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boat. Then he bored a hole through the bottom and let out the water; and straightened the boat and brought it safely to mooring below the dam. Then the hole was stopped up, the cargo put in again, and the boat went on her way. His employer was full of admiration for Lincoln's cleverness. The party made a quick trip down the Sangamon to the Illinois, and from there down the Mississippi to New Orleans. It was in some respects like the former voyage with young Gentry. But Lincoln was older and all that he saw made a deeper impression upon him. John Hanks said of Lincoln on this voyage when he saw the slaves chained, whipped and scourged: "Lincoln saw it; his heart bled; said nothing much, was silent, looked bad.”
Ten years later he made another water trip with Joshua Speed, a friend whom he knew in Kentucky. Long afterward he said to him, speaking of the "tedious trip" on the steamer from Louisville to St. Louis: "You may remember, I well do, that from Louisville to the mouth of the Ohio there were on board ten or a dozen slaves shackled together with irons. That sight was a continual torment to me, and I see something like it every time I touch the Ohio, or any other slave border. It is not fair for you to assume that I have no interest in a thing which has, and continually exercises, the power
of making me miserable." So, from his early youth Lincoln had the thought of slavery and the hatred of it on his heart. But he never wanted freedom by violence; but by the laws of his country; and he longed for the day of freedom. He could not see that God would grant to him as a right and a duty to give freedom to four millions of human beings. That was not his business now. All he had to do was the best at the time; and that he always did; he walked as straight on toward his work as if he had seen it, always getting ready for what was to come. Abraham Lincoln's fame and honors did not come to him by chance; the best things never do; he earned them.
After this trip to New Orleans on Offutt's boat, the party went up the river again in early summer, and when they reached St. Louis, Abraham and his foster brother, John Johnston, walked across country to see Mr. Thomas Lincoln who by that time had made another move. Abraham never lost sight of his parents even when his home was no longer with them. From time to time he paid them visits, and even when he himself was very poor he helped them out with money. His only own sister, Sarah, had married and died while they were in Indiana.
When Lincoln went back to New Salem, on
the day of his arrival a local election was being held. But one of the two clerks was ill and the question was where to find a substitute who could write. When young Lincoln appeared upon the scene, the people asked him if he could write. He said that he "could make a few rabbit tracks." So, he was the clerk for that day. The people remembered his wading into the Sangamon River and rescuing the flatboat stuck high and dry on the milldam. Now they learned another accomplishment of his. Soon they were to find out others.
For Mr. Offutt had hired him to help keep store which Lincoln did when his employer's goods arrived. Meanwhile, he found odds and ends of work to do. Mr. Offutt was so fond of Lincoln and so proud of him that he was never tired of boasting about him. His clerk was the most wonderful young man, he said; there was nothing he did not know; there was nothing he could not do.
There was a set of roughs in New Salem; they called themselves "Clary's Grove Boys." They did all sorts of rowdyish things and when strangers came to town they were apt to give them somewhat of a hazing to find out what stuff they were made of. These Clary's Grove Boys were tired of hearing Abraham Lincoln praised up to the skies, and they made up
their minds to "take him down a bit." And they proposed a wrestling match. Lincoln wanted nothing of all this "wooling and pulling" as he called it. But the Clary's Grove Boys had a champion, Jack Armstrong, who, they were sure, could beat Lincoln, or anybody else, and they were determined to try it. So Abe was obliged to show his mettle. Jack Armstrong had a bet to throw him.
HOW HE KEPT SHOP; WHAT CAME OF IT.
When Jack Armstrong closed with the tall stranger for his wrestling match he soon found that he had got hold of new material; he had never wrestled with anybody like him before. The Clary's Grove Boys all clustered around; and when they found that their pet and bully, Jack Armstrong, was not likely to come out victor, they all gathered about Lincoln and tried to pull him down. By that time Lincoln's temper was fully aroused. He caught Armstrong and held him in his arms like a child and nearly choked the life out of him. For a minute it looked as if there would be a general fight. But Lincoln with his back against the wall standing so strong and unafraid made them change their minds; they respected him; they admired him. As for Jack Armstrong whom he had so thoroughly beaten, he became one of Lincoln's warmest admirers and champions.