kidneys, he passed away at the ripe old age — as his son tells us — of “seventy-three years and eleven days.”
For a long time after beginning life on his own account Abe remained in sight of the parental abode.
He worked at odd jobs in the neighborhood, or wherever the demand for his services called him. As late as 1831 he was still in the same parts, and John Hanks
is authority for the statement that he “made three thousand rails for Major Warnick
” walking daily three miles to his work.
During the intervals of leisure he read the few books obtainable, and continued the practice of extemporaneous speaking to the usual audience of undemonstrative stumps and voiceless trees.
His first attempt at public speaking after landing in Illinois
is thus described to me by John Hanks
, whose language I incorporate: “After Abe got to Decatur
, or rather to Macon county
, a man by the name of Posey
came into our neighborhood and made a speech.
It was a bad one, and I said Abe could beat it. I turned down a box and Abe made his speech.
The other man was a candidate — Abe wasn't. Abe beat him to death, his subject being the navigation of the Sangamon river
The man, after Abe's speech was through, took him aside and asked him where he had learned so much and how he could do so well.
Abe replied, stating his manner and method of reading, and what he had read.
The man encouraged him to persevere.”
For the first time we are now favored with the appearance on the scene of a very important personage--one destined to exert no little influence