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The Story of 
Young Abraham Lincoln 

By - 

; * 

' Author of The Story of the Americftn Flag, The Story of the 
liberty Bell, The Story of the White HoiiBe, The Story 
of Young Oeorge Washingtoo, the Btoiy of 
I Young Beujamui Franklin, etc 




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CoFZBiaHT^ 1S15, Bs HowABD G. Auixinn 

THB XEff Yonii 

ri'BLic iiE::Aiiv 




IsTBOimanas 9 

I, AHBJTTtif hrSOOLS'B Foat3ATKEB8 15 

n. AnpiTTi-if LnrcOLN's Father akd Uoth^ 20 

m. The Bot Lihcolk's Bbst Teacher 29 

IV. LKAmriNQ TO Wore: 34 

V. Loauro His Uothcr 46 

TI. ScHOoii Days Now and Then 64 

Vn. Abe and the NsioHBCns 69 

ym. ICoviNa TO iLLmois 8G 

IX. Bruama Our tor Hihselt 94 

S. Clerking and Woreino 107 

XI. PoLincB, War, Store Keeping and Studying Law. .118 

Xn. BUTINO and KXEPISQ A Store 132 

Xm. The Yodno Legislator in Lovb 139 


XY. Lincoln & Herndon 176 

XVI. Hia Kindness op Heart 186 

XVn. WoAT Kade ihe Diitebence Between Abrahau 

Linooln AND His Stepbrother 198 

XVllI. "No End of a Bot" 204 

XIX. LzxDTXKANT Tad Linoolk, Patriot 216 

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Abb "PnBsmED His Smsaft" tTNDKB the Guidano 

OF His Kcfher FrontispieM 

His Stock op Books Was Suali^ Bdt Thky Webb 

THX Bioar Kini> Facing 63 

THsFntsrWORK Abe Did m That KEiaEBOREoOD., " OS 
"Lancohtt," Said He, "You Havx Throwtj- Me Twice, 

But Tor Can't Whip Me" " 108 

"TotT ShawI Hubt This Pooe Old Inman" " 130 

He Took the Cradijs and Led All the Wat Bound " 146 
One of His Speeches Was Delivered Fboh the 

Dooa OP A Hakness Shop " 173 

He Used to Cabby tss Boy "Pigk-a-Baok," *' 206 

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Lincoln From New and Untsual Sottbcbs 

The boy or girl who reads to-day may know 
more about the real Lincoln than his own chil- 
dren knew. The greatest President's son, Rob- 
ert Lincobi, discussing a certain incident in their 
life in the White House, remarked to the writer, 
with a smile full of meaning: 

"I believe you know more about out family 
matters than I dol" 

This is because "all the world loves a lover" — 
and Abraham Lincoln loved everybody. Witii 
aU his brain and brawn, his real greatness was 
in his heart He has been called "the Great- 
Heart of the White House," and there is little 
doubt that more people have hetu'd about him 
than there are who have read of the original 
"Great-Heart" in "The Pilgrim's Progress." 

Indeed, it is safe to say that more millions in 

the modem world are acquainted with the story 

of the rise of Abraham Lincoln from a poorly 




built log calon to the highest place amoi^ "the 
seats of the ndghtf," than are fanuliar with the 
Bible story of Joseph who arose and stood next 
to the throne of the Pharaohs. 

Nearly every year, especially since the Ian- 
coin GentemuEil, 1909, something new has been 
added to the uniyersal knowledge of one of the 
greatest, if not the greatest man who ever lived 
his life in the world. Not only those who "knew 
Lincoln, ' ' but many who only * ' saw bim once ' * or 
shook hands with him, have been called upon to 
tell what they saw bim do or heard him say. So 
hearty was his kindness toward everybody that 
the most casual remark of his seems to be 
charged with deep human affection — f* ttie touch 
of Nature" which has made "the whole world 
kin" to bim. 

He knew just how to sympathize with every 
one. The people felt this, without knowing why, 
and recognized it in every deed or word or touch, 
so that those who have once felt the grasp of his 
great warm hand seem to have been drawn into 
the strong circuit of "Lincoln fellowship," and 
were enabled, as if by "the laying on of hands," 
to speak of him ever after with a deep and ten- 
der feeling. 




There are many such people who did not rush 
into print with their observations and experi- 
ences. Their Lincohi memories seemed too sa- 
cred to scatter far and wide. Some of them have 
yielded, with real reluctance, in relating all for 
publication in The Story of Young Abraham 
LnfcOLH only because they wished their recol- 
lections to b^iefit the rising generation. 

Several of these modest folk have shed true 
light on important phases and events in Lin- 
coln's life history. For instance, there has been 
much discussion concerning Lincoln's Gettys- 
burg Address — ^where was it written, and did he 
deliver it from notes! 

Now, fifty years after that great occasion, 
comes a distinguished college professor who un- 
consciously settles tiie whole dispute, whether 
Lincoln held his notes in his right hand or his 
left — if he used them at all I — ^whUe making his 
immortal "little speech." To a group of vet- 
erans of the Grand Army of the Republic he re- 
lated, casually, what he saw while a college stu- 
dent at Gettysburg, after working his way 
through the crowd of fifteen tiiousand people to 
the front of the platform on that memorable 
day. From this point of vantage he saw and 

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heard everything, and there is no gainsaying the 
vivid memories of his first impressions — how the 
President held the little pages in both h^ids 
straight down before him, swinging his taU form 
to right, to left and to the front again as he em- 
phasized the now familiar closing words, "of the 
people — hy the people — for the people — shall not 
perish from the earth." 

Such data have been gathered from various 
sources and are here given for the first time in a 
connected life-story. Several corrections of 
stories giving rise to popular misconceptions 
have been supplied by Eobert, Lineoln's only liv- 
ing son. One of these is the true version of 
"Bob's" losing the only copy of his father's first 
inaugural address. Others were furnished by 
two aged Illinois friends who were acquainted 
with "Abe" before he became famous. One of 
these explained, without knowing it, a question 
which has puzzled several biographers— how a 
young man of Lincoln's shrewd intelligence 
could have been guiWy of such a misdemeanor, 
as captain in the Black Hawk War, as to make it 
necessary for his superior officer to deprive him 
of his sword for a single day. 

A new story is told by a dear old lady, who did 

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not wish her name given, about herself vihen she 
was a little girl, when a "drove of lawyers riding 
the old Eighth Judicial District of Ulinois," 
came to drink from a famous cold spring on her 
father's premises. She described the uncouth 
dress of a tall young man, asking her father who 
he was, and he replied with a laugh, "Oh, that's 
Abe Lincoln." 

One day in their rounds, as the lawyers came 
through the front gate, a certain judge, whose 
name the narrator refused to divulge, knocked 
down with his cane her pet doll, which was lean- 
ing against the fence. The little girl cried over 
this contemptuous treatment of her "child." 

Toung Lawyer Lincoln, seeing it all, sprang in 
and quickly picked up the fallen dolL Brusldng 
ofE the dust with his great awkward hand he 
said, soothingly, to the wounded little mother- 

"There now, little Black Eyes, don't cry. 
Tour baby's alive. See, she isn't hurt a bit I" 

That tall young man never looked uncouth to 
her after that. It was this same old lady who 
told the writer that Lawyer Lincoln wore a new 
suit of clothes for the first time on the very day 
that he performed the oft-described feat of rea- 

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cuing a helpless hog from a great deep hole in 
the road, and plastered his new clothes with mud 
to the great merriment of his legal friends. This 
well-known incident occurred not far from her 
father's place near Paris, HL 

These and many other new and corrected inci- 
dents are now collected for The Story op 
TouxG A BR ATT AM LINCOLN, in addition to the 
best of everything suitable that was known be- 
fore — as the highest patriotic service which the 
writer can render to the young people of the 
United States of America. 

Wayne Whipple. 


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Abraham Lincoln ^s Forefathers 

Lincoln's grandfather, for whom he was 
named Abraham, was a distant cousin to Daniel 
Boone. The Boones and the Lincohis had inter- 
married for generations. The Lincohis were of 
good old English stock. When he was Presi- 
dent, Abraham Lincoln^ who had never given 
much attention to the family pedigree, said that 
the history of his family was well described by 
a single line in Gray's "Elegy": 
"The short and simple annals of the poor." 
Yet Grandfather Abraham was wealthy for 
his day. He accompanied Boone from Virginia 
to Kentucky and lost his life there. He had sac- 
rificed part of his property to the pioneer spirit 
within him, and, with the killing of their father, 
his family lost the rest They were "land poor" 


The Story of Toung 

in the wilderness of the "Dark Bloody Ground" 
— the meaning of the Indian name, Kentucky. 

Grandfather Lincoln had cleared a little farm 
in the woods and built a substantial cabin of 
logs. One day he was out with his three sons, 
working in the edge of the clearing, not far from 
the house, when some Indians crept near and 
shot him down, without the least warning, from 
the underbrush. The three boys scattered in- 
stinctively as a brood of young turkeys -^en' 
their motiier is shot Mordecai, the eldest, 
rushed into the house for a gun, Josiah, the next 
in age, ran off to a neighboring stockade for 
help to defend the little home, and Thomas was 
left, dazed and helpless, beside the dead bo^ of 
his father. 

As soon as Mordecai Lincoln got the gun, he 
peeped out through a chink left for the purpose 
and saw an Indian picking up his little brother 
as if to make oS with him. Thrusting the rifle 
through the primitiye porthole, he took aim and 
flred at a silver ornament on the breast of the 
savage. It was a good diot. The Indian fell to 
the ground and the little boy, astonished at be- 
ing suddenly released, ran toward the house as 
fast as his Uttle legs could carry him. 

..: '': V :■": Dirz^dt^Googlc 

Abraham Lincoln 

Other Indians appeared from the thicket and, 
with yells of rage, ran after the frightened 
child. Mordecai waa equal to the occasion; fir- 
ing from his point of vantage, he shot the fore- 
most Indians before they coiild seize his small 
brother, and kept the others at bay until poor 
little Tom had come in safe, and Josiah had 
brought men to their relief from the fort. 

But Mordecai Lincoln was not satisfied with 
killing a few Indians at the time of his father's 
death. Vowing vengeance on the whole race of 
red men, he became an Indian stalker, shooting 
down Kentucky savages wherever he found 
them, without so much as waiting to see whether 
they were friends or foes. In this he was as un- 
reasoning and cruel as the Indians who had shot 
his father without cause. Mordecai shared the 
pioneer belief that "The only good Indian is a 
dead Indian." 

Because of his bitter hatred for Indians and 
his excellent marksmanship, Mordecai became 
sheriff of the county and came to be greatly re- 
spected in the community, which elected him to 
the State Legislature. According to the English 
custom of leaving the property to the eldest son, 
vihiciL still prevailed in Yirgioia, Mordecai got 


The Storjr of Young 

his father*s timber lands and meager improve- 
ments. This seemed right enough, for he alone 
was old enough to take care of it. 

Anna Lincoln, the widow of Abraham, the 
pioneer, left their cabin home in JefEerson 
Comity, and moved to the adjoining county of 
Washington. Very little is known of her or of 
her second son, Josiah. Little Tom, who, at six 
years of age, had seen his father shot down by 
the Indians, is known all over the world because 
he became the father of Abraham Lincoln, the 
sixteenth President of the TTnited States. 

When only ten years old, Thomas Lincoln 
was "a wandering laboring boy," who worked 
as a farm helper or "hand," and learned the 
trade of "carpenter and joiner." He grew to 
be good-natured, rather taU, with a powerful 
frame, and acquired a reputation as a wrestler. 

Mordecai Lincoln was a pioneer joker and 
humorist. One of his acquaintances described 
him thus: 

"He was a man of great drollery and it would 
almost make you laugh to look at him. I never 
saw but one other man whose quiet, droll look 
excited in me the disposition to lau^ and that 
was 'Artemua Ward.' 



Abraham Lincoln 

"Mordecai was quite a stoiy-teller, and in 
this Abe resembled his 'Uncle Mord,' as we 
called him, He was an honest man, as tender- 
hearted as a woman, and to the last degree char- 
itable and benevolent. 

