his boyhood friend and cousin, Dennis Hanks
The latter had come to see his distinguished relative on a rather strange mission.
A number of persons living in Coles County, in Illinois
, offended at the presence and conduct of a few soldiers who were at home from the war on furlough at the town of Charleston
, had brought about a riot, in which encounter several of the latter had been killed.
Several of the civilian participants who had acted as leaders in the strife had been arrested and sent to Fort McHenry
or some other place of confinement equally as far from their homes.
The leading lawyers and politicians of central Illinois
were appealed to, but they and all others who had tried their hands had been signally unsuccessful in their efforts to secure the release of the prisoners.
Meanwhile some one of a sentimental turn had conceived the idea of sending garrulous old Dennis Hanks
, fondly believing that his relationship to the President
might in this last extremity be of some avail.
The novelty of the project secured its adoption by the prisoners' friends, and Dennis
, arrayed in a suit of new clothes, set out for the national capital.
I have heard him describe this visit very minutely.
How his appearance in Washington
and his mission struck Mr. Lincoln
can only be imagined.
The President, after listening to him and learning the purpose of his visit, retired to an adjoining room and returned with an extremely large roll of papers labelled, “The Charleston
riot case,” which he carefully untied and gravely directed his now diplomatic cousin to read.