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in its own conceit, and was not slow to launch out with the first of a series of magnificent experiments. It contented itself, however, with chartering a State bank, with a capital of one million five hundred thousand dollars ; rechartering, with a capital of three hundred thousand dollars, the Shawneetown Bank, which had broken twelve years before; and providing for a loan of five hundred thousand dollars, on the credit of the State, wherewith to make a beginning on the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The bill for the latter project was drawn and introduced by Senator James M. Strode, the gentleman who described with such moving eloquence the horrors of Stillman's defeat. These measures Gov. Ford considers “the beginning of all the bad legislation which followed in a few years, and which, as is well known, resulted in general ruin.” Mr. Lincoln favored them all, and faithfully followed out the policy of which they were the inauguration at subsequent sessions of the same body. For the present, nevertheless, he was a silent member, although he was assigned a prominent place on the Committee on Public Accounts and Expenditures. The bank-charters were drawn by a Democrat who hoped to find his account in the issue; all the bills were passed by a Legislature “nominally” Democratic; but the Board of Canal Commissioners was composed exclusively of Whigs, and the Whigs straightway assumed control of the banks.
It was at a special session of this Legislature that Lincoln first saw Stephen A. Douglas, and, viewing his active little person with immense amusement, pronounced him “the least man he ever saw.” Douglas had come into the State (from Vermont) only the previous year, but, having studied law for several months, considered himself eminently qualified to be State's attorney for the district in which he lived, and was now come to Vandalia for that purpose. The place was already filled by a man of considerable distinction; but the incumbent remaining at home, possibly in blissful ignorance of his neighbor's design, was easily supplanted by the supple Vermonter.
It is the misfortune of legislatures in general, as it was in those days the peculiar misfortune of the Legislature of Illinois, to be beset by a multitude of gentlemen engaged in the exclusive business of “log-rolling.” Chief among the “rollers” were some of the most “ distinguished” members, each assisted by an influential delegation from the district, bank, or “ institution” to be benefited by the legislation proposed. An expert “log-roller,” an especially wily and persuasive person, who could depict the merits of his scheme with roseate but delusive eloquence, was said to carry “a gourd of 'possum fat," and the unhappy victim of his art was said to be “greased and swallowed.”
It is not to be supposed that anybody ever succeeded in anointing a single square inch of Mr. Lincoln's person with the “fat” that deluded; but historians aver that “the Long Nine,” of whom he was the longest and cleverest, possessed “gourds " of extraordinary dimensions, and distributed "grease” of marvellous virtues. But of that at another place.
In 1836 Mr. Lincoln was again a candidate for the Legislature; his colleagues on the Whig ticket in Sangamon being, for Representatives, John Dawson, William F. Elkin, N. W. Edwards, Andrew McCormick, Dan Stone, and R. L. Wilson; and for Senators, A. G. Herndon and Job Fletcher. They were all elected but one, and he was beaten by John Calhoun.
Mr. Lincoln opened the campaign by the following manifesto:
NEW SALEM, June 13, 1836. TO THE EDITOR OF “ THE JOURNAL."
In your paper of last Saturday, I see a communication over the signature of “Many Voters, in which the candidates who are announced in the “Journal” are called upon to "show their hands.” Agreed. Here's mine.
I go for all sharing the privileges of the government who assist in bearing its burdens. Consequently, I go for admitting all whites to the right of suffrage who pay taxes or bear arms (by no means excluding females).
If elected, I shall consider the whole people of Sangamon my constituents, as well those that oppose as those that support me.
While acting as their Representative, I shall be governed by their will on all subjects upon which I have the means of knowing what their will is; and upon all others I shall do what my own judgment teaches me will best advance their interests. Whether elected or not, I go for distributing the proceeds of the sales of the public lands to the several States, to enable our State, in common with others, to dig canals and construct railroads without borrowing money and paying the interest on it.
If alive on the first Monday in November, I shall vote for Hugh L. White for President.
The elections were held on the first Monday in August, and the campaign began about six weeks or two months before. Popular meetings were advertised in “The Sangamon Journal” and “The State Register," -organs of the respective parties. Not unfrequently the meetings were joint, --- composed of both parties, -- when, as Lincoln would say, the candidates “put in their best licks," while the audience * rose to the height of the great argument" with cheers, taunts, cat-calls, fights, and other exercises appropriate to the free and untrammelled enjoyment of the freeman's boon.