"Abe Lincoln had a very high opinion of his 
miele. Mid on one occasion remarked, *I have 
often said that Uncle Mord had run off with all 
the talents of the family.' '* 

In a letter about his family history, just be- 
fore he was nominated for the president^, Abra- 
ham Lincoln wrote : 

*'My parents were both bom in Virginia, of 
undistii^uished families — second families, per- 
haps I should say. My mother was of a family 
of the name of Hanks. My paternal grand- 
father, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from Rock- 
ingham Counly, Virginia, to Kentucky about 
1781 or 2, where, a year or two later, he was 
killed by Lidians — ^uot in battle, but by stealth, 
when he was laboring to open a farm in the 
forest. His ancestors, who were Quakers, went 
to Virginia from Berks Coimty, Pennsylvania. 
An effort to identify them with the New Eng- 
land family of the same name ended in nothing 
more definite than a similarity of Ghristiau 


The Story of Young 

names inbotti families, such as Enoch, Levi, 
Mordecai, Solomon, Abraham, and the like. 

"My father, at the death of his father, was but 
six years of age ; and he grew up, literally with- 
out education.** 


Ahbaham Lincoln's Father and MorsoESt 

"While Thomas Lincoln was living with a 
farmer and doing odd jobs of carpentering, he 
met Nancy Hanks, a tall, slender woman, witii 
dark skin, dark brown hair and small, deep-set 
gray eyes. She had a full forehead, a sharp, 
angular face and a sad expression. Tet her dis- 
position was generally cheerful. For her back- 
woods advantages she was considered well edu- 
cated. She read weU and could write, too. It is 
stated that Nancy Hanks taught Thomas Lin- 
coln to write his own name. Thomas was twenty- 
five and Nancy twenty-three when their wed- 
ding day came. Christopher Columbus Graham, 
when almost one hundred years old, gave the 


Abraham Lincoln 

following description of the marriage feast of 
the Lincoln bride and groom: 

"I am one of the two living men who can 
prove that Abraham Lincoln, or Linkhom, as 
the family was miscalled, was bom in lawful 
wedlock, for I saw Thomas Lincoln marry 
Kancy Hanks on the 12th day of June, 1806. I 
was hunting roots for my medicine and just went 
to the wedding to get a good supper and got it. 

"Tom Lincoln was a carpenter, and a good 
one for those days, when a cabin was built 
maiidy with the ax, and not a nail or a bolt or 
hinge in it, only leathers and pins to the doors, 
and no glass, except in watches and spectacles 
and bottles. Tom had the best set of tools in 
what was then and is now Washington County. 

"Jesse Head, the good Methodist minister 
that married them, was also a carpenter or cabi- 
net maker by trade, and as he was then a neigh- 
bor, they were good friends. 

"While you pin me down to facts, I will say 
that I saw Nancy Hanks Lincoln at her wedding, 
a fresh-looking girl, I should say over twenty. 
Tom was a respectable mechanic and could 
choose, and she vraa treated with respect. 

"I was at the infare, too, given by John H. 

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The Story of Young 

Parrott, her guardian, and only girls with 
money had guardians appointed by the court. 
We had bear meat; venison; wild turkey and 
ducks' e^:s, wild and tame — bo common that 
you could buy them at two bits a bushel; maple 
sugar, swung on a string, to bite ofE for coffee; 
syrup in big gourds, peach and honey; a sheep 
that the two families barbecued whole over coals 
of wood burned in a pit, and covered with green 
boughs to keep the juices in. Our table was of 
the puncheons cut from solid logs, and the next 
day they were the floor of the new cabin." 

Thomas Lincoln took his bride to live in a 
little log cabin in a Kentucky settlement — ^not a 
village or hardly a hamlet — called Elizabetii- 
town. He evidently thought this place would be 
less lonesome for his wife, while he was away 
hunting and carpentering, than the lonely farm 
he had purchased in Hardin County, about four- 
teen miles away. There was so little carpenter- 
ing or cabinet making to do that he could make 
a better living by farming or hunting. Thomas 
was very fond of shooting and as he was a fine 
marksman he could provide game for the table, 
and other things which are considered luxuries 
to-day, such as furs and skins needed for the 


Abraham Lincoln 

primitive wearing apparel of the pioneers. A 
daughter was bom to the young couple at Eliza- 
bethtown,'whom they named Sarah. 

Dennis Hanks, a eousin of Nancy, lived near 
the Lincolns in the early days of their married 
life, and gave Mrs. Eleanor Atkinson this de- 
scription of their early life together : 

"Looks didn't count them days, nohow. It 
was strength an' work an' daredevil. A lazy 
man or a coward was jist pizen, an' a spindlin' 
feller had to stay in the settleniints. The 
clearin's hadn't no use fur him. Tom was 
strong, an' he wasn't lazy nor afeer'd o' nothin', 
but he was kind o* shif less — couldn't git nothin' 
ahead, an' didn't keer putiekalar. Lots o' them 
kind o' fellers in 'arly days, 'druther hunt and 
fish, an' I reckon they had their use. They 
killed off the varmints an' made it safe fur other 
fellers to go into the woods with an ax. 

"When Nancy married Tom he was workin' 
in a carpenter shop. It wasn't Tom's fault he 
couldn't make a livin' by his trade. Thar was 
sca'cely any money in that kentry. Every man 
had to do his own tinkerin', an' keep everlast- 
inly at work to git enough to eat So Tom tuk 
up some laud. It was mighty ornery land, but it 

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The Story of Young 

was the best Tom could git, when he hadn't 
much to trade fur it. 

"Pore? We was all pore, them days, but the 
Lincolns was p&rer than anybody. Choppin' 
trees an' grubbin' roots an' splittin* raUa an' 
huntin' an' trappin' didn't leave Tom no time. 
It was all he could do to git his f ambly enough 
to eat and to kiver *em. Nancy was turrible 
ashamed o' the way they lived, but she knowed 
Tom was doin' his best, an' she wa'n't the pes- 
terin'kind. She waspurtyasapietur'an'smart 
as you'd find 'em anjrwhere. She could read an' 
write. The Hankses was some smarter'n the 
Lincolns. Tom thought a heap o* Nancy, an' he 
was as good to her as he knowed how. He didn't 
drink or swear or play cyards or fight, an' them 
was drinkin', cussin', quarrelsome days. Tom 
was popylar, an' he coidd lick a bully if he had 
to. He jist couldn't git ahead, somehow." 

"kanct's bot baby" 

Evidently Elizabethtown faUed to furnish 
Thomas Lincoln a living wage from carpenter- 
ing, for he moved with his young wife and his 
baby girl to a farm on Nolen Creek, fourteen 
miles away. The chief attraction of the so-called 


Abraham Lineoln 

farm was a fine spring of water bubbling up in 
the shade of a small grove. From this spring 
the place came to be known as "Bock Spring 
Farm." It was a barren spot and the cabin on 
it was a rude and primitive sort of home for a 
carpenter and joiner to occupy. It contained 
but a single room, with only one window and 
one door. There was a wide fireplace in the big 
chimney which was built outside. But that rude 
hut became the home of "the greatest Ameri- 

Abraham Lincoln was bom to poverty and 
privation, but he was never a pauper. His hard- 
ships were those of many other pioneers, the 
wealthiest of whom suffered greater privations 
than the poorest laboring man h^ to endure to- 

After his nomination to the presidency, Mr. 
Lincoln gave to Mr. Hicks, a portrait painter, 
this memorandum of his birtii : 

"I was bom February 12, 1809, in 
then Hardin County, Kentucky, at a 
point within the now county of Larue, a 
mile or a mile and a half from where 
Hodgen's mill now is. My parents being 
dead, and my memory not serving, I 


The Story; of Young 

know no means of identifying the pre- 
cise locality. It was on Nolen Creek. 


"June 14, 1860." 

The exact spot was identified after Ms death, 
and the house was found standing many years 
later. The lo^ were removed to Chicago, for 
the World's Columbian Exposition, in 1893, and 
the cabin was reconstructed and exhibited there 
and elsewhere in the United States. The ma- 
terials were taken back to their original site, 
and a fine marble structure now encloses the 
precious relics of the birthplace of "the first 
American," as Lowell calls Lincoln in his great 
"Commemoration Ode." 

Cousin Dennis Hanks gives the following 
quaint description of "Nancy's boy baby," as 
reported by Mrs. Eleanor Atkinson in her little 
book on "Lincoln's Boyhood.'* 

"Tom an' Nancy lived on a farm about two 
miles from us, when Abe was bom. I ricoUect 
Tom comin' over to our house one cold momin* 
in Feb'uary an' sayin' kind o' slow, 'Nancy's 
got a boy baby.' 

"Mother got flustered an* hurried up 'er work 

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Abraham Liiicoln 

to go over to look after the little feller, but I 
didn't have nothin' to wait fur, so I cut an' run 
the hull two mile to see my new cousin. 

"You bet I was tickled to death. Babies 
wasn't as common as blackberries in the woods 
o'Kaintucky. Mother come over an* washed him 
an' put a yaller flannel petticoat on hTm, an' 
cooked some dried berries with wild honey fur 
Nancy, an' slicked things up an' went home. 
An' that's all the nuss'n either of 'em got. 

"I rolled up in a b'ar skin an' slep' by the fire- 
place that night, so's I could see the little feller 
when he cried an' Tom had to get up an' tend 
to him. Nancy let me hold him purty soon. 
Folks often ask me if Abe was a good lookin' 
baby. Well, now, he looked just like any other 
baby, at fust — ^like red cherry pulp squeezed dry. 
An' he didn't improve none as he growed older. 
Abe never was much fur looks. I ricollect how 
Tom joked about Abe's long legs when he was 
toddlin' round the cabin. He growed out o' his 
clothes faster 'n Nancy could make 'em. 

"But he was mighty good comp'ny, solemn as 

a papoose, but interested in everything. An' he 

always did have fits o' cuttin' up. I've seen him 

when he was a little feller, settiu' on a stool, 


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The Story of Young 

Btarin' at a visitor. AH of a sudden he'd bu'st 
out laughin* fit to kill. If he told us what he 
was laughin' at, half the time we couldn't see no 

"Abe never give Nancy no trouble after he 
could walk excep' to keep him in clothes. Most 
o' the time he went bar 'foot. Ever wear a wet 
buckskin glove? Them moccasins wasn't no 
putectionag'instthe wet Birch bark with hick- 
-ory bark soles, strapped on over yam socks, 
beat buckskin all holler, fur snow. Abe'n me 
got purty handy contrivin' things that way. An* 
Abe was right out in the woods about as soon's 
he was weaned, £shin' in the creek, settin' traps 
fur rabbits an' muskrats, goia' on coon-hunts 
with Tom an* me an' the dogs, follerin' up bees 
to find bee-trees, an' drappin' com fur his 
pappy. Mighty interestin' life fur a boy, but 
thar was a good many chances he wouldn't live 
to grow up." 

When little Abe was f oiu: years old Ms fattier 
and mother moved from Rock Spring !Farm to 
a better place on Knob Creek, fifteen miles to 
the northeast of the farm where he was bom. 


Abraham Lincoln 


The Boy Lincoln's Best Teacheb 

At Knob Creee: the boy began to go to an 
"A B C" school His first teacher was Zacha- 
riah Riney. Of course, there were no regular 
schools in the backwoods then. When a man 
who "knew enough" happened to come along, 
especially if he had nothing else to do, he tried 
to teach the children of the pioneers in a poor 
log sehoolhouse. It is not likely that little Abe 
went to school more than a few weeks at this 
time, for he never had a year's schooling in his 
life. There was another teacher afterward at 
Knob Creek— a man named Caleb Hazel. Little 
is known of either of these teachers except that 
he taught little Abe Lincoln. If their pupil had 
not become famous the men and their schools 
would never have been mentioned in history. 

An old man, named Austin 0oUaher, used to 
like to teU of the days when he and little Abe 
went to school together. He said: 

"Abe was an unusually bright boy; at school, 

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The Storjr of Toimg 

and made splendid progress in his studies. In- 
deed, he learned faster than any of his school- 
mates. Though so young, he studied very hard. 
He would get spicewood bushes, hack them up 
on a log, and bum them, two or three together, 
for the purpose of giving light by which he 
mig^t pursue his studies." 

It is likely that Abe "pursued his studies" 
under the guidance of his mother, who had 
taught his father to write his own name. Mrs. 
Nancy Lincoln must have taken great pains to 
instruct her little girl and boy, especially as Abe 
began so early to show a real thirst for knowl- 
edge. She told the children Bible stories, and 
sudi other tales as she had been able to learn in 
her limited backwoods life, by the light of the 
open fire of spicewood boughs. After the boy 
became a great and famous man, he remembered 
with deep tenderness those quiet evenings when 
his mother told stories by tiie firelight. The fact 
that he had cut the spicewood boughs to add to 
his mother's pleasure must have added a pleas- 
ant fragrance to his own memories of her and 
their happy days together on Knob Creek Farm. 

