one occasion, while clerking in Offntt's store, at New
Salem, 111., he sold a woman a little bill of goods, amount-
ing in value by the reckoning, to two dollars six and a quar-
ter cents. He received the money, and the woman went
away. On adding the items of the bill again, to make him-
self sure of correctness, he found that he had taken six and
a quarter cents too much. It was night, and, closing and
locking the store, he started out on foot, a distance of two-
or three miles, for the house of his defrauded customer,
and, delivering over to her the sum whose possession had
so much troubled him, went home satisfied.
On another occasion, just as he was closing the store for
EARLY LIFE. 23
the night, a woman entered, and asked for a half pound of
tea. The tea was weighed out and paid for, and the store
was left for the night. The next morning, Lincoln entered
to begin the duties of the day, when he discovered a four-
ounce weight on the scales. He saw at once that he had
made a mistake, and, shutting the store, he took a long
walk before breakfast to deliver the remainder of the tea.
These are very humble incidents, but they illustrate the
man's perfect conscientiousness his sensitive honesty
better perhaps than, they would if they were of greater
How Lincoln Helped to Build a Boat, and How He Loaded the
While a laboring man, Lincoln; Hanks & Johnston on
one occasion contracted to build a boat on Sangamon River,
at Sangamon Town, about seven miles northwest of Spring-
field. For this work they were to receive twelve dollars a
month each. "When the boat was finished (and every plank
of it was sawed by hand with a whip-saw), it was launched
on the Sangamon, and floated to a point below New Salem,
in Menard (then Sangamon) County, where a drove of hogs
was to be taken on board. At this time, the hogs of the
region ran wild, as they do now in portions of the border
states. Some of them were savage, and all. after the man-
ner of swine, were difficult to manage. They had, how-
ever, been gathered and penned, but not an inch could they
be made to move toward the boat. All the ordinary
resources were exhausted in the attempts to get them on
board. There was but one alternative, and this Abraham
adopted. He actually carried them on board, one by one.
His long arms and great strength enabled him to grasp
tliein as in a vise, and to transfer them rapidly from the
24 LINCOLN STORIES.
shore to the boat. They then took the boat to !N"ew Orleans,
according to contract.
An Incident Showing How Lincoln Resented an Insult H<J Gave
the Victim a Thrashing.
"While showing goods to two or three women in Offutt's
store one day, a bully came in and began to talk in an
offensive manner, using much profanity, and evidently
wishing to provoke a quarrel. Lincoln leaned over the
counter, and begged him, as ladies were present, not to
indulge in such talk. The bully retorted that the oppor-
tunity had come for which he had long sought, and he
would like to see the man who could hinder him from say-
ing anything he might choose to, say. Lincoln, still cool,
told him that if he would wait until the ladies retired, he
would hear what he had to say, and give him any satisfac-
tion he desired.
As soon as the women were gone, the man became
furious. Lincoln heard his boasts and his abuse for a time,
and finding that he was not to be put off without a fight,
said " Well, if you must be whipped, I suppose I may as
well whip you as any other man.'' This was just what the
bully had been seeking, he said, so out of doors they went,
and Lincoln made short work with him. He threw him
upon the ground, held him there as if he had been a child,
and gathering some " smart- weed " which grew upon the
spot, rubbed it into his face and eyes, until the fellow bel-
lowed with pain. Lincoln did all this without a particle of
anger, and when the job was finished, went immediately
for water, washed his victim's face, and did everything he
could to alleviate his distress. The upshot of the matter
was that the man became his fast and life-long friend, and
was a better man from that duy. It was impossible then,
EARLY LIFE. 25
and it always remained impossible, for Lincoln to cherish
resentment or revenge.
What Some Men Say About Young Lincoln His First Meeting
With Richard Yates.
Lincoln was a marked and peculiar young man. People
talked about him. His studious habits, his greed for infor-
mation, his thorough mastery of the difficulties of every
new position in which he was placed, his intelligence touch-
ing all matters of public concern, his unwearying good
nature, his skill in telling a story, his great athletic power,
his quaint, odd ways, his uncouth appearance, all tending to
bring him in sharp contrast with the dull mediocrity by
which he was surrounded. Denton Offutt, his old employer
in the store, said, in the extravagance of his admiration,
that he knew more than any other man in the United States.
