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fellows. His temper, however, was naturally quick and vivacious.
At the age of fifteen, he expressed to his mother his earnest desire to prepare for college ; but it was decided at a family council that the expense of a collegiate education would make that idea impossible. Well, then,” said Stephen, “I will earn my own living;” and he immediately engaged himself as an apprentice to the trade of cabinetmaking, which was then an excellent and lucrative business. He worked at this trade for eighteen months, and then abandoned it altogether, as it proved entirely too severe for his constitution. His master has since jocularly remarked, that during the time Stephen was with him, he displayed his greatest ingenuity in the construction of bureaus, cabinets, and secretaries. At the age of seventeen, he entered the academy at Brandon, and pursued his studies there for more than a year. His mind was extremely active at this time, and he made rapid advancement in those branches of learning to which he directed his attention. When the family removed to Canandaigua, New York, he attended the academy there as a student. Having decided to make the law his profession, he entered the office of Mr. Hubbell, and studied law till 1833.
In the spring of that year he went to the West, in search of an eligible place in which to establish himself as a lawyer. He went to a number of cities and towrs in the West, among them Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, and Jacksonville, Illinois. At Winchester, a little town sixteen miles from Jacksonville, he found there was no school, and immemediately opened one. He obtained forty pupils without any difficulty, whom he taught for three months, at $300 per
quarter. He devoted his evenings, during this time, to the prosecution of his law studies. In March, 1834, he was admitted to practise law, by the judges of the Supreme Court of the State. He at once opened a law office, and became remarkably successful as a legal practitioner.
Within a year after his admission, and while not yet twenty-two years of age, he was elected by the legislature of Illinois, attorney-general of the State. In 1836, he was elected to the legislature by the Democrats of Morgan County, and resigned the office of attorney-general. At the time he took his seat in the legislature, he was the youngest member of that body. In 1837, he was appointed by President Van Buren register of the land-office at Springfield, Illinois. In November of the same year, he received the Democratic nomination for Congress, although he was then under twenty-five years of age, and consequently ineligible. He attained the requisite age, however, before the day of election, which was in August, 1838. At this election upward of 36,000 votes were cast, of which Mr. Douglas received a majority. About twenty votes were rejected by the canvassers, because in them the name of Mr. Douglas was spelled incorrectly. The quibble was a most unworthy one, and would not stand at this day. As it was, the Whig candidate was declared to be elected by a majority of only five votes; and the election was everywhere regarded as a triumph of Mr. Douglas.
MR. DOUGLAS AS A LAWYER.
Retiring now from political life, Mr. Douglas devoted himself with assiduity to the practice of his profession. He was an able and successful lawyer, and his business increased rapidly. There are many persons now living, who were clients and neighbors of Mr. Douglas at this time, and who remember well his demeanor as an advocate. He was noted, among other things, for the careful preparation of his cases, and for his tact and skill in the examination of witnesses, He never went into court with a case until he thoroughly understood it in all its bearings. His addresses to the jury were generally plain and clear statements of the matters of fact, the arguments logical and conclusive, and his manner earnest and impressive. He rarely failed to enlist the feelings and sympathies of a jury.
In the year 1840, Mr. Douglas entered with ardor into the celebrated “Hard Cider and Log Cabin ” campaign, and threw the whole weight of his influence in favor of Martin Van Buren, the democratic candidate for President, and against the “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” candidates of the Whig party. During seven months of that year, he traversed the State of Illinois in all directions, and addressed 207 meetings of the people. General Harrison was elected President, but Illinois was carried for the Democratic candi. dates, and Mr. Douglas was mainly instrumental in bringing about this result.
MR. DOUGLAS ELECTED TO CONGRESS.
In December, 1840, Mr. Douglas was appointed secretary of state of Illinois. In February, 1841, he was elected by the legislature a judge of the Supreme Court of the State. This was only seven years after he had received, from the judges of that court, his license to practise law. He remained upon the bench of the Supreme Court for three years. In 1843 he was elected to Congress by 400 majority; and in 1844 by a majority of 1,900 votes. He was elected a representative a third time in 1846, by a majority of 3,000 votes.
Mr. Douglas' First Session in Congress—His Speech upon the Improve
ment by Congress of Western Rivers and Harbors—His Great Speech on the Bill to Refund General Jackson's Fine-General Jackson's Opinion of the Speech-Mr. Douglas Reëlected to Congress.
On taking his seat in Congress, Mr. Douglas did not at once rush into the debates of the House. He was perfectly informed concerning the interests of his constituents, over which he exercised a watchful care. But for the first session or two of Congress, he spoke rarely, and briefly; familiarizing himself, by study and observation, with the rules of debate, and the usages of parliamentary bodies. When he did rise to address the House, it was on some practical question; and his remarks were always forcible, and to the point.
IMPROVEMENT OF WESTERN RIVERS.
His first speech in Congress was upon the improvement of western lakes and harbors, delivered December 19, 1843. He had moved that so much of the President's message as referred to that subject, be referred to a select committee. He insisted upon a select committee,“ because the question involved important interests requiring an accurate knowledge of the condition of the country, its navigable streams, and the obstructions to be removed. A thorough examination of subjects so various, extensive, and intricate, and requiring so much patient labor and toil, could not be expected from those who reside at a great distance. He desired a full, elaborate, and detailed report from those whose local positions would stimulate them. Let this be granted, and the friends of the measure would be content to leave its policy and propriety to the judgment of the House." While Mr. Douglas has never ceased to take a lively interest in river and harbor improvements and the protection of inland navigation, experience soon convinced him that the practice of appropriating from the federal treasury for such purposes had utterly failed to accomplish its object, and that a system of tonnage duties which he matured, and on several occasions has introduced into the Senate, should be substituted for Congressional appropriations. Since the system of tonnage duties has been elaborated in Congress, and is becoming understood by the public, the most enlightened friends of the navigating interests are becoming satisfied that the substitute proposed by Mr. Douglas would prove not only more economical, but more effective and beneficial in che accomplishment of their views.
In connection with this subject, it should be added, that Mr. Douglas was mainly instrumental in securing the passage of the law by which the maritime and admiralty jurisdiction of the federal courts was extended over the northern lakes.
SPEECH IN FAVOR OF REMITTING GEN. JACKSON'S FINE.
On the 7th of January, 1844, he delivered an eloquent speech on the bill to refund to Gen. Jackson, the fine unjustly imposed on him by Judge Hall, of New Orleans. From this speech we make the following extracts:
“I maintain,” said Mr. Douglas, “ that in the exercise of the power of proclaiming martial law, Gen. Jackson did not violate the Constitution, nor assume to himself any authority