Austin GoUaher was still living in his old log 
cabin near the Lincoln house nearly twenty years 


Abraham lincoln 

after Lincoln's assassination, and gave the fol- 
lowing account of an adventure he had with the 
little liineoln boy : 

"I once saved Lincoln's life. We had been 
goii^ to school together one year; but the next 
year we had no school, because there were so few 
scholars to attend, there being only about twenty 
in the school the year before. 

' ' Consequently Abe and I had not much to do ; 
but, as we did not go to school and our mothers 
were strict with us, we did not get to see each 
other very often. One Sunday morning my 
mother waked me up early, saying she was going 
to see Mrs. Lincoln, and that I could go along. 
CHad of the chance, I was soon dressed and ready 
to go. After my mother and I got there, Abe and 
I played all through the day. 

"While we were wandering up and down the 
little stream called Knob Creek, Abe said : 'Right 
up there* — pointing to the east — *we saw a covey 
of partridges yesterday. Let's go over.* The 
stream was too wide for us to jump across. 
Finally we saw a foot-log, and decided to try it. 
It was narrow, but Abe said, 'Let's coon it' 

"I went first and reached the other side all 
right Abe went about half way across, when 


The Story of Toung 

He got scared and began trembling. I hollered 
to him, 'Don't look down nor up nor sideways, 
but look right at me and hold on tight I' But he 
fell off into the creek, and, as the water was about 
seven or eight feet deep (I could not swim, and 
neither could Abe), I knew it would do no good 
for me to go in after him. 

"So I got a stick — a long water sprout — and 
held it out to him. He came up, grabbing with 
both hands, and I put the stick into his hEinds. 
He clung to it, and I pulled him out on the bank, 
almost dead. I got him by the arms and shook 
him well, and then I rolled him on the ground, 
when the water poured out of his mouth. 

"He was all right very soon. We promised 
each other that we would never tell anybody 
about it, and never did for years. I never told 
any one of it till after Lincoln was killed. " 

Abraham Lincoln's parents were religious in 
their simple way. The boy was brought up to 
believe in the care of the Father in Heaven over 
the affairs of this life. The family attended 
camp meetings and preaching services, which 
were great events, because few and far between, 
in those primitive days. Abe used afterward to 
get his playmates together and preach to them 


Abraham Lincoln 

in a way that sometimes frightened them and 
made them cry. 

No doubt young Lincoln learned more that was 
useful to him in after life from the wandering 
preachers of his day than he did of his teachers 
during the few months that he was permitted to 
go to school. But his best teacher was his 
mother. She would have been proud to have her 
boy grow up to be a traveling minister or ex- 
horter, like Peter Cartwright, "the backwoods 

Nancy Hanks Lincoln "builded better than 
she knew." She would have been satisfied with 
a cabin life for her son. She little knew that by 
her own life and teaching she was raising up the 
greatest man of his age, and one of the grandest 
men in all history, to become the ruler of the 
greatest nation that the world has ever seen. She 
did her duty by her little boy and he honored her 
always during her life and afterward. No won- 
der he once exclaimed when he thought of her : 

"All I am or hope to be I owe to my sainted 

And out of her poor, humble life, that devoted 

"Gave us Lincoln and never knew I'* 

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The Storjr of Young 



The little Lincoln boy learned to help his 
father and mother as soon as he could, picking 
berries, dropping seeds and carrying water for 
the men to drink. The farm at Knob Greek 
seems to have been a little more fertile than the 
other two places on which his fattier had chosen 
to live. 

Once while living in the White House, Presi- 
dent Lincoln was asked if he could remember his 
"old Kentucky home.'* He replied with consid- 
erable feeling: 

"I remember that old home very welL Our 
farm was composed of three fields. It lay in the 
valley, surrounded by high hills and deep gorges. 
Sometimes, when there came a big rain in the 
hills, the water would come down through the 
gorges and spread all over the farm. The last 
thing I remember of doing there was one Satur- 
day afternoon; the other boys planted the com 
in what we called the big field— it contained 


Abraham Lincoln 

seven acres — and I dropi>ed the pumpkin seed. 
I dropped two seeds in every other row and every 
other MIL The next Sunday morning there 
came a big rain in the hills — ^it did not rain a 
drop in the valley, but the water, coming through 
the gorges, washed the ground, com, pumpMn 
seeds and all, clear off the field!" 

Although this was the last thing Lincoln could 
remember doing on that farm, it is not at aU 
likely that it was the last thing he did there, for 
Thomas Lincoln was not the man to plant com 
in a field he was about to leave. (The Lincolns 
moved away in the falL) 

Another baby boy was bom at Knob Oreek 
farm; a puny, pathetic little stranger. When 
this baby was about three years old, the father 
had to use his skill as a cabinet maker in making 
a tiny coflHn, and the Lincoln family wept over a 
lonely little grave in the wilderness. 

About this time Abe begim to leam lessons in 
practical patriotism. Once when Mr. Lincoln 
was asked what he could remember of the War 
of 1812, he replied: 

"Nothing but this : I had been fishing one day 
and caught a little fish which I was taking home. 
I met a soldier on the road, and, having been told 


The Stoiy of Young 

at home that we must be good to Hie soldiers, I 
gave him my fish." 

An old man, Major Alexander Symi>son, who 
lived not far from the Lincolns at this period, 
left this description of "a mere spindle of a 
boy," in one of his earliest attempts to defend 
himself against odds, while waiting at the neigh- 
boring mill while a grist was being ground. 

"He was the shyest, most reticent, most un- 
couth and awkward-apptoring, homeliest and 
worst-dressed of any in the crowd. So superla- 
tively wretched a butt could not hope to look on 
long unmolested. He was attacked one day as he 
stood near a tree by a larger boy with others at 
his back. But the crowd was greatly astonished 
when little Lincoln soundly thrashed the first, 
the second, and third boy in succession ; and then, 
placing his back against the tree, he defied the 
whole crowd, and told them they were a lot of 

Evidently Father Tom, who enjoyed quite a 
reputation as a wrestler, had give the small boy 
a few lessons in "the manly art of self-defense." 

Meanwhile the little brother and sister were 

learning still better things at their mother's 

knee, alternately hearing and reading stories 


itv Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

from the Bible, "The Pilgrim's Progress," 
* *^sop 's Fables, " " Robinson Crusoe, * ' and 
other books, common now, but rare enough in the 
backwoods in those days. 

There were hard times, even in the wilderness 
of Kentucky, after the War of 1812. Slavery 
was spreading, and Thomas and Nancy Lincoln 
heartily hated that "relic of barbarism." To 
avoid witnessing its wrongs which made it 
harder for self-respecting white men to rise 
above the class referred to with contempt in the 
South as "poor white trash," Tom Lincoln de- 
termined to move farther north and west — and 
deeper into the wilds. 

It is sometimes stated that Abraham Lincoln 
belonged to the indolent class known as "poor 
whites," but this is not true. Shiftless and im- 
provident though his father was, he had no use 
for that class of white slaves, who seemed to fall 
even lower tiian the blacks. 

There was trouble, too, about the title to much 
of the land in Keutuc^, while Lidiana offered 
special inducements to settlers in that new terri- 

In his carpenter work, Thomas Lincoln had 

learned how to bmld a flatboat, and had made at 


Dig izedtv Google 

The Story of Toimg 

least one trip to New Orleans on a craft which 
he himself had put together. So, when he finally 
decided in the fall of 1816 to emigrate to Indiana, 
he at once began to build another boat, which he 
launched on the Rolling Fork, at the mouth of 
Knob Creek, about half a mile from his own 
cabin. He traded his farm for what movable 
property he could get, and loaded his raft with 
that and his carpenter tools. Waving good-bye 
to his wife and two children, he floated down the 
Rolling Fork, Salt River, and out into the Ohio 
River, which proved too rough for his shaky 
craft, and it soon went to pieces. 

After fishing up the carpenter tools and most 
of his other effects, he put together a crazy raft 
which held till he landed at Thompson's Ferry, 
Perry County, in Southern Indiana. Here he 
unloaded his raft, left his valuables in the care of 
a settler named Posey and journeyed on foot 
through the woods to find a good location. After 
trudging about sixteen miles, blazing a trail, he 
found a situation which suited him well enough, 
he thought. Then he walked all the way back to 
the Kentucky home they were about to leave. 

He found his wife, with Sarah, aged nine, and 
Abraham, aged seven, ready to migrate with him 


Abraham Lincoln 

to a newer wilderness. The last thing Nancy 
Lincoln had done before leaving their old home 
was to take the brother and sister for a farewell 
visit to the grave of "the little boy that died." 


The place the father had selected for their 
home was a beautiful spot. They could build 
their cabin on a little hill, sloping gently down 
on aU sides. The soil was excellent, but there 
was one serious drawback — ^there was no water 
fit to drink within a mile t Thomas Lincoln had 
neglected to observe this most important point 
while he was prospecting. His wife, or even little 
Abe, would have had more common sense. That 
was one reason why Thomas Lincoln, though a 
good man, who tried hard enough at times, was 
always poor and looked down upon by his thrifty 

Listead of taking hia wife and children down 
the three streams by boat, as he had gone, the 
father borrowed two horses of a neighbor and 
"packed through to Posey's," where he had left 
his carpenter tools and the other property he 
had saved from the wreck of his raft. Abe and 
Sarah must have enjoyed the journey, especially 


The Story of Young 

camping out every ni^t on the way. The 
father's skill as a marksman furnished them 
with tempting suppers and breakfasts of wild 

On the horses they packed their bedding and 
the cooking utensils they needed while on the 
journey, and for use after their arrival at the 
new home. This stock was not large, for it con- 
sisted only of "one oven and lid, one skillet and 
lid, and some tinware." 

After they came to Posey's, Thomas Lincoln 
hired a wagon and loaded it with the effects he 
had left there, as well as the bedding and the 
cooking things they had brought with tiiem on 
the two horses. It was a rough wagon ride, jolt- 
. ing over stumps, logs, and roots of trees. An 
earlier settler had cut out a patb for a few miles, 
but the rest of the way required many days, for 
the father had to cut down trees to make a rough 
road wide enough for the wagon to pass. It is 
not likely that Abe and Sarah minded the delays, 
for children generally enjoy new experiences of 
that sort As for their motiier, she was accus- 
tomed to all such hardships ; she had learned to 
take life as it came and make the best of it 

Nancy Lincoln needed aU her Christian forti- 

t» Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

tude in that Indiana home — if such a place could 
be called a home. At last they reached the 
chosen place, in the "fork" made by Little 
Pigeon Creek emptying into Big Pigeon Creek, 
about a mile and a half from a settlement which 
was afterward called Gentryville. 

As it was late in the fall, Thomas Lincoln de- 
cided not to wait to cut down big trees and hew 
logs for a cabin, so he built a "half-faced camp," 
or shed enclosed on three sides, for his family to 
live in that winter. As this shed was made of 
saplings and poles, he put an ax in Abe's hands, 
and the seven-year-old boy helped his father 
build their first "home" in Indiana. It was 
Abe's first experience in the work that afterward 
made him famous as "the rail splitter." It was 
with the ax, as it were, tiiat he hewed his way to 
the White House and became President of the 
United States. 

Of course, little Abe Lincoln had no idea of the 
White House then. He may never have heard of 
"the President's Palace," as it used to be called 
— ^for the White House was then a gruesome, 
blackened ruin, burned by the British in the War 
of 1812. President Madison was living in a 
rented house nearby, while the Executive Man- 


The Story of Young 

Bion was being restored. The blackened stone 
walls, left standing after the fire, were painted 
white, and on that account the President's man- 
sion came to be known as "the White House." 

Little Abe, without a thought of his great fu- 
ture, was getting ready for it by hacking away 
at poles and little trees and helping his father in 
the very best way he knew. It was not long, then, 
before the "half -faced camp" was ready for his 
mother and sister to move into. 

Then there was the water question. Dennis 
Hanks afterward said : "Tom Lincoln riddled his 
land like a honeycomb" trying to find good 
water. In the fall and winter they caught rain- 
water or melted snow and strained it, but that 
was not very healthful at best. So Abe and Sarah 
had to go a mile to a spring and carry all the 
water they needed to drink, and, when ttiere had 
been no rain for a long time, all the water they 
used for cooking and washing had to be brought 
from there, too. 

When warmer weather came, after their ' 'long 
and dreary winter" of shivering in that poor 
shed, the "camp" did not seem so bad. Thomas 
Lincoln soon set about building a warmer and 
more substantial cabin. Abe was now eight 

itv Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

years old, and had had some jiraetice in the use 
of the ax, so he was able to help his father still 
more by cutting and hewing larger logs for the 
new cabin. They got it ready for the family to 
move into before cold weather set in again. 

