Chapter IX. In the Legislature
When Abraham Lincoln came back to New Salem
it was nearly time for the
state election. The people of the town and neighborhood wanted
him to the legislature, and he agreed to be a candidate.
It was at Pappsville, twelve miles from Springfield, that
he made his
first campaign speech.
He said, "Gentlemen and fellow-citizens -
"I presume you all know who
"I am humble Abraham Lincoln.
I have been solicited by my friends to
become a candidate for the legislature.
"My politics are short and sweet.
"I am in favor of a national
bank - am in favor of the internal
improvement system, and a high protective tariff.
"These are my sentiments and
political principles. If elected, I shall
be thankful - if not, it will be all the same."
He was a tall, gawky, rough-looking fellow. He was dressed
in a coarse
suit of homespun, much the worse for wear.
A few days after that, he made a longer and better speech
But he was not elected.
About this time a worthless fellow, whose name was Berry,
Lincoln to help him buy a store in New Salem. Mr. Lincoln had
but he gave his notes for the value of half the goods.
The venture was not a profitable one. In a few months the
sold - but Abraham did not receive a dollar for it. It was six
before he was able to pay off the notes which he had given.
During all this time Mr. Lincoln did not
give up the idea of being a
lawyer. He bought a second-hand copy of Blackstone's Commentaries
at auction. He studied it so diligently that in a few weeks
he had mastered
the whole of it.
He bought an old form book, and began to
draw up contracts, deeds, and
all kinds of legal papers.
He would often walk to Springfield, fourteen miles away, to
book - and he would master thirty or forty pages of it while
Soon he began to practice in a small way before justices of
and country juries. He was appointed postmaster at New Salem,
little mail came to the place that the office was soon discontinued.
He was nearly twenty-five years old. But, with all his industry,
could hardly earn money enough to pay for his board and clothing.
He had learned a little about surveying while living in Indiana.
took up the study again, and was soon appointed deputy surveyor
He was very skilful as a surveyor. Although his chain was
grapevine, he was very accurate and never made mistakes.
The next year he was again a candidate for the legislature.
the people were ready to vote for him, and he was elected.
It was no
small thing for so young a man to be chosen to help make the
laws of his
No man ever had fewer advantages than Abraham Lincoln. As
a boy, he was
the poorest of the poor. No rich friend held out a helping
hand. But see
what he had already accomplished by pluck, perseverance, and
He had not had access to many books, but he knew books better
men of his age. He knew the Bible by heart - he was familiar
Shakespeare - he could repeat nearly all the poems of Burns -
much about physics and mechanics - he had mastered the elements
He was very awkward and far from handsome, but he was so modest,
unselfish and kind, that every one who knew him liked him.
He was a true
gentleman - a gentleman at heart, if not in outside polish.
And so, as I have already said, Abraham Lincoln, at the age
twenty-five, was elected to the state legislature. He served
so well that when his term closed, two years later, they sent
for another term.
The capital of Illinois had, up to this time, been at Vandalia.
Lincoln and his friends now succeeded in having a law passed
it to Springfield. Springfield was nearer to the centre of
the state - it
was more convenient to everybody, and had other advantages
Vandalia did not have.
The people of Springfield were so delighted that they urged
to come there and practice law. An older lawyer, whose name
was John T.
Stuart, and who had a good practice, offered to take him in
And so, in 1837, Abraham Lincoln left New Salem and removed
Springfield. He did not have much to move. All the goods that
he had in
the world were a few clothes, which he carried in a pair of
and two or three law books. He had no money, and he rode into
Springfield on a borrowed horse.
He was then twenty-eight years old.
From that time on, Springfield was his home.