Chapter Seven: On The Circuit

Posted by on February 17, 2008 in Life of Lincoln | Comments Off

There were two qualities in Lincoln’s stories: their fun and their appropriateness. When Lincoln came into court, it was usually with a new story, and as he would tell it in low tones, the lawyers would crowd about him and ignore everything else, to the great annoyance of the judge. Because of that, a judge once called out: “Mr. Lincoln, we can’t hold two courts, one up here and one down there. Either yours or mine must adjourn.”

His practice was as large as that of any lawyer, and he had lots of important cases. But he never accumulated a large sum of money. Probably no other successful lawyer in that region had a smaller income.

This chapter will not be complete without making mention of Lincoln’s professional kindness to the poor and unfortunate. Those who could find no other friends were sure to find a friend in Lincoln. He would freely give his services to the needy.

While Lincoln was a lawyer in Springfield, came a pretty, bright, educated, cultured young lady – Miss Mary Todd. She was from a wealthy family from Kentucky. It is said that she could trace the family genealogy back many centuries. Lincoln was a very popular man and Miss Todd was quite a popular young lady in Springfield. But, in everything except their popularity, they were as unlike as they could be.

They were quietly married on November 4, 1842. Lincoln made a loyal and true husband. Mrs. Lincoln made a home that was hospitable, cultured, and not fancy. They lived together until Lincoln’s death more than twenty-two years later. They had four children, all boys. Only the eldest, Robert Todd Lincoln, grew to manhood.

It is necessary at this point to take a glance at the history of American slavery, in order to understand Lincoln’s career. In 1619, or one year before the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth, a Dutch ship landed a cargo of slaves at Jamestown, Virginia. For nearly two centuries after this, the slave trade was more or less brisk. The slaves were distributed, though unevenly, over all the colonies. But as time passed, differences appeared. In the North, most people believed slavery to be wrong, while in the South most did not. There were many exceptions in both areas, but the public sentiment, the general feeling, was as stated.

It is generally believed that the founders of our government looked forward to slowly getting rid of slavery. In the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson put in some remarks about the King’s part in the slave traffic. But it was felt that such remarks would not be well received in colonies that allowed slavery, and the passage was taken out.

Based on the book by Henry Ketcham
Edited by Deborah Carroll

Today’s chapter mentions how Abraham Lincoln often gave his legal services to the needy. Have you ever volunteered your time and skills to a charity? What did you do? How would you like to help the needy?

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