douglas, seeking every opportunity to contend with him. From 1837 he concerned himself little with the politics of his state, but entered with zeal into the higher interests of the Federal Union.
In 1840, Lincoln was a candidate for the office of Presidential elector on the Harrison ticket, and made speeches through a great part of Illinois. Soon after, he again became involved in a love affair, which, through its perplexities and the revival of the memory of his early disappointment, had a terrible effect upon his mind. He had become intimate with a Mr. Speed, who remained through life his best friend. For a year he was almost a lunatic, and was taken to Kentucky by Mr. Speed, and kept there until he recovered. It was for this reason that he did not attend the Legislature of 1841-42. It is very characteristic of Lincoln that, from boyhood, he never wanted true friends to aid him in all his troubles.
Soon after his recovery, Lincoln became engaged
to Miss Mary Todd. This lady was supposed to be gifted as a witty and satirical writer, though it must be admitted that the specimens of her literary capacity, exhibited in certain anonymous contributions to the newspapers, show little talent beyond the art of irritation. Several of these were levelled at a politician named James Shields, an Irishman, who, being told that Lincoln had written them, sent him a challenge. The challenge was accepted, but the duel was prevented by mutual friends. Lincoln married Miss Todd on the 4th November, 1842. This marriage, which had not been preceded by the most favourable omens, was followed by a singular misfortune. In 1843, Lincoln was a Whig candidate for Congress, but was defeated. "He had a hard time of it, and was compelled to meet accusations of a strange character. Among other things, he was charged with being an aristocrat, and with having deserted his old friends, the people, by marrying a proud woman on account of her blood and family. This hurt him keenly," says Lamon, "and he took great pains to disprove it." Other accusations, equally frivolous, relative to his supposed religion or irreligion," also contributed to his defeat.
On this much-vexed subject of Lincoln's religious faith, or his want of it, something may here be said. In his boyhood, when religious associations are most valuable in disciplining the mind, he had never even
seen a church, and, as he grew older, his sense of humour and his rude companions prevented him from being seriously impressed by the fervid but often eccentric oratory of the few itinerant preachers who found their way into the backwoods. At New Salem, he had read "Volney's Ruins" and the works of Thomas Paine, and was for some time a would-be unbeliever. It is easy to trace in his youthful irreligion the influence of irresistible causes. As he grew older, his intensely melancholy and emotional temperament inclined him towards reliance in an unseen Providence and belief in a future state; and it is certain that, after the unpopularity of freethinkers had forced itself upon his mind, the most fervidly passionate expressions of piety began to abound in his speeches. In this he was not, however, hypocritical. From his childhood, Abraham Lincoln was possessed even to unreason with the idea that whatever was absolutely popular, was founded on reason and right. He was a Republican of Republicans, faithfully believing that whatever average common sense accepted must be followed.1 His own personal popularity was at all times very great.
"He believed that a
1 His biographies abound in proof of this. man, in order to effect anything, should work through organisations of men.”—Holland, p. 92. It is very difficult for any one not brought up in the United States to realise the degree to which this idea can influence men, and determine their whole moral nature.