Dear General--The first thing which occurs to me, as I take up my pen for this letter, might well have been brought in as a preface to all these "sketches." People ask me, not unfrequently, "Where did you first meet Mr. Lincoln?"
I hardly remember, exactly, when or how I first fell in with Mr. Lincoln, the prominent lawyer and leading politician. I was then conducting a couple of large country newspapers, in the eastern part of the judicial district in which his practice mostly lay,1 and I recall a visit of his to my office, when he claimed that the printer's ink with which I was daubed justified him in calling me a "black Republican." He was attending to some political business then, for he was the undisputed leader of our party in Illinois.
My first sight of him as a lawyer was in a murder trial, when he was defending a man whom the evidence presented seemed to condemn beyond all hope. I had expected some grand and absorbing exhibition of oratorical power, intended to overwhelm the jury; but there was nothing of the kind, only an earnest and semi-conversational review of the evidence, dwelling upon points that at first seemed trivial, and I heard many murmurs in the crowd around me. The jury were plain Illinois farmers, but men of good sense, and it was evident that they perfectly understood his train of reasoning. Undoubtedly when he arose they would have declared the man guilty without leaving their box; but, after that quiet and practical talk with the great apostle of common sense, they put their heads together and rendered a verdict of "Not guilty."
If I remember rightly, circumstances afterwards came to light which fully justified the verdict and Mr. Lincoln's line of argument.2
My first view of Mr. Lincoln as the great man he really was happened in this wise. Some nine months before the meeting of the Chicago Republican Convention in 1860, my partner and I began to discuss the subject, "Whose