The Governor of Indiana, one of Oifutt's acquaintances,
said, after having a conversation with Lincoln, that the
young man " had talent enough in him to make a Presi-
dent." In every circle in which he found himself, whether
refined or coarse, he was always the centre of attraction.
William G. Greene says that when he (Greene) was a
member of Illinois College, he brought home with him, on
a vacation, Richard Yates, afterwards Governor of the state,
and some other boys, and, in order to entertain them, took
them all up to see Lincoln. He found him in his usual
position and at his usual occupation. He was flat on his
back, on a cellar door, reading a newspaper. That was the
manner in which a President of the United States and a
Governor of Illinois became acquainted with one another.
Mr. Greene says that Lincoln then could repeat the whole
of Burns, and was a devoted student of Shakspeare. So
the rough backwoodsman, self-educated, entertained the
26 LINCOLN STORIES.
college boys, and was invited to dine with them on bread
and milk. How he managed to upset his bowl of milk is
not a matter of histor} r , but the fact that he did so is, as is
the further fact that Greene's mother, who loved Lincoln,
tried to smooth over the accident and relieve the young
A Pig Story Lincoln's Kindness to the Brute Creation.
An amusing incident occurred in connection with " riding
the circuit,'' which gives a pleasant glimpse into the good
lawyer's heart. He was riding by a deep slough, in which, to
his exceeding pain, he saw a pig struggling, and with such
faint eiforts that it was evident that he could not extricate him-
self from the mud. Mr. Lincoln looked at the pig and the
mud which enveloped him, and then looked at some new
clothes with which he had but a short time before enveloped
himself. Deciding against the claims of the pig, he rode
on, but he could not get rid of the vision of the poor brute,
and, at last, after riding two miles, he turned back, deter-
mined to rescue the animal at the expense of his new clothes.
Arrived at the spot, he tied his horse, and coolly went to
work to build of old rails a passage to the bottom of the
hole. Descending on these rails, he seized the pig and
dragged him out, but not without serious damage to the
clothes he wore. Washing his hands in the nearest brook,
and wiping them on the grass, he mounted his gig and rode
along. He then fell to examining the motive that sent him
back to the release of the pig. At the first thought it
seemed to be pure benevolence, but, at length, he came to
the conclusion that it was selfishness, for he certainly went
to the pig's relief in order (as he said to the friend to whom
he related the incident,) to " take a pain out of his own
mind." This is certainly a new view of the nature of
EARLY LIFE. 27
sympathy, and one which it will be well for the casuist to
A Hard Tussle with Seven Negroes Life on a Mississippi Flat
At the age of nineteen, Abraham made his second essay
in navigation, and this time caught something more than a
glimpse of the great world in which he was destined to play
so important a part. A trading neighbor applied to him
to take charge of a flat-boat and its cargo, and, in company
with his own son, to take it to the sugar plantations near
New Orleans. The entire business of the trip was placed
in Abraham's hands. The fact tells its own story touching
the young man's reputation for capacity and integrity. He
had never made the trip, knew nothing of the journey, was
unaccustomed to business transactions, had never been much
upon the river; but his tact, ability and honesty were so
trusted that the trader was willing to risk his cargo and his
son in Lincoln's care.
The incidents of a trip like this were not likely to be
exciting, but there were many social chats with settlers and
.hunters along the banks of the Ohio and Mississippi, and
there was much hailing of similar craft afloat. Arriving at
a sugar plantation somewhere between Natchez and New
Orleans, the boat was pulled in, and tied to the shore for
purposes of trade; and here an incident occurred which was
sufficiently exciting, and one which, in the memory of recent
events, reads somewhat strangely. Here seven negroes
attacked the life of the future liberator of the race, and it
is not improbable that some of them have lived to be eman-
cipated by his proclamation. Night had fallen, and the
two tired voyagers had lain down upon their hard bed for
sleep. Hearing a noise on shore, A braham shouted : " "Who's
28 LINCOLN STORIES.
there?'' The noise continuing, and no voice replying, he
sprang to his feet, and saw seven negroes, evidently bent on
Abraham guessed the errand at once, and seizing a hand-
spike, rushed toward them, and knocked one into the water
the moment he touched the boat. The second, third and
fourth who leaped on board were served in the same rough
way. Seeing that they were not likely to make headway
in their thieving enterprise, the remainder turned to flee.
