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The Notable History of 


Sixteenth President 


United States. 

Boys National Series. 


Dooohue HennetMjrry & (b 

The Notable History of 


Sixteenth President of the United States. 

DID you ever read the fairy 
stories about the poor 
boy who became a prince? 
Do you wish to hear a true story 
about just such a boy ? Let me 
tell it to you. It is the story 
of Abraham Lincoln, the hero 
who saved his country. He 
was as poor a boy as ever lived 
in America; he rose to be greater 
and grander and more royal 
than any prince, or king, or em- 
peror who ever wore a crown. 
Listen to his story : 

There was once a poor car- 
penter, who lived in a miserable 
little log cabin, out West. It 
was on a stony, weedy little hill- 
side, at a place called Nolin's 
Creek, in the State of Kentucky. 
In that log cabin, on the 
twelfth day of February, in the 
year 1809, a little baby was 
born. He was named Abraham Lincoln. 

I don't believe you ever saw a much poorer or meaner place in which to be 
born and brought up than that little log cabin. Abraham Lincoln's father 
was poor and lazy. He could not read and he hated to work. Abraham Lin- 
coln's mother was a hard-working young woman, who dreamed about having 
nice things, but never did have them. Their house had no windows, it had no 


cr\e*K Tf.or-*^ S3 


fiooi, it had none of the things you have in your pleasant homes. In all 
America no baby was ever born with fewer comforts and poorer surroundings 
than little Abraham Lincoln. He grew from a baby to a homely little boy, and 
to a homelier-looking young man. He was tall and thin and gawky. His clothes 
never fitted him; he never, in all his life, went to school but a year; he had to 
work hard, he could play but little, and, many a day, he knew what it was to 
be cold and hungry and almost homeless. 

His father kept moving about from place to place, living almost always in 
the woods, in Kentucky and Indiana and Illinois. Sometimes their home would 
be a log cabin, sometimes it was just a hut with only three sides boarded up, and 
little Abraham Lincoln was a neglected and forlorn little fellow. 

His mother died when he was only eight years old. Then Abraham and 
his sister, Sarah, were worse off than ever. But pretty soon his father married a 
second wife, and Abraham's new mother was a good and wise woman. 

She washed him and gave him new clothes ; she taught him how to make 
the most and do the best with the few things he had and the chances that came 
to him; she made him wish for better things; she helped him fix himself up, and 
encouraged him to read and study. 

This last was what Abraham liked most of all, and he was reading- and 
studying all the time. There were not many books where he lived, but he 
borrowed all he could lay his hands on, and read them over and over. 

He studied all the hard things he could find books on, from arithmetic and 
grammar to surveying and law. He wrote on a shingle, when he could not get 
paper, and by the light of a log fire, when he could not get candles. He read 
and studied in the fields, when he was not working; on wood-piles, where he was 
chopping wood, or in the kitchen, rocking the cradle of any baby whose father or 
mother had a book to lend him. His favorite position for studying was to lay, 
stretched out like the long boy he was, flat on the floor, in front of an open fire. 
Here he would read and write and cipher, after the day's work was over, until, 
at last, he grew to be as good a scholar as any boy round. 

Once he borrowed a book of an old farmer. It was a " Life of Washington." 
He read it and read it again, and when he was not reading it he put it safely 
away between the logs that made the wall of his log-cabin home. But one day 
there came a hard storm ; it beat against the cabin and soaked in between the 
logs and spoiled the book. Young Abraham did not try to hide the book nor 
get out of the trouble. He never did a mean thing of that sort. He took the 
soaked and ruined book to the old farmer, told him how it happened, and asked 
how he could pay for it. 

L 1 

"Wall," said the old farmer, "'taint much account to me now. You pull 
fodder for three days and the book is yours." 

So the boy set to work, and for three days "pulled fodder" to feed the 
farmer's cattle. 

He dried and smoothed and pressed out the "Life of Washington," for it 
was his now. And that is the way he bought his first book. 

