slaves. Lincoln turned to Hanks and said, "John, if I ever get a chance to hit this thing, . . . I'll hit it hard."
In 1831 he went to New Salem, on the Sangamon River, twenty miles northwest of Springfield. The town consisted of only fifteen houses all built of logs. Lincoln reached there on election day and the clerk of election needed a helper. Seeing Lincoln hanging around the polls he asked him whether he could write. "Well," said Lincoln, "I can make a few rabbit tracks."
He got the job and afterward was hired as a clerk in the village store. It was there that he laid the foundation of his reputation for absolute honesty. Finding one evening that he had taken six cents too much from a customer, he walked three miles that night, after the store was closed, to return the money. Another time, in weighing out half a pound of tea, he made a mistake of four ounces. Discovering this mistake the first thing in the morning, he closed the store until he could deliver the rest of the tea.
While he was still a clerk in this store the Black Hawk Indian War broke out. There was a call for volunteers and Abraham Lincoln was elected captain. The other candidate was a man named Kirkpatrick, who had once hired