They had to make their own furniture also. 
The table and chairs were made of "puncheon," 
or slabs of wood, with holes bored under each 
comer to stick the legs in. Their bedsteads were 
poles fitted into holes bored in logs in Ihe walls 
of the cabin, and the protruding ends supported 
by poles or stakes driven into the ground, for 
Tom Lincoln had not yet laid the pimcheon floor 
of their cabin. Abe's bed was a pile of dry 
leaves laid in one comer of the loft to which he 
climbed by means of a ladder of pegs driven into 
the wall, instead of stairs. 

Their surroundings were such as to delight 
the heart of a couple of care-free children. The 
forest was filled with oaks, beeches, walnuts and 
sugar-maple trees, growing close together and 
free from underbrush. Now and then there was 
an open glade called a prairie or "lick," where 
the wild animals came to drink and disport 
themselves. Game was plentiful — deer, bears, 
pheasants, wild turkeys, ducks and birds of all 

itv Google 

The Story of Young 

kinds. This, with Tom Llncohi's passion for 
hunting, promised good things for the family to 
eat, as well as bearskin rugs for the bare earth 
floor, and deerskin curtains for the still open 
door and window. There were fish in the 
streams and wild fruits and nuts of many kinds 
to be found in the woods during the summer and 
fall. For a long time the com for the "corn- 
dodgers" which they baked in the ashes, had to 
be ground by pounding, or in primitive hand- 
mills. Potatoes were about the only vegetable 
raised in large quantities, and pioneer families 
often made the whole meal of roasted potatoes. 
Onee when his father had "asked the blessing" 
over an ashy heap of this staple, Abe remarked 
that they were "mighty poor blessings!" 

But there were few complaints. They were 
all accustomed to that way of living, and they 
enjoyed the free and easy life of the forest 
Their only reason for complaint was because 
they had been compelled to live in an open shed 
all winter, and because there was no floor to 
cover the damp groimd in their new cabin — ^no 
oiled paper for their one window, and no door 
swinging in the single doorway — ^yet the father 
was carpenter and cabinet maker I There is no 

itv Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

record that Nancy Lincoln, weak and ailing 
though she was, demurred even at such needless 

About the only reference to this period of 
their life that has been preserved for us was in 
an odd little sketch in which Mr. Lincoln wrote 
of himself as "he." 

"A few days before the completion of his 
eighth year, in the absence of his father, a flock 
of wild turkeys approached the new log cabin, 
and Abraham, with a rifle gun, standing inside, 
shot through a crack and killed one of them. He 
has never since pulled a trigger on any larger 

Though shooting ^as the principal sport of 
the youth and their fathers in Lincoln's younger 
days, Abe was too kind to inflict needless sufEer- 
ing upon any of God's creatures. He had real 
religion in his loving heart. Even as a boy he 
seemed to know that 

"He prayeth best who loveth best 
All things both great and small; 
For the dear God that loveth us, 
He made and loveth all." 



The Story of Young 


Losmo His Motkeb 

In the fall of 1817, when the lincoln family 
had moved from the shed into flie rough log 
cabin, Thomas and Betsy Sparrow came and oc- 
cupied the "darned little half-faced camp," as 
Dennis Hanks called it. Betsy Sparrow was 
the aunt who had brought up Kancy Hanks, and 
she was now a foster-mother to Dennis, her 
nephew. Dennis became the constant com- 
panion of ihe two Lincoln children. He has told 
most of the stories that are known of this sad 
time in the Lincoln boy's life. 

The two families had lived there for nearly a 
year when Thomas and Betsy Sparrow were 
both seized with a terrible disease known to the 
settlers as the "milk-sick" because it attacked 
the cattle. The stricken uncle and aunt died, 
early in October, within a few d&ys of each 
other. While his wife was ill with the same dread 
disease, Thomas Lincoln was at work, cutting 
down trees and ripping boards out of the logs 

itv Google 

AtiraHam liacoln 

vrith a long wMpsaw with a handle at each end, 
which little Abe had to help him use. It was a 
sorrowful task for the young lad, for Abe must 
have known that he would soon be helping his 
father make his mother's cofiQn. They buried the 
Sparrows under the trees "without benefit of 
clergy," for ministers came seldom to that re- 
mote region. 

Nancy lincoln did not long survive the de- 
voted aunt and uncle. She had suffered too 
much from exposure and privation to recover 
her strength when she was seized by the strai^e 
malady. One who was near her during her last 
illness wrote, long afterward: 

"She struggled on, day by day, like the pa- 
tient Christian woman she was. Abe and his 
sister Sarah waited on their mother, and did the 
little jobs and errands required of them. There 
was no physician nearer than thirty-five nules. 

"The mother knew that she was going to die, 
and called the children to her bedside. She was 
very weak and the boy and girl leaned over her 
while she gave them her dying message. Plac- 
ing her feeble hand on little Abe's head, she told 
him to be kind and good to his father and sister. 

" *Be good to one another,* she said to them 

itv Google 

The Story of Young 

both. While expr^sing her hope that they 
might live, as she had tatight them to live, in the 
love of their kindred and the service of God, 
Nancy Hanks Lincoln passed from the miser- 
able surroundings of her poor life on earth to 
the brightness of the Beyond, on the seventh day 
after she was taken sick." 

To the motherless boy the thought of his 
blessed mother being buried without any re- 
ligious service whatever added a keen pang to 
the bitterness of his lot. Dennis Hanks once 
told how eagerly Abe learned to write : 

"Sometimes he would write with a piece of 
charcoal, or the p'int of a burnt stick, on the 
fence or floor. We got a little paper at the 
country town, and I made ink out of blackberry 
juice, briar root and a little copperas in it. It 
was black, but the copperas would eat the paper 
after a while. I made his first pen out of a tur- 
key-buzzard feather. We hadn't no geese them 
days — to make good pens of goose quills." 

As soon as he was able Abe Lincoln wrote his 
hist letter. It was addressed to Parson Elkin, 
the Baptist preacher, who had sometimes stayed 
over night with the family when they lived in 
KentucI^, to ask that elder to come and preach 

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Abraham Lincoln 

a funeral sermon over his mother's grave. It 
was no small favor to ask, but the good minister 
wrote back to the boy that he would come the 
very next time his circuit work brought him 
near the Indiana line. 

Early in the following summer, when the trees 
of the forest were green, and some of them in 
bloom, tiie dear old parson came on his errand 
of kindness in answer to the heart-broken plea 
of a little boy. The arrival of a minister of the 
Gospel was a glad event which the whole neigh- 
borhood should enjoy. "Word was sent to all the 
region round about Prairie Fork, aa their little 
settlement came to be called, and the people 
came from all directions the following Sunday 
morning. There were two hundred of them, all 
told — a large congregation for a sparsely settled 
coxmtry. Forest rangers came on foot, the 
farmers brought their whole families in great 
ox-carts, droves of men and women arrived on 
horseback, and joined the groups already there, 
sitting and lying "on the green grass," as at the 
feeding of the multitudes in the time of the 
. Christ. Others sat on fallen trees, logs and 
wagon tongues, waiting for the coming of the 
little procession, for, though Nancy Lincoln had 


The Story; of Young 

been buried the year before, pioneer etiquette 
required all the formalities of a funeral. 

It was the event of the season — that sermon 
over the grave of the mother of the boy who had 
written his first letter nearly nine months before 
to bring about this service which now yielded 
him such solemn satisfaction. Parson EUdn 
himself led the family forth from their eabiu. 
He was followed by the widowed husband, youi^ 
Abraham Lincoln and his sister Sarah — and 
poor Dennis Hanks, bereaved even of his foster- 
parents, and now a member of the Lincoln 

There were tender hearts behind those hard- 
ened faces, and tears brightened the sun-tanned 
cheeks of many in that motley assemblage of 
eager listeners, as the good elder paid the last 
tribute of earth to the sweet and patient mem- 
ory of departed womanhood. 

To young Abraham Lincoln it was a memo- 
rable occasion. He took a solemn pride in the 
pious exhortation of the preadier, and tile event 
filled his soul with sad complacency. It was aU 
for her sake, and she was of all women worthy 
of this sacred respect to noble motherhood. 
"God bless my angel mother I" burst from his 


Abraham lancoln 

lonely lipa — "how glad I am I've learned to 
write I" 


All that a young girl of twelve could do, as- 
sisted by a willing brother of ten, was done by 
Sarah and Abraham Lincoln to make that deso- 
late cabin a home for their lonesome father, and 
for cousin Dennis Hanks, whose yoimg life had 
been twice darkened by a double bereavement. 
But "what is home without a motherl** 
Thomas Lincoln, missing the balance and in- 
spiration of a patient wife, became more and 
more restless, and, after a year, wandered back 
again to his former homes and haunts in Ken- 

While visiting Elizabethtown he saw a former 
sweetheart, the Sally Bush of yoimger days, 
now Mrs. Daniel Johnston, widow of the county 
jailer who had recently died, leaving three chil- 
dren and considerable property, for that time 
and place. Thomas renewed his suit and won 
the pitying heart of Sarah Johnston, and ac- 
cording to the story of the county clerk : 

"The next morning, December 2, 1819, I is- 
sued the license, and the same day they were 


The Story of Young 

married, bundled up, and started for home." 
Imagine the glad surprise of the three chil- 
dren -who had been left at home for weeks, when 
they saw a smart, covered wagon, drawn by four 
horses, driven up before the cabin door one 
bright winter day, and their father, active and 
alert, spring out and assist a pleasant-looking 
woman and three children to alight 1 Then 
they were told that this woman was to be their 
mother and they had two more sisters and an- 
other brother I 

To tiie poor forlorn Lincoln children and their 
still more desolate cousin, it seemed too good to 
be true. They quickly learned the names of 
their new brother and sisters. The Johnston 
children were called John, Sarah and MatUda, 
so Sarah Lincoln's name was promptly changed 
to Nancy for her dead mother, as there were two 
Sarahs already in the combined family. 

Krs. Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln lost no 
time in taking poor Abe and Nancy Lincoln to 
her great motherly heart, as if they were her 
own. They were dirty, for they had been 
neglected, ill-used and deserted. She washed 
their wasted bodies clean and dressed them in 
nice warm clothing provided for her own ehil- 


Abraham lincoln 

dren, till she, as she expressed it, "made them 
look more human." 

Demais Hanks told afterward of the great 
difference the stepmother made in their young 

*'In fact, in a few weeks all had changed ; and 
where everylhing had been wanting, all was 
snug and comfortable. She was a woman of 
great energy, of remarkable good sense, very in- 
dustrious and saving, also very neat and tidy in 
her person and manners. She took an especial 
liking for young Abe. Her love for him was 
warmly returned, and continued to the day of 
his death. But few childfen love their parents 
as he loved his stepmother. She dressed him up 
in entire new eloliiea, and &om that time on he 
appeared to lead a new life. He was encouraged 
by her to study, and a wish on his part was 
gratified when it could be done. The two sets of 
children got along finely together, as if they all 
had been the children of the same parents." 

Dennis also referred to the "large supply of 
household goods" the new mother brought with 

"One fine bureau (worth $40), one table, one 

set of diairs, one large clothes chest, cooking 


Dig izedtv Google 

The Story of Young 

utensilB, knives, forks, bedding and other 

It must have been a glorious day when audi a 
splendid array of household furniture was car- 
ried into the rude cabin of Thomas Lincoln. 
But best of all, the new wife had sufficient tact 
and force of will to induce her good-hearted but 
shiftless husband to lay a floor, put in a window, 
and hang a door to protect his doubled family 
from the cold. It was about Christmas time, 
and the Lincoln children, as they nestled in 
warm beds for the first time in their lives, must 
have thanked their second mother from the bot- 
toms of their grateful hearts. 


School Bats Now and Thbot 

LmooLN' once wrote, in a letter to a friend, 
about his early teachers in. Indiana : 

"He (father) removed from Kentucky to what 
is now Spencer County, Indiana, in my eighth 
year. We reached our new home about tiie time 


Abraham Lincobi 

the State came into the Union. It was a wild 
region with many bears and other wild animals 
still in the woods. There I grew up. There 
were some schools, so-called; but no qualifica- 
tion was ever required of a teacher beside 
readin', writin', and cipherin' to the Rule of 
Ihxee (simple proportion). If a straggler sup- 
posed to imderstand Latin happened to sojourn 
in the neighborhood, he was looked upon as a 
wizard. There was absolutely nothing to excite 
ambition for education." 

