' ; ' Can you build this bridge?' inquired the committee.
" ' Yes,' replied Jones, ' or any other. I could build a
bridge to the infernal regions, if necessary !'
The committee were shocked, and Brown felt called upon
to defend his friend. ' I know Jones so well,' said he, ' and
he is so honest a man and so good an architect, that if he
states soberly and positively that he can build a bridge to
to , why, I believe it; but I feel bound to say that I
have my doubts about the abutment on the infernal side/
' So,'' said Mr. Lincoln, " when politicians told me that
the northern and southern wings of the Democracy could
be harmonized, why, I believed them, of course; but I
always had my doubts about the ' abutment ' on the other
An Incident Connected with Lincoln's Nomination A Good
Immediately after Mr. Lincoln's nomination for Presi-
dent at the Chicago Convention, a committee, of which
Governor Morgan, of New York, was Chairman, visited
him in Springfield, 111., where he was officially informed
of his nomination.
After this ceremony had passed, Mr. Lincoln remarked
to the company, that as an appropriate conclusion to an
interview so important and interesting as that which had
just transpired, he supposed good manners would require
that he should treat the committee with something to
drink ; and opening a door that led into a room in the
rear, he called out " Mary ! Mary ! " A girl responded to
PROFESSIONAL LIFE. 71
the call, to whom Mr. Lincoln spoke a few words in an
under- tone, and, closing the door, returned again to converse
with his guests. In a few minutes the maiden entered,
bearing a large waiter, containing several glass tumblers,
and a large pitcher in the midst, and placed it upon the
centre-table. Mr. Lincoln arose, and gravely addressing
the company, said : " Gentlemen, we must pledge our mu-
tual healths in the most healthy beverage which God has
given to man it is the only beverage I have ever used or
allowed in my family, and I can not conscientiously depart
from it on the present occasion it is pure Adam's ale from
the spring ; " and, taking a tumbler, he touched it to his
lips, and pledged them his highest respects in a cup of
cold water. Of course, all his guests were constrained to
admire his consistency, and to join in his example.
Gen. lander's Account of the Lincoln-Shields Duel Why Lincoln
Chose Broadswords as Weapons.
When the famous challenge was sent by General Shields
to Mr. Lincoln, it was at once accepted, and by the advice
of his especial friend and second, Dr. Merriman, he chose
broadswords as the weapons 'with which to fight. Dr.
Merriman being a splendid swordsman trained him in the
use of that instrument, which made it almost certain that
Shields would be killed or discomfited, for he was a small,
short-armed man. while Lincoln was a tall, sinewy, long-
armed man, and as stout as Hercules.
They went to Alton, and were to fight on the neck of
land between the Missouri and Mississippi .Rivers, near their
confluence. John J. Hardin, hearing of the contemplated
duel, determined to prevent it, and hastened to Alton, with
all imaginable celerity, where he fell in with the belligerent
73 LINCOLN STORIES.
parties, and aided by some other friends of both Lincoln
and Shields, succeeded in effecting a reconciliation.
After this affair between Lincoln and Shields, I met Lin-
coln at the Danville court, and in a walk we took together,
seeing him make passes with a stick, such as are made in
the broadsword exercise, I was induced to ask him why he
had selected that weapon with which to fight Shields. He
promptly answered in that sharp, ear-splitting voice of his:
" To tell you the truth, Linder, I did not want to kill Shields,
and felt sure I could disarm him, having had about a month
to learn the broadsword exercise; and furthermore, I didn't
want the darned fellow to kill me, which I rather think he
would have done if we had selected pistols."
Lincoln's Gratitude He Volunteers to Defend the Son of an Old
Friend Indicted for Murder How He Was Acquitted.
Jack Armstrong, the leader of the " Clary Grove Boys,"
with whom Lincoln in earlv life had a scuffle which "Jack "
agreed to call " a drawn battle," in consequence of his own
foul play, afterwards became a life-long, warm friend of
Mr. Lincoln. Later in life the rising lawyer would stop at
Jack's cabin home, and here Mrs. Armstrong, a most
womanly person, learned to respect Mr. Lincoln. There
was no service to which she did not make her guest abund-
antly welcome, and he never ceased to feel the tenderest
gratitude for her kindness.
