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PART ONE _.New Salem T HE OUTSTANDING feature of Lincoln's life was his capacity for development. Neither a born genius nor a man of mediocre talents suddenly endowed with wisdom to guide the nation through the trials of civil war, he developed gradually, absorbing from his environment that which was useful and good, growing in character and mind. "How slowly, and yet by happily prepared steps, he came to his place," said Emerson . No one seeing Lincoln at New Salem would have predicted for him the high place he was to reach in public life and world esteem; yet at New Salem many of the characteristics which were to make him great were in process of development, while others were present in rudimentary form. In New Salem Lincoln made his reputation for physical prowess and began the development of his (] LINCOLN'S NEW SALEM talents or leadership. There he served his apprenticeship in business, made his first venture into business on his own account, and established the reputation for square dealing that stuck to him through life. While there he had his one brief experience as a soldier, and held his first state and nrst Federal office. He learned surveying, acquired the elements of law, improved his knowledge of grammar, mathematics, and literature, and made his first formal efforts at speech-making and debate. 'I'here he made his first venture into politics and formed his first enduring friendships. He came to New Salem an aimless pioneer youth; he left with an aroused ambition. Because of the friendship these New Salem people showed him, he would never afterward believe otherwise than that people, fundamentally, are trustworthy and good. The village of New Salerri-Lincoln's home from 1831 to 1837-was founded in 1829 by James Rutledge and John M. Camron. The former was born in South Carolina in 1781. Early in his life his family moved to Georgia. From there they moved to Tennessee, thence to Kentucky. There Rutledge married and had several children, among them a daughter, Ann. In 1813 he and his family moved to White County, Illinois. He was a man of medium height, quiet, dignified, sincerely religious , and fairly well educated. Camron, a native of Georgia, ten years younger than Rutledge, was a New Salem 7 nephew of Rutledge's wife. He accompanied his uncle on his migration from Georgia to White County. A man of great physical strength, a millwright by trade, Camron was an ordained Cumberland Presbyterian preacher as well. In 1825 or 1826 Rutledge and Camron moved again, this time to Concord Creek, in Sangamon County, about seven miles north of the site of New Salem. There they entered land and planned to build a mill. But the volume of water in the creek was insufficient , and after an extensive search for a suitable site, on July 19, 1828, Camron entered a tract of land on the Sangamon River. There they were assured of a steady flow, so they applied to the State Legislature for permission to build a dam. Anticipating favorable action, they left Concord Creek, probably in the fall of 1828, built new homes on the bluff above the river; and moved in before cold weather came. On January 22, 1829, the Legislature granted them permission to build the dam. Its construction was begun at once, farmers from the surrounding country furnishing oxen and horses to haul rocks with which to fill the wooden bins that had been placed in the stream. The dam completed, a combination sawmill and gristmill, of solid frame constl'Uction, was erected beside it. The gristmill was enclosed and set out over the 8 LINCOLN'S NEW SALEM stream. The sawmill, with its old-fashioned upright saw, had aroof, but was open on the sides, and stood on the west bank. A wooden trestle connected both mills with the steep bank. Soon the gristmill was drawing trade from miles around. On busy days thirty or forty horses would be tied to the trees on the steep hillside, "their heads fortyfive degrees above their hams." In the fall of 1829 Samuel Hill and John McNeil, attracted by the growing business of the mill, opened a store on the hill above, at the point where the road from Springfield, ascending the slope from the south, curved toward the east. Soon a "grocery" or saloon, kept by William Clary, was dispensing liquor on the bluff.1 Now, while waiting for their grain to be ground, men...


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