« PreviousContinue »
go where they could take their slaves with them or could buy them as they liked. Years before Illinois had passed an act hiring slaves from Southern states because it said the people could not operate their mills without them; yet all the while they were treating shamefully the free colored people who came into the State.
Thus, in March, 1837, Abraham Lincoln in the Legislature which had just passed such a vote stood up all the height of his six feet and four inches and declared that "the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy"-it would have been hard to find two more rotten pegs to stand anything upon!
But of the five men who voted with him, only one would sign this protest, and he was not going to stand for another election so he did not fear for his office.
It was Lincoln's belief that God guided men's lives. And as Lincoln did the thing he knew to be right and left the result with God, he has made it plain to us that in such a life God does guide.
SETTLED IN SPRINGFIELD.
The Sangamon County delegation to the Legislature was called "The Long Nine" because all the members were so tall; it was said that, put together, they would have been fifty-five feet! Lincoln with his six feet four inches was the tallest of any. They were very good friends; the Dan Stone who with Lincoln signed the Lincoln-Stone protest was one of them. After the session was over the nine were dined and made much of in Springfield because they had worked to have this city made the capital, and especially was Lincoln praised since he had led in this enterprise.
In March, 1837, just as his term as representative was over, Lincoln was admitted to the bar in Illinois. From the advice of his friends and by his own wish also he decided to begin the practice of law in Springfield and he made this city his home. He had no money. One of his
most intimate friends, Mr. Joshua Speed, tells the story of the young man coming into town on a borrowed horse with a few law books and a few pieces of clothing in a pair of saddle-bags, all he owned. He made inquiries as to the cost of a little furniture in a room and found it more than he could pay. Speed told him that he had a very large room and a large double bed and Lincoln would be welcome to share it with him. "Where is your room?" asked Lincoln. Speed told him it was upstairs. The other took his saddle-bags, went upstairs and set them down on the floor, then came down in smiles and cried: "Well, Speed, I'm moved!"
To a person familiar with other cities Springfield would have seemed uncouth enough. But it had never been really a pioneer town. A number of well-to-do Kentucky families had come there, besides settlers of a more polished type than usual with the genuine Western pioneer in those days. Lincoln wrote about it as a place where there was "a good deal of flourishing about in carriages." We find a reference to the goods advertised in the newspaper of Springfield at that time showing how much attention was paid to dress. "Cloths, cassimeres, silk, satin, velvet, Marseilles vestings, fine calf boots, seal and morocco pumps, for gentlemen; and for ladies, silks, barêges,
crêpe lisse, lace veils, thread lace, lace handkerchiefs, fine prunella shoes, &c." A few years before this there had been a gradual change in the dress of the people of Illinois. Leather and linsey woolsey, hunting knife and tomahawk had disappeared from men's dress; and these wore leather boots and shoes instead of moccasins; they did not tie leather breeches around their ankles, but wore pantaloons in place of them. Women no longer went barefoot, and instead of homespun frocks wore gowns of calico and, sometimes, silk ones; they did not any more tie up their heads in hideous red cotton turbans, but put on pretty bonnets. The old pioneers shook their heads and declared that bad things would come to a country where the young people did not believe in things that were "good enough for their fathers." But the new clothes looked much better than the old garments that the pioneers wore, because they could not get any better, and not because they loved them.
Springfield was between the woods on the north and the prairie lands on the south. The soil was so rich that the mud in the streets was perfectly black and in the spring there seemed to be no bottom to it. There were no pavements or sidewalks; large chunks of wood were laid down to make crossings, and these were not likely to be
either very even or very steady. The houses were chiefly built of wood and built in blocks. A large square had been left in the middle of the town because people thought that they would want this when Springfield grew to be a great city, and when Lincoln came to Springfield they were clearing the ground there for the new State House. The offices of the county court were in one of the largest houses looking on this square, and the other rooms in the building were let for lawyers' offices. Major Stuart, whom Lincoln had known in the Black Hawk war and who had lent the young man law books, now offered Lincoln a partnership with him; and one of the offices in that building was that of "Stuart and Lincoln." The furniture of this room was a small lounge or bed, a chair with a buffalo robe in it in which Lincoln used to sit and study, a hard, wooden bench, a rough bookcase and a table that also served as a desk.
At this time Judge Logan, afterward Lincoln's law partner, was judge of the circuit court and Stephen A. Douglas with whom the future President had in coming years such debates that the whole nation echoed to his trenchant arguments against the slave power and marveled at his clear exposition of its treacheries-Douglas was then prosecuting attorney.
The method of practicing law in those days