At length her husband died, and she became dependent
upon her sons. The oldest of these, while in attendance
upon a camp-meeting, found himself involved in a melee,
which resulted in the death of a young man, and young
Armstrong was charged by one of his associates with strik-
ing the fatal blow. He was arrested, examined, and im-
prisoned to await his trial. The public mind was in a
PROFESSIONAL LIFE. 73
blaze of excitement, and interested parties fed the flame.
Mr. Lincoln knew nothing of the merits of this case, that is
certain. He only knew that his old friend Mrs. Armstrong
was in sore trouble; and he sat down at once, and volun-
teered by letter to defend her son. His first act was to
procure the postponement and a change of the place of
the trial. There was too much fever in the minds of the
immediate public to permit of fair treatment. When the
trial came on, the case looked very hopeless to all but Mr.
Lincoln, who had assured himself that the young man was
not guilty. The evidence on behalf of the state being all
in, and looking like a solid and consistent mass of testi-
mony against the prisoner, Mr. Lincoln undertook the task
of analyzing and destroying it, which he did in a manner
that surprised every one. The principal witness testified,
that " by the aid of the brightly shining moon, he saw the
prisoner inflict the death blow with a slung shot." Mr.
Lincoln proved by the almanac that there was no moon
shining at the time. The mass of testimony against the
prisoner melted away, until "not guilty" was the verdict
of every man present in the crowded court-room. There
is, of course, no record of the plea made on this occasion,
but it is remembered as one in which Mr. Lincoln made
an appeal to the sympathies of the jury, which quite sur-
passed his usual efforts of the kind, and melted all to tears.
The jury were out but half an hour, when they returned
with their verdict of "not guilty." The widow fainted in
the arms of her son, who divided his attention between his
services to her and his thanks to his deliverer. And thus
the kind woman who cared for the poor young man, and
showed herself a mother to him in his need, received the
life of a son, saved from a cruel conspiracy, as her reward,
from the hand of her grateful beneficiary.
74 LINCOLN STORIES.
An Honest Lawyer Some of Lincoln's "Oases" and How-
He Treated Them.
A sheep-grower on a certain occasion sold a number of
sheep at a stipulated average price. "When he delivered
the animals, he delivered many lambs, or sheep too young
to come fairly within the terms of the contract. He was
sued for damages by the injured party, and Mr. Lincoln
was his attorney. At the trial, the focts as to the character
of the sheep delivered were proved, and several witnesses
testified as to the usuage by which all under a certain age
were regarded as lambs, and of interior value. Mr. Lincoln,
on comprehending the facts, at once changed his line of
effort, and confined himself to ascertaining the real number
of inferior sheep delivered. On addressing the jury, he said
'that from the facts proved, they must give a verdict against
his client, and he only asked their scrutiny as to the actual
In another case, Mr. Lincoln was conducting a suit
against a railroad company. Judgment having been given
in his favor, and the court being about to allow the amount
claimed by him, deducting a proved and allowed offset, he
rose and stated that his opponents had not proved all that
was justly due them in offset; and proceeded to state and'
allow a further sum against his client, which the court
allowed in its judgment. His desire for the establishment
of exact justice overcame his own selfish love of victory,
as well as his partiality for his clients' feelings and interests.
Lincoln's Pungent Retort.
A little incident occurred during a political campaign
that illustrated Mr. Lincoln's readiness in turning a polit-
ical point. He was making a speech at Charleston, Coles
County, Illinois, when a voice called out, " Mr. Lincoln, i&
PROFESSIONAL LIFE. 75
it true that you entered this state barefoot, driving a yoke
of oxen?" Mr. Lincoln paused for full half a minute, as if
considering whether he should notice such cruel impertin-
ence, and then said that he thought he could prove the fact
by at least a dozen men in the crowd, any one of whom was
more respectable than his questioner. But the question
seemed to inspire him, and he went on to show what free
institutions had done for himself, and to exhibit the evils
of slavery to the white man wherever it existed, and asked
if it was not natural that he should hate slavery and agitate
against it. u Yes," said he, " we will speak for freedom
and against slavery, as long as the Constitution of our
country guarantees free speech, until everywhere on this
wide land the sun shall shine, and the rain shall fall, and.
the wind shall blow upon no man who goes forth to unre-
A Revolutionary Pensioner Defended by Lincoln An Interesting-
An old woman of seventy-five years, the widow of a rev-
olutionary pensioner, came tottering into his law office one
day, and, taking a seat, told him that a certain pension
agent had charged her the exorbitant fee of two hundred
dollars for collecting her claim. Mr. Lincoln was satisfied
by her representations that she had been swindled, and find-
ing that she was not a resident of the town, and that she
was poor, gave her money, and set about the work of pro-
curing restitution. He immediately entered suit against
the agent to recover a portion of his ill-gotten money.
