Best Lincoln Stories Tersely Told
by J. E. Gallaher
Pub. in 1898

 

His First Sight of Slavery.
 

In May, 1831, Lincoln and a few companions went to New Orleans on a flatboat and remained there a month. It was there that he witnessed for the first time negro men and women sold like animals. The poor beings were chained, whipped and scourged. "Against this inhumanity his sense of right and justice rebelled, and his mind and conscience were awakened to a realization of what he had often heard and read," writes one of his biographers, Ida M. Tarbell. One morning, in his rambles with his friends over the city, he passed a slave auction. A comely mulatto girl of vigorous physique was being sold. She underwent a thorough examination at the hands of the bidders; they pinched her flesh, and made her trot up and down the room like a horse to show how she moved, and in order, as the auctioneer said, that "bidders might satisfy themselves" whether the article they were offering to buy was sound or not. "The whole thing was so revolting that Lincoln moved away from the scene with a deep feeling of unconquerable hate." He remarked to his companions: "If I ever get a chance to hit that thing (slavery) Iíll hit it hard."

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