Abe's first teacher in Indiana, however, was 
Hazel Dorsey. The school house was bmlt of 
rough, round logs. The chimney was made of 
poles well covered with clay. The windows were 
spaces cut in the logs, and covered with greased 
paper. But Abe was determined to learn. He 
and his sister thought nothing of walking four 
nules a day through snow, rain and mud. ' ' Nat * ' 
Grigsby, who afterward married the sister, 
spoke in glowing terms of Abe*s few school 

"He was always at school early, and attended 

to his studies. He lost no time at home, and 

when not at work was at his books. He kept up 

his studies on Sunday, and carried his books 



The Story of Young 

-with him to work, so that he might read when 
he rested from labor." 

Thomas Lineohi had no use for "eddieation," 
as he called it. "It will spUe the boy," he kept 
saying. He — the father— had got along better 
without going to school, and why should Abe 
have a better education than his father. He 
thoi^ht Abe's studious habits were due to "pure 
laziness, jest to git shet o' workin'." So, when- 
ever there was the slightest excuse, he took Abe 
out of school and set him to work at home or for 
one of the neighbors, while he himself went 
hunting or loafed about the house. 

This must have been very tryir^ to a boy as 
hungry to leam as Abe Lincoln was. His new 
mother saw and sympathized with him, and in 
her quiet way, managed to get the boy started 
to school, for a few weeks at most. For some 
reason Hazel Dorsey stopped "keeping" the 
school, and there was a long "vacation" for all 
the children. But a new man, Andrew Craw- 
ford, came and settled near Gentryville. Hav- 
ing nothing better to do at first, he was urged to 
reopen the school. 

One evening Abe came in from his work and 
his stepmother greeted him with : 

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Abraham Lincoln 

"Another chance for you to go to sdiooL" 


"That man Crawford tiiat moved in a while 

ago is to begin school next week, and two miles 
and back every day will be just about enough 
for you to walk to keep your legs Umber." 

The tactful wife accomplished it somehow and 
Abe started off to school with Nancy, and a light 
heart. A neighbor described ^irn as he ap- 
peared in Crawford's school, as "long, wiry and 
strong, while bis big feet and hands, and the 
length of his legs and arms, were out of all pro- 
portion to his small trunk and head. His com- 
plexion was swarthy, and his skin shriveled and 
yellow even then. He wore low shoes, buckskin 
breeches, linsey-woolsey shirt, and a coonakin 
cap. The breeches hung close to his legs, but 
were far from meeting the tops of his shoes, 
exposing 'twelve inches of shinbone, i^rp, blue 
and narrow.' " 

"Yet," said Nat Grigsby, "he was always in 
good health, never sick, and had an excellent con- 


Andrew Crawford must have been an unusual 


The Story of Young 

man, for he tried to teach "manners" in his 
backwoods school! Spelling was considered a 
great accomplishment. Abe shone as a speller 
in school and at the spelling-matches. One day, 
evidently during a period when young Lincoln 
was kept from school to do some outside work 
for his father, he appeared at the window when 
the class in spelling was on the floor. The word 
"defied" was given out and several pupils had 
misspelled it. Kate Roby, the pretty girl of the 
village, was stammering over it. "B-e-f," said 
Kate, then she hesitated over the next letter. 
Abe {winted to his eye and winked significantly. 
The girl took the hint and went on glibly 
"i-e-d," and "went up head." 

"l DID ITl" 

There was a buck's head nailed over the 
school bouse door. It proved a temptation to 
young Lincoln, who was tall enough to reach it 
easily. One day the schoolmaster discovered 
that one horn was broken and he demanded to 
know who had done the damage. There was 
silence and a general denial till Abe spoke up 

"I did it I did not mean to do it, but I hung 

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Abraham Lmcobi 

on it — and it broke I" The other boys thought 
Abe was foolish to "own up" till he had to — ^but 
that was his way. 

It is doubtful if Abe Lincoln owned an arith- 
metic. He had a copybook, made by himself, in 
which he entered tables of weights and meas- 
ures and "sxmis" he had to do. Among these 
was a specimen of schoolboy doggerel t 

"Abraham Lincoln, 
His hand and pen, 
He will be good — 
But God knows wheni'* 

In another place he wrote some solemn reflec- 
tions on the value of time : 

"Time, what an empty vapor 'tis. 

And dajB, how swift they are I 
Swift as an Indian arrow — 

Fly on like a shooting star. 
The present moment, just, is here, 

Then slides away in haste. 
That we can never say they're ours, 

But only say they're past." 

As he grew older his handwriting improved 
and he was often asked to "set copies" for other 

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The Stoiy of Young 

boya to follow. In the book of a boy named 
Bichardson, he wrote this prophetic couplet : 

"Good boys who to their books appty; 
Will all be great men by and by.'* 


Dennis Hanks related of his young com- 
panion: "As far as food and clothing were con- 
cerned, the boy had plenty — such as it was — 
'corndodgers,' bacon and game, some fish and 
wild fruits. We had very little wheat flour. 
The nearest mill was eighteen miles. A boss 
mill it was, with a plug (old horse) pullin' a 
beam around; and Abe used to say his dog could 
stand and eat the flour as fast as it was made, 
and then he ready for supper! 

**Por clothing he had jeans. He was grown 
before he wore all-wool pants. It was a new 
coimtry, and he was a raw boy, rather a bright 
and likely lad; but the big world seemed far 
ahead of him. We were all slow-goin' folks. 
But he had the stuff of greatness in him. He 
got his rare sense and sterling principles from 
both parents. But Abe*s kindliness, humor, 
lore of humanity, hatred of slavery, all came 

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Abraham Lincoln 

from his mother. I am free to say Abe was a 
'mother's hoy.' " 

Demiis used to like to tell of Abe's earliest 
ventures in the fields of literature: "His first 
readin' book was Webster's speller. Then he 
got hold of a book — I can't rickilect the name. 
It told about a feller, a nigger or suthin', that 
sailed a flatboat up to a rock, and the rock was 
magnetized and drawed the nails out of his boat, 
an' he got a duckin', or drownded, or suthin', I 
forget now. (This book, of course, was 'The 
Arabian Nights.') Abe would lay on the floor 
with a chair under his head, and laugh over 
them stories by the hour. I told him they was 
likely lies from end to end; but he learned to 
read right well in them." 

His stock of books was small, but they were 
the right kind— the Bible, "The Pilgrim's Prog- 
ress," .^op's Fables, "Robinson Crusoe," a 
history of the United States, and the Statutes 
of Indiana. This last was a strange book for a 
boy to read, but Abe pored over it as eagerly as 
a lad to-day might read "The Three Guards- 
men," or "The Hoxmd of the Baskervilles." 
He made notes of what he read with his turkey- 
buzzard pen and brier-root ink. If be did not 


The Story; of Young 

have these handy, he would write with a piece of 
charcoal or the charred end of a stick, on a 
board, or on the under side of a chair or bench. 
He used the wooden fire shovel for a slate, shav- 
ing it off clean when both sides were full of fig- 
ures. When he got hold of paper enough to 
make a copy-book he would go about transfer- 
ring his notes from boards, beams, under sides 
of the chairs and the table, and from all the 
queer places he had put them down, on the spur 
of the momenl 

Besides the books he had at hand, he borrowed 
all he could get, often walkii^ many miles for 
a book, until, as he once told a friend, he "read 
through every book he had ever heard of in that 
country, for a circuit of fifty miles" — quite a 
circulating library I 

"the BEoiNNma OF love" 

"The thoughts of youth are long, long 
thoughts." It must have been about this time 
that the lad had the following experience, which 
he himself related to a legal friend, with his 
chair tilted back and his knees "cocked 
up" in the manner described by Cousin John 

itv Google 

D„„.dt, Google 

It, Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

"Did you ever write out a story in your mindf 
1 did when I was little codger. One day a wagon 
with a lady and two girls and a man broke down 
near us, and while they were fixing up, they 
cooked in our kitchen. The woman had books 
and read us stories, and they were the first of 
the kind I ever heard. I took a great fancy to 
one of the girls; and when they were gone I 
thought of her a good deal, and one day, when 
I was sitting out in the sun by the house, I wrote 
out a story in my mind. 

"I thought I took my father's horse and fol- 
lowed the wagon, and finally I found it, and 
they were surprised to see me. 

"I talked with the girl and persuaded her to 
elope with me ; and that night I put her on my 
horse and we started off across the prairie. 
After several hours we came to a camp; and 
when we rode up we found it was one we had 
left a few hours before and went in. 

"The next night we tried again, and the same 
thing happened — ^the horse came back to the 
same place; and then we concluded we ought not 
to elope. I stayed until I had persuaded her 
father that he ought to give her to me. 

"I always meant to write that story out and 

itv Google 

The Story of Young 

publish it, and I began once; but I concluded it 
was not much of a story. 
"But I think that was the beginning of love 

with me.'* 

how abe came to own weems's "ufe of 

Abe's chief delight, if permitted to do so, was 
to lie in the shade of some inviting tree and - 
read. He liked to lie on his stomach before the 
fire at night, and often read as long as this flick- 
ering light lasted. He sometimes took a book 
to bed to read as soon as the morning light began 
to come through the chinks between the logs be- 
side his bed. He once placed a book between 
the logs to have it handy in the morning, and a 
storm came up and soaked it with dirty water 
from the "mud-daubed" mortar, plastered be- 
tween the logs of the cabin. 

The book happened to be Weems's "Life of 
Washington." Abe was in a sad dilemma. 
What could he say to the owner of the book, 
which he had borrowed from the meanest man 
in the nei^borhood, Josiah Crawford, who was 
so unpopular that he went by the nickname of 
"Old Blue Nose"? 



Abraham Lincoln 

The only course was to show the angiy owner 
his precious volume, warped and stained as it 
was, and offer to do anything he could to repay 

"Abe," said "Old Blue Nose," with blood- 
curdling friendliness, "bein' as it's you, Abe, I 
won't be hard on you- You jest come over and 
pull fodder for me, and the book is yours." 

"All right," said Abe, his deep-set eyes twink- 
ling in spite of himself at the thought of own- 
ing the story of the life of the greatest of heroes, 
"how much fodder?" 

"Wal," said old Josiah, "that book's worth 
seventy-five cents, at least. You kin earn twenty- 
five cents a day— that will make three days. 
You come and pull all you can in three days and 
you may have the book." 

That was an exorbitant price, even if the book 
were new, but Abe was at the old man's mercy. 
He realized this, and made the best of a bad bar- 
gain. He cheerfully did the work for a man who 
was mean enough to take advantage of his mis- 
fortune. He comforted himself with the 
thought that he would be the owner of the 
precious "Life of Washington." Long after- 
ward, in a speedi before the New Jersey Legis- 

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The Stray of Young 

lature, on his way to Washington to be inaugu- 
rated, like Washington, as President of the 
United States, he referred to this strange book. 

"the whole tbtjth and nothdtg but the 


One morning, on his way to work, with an az 
on his shoulder, his stepsister, Matilda Johns- 
ton, though forbidden by her mother to follow 
Abe, crept after him, and with a cat-like spring 
landed between his shoulders and pressed her 
sharp knees into the small of his back. 

Taken unawares, Abe staggered backward 
and ax and girl fell to the ground together. The 
sharp implement cut her ankle badly, and mis- 
duevous Matilda shrieked with :^ght and pain 
when she saw the blood gushing from the wound. 
Young Lincoln tore a sleeve from his shirt to 
bandage the gash and bound up the ankle as 
well as he could. Then he tried to teach the still 
sobbing girl a lesson. 

*' 'Tilda," he said gently, "I'm surprised. 
Why did you disobey mother'!" 

Matilda only wept silently, and the lad went 
on, ''What are you going to teU mother about 



Abraham Lincoln 

*'Tell her I did it with the ax," sobbed the 
young girL "That ■will be the truth, too." 

"Yes," said Abe severely, "that's the truth, 
but not all the truth. Tou just tell the whole 
truth, 'Tilda, and trust mother for the rest." 

Matilda went limping home and told her 
motiier the whole story, and the good woman was 
so sorry for her that, as the girl told Abe that 
evening, "she didn't even scold me." 

"bounding a thought— north, south, east and 

Abe sometimes heard things in the simple 
conversation of friends that disturbed him be- 
cause they seemed beyond his comprehension. 
He said of this : 

"I remember how, when a child, I used to get 
irritated when any one talked to me in a way I 
couldn't understand. 

"I do not think I ever got angry with any- 
thing else in my life ; but that always disturbed 
my temper — and has ever since. 

"I can remember going to my little bedroom, 

after hearing the neighbors talk of an evening 

with my father, and spending no small part of 

the night walking up and down, trying to make 



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The Story; of Young 

out what was the exact meaniug of some of 
their, to me, dark sayings. 