The suit was entirely successful, and Mr. Lincoln's address
to the jury before which the case was tried is remembered
to have been peculiarly touching in its allusions to the
poverty of the widow, arid the patriotism of the husband
76 LINCOLN STORIES.
she had sacrificed to secure the nation's independence. He
had the gratification of paying back to her a hundred dol-
lars, and sending her home rejoicing.
A Thrilling Story Lincoln Threatens a Twenty Years' Agitation
One afternoon an old negro woman came into the office
of Lincoln & Herndon, in Springfield, and told the story
of her trouble, to which both lawyers listened. It appeared
that she and her offspring were born slaves in Kentucky,
and that her owner, one Hinkle, had brought the whole
family into Illinois, and given them their freedom. Her
son had gone down the Mississippi as a waiter or deck
hand, on a steamboat. Arriving at New Orleans, he had
imprudently gone ashore, and had been snatched up by the
police, in accordance with the law then in force concerning
free negroes from other states, and thrown into confine-
ment. Subsequently, he was brought out and tried. Of
course he was fined, and, the boat having left, he was sold,
or was in immediate danger of being sold, to pay his fine
and the expenses. Mr. Lincoln was very much moved, and
requested Mr. Herndon to go over to the State House, and
inquire of Governor Bissell if there was not something he
could do to obtain possession of the negro. Mr. Herndon
made the inquiry, and returned with the report that the
Governor regretted to say that lie had no legal or constitu-
tional right to do anything in the premises. Mr. Lincoln
rose to his feet in great excitement, and exclaimed, "By
the Almighty, I'll have that negro back soon, or I'll have a
twenty years' agitation in Illinois, until the Governor does
have a legal and constitutional right to do something in the
premises." He was saved from the latter alternative at
least in the direct form which he proposed. The lawyers
PROFESSIONAL LIFE 77
sent money to a New Orleans correspondent money of
their own who procured the negro, and returned him to
Lincoln as a Story Teller How he always Turned the Story to
his advantage A Practical Example.
One of his modes of getting rid of troublesome friends,
as well as troublesome enemies, was by telling a story. He
began these tactics early in life, and he grew to be wonder-
fully adept in them. If a man broached . a subject which
he did not wish to discuss, he told a story which changed
the direction of the conversation. If he was called upon
to answer a question, he answered it by telling a story.
He had a story for everything something had occurred at
some place where he used to live, that illustrated every pos-
sible phase of every possible subject with which he might
have connection. His faculty of finding or making a story
to match every event in his history, and every event to
which he bore any relation, was really marvelous.
That he made, or adapted, some of his stories, there is
no question. It is beyond belief that those which entered
his mind left it no richer than they came. It is not to be
supposed that he spent any time in elaborating them, but
by some law of association every event that occurred sug-
gested some story, and, almost by an involuntary process,
his mind harmonized their discordant points, and the story
was pronounced " pat," because it was made so before it
was uttered. Every truth, or combination of truths,
seemed immediately to clothe itself in a form of life, where
he kept it for reference. His mind was full of stories ; and
the great facts of his life and history on entering his mind
seemed to take up their abode in these stories, and if the
garment did not fit them it was so modified that it did.
78 LINCOLN STORIES.
A good instance of the execution which he sometimes
effected with a story, occurred in the legislature. There
was a troublesome member from Wabash County, who
gloried particularly in being a " strict constructionist." He
found something " unconstitutional " in every measure that
was brought forward for discussion. He was a member of
the Judiciary Committee,, and was very apt, after giving
every measure a heavy pounding, to advocate its reference
to this committee. No amount of sober argument could
floor the member from Wabash. At last he came to be
considered a man to be silenced, and Mr. Lincoln was
resorted to for an expedient by which this object might be
accomplished. He soon afterwards honored the draft thus
made upon him.
