In March, 1832 Lincoln began his political career with his first campaign for the Illinois General Assembly. He had attained local popularity and could draw crowds as a natural raconteur in New Salem, though he lacked an education, powerful friends, and money, which may be why he lost. Lincoln served as New Salem's postmaster and later as county surveyor, all the while reading voraciously. He then decided to become a lawyer and began teaching himself law by reading Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England and other law books. His second campaign in 1834 was successful. He won election to the state legislature; though he ran as a Whig, many Democrats favored him over a more powerful Whig opponent. In the 1835–1836 legislative session, he voted to expand suffrage to white males, whether landowners or not. He was known for his "free soil" stance of opposing both slavery and abolitionism. He first articulated this in 1837, saying, "Institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy, but the promulgation of abolition doctrines tends rather to increase than abate its evils." He closely followed Henry Clay in supporting the American Colonization Society program of making the abolition of slavery practical by helping the freed slaves to settle in Liberia in Africa. He had stayed a Whig throughout his political career. Before getting into politics Lincoln served as a captain in the Illinois Militia during the Black Hawk War. After losing his first elections he decided to become a lawyer and began teaching himself law by reading Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England and other law books. Of his learning method, Lincoln stated: "I studied with nobody". Lincoln became an able and successful lawyer with a reputation as a formidable adversary during cross-examinations and closing arguments. Lincoln has never really had a long time period when he was not involved into politics. Since he was 23 years old he took...
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