Chapter VII. The First Years in Illinois
Early in the spring of 1830, Thomas Lincoln
sold his farm in Indiana,
and the whole family moved to Illinois. The household goods
were put in
a wagon drawn by four yoke of oxen. The kind stepmother and
daughters rode also in the wagon.
Abraham Lincoln, with a long whip in his hand, trudged through
by the side of the road and guided the oxen. Who that saw him
into Illinois would have dreamed that he would in time become
state's greatest citizen?
The journey was a long and hard one - but in two weeks they
Decatur, where they had decided to make their new home.
Abraham Lincoln was now over twenty-one years old. He was
his own man.
But he stayed with his father that spring. He helped him fence
his land -
he helped him plant his corn.
But his father had no money to give him. The young man's clothing
all worn out, and he had nothing with which to buy any more.
Three miles from his father's cabin there lived a thrifty
name was Nancy Miller. Mrs. Miller owned a flock of sheep,
and in her
house there were a spinning wheel and a loom that were always
so you must know that she wove a great deal of jeans and homemade
Abraham Lincoln bargained with this woman to make him a pair
trousers. He agreed that for each yard of cloth required, he
for her four hundred rails.
He had to split fourteen hundred rails in all - but he worked
that he had finished them before the trousers were ready.
The next April saw young Lincoln piloting another flatboat
Mississippi to New Orleans. His companion this time was his
relative, John Hanks. This time he stayed longer in New Orleans,
saw some things which he had barely noticed on his first trip.
He saw gangs of slaves being driven through the streets. He
slave-market, and saw women and girls sold to the highest bidder
The young man, who would not be unkind to any living being,
by these sights. "His heart bled - he was mad, thoughtful,
He said to John Hanks, "If I
ever get a chance to hit that institution,
I'll hit it hard, John."
He came back from New Orleans in July. Mr. Offut, the owner
flatboat which he had taken down, then employed him to act
as clerk in a
country store which he had at New Salem.
New Salem was a little town not far from Springfield.
Young Lincoln was a good salesman, and all the customers liked
Offut declared that the young man knew more than anyone else
United States, and that he could outrun and outwrestle any
man in the
But in the spring of the next year Mr. Offut failed. The store
closed, and Abraham Lincoln was out of employment again.