Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; online

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spatched to arrest Henrj-^ Trailor at the Grove, and Jim Maxcy to
Warren to arrest William. On Monday last, Henry was brought in,
and showed an evident inclination to insinuate that he knew Fisher
to be dead, and that Arch, and William had killed him. He said he
guessed the body could be found in Spring Creek, between the
Beardstown road and Hickox's mill. Away the people swept like a
herd of buffalo, and cut down Hickox's mill-dam nolens volens, to
draw the water out of the pond, and then went up and down and
down and up the creek, fishing and raking, and raking and ducking,
and diving for two days, and, after all, no dead body found.

In the mean time a sort of scuffling-ground had been found in the
brush in the angle, or point, where the road leading into the woods
past the brewery and the one leading in past the brick-yard meet.
From the scuffle-ground was the sign of something about the size
of a man having been dragged to the edge of the thifket, where it
joined the track of some small-wheeled carriage drawn by one horse,
as shown by the road-tracks. The carriage-track led off toward
Spring Creek. Near this drag-trail Dr. Merryman found two hairs,
which, after a long scientific examination, he pronounced to be tri-
angular human hair, which term, he says, includes within it the
whiskers, the hair growing under the arms and on other parts of the
body ; and he judged that these two were of the whiskers, because
the ends were cut, showing that they had flourished in the neigh-
borhood of the razor's operations. On Thursday last Jim Maxcy
brought in William Trailor from Warren. On the same day Arch.
was arrested and put in jail. Yesterday (Friday) William was put
upon his examining trial before May and Lovely. Archibald and
Henry were both present. Lamborn prosecuted, and Logan, Baker,
and your humble servant defended. A great many witnesses were
introduced and examined, but I shall only mention those whose
testimony seemed most important. The first of these was Captain
Ransdell. He swore that when William and Henry left Springfield
for home on Tuesday before mentioned, they did not take the direct
route, — which, you know, leads by the butcher shop, — but that they
followed the street north until they got opposite, or nearly opposite.
May's new house, after which he could not see them from where he
stood ; and it was afterward proved that in about an hour after they
started, they came into the street by the butcher shop from toward
the brick-yard. Dr. Merryman and others swore to what is statedabout
the scuffle-ground, drag-trail, whiskers, and carriage- traeks. Henry
was then introduced by the prosecution. He swore that when they
started for home, they went out north, as Ransdell stated, and turned
Vol. L— 4.


down west by the brick-yard into the woods, and there met Archi-
bald; that they proceeded a small distance farther, when he was
placed as a sentinel to watch for and announce the approach of any
one that might happen that way ; that William and Arch, took the
dearborn out of the road a small distance to the edge of the thicket,
where they stopped, and he saw them lift the body of a man into it;
that they then moved off with the carriage in the direction of Hickox's
mill, and he loitered about for something like an hour, when Wil-
liam returned with the carriage, but without Arch., and said they
had put him in a safe place; that they went somehow — he did not
know exactly how — into the road close to the brewery, and pro-
ceeded on to Clary's Grove. He also stated that some time during
the day William told him that he and Arch, had killed Fisher the
evening before; that the way they did it was by him (William)
knocking him down with a club, and Arch, then choking him to