He was the strongest boy in all the country 'round. He could mow the 
most, plough the deepest, split wood the best, toss the farthest, run the swiftest, 


jump the highest and wrestle the best of any boy or man in the neighborhood. 
But, though he was so strong, he was always so kind, so gentle, so obliging, so 
just and so helpful that everybody liked him, few dared to stand up against him, and 
all came to him to get work done, settle disputes, or find help in quarrels or trouble. 
When he was fifteen years old he was over six feet tall and very strong. 
No man or boy could throw him down in a wrestle. He was like Washington 
in this, for both men were remarkable wrestlers when they were boys. But he 
always wrestled fair. Once, when he had gone to a new place to live, the big 

Lincoln, rail splitter. 

boys got him to wrestle with their champion, and when the champion found he 
was getting the worst of it he began to try unfair ways to win. This was one 
thing that Lincoln never would stand — unfairness or meanness. He caught the 
big fellow, lifted him in the air, shook him as a dog shakes a rat, and then threw 
him down to the ground. The big bully was conquered. He was a friend and 
follower of Lincoln as long as he lived, and you may be sure the "boys" all 
about never tried any more mean tricks on Abraham Lincoln. 

So he grew, amid the woods and farms, to be a bright, willing, obliging, 
active, good-natured, fun-loving boy. He had to work early and late, and when 
he was a big boy he went to work among the farmers, where he hired as a " hired 
man." He could do anything, from splitting rails for fences to rocking the 
baby's cradle ; or from hoeing corn in the field to telling stories in the kitchen. 

And how he did like to tell funny stories. Not always funny, either. For, 
you see, he had read so much and remembered things so well that he could tell 
stories to make people laugh and stories to make people think. He liked to 
recite poetry and "speak pieces," and do all the things that make a person good 
company for every one. He would sit in front of the country store or on the 
counter inside and tell of all the funny things he had seen, or heard, or knew. 
He would make up poetry about the men and women of the neighborhood, or 
"reel off" a speech upon things that the people were interested in, until all the 
boys and girls, and the men and women, too, said "Abe Lincoln," as they called 
him, knew about everything, and was an "awful smart chap." 

Sometimes they thought he knew too much, for once, when he tried to ex- 
plain to one of the girls that the earth turned around and the sun did not move, 
she would not believe him, and said he was fooling her. But she lived to 
learn that "Abe," as she called him, was not a fool, but a bright, thoughtful, 
studious boy, who understood what he read and did not forget it. 

He worked on farms, ran a ferry-boat across the river, split rails for farm 
fences, worked an oar on a " flat-boat," got up a machine for lifting boats out of 
the mud, kept store, did all sorts of "odd jobs" for the farmers and their wives, 
and was, in fact, what we call a regular ''Jack of all trades." And all the time, 
though he was jolly and liked a good time, he kept studying, studying, study- 
ing, until, as I have told you, the people where he lived said he knew more 
than anybody else. Some of them even said that they knew he would be Presi- 
dent of the United States some day, he was so smart. 

The work he did most of all out-of-doors, was splitting great logs into rails 
for fences. He could do as much as three men at this work, he was so strong. 
With one blow he could just bury the axe in the wood. Once he split enough 

rails for a woman to pay for a suit of clothes she made him, and all the farmers 
round liked to have "Abe Lincoln," as they called him, split their rails. 

He could take the heavy axe by the end of the handle and hold it out 
straight from his shoulder. That is something that only a very strong-armed 
person can do. In fact, as I have told you, he was the champion strong-boy of 
his neighborhood, and, though he was never quarrelsome or a fighter, he did 
enjoy a friendly wrestle, and, we are told, that he could strike the hardest blow 
with axe or maul, jump higher and farther than any of his comrades, and there 

was no one, far or near, 
who could put him on 
his back. He made two 
trips down the long Ohio 
and the broad Mississippi 
rivers to the big city of 
I New Orleans, in Louis- 
iana. He sailed on a 
clumsy, square, flat-bot- 
tomed scow, called a flat- 
boat. Lincoln worked 
the forward oar on the 
flat-boat, to guide the big 
craft through the river 
currents and over snags. 
On these trips he 
first saw negro men and 
women bought and sold 
the same as horses, pigs 
and cattle, and from that 
day, all through his life, 
he hated slavery. When he became a young man, a war broke out in the 
Western country with the Indians. They were led by a famous Indian chief 
called Black Hawk. Lincoln went with the soldiers to fiirht Black Hawk. He 
was thought so much of by his companions that they made him captain of their 

