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only point that Indiana has on Lake Michigan, and if the harbor was at all good or could conveniently be made so, it would be in time a very important point, & something of a city but the harbor is full of sand, and already a large amount of money has been expended here by the Government to remove the sand & make a harbor but the most sanguine are disheartened at the prospect, for the sand drifts in about as fast as they can take it out. The whole city looks just as if the houses had been built somewhere else & moved here-& indeed this is true of many of them. A rival city was started a few miles from here in 1836, it busted & the houses many of them have been removed here.
The tavern house where we are stopping a large wood building was so moved, & it now stands on blocks imbedded in the sand. The city is on a sand Bank. There may be 12 or 15 hundred people here, & in the summer I should think most of their time would be occupied in keeping the sand out of their eyes. In short it is a cheerless dillapidated looking place, & I would rather live anywhere else than here. We got there in the evening at dusk & left at daylight the next morning, & right glad I was to get away. Still there will always be a "City" there & many a poor devil will be dumped into the sand after he has shuffled off his mortal coil.
The Road from Michigan City to Chicago hugs very close to the shore of the head of Lake Michigan & is consequently very sandy, but just now in its frozen state the road is good. The country along the route looks barren enough, & yet people have settled here & opened farms, & seem quite contented. It is well we do not all think alike. I would rather not live at all than to be obliged to spend my allotted days in this region, at least it seems so to me now.
This day we got within six or 7 miles of Chicago. Here Father found an old acquaintance keeping tavern in a long double log house & everything was very comfortable about it—the name I have forgotten, but as Toots says "its no consequence." Here we staid all night, all the next day & night, for the wind blew so that we could not proceed.
We kept close to the shore of the lake quite into Chicago & most of the way it is prairie. To the left of us which is south, this
[is] one vast sea of Prairie, as they say here we were out of site of land-and withall it is very low, not much above the level of the Lake but in the summer when the grass is green & the flowers are in bloom, it must look beautiful for they tell me that in the summer the prairie is literally covered with beautiful flowers of many varieties-but now it looks cheerless & gloomy enough & here I would not stay.
We arrived in this city March 23d & we are stopping at the American Temperance House kept by C. W. Cook. He formerly kept the Cleveland House at Cleveland, where I boarded with him. The weather is still cold & sleighing good the snow is so deep between here & Wisconsin that we cannot proceed. We may stay here 3 or 4 weeks-at all events I will write you again in a few days, when I will tell you about this "far off" City.
I promised in my last to tell you about this City. There is a wide expanse of sparsely settled country between us, which on the whole is capable of maintaining a dense & prosperous population, and all around Chicago there is a fine but yet uncultivated country, and yet Chicago is a city now much larger than Cleveland, with a business many fold greater than is done at that place. It is situated just at the head of Lake Michigan & on ground that seems scarcely above the lake, and now that spring begins to unfold its beauties, and Jack frost is leaving for parts unknown, we begin to feel as well as see that this great city in embrio is in a mud hole. The name denotes either a mud hole or sckunks den & I am not certain which. The Indians are remarkably cute in giving the right name to anything. Nevertheless it is a city—a thriving, prosperous busy city-it is just beginning to recover from the effect of the bubble of 1836-at which time the prices of property were perfectly fabulous but the traces of those days are fast passing away & a healthy & profitable state of things reigns here instead. The prices of property are not high for the business advantages and future prospects of the place, for notwithstanding it is in the mud it must from its very situation be in time a City of very considerable business & large population.
There are men here, sensible reflecting men who affect to believe that in a few years it will be one of the great citys of the Union. They are men who have an abiding faith in the growth & prosperity of what they call the "Great Northwest." You never heard much about it nor I either until now, and they regard Chicago as the Great Commercial Center of the Great Westperhaps they are right. We shall see.
Father has rented a house on Clark St not far from the main st of the city which is Water St,' & we shall stay here 3 or 4 weeks until the roads become settled so that we can jog on to Southport' Racine Co Wisconsin our place of destination.
I would like to stop here, but Father is not so enclined, and I must not leave him yet—his health is improving, still he is but the wreck of a man, & I must not leave him. My health has greatly improved since I left home, but still it is poorly & I am not more able to apply myself to my profession, & I have fears that I may never be able to do so, but I will not dwell upon a subject so painful to me & in no wise interesting to you. I have written today to E- & enclose the same to you please
see that it is delivered. I shall hereafter write directly to EI will write again in few days.
CHICAGO April 1843
We are still here waiting for the snow to go off & the roads to settle, so that we can move on to Wisconsin. The snow is slowly melting away but the roads are horrid, even the streets of Chicago are almost impassible. Our people are all well but we are all impatient to leave here & be settled in our future home.
My health I think is improving, and it has been from the day I left. I now look forward with some hope of being able to perform a part in the great world, for a while I feared that my time was short, then my ambition was correspondingly weak, but now a light glimmers in the future & hope revives. I pray that it may not be a delusion.
While waiting here we have but little to do. I have nothing to do, but read the newspapers. J. Y. Sanger you may remember This was South Water Street, then the business center of Chicago.
7 Modern Kenosha.
him has a hat & cap store here, & he is also interested in business in Milwaukee Wisconsin. I repair to his store every day to read the newspapers of that state, several of which he takes. I feel more interest in these papers, because Wisconsin is to be my future home, and besides there is a very interesting contest going on there just now between the Gov. James D. Doty, and the Legislature. The Legislature & the people all seem to be against Doty, but Doty seems to be ahead.
The difficulty as I gather it is this-The Legislature met without being called by the Gov. & he refused to cooperate with them, because he says that Congress has not made an appropriation for that purpose. The Legislature undertook to go on without him, & although almost every member is against the Gov. they make very bad work in their opposition somehow he contrives to head them at every turn. There is great excitement there & some here about it. I cannot learn enough to decide which is right, though I can clearly see that the Gov is ahead. All of the papers that I read are against the Governor & they abuse him roundly, & I hear that the people are against him too, but I don't know how that is. There is no party politics in the matter that I can learn, but it is Doty and anti Doty, & Doty is ahead. I will keep track of the fight & tell you how it comes out.
THE QUESTION BOX
ABRAHAM LINCOLN IN MILWAUKEE
I would like to have you give me all the information possible in regard to the different visits of Abraham Lincoln to Milwaukee. I understand he made one or two speeches in Milwaukee and I would like to have you give me all the particulars pertaining to them.
W. W. LANGE, Milwaukee
There is a strongly supported tradition that Lincoln went to Port Washington at a very early day, and planned to settle there. At that time he must have passed through Milwaukee. See an article by Julius Olson in Wisconsin Magazine of History, iv, 45-50.
In 1859 Lincoln spoke at the state fair on September 30. See same article, and Wis. Hist. Colls. xiv, 134–135. TheMilwaukee Sentinel for Friday, September 30, 1859 announced: "The Programme of ToDay At 10 o'clock today Hon. Abra'm Lincoln of Illinois will deliver the Annual Address before the State Agricultural Society on the Fair Grounds. Immediately after the address the awards of premiums will be announced." Then were to follow a hook and ladder company contest and other attractions. It is stated in the Sentinel that the day was windy and dusty, and that the crowd was not as large as it would have been but for the disagreeable weather. The speaker was delayed, and did not begin his address until nearly noon.
The address is printed in the Sentinel for October 1, 1859. It is also in Transactions of the Wisconsin Agricultural Society for 1858-59, 287–299. It was in no sense a political address, but was concerned with the development of agriculture, and a discussion of the relation of labor to capital and the importance of education to labor.
So far as we can ascertain, these were Lincoln's only visits to Milwaukee.