The candidates travelled from one grove to another on horseback; and, when the “Long Nine” (all over six feet in height) took the road, it must have been a goodly sight to see.
" I heard Lincoln make a speech,” says James Gourly, “in Mechanicsburg, Sangamon County, in 1836. John Neal had a fight at the time: the roughs got on him, and Lincoln jumped in and saw fair play. We staid for dinner at Green's, close to Mechanicsburg,-drank whiskey sweetened with honey. There the questions discussed were internal improvements, Whig principles.” (Gourly was a great friend of Lincoln's, for Gourly had had a foot-race “ with H. B. Truett, now of California," and Lincoln had been his “judge;" and it was a remarkable circumstance, that nearly everybody for whom Lincoln “judged” came out ahead.)
" I heard Mr. Lincoln during the same canvass,” continues Gourly. “It was at the Court House, where the State House now stands. The Whigs and Democrats had a general quarrel then and there. N. W. Edwards drew a pistol on Achilles Morris.” But Gourly's account of this last scene is
unsatisfactory, although the witness is willing; and we turn to Lincoln's colleague, Mr. Wilson, for a better one. Saturday evening preceding the election the candidates were addressing the people in the Court House at Springfield. Dr. Early, one of the candidates on the Democratic side, made some charge that N. W. Edwards, one of the candidates on the Whig side, deemed untrue. Edwards climbed on a table, so as to be seen by Early, and by every one in the house, and at the top of his voice told Early that the charge was false. The excitement that followed was intense, --so much so, that fighting men thought that a duel must settle the difficulty. Mr. Lincoln, by the programme, followed Early. He took up the subject in dispute, and handled it fairly, and with such ability that every one was astonished and pleased. So that difficulty ended there. Then, for the first time, developed by the excitement of the occasion, he spoke in that tenor intonation of voice that ultimately settled down into that clear, shrill monotone style of speaking that enabled his audience, however large, to hear distinctly the lowest sound of his voice."
It was during this campaign, possibly at the same meeting, that Mr. Speed heard him reply to George Forquer. Forquer had been a leading Whig, one of their foremost men in the Legislature of 1834, but had then recently changed sides, and thereupon was appointed Register of the Land Office at Springfield. Mr. Forquer was an astonishing man: he not only astonished the people by. “changing his coat in politics,” but by building the best frame-house in Springfield, and erecting over it the only lightning-rod the entire region could boast of. At this meeting he listened attentively to Mr. Lincoln's first speech, and was much annoyed by the transcendent power with which the awkward young man defended the principles he had himself so lately abandoned. “ The speech” produced a profound impression, “especially upon a large number of Lincoln's friends and admirers, who had come in from the country" expressly to hear and applaud him.
“At the conclusion of Lincoln's speech" (we quote from Mr. Speed), “ the crowd was dispersing, when Forquer rose and asked to be heard. He commenced by saying that the young man would have to be taken down, and was sorry that the task devolved upon him. He then proceeded to answer Lincoln's speech in a style, which, while it was able and fair, yet, in his whole manner, asserted and claimed superiority. Lincoln stood near him, and watched him during the whole of his speech. When Forquer concluded, he took the stand again. I have often heard him since, in court and before the people, but never saw him appear so well as upon that occasion. He replied to Mr. Forquer with great dignity and force; but I shall never forget the conclusion of that speech. Turning to Mr. Forquer, he said, that he had commenced his speech by announcing that 'this young man would have to be taken down.' Turning then to the crowd, he said, “It is for you, not for me, to say whether I am up or down. The gentleman has alluded to my being a young man: I am older in years than I am in the tricks and trades of politicians. I desire to live, and I desire place and distinction as a politician; but I would rather die now, than, like the gentleman, live to see the day that I would have to erect a lightning-rod to protect a guilty conscience from an offended God.'
He afterwards told Speed that the sight of that same rod “ had led him to the study of the properties of electricity and the utility of the rod as a conductor.”
Among the Democratic orators stumping the county at this time was Dick Taylor, a pompous gentleman, who went abroad in superb attire, ruffled shirts, rich vest, and immense watchchains, with shining and splendid pendants. But Dick was a severe Democrat in theory, made much of “the hard-handed yeomanry,” and flung many biting sarcasms upon the aristocratic pretensions of the Whigs, — the “rag barons” and the manufacturing “lords.” He was one day in the midst of a particularly aggravating declamation of this sort, “ when Abe began to feel devilish, and thought he would take the wind out