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something quite different both from his easy social sport with men and from his legal and political ambition. It was the thought of Ann Rutledge, the daughter at the tavern, who was engaged to another man.
BEGINNINGS IN POLITICS AND LOVE
While the affairs of the store were growing steadily worse, Lincoln received an offer which enabled him to make more money, and showed the general confidence in his ability and integrity. John Calhoun, the county surveyor, needing a deputy in the summer of 1833 to help him in the considerable mass of work created by the flood of immigration in the prosperous county of Sangamon, sent a friend to the Salem postmaster to ask if he would take the place. Lincoln, who was discovered splitting rails in the woods, replied that he would see Calhoun himself. He went to Springfield, told the Democratic surveyor that he was a Whig, and that he was ignorant of surveying, and was assured by Calhoun that his acceptance would be no political obligation, and that time for learning would be allowed. He therefore promised to be ready as soon as possible, for it was no small lift in the world to follow a profession which would pay him $3 a day. He secured all the books on the subject to be had in the neighborhood, including Flint and Gibson's treatise, received help from his enthusiastic friend Mentor Graham, and worked intensely day and night for six weeks. At the end of that short time he presented himself to Calhoun, and soon showed that he was sufficiently prepared by rapidly earning a reputation for accurate work. He was employed by the county in surveying roads and by private individuals for farms and probably for some of the numerous paper cities built by speculators. Conditions were still somewhat primitive, and there is a tale that he sometimes used a grapevine instead of a chain.
This lucrative employment came in the nick of time. It saved him from being altogether swamped in the misfortunes of Berry and Lincoln. The firm was getting more and more deeply into debt, and early in 1834 the store, which had been entirely managed for some time by Berry, was sold on credit to brothers named Trent, who failed before their notes became due. Berry died soon after, thus throwing on Lincoln an indebtedness so large that he called it the national debt. He had besides to help his migrating father, now in Coles County, and he had private debts, one of them for a horse, necessary in his surveying. For this animal he had given $50 and had settled all but $10 when he was sued and paid the rest. To the firm's creditors he said that if they would let him alone he would give them all he could make over living expenses, and they consented. Fourteen years after, when he was in the national Congress, he was sending part of his salary to his law partner for this purpose, which was finally accomplished. In all that time only one of the firm creditors annoyed him.
One Van Bergen sued him on a note and obtained judgment. The sheriff levied on his surveying instruments, horse, saddle, and bridle, and sold them. James Short, a friend, saying nothing to Lincoln in advance, attended the sheriff's sale, bought the goods for $120, and returned them to Abraham. Lincoln repaid the money with interest, and about thirty years later, when Mr. Short was in pecuniary trouble, the President sent him an appointment as Indian agent.
Lincoln, with his debts on his back, kept industriously ahead. His work left him time to read Paine, Volney, and Voltaire, according to Mr. Herndon, who makes him out quite an argumentative disbeliever. He was evidently very popular with his neighbors, being social, apt, and friendly, always liking to give homely assistance to men or women alike. Jack Armstrong's wife relates that he used to rock the cradle while she prepared the meal, at which he was always welcome when he happened in. In this placid business and sociable life he continued until the next summer, 1834,
when he decided to try again for the legislature, this time distinctly as a Whig. He made all the speeches he could until August, when he was elected one of four assemblymen from Sangamon County. He was the youngest member but one of that legislature. The vote was: Dawson, 1390; Lincoln, 1376; Carpenter, 1170; Stuart, 1164. From that time to December 1, when the legislature began, Lincoln, who of course would be unable to do so much surveying, gave special attention to the law, which he had tried spasmodically before, and made the rapid progress due to his energy, his popularity, and the lack of lawyers in the neighborhood.
As the time approached to go to Vandalia, the state capital, seventy-five miles from New Salem, Lincoln borrowed money to buy a comparatively decent suit. It is said that his first candidacy provoked some jests, for he was an ill-clothed and awkward figure even for his surroundings. One
Governor Yates told me that the first time he saw Lincoln was at New Salem, where he was lying on a cellar door, in the shade, reading. There were many odd-looking specimens of humanity in that region in those days, but Lincoln exceeded all in grotesqueness, oddity, and a queer style of dress; but his conversation showed excellent sense. They went to dinner at Lincoln's boarding place, which was a