An old man from Warren, called Dr. Gilmore, was then intro-
duced on the part of the defense. He swore that he had known
Fisher for several years; that Fisher had resided at his house a
long time at each of two different spells — once while he built a
barn for him, and once while he was doctored for some chronic
disease ; that two or three years ago Fisher had a serious hurt in
his head by the bursting of a gun^ since which he had been subject
to continued bad health and occasional aberration of mind. He also
stated that on last Tuesday, being the same day that Maxey arrested
William Trailer, he (the doctor) was from home in the early part of
the day, and on his return, about eleven o'clock, found Fisher at his
house m bed, and apparently very unwell ; that he asked him how he
came from Springfield ; that Fisher said he had come by Peoria, and
also told of several other places he had been at more in the direction
of Peoria, which showed that he at the time of speaking did not know
where he had been wandering about in a state of derangement. He
further stated that in about two hours he received a note from one
of Trailer's friends, advising him of his arrest, and requesting him
to go on to Springfield as a witness, to testify as to the state of
Fisher's health in former times ; that he immediately set off, calling
up two of his neighbors as company, and, riding all evening and all
night, overtook Maxcy and William at Lewiston in Fulton County;
that Maxcy refusing to discharge Trailer upon his statement, his
two neighbors returned and he came on to Springfield. Some ques-
tion being made as to whether the doctor's story was not a fabrica-
tion, several acquaintances of his (among whom was the same
postmaster who wrote Keys, as before mentioned) were introduced
as sort of compurgators, who swore that they knew the doctor
to be of good character for truth and veracity, and generally
of good character in every way. Here the testimony ended,
and the Trailers were discharged, Arch, and William express-
ing both in word and manner their entire confidence that Fisher
would be found alive at the doctor's by Galloway, Mallory and
Myers, who a day before had been despatched for that purpose;
while Henry still protested that no power on earth could ever show


Fisher alive. Thus stands this curious aflfair. When the doctor's
story was first made public, it was amusing to scan and cohtemplate
the countenances and hear the remarks of those who had been
actively in search for the dead body : some looked quizzical, some
melancholy, and some furiously angry. Porter, who had been very
active, swore he always knew the man was not dead, and that he
had not stirred an inch to hunt for him ; Langford, who had taken
the lead in cutting down Hickox's mill-dam, and wanted to hang
Hickox for objecting, looked most awfuUy woebegone : he seemed
the "victim of unrequited affection," as represented in the comic
almanacs we used to laugh over; and Hart, the little drayman
that hauled Molly home once, said it was too damned bad to have
so much trouble, and no hanging after all.

I commenced this letter on yesterday, since which I received yours
of the 13th. I stick to my promise to come to Louisville. Nothing

new here except what I have written. I have not seen since my

last trip, and I am going out there as soon as I mail this letter.
Tours forever, Lincoln.

June 25, 1841. — Statement about Harry Wilton.

It having been charged in some of the public prints that Harry
WUtou, late United States marshal for the district of Illinois, had
used his ofQ.ce for political effect, in the appointment of deputies for
the taking of the census for the year 1840, we, the undersigned, were
called upon by Mr. Wilton to examine the papers in his possession
relative to these appointments, and to ascertain therefrom the cor-
rectness or incorrectness of such charge. We accompanied Mr. Wil-
ton to a room, and examined the matter as fully as we could with
the means afforded us. The only sources of information bearing
on the subject which were submitted to us, were the letters, etc.,
recommending and opposing the various appointments made, and
Mr. Wilton's verbal statements concerning the same. From these
letters, etc., it appears that in some instances appointments were
made in accordance with the recommendations of leading Whigs,
and in opposition to those of leading Democrats ; among which in-
stances the appointments at Scott, Wayne, Madison, and Lawrence
are the strongest. According to Mr. Wilton's statement, of the
seventy-six appointments we examined, fifty-four were of Demo-
crats, eleven of Whigs, and eleven of unknown politics.

The chief ground of complaint against Mr. Wilton, as we had
understood it, was because of his appointment of so many Demo-
cratic candidates for the legislature, thus giving them a decided ad-
vantage over their Whig opponents ; and consequently our attention
was directed rather particularly to that point. We found that there
were many such appointments, among which were those in Taze-
well, McLean, Iroquois, Coles, Menard, Wayne, Washington, Fayette,
etc. ; and we did not learn that there was one instance in which a
Whig candidate for the legislature had been appointed. There was
no written evidence before us showing us at what time those ap-


pointments were made ; but Mr. Wilton stated tliat they aUj with
one exception, were made before those appointed became candidates
for the legislature, and the letters, etc., recommending them aU bear
date before, and most of them long before, those appointed were
publicly announced candidates.
We give the foregoing naked facts, and draw no conclusions from


Benj. S. Edwards,
June 25, 1841. A. Lincoln.

September 27, 1841.— Letter to Miss Mary Speed.

