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save the youth from the impending stroke. Gladly was his aid accepted, although it seemed impossible for even his sagacity to prevail in such a desperate case ; but the heart of the attorney was in his work, and he set about it with a will that knew no such word as fail. Feeling that the poisoned condition of the public mind was such as to preclude the possibility of impanelling an impartial jury in the court having jurisdiction, he procured a change of venue, and a postponement of the trial. He then went studiously to work unravelling the history of the case, and satisfied himself that his client was the victim of malice, and that the statement of the accuser was a tissue of falsehoods.
"When the trial was called on, the prisoner, pale and emaciated, with hopelessness written on every feature, and accompanied by his half-hoping, half-despairing mother-whose only hope was a mother's belief of her son's innocence, in the justice of the God she worshipped, and in the noble counsel, who, without hope of fee or reward upon earth, had undertaken the cause-took his seat in the prisoner's box, and with a 'stony firmness' listened to the reading of the indictment. Lincoln sat quietly by, while the large auditory looked on him as though wondering what he could say in defence of one whose guilt they regarded as certain. The examination of witnesses for the State was begun, and a well-arranged mass of evidence, circumstantial and positive, was introduced, which seemed to impale the prisoner beyond the possibility of extrication. The counsel for the defence propounded but few questions, and those of a character which excited no uneasiness on the part of the prosecutor-merely, in most cases, requir
ing the main witness to be definite as to time and place. When the evidence of the prosecution was ended, Lincoln introduced a few witnesses to remove some erroneous impressions in regard to the previous character of his client, who, though somewhat rowdyish, had never been known to commit a vicious act; and to show that a greater degree of ill-feeling existed between the accuser and accused than the accused and the deceased. The prosecutor felt that the case was a clear one, and his opening speech was brief and formal. Lincoln arose, while a deathly silence pervaded the vast audience, and in a clear but moderate tone began his argument. Slowly and carefully he reviewed the testimony, pointing out the hitherto unobserved decrepancies in the statements of the principal witness. That which had seemed plain and plausible, he made to appear crooked as a serpent's path. The witness had stated that the affair took place at a certain hour in the evening, and that, by the aid of the brightly shining moon, he saw the prisoner inflict the death blow with a slungshot. Mr. Lincoln showed that at the hour referred to, the moon had not yet appeared above the horizon, and consequently the whole tale was a fabrication. An almost instantaneous change seemed to have been wrought in the minds of his auditors, and the verdict of 'not guilty' was at the end of every tongue. But the advocate was not content with this intellectual achievement. His whole being had for months been bound up in this work of gratitude and mercy, and, as the lava of the overcharged crater bursts from its imprisonment, so great thoughts and burning words leaped forth from the soul of the eloquent Lincoln. He drew a picture
of the perjurer so horrid and ghastly that the accuser could sit under it no longer, but reeled and staggered from the court-room, while the audience fancied they could see the brand upon his brow. Then in words of thrilling pathos, Lincoln appealed to the jurors as fathers of sons who might become fatherless, and as husbands of wives who might be widowed, to yield to no previous impressions, no ill-founded prejudice, but to do his client justice; and as he alluded to the debt of gratitude which he owed to the boy's sire, tears were seen to fall from many eyes unused to weep. It was near night when he concluded by saying that, if justice were done—as he believed it would be-before the sun should set, it would shine upon his client a free man. The jury retired, and the court adjourned for the day. Half an hour had not elapsed, when, as the officers of the court and the volunteer attorney sat at the tea-table of their hotel, a messenger announced that the jury had returned to their seats. All repaired immediately to the court-house, and while the prisoner was being brought from the jail, the court-room was filled to overflowing with citizens of the town. When the prisoner and his mother entered, silence reigned as completely as though the house was empty. The foreman of the jury, in answer to the usual inquiry of the court, delivered the verdict of Not Guilty!' The widow dropped into the arms of her son, who lifted her up, and told her to look upon him as before-free and innocent. Then, with the words, 'Where is Mr. Lincoln ?' he rushed across the room and grasped the hand of his deliverer, while his heart was too full for utterance. Lincoln turned his eyes toward the West, where
the sun still lingered in view, and then, turning to the youth, said, 'It is not yet sundown, and you are free.' I confess that my cheeks were not wholly unwet by tears, and I turned from the affecting scene. As I cast a glance behind, I saw Abraham Lincoln obeying the divine injunction by comforting the widowed and the fatherless."
In May, 1859, Mr. Lincoln wrote the subjoined letter to a German citizen of Illinois. The letter speaks for itself, and needs no comment :
"SPRINGFIELD, May 17, 1859.
"Dear Sir-Your letter, in which you inquire, on your own account and in behalf of certain other German citizens, whether I approve or oppose the constitutional provision in relation to naturalized citizens which was lately enacted in Massachusetts, and whether I favor or oppose a fusion of the Republicans with the other Opposition elements in the campaign of 1860, has been received.
"Massachusetts is a sovereign and independent State, and I have no right to advise her in her policy. Yet, if any one is desirous to draw a conclusion as to what I would do from what she has done, I may speak without impropriety. I say, then, that so far as I understand the Massachusetts provision, I am against its adoption, not only in Illinois, but in every other place in which I have the right to oppose it. As I understand the spirit of our institutions, it is designed to promote the elevation of men. I am, therefore, hostile to anything that tends to their debasement. It is well known that I deplore the oppressed condition of the blacks, and it would, therefore, be very inconsistent for me to look with approval upon any measure that infringes upon the inalienable rights of white men, whether or not they are born in another land or speak a different language from our own.
"In respect to a fusion, I am in favor of it whenever it can be effected on Republican principles, but upon no other condition. A fusion upon any other platform would be as insane as unprincipled. It would thereby lose the whole North, while the common enemy would still have the support of the entire South. The question in relation to men is different. There are good and patriotic men and able statesmen in the South whom I would willingly support if they would place themselves on Republican ground; but I shall oppose the lowering of the Republican standard even by a hair's-breadth.
"I have written in haste, but I believe I have answered your questions substantially.
"DR. THEODOR CANISIUS."
"We have heard," says the The Evansville (Ind.) Journal, "the following anecdote related of the people's candidate for the Presidency, which shows the love of knowledge, the industry, the conscientiousness. and the integrity of the subject of this sketch:
"It is well known that he lived in Spencer county, above here in Indiana, in his young days. He was a hard-working lad, and very eager in his thirst for knowledge. A man, named Crawford, owned a copy of Weems's Life of Washington-the only one in the whole neighborhood. Young Lincoln borrowed that interesting book (not having money to spare to buy one), and while reading it, by a slight negligence, left it in a window, when a rain-storm came up and wet the book so as to ruin it. Young Lincoln felt badly, but, like an honest boy, he went to Mr. Crawford with the ruined book, acknowledged his accountability for its destruction, and his willingness to make due compensation. He said he had no money, but would work out the value of the book.