Sundry Incidents

Trading Trip—His First Dollar for Service—Looking higher—Call on Mr. Woods—Disappointed Hope—Another Log-cabin—The Statutes of Indiana—Studying and Reading at David Turnham's—Going to Court—The Murder Trial—Meeting the Shelby Boy and President—The Gentryville Lyceum—Questions Discussed—Place for the Enslaved—Abe's Appearance—Centre of Attraction—The Foolish Act and the Outcome—How he Learned—Dennis Hanks' Eulogy—Talk of Removing to Illinois

There is very satisfactory evidence that Abraham went on a trading trip for his father before he served Mr. Gentry, and that he built a boat himself for the expedition. For Mr. Carpenter, the painter, in his “Six Months in the White House,” has the following from Mr. Lincoln’s lips, related to show how he came into possession of the first dollar he could call his own:—

In the Executive Chamber, one evening, there were present a number of gentlemen, among them Mr. Seward.

A point in the conversation suggesting the thought, the President said: “Seward, you never heard, did you, how I earned my first dollar?” “No,” rejoined Mr. Seward. “Well,” continued Mr. Lincoln, “I was about eighteen years of age. I belonged, you know, to what they call down south the ‘scrubs’; people who do not own slaves are nobody there. But we had succeeded in raising, chiefly by my labour, sufficient produce, as I thought, to justify me in taking it down the river to sell.

“After much persuasion I got the consent of mother to go, and constructed a little flat-boat, large enough to take a barrel or two of things that we had gathered, with myself and little bundle, down to New Orleans. A steamer was coming down the river. We have, you know. no wharves on the Western streams; and the custom was, if passengers were at any of the landings for them to go out in a boat, the steamer stopping and taking them on board.

“I was contemplating my new flat-boat, and wondering whether I could make it stronger or improve it in any particular, when two men came down to the shore in carriages, with trunks, and looking at the different boats, singled out mine, and asked, ‘Who owns this?’ I answered, somewhat modestly, ‘I do.’ ‘Will you,’ said one of them, ‘take us and our trunks out to the steamer?’ ‘Certainly,’ said I. I was very glad to have the chance of earning something. I supposed that each of them would give me two or three bits. The trunks were put on my flat-boat, the passengers seated themselves on the trunks, and I sculled them out to the steamboat.

“They got on board, and I lifted up their heavy trunks and put them on deck. The steamer was about to put on steam again when I called out that they had forgotten to pay me. Each of them took from his pocket a silver half-dollar, and threw it on the floor of my boat. I could scarcely believe my eyes as I picked up the money. Gentlemen, you may think it was a very little thing, and in these days it seems to me a trifle; but it was a most important incident in my life. I could scarcely credit that I, a poor boy, had earned a dollar in less than a day—that by honest work I had earned a dollar. The world seemed wider and fairer before me; I was a more hopeful and confident being from that hour.”

Abraham had earned money before, a considerable amount of it, but it belonged to his father, who did not believe that a boy had any necessary use for it. The dollar received for carrying the trunks he regarded his own.

Abraham felt, after leaving Mr. Gentry, that he was competent to earn more than he had done. Doubtless, also, his success in flat-boating awakened a strong desire to continue in that business. For, one day, he went to Mr. Wood’s house, and stood around for some time, as if he wanted to say something he lacked courage to express.

“What is it, Abe?” inquired Mr. Wood.

“I want to get a place to work on the river.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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