Bloomington, III., September 27, 1841.
Miss Mart Speed, Louisville, Ky.

My Friend : Having resolved to write to some of your mother's
family, and not having the express permission of any one of them
to do so, I have had some, little difficulty in determining on which to
inflict the task of reading what I now feel must be a most dull and
silly letter ; but when I remembered that you and I were something
of cronies while I was at Farmington, and that while there I was
under the necessity of shutting you up in a room to prevent your
committing an assault and battery upon me, I instantly decided
that you should be the devoted one. I assume that you have not
heard from Joshua and myself since we left, because I think it doubt-
ful whether he has written. You remember there was some uneasi-
ness about Joshua's health when we left. That little indisposition
of his turned out to be nothing serious, and it was pretty nearly
forgotten when we reached Springfield. We got on board the steam-
boat Lebanon in the locks of the canal, about twelve o'clock M. of
the day we left, and reached St. Louis the next Monday at 8 P. M.
Nothing of interest happened during the passage, except the vexa-
tious delays occasioned by the sand-bars be thought interesting.
By the way, a fine example was presented on board the boat for
contemplating the effect of condition upon human happiness. A
gentleman had purchased twelve negroes in different parts of Ken-
tucky, and was taking them to a farm in the South. They were
chained six and six together. A small iron clevis was around the
left wrist of each, and this fastened to the main chain by a shorter
one, at a convenient distance from the others, so that the negroes
were strung together preciseljr like so many fish upon a trot-line.
In this condition they were bemg separated forever from the scenes
of their childhood, their friends, their fathers and mothers, and
brothers and sisters, and many of them from their wives and
children, and going into perpetual slavery, where the lash of the
master is proverbially more ruthless and unrelenting than any other
where; and yet amid all these distressing circumstances, as we
would think them, they were the most cheerful and apparently
happy creatures on board. One whose offense for which he had
been sold was an over-fondness for his wife, played the fiddle almost
continually, and the others danced, sang, cracked jokes, and played


various games with cards from day to day. How true it is that
" God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb," or in other words, that
he renders the worst of human conditions tolerable, while he permits
the best to be nothing better than tolerable. To return to the nar-
rative. When we reached Springfield, I stayed but one day, when
I started on this tedious circuit where I now am. Do you remem-
ber my going to the city, while I was in Kentucky, to have a tooth
extracted; and making a failure of it ? Well, that same old tooth
got to paining me so much that about a week since I had it torn out,
bringing with it a bit of the jaw-bone, the consequence of which
is that my mouth is now so sore that I can neither talk nor eat.

I am literally "subsisting on savory remembrances" — that is,
being unable to eat, I am living upon the remembrance of the deli-
cious dishes of peaches and cream we used to have at your house.
When we left. Miss Fanny Henning was owing you a visit, as I under-
stood. Has she paid it yet? If she has, are you not convinced that
she is one of the sweetest girls in the world? There is but one
thing about her, so far as I could perceive, that I would have other-
wise than as it is — that is, something of a tendency to melancholy.
This, let it be observed, is a misfortune, not a fault.

Give her an assurance of my very highest regard when you see
her. Is little Siss Eliza Davis at your house yet ? If she is, kiss
her " o'er and o'er again " for me.

Tell your mother that I have not got her "present" [an "Oxford"
Bible] with me, but I intend to read it regularly when I return
home. I doubt not that it is really, as she says, the best cure for
the blues, could one but take it according to the truth. Give my
respects to all your sisters (including Aunt Emma) and brothers.
Tell Mrs. Peay, of whose happy face I shall long retain a pleasant
remembrance, that I have been trying to think of a name for her
homestead, but as yet cannot satisfy myself with one. I shall be
very happy to receive a line from you soon after you receive this,
and in case you choose to favor me with one, address it to Charles-
ton, Coles County, 111., as I shall be there about the time to receive
it. Your sincere friend,

A. Lincoln.

October 20, 1841. — Call for Whig State Convention.

