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workman, a wonderful genius was in him that the men around him were already beginning to discover. He was one day to be a great orator; and he was always preparing for it. In Indiana debating societies and all meetings had heard his voice. And now in Illinois the autumn he arrived, there was quite a political excitement and a man traveling through the country stump-speaking, came to Decatur where he made a speech. John Hanks was contemptuous. He declared that Abe Lincoln could beat that all hollow. "Abe, try him on," he pursued. A box was turned over for the young man to stand upon; and then and there Abraham Lincoln began his career as stump-speaker in Illinois. There must have been a kindness and a charm about him; for the man whom he had beaten completely was astonished and asked him "where he learned to do it?"
All that year Lincoln was still a farm hand. But another year something else opened for him.
HIS TRIPS TO NEW ORLEANS.
To read about places and people, and to see with one's own eyes are so different! It must have been that the boy Abe often longed to catch at least a glimpse of the great world he was so fond of studying about. He once asked a friend to recommend him to some steamboat on the Ohio River. But when the friend reminded him that his father had a right to his time for a few years longer, Abe gave up the idea of going out into the world, for a while. But in 1828 the opportunity came to him, and he took it eagerly. This was when he was living in Indiana. Mr. Gentry the great man of the neighborhood wanted a young man to go down to New Orleans in a flatboat with his son, the young man who had married Abe's little schoolmate, Polly Roby. He offered Abe the position of "bow-hand," or bow-oar, with his rations and eight dollars a month and his return passage
on a steamboat paid; for the boat could not come back; flatboats go down stream, not up. The boat was to be loaded with bacon and other produce for a trading trip down the Mississippi.
The money was much to Abe who had none. But the prospect of getting a glimpse of the world outside his narrow home was much more to him.
There were sights and suggestions in this trip which Abraham never forgot. Before this time he had written an essay on temperance which had been printed in a country newspaper, and he was eager to do much more. He had written another about the necessity of education for all the people. He began early in life to think of the people and their needs and rights. He had seen how injurious degraded poverty and intemperance were to white people. On this trip he saw also the hardest side of slavery, negroes on the boats and the wharves working and lashed by their overseers, negroes in the cotton fields, also driven and lashed when any fault, or even the unjust anger of the overseer brought punishment upon them. And, worst of all, he saw men and women and children in the slave markets handled and bought and sold as if they were beasts of burden. He never forgot these sights. He had been opposed to slavery before that time; but such scenes helped him to
know all the better why he ought to do what was in his power to prevent the extension of slavery into new Territories and States acquired by our government.
But all this came later. During his voyage he helped to draw up the clumsy flatboat at the different wharves where they stopped, and in selling the goods the boys both did well. Gentry made more money; but Lincoln brought home a wider knowledge and understanding of the things that they had both seen on the trip. One night they had quite an adventure. The flatboat was attacked by negroes who attempted to rob it; and both Lincoln and Gentry had to make a brave defence to drive off the thieves. But they did it.
It was two years later, in the winter of 183031, that the second opportunity to go down to New Orleans came to Lincoln. This time it was to be in company with John Hanks, his mother's cousin; and afterward John Johnston, Lincoln's foster brother, was taken into the party. They were to go with a merchant, Denton Offutt, and to meet him at Springfield. So, in the spring when the rivers broke up and the melting snows poured into every brook and stream, the three young men paddled down the Sangamon River, perhaps the only way they could get there, to
within five miles of Springfield and then walked these five miles to keep their engagement with Offutt.
But Offutt had been attending to so many other things that he was so far from being ready for his boatmen that he had no flatboat bought. If they wanted to go to New Orleans, the first thing they must do was to build one. They cut the timber and built the boat-a good, strong one-and went down the current of the Sangamon in it to New Salem. You will not find it on the map; for today there is no New Salem; that queer little town was settled only a short time before Lincoln went there to live, and all went to nothing after he had gone away from it to make his home in Springfield.
Lincoln's first appearance in New Salem was made in a way that interested the people in him. Offutt's boat had stuck on a milldam on the river, and there it hung, the fore part high in air, the stern shipping water from the Sangamon. About all the people of New Salem stood there on the banks, watching the unhappy boat; and nobody knew how to do anything to help out matters except "the bow-oar," a great tall fellow "with his trousers rolled up some five feet" says an account of him. That was Lincoln. He waded about the boat, rigged up some contrivance to unload the cargo and tilt the