Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1858 - Vol. 1

By Albert J. Beveridge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
LAW: LIFE: GROWTH

Melancholy dripped from him as he walked. HERNDON.

Strange mingling of mirth and tears, of the tragic and grotesque, of cap and crown, of
Socrates and Rabelais, of Æsop and Marcus Aurelius -- Lincoln, the gentlest memory
of the world. INGERSOLL.

LINCOLN took up again his life in Springfield and began once more to ride the immense circuit from which he had been absent for nearly two years. At first he did not meet a hearty welcome. It was a different Springfield from the jubilant town which had greeted him so joyously a dozen years earlier, a different Springfield from the friendly little city from which he had set out for Washington in November, 1847 -- a questioning, a doubting Springfield. But personal contact soon restored general favor, although many continued to be resentful for a long time. From the moment of his return, however, the old line Whigs stood by him faithfully.

The capital of Illinois now boasted a population of four thousand five hundred and thirty-three. Of these one hundred and seventy-one were free persons of color. In all Sangamon County only one other town, Mechanicsburg, with two hundred and one inhabitants, was large enough to be listed in the Census.1 Springfield had passed Alton, where only three thousand five hundred and eighty-five persons lived, fewer than a decade earlier; but was behind Peoria with a population of over five thousand. The phenomenal growth of Chicago was marked by an enumeration of well-nigh thirty thousand.

brks="brks">Immigration had poured into the West in such volume that more than 850,000 men, women, and children lived in Illinois when Lincoln returned from Washington in 1849. The State was almost entirely agricultural.2 The wealth in land and live

____________________
1
Census, 1850.
2
Ib. Some idea may be had of the state of the western country at the time, from the population of other cities and towns of that section. For example, Milwaukee had a trifle more than 20,000, Detroit a little over 21,000, Indianapolis slightly in excess of 8,000, and Fort Wayne 4,282.

About 17,000 people lived in Cleveland and a few hundred more in Columbus, while

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