Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/167

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Governor-elect; Jesse K. Dubois, the State Auditor; and other politicians, and the writers on the two daily papers. Among the latter was William M. Springer, who afterwards attained considerable prominence as a member of Congress of many years' service. Later on, R. R. Hitt turned up as a shorthand reporter of the proceedings of the Legislature. Springfield was then a small but attractive town of some nine thousand inhabitants. The business part centred in the square in which stood the State-house, with the offices of the Governor and of the heads of departments and the legislative chambers. The residence streets extended at right angles from the square. None of the streets were paved, and in wet weather, of which a good deal prevailed during that winter, they were simply impassable. There was but one decent hotel, where I put up, and this became the principal stopping-place of thousands of visitors, who, from curiosity or for political consultation and place-hunting, made a pilgrimage to this transient Mecca during the succeeding months.

When I made the object of my stay known to Mr. Lincoln, he gave me a very friendly welcome, and authorized me to come to him at any time for any information I needed. He introduced me to his private secretary, John G. Nicolay, who owes a very successful career to him. Mr. Lincoln had engaged him only after his election, previous to which he had been a simple clerk on a small salary in one of the State offices. I also then met John Hay for the first time. I do not remember whether he was already in the employ of Mr. Lincoln as assistant private secretary when I arrived or not. But he became such before Mr. Lincoln left Springfield. He was very young—barely twenty-two—handsome and of engaging manners. He had been acting as a correspondent of the St. Louis Missouri Democrat for some time. He wrote with much fluency and in a florid style. His career as littérateur and diplomat is well known. He has borne the title of Colonel, though he never saw any actual service. Nicolay and he have