Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 1.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

Remarks in Illinois Legislature
Concerning a Bill for Completion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal [1]

February 26, 1841

Mr. LINCOLN offered an amendment, allowing the State to pay in Bonds at par for all work hereafter done, and to issue therefor $3,000,000 bonds.

Mr. BISSELL [2] moved to strike out 3 and insert $1,500,000. Mr. LINCOLN accepted the amendment.

Messrs. Lincoln and Dodge [3] supported the bill and Mr. Ormsbee and Kitchell [4] opposed it.

Mr. KITCHELL was surprised at the course of the gentleman from Sangamon (Mr. Lincoln). We were already prostrated by debt, and that gentleman thought it would be for the interest of the State to go still deeper. Mr. K. said it reminded him of an anecdote, which he would relate. A drunkard in Arkansas took so much of the cretur, that he lost his reason and remained for some time in a state of insensibility. His wife tried every experiment to cure him;Page  244 but it was of no avail, until a neighbor came to the house and recommended some brandy toddy. The insensible man rose at the word toddy, and said ``that is the stuff.'' It was so with the gentleman from Sangamon---more debt would be for the better.

Mr. LINCOLN replied. He begged leave to tell an anecdote. The gentleman's course the past winter reminded him of an eccentric old bachelor who lived in the Hoosier State. Like the gentleman from Montgomery, he was very famous for seeing big bugaboos in every thing. He lived with an older brother, and one day he went out hunting. His brother heard him firing back of the field, and went out to see what was the matter. He found him loading and firing as fast as possible in the top of a tree.

Not being able to discover any thing in the tree, he asked him what he was firing at. He replied a squirrel---and kept on firing. His brother believing there was some humbug about the matter, examined his person, and found on one of his eye lashes a big louse crawling about. It is so with the gentleman from Montgomery. He imagined he could see squirrels every day, when they were nothing but lice.

[The House was convulsed with laughter.]

Annotation

[1]   Sangamo Journal, March 5, 1841. Brackets are in the source. The Illinois State Register, March 12, 1841, summarizes this discussion and states that Lincoln's argument showed ``that to prosecute the work now was in fact the most economical plan that could be adopted: to stop it, would involve the State in much more debt and ruin.''

[2]   William H. Bissell of Monroe County.

[3]   Abram R. Dodge of LaSalle County.

[4]   Joseph W. Ormsbee of Scott County and Wickliff Kitchell of Montgomery County.