"I could not sleep, altiioi^h I tried to, when 
I got on such a hunt for an idea; and when I 
thought I had got it, I was not satisfied until I 
had repeated it over and over, and had put in 
language plain enough, as I thought, for any 
bo7 I "knew to comprehend. 

"This was a kind of a passion with me, and 
it has stuck hj me; for I am never easy now 
when I am bounding a thought, till I have 
bounded it east, and boimded it west, and 
bounded it north, and bounded it south.'* 


Not long before her death, Mr. Hemdon, Lin- 
eohi's law partner, called upon Mrs. Sarah Lin- 
coln to collect material for a "Life of Lincoln'* 
he was preparing to write. This was the best of 
all the things she related of her illustrious step- 

"I can say what scarcely one mother in a 
thousand can say, Abe never gave me a cross 
word or look, and never refused, in fact or ap- 
pearance, to do anything I asked him. His 
mind and mine seemed to run together. 

itv Google 

Abraham liiiicolii 

"I liad a son, John, who was raised with Abe. 
Both were good boys, but I must say, both now 
being dead, that Abe was the best boy I ever saw 
or expect to see." 

"Charity begins at home" — and so do truth 
and honesly. Abraham Lincoln could not have 
become so popular all over the world on account 
of bis honest kindheartedness if he had not been 
loyal, obedient and loving toward those at home. 
Popularity, also, "begins at home." A mean, 
disagreeable, dishonest boy may become a king, 
because he was "to the manner bom." But only 
a good, kind, honest man, considerate of others, 
can be elected President of the United States. 


Abe auto the Neiohbobs 


Nat Grigsbt stated once that writing compo- 
sitions was not required by Schoolmaster Craw- 
ford, but "Abe took it up on his own account," 

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The Story; of Young 

and his first essay was against cruelty to ani- 

The boys of the neighborhood made a practice 
of catching terrapins and laying live coals on 
their backs. Abe caught a group of them at this 
cruel sport one day, and rushed to the relief of 
the helpless turtle. Snatching the shingle that 
one of the boys was using to handle the coals, he 
brushed them off the turtle's shell, and with 
angry tears in his eyes, proceeded to use it on 
one of the offenders, while he called the rest a 
lot of cowards. 

One day his stepbrother, John Johnston, ac- 
cording to his sister MatUda, "caught a terra- 
pin, brought it to the place where Abe was 
'preaching,' threw it against a tree and crushed 
its shell Abe then preached against cruelty to 
animals, contending that "an ant's life is as 
sweet to it as ours is to us," 


Abe was compelled to leave school on the 
slightest pretext to work for the neighbors. He 
was so big and strong — attaining his full height 
at seventeen — ^that his services were more in de- 
mand than those of his stepbrother, John Johns- 

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Abraham Lincoln 

ton, or of Cousin Dennis. Abe was called lazy 
because the neighbors shared the idea of 
Thomas Lincoln, that his reading and studying 
were only a pretext for shirking. Tet he was 
never so idle as either Dennis Hanks or John 
Johnston, who were permitted to go hunting or 
fishing with Tom Lincoln, while Abe stayed out 
of school to do the work that one of the three 
older men should have done. 

Abe's father was kinder in many ways to his 
stepchildren than he was to his own son. This 
may have been due to the fact that he did not 
wish to be thought "partial" to his own child. 
Ko doubt Abe was "forward." He liked to 
take part in any discussion, and sometimes he 
broke into the conversation when his opinion 
had not been asked. Besides, he got into argu- 
ments with his fellow-laborera, and wasted the 
time belonging to his employer. 

One day, according to Dennis, they were all 
working together in the field, when a man rode 
up on horseback and asked a question. Abe was 
the first to mount the fence to answer the 
stranger and engage him in conversation. To 
teach his son better "manners" in the presence 
of bis "superiors," Thomas Lincoln struck Abe 



The Story of Young 

a heavy blow which knocked ^^^n backward off 
the fence, and silenced him for a time. 

Of course, every one present laughed at Abe*s 
discomfiture, and the neighbors approved of 
Thomas Lincoln's rude act as a matter of dia- 
cipline. In their opinion Abe Lincoln was get- 
ting altogether too smart "While they enjoyed 
his homely wit and good nature, they did not 
like to admit that he was in any way their su- 
perior. A visitor to Springfield, HL, will 
even now find some of Lincoln's old neighbors 
eager to say "there were a dozen smarter men 
in this city than Lincoln" when he "happened 
to get nominated for the piresldencyl" 


Abe was "hail fellow, well met" everywhere. 
The women comprehended his true greatness 
before the men did so. There was a rough gal- 
lantry about him, which, though lacking in 
"polish," was true, "heart-of-oak" politeness. 
He wished every one well. His whole life x>assed 
with "malice toward none, with charity for 

"When he "went out evenings" Abe Lincoln 

took the greatest paias to make everybody com- 


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Abrftham Uncolii 

fortable and happy. He was sure to bring in the 
biggest backlog and make the brightest fire. He 
read "the funniest fortunes" for the young 
people from the sparks as they flew up the chim- 
ney. He was the best helper in parity the 
apples, shelling ihe com and cracking the nuts 
for the evening's refreshments. 

When he went to spelling school, after the first 
few times, he was not allowed to take part in the 
spelling match because everybody knew that the 
side that "diose first" would get Abe Lincoln 
and he always "spelled down." But he went 
just the same and had a good time himself if he 
could add to the enjoyment of the rest. 

He went swimming, warm evenings, with the 
boys, and ran races, jumped and wrestled at 
noon-times, which was supposed to be given up 
to eating and resting. He was "the life" of the 
husking-bee and bam raising, and was always 
present, often as a judge because of his humor, 
fairness and tact, at horse races. He engaged 
heartily in every kind of "manly sport" which 
did not entail unnecessary suffering upon help- 
less animals. 

Coon hunting, however, was an exception. 

The coon was a pest and a plague to the farmer, 


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The Story of Young 

80 it should be got rid ol He once told the fol- 
lowing story : 


"My father had a little yellow house dog 
which invariably gave the alarm if we boys un- 
dertook to slip away unobserved after night had 
set in — as we sometimes did-^to go coon hunt- 
ing. One night my brother, John Johnston, and 
I, with tiie usual complement of boys required 
for a successfiil coon hunt, took the insignificant 
little cur with us. 

"We located the coveted coon, killed him, and 
then in a sporting vela, sewed the coon skin on 
the little dog. 

"It struggled vigorously during the operation 
of sewing on, and when released made a bee-line 
for home. Some larger dogs on the way, scent- 
ing coon, tracked the little animal home and ap- 
parently mistaking him for a real coon, speedily 
demolished bim. The next morning, father 
found, lying in his yard, the lifeless remains of 
yellow *Joe,' with strong circumstantial evi- 
dence, in the form of fragments of coon skin, 
against us. 

"Father was much incensed at his death, but 

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Abraham Lincoln 

as John and I, scantily protected from tiie morn- 
ing wind, stood shivering in the doorway, we 
felt assured that little yellow Joe would never 
again be able to sound tile alarm of another 
coon hunt" 


While he was President, Mr. Lincoln told 
Henry J. Raymond, the founder of the New 
York TimeSf the following story of an experi- 
ence he had about this time, while working with 
his stepbrother in a cornfield: 

"Eaymond," said he, "you were brought up 
on a farm, were you not 1 Then you know what 
a *chin fly' is. My brother and I were plowing 
com once, I driving the horse and he holding 
the plow. The horse was lazy, but on one occa- 
sion he rushed across the field so that I, with my 
long legs, could scarcely keep pace with him. 
On reaching the end of the furrow I found an 
enormous chin fly fastened upon the horse and 
I knocked it off. My brother asked me what I 
did that for. I told him I didn't ^rant the old 
horse bitten in that way. 

" 'Why,' said my brother, *that's all that 
made bi'm go.* ** 


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The Stoiy of Young 

"Now if Mr. Chase (the Secretary of the 
Treasury) has a presidential 'chin fly' biting 
him, I'm not goi:^ to knock it off, if It mil only 
make his department go.*' 

"old BLT7E nose's" HIRED MAN 

It seemed to be the "irony of fate" that Abe 
should have to work for "Old Blue Nose" as a 
farm hand. But the lad liked Mrs. Crawford, 
and Lincoln's sister Nancy lived there, at the 
same time, as maid-of -all-work. Another attrac- 
tion, the Crawford family was rich, in Abe's 
eyes, in possessing several books, which he was 
glad of the chance to read. 

Mrs. Crawford told many things about young 
Lincoln that might otherwise have been lost. 
She said "Abe was very polite, in his awkward 
way, taking ofE his hat to me and bowing. He 
was a sensitive lad, never coming where he was 
not wanted. He was tender and kind — Uke his 

"He liked to hang aroimd and gossip and joke 
with the women. After he had wasted too much 
time this way, he would exclaim: 

" 'Well, this won't buy the chUd a coat,* 

and the long-legged hired boy would stride 


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Abraham linooln 

away and catch up with the others." 

<hie day when he was asked to kill a hog, Abe 
answered promptly that he had never done that, 
"but if youTl risk the hog, 111 risk myself I" 

Mrs. Crawford told also about "goii^ to meet- 
ii^" in those primitive days: 

"At that time we thought it nothing to go 
eight or ten miles. The ladies did not stop for 
the want of a shawl or riding dress, or horses. 
In the winter time they would put on their hus- 
bands' old overcoats, wrap up their little ones, 
and take two or three of them on their beasts, 
while their husbands would walk. 

"Li winter time they would hold church in 
some of the neighbors' houses. At such times 
they were always treated with the utmost kind- 
ness; a basket of apples, or turnips — apples 
were scarce in those days — ^was set out. Some- 
times potatoes were used for a *treat,' In old 
Mr. Linkhom's (Lincoln's) house a plate of po- 
tatoes, washed and pared nicely, was handed 


Meanwhile the boy was growing to tall man- 
hood, both in body and in mind. The neighbors, 

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The Stoiy of Young 

who failed to mark his mental growth, were 
greatly impressed with his physical strength. 
The Richardson family, with whom Abe seemed 
to have lived as hired man, used to tell marvel- 
ous tales of his prowess, some of which may 
have grown somewhat in the telling. Mr. Rich- 
ardson declared that the young man could carry 
as heavy a load as "three ordinary men." He 
saw Abe pick up and walk away with "a chicken 
house, made up of poles pinned together, and 
covered, that weighed at least ax himdred if not 
much more." 

When the Richardsons were building their 
com-crib, Abe saw three or four men getting 
ready to carry several hu^ posts or timbers on 
"sticks" between them. "Watching his chance, 
he coolly stepped in, shouldered all the timbers 
at once and walked off alone with them, carry- 
ing them to the place desired Probably at this 
time young Lincoln wrote for Joseph Richard- 
son these lines for a copy : 

"Good boys, who to their books apply, 
Will all be great men by and by." 

Another neighbor, "old Mr. Wood," said of 
Abe: "He could strike, with a maul, a heavier 

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Abraham Lincoln 

blow than any other man. He could sink an ax 
deeper into wood than any man I ever saw." 

Dennis Hanks used to tell that if you heard 
Abe working in the woods alone, felling trees, 
you would think three men, at least, were at 
work there — ^the trees came crashing down bo 

On one occasion afer he had been threshing 
wheat for MJr, Tumham, the farmer-constable 
whose "Revised Statutes of Indiana*' Abe had 
devoured, Lincoln was walking back, late at 
night from Gentryville, where he and a number 
of cronies had spent the evening. As the youtiis 
were picking their way along the frozen road, 
they saw a dark object on the ground by the 
roadside. They found it to be an old sot they 
knew too well lying there, dead drunk. Lincoln 
stopped, and the rest, knowing the tenderness of 
his heart, exclaimed : 

"Aw, let him alone, Abe. 'Twon't do him no 
good. He's made his bed, let hiTn lay in it I" 

The rest laughed — for the "bed" was freezii^ 
mud. But Abe could see no humor in the situa- 
tion. The man might be run over, or freeze to 
death. To abandon any human being in such a 
plight seemed too monstrous to him. The other 

Dig izedtv Google 

The Story of Young 

your^ men hurried on in the cold, shn^ging 
their shoulders and shaking their heads — "Poor 
Abel — ^he's a hopeless ease," and left Lincoln 
to do the work of a Good Samaritan alone. He 
had no beast on which to carry the dead we^t 
of the drunken man, whom he vainly tried, 
again and again, to arouse to a sense of the 
predicament he was in. At last the young man 
took up the apparently lifeless bo^ of the mud- 
eovered man in his strong arms, and carried him 
a quarter of a mile to a deserted cabin, where 
he made up a fire and warmed and nursed the 
old drunkard the rest of that night. Then Abe 
gave bim "a good talking to," and the unfortu- 
nate man is said to have been so deeply im- 
pressed by the young man's kindness that he 
heeded the temperance lecture and never again 
risked his life as he had done that night. When 
the old man told John Hanks of Abe's Hercu- 
lean effort to save him, he added : 

"It was mighty clever in Abe Lincoln to tote 
me to a warm fire that cold night." 


