Nomination by caucus had not yet been introduced into Illinois, and any person who wished to be a candidate for an elective office simply made public announcement of the fact and then conducted his campaign as best he could. On March 9, 1832, shortly before his enlistment, Lincoln issued a manifesto “To the People of Sangamon County,” in which he informed them that he should run as a candidate for the state legislature at the autumn elections, and told them his political principles. He was in favor of internal improvements, such as opening roads, clearing streams, building a railroad across Sangamon County, and making the Sangamon River straight and navigable. He advocated a usury law, and hazarded the extraordinary argument that “in cases of extreme necessity there could always be means found to cheat the law; while in all other cases it would have its intended effect.” A law ameliorated by infractions is no uncommon thing, but this is perhaps the only instance in which a law has been befriended on the ground that it can be circumvented. He believed that every man should “receive at least a moderate education.” He deprecated changes in existing laws; for, he said, “considering the great probability that the framers of those laws were wiser than myself, I should prefer not meddling with them.” The clumsy phraseology of his closing paragraph coupled not badly a frank avowal of ambition with an ingenuous expression of personal modesty. The principles thus set forth were those of Clay and the Whigs, and at this time the “best people” in Sangamon County belonged to this party. The Democrats, on the other hand, did not much concern themselves with principles, but accepted General Jackson in place thereof, as constituting in himself a party platform. In the rough-and-tumble pioneer community they could not do better, and for many years they had controlled the State; indeed, Lincoln himself had felt no small loyalty towards a President who admirably expressed Western civilization. Now, however, he considered himself “an avowed Clay man," and besides the internal improvement system he spoke also for a national bank and a high protective tariff; probably he knew very little about either, but his partisanship was perfect, for if there was any distinguishing badge of an anti-Jackson Whig, it certainly was advocacy of a national bank.
After his return from the “war,” Lincoln set about electioneering with a good show of energy. He hardly anticipated success, but at least upon this trial trip he expected to make himself known to the people and to gain useful experience. He “stumped” his own county thoroughly, and is said to have made speeches which were blunt, crude, and inartificial, but not displeasing to his audiences. A story goes that once “a general fight” broke out among his hearers, and one of his friends was getting roughly handled, whereupon Lincoln, descending from the rostrum, took a hand in the affray, tossed one