6. Mentor Graham to William H. Herndon (interview)
Petersburg Ills My 29th 1865
In answer to your various Enquiries let me say — I came to Illinois in the year AD 1829 and settled in Sangamon County — near the Sangamon River close to the Village of New Salem & was at that time 26 years of age. My business has been school teaching for forty-five years. In the month of August 1830 I first saw Mr Lincoln. He came down the Sangamon River from Decatur Macon County Illinois to New Salem in Old Sangamon — Menard now being part of Old Sangamon. The first time I saw him was on Election day — we were decient a clerk for the Polls. Mr Lincoln was about the street looking around, and was asked by some of us if could write he said "yes — a little." "Will you act as clerk of Elections to-day —" said one of the judges: "I will try and do the best I can, if you so
9request." He was then sworn in & acted as clerk of the August Election.
The next work he did was clerking in a store for Denton Offut, which was in the fall and winter of 1830 & 1831.
He went in 1832, about the month of May or June, to the Black Hawk war: He vlunteered as private and was without his knowledge Elected Captain of it. He went through the war and was spoken by all in his Company & Regiment — Especially his own Company as being a gentleman — a kind hearted & noble man who did his duty well without fear — gold, favor or Affection. He had a somewhat good Eye for Military affairs, as said by Competentt judges. I have no doubt of this. His heart & head were large & Comprehensive enough to Command a Company — regiment or other Core of men at any time or under any Circumstances.
When he returned from the Black Hawk war he became a candidate for the legislature and in his first or among his first political speeches in that Canvass which was in 1832, he addressed the People in Petersburg — the old town.
10time of this speech & during that Canvass he read attentively the Louisville Journal — the Missouri Republican and other papers. His text book was the Louisville Journal. He was a regular subscribe to the Journal. Mr Lincoln was defeated in the Election of 1832. He was a whig. After the Canvass of 1832 Mr Lincoln turned his attention Exclusively to the law — surveying — History — Biography & general newspaper reading. Mr Lincoln drew up deeds, Contracts & other papers for the People, never charging them for it — not a cent. In the month of Feby AD 1833 Mr Lincoln Came & lived with me. and Continued with me about Six months. It was here that he Commenced to study the English grammer with me, I then was teaching School. I taught him the rules of surveying. I do not think that Mr Lincoln was any thing of arithmetic — Especially so of geometry & trigemonetry before he came to my house, and I think I may say he was my schollar & I was his teacher. His deputyship under Calhoun was long after this — say 1 or 2 years. Mr Lincoln spoke to me one day and Said "I had a notion of studing grammar." "I replied to him thus If you Ever Expect to go before the public in any Capacity I think it the best thing you can do." He said to me "If I had a grammar I would Commence now." There was none in the village & I said to him — "I know of a grammar at one Vances
In the Summer of 1834 he was again a Candidate for the legislature and was Elected. He went to Vandalia — the Capital of Illinois and there became a good legislature — became then & there as I am informed with the great men in Illinois — probably with Douglas & others — In 1836 he was again a candidate for the legislature and was Elected; and was one of what is called the long nine — 2 tall Senators and 7 tall representatives from Sangamon County who moved the Capital of the State of Illinois from Vandalia to Springfield. The members comprising the long nine were
He then moved to the City of Springfield in 1836 or 1837 since which time I have only seen him occasionally. I wish to say one or two words about his Character. It was this — he was a very simple open souled man; he was a sincere man — a man of purpous — was frank — ingenuous; he was kind, humerous and deeply honest — never deviating from the Exact truth; he was studious — so much so that he somewhat injured his health and Constitution. The Continued thought & study of the man Caused — with the death of one whom he dearly & sincerely loved, a momentary — only partial & momentary derangement. Mr Lincoln's character at once seized observation and that only led to a respect — love & confidence in Abraham Lincoln.
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2119-23; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:351-57