"While Abe was working for the farmers round 

about his father's farm he spent many of his 



Abraham Lincoln 

evenings in Jones' grocery "talking politics" 
and other tilings with the men, who also gath- 
ered there. Mr. Jones took a Louisville paper, 
which young Lincoln read eagerly. Slavery was 
a live political topic then, and Abe soon acquired 
quite a reputation as a stump orator. 

As he read the "Lidiana Statutes" he was 
supposed to "know more law than the con- 
stable." In fact, his taste for the law was so 
pronounced at that early age that he went, some- 
times, fifteen miles to Boonville, as a spectator 
in the county court Once he heard a lawyer of 
ability, named Breckinridge, defend an accused 
murderer there. It was a great plea; the tall 
country boy knew it and, pushing through the 
crowd, reached out his long, coatless arm to con- 
gi-atulate the lawyer, who looked at the awk- 
ward youth in amazement and passed on with- 
out acknowledging Abe's compliment. The two 
men met again in Washington, more than thirty 
years later, under very different circumstances. 

But there were things other than irolitics dis- 
cussed at the country store, and Abe Lincoln 
often raised a laugh at the expense of some 
braggart or bully. There was "TTncle Jimmy" 
Larkins, who posed as the hero of his own 


The Stoi^: of Young 

stories. In aekuowled|;ment of Abe's authority 
as a judge of horse flesh, "Uncle Jimmy" was 
boasting of his horse's superiority in a recent 
fox chase. But young Lincohi seemed to pay 
no heed. Larldns repeated: 

"Abe, I've got the best horse in the world; 
he won the race and never drew a long breath." 

Toung Lincoln still appeared not to be pay- 
ing attention. "Uncle Jimmy" persisted. He 
was bound to make Abe hear. He reiterated : 

"I say, Abe, I have got the best horse in the 
world; after all that nmning he never drew a 
long breath." 

"Well, Larldns," drawled young Lincoln, 
"why don't you tell us how many short breaths 
he drew." The laugh was on the boastful and 
discomfited Larkins. 

rBTnra to teach astbonomt to a Toima girl 

Abe's efforts were not always so well received, 
for he was sometimes misimderstood. The 
neighbors used to think the Lincoln boy was se- 
cretly in love with Kate Roby, the pretty girl he 
had helped out of a dilemma in the spelling class. 
Several years after that episode, Abe and Kate 
were sitting on a log, about sunset, talking: 

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Abraluun Lincoln 

"Abe," said Kate, "the sun's goin* down." 

"Reckon not," Abe answered, "we're coming 
up, that's all." 

"Don't jou s'poae I got eyes?" 

* 'Yes, I know you have ; but it's the earth that 
goes round. The sun stands as still as a tree. 
"When we're swung round so we can't see it any 
more, the light's cut off and we call it night." 

""What a fool you are, Abe Lincoln!" ex- 
claimed Kate, who was not to blame for her igno- 
rance, for astronomy had never been taught in 
Crawford's school. 


While brother and sister were worldj^ for 
"Old Blue Nose," Aaron Grigsby, "Nat's" 
brother, was "paying attention" to Nancy Lin- 
coln. They were soon married. Nancy was only 
eighteen. "When she was nineteen Mrs. Aaron 
Grigsby died. Her love for Abe had almost 
amounted to idolatry. In some ways she re- 
sembled him. He, in turn, was deeply devoted 
to his only sister. 

The family did not stay long at Pigeon Creek 
after the loss of Nancy, who was buried, not be- 
side her mother, but with the Grigsbys in the 


The Stoiy of Young 

cHurchyard of the old Pigeon Creek meeting- 


Much as Abraham Lincoln had "worked out" 
as a hired man, his father kept the money, as he 
had a legal right to do, not giving the boy any of 
the results of his hard labor, for, strong as he 
was, his pay was only twenty-five or thirty cents 
a day. Ahe accepted this as right and proper. 
He never complained of it 

After he became President, Lincoln told his 
Secretary of State the followii^ story of the 
first doUar he ever had for his own : 

"Seward," he said, "did you ever hear how I 
earned my first dollar ? " " No, ' * replied Seward. 
"Well," said he, "I was about eighteen years of 
age . k . and had constructed a flatboat. . . . 
A steamer was going down the river. We have, 
you know, no wharves on the western streams, 
and the custom was, if passengers were at any 
of the landings they had to go out iu a boat, the 
steamer stopping and- taking them on board. I 
was contemplating my new boat, and wondering 
whether I could make it stronger or improve it 
in any part, when two men with trunks came 


Abraham Liiicoln 

down to the shore in carriages, and looking at 
the differ«it boats, singled out mine, and asked : 

*"Who owns this?' 

"I answered modestly, *I do.' 

** *Will you,* said one of them, *take us and 
our trunks out to the steamer?' 

" 'Certainly,* said I. I was very glad to have 
a chance of earning something, and supposed 
that theywould give me a couple of 'bits.' The 
trunks were put in my boat, the passengers 
seated themselv^ on them, and I sculled them 
out to the steamer. They got on board, and I 
lifted the trunks and put them on deck. The 
steamer was moving away when I called out: 
" *Tou have forgotten to pay me.* 

"Each of tliem took from his pocket a silver 
half-dollar and threw it on the bottom of my 
boat I could scarcely believe my eyes as I 
picked up the money. You may think it was a 
very little thing, and in these days it seems to 
me like a trifle, but it was a most important inci- 
dent in my life. I could scarcely credit that I, a 
poor boy, had earned a dollar in less than a day 
— ^that by honest work I had earned a dollar. I 
was a more hopeful and thoughtful boy from 
that time.'* 

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The Story of Young 


Mavma to Illinois 


Thomas Lincoln had become restless again. 
Fourteen years was a long time for ^iJTn to live 
in one place. Abe was seven years old when 
they came over from Kentuclg^, and he was now 
nearly twenty-one. During that time Thomas 
had lost his wife, Nancy, and his only daughter, 
who bore her mother's name. While the land he 
had chosen was fertile enough, the want of water 
had always been a sad drawback. The desire to 
try his fortimes in a newer country had taken 
possession of him. 

John Hanks had gone to Illinois, and had 
written back that everything was more favor- 
able there for making a living. Thomas Lin- 
coln had not been successful in Indiana. His 
children's prospects seemed to be against them. 
After working as a hired hand on the surround- 
ing farms, Abe had served for a time as a ferry- 
man, and, working by the river, had learned to 


Abraham Lincoln 

build the boat with which he had earned his first 

As George "Washington longed to go to sea, 
Abraham Lincoln seems to have yearned to 
"follow the river." He tried to hire out as 
deck hand, but his age was against him. He 
soon had a chance to go "down river" to New 
Orleans, with his friend, Allen Gentry, the son 
of the man for whom Gentryville was named. 
Allen afterward married Kate Roby. A flatboat 
belonging to Allen's father was loaded with 
bacon and other farm merchandise for the 
southern market. Allen went in charge of the 
expedition, and young Lincoln was engaged as 
"bow hand." They started in Apiil, 1828. 
There was nothing to do but steer the unwieldy 
craft with the current. The flatboat was made 
to float down stream only. It was to be broken 
up at New Orleans and sold for lumber. 

The two young men from Indiana made the 
trip without incident until they came to the 
plantation of Madame Duchesne, six miles from 
Baton Rouge, where they moored their raft for 
the night. There they heard the stealthy foot- 
steps of midnight marauders on board. 

Youi^ Gentry was first aroused. He sprang 

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The Story of Young 

up and found a gang of lawless negroes on deck, 
evidentlj looking for plunder, and thinking so 
many of them could easily cow or handle the two 
white men. 

"Bring the guns, Abe!" shouted Allen. 
"Shoot them I'* Abraham Lincoln was among 
them, brandishing a club — ^they had no guns. 
The negroes were frightened not only by the 
fierce, commanding form of their tall adversary, 
but also by his giant strength. The two white 
men routed the whole black crew, but Abraham 
Lincoln received a wound in the encounter, and 
bore the scar of it to his dying day. 

The trip required about three months, going 
and returning, and the two adventurers from 
Glentryville came back in June, with good 
stories of their experiences to tell in Jones* 

Not long after this Thomas Lincoln, in re- 
sponse to an urgent invitation from John 
Hanks, decided to move to Illinois. It took a 
long time, after gathering in the fall crops, for 
Thomas Lincoln to have a "vandoo" and sell his 
com and hogs. As for selling his farm, it had 
never really belonged to him. He simply turned 
it over to Mr. Gentry, who held a mortgage on it. 

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Abraham Lincoln 

It was February, 1830, before tiie pioneer wagon 
got under way. The emigrant family consisted 
of Thomas Lincoln and Sarah, his wife, Abra- 
ham, and John Johnston; Sarah and Matilda 
Johnston were both married, and, with their 
husbands, a young man named Hall and Demiis 
Hanks, formed the rest of the party. The 
women rode with their household goods in a 
great covered cart drawn by two yoke of oxen. 


Merchant Jones, for whom Abe had worked 
that fall and winter, after his return from New 
Orleans, sold the young man a pack of "no- 
tions'* to peddle along the road to Illinois. "A 
set of knives and forks," related Mr. Jones' 
son afterward, "was the largest item on the bill. 
The other items were needles, pins, thread, but- 
tons, and other little domestic necessities. When 
the Lincolns reached their new home, Abraham 
wrote back to my father stating that he had 
doubled his money on his purdiases by selling 
them along the road. Unfortunately we did not 
keep that letter, not thinking how hi^y we 
would prize it afterward." 

In the early days of his presidency, an inter- 

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The Story; of Young 

national problem came before the cabinet which 
reminded Mr. Lincohi of an experience he had 
on this journey, so he told the several secretaries 
this story: 

"The situation just now reminds me of a fix 
I got into some thirty years ago when I was 
peddling 'notions' on the way from Indiana to 
Illinois. I didn't have a large stock, but I 
charged large prices and I made money. Per- 
haps you don't see what I am driving at. 

"Just before we left Indiana and were cross- 
ing into Illinois we came across a small farm- 
house full of children. These ranged in age 
from seventeen years to seventeen months, and 
were all in tears. The mother of the family was 
red-headed and red-faced, and the whip she held 
in her right hand led to the inference that she 
had been chastising her brood. The father of 
the family, a meek-looking, mild-mannered, tow- 
headed chap, was standing at the front door — 
to all appearances waiting his turn I 

"I thought there wasn't much use in asking 
the head of that house if she wanted any 'no- 
tions.' She was too busy. It was evident that 
an insurrection had been in progrras, but it was 
pretty well quelled when I got there. She saw 

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Abraham Lincoln 

me when I came up, and from her look I thought 
she surmised that I intended to interfere. Ad- 
vancing to the doorway — ^roughly pushing her 
husband aside — she demanded my business. 

" 'Nothing, ma'am,* I answered as gently as 
possible. 'I merely dropped in, as I came along, 
to see how things were going.' 

" 'Well, you needn't wait,' she said in an irri- 
tated way; 'there's trouble here, and lots of it, 
too, but I Mn manage my own affairs without 
the help of outsiders. This is jeat a family row, 
but 111 teach these brats their places if I hev to 
lick the hide off every one of them. I don't do 
much talking, but I run this house, an' I don't 
want no one sneakin' roxmd tryin' to find out 
howl doit either.* 

"That's the ease here with us. We must let 
the other nations know that we propose to settle 
our family row in our own way, an' teach these 
brats (the seceding States) their places, and, 
like the old woman, we don't want any 'sneakin' 
round' by other countries, that would like to find 
out how we are going to do it either." 

"wiNNiNa A dog's gratitude" 

Abe strode along in the mud, driving the four 

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The Story of Young 

oxen much of the tune, for the houses he could 
visit with his peddler's pack were few and far 
between. A dog belonging to one of the family 
— an insignificant little cur — fell behind. After 
the oxen had floimdered through the mud, snow 
and ice of a prairie stream, they discovered that 
the animal was missing. The other men of the 
party thought they could now get rid of the 
little nuisance, and even the women were 
anxious, as the hour was late, to go on and find a 
place to camp for the night. To turn back with 
the clumsy ox-team and lumbering emigrant 
wagon was out of the question. 