Abraham and his companion growing excited and warm with
their work, leaped on shore, and followed them. Both were
too swift on foot for the negroes, and all of them received
a severe pounding. They returned to their boat just as the
others escaped from the water, but the latter fled into the
darkness as fast as their feet could carry them. Abraham
and his fellow in the fight were both injured, but not dis-
abled. Not being armed, and unwilling to wait until the
negroes had received reinforcements, they cut adrift, and
floating down a mile or two, tied up to the bank again, and
watched and waited for the morning.
The trip was brought at length to a successful end. The
cargo, or " load," as they called it, was all disposed of for
money, the boat itself sold for lumber, and the young men.
retraced the passage, partly, at least, on shore and on foot,
occupying several weeks in the difficult and tedious journey.
Lincoln Splits Several Hundred Rails for a Pair of Pants How
He Looked, as Described by a Companion.
A gentleman by the name of George Cluse, who used to
work with Abraham Lincoln during his first years in Illi-
nois, says that at that time he was the roughest looking
person he ever saw. He was tall, angular and ungainly,
wore trowsers made of flax and tow, cut tight at the ankle
EARLY LIFE. 29
and but at both knees. He was known to be very poor, but
he was a welcome guest in every house in the neighborhood.
Mr. Cluse speaks of splitting rails with Abraham, and reveals
some very interesting facts concerning wages. Money was a
commodity never reckoned upon. Lincoln split rails to get
clothing, and he made a bargain with Mrs. Nancy Miller
to split four hundred rails for every yard of brown jeans,
dyed with white walnut bark, that would be nescessary to
make him a pair of trowsers. In these days Lincoln used
to walk five, six, and seven miles to work.
Lincoln's Story of a Girl in New Salem.
Among the numerous delegations which thronged Wash-
ington in the early part of the war, was one from oSTew
York, which urged very strenuously the sending of a fleet
to the southern cities Charleston, Mobile and Savannah
with the object of drawing off the rebel army from Wash-
ington. Mr. Lincoln said the object reminded him of the
case of a girl in ISTew Salem, who was greatly troubled with
a a singing " in her head. Various remedies were suggested
by the neighbors, but nothing tried afforded any relief. At
last a man came along " a common-sense sort of man,"
said he, inclining his head towards the gentleman compli-
mentarily " who was asked to prescribe for the difficulty.
After due inquiry and examination, he said the cure was
'What is it?' was the question.
' Make plaster of psalm-tunes, and apply to her feet, and
draw the " singing " down] was the rejoinder."
30 LINCOLN STORIES.
Mrs. Brown's Story of Young Abe How a Man Slept with the
President of the United States.
'Rev. A. Hale, of Springfield, 111., is responsible for the
following interesting storv: Mr. Hale, in May, 1861 (after
Lincoln's election to the Presidency), went out about seven
miles from his home to visit a sick lady, and found there a Mrs.
Brown who had come in as a neighbor. Mr. Lincoln's name
having been mentioned, Mrs . Brown said : u "Well, I remem-
ber Mr. Linken. He worked with my old man thirty-four
year ago, and made a crap. We lived on the same farm
where we live now, and he worked all the season, and made
a crap of corn, and the next Winter they hauled the crap
all the way to Galena, and sold it for two dollers and a half
a bushel. At that time there was no public houses, and
travelers were obliged to stay at any house along the road
that could take them in. One evening a right smart look-
ing man rode up to the fence, and asked my old man if he
could get to stay over night. ' Well,' said Mr. Brown, ' we
can feed your crittur, and give you something to eat, but
we can't lodge you unless you can sleep on the same bed
with the hired man.' The man hesitated, and asked, ' Where
is he? ' Well, said Mr. Brown, ' you can come and see him.'
So the man got down from his crittur, and Mr. Brown took
him around to where, in the shade of the house, Mr. Lin-
coln lay his full length on the ground, with an open book
before him. ' There,' said Mr. Brown, pointing at him,
'he is.' The stranger looked at him a minute, and said,
' Well, I think he'll do,' and he staid and slept with the
President of the United States."
EARLY LIFE. 31
When and Where Lincoln Obtained the Name of "Honest Abe."
