The Story of Abraham Lincoln/Congressman and Lawyer
In the following year the people of his district chose him to be their representative in Congress. He took his seat in December. He was then thirty-nine years old. He was the only Whig from Illinois.
There were many famous men in Congress at that time. Mr. Lincoln's life-long rival, Stephen A. Douglas, was one of the senators from Illinois. He had already served a term or two in the House of Representatives.
Daniel Webster was also in the Senate; and so was John C. Calhoun; and so was Jefferson Davis.
Mr. Lincoln took an active interest in all the subjects that came before Congress. He made many speeches. But, perhaps, the most important thing that he did at this time was to propose a bill for the abolition of the slave-trade in the city of Washington.
He believed that slavery was unjust to the slave and harmful to the nation. He wanted to do what he could to keep it from becoming a still greater evil. But the bill was opposed so strongly that it was not even voted upon.
After the close of Mr. Lincoln's term in Congress, he hoped that President Taylor, who was a Whig, might appoint him to a good office. But in this he was disappointed.
And so, in 1849, he returned to his home in Springfield, and again settled down to the practice of law.
He was then forty years old. Considering the poverty of his youth, he had done great things for himself. But he had not done much for his country. Outside of his own state his name was still unknown.
His life for the next few years was like that of any other successful lawyer in the newly-settled West. He had a large practice, but his fees were very small. His income from his profession was seldom more than $2,000 a year.
His habits were very simple. He lived comfortably and respectably. In his modest little home there was an air of order and refinement, but no show of luxury.
No matter where he might go, Mr. Lincoln would have been known as a Western man. He was six feet four inches in height. His face was very homely, but very kind.
He was cordial and friendly in his manners. There was something about him which made everybody feel that he was a sincere, truthful, upright man. He was known among his neighbors as "Honest Abe Lincoln."