« 上一頁繼續 »
bone and sinew of the land, while the Whigs were stigmatized as aristocrats, ruffled-shirted gentry. This was Colonel Taylor's rôle, and he spoke with his finery concealed under a long surtout. But, making a sweeping gesture, Taylor's surtout became torn open, and his gorgeous array of chains, seals, pendants, and ruffles burst forth, to his manifest dismay. While he paused in embarrassment, Lincoln seized upon the opportunity, and, standing in full view, with his coarse attire and rough appearance strongly contrasting with the dandified Colonel, cried, laying his hand on his jeans-clad breast: “Here is your aristocrat, one of your silk-stocking gentry, at your service.” Then, spreading out his hands, bronzed and gaunt with toil: “Here is your rag-baron with lily-white hands. Yes, I suppose, according to my friend Taylor, I am a bloated aristocrat!” It was a long time before the amiable Colonel Taylor heard the last of that exposure and humiliation.
In the Legislature to which Lincoln was now elected were not a few men whom we shall meet later on in this strange, eventful history. One of these was Edward D. Baker, a wonderful orator, afterwards Lincoln's associate in the law, and subsequently United States Senator from Oregon, a general in the army, and killed at Ball's Bluff. Another was Stephen Arnold Douglas; others were John J. Hardin, James Shields, William A. Richardson, John Logan, and John A. McClernand. From Sangamon County there were two senators and seven representatives in the House, nine in all, and each man
very tall, Lincoln being the tallest of the nine, and familiarly known as “the Sangamon chief,” more on account of his height than from his mental leadership. The combined height of this tall delegation was fifty-five feet. No wonder that it was popularly known as “the Long Nine.” One of the most notable achievements of Sangamon County's “Long Nine” that winter was the removal of the capital of the State from Vandalia, Macon County, to Springfield, Sangamon County, a triumph for which Lincoln received generous credit from his admiring colleagues of the delegation.
At this session, too, Lincoln put himself on record for the first time as opposed to the further extension of the American system of human slavery. The temper of the times, at least in that region, was favorable to slavery. Illinois and Indiana were affected by the proslavery influences of their nearest neighbors, Kentucky and Missouri, rivals in trade and commerce. The legislation of these two States was designed to encourage slaveholding in the slaveholding States and discourage all antislavery agitation in non-slaveholding States. For at that time a few bold men had begun to teach that slavery was wrong, unjustifiable, even wicked. The entrance of free colored people into Illinois was forbidden by statute, and the infamous “black laws,” long remembered with shame as designed to curry favor with slaveholding neighbors across the border, were enacted. Certain resolutions on the subject of slavery were passed by the Illinois Legislature during the session of which we are writing; what they
were, we cannot tell, for they have vanished into oblivion; but undoubtedly they were intended to convince slaveholding customers and traders that Illinois could be relied upon to stem the rising tide of antislavery in the North. As their answer to these utterances, Abraham Lincoln and Dan Stone, the only men who dared to put themselves on record in this way, drew up and signed the following paper:
“MARCH 3, 1837.
“Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having passed both branches of the General Assembly at its present session, the undersigned hereby protest against the passage of the same.
“They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy, but that the promulgation of abolition doctrines tends rather to increase than abate its evils.
“They believe that the Congress of the United States has no power under the Constitution to interfere with the institution of slavery in the different States.
“They believe that the Congress of the United States has the power, under the Constitution, to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, but that the power ought not to be exercised, unless at the request of the people of the District.
“The difference between these opinions and those contained in the above resolutions is their reason for entering this protest. (Signed)
“A. LINCOLN, “Representatives from the county of Sangamon.”
This protest was received and ordered to be spread on the journals of the House, much to the regret of some of Lincoln's more timorous friends, who probably did not believe that slavery could pass away from the face of the land during the time of any then living. At this late day, the paper reads like a very harmless and even over-cautious document. But it was, for those times, a bold and dangerous thing to say that the institution of slavery was founded on injustice and bad policy. Men had been mobbed and treated with violence for saying no more than this, so intolerant and brutal was the spirit of the slave-owning and slavery-defending class. So far as we know, this was Lincoln's first blow at the institution that was bound to disappear before his life and work were ended.
On the whole, the doings of Lincoln and the other members of the "Long Nine” were highly acceptable to the people of Sangamon County. The Lincoln-Stone protest was looked upon as a harmless vagary, soon to be forgotten, and already overshadowed by the greatness of the feat of moving the State capital to Springfield. The long-limbed group was hailed with great acclaim, and numerous feasts and festivities were given in their honor. Of the toasts offered in praise of “the Sangamon chief” were these that have come down to us from those faroff days in 1837: “Abraham Lincoln: he has fulfilled the expectations of his friends and disappointed the hopes of his enemies." “A. Lincoln: one of nature's noblemen."
In April, 1837, Lincoln went to Springfield, the
new capital of the State, where he established himself in the practice of law, and where he remained until his election to the Presidency. He had managed, crippled though he was with "the national debt,” to earn a scanty livelihood, and to keep good his credit. But the new venture was a doubtful one, and he undertook it with many misgivings. He rode into town on a borrowed horse, his earthly possessions packed in a pair of saddle-bags fastened to the crupper of his saddle. Tying the horse to a fencepost, Lincoln sought the store of his friend Mr. Joshua F. Speed, formerly of Kentucky, and asked for information concerning board and lodging. He proposed to hire a room, furnish it, and, as he expressed it, "browse around" for his sustenance. To his great dismay, the price of the barest necessaries in the way of furniture would be seventeen dollars; and Mr. Speed included these articles in his promiscuous stock-in-trade.
Lincoln said, sadly: “It is cheap enough, but I want to say that, cheap as it is, I have not the money to pay for it. But if you will credit me until Christmas, and my experiment here is a success, I will pay you then. If I fail, I will probably never be able to pay you."
Impressed by Lincoln's sadness, Speed replied: "I have a very large double bed which you are perfectly welcome to share with me, if you choose.”
“Where is your bed?” asked Lincoln.
“Upstairs," replied Speed. Lincoln took his saddle-bags on his arm and went upstairs, set them on the floor, took a swift survey of the premises, and