The unders igne d, acting, as is believed, in accordance with the
wishes of the Whig party, and in compliance with their duties as
the Whig Central Committee of this State, appoint the third Mon-
day of December next for the meeting of a Whig State Convention,
at Springfield, for the purpose of nominating candidates for the of-
fices of Governor and Lieutenant-Governor of this State for the
coming election.

It is recommended that the number of delegates to the conven-
tion shall conform to the number of representatives entitled under
the new apportionment ; but that in all cases every county shall be
entitled to one delegate.


We would urge upon our political friends in the different coun-
ties to call meetings immediately for the election of delegates.

It is ardently hoped that the counties will be fully represented, in
order that the will of the people maybe expressed in the selection of

A. G-. Henry, J. F. Speed, A. Lincoln,
E. D. Baker, Wm. L. Mat,

Whig State Central Committee.
Springfield, Oct. 20, 1841.

January [3 ?], 1842.— Letter to Joshua F. Speed.

My dear Speed : Feeling, as you know I do, the deepest solicitude
for the success of the enterprise you are engaged in, I adopt this as
the last method I can adopt to aid you, in case (which God forbid!)
you shall need any aid. I do not place what I am going to say on
paper because I can say it better that way than I could by word of
mouth, but, were I to say it orally before we part, most likely you
would forget it at the very time when it might do you some good.
As I think it reasonable that you will feel very badly some time be-
tween this and the final consummation of your purpose, it is in-
tended that you shall read this just at such a time. Why I say it is
reasonable that you will feel very badly yet, is because of three
special causes added to the general one which I shall mention.

The general cause is, that you are naturally of a nervous temper-
ament ; and this I say from what I have seen of you personally^ and
what you have told me concerning your mother at various times,
and concerning your brother William at the time his wife died.
The first special cause is your exposure to bad weather on your
journey, which my experience clearly proves to be very severe on
defective nerves. The second is the absence of all business and
conversation of friends, which might divert your mind, give it occa-
sional rest from the intensity of thought which will sometimes wear
the sweetest idea threadbare and turn it to the bitterness of death.
The third is the rapid and near approach of that crisis on which all
your thoughts and feelings concentrate.

If from all these causes you shall escape and go through trium-
phantly, without another " twinge of the soul," I shall be most hap-
pily but most egregiously deceived. If, on the contrary, you shall,
as I expect you will at some time, be agonized and distressed, let
me, who have some reason to speak with judgment on such a sub-
ject, beseech you to ascribe it to the causes I have mentioned, and
not to some false and ruinous suggestion of the Devil.

" But^" you will say, " do not your causes apply to every one en-
gaged in a like undertaking?" By no means. The particular
causes, to a greater or less extent perhaps, do apply in all cases; but
the general one,— nervous debility, which is the key and conductor
of all the particular ones, and without which they would be utterly
harmless,— though it does pertain to you, does not pertain to one in


a thousand. It is out of this that the painful difference between
you and the mass of the world springs.

I know what the painful point with you is at all times when you
are unhappy ; it is an apprehension that you do not love her as you
should, what nonsense! How came you to court her? Was it
because you thought she deserved it, and that you had given her
reason to expect it? If it was for that, why did not the same reason
make you court Ann Todd, and at least twenty others of whom you
can think, and to whom it would apply with greater force than to
her ? Did you court her for her wealth ? Why, you know she had
none. But you say you reasoned yourself into it. What do you
mean by that ? Was it not that you found yourself unable to reason
yourself out of it ? Did you not think, and partly form the purpose,
of courting her the first time you ever saw her or heard of her ?
What had reason to do with it at that early stage? There was
nothing at that time for reason to work upon. Whether she was
moral, amiable, sensible, or even of good character, you did not, nor
could then kuow, except, perhaps, you might infer the last from the
company you found her in.

All you then did or could know of her was her personal appear-
ance and deportment ; and these, if they impress at all, impress the
heart, and not the head.

