“The death of his sweetheart has aged and sobered him. When we are together he often sits looking down with a sad face. For a while not a word out of him. Suddenly he will begin saying things, the effect of which will go with me to my grave, although I can not call back the words and place them as he did. He is what I would call a great Captain of words. Seems as if I heard the band playing while they march by me as well dressed and stepping as proud and regular as The Boston Guards. In some great battle between Right and Wrong you will hear from him. I hope it may be the battle between Slavery and Freedom, although at present he thinks they must avoid coming to a clinch. In my opinion, it can not be done. I expect to live to see the fight and to take part in it.”
Late in the session of 1836-1837 the prophetic truth of these words began to reveal itself. A bill was being put through the Legislature denouncing the growth of abolition sentiment and its activity in organized societies and upholding the right of property in slaves.
Suddenly Lincoln had come to a fork in the road. Popularity, the urge of many friends, the counsel of Wealth and Power, and Public Opinion, the call of good politics pointed in one direction and the crowd went that way. It was a stampede. Lincoln stood alone at the corner. The crowd beckoned, but in vain. One man came back and joined him. It was Dan Stone, who was not a candidate for re-election. His political career was ended. There were three words on the sign-board pointing toward the perilous and lonely road that Lincoln proposed to follow. They were the words Justice and Human Rights. Lincoln and Dan Stone took that road in a protest, declaring that they “believed the institution of slavery was founded upon injustice and bad policy.” Lincoln had followed his conscience, instead of the crowd. At twenty-eight years of age he had safely passed the great danger point in his career. The declaration at Decatur, the speeches against Douglas, the miracle of turning 4,000,000 beasts into 4,000,000 men, the sublime utterance at Gettysburg, the wise parables, the second inaugural, the innumerable acts of mercy, all of which lifted him into undying fame, were now possible. Henceforth he was to go forward with the growing approval of his own spirit and the favor of God.
WHEREIN YOUNG MR. LINCOLN BETRAYS IGNORANCE OF TWO HIGHLY IMPORTANT SUBJECTS, IN CONSEQUENCE OF WHICH HE BEGINS TO SUFFER SERIOUS EMBARRASSMENT.