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ochs, so alike in peril, and yet so unlike in the principles involved. Washington was the natural representative of National Independence. He might also have represented National Unity, had this principle been challenged to bloody battle during his life; for nothing was nearer his heart than the consolidation of our Union, which, in his letter to Congress transmitting the Constitution, he declares to be "the greatest interest of every true American." Then again, in a remarkable letter to John Jay, he plainly says that he does "not conceive we can exist long as a nation without having lodged somewhere a power which will pervade the whole Union in as energetic a manner as the authority of the State governments extends over the several States."2 But another person was needed, of different birth and simpler life, to represent the ideas now impugned.
Washington was of ancient family, traced in English heraldry. Some of his ancestors sleep in close companionship with the noble name of Spencer. By inheritance and marriage he was rich in lands, and, let it be said in respectful sorrow, rich also in slaves, so far as slaves breed riches rather than curses. At the age of fourteen he refused a commission as midshipman in the British Navy. At the age of nineteen he was Adjutant General, with the rank of major. At the age of twenty-one he was selected by the British Governor of Virginia as Commissioner to the French posts. At the age of twenty-two he was at the head of a regiment, and was thanked by the House of Burgesses. Early in life he became an observer of form and ceremony. Always
1 Journal of the Federal Convention, September 12, 1787, p. 368. 2 Letter, August 1, 1786: Writings, ed. Sparks, Vol. IX. pp. 187, 188.
strictly just, according to prevailing principles, and at his death ordering the emancipation of his slaves, he was more a general and statesman than philanthropist ; nor did he seem inspired, beyond the duties of patriotism, to active sympathy with Human Rights. In the ample record of what he wrote or said there is no word of adhesion to the great ideas of the Declaration. Such an origin, such an early life, such opportunities, such a condition, such a character, were all in contrast with the origin, early life, opportunities, condition, and character of him we commemorate to-day.
Abraham Lincoln was born, and, until he became President, always lived in a part of the country which at the period of the Declaration of Independence was a savage wilderness. Strange, but happy, Providence, that a voice from that savage wilderness, now fertile in men, was inspired to uphold the pledges and promises of the Declaration! The Unity of the Republic, on the indestructible foundation of Liberty and Equality, was vindicated by the citizen of a community which had no existence when the Republic was formed.
His family may be traced to Quaker stock in Pennsylvania, but it removed first to Virginia, and then, as early as 1780, to the wilds of Kentucky, which at that time was only an outlying territory of Virginia. His grandfather and father both lived in peril from Indians, and the former perished by their knife. The future President was born in a log-house. His mother could. read, and perhaps write. His father could do neither, except so far as to sign his name rudely, like a noble of Charlemagne. Trial, privation, and labor entered into his early life. Only at seven years of age, for a very
brief period, could he enjoy school, carrying with him Dilworth's Spelling-Book, one of the three volumes that formed the family library. Shortly afterwards his father turned his back upon that Slavery which disfigured Kentucky, and with his poor effects and the future chief-magistrate set his face towards Indiana, already guarded against Slavery by the famous Northwestern Ordinance. Reaching the chosen home in a land of Liberty, the son, who was less than eight years old, aided his father in building a shelter of poles, fastened together by notches, and filled in with mud. This preceded the log cabin, where for twelve years afterwards he grew in character and knowledge, as in stature, learning to write as well as read, and especially enjoying Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Æsop's Fables, Weems's Life of Washington, and the Life of Henry Clay. At the age of ten he lost his mother. At the age of nineteen he became a hired hand, at eight dollars a month, on a flatboat laden with stores for plantations on the Mississippi, and in this way floated on that lordly river to New Orleans, little dreaming that only a few years later iron-clad navies would at his command float on that same proud stream. Here also was he learner. From the slaves he saw on the banks he took a lesson of Liberty, which gained new charms by comparison with Slavery.
In 1830 the father removed to Illinois, transporting his goods in a wagon drawn by oxen, and the future. President, then twenty-one years of age, drove the team. Another cabin was built in primitive rudeness, and the future President split the rails to inclose the lot. In our history these became classical, and the name of rail-splitter more than the degree of a college, — not
that the splitting of rails is any way meritorious, but because the people are proud to trace aspiring talent back to humble beginnings, and they found in this tribute new opportunity to vindicate the dignity of free labor, and repel the insolent pretensions of Slavery.
His youth was now spent, and at the age of twentyone he left his father's house to begin the world. small bundle, a laughing face, and an honest heart, these were his simple possessions, together with that unconscious character and intelligence which his country learned to prize. In the long history of worth depressed there is no instance of such contrast between the depression and the triumph, unless, perhaps, his successor as President may share with him this distinction. No academy, no university, no Alma Mater of science or learning nourished him. No government took him by the hand and gave him the gift of opportunity. No inheritance of land or money fell to him. No friend stood by his side. He was alone in poverty: and yet not all alone. There was God above, who watches all, and does not desert the lowly. Plain in person, life, and manners, and knowing absolutely nothing of form or ceremony, for six months with a village schoolmaster as his only teacher, he grew up in companionship with the people, with Nature, with trees, with the fruitful corn, and with the stars. While yet a child, his father had borne him away from a soil wasted by Slavery, and he was now citizen of a Free State, where Free Labor had been placed under safeguard of irreversible compact and fundamental law. And thus he took leave of youth, happy at least that he could go forth. under the day-star of Liberty.
The early hardships were prolonged into manhood.
He labored on a farm as hired hand, and then a second. time in a flatboat measured the winding Mississippi to its mouth. At the call of the Governor of Illinois for troops against Black Hawk, the Indian chief, he sprang forward with patriotic ardor, most prompt to enlist at the recruiting station in his neighborhood. The choice of his associates made him captain. After the war he became surveyor, and to his death retained a practical and scientific knowledge of this business. Here again was a parallel with Washington. In 1834 he was elected to the Legislature of Illinois, and three years later was admitted to the practice of the law. He was now twenty-eight years old, and, under the benignant influence of republican institutions, he had already entered upon the double career of lawyer and legislator, with the gates of the mysterious Future slowly opening before him.
How well he served in these two characters I pause not to tell. It is enough, if I exhibit the stages of advance, that you may understand how he became representative of his country at so grand a moment. It is needless to say that his opportunities of study as a lawyer were small, but he was industrious in each individual case, and thus daily added to his stores of professional experience. Faithful in all things, most conscientious in conduct at the bar, so that he could not be unfair to the other side, and admirably sensitive to the behests of justice, so that he could not argue on the wrong side, he acquired a name for honesty, which, beginning with the community where he lived, became proverbial throughout his State, while his genial, mirthful, overflowing nature, apt at anecdote and story, made him, where personally known, a favorite compan