Unsought Honours

After his Return from War—Thinks of Learning Blacksmith's Trade—Candidate for Legislature—His Talk with Green, and Surprise—How he Consented, and the Lyceum—Nominated, and First Speech—Address to Voters of the Country—His Comical Dress—Not Elected—Advised to Study Law—An Honest Calling—No Confidence in himself—Desires Permanent Occupation—Becomes a Merchant again—The National Debt—His Failure—What Books Read—Synopsis of all he Read—Old Copy of Blackstone—What McHenry says—Assists Ellis in the Store—What Ellis says of him What Papers Read—How Avoided Interruptions—Meeting John Calhoun—Becomes Surveyor—His Success—Reforms New Salem—Makes Jack behave—Umpire at Horse-race—How Worked for Short—Appointed Post-master—Office in his Hat

On his return from the Black Hawk war, Lincoln took up his abode in the family of J. R. Herndon. The people of New Salem gave him a hearty welcome, and delighted to call him “Captain Lincoln.” The Herndon family were soon more strongly attached to him than ever. “He had one of Herndon’s children around with him nearly all the time,” says an eyewitness. “He was at home wherever he went, and made himself wonderfully agreeable to the people he lived with, or happened to be visiting,” says Mr. Herndon. That his kind and benevolent disposition did not suffer by his service in the army is quite evident from a remark of Mr. Herndon, “He was kind to the widow and orphan, and chopped their wood.”

He was casting about for some employment whereby to earn a livelihood. For some reason, to us unknown, the blacksmith’s trade attracted his attention.

“What do you think of my learning the blacksmith’s trade?” he said to his friend, William Green, one day.

“A blacksmith!” exclaimed William with much surprise. “That would be quite a descent from Captain Lincoln to Smithy Lincoln. You are joking, cap’n.”

“Never was more serious in my life, William. A blacksmith is of more practical use to the community than a captain in an Indian war.”

“But less glory in it,” replied Green. “You don’t seem to understand that war makes heroes, and heroes get into political life. Why, Abe, we’re going to send you to the legislature.”

“None of your bantering, William,” Lincoln answered, supposing that his friend was joking. “I’m talking business.”

“So am I. Haven’t you heard, Abe, that the Clay men are going to run you for the legislature?”

“No, nor you. Yesterday I heard the names of John T. Stuart, Colonel Taylor, and Peter Cartwright, named as Jackson candidates; and nobody would think of running me against such men.”

“All that may be, and there may be a half-dozen other candidates; but we are going to run you against the whole batch, unless you positively decline.”

“You are crazy, William, and all the rest of you who entertain such a thought. What! run me, nothing but a strapping boy, against such men of experience and wisdom! Come, now, no more of your gammon.”

“Then you won’t believe me?”

“I didn’t say so.”

“Well, believe it or not, you will be waited upon by older persons than I am, to get your consent.”

And, sure enough, he was waited upon by several of the most influential citizens of New Salem, within twenty-four hours thereafter, to ask his consent to run as a candidate for the legislature.

“It will only subject me to ridicule,” he said.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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