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283. John B. Weber (William H. Herndon Interview).

Pawnee — Sangamon Co Ills. [ca. Nov. 1, 1866]

Jno B. Webber — Aged 57

I was born in virginia in Shepherdstown Jefferson Co. Va on the Potomac Came to Ills in 1836 — april in my 27th year. I Knew Mr Lincoln in 1836 — heard him make a Speech against Doct Jacob Early Jno Calhoun — Martin Van Buren. I may or not have been a voter at that time — July or Aug, but voted in Nov. The Speech that Mr Lincoln made — in 1836 was made in the old Court House where the State house now Stands — . I think Van Buren — was a Candidate — so was Hugh L. White — Harrison &c. They in this section united under the White Ticket. The Democracy that day spoke through Doct Early — Jno Calhoun & others. I was a democrat at that time. Douglas was not yet among us. He was then in Jacksonville, but soon Came to the Capital: he favored the removal of the Capitol from Vandalia to Springfd. The Speech that Lincoln made was made on the current politics of the day and Especially against Doct Early. Lincoln was the best Speaker. that dy. I thought & felt that day that Lincoln was a young man of Superior intellect: he polite & courteous — debated the ability & honesty — more so than other politicians of the dy. His candor & fairness — his Courtesy gained my Confidence.

Soon after this Mr Lincoln & I became near neighbors & intimate friends. Mr Lincoln in 1836 and Came to Springfield in the Spring of 1837. As I understand it Mr Lincoln sat down to Study law in Earnest and soon went into partnership with Jno T. Stuart. I don't remember any political discussion in 1838, Sufficiently Certain to speak of any one man — I heard all the discussions as I Suppose, but do not remember them distinctly. I Couldn't stay away from Political discussions — Such was my temperament. Before I go further let me sy that my printing my bros press was mobbed by a gang of men in 1838 or 9. Douglas wrote the article that Caused the Mob. After the Capital was moved to Springfield in fact — which was in 1839 — Decr. the Senate Sat in the Methodist Church — and the House sat in the new — 2d presbyterian Church. Mr Douglas I think Came to Springfield permanently so in 1838 — Came as the Register of the land office. Mr Douglas & Lincoln frequently had debates — and I suppose I heard them all. Messr Lincoln and Douglas addressed the People of this County frequently in 1838 and 1840: the Tariff question — the Bank question, Van Buren — and other democratic & whig measures & men were discussed thoroughly & well. Personally I never had a hard feeling my life towards Mr Lincoln. I was attatched to Mr Douglas politically, very much. I was more attatched to Lincoln more than to Douglas Morrally. The discussion between Douglas & Lincoln were fairly & ably discussed: they were able speeches — truly so. Mr Lincoln used to stagger me with his tariff speeches: he so arranged his facts — his arguments — his logic that it approached me from such a peculiar angle that they struck me forcibly. Mr. Van Buren voted


for the Negro $250 in the NY Convention of 1820: he was charge with this: there was a speech on this very question in the old Market house in 1840, but forget the names of the parties — . These discussions frequently took place.

I rember the discussion — Bakers speech in the old Court House in the Hoffman row of buildings. This was in 1840 — or 1844. Baker Said this — "Wherever there is a land office there is a paper to defend the Corruptions of office." This was a personal attack on my Bro Geo Webber.: I was in the Court House and in my anger I cried "Pull him down" — . I regret this now. — have always advocate free speech — & press — I do not recollect Lincoln being there that night but I do Know that some one made some soothing — Kind remarks and the difficulty Ended and Baker permitted to End his Speech. This was done under great anger and as I thought at that time it was a personal attack on my bro. He as well as other of my friends interfered — held me till the Excitement ceased — : so it Soon Ended in quiet & peace. Baker and I was personal friends at that time: we belonged to the Military Company.

The temperance question in the Washintonian reformation. I remember Lincolns temperance Speeches well: he & I used to go to the Country together in his buggy: he had a horse & buggy & I had none: he and I were neighbors then — I lived across the street and a little South of me. I could see him better in this position than if I had been coser. The temperance question lasted some years. I can't say how long Mr Lincoln Continued the speeches. I went to California in 1849. Lincoln & I Continued the discussions — Speeches &c. from 1841 to 1849, according to my recollections. Remember I was a severe democrat during all these years.

Let me give you an incident in Mr Lincoln's life. He was frequently away from home for a week or so at a time attending Court & on political discussions. One night he Came home late at night. I heard an axe: it rang out at Lincoln's — got up — Saw Mr Lincoln in his Shirt Sleeves Cutting wood — I suppose to cook his supper with: it was a cold night — the moon was up — and I looked at my clock — it was between 12 & 1 o'cl. This I remember well — used to tell it on the stump and in Conversation — told him so — when he was a candidate for Presdt — did so in the presence of several gentlemen — one from N.Y.. Mr L did not say aye or nay — yet he took it as intended — Complimentary.

Once I heard a scream of — Mr Webber — Mr Webber — it was the voice of apparent distress — I looked back — saw Mrs Lincoln — "She said — Keep this little dog from biting me". The dog was a little thing & was doing nothing — too small and good natured to do anything. — Again — one day I heard the scream — "Murder" — "Murder". "Murder" — turned round — Saw Mrs Lincoln up


on the fence — hands up — Screaming — went to her — she said a big ferocious man had Entered her house — Saw an umbrella man come out — I suppose he had Entered to ask for old umbrellas to mend. He Came out and Said — "Should be sorry to have such a wife". & passed on.

I distinctly remembr that Lincoln & Calhoun in 1844 had & held a joint discussion in the Court room which was in the Hoffman row — N.W. Corner of the public of the public Square: it lasted Several nights. Calhoun was an able man. a very albe debater — & fair Courteous in debate. Lincoln was all this — the discussion was an able debate.

I rem — the Cartwright & Lincoln — don't remember any discussion at that time. Lincoln was Called by some an infidel and was charged with it in this race — don't remember whether it got in print or not — don't think he was an infidel — he used to talk to me on morals — Lincoln was a moral man.

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3984-89; Huntington Library: LN2408, 2:53 — 58



1. The marginal note on this document (see p. 389, note 5) refers, in brief outline, to a story Weber related at WHH's request in a letter dated November 5, 1866. The conjectural date given here assumes that Weber wrote out the story soon after WHH outlined it here.

2. See §364.

3. This incident is almost certainly the one described in the Illinois State Register for November 30, 1839, as having occurred the previous Saturday, November 23.

4. Cf. §451.

5. Marginal notes: 1 Washed Story — Bill — pump — &c — Ky and 2 Temperance Meeting — Dunlap — Signers &c. Webber got near 50 — Lincoln none. For "Washed Story," see §289.

6. Lincoln and Calhoun engaged in a series of debates beginning on March 18 and continuing until at least March 27.