A measure was brought forward in which Mr. Lincoln's
constituents were interested, when the member from
Wabash rose and discharged all his batteries upon its un-
constitutional points. Mr. Lincoln then took the floor,
and, with the quizzical expression of features which he
could assume at will, and a mirthful twinkle in his gray eyes,
said: "Mr. Speaker, the attack of the member from Wa-
bash on the constitutionality of this measure, reminds me
of an old friend of mine. He's a peculiar looking old fel-
low, with shaggy, overhanging eyebrows, and a pair of
spectacles under them. (Everybody turned to the member
from Wabash, and recognized a personal description.)
One morning just after the old man got up, he imagined,
on looking out of his door, that he saw rather a lively squir-
rel on a tree near his house. So he took down his rifle and
fired at the squirrel, but the squirrel paid no attention to
the shot. He loaded and fired again, and again, until, at
the thirteenth shot, he set down his gun impatiently, and
said to his boy, who was looking on:
" ' Boy, there's something wrong about this rifle.'
PROFESSIONAL LIFE. 79
" ' Rifle's all right, I know 'tis,' responded the boy, ' but
where's your squirrel?'
u ' Don't you see him, humped up about half way up tne
tree?' inquired the old man, peering over his spectacles,
and getting mystified.
'"No, I don't,' responded the boy; and then turning
and looking into his father's face, he exclaimed, ' I see your
squirrel! You 've been firing at a louse on your eyebrow! ' '
The story needed neither application nor explanation.
The House was in convulsions of laughter; for Mr. Lin-
coln's skill in telling a story was not inferior to his appre-
ciation of its points and his power of adapting them to the
case in hand. It killed off the member from Wabash, who
was very careful afterwards not to provoke any allusion to
his " eyebrows."
Hon. Newton Bateman's Thrilling Story of Mr. Lincoln The
Great Man Looking to See How the Springfield Preachers
Voted His Surprise, and What Lincoln Said
At the time of the Lincoln nomination, at Chicago, Mr.
Newton Bateman, Superintendent of Public Instruction
for the State of Illinois, occupied a room adjoining and
opening into the Executive Chamber at Springfield. Fre-
quently this door was open during Mr. Lincoln's receptions,
and throughout the seven months or more of his occupa-
tion, ke saw him nearly every day. Often when Mr. Lin-
coln was tired, he closed the door against all intruders, and
called Mr. Bateman into his room for a quiet talk. On
one of these occasions, Mr. Lincoln took up a book contain-
ing a careful canvass of the city of Springfield, in which
he lived, showing the candidate for whom each citizen had
declared it his intention to vote in the approaching election.
Mr. Lincoln's friends had, doubtless at his own request,
80 LINCOLN STORIES.
placed the result of the canvass in his hands. This was-
towards the close of October, and only a few days before
election. Calling Mr. Bateman to a seat by his side, hav-
ing previously locked all the doors, he said : * Let us look
over this book; I wish particularly to see how the ministers
of Springfield are going to vote.' The leaves were turned,
one by one, and as the names were examined Mr. Lincoln
frequently asked if this one and that were not a minister,
or an elder, or a member of such or such church, and sadly
expressed his surprise on receiving an affirmative answer.
In that manner they went through the book, and then he
closed it and sat silently for some minutes regarding a
memorandum in pencil which lay before him. At length
he turned to Mr. Bateman, with a face full of sadness, and
said : ' Here are twenty-three ministers, of different
denominations, and all of them are against me but three,
and here are a great many prominent members of the
churches, a very large majority are against me. Mr. Bate-
man, I am not a Christian, God knows I would be one,
but I have carefully read the Bible, and I do not so under-
stand this book; ' and he drew forth a pocket New Testa-
ment. ' These men well know,' he continued, ' that I am
for freedom in the Territories, freedom everywhere as free
as the Constitution and the laws will permit, and that my
opponents are for slavery. They know this, and yet, with
this book in their hands, in the light of which human bond-
age can not live a moment, they are going to vote against
me; I do not understand it at all.'
