Lincoln
reelection. Announcing his candidacy in June, he explained his position on the suffrage issue, which was currently a subject of controversy. Illinois extended the ballot to all white male citizens who had resided in the state for six months; foreign-born immigrants did not have the franchise until they were naturalized. Large numbers of these were Irish-born workers on the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Democrats favored giving them the vote, but most Whigs did not. Lincoln, who shared the standard Whig belief that property holding ought to be a prerequisite for voting, favored “all sharing the privileges of the government, who assist in bearing its burthens.” That meant, he explained, “admitting all whites to the right of suffrage, who pay taxes or bear arms”—and then he obfuscated his message by adding “by no means excluding females.” Far from being an early advocate of women’s suffrage, Lincoln was apparently making a tongue-in-cheek joke, because everybody knew that under Illinois law women neither paid taxes (husbands or guardians paid them for women who owned property) nor served in the militia. Lincoln’s announcement revealed incidentally that he, like virtually every other Illinois politician, did not think African-Americans were entitled to the ballot.
    The campaign was a strenuous one. Lincoln, along with the sixteen other candidates, traveled by horseback from one village to another, addressing public meetings at hamlets like Salisbury, Allenton, and Cotton Hill. Speakingbegan in the morning and often continued until well into the afternoon, and, as party lines were coming to be more clearly defined, candidates gave their views not merely on local issues but on national ones as well. At times tempers flared. Ninian W. Edwards, the aristocratic and wealthy son of a former governor, was so offended by the remarks of one of his competitors that he drew a pistol on him. Even Lincoln, usually genial, lashed back angrily when “Truth Teller” falsely charged he had opposed paying a state loan, branding the author “a liar and a scoundrel” and promising “to give his proboscis a good wringing.” Mostly, though, he managed criticism with more finesse. At a Springfield rally, when a rival named George Forquer, a well-to-do lawyer who had recently changed his allegiance to the Democratic party and had received a lucrative appointment in return, attacked Lincoln in a sarcastic speech, saying that it was time for this presumptuous young man to be taken down, Lincoln calmly waited his turn. Then, remembering that Forquer had recently installed a lightning rod on his house—the first Lincoln had ever seen, and an object of some curiosity—he lashed back: “The gentleman commenced... by saying that this young man will have to be taken down I am not so young in years as I am in the trick and trades of a politician; but... I would rather die now, than, like the gentleman, change my politics and simultaneous with the change receive an office worth $3,000 per year, and then have to erect a lightning-rod over my house to protect a guilty conscience from an offended God.”
    In the election on August 1, Lincoln received more votes than any other candidate. He continued to have the strong support of his neighbors in New Salem, who were Whigs like himself. But the more rural neighborhoods, like Clary’s Grove, were Democratic, and even Jack Armstrong, who continued to be a warm personal friend, failed to vote for him. In the minds of some who had previously been his most loyal followers, Lincoln was distancing himself from his rural origins and was already less a part of New Salem than of Springfield.
VII
     
    The Sangamon delegation to the 1836–1837 session of the legislature became known as the “Long Nine,” because the two senators and the seven representatives were all unusually tall in an age when six-foot men were rare; some, like Lincoln, were veritable giants. Their collective height, it was said,

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