Captain Lincoln's soldiers all liked him, and they were just like boys 
together. Sometimes they were pretty wild boys and gave him a good deal of 
trouble, but he never got real angry at them but once. That was when a poor, 
broken-down, old Indian came into camp for food and shelter, and Lincoln's 

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"boys" were going to kill him just because he was an Indian. But Lincoln said, 
"For shame!" He protected the old Indian and, standing up in front of him, 
said he would knock down the first man that dared to touch him. The soldiers 
knew that Lincoln meant what he said, and thought even more of him after that. 
And the old Indian's life was saved. 

When the soldiers' time was up, and most of them went back home, Lincoln 
would not go with them. He joined another regiment as a private soldier and 
staid in the army until the Indians were beaten and driven away, and Black 
Hawk was taken prisoner. 

Then Lincoln started for home with another soldier boy. They had great 
adventures. Their horse was stolen, and they had to walk; then they found an 
old canoe and paddled down the rivers until the canoe was upset and they were 
nearly drowned; then they walked again until they "got a lift" on a row-boat, 
and so, at last, walking and paddling, they got back to their homes, poor and 
tired out, but strong and healthy young men. 

Then Lincoln tried store-keeping again. He had already been a clerk in a 
country store; now he set up a store of his own. He was not very successful. 
He loved to read and study better than to wait on customers, and he was so 
obliging and good-natured that he could not make much money. Then he had 
a partner who was lazy and good for nothing, and who got him into trouble. 
But, through it all, Lincoln never did a mean or dishonest thing. He paid all 
the debts, though it took him years to do this, and he could be so completely 
trusted to do the right thing for everyone that all the people round about learned 
to call him "Honest Abe Lincoln." That's a good nick-name, is'nt it? 

After Lincoln got through keeping store he was so much liked by the people 
that they chose him to go to the capital of the State, as one of the men who 
made laws for the State of Illinois, in what is called the State Legislature. 

He was sent to the Legislature again and again, and one of the first things 
he did was to draw up a paper, saying what a wicked thing slavery was. 

At that time, you know, almost everybody in the southern half of the United 
States owned negro men and women and children, just as they owned horses 
and dogs and cows. Lincoln did not believe in this. Once, when he was in 
New Orleans, on one of his flat-boat trips, he went into a dreadful place where 
they sold men and women at auction. It made young Lincoln sick and angry, 
and he said if ever he got the chance he would hit slavery a blow that would 
hurt it — though, of course, he did not think he was ever to have the real chance 
to "hit it hard" that did come to him. 

But when he was a young man no one said much against slavery, and the 



Liinicolni in tike BlackHia'wTk: war. 

people thought Lincoln was foolish to act and talk as he did. But, you see, 
one of the strongest things about Abraham Lincoln was that he was sympathetic 
— that is, he felt sorry for any one in trouble. He was tender, even with ani- 
mals — pigs and horses, cats and dogs, and birds If he found a little bird on 
the ground, he would take it up tenderly and hunt around until he found its 
nest, and leave it there. He would get down from his horse to pull a pig out 
of the mud, and, when he was a boy, he went back across an icy and rushing 





river to help over a poor little dog that was afraid to cross. So you will not 
wonder that, when he grew to be a man, he hated slavery, for slavery was un- 
kindness to men and women. 

After he came back from the Legislature, he became a lawyer — he had 
always been studying law, you know. He was a bright, smart and successful 
lawyer. What is better still, he was a good and honest one. He never would 
take a case he did not believe in, and once when a man came to engage him to 

help get some money from a poor widow, Lincoln refused, and gave the man 
such a scolding that the man did not try it again. So Mr. Lincoln grew to be 
one of the best lawyers in all that Western country. 

