This period, one of the most important
in Lincoln's life, saw the young legislator earn a law license and thereby find a new profession, and take up residence in the rapidly growing town of Springfield.
Lincoln led the successful effort to
move the Illinois State Capital from Vandalia to the more centrally
located Springfield. Representing the new state capital, Lincoln found
himself at the center of political life in Illinois.
Illinois counted among the states pledging
their support to General Andrew Jackson in his two tempestuous presidential
terms (1829-1837). The Old Hero decisively turned the powers of the
federal government to securing the Union (facing down South Carolina's
attempts to nullify federal laws not to its liking), disbanding the
controversial Bank of the United States and dispossing Native Americans
of their lands.
The Whig Party emerged as the major
challenger to the followers of Jackson, who became the Democratic Party.
Whigs resented Jackson's bold uses of executive authority. Despite their
distrust of executive authority, Whigs advocated a far greater role
for local, state and federal governments than did Jacksonian Democrats,
especially in the encouragement of economic development.
Where Jacksonian Democrats sought to
build an economy that gave the common man an opportunity to farm and
practice a trade in an atmosphere free from the governmental "special
privileges" that had so poisoned the British mercantile system,
Whigs sought to use government policies, especially those establishing
corporations (like national banks), and internal improvements (like
canals and turnpikes) to give ambitious entrepreneurs a leg up. Whigs
believed that such developments benefited all Americans by binding the
nation together with commercial and trading relationships, but Democrats
saw government subsidies to politically favored groups.
Lincoln cast his lot with the Whig Party.
As an ambitious young man with no interest in farming, he saw banks,
internal improvements and economic growth as a means to a new, more
prosperous economy offering greater economic opportunities. In the 1830s,
Illinois' rapid economic growth provided the young man with the means
to realize some of his goals.
Lincoln emerged as a politician worthy
of notice and married a politically connected belle from Lexington,
Kentucky. Finding a profession and a wife marked the young Lincoln's
transition to manhood, and he began building a reputation as a skilled
In short, the frontier youth of humble origins and scant education
lifted himself from subsistence farming and day labor to lawyer and
rising politician, and into a socially ambitious marriage.