During the year that Lincoln was in Den ton Offutt'a
store, that gentleman, whose business was somewhat widely
and unwisely spread about the country, ceased to prosper
in his finances, and finally failed. The store was shut up,
the mill was closed, and Abraham Lincoln was out of busi-
ness. The year had been one of great advances, in many
respects. lie had made new and valuable acquaintances,
read many books, mastered the grammar of his own tongue,
won multitudes of friends, and become ready for a step
still further in advance. Those who could appreciate brains
respected him, and those whose highest ideas of a man
related to his muscles were devoted to him. Every one
trusted him. It was while he was preforming the duties of
the store that he acquired the soubriquet " Honest Abe "
a characterization that he never dishonored, and an abbre-
viation that he never outgrew. He was judge, arbritrator,
referee, umpire, authority, in all disputes, games and matches
of man-flesh and horse-flesh; a pacificator in all quarrels;
everybody's friend; the best matured, the most sensible, the
best informed, the most modest and unassuming, the kind-
est, gentlest, roughest, strongest, best "young fellow in all
New Salem and the region round about.
Lincoln's Mechanical Ingenuity His Patent Boat.
That he had enough mechanical genius to make him a
good mechanic, there is no doubt. With such rude tools
as were at his command he had made cabins and flat-boats;
and after his mind had become absorbed in public and pro-
fessional affairs he often recurred to his mechanical dreams
for amusement. One of his dreams took form, and he en-
deavored to make a practical matter of it. He had had
32 LINCOLN STORIES.
experience in the early navigation of the "Western rivers^
One of the most serious hinderances to this navigation was
low water, and the lodgment of the various craft on the
shifting shoals and bars with which these rivers abound.
He undertook to contrive an apparatus which, folded to the
hull of a boat like a bellows, might be inflated on occa-
sion, and, by its levity, lift it over any obstruction upon
which it might rest. On this contrivance, illustrated by a
model whittled out by himself, and now preserved in the
Patent Office at "Washington, he secured letters patent; but
it is certain that the navigation of the "Western rivers was
not revolutionized by it.
A Remarkable Story "Honest Abe" as Postmaster How He
Kept the Identical Money in Trust for Many Years.
Mr. Lincoln was appointed Postmaster by President
Jackson. The office was too insignificant to be considered
politically, and it was given to the young man because
everybody liked him, and because he was the only man will-
ing to take it who could make out the returns. He was
exceedingly pleased with the appointment, because it gave
him a chance to read every newspaper that was taken in
the vicinity. He had never been able to get half the news-
papers he wanted before, and the office gave him the pros-
pect of a constant feast. Not wishing to be tied to the
office, as it yielded him no revenue that would reward him
for the confinement, he made a Post-office of his hat.
Whenever he went out, the letters were placed in his hat.
"When an anxious looker for a letter found the Postmaster,
he had found his office; and the public officer, taking off
his hat, looked over his mail wherever the public might
find him. He kept the office until it was discontinued, or
removed to Petersburg.
EARLY LIFE. 33
One of the most beautiful exhibitions of Mr. Lincoln's
rigid honesty occurred in connection with the settlement of
his accounts with the Post-office Department, several years
afterwards. It was after he had become a lawyer, and had
been a legislator. He had passed through a period of great
poverty, had acquired his education in the law in the midst
of many perplexities, inconveniences, and hardships, and
had met with temptations, such as few men could resist, to
make a temporary use of any money he might have in his
hands. One day, seated in the law office of his partner, the
agent of the Post-office Department entered, and inquired
if Abraham Lincoln was within. Mr. Lincoln responded
to his name, and was informed that the agent had called to
collect a balance due the Department since the discon-
tinuance of the New Salem office. A shade of perplexity
passed over Mr. Lincoln's face, which did not escape the
notice of friends who were present. One of them said at
once: "Lincoln, if you are in want of money, let us help
you." He made no reply, but suddenly rose, and pulled
out from a pile of books a little old trunk, and, returning
to the table, asked the agent how much the amount of his
debt was. The sum was named, and then Mr. Lincoln
opened the trunk, pulled out a little package of coin
wrapped in a cotton rag, and counted out the exact sum,
amounting to something more than seventeen dollars.
After the agent had left the room, he remarked quietly that
he never used any man's money but his own. Although
this sum had been in his hands during all these years, he
had never regarded it as available, even for any temporary
purpose of his own.
34 LINCOLN STORIES.
How Lincoln Piloted a Flat-Boat Over a Mill-Dam.
