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When he went to live in Springfield, he was often at the house of one of his intimate friends, Mr. Ninian Edwards. There he met constantly Mrs. Edwards' sister, Miss Mary Todd of Kentucky. His friends and hers told him that he had better marry Miss Todd; and at one time he was engaged to her. Then he began to question whether he loved her enough to marry her; for no one could be to him like Anne Rutledge, and he must give Miss Todd a real affection, for he had too much reverence for her not to do this. The young man was full of honor and noble feeling; he was as eager to do right here as in any public question that could come to himeven more eager. He went into Kentucky for a time and staid with his friend, Mr. Speed, and rested from all work-and, no doubt, he needed the rest-then he returned to Springfield. He knew now what he ought to do. Miss Todd loved him. In November, 1842, they were married.
There is an amusing story of a duel that Lincoln was forced to fight the summer before his marriage. It happened in this way. Miss Todd was a very bright young woman and could write articles making fun of persons and arousing their anger. There was some public question in which she was interested and she and another young woman, a friend of hers, wrote
some witty and cutting articles in the paper about a certain Mr. Shields, afterwards General Shields. He resented them and demanded from the paper the name of the author. The editor would not give the name of the ladies and asked Lincoln what he should do. Lincoln told him: "Give my name." It has been suggested that he did really give Miss Todd and her friends some "points" for the articles. So, Shields challenged Lincoln; and Lincoln could not get out of it without disgrace. But he did not want to hurt Shields and he had no wish to be killed himself; so, as he had the choice of weapons, being the person challenged, he chose “cavalry broadswords of the largest size"; and the two were "to stand on each side of a board placed on the ground, each to fight within limit of six feet on his own side of the board." Lincoln was ashamed of the whole thing; Shields was delighted with it. But just at the last minute friends reconciled the two.
When Lincoln and Miss Todd were married they went at first to board at the Globe Tavern in Springfield where they paid what was then a good price-four dollars a week. Lincoln was out of debt at last; but he was still poor and he never made money as so many men with his opportunities would have done.
After a time, however, he had his own house
in Springfield. He spent the money his practice gave him in educating his children and in living plainly, yet liberally. People who knew him speak of "the old-fashioned hospitality of Springfield," and Mrs. Lincoln's dinners and evening parties in her "modest and simple home where everything was so orderly and refined." Both she and Mr. Lincoln were full of the cordial Western manner which put the guests at ease at once. They had many rare Kentucky dishes on their table, and venison, and other game so abundant then. For from this time Mr. Lincoln could afford to live comfortably; henceforth his income was sufficient for his wants. His personal wants were always few; he never drank, he never smoked, he lived a simple, beautiful life.
Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln had four children, all sons. These were Robert Todd, Edwards, William and Thomas. Edwards died when a baby, and William died in the White House. Thomas used to be called "Tad," because while he was a wee baby, before he had been named, his father called him, "Tadpole." The name clung and we shall always remember him as "Tad" in the stories that are told of him while a child in the White House.
It is said of Lincoln that he was a devoted father, was never impatient with his children's
restlessness or perversity, but delighted in being with them and took them to his heart with an affection so deep as to make him overlook their faults. The worst he could bring himself to say to a naughty child was: "You break my heart when you act like this." And his tenderness and the pain in his face and his tones were enough to make the boy repent. People in Springfield used to see him almost any summer morning walking back and forth before his house drawing one of his children in a child's gig, and so deep in the study of some law or some political question that he would often pass his friends without seeing them.
In 1840 Lincoln was nominated for Presidential Elector to vote for General Harrison for President, and at once made a spirited and successful canvass for him, traveling over a large part of the State. There were many brilliant speakers; but one of Lincoln's orations was considered the best of the whole and it was afterward printed and circulated as a campaign document. It was a bright, witty speech, full of hard hits at the other side, and was very popular.
It was not the last time that Lincoln was made Presidential Elector. For in every presidential campaign the Whigs used to send him out to talk to the people in their own dialect, and after their own way of looking at things, in favor of the party candidate.
But when in 1844 Henry Clay was nominated by the Whigs for President, Lincoln's canvass