Grist to the Mill
MANY persons who knew Abraham Lincoln intimately have borne testimony to his fondness for newspapers. One authority has gone so far as to say that they were the "most potent influence that ever came into Lincoln's life in Illinois."1Lincoln's habit of reading newspapers had been acquired back in the early days when he kept the post office at New Salem. Patrons were often slow in calling for their mail, and the postmaster entertained himself with the LouisvilleJournal and other publications that came to the office. After Lincoln went to Springfield, local newspapers were available at his law office, and regularly he read others on the exchange table of his friend, Simeon Francis, editor of the Sangamo Journal.
It was not, however, until his marriage to Mary Todd that Lincoln had regular access to a southern journal. The newspaper that then began coming to the Lincoln residence was the Lexington Observer & Reporter, published semiweekly in his wife's home town.2 The politics of the Observer suited the Lincolns exactly. It was an uncompromising Whig, a stanch supporter of Henry Clay, and a friend of Robert S. Todd.