Governor Yates, of Illinois, in a speech at Springfield,
quoted one of Mr. Lincoln's early friends W. T. Greene
as having said that the first time he ever saw Mr. Lincoln,
he was in the Sangamon River with his trousers rolled up
five feet, more or less, trying to pilot a flat-boat over a mill-
dam. The boat was so full of water that it was hard to
manage. Lincoln got the prow over, and then, instead of
waiting to bail the water out, bored a hole through the
projecting part and let it run out; aifordinga forcible illus-
tration of the ready ingenuity of the future President in
the quick invention of moral expedients.
Splitting Rails and Studying Mathematics Simmons, Lincoln &
In the year 1855 or '56, George B. Lincoln. Esq., of
Brooklyn, was traveling through the West in connection
with a large New York dry-goods establishment. He
found himself one night in a town on the Illinois River, by
the name of Naples. The only tavern of the place had
evidently been constructed with reference to business on a
small scale. Poor as the prospect seemed, Mr. Lincoln
had no alternative but to put up at the place. The supper-
room was also used as a lodging-room. After supper and
a comfortable hour before the fire, Mr. L. told his host
that he thought he would " go to bed." " Bed ! " echoed
the landlord ; <k there is no bed for you in this house, unless
you sleep with that man yonder. He has the only one we
have to spare.'' ' Well," returned Mr. Lincoln, " the
gentleman has possession, and perhaps would not like a
bedfellow." Upon this, a grizzly head appeared out of the
pillows, and said, " What is your name ? " ;; They call
EARLY LIFE. 37
me Lincoln at home,'" was the reply. i; Lincoln ! '' re-
peated the stranger ; " any connection of our Illinois
Abraham?'' No,''' replied Mr. L., "I fear not."
" Well," said the old man, " I will let any man by the
name of 'Lincoln ' sleep with me, jnst for the sake of the
name. You have heard of Abe ? " he inquired. " Oh,
yes, very often," replied Mr. Lincoln. " No man could
travel far in this State without hearing of him, and I
would be very glad to claim connection, if I could do so
honestly." " Well," said the old gentleman, " my name
is Simmons. ' Abe ' and I used to live and work together
when we were young men. Many a job of wood-cutting
and rail-splitting have I done up with him. Abe Lin-
coln," said he, with emphasis, " was the likeliest boy in
God's world. He would work all day as hard as any of us
and study by firelight in the log-house half the night ;
and in this way he made himself a thorough practical
surveyor. Once, during those days, I was in the upper
part of the State, and I met General" Ewing, whom Presi-
dent Jackson had sent to the Northwest to make surveys.
I told him about Abe Lincoln, what a student he was, and
that I wanted he should give him a job. He looked over
his memoranda, arid, pulling out a paper, said: ' There is
county must be surveyed ; if your friend can do the
work properly, I shall be glad to have him undertake it
the compensation will be six hundred dollars ! ' Pleased
as I could be, I hastened to Abe, after I got home, with
an account of what I had secured for him. He was sitting
before the fire in the log-cabin when I told him ; and what
do you think was his answer? When I finished, he looked
up very quietly, and said, < Mr. Simmons, I thank you very
sincerely for your kindness, but I don't think I will under-
take the job.' ' In the name of wonder," said I, ' why ?
Six hundred dollars does not grow upon every bush out
38 LINCOLN STORIES.
herein Illinois.' 'I know that,' said Abe, 'and I need
the money bad enough, Simmons, as 'you know; but I
have never been under obligation to a Democratic admin-
istration, and I never intend to be so long as I can get my
living another way. General Ewing must find another
man to do his work.' '
Mr. Carpenter related this story to the President one
day, and asked him if it was true. " Pollard Simmons ! "
said Lincoln : " well do I remembfer him. It is correct
about our working togeth^. but the old man must have
stretched the facts somevhat about the survey of the
county. I think I should have been very glad of the job
at that time, no matter what administration was in power."
Notwithstanding this, however, Mr. Carpenter was inclined
to believe Mr. Simmons was not far out of the way and
thought his statement seemed very characteristic of what
Abraham Lincoln maybe supposed to have been at twenty-
three or twenty-five years of age.
Captain Lincoln How he Became Captain.
In the threatening aspect of affairs at the time of the
Black Hawk T Y" r, Governor Reynolds issued a call for