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American History
4.10 Lawyer Abraham Lincoln

The next year Lincoln went to fight the Indians in what was called the Black Hawk War. The people in that part of the country had been expecting the war; for, some time before, an Indian had walked up to a settler's cabin and said, "Too much white man." He then threw a handful of dry leaves into the air, to show how he and his warriors were coming to scatter the white men. He never came, but a noted chief named Black Hawk, who had been a friend of Tecumseh's, made an attempt to drive out the settlers, and get back the lands which certain Indians had sold them. Lincoln said that the only battles he fought in this war were with the mosquitoes. He never killed a single Indian, but he saved the life of one old savage. He seems to have felt just as well satisfied with himself for doing that as though he had shot him through the head.

After Lincoln returned from the war he was made postmaster of New Salem. He also found time to do some surveying and to begin the study of law. On hot summer mornings he might be seen lying on his back, on the grass, under a big tree, reading a law-book; as the shade moved round, Lincoln would move with it, so that by sundown he had travelled nearly round the tree. When he began to practise law, everybody who knew him had confidence in him. Other men might be admired because they were smart, but Lincoln was respected because he was honest. When he said a thing, people knew that it was because he believed it, and they knew, too, that he could not be hired to say what he did not believe. That gave him immense influence. Mrs. Armstrong was too poor to hire a lawyer to defend her son, but Lincoln wrote to her that he would gladly do it for nothing. When the day of the trial came, the chief witness was sure that he saw young Armstrong strike the man dead. Lincoln questioned him closely. He asked him when it was that he saw the murder committed. The witness said that it was in the evening, at a certain hour, and that he saw it all clearly because there was a bright moon. Are you sure? asked Lincoln. Yes, replied the witness. Do you swear to it? I do, answered the witness. Then Lincoln took an almanac out of his pocket, turned to the day of the month on which the murder had been committed, and said to the court: The almanac shows that there was no moon shining at the time at which the witness says he saw the murder.[The almanac usually gives the time when the moon rises; and so by looking at any particular day of the month, one can tell whether there was a moon on that evening.] The jury was convinced that the witness had not spoken the truth; they declared the prisoner "Not guilty," and he was at once set free. Lincoln was a man who always paid his debts. Mrs. Armstrong had been very kind to him when he was poor and friendless. Now he had paid that debt.

Some men have hearts big enough to be kind to their fellow-men when they are in trouble, but not to a dumb animal. Lincoln's heart was big enough for both. One morning just after he had bought a new suit of clothes he started to drive to the court-house, a number of miles distant. On the way he saw a pig that was making desperate efforts to climb out of a deep mud-hole. The creature would get part way up the slippery bank, and then slide back again over his head in mire and water. Lincoln said to himself: I suppose that I ought to get out and help that pig; for if he's left there, he'll smother in the mud. Then he gave a look at his glossy new clothes. He felt that he really couldn't afford to spoil them for the sake of any pig, so he whipped up his horse and drove on. But the pig was in his mind, and he could think of nothing else. After he had gone about two miles, he said to himself, I've no right to leave that poor creature there to die in the mud, and what is more, I won't leave him. Turning his horse, he drove back to the spot. He got out and carried half a dozen fence-rails to the edge of the hole, and placed them so that he could get to it without falling in himself. Then, kneeling down, he bent over, seized the pig firmly by the fore legs and drew him up on to the solid ground, where he was safe. The pig grunted out his best thanks, and Lincoln, plastered with mud, but with a light heart, drove on to the court-house.

Directions: Answer the following multiple choice questions. Also, answer the following questions on a sheet of paper:
  1. Define the Black Hawk war.
  2. How did Abraham Lincoln rescue the pig

Q 1: Why did Abraham take the case of Jack Armstrong?
Because Jack Armstrong was his friend
Because it was his first case.
To repay his debt to Mrs. Armstrong

Q 2: After Abraham became a lawyer he was respected for his ------------

Q 3: Why did the Indian throw a handful of dried leaves into the air?
To show that a white men should run away like dry leaves.
To show that the white men would be reduced to nothing.
To show how and his warriors were coming to scatter the white men.

Q 4: Which enabled the witness to see the murder very clearly?
Street Light
Bright Moon Light
Bright Sun light

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Question 6: This question is available to subscribers only!

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