" Here Mr. Lincoln paused paused for long minutes
his features surcharged with emotion. Then he rose and
walked up and down the reception-room in the effort to
retain or regain his self-possession. Stopping at last, he
said, with a trembling voice and cheeks wet with tears : ' I
know there is a God, and that he hates injustice and
slavery. I see the storm coming, and I know that His hand
is in it. If He has a place and work for me, and I think
Pie has, I believe I am ready. I am nothing, but Truth is
everything. I know I am right, because I know that
liberty is right, for Christ teaches it, and Christ is God. I
have told them that a house divided against itself can not
stand; and Christ and Reason say the same; and they will
find it so.'
"'Douglas don't care whether slavery is toted up or
down, but God cares, and humanity cares, and I care; and
with God's help I shall not fail. I may not see the end;
but it will come, and I shall be vindicated; and these men
will find that they have not read their Bible right.'
" Much of this was uttered as if he was speaking to him-
self, and with a sad, earnest solemnity of manner impossi.
ble to be described. After a pause, he resumed : ' Doesn't it
appear strange that men can ignore the moral aspect of
this contest? A revelation could not make it plainer to
me that slavery or the Government must be destroyed.
The future would be something awful, as I look at it, but
for this rock on which I stand,' (alluding to the Testament,
which he still held in his hand,) ' especially with the knowl-
edge of how these ministers are going to vote. It seems,
as if God had borne with this thing (slavery) until the very
teachers of religion had come to defend it from the Bible,,
and to claim for it a divine character and sanction; and
now the cup of iniquity is full, and the vials of wrath will
be poured out.' After this the conversation was continued
for a long time. Everything he said was of a peculiarly-
deep, tender, and religious tone, and all was tinged with a.
touching melancholy. He repeatedly referred to his con-
viction that the day of wrath was at hand, and that he was.
to be an actor in the terrible struggle which would issue in the
overthrow of slavery, though he might not live to see the end.
82 . LINCOLN STORIES.
"After further reference to a belief in Divine Providence,
and the fact of God in history, the conversation turned upon
prayer. He freely stated his belief in the duty, privilege,
and efficacy of prayer, and intimated, in no unmistakable
terms, that he had sought in that way the Divine guidance
and favor. The effect of this conversation upon the mind
of Mr. Bateman, a Christian gentleman whom Mr. Lincoln
profoundly respected, was to convince him that Mr. Lincoln
had, in his quiet way, found a path to the Christian stand-
point that he had found God, and rested on the eternal
truth of God. As the two men were about to separate, Mr.
Bateman remarked : 1 1 have not supposed that you were
accustomed to think so much upon this class of subjects ;
certainly your friends generally are ignorant of the senti-
ments you have expressed to me.' He replied quickly : ' I
know they are, but I think more on these subjects than
upon all others, and I have done so for years; and I am
willing you should know it.' '
WHEN his clients had practiced gross deception upon him,
Mr. Lincoln forsook their cases in mid-passage; and he al-
ways refused to accept fees of those whom he advised not
to prosecute. On one occasion, while engaged upon an
important case, he discovered that he was on the wrong
side. His associate in the case was immediately informed
that he (Lincoln) would not make the plea. The associate
made it, and the case, much to the surprise of Lincoln, was
decided for his client. Perfectly convinced that his client
was wrong, he would not receive one cent of the fee of
nine hundred dollars which he paid. It is not wonderful
that one who knew him well spoke of him as " perversely
WHITE-HOUSE INCIDENTS. 85
Trying the " Greens " on Jake A Serious Experiment.
A deputation of bankers were one day introduced to
the President by the Secretary of the Treasury. One of
the party, Mr. P of Chelsea, Mass., took occasion to
refer to the severity of the tax laid by Congress upon the
" Now," said Mr. Lincoln, " that reminds me of a cir-
cumstance that took place in a neighborhood where I lived
when I was a boy. In the spring of the year the farmers
were very fond of the dish which they called greens,
though the fashionable name for it now-a-days is spinach,
1 believe. One day after dinner, a large family were taken
very ill. The doctor was called in, who attributed it to the
greens, of which all had freely partaken. Living in the
family was a half-witted boy named Jake. On p. subse-
quent occasion, when greens had been gathered for dinner,
the head of the house said : ' Now, boys, before running
any further risk in this thing, we will first try them on
Jake. If he stands it, we are all right.' And just so, I
suppose," said Mr. Lincoln, " Congress thought it would
try this tax on the State Banks ! "