Say candidly, were not those heavenly black eyes the whole basis
of all your early reasoning on the subject ? After you and I had
once been at the residence, did you not go and take me all the way
to Lexington and back, for no other purpose but to get to see her
again, on our return on that evening to take a trip for that express
object? What earthly consideration would you take to find her
scouting and despising you, and giving herself up to another? But
of this you have no apprehension ; and therefore you cannot bring
it home to your feelings.

I shall be so anxious about you that I shall want you to write by
every mail. Tour friend,


February 3, 1842. — Letter to Joshua F. Speed.

Springfield, Illinois, February 3, 1842.
Dear Speed : Your letter of the 25th January came to hand to-day.
You well know that I do not feel my own sorrows much more keenly
than I do yours, when I know of them ; and yet I assure you I was
not much hurt by what you wrote me of your excessively bad feel-
ing at the time you wrote. Not that I am less capable of sympa-
thizing with you now than ever, not that I am less your friend than
ever, but because I hope and believe that your present anxiety and
distress about her health and her life must and will forever banish
those horrid doubts which I know you sometimes felt as to the
truth of your affection for her. If they can once and forever be re-
moved (and I almost feci a presentiment that the Almighty has sent
your present affliction expressly for that object), surely nothing can


come in their stead to fill their immeasurable measure of misery.
The death-scenes of those we love are surely painful enough s but
these we are prepared for and expect to see : they happen to all, and
all know they must happen. Painful as they are, they are not an
unlooked-for sorrow. Should she, as you fear, be destined to an
early grave, it is indeed a great consolation to know that she is so
well prepared to meet it. Her religion, which you once disliked so
much, I will venture you now prize most highly. But I hope your
melancholy bodings as to her early death are not well founded. I
even hope that ere this reaches you she will have returned with im-
proved and still improving health, and that you will have met her,
and forgotten the sorrows of the past in the enjoyments of the pres-
ent. I would say more if I could, but it seems that I have said
enough. It really appears to me that you yourself ought to rejoice,
and not sorrow, at this indubitable evidence of your undying affec-
tion for her. Why, Speed, if you did not love her, although you
might not wish her death, you would most certainly be resigned to
it. Perhaps this point is no longer a question with you, and my
pertinacious dwelling upon it is a rude intrusion upon your feel-
ings. If so, you must pardon me. You know the hell I have suf-
fered on that point, and how tender I am upon it. You know I do
not mean wrong. I have been quite clear of "hypo" since you left ;

even better than I was along in the fall. I have seen but

once. She seemed very cheerful, and so I said nothing to her about
what we spoke of.

Old Uncle Billy Herndon is dead, and it is said this evening that
Uncle Ben Ferguson will not live. This, I believe, is all the news,
and enough at that unless it were better. Write me immediately on
the receipt of this. Your friend, as ever,


February 13, 1842.— Letter to Joshua F. Speed,

Springfield, Illinois, February 13, 1842.
Dmr Speed: Yours of the 1st instant came to hand three or four
days ago. When this shall reach you, vou will have been Fanny's
husband several days. You know my de"sire to befriend you is ever-
lastmg; that I wiU never cease while -I know how to do anything.
But you will always hereafter be on ground that I have never occu-
pied, and consequently, if advice were needed, I might advise wrong.
I do fondly hope, however, that you will never again need any com-
fort from abroad. But should I be mistaken in this, should exces-
sive pleasure still be accompanied with a painful counterpart at
times, still let me urge you, as I have ever done, to remember, in the
depth and even agony of despondency, that very shortly you are to
feel well again. I am now fuUy convinced that you love her as ar-
dently as you are capable of loving. Your ever being happy in her
presence, and your intense anxiety about her health, if there were
nothing else, would place this beyond all dispute in my mind I
incline to think it probable that your nerves will fail you occasion-


ally for a while; but once you get them firmly guarded now, that
trouble is over forever. I think, if I were you, in case my mind were
not exactly right, I would avoid being idle. I would immediately
engage in some business, or go to making preparations for it, which
would be the same thing. If you went through the ceremony calmly,
or even with sufiScient composure not to excite alarm in any present,
you are safe beyond question, and in two or three months, to say the
most, will be the happiest of men.

Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 7 of 91)