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the prospects of the children became constantly more promis. ing.
After the lapse of about fourteen years, the eccentric bachelor uncle took it into his head that he had worked hard enough, and made money enough, to afford to take a little recreation, and make a visit to some relatives in the western part of New York, whom he had not seen for nearly a quarter of a century. In a few months he returned, and introduced to his sister and adopted children a young and beautiful wife, who became a great favorite with the family.
Time rolled on, and in the fourth quarter of the ensuing year the wife presented her devoted husband with a son. About the same time, as the future will reveal, the sun of the adopted children's hopes set in darkness.
Stephen A. Douglas was at this time about fifteen years of age. He had received a good common-school education, and thought that the period had arrived when he ought to prepare himself for college, according to the understanding which was well known to exist in the family. After consultation with his mother, application was made to his good old uncle to send him to the academy preparatory to entering college. The old gentleman seemed instantly confounded. He hesitated, stammered, and then, in the most affectionate manner, told his nephew how much he loved him-how anxious he had been to provide for his education, and even to give him his entire fortune; but added that he was really too poor. Besides, he said, he had a family of his own, for which, by the laws of nature, he was compelled to provide. He therefore advised his nephew to abandon the foolish idea of going to college, where he would only form habits of idleness and dissipation, and urged him to remain with him on the farm, assuring him that he would treat him kindly, and do well by him in the end.
For the first time, the eyes of the youth were opened to his true condition in life. His dreams had faded, his hopes were blasted, the fortune was gone, and, with it, the means of procuring an education. The farm, stock, improvements, the land which had been purchased, and the profits for fifteen years, were all held in his uncle's name. Of course, they were his. True, his mother still had a farm in the neighborhood, the soil of which was nearly worn out, and the improvements gone to
ruin. This would hardly yield enough to support her and her daughter.
In this condition of affairs, he resolved immediately to leave his uncle, whom, he says, he still loved, because of his continued kindness to his mother and sister, and to rely upon his own exertions. With the reluctant and almost extorted consent of his mother, he went to Middlebury, and entered the shop of Nahum Parker as an apprentice to the cabinet business. Having been raised on a farm, and accustomed to the most reg. ular habits of industry, he found the labors of the shop in no degree irksome or fatiguing. Gifted with no inconsiderable mechanical genius, he found his occupation agreeable to his tastes; and has often been heard to say, since in Congress, that his happiest days had been spent in the workshop, and that the bitterest hour of his life was that in which the loss of health compelled him to leave it. He remained with Mr. Par. ker some six or eight months, devoting himself closely to his business, and making a rapid proficiency in the "art" of the trade. He gave entire satisfaction to his employer, and is believed to have been a great favorite with his brother apprentices. He was himself well pleased with his situation; but a misunderstanding arose between him and his employer in consequence of being required to perform certain services, which he considered menial, but which the latter insisted it was usual to require the youngest apprentice to perform. .
Unable to reconcile this difference, the youth gave his employer notice that he should leave him, and accordingly did so. He makes no other complaint of Mr. Parker than that which we have noticed, and speaks of him in terms of kindness as a worthy and respectable citizen.
Being devoted to the trade which he had selected as the business of his life, the apprentice boy immediately returned to his native town, and entered the cabinet shop of Deacon Caleb Knowlton, with whom he remained nearly a year, and would have continued until he attained his majority if his health had permitted. During the last two months of the time he was employed in making French bedsteads of curled maple, a very hard labor, which proved too severe for his delicate constitution. Failing health compelled him to leave the shop; a step which he took under the advice of his employer, and with the understanding that he should return as soon as his health should be restored. In the mean time he became a student in the Brandon Academy, under the superintendence of J. N. Chipman, where he remained one year. Finding his health but slightly improved, it was agreed between Deacon Knowlton and him. self that he should not return to the shop, as it was now certain that he would never be able to follow the trade as a permanent occupation; and, upon the advice of friends, he determined to revive his original plan of securing an education, and devoting himself to a profession.
His sister, to whom he was greatly attached, had, in the mean time, been married to Julius N. Granger, and moved to Ontario county, New York. About this period his mother was married to Gehazi Granger, father of Julius, and moved to the same place, where the family now resides. Stephen accompanied her to New York, and immediately became a student in the Canandaigua Academy, then, as now, under the superintendence of that deservedly popular and distinguished teacher, Professor Henry Howe, where he continued to pursue his classical studies until the spring of 1833. He also entered the law office of the Messrs. Hubbell, of Canandaigua, and pursued his law studies at the same time that he kept up his academical course. During this time his mind evinced that strong inclination toward politics which has marked the greater portion of his subsequent career. Indeed, even while an apprentice boy at Middlebury, during the canvass of Jackson and Adams in 1828, he is known to have been a very enthusiastic admirer of the former, and, in company with several other boys who participated in the same feeling, was very conspicuous and active on election day in tearing down the "coffin handbills" which the boys of the opposition were posting upon the houses and other conspicuous places in all parts of the town. The result of this youthful struggle was, that, after many a severe conflict, none of the handbills, when the day closed, were to be seen in the town. Soon afterward he became a warm supporter of the principles and measures of General Jackson's administration, advocated his re-election to the presidency, and was identified with the Democratic party of the town in their political organization and meetings.
In the spring of 1833 he turned his footsteps toward the