Because he was so wise and brave in speech and action, Lincoln rose to be 
what is called a great politician. He and another famous man, named Douglas 
looked at things differently, and they had long public talks or discussions about 
politics and slavery. These discussions were held where all the people could 
hear them, in big halls or out of doors, and crowds of people went to listen to 
these talks, so that very soon everybody "out West" and people all over the 
country had heard of Lincoln and Douglas. 

At last, came a time when the people of the United States were to choose 
a new President. And what do you think? These two men were picked out 
by the opposite parties to be voted for by the people — Lincoln by the Repub- 
licans, and Douglas by the Democrats. 

And on election day the Republicans won. The poor little backwoods boy, 
the rail-splitter, the flat-boatman, the farm-hand, was raised to the highest place 
over all the people. Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United 

Is not that as good as your fairy story of the poor boy who became a 
prince? It is even better, for it is true. 

It was a great honor, but it meant hard work and lots of worry for Abraham 
Lincoln. Bad times were coming for America. 

The men of the South, who believed in slavery and said that their States 
had everything to say, stood up against the men of the North, who did not 
believe in slavery, and said that the Government of the United States had more 
to say than any one of the separate States. 

Thus the men of the South said, "You do as we say, or we will break up 
the Union." 

And the men of the North said, "You cannot break it up. The union of 
all the States shall be kept, and you must stay in it." 

The South said, "We won't; we will secede" — that is, draw out of the 

The North said, "You shall not secede. We will light to keep you in and 
preserve the Union." 

The South said, "We dare you!" 

The North said, "We'll take that dare!" 

And then there was war. 

Abraham Lincoln, when he was made President, spoke beautifully to the 

Lincoln visiting tlhie Hospital 

people, and begged them not to quarrel. But, at the same time, he told them 
that whatever happened, he was there to save the Union, and he should do so. 

But his words then had little effect. War had to come, and it came. 

For four dreadful years the men of the North and the men of the South 
fought each other for the mastery on Southern battle fields. Many desperate 
and terrible battles were fought, for each side was bound to win. Neither side 
would give in, and brave soldiers, under brave leaders, did many gallant deeds 


under that terrible necessity that men call war. This war was especially dread- 
ful, because it was just like two brothers fighting with each other, and you know 
how dreadful that must be. 

During all those four years of war Abraham Lincoln lived in the Presi- 
dent's house at Washington — the White House, as it is called. 

He had but one wish — to save the Union. He did not mean to let war, 
nor trouble, nor wicked men destroy the nation that Washington had founded. 
He was always ready to say, "We forgive you," if the men of the South would 

only stop fighting and say, "We are sorry." But they would not do this, much 
as the great, kind, patient, loving President wished them to. 

That he was kind and loving all through that terrible war we know very 
well. War is a dreadful thing, and when it is going on some hard and cruel 
thincs have to be done. The soldiers who are sick or wounded have to be 
hurt to make them well. As they lay in their hospitals, after some dreadful 
battle had torn and maimed them, the good President would walk through the 
long lines of cot-beds, talking kindly with the wounded soldiers, sending them 
nice things, doing everything he could to relieve their sufferings and make 
them patient and comfortable. 

In war, too, you know, even brave soldiers often get tired of the fighting 
and the privations and the delay, and wish to go home to see their wives and 
children. But they cannot, until it is time for them. So, sometimes they get 
impatient and run away. This is called desertion, and when a deserter is 
caught and brought back to the army, he is shot. 

Now President Lincoln was so loving and tender-hearted that he could 
not bear to have any of his soldiers shot because they had tried to go home. 
So, whenever he had a chance, he would write a paper saying the soldier must 
not be shot. This is called a pardon, and whenever a weak or timid soldier 
was arrested and sentenced to be shot as a deserter, his friends would hurry to 
the good President and beg him to give the man a pardon. 

He almost always did it. "I don't see how it will do the man any good 
to shoot him," he would say. "Give me the paper, I'll sign it," and so the 
deserter would go free, and perhaps make a better soldier than ever, because 
the s:ood President had saved him. 

The question of slavery was always coming up in this war time. But 
when some of the men at the North asked Lincoln to set all the slaves in the 
land free, he said: "The first thing to do is to save the Union; after that we'll 
see about slavery." 

