« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
fore you pay it, it would be well to be sure you have not paid, or at least, that you cannot prove you have paid it. Give my love to mother and all the connections. “ Affectionately your son,
“ A. LINCOLN.”
On his way to Springfield from Washington, Lincoln, stopping at Niagara, was so much impressed that he has left some notes for a lecture, which illustrate the truth that flights into the poetic aspects of science and nature were not his strongest gifts. The vessel on which his journey home was continued got stranded on a sand-bar, and the captain floated it by forcing loose planks, empty barrels, and boxes under the sides of the boat. Inspired by this principle Lincoln bor
. rowed tools from a mechanic in Springfield, made a model, and secured a patent which was never used. His application read :
“What I claim as my invention, and desire to secure by letters patent, is the combination of expansible buoyant chambers placed at the sides of a vessel with the main shaft or shafts by means of the sliding spars, which pass down through the buoyant chambers and are made fast to their bottoms and the series of ropes and pulleys or their equivalents in such a manner that by turning the main shaft or shafts in one direction the buoyant chambers will be forced downward into the Hater, and at the same time expanded and filled with
air for buoying up the vessel by the displacement of water, and by turning the shafts in an opposite direction the buoyant chambers will be contracted into a small space and secured against injury.
“ A. LINCOLN."
Far more significant, however, than anything else connected with his experience in Washington except slavery, is his attitude toward public office. Although the facts on this subject will not please purists, they play so large a part in any sincere estimate of Lincoln, — and, to a sound mind, so honorable a part, - that the main points, as unmistakably set forth in that mine of information, his correspondence, should be seriously dwelt upon. Larger and harder problems about the proper relation of practical and immediate to ideal and distant considerations arose in the war, but the point of view which always governed him was as settled twenty years earlier. He writes to the Secretary of the Treasury that as the Whigs of Illinois hold him and Colonel Baker, their only members of Congress, responsible to some extent for appointments of Illinois citizens, they ask to be heard whenever such an appointment is contemplated. To the Secretary of State he sends the
of one applicant. “ Mr. Bond I know to be personally every way worthy of the office ... and I solicit for his claims a full and
fair consideration." He then adds that in his individual judgment the appointment of another man would be much better. There are a number of letters, almost exactly the same in language, stating that certain incumbents, who have filled their offices excellently, are decided partisans. In most cases he carefully states that he will express no opinion on the validity of partisanship as a ground of removal, but that if it is accepted as such the rule should be general, and the particular individual designated no exception. One of these notes has the personal interest of relating to the friend from whom Lincoln had so long received free board. “I recommend that William Butler be appointed pension agent when the place shall be vacant. Mr. Hurst, the present incumbent, I believe has performed the duties very well. He is a decided partisan, and, I believe, expects to be removed. Whether he shall, I submit to the department.” Of another he says: “I have already said he has done the duties of the office well, and I now add he is a gentleman in the true sense. Still, he submits to be the instrument of his party to injure us. His high character enables him to do it more effectually.” •The two following letters speak for themselves:
“ SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, May 25, 1849. “Hon. E. EMBREE,
“ Dear Sir: I am about to ask a favor of you, one which I hope will not cost you much. I understand the General Land Office is about to be given to Illinois, and that Mr. Ewing desires Justin Butterfield, of Chicago, to be the man. I give you my word, the appointment of Mr. Butterfield will be an egregious political blunder. It will give offence to the whole Whig party here, and be worse than a dead loss to the administration of so much of its patronage. Now, if you can conscientiously do so, I wish you to write General Taylor at once, saying that either I, or the man I recommend, should in your opinion be appointed to that office, if any one from Illinois shall be. I restrict my request to Illinois because you may have a man from your own state, and I do not ask to interfere with that.
“ Your friend as ever,
“ A. LINCOLN."
“ SPRINGFIELD, June 5, 1849. “ Dear William: Your two letters were received last night. I have a great many letters to write, and so cannot write very long ones.
There must be some mistake about Walter Davis saying I promised him the post-office. I did not so promise him. I did tell him that if the distribution of the offices should fall into my hands, he should have something; and if I shall be convinced he has said any more than this, I shall be disappointed. I said this much to him because, as I
understand, he is of good character, is one of the young men, is of the mechanics, and always faithful and never troublesome; a Whig, and is poor, with the support of a widow mother thrown almost exclusively on him by the death of his brother. If these are wrong reasons, then I have been wrong; but I have certainly not been selfish in it, because in my greatest need of friends he was against me, and for Baker.
- Yours as ever,
“ A. LINCOLN. “ P.S. - Let the above be confidential."
Lincoln went into the fight for the General Land Office actively, received support in many directions, but failed. The administration offered to make him either governor or secretary of Oregon, and he made a special trip to Washington, just after the expiration of his term, to discuss the subject. He was rather inclined to accept, feeling that his attitude toward the Mexican War had probably ruined him politically, but the opposition of Mrs. Lincoln led him to decline and settle down to active practice in the law.