“Why so?” inquired one of the number.

“For the folly of running against such men as Stuart and Cartwright.

“Not if you beat them.”

“That is impossible. I should not expect to be elected, if I should consent to be a candidate.”

“I don’t know about that,” answered one; “we expect to elect you.”

“But I have lived in the county only a few months, and am known only in New Salem, while the other candidates are known in every part of the county. Besides, it is only ten days before the election, and there is little time to carry your measures.”

“Very true; but there is a principle involved in your nomination, and we shall sustain that, whether you are elected or not.”

Here was a point of importance. There were no distinct political parties then in the State, as there are now. But there were “Jackson men and Clay men,” not to mention others. Abraham was a “Clay man,” while the majority vote of the county, at the previous presidential election, was cast for Jackson. In these circumstances there was little prospect that the young candidate would be elected.

Suffice to say that Abraham at last yielded very reluctantly, and became a candidate. He was not elected; but his popularity may be learned from the fact that he stood next to the successful candidate, and only a few votes behind him. “His own precinct, New Salem, gave him 277 votes in a poll of 284,”—all but seven. No one was more surprised than Abraham himself. Although he was not elected, yet the result, under the circumstances, was a signal triumph.

Mr. R. B. Rutledge was the citizen who really secured Lincoln’s consent to be a candidate. He had heard him make a speech before the “New Salem Literary Society” on one occasion, which impressed him so much that he did not hesitate to say, “Abe will make a great man.” Of that speech he says: “As he rose to speak, his tall form towered above the little assembly. Both hands were thrust down deep in the pockets of his pantaloons. A perceptible smile at once lit up the faces of the audience, for all anticipated the relation of some humorous story. But he opened up the discussion in splendid style, to the astonishment of his friends. As he warmed with his subject, his hands forsook his pockets and enforced his noble thoughts with awkward gestures. He pursued the question with reason and argument so pithy that all were amazed.” The president, at his fireside, after the meeting, remarked to his wife, “There is more in Abe’s head than wit and fun. He is already a fine speaker, and all that is needed is culture to enable him to reach the high place which I believe is in store for him.”

While Mr. Rutledge admitted to Abraham that there was little or no chance of his election, he assured him that the canvas would bring his name prominently before the voters of the county for future use. His arguments prevailed with Lincoln.

Candidates for State offices were obliged to take the stump, and declare their sentiments and vindicate them. Abraham followed the custom, and made several speeches, with the expressed condition, however, that “his friends should not laugh at him.” His first speech was made at Pappsville, about eleven miles west of Springfield. It was as follows:—

“Gentlemen and fellow-citizens, I presume you all know who I am. I am humble Abraham Lincoln. I have been solicited by many friends to become a candidate for the Legislature. My politics are short and sweet: I am in favour of a national bank; I am in favour of the internal improvement system and a high protective tariff. These are my sentiments and political principles. If elected, I shall be thankful; if not, it will be all the same.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.