Some people did not like that. They said the President was too slow. 
But he was not. He was the wisest man in all the world; the only one who 
could do just the right thing, and he did it. 

He waited patiently until just the right time came. He saw that the South 
was not willing to give in, and that something must be done to show them that 
the North was just as determined as they were. So, after a great victory had 
been won by the soldiers of the Union, Abraham Lincoln wrote a paper and sent 
it out to the world, saying that on the first day of January, in the year 1863, all 

slaves in America should be free men and women — what we call emancipated — 
and that, forever after, there should be no such thing as slavery in free America. 

It was a great thing to do. It was a greater thing to do it just as Lincoln 
did it, and, while the world lasts, no one will ever forget the Emancipation 
Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln. 

Still the war went on. But, little by little, the South was growing weaker, 
and, at last, in the month of April, 1865, the end came. The Southern soldiers 
gave up the fight. The North was victorious. The Union was saved. 

You may be sure that the great and good President was glad. He did 
not think that he had done so very much. It was the people who had done it 
all, he said. But the people knew that Lincoln had been the leader and cap- 
tain who had led them safely through all their troubles, and they cheered and 
blessed him accordingly. 

But do you think the poor black people whom he had set free blessed him? 
They did, indeed. 


President Lincoln, (signing a. pardon,. 

When President Lincoln at last stood in the streets of Richmond, which had 
been the capital of the Southern States, he was almost worshipped by the 
colored people. They danced, they sang, they cried, they prayed, they called 
down blessings on the head of their emancipator — the man who had set them 
free. They knelt at his feet, while the good President, greatly moved by what 
he saw, bowed pleasantly to the shouting throng, while tears of joy and pity 
rolled down his care-wrinkled face. Don't you think it must have been a great 
and blessed moment for this good and great and noble man. But it was the 
same all over the land. There was cheering and shouting and thanksgiving 
everywhere for a re-united nation, and even the South, weary with four years 
of unsuccessful war, welcomed peace and quiet once more. 

Then, who in all the world was greater than Abraham Lincoln? He had 
done it all, people said, by his wisdom, his patience and his determination, and 
the splendid way in which he had directed everything from his home in the 
White House. 

The year before, in the midst of the war, he had been elected President for 
the second time. " It is not safe to swap horses when you are crossing a 
stream," he said. So the people voted not to "swap horses." 

Lincoln made a beautiful speech to the people when he was again made 
President. He spoke only of love and kindness for the men of the South, and, 
while he said the North must fight on to the end and save the Union, they 
must do it not hating the South, but loving it. 

And this is the way he ended that famous speech. Remember his words, 
boys and girls, they are glorious: "With malice toward none, with charity for 
all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the 
work we are in * * * and achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace 
amone ourselves and with all nations." 

But, just when the war was ended, when peace came to the land again ; 
when all men saw what a grand and noble and loving and strong man the 
great President was ; when it looked as if, after four years of worry, weariness 
and work, he could at last rest from his labors and be happy, a wicked, foolish 
and miserable man shot the President, behind his back. And, on the morning 
of the fifteenth of April, in the year 1865, Abraham Lincoln died. 

Then how all the land mourned ! South, as well as North, wept for the 
dead President. All the world sorrowed, and men and women be^an to sec 
what a ereat and noble man had been taken from them. 

The world has not got over it yet. Every year and everv day only makes 

Abraham Lincoln greater, nobler, mightier. No boy ever, in all the world, 
rose higher from poorer beginnings. No man who ever lived did more for 
the world than Abraham Lincoln, the American. 

He saw what was right, and he did it; he knew what was true, and he 


said it; he felt what was just, and he stuck to it. So he stands to-day, for 
justice, truth and right. 

You do not understand all this now, as you listen to these words and look 
at these pictures. But some day you will, and you will then know that it was 
because Abraham Lincoln lived and did these things that you have to-day a 
happy home in a great, free, rich and beautiful country — "The land of the free 
and the home of the brave." 

So remember this, now, boys and girls : You are free and happy in America 
to-day, because Abraham Lincoln saved for you to live in the land that George 
Washington made free.