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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Rutledge, Robert B. 'Robert B. Rutledge to William H. Herndon' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: letter]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon381.html


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-- 385 --

than wit and fun, that he was already a fine speaker; that all he lacked was culture to enable him to reach the high destiny which he Knew was in store for him. From that time Mr Rutledge took a deeper interest in him.

Soon after Mr Rutledge urged him to announce himself as a candidate for the Legislature. This he at first declined to do, averring that it was impossible to be elected. It was suggested that a canvass of the County would bring him prominently before the people and in time would do him good. He reluctantly yielded to the solicitations of his friends and made a partial canvass. The result, though he was defeated was highly gratifying to him and astonished even his most ardent admirers.

At the next election he was placed as a candidate for Assembly on the regular Whig ticket, and was triumphantly elected in a district profoundly Democratic.

In illustration of his goodness and nobleness of heart, the following incident is related:

"Ab Trout," a poor barefooted boy was engaged one cold winter day in chopping a pile of logs from an old house or stable which had been pulled down. The wood was dry and hard and the boy was hard at work, when Lincoln came up and asked what he got for the job, and what he would do with the money? "Ab" said $1.00 and pointing to his naked feet said, "A pair of shoes." Abe told him to go in and warm and he would chop a while for him. The boy delayed a little, but Lincoln finished the work, threw down his axe and told him to go and buy the shoes. [4] "Ab" remembered this act with the liveliest gratitude. Once, he, being a cast iron Democrat, determined to vote against his party and for Mr Lincoln; but the friends as he afterwards said with tears in eyes made him drunk and he had voted against Abe. Thus he did not even have an opportunity to return the noble conduct of Mr Lincoln by this small measure of thanks.

In the early times of which we write an appeal was often made to physical strength to settle controversies. To illustrate this feature of the society in which Mr Lincoln was mingling it may be well to relate an incident.

Two neighbors, Henry Clark and Ben Wilcox had had a lawsuit. The defeated declared that although he was beaten in the suit, he could whip his opponent. This was a formal challenge and was at once carried to the ears of the victor — Wilcox

and as promptly accepted. The time, place and seconds were chosen with due regularity — Mr Lincoln being Clark's and John Brewer Wilcox's second. The parties met, stripped themselves all but their breeches, went in and Mr Lincoln's principal was beautifully whipped. These combats were conducted with as much ceremony and punctiliousness as ever graced the duelling ground. After the conflict the seconds conducted their respective principals to the river washed off the blood, and assisted them to dress. During this performance, the second of the party opposed to Mr Lincoln remarked — "Well Abe, my man has whipped yours, and I can whip you." Now this challenge came from a man who was very small in size.
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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Rutledge, Robert B. 'Robert B. Rutledge to William H. Herndon' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: letter]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon381.html
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