Abraham gave the whip to one of the other 
men and turned back to see if be could discern 
the dog anywhere. He discovered it running up 
and down on the other bank of the river, in 
great distress, for the swift current was filled 
with floating ice and the poor little creature was 
afraid to make the attempt to swim across. 
After whistling in vain to encourage the dog to 
try if it would, the tender-hearted youth went 
to its rescue. Referring to the incident himself 
afterward, he said: 

"I could not endure the idea of abandoning 
even a dog. Pulling off shoes and socks, I waded 

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Abraham Lincoln 

across the stream and triumphantly returned 
with the shivering animal under my arm. His 
frantic leaps of joy and other evidences of a 
dog's gratitude amply repaid ms for all the ex- 
posure I had undergone." 


After two weary weeks of floundering through 
muddy prairies and jolting over rough forest 
roads, now and then fording swollen and dan- 
gerous stireams, the Lincolns were met near De- 
catur, Illinois, by Cousin John Sanks, and 
given a hearty welcome. John had chosen a 
spot not far from his own home, and had the 
logs all ready to build a cabin for the new- 
comers. Besides young Abe, with the strength 
of three, there were five men in the party, so 
they were able to erect their firat home in Illinois 
without asking the help of the neighbors, as was 
. customary for a "raising" of that kind. 

Nicolay and Hay, President Lincoln's private 
secretaries, in their great life of their chief, gave 
the following accoimt of the splitting of the rails 
which afterward became the talk of the civilized 

"Without the assistance of John Hanks he 

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The Storjr of Young 

plowed fifteen acres, and split, from the tall 
walnut trees of the primeval forest, enough rails 
to surround tiiem with a fence. Little did 
either dream, while engaged in this work, that 
the day would come when the appearance of 
John Hanks in a public meeting with two of 
these rails on his shoulder, would electrify a 
State convention, and kindle throughout the 
country a contagious and passionate enthusiasm 
whose results would reatdi to endless genera- 
tions. "- 


STABima Ottt fob Himself 


According to his own account, Abe had made 
about thirty dollars as a peddler, besides bear- 
ing the brunt of the labor of the journey, though 
there were four grown men in the combined 
family. As he had passed his twenty-first birth- 
day on the road, he really had the right to claim 
these profits as his own. His father, who had, 
for ten years, exacted Abraham's meager, hard- 


Abraham Lincoln 

earned wages, should at least have given the boy 
a part of that thirty dollars for a "freedom suit" 
of clothes, as was the custom then. 

Sut neither Thomas Lincoln nor his son seems 
to have thought of such a thing. Instead of en- 
tertaining resentment, Abraham stayed by, do- 
ing all he could to make his father and step- 
mother comfortable before he left them alto- 
gether. Mrs. Lincoln had two daughters and 
sons-in-law, besides John Johnston, so Abe 
might easily have excused himself from looking 
after the welfare of his parentsi Though his 
fatiier had seemed to favor his stepdiildren in 
preference to his own son, Mrs. Lincoln had 
been "like an own mother to him," and he never 
ceased to show his gratitude by being "like an 
own son to her." 

The first work Abe did in that neighborhood 
was to split a thousand rails for a pair of trou- 
sers, at the rate of four hundred rails per yard 
of "brown jeans dyed with walnut bark." The 
young man's breeches cost him about four hun- 
dred rails more than they would if he had been 
a man of ordinary height. 

But Abraham hovered about, helping clear a 
little farm, and maMng the cabin comfortable 


The Story of Young 

while he was earning his own "freedom suit" 
He saw the spring planting done and that a 
garden was made for his stepmother before he 
■ went out of ready reach of the old people^ 

One sx>eeial reason Thomas Iiincoln had for 
leaving Indiana was to get away from "the 
milkaick." But the fall of 1830 was a very bad 
season in Illinois for ehiUs and fever. The 
father and, in fact, nearly tiie whole family left 
at home suffered so much from malaria that they 
were thoroughly discouraged. The interior of 
their little cabin was a sorry sight — ^Thomas and 
his wife were both afBieted at once, and one mar- 
ried daughter was almost as ill. They were all so 
sick that Thomas Lincoln registered a sha^ but 
vehement resolve that as soon as tiiey could 
travel they would "git out o* tharl" He had 
been so determined to move to Illinois that no 
persuasion could induce tn'm to give up the pro- 
ject, therefore his disappointment was the more 
keen and bitter. 

The first winter the Lincolns spent in Illinois 
was memorable for its severity. It is still 
spoken of in that region as "the winter of the 
big snow." Cattle and sheep froze to death or 
died of exposure and starvation. 

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u,Mz=dt» Google 

t, Google 

Abraham Lmcoln 


Early in the spring after "the big snow," 
John Hanks, Lincohi and John Johnston met 
Denton OfEutt, a man who was to wield an influ- 
ence on the life of yoxmg Lincoln. OfEutt en- 
gaged the three to take a load of produce and 
other merchandise to New Orleans to sell. John 
Hanks, the most reliable member of the Hanks 
family, gave the following account of the way 
he managed to bring Abe and his stepbrother 
into the transaction: "He wanted me to go badly 
but I waited before answering. I hunted up 
Abe, and I introduced In'm and John Johnston, 
his stepbrother, to Offutt. After some talk we 
at last made an engagement with OfEutt at fifty 
cents a day and sixty dollars to make the trip to 
Kew Orleans. Abe and I came down the Sanga- 
mon River in a canoe in March, 1831, and landed 
at what is now called Jamestown, five miles east 
of Springfield." 

Denton Offutt spent so much time drinldng 
in a tavern at the village of Springfield that the 
flatboat was not ready when the trio arrived to 
take it and its cargo down the river. Their em- 
ployer met them on their arrival with profuse 
apologies, and the three men were engaged to 

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The Story; of Young 

build the boat and load it up for tiie journey. 

Buring the four weeks required to build the 
raft, the men of that neighborhood became ac- 
quainted with young Lincoln. A man named 
John Roll has given this description of Abe's 
appearance at that time : 

"He was a tall, gaunt young man, dressed in 
a suit of blue homespun, consisting of a round- 
about jacket, waistcoat, and breeches which 
came to within about three inches of his feet. 
The latter were encased in rawhide boots, into 
the tops of which, most of the time, his panta- 
loons were stuffed. He wore a soft felt hat 
which had once been black, but now, as its owner 
dryly remarked, 'was sunburned until it was a 
combine of colors.' " 

There was a sawmill in Sangamontown, and 
it was the custom for the "men folks" of the 
neighborhood to assemble near it at noon and in 
the evening, and sit on a peeled log which had 
been rolled out for the purpose. Toimg Lin- 
coln soon joined this group and at once became 
a great favorite because of his stories and jokes. 
His stories were so funny that "whenever he'd 
end 'em up in his unexpected way the boyB on. 
the log would whoop and roll off." In this way 

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Abraham Xancoln 

the log was polished smooth as glass, and came 
to be known in the ne^hborhood as "Abe's 

A traTeling juggler came one day while the 
boat was building and gave an exhibition in the 
house of one of the neighbors. This magician 
asked for Abe's hat to cook eggs in. Lincoln 
hesitated, but gave this ezplanatioQ for his de- 
lay: "It was out of respect for the eggs— not 
care for my hat I" 


While they were at work on the flatboat Ihe 
humorous young stranger from Indiana became 
the hero of a thrilling adventure, described as 
follows by John EoU, who was an eye witness 
to the whole scene : 

"It was the spring following 'the winter of 
the deep snow.' Walter Carman, John Seamen, 
myself, and at times others of the Carman boys, 
had helped Abe in building the boat, and when 
we had finished we went to work to make a dug- 
out, or canoe, to be used as a smfiU boat with the 
flat We foimd a suitable log about an eighth 
of a mile up the river, and with our axes went to 
work under Lincoln's direction. The river was 

456aSR I 


TKe Story of Young 

very high, fairly 'booming.* After the dug-out 
was ready to launch we took it to the edge of the 
water, and made ready to *let her go,' when 
Walter Carman and John Seamon jumped in as 
the boat struck the water, each one anxious to 
be the first to get a ride. As they shot out from 
the shore they found they were unable to make 
any headway against the strong current. Car- 
man had the paddle, and Seamon was in the 
stem of the boat. Lincoln shouted to them to 
head up-stream and 'work back to shore,' but 
they found themselves powerless against the 
stream. At last they began to pull for the wreck 
of an old fiatboat, the first ever built on the San- 
gamon, which had sunk and gone to pieces, leav- 
ing one of the stanchions sticking above the 
water. Just as they reached it Seamon made a 
grab, and caught hold of the stanchion, when the 
canoe capsized, leavii^ Seamon clinging to the 
old timber and throwing Carman into the 
stream. It carried him down with the speed of 
a mill-race. Lincoln raised his voice above the 
roar of the flood, and yelled to Carman to swim 
for an elm tree which stood almost in the dian- 
nel, which the action of the water had changed. 
"Carman, being a good swimmer, succeeded 

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Abraham 'Lincoln 

in catching a branch, and ptilled himself up out 
of the water, which was very cold, and had al- 
most chilled him to death j and there he sat, shivr 
ering and chattering in the tree. 

"Lincoln, seeing Carman safe, called out to 
Seamon to let go the stanchion and swim for the 
tree. With some hesitation he obeyed, and 
struck out, while Lincoln cheered and directed 
him from the bank. As Seamon neared the tree 
he made one grab for a branch, and, missing it, 
went imder the water. Another desperate lunge 
was successful, and he climbed up beside Car- 

"Things were pretty exciting now, for there 
were two men in the tree, and the boat gone. It 
was a cold, raw Apnl day, and there was great 
danger of the men becoming benumbed and fall- 
ing back into the water. Lincoln called out to 
them to keep their spirits up and he would save 

"The village had been alarmed by this time, 
and many people had come down to the bank. 
Lincoln procured a rope and tied it to a log. He 
called all hands to come and help roll the log into 
the water, and, after this had been done, he, with 
the assistance of several others, towed it some 


The Story of Young 

distance up the stream. A daring young fellow 
by the name of 'Jim* Dorell then took his seat on 
the end of the log, and it was pushed out into the 
current, with the expectation that it would be 
carried down stream against the tree where Sea- 
mon and Carman were. 

"The log was well directed, and went straight 
to the tree; but Jim, in his impatience to help 
his friends, fell a victim to bis good intentions. 
Making a frantic grab at a branch, he raised 
himself off the log, which was swept from under 
him by the raging waters and he soon joined the 
other victims upon their forlorn perch. 

"The excitement on the shore increased, and 
almost the whole population of the village gath- 
ered on the river bank. Liaeoln had the log 
pulled up the stream, and, securing another 
piece of rope, called to the men in the tree to 
catch it if they could when he should reach the 
tree. He then straddled the log himself, and 
gave the word to push out into the stream. 
When he dashed into the tree he threw the rope 
over the stump of a broken limb, and let it play 
until he broke the speed of the log, and gradu- 
ally drew it back to the tree, holding it there 
until the three now nearly^ frozen men had 


Abraham Lincoln 

climbed down and seated tbemselv^ astride. 
He then gave orders to the people on shore to 
hold fast to the end of the rope which was tied 
to the log, and leaving his rope in the tree he 
turned the log adrift. The force of the current, 
acting against the taat rope, swtmg the log 
around against the bank and all 'on board' were 

"The excited people who had watched the 
dangerous expedition with alternate hope and 
fear, now broke into cheers for Abe Lincoln, 
and praises for his brave act. This adventure 
made quite a hero of him along the Sangamon, 
and the people never tired of telling of the ex- 

"down the river" 

The launching of that flatboat was made a 
feast-day in the neighborhood. Denton OfEutt, 
its proprietor, was invited to break away from 
the "Buckhom" tavern at Springfield to wit- 
ness the ceremonies, which, of course, took a po- 
litical turn. There was much speech-making, 
but Andrew Jackson and the Whig leaders were 
equally praised. 

The boat had been loaded with pork in barrels, 

com, and hogs, and it slid into the Sangamon 



The Story of Young 

River, tiien overflowing with the spring "freah," 
with a big splash. 

The three sturdy navigators, accompanied by 
OfEutt himself, floated away in triumph from 
the waving crowd on the bank. 

The first incident in the voyi^ occurred the 
19th of April, at Rutlei^e's mill dam at New 
Salem, where the boat stranded and "hung" 
there a day and a night 


New Salem was destined to fill an important 
place in the life of Abraham Lincoln. One who 
became well acquainted with bim described bim 
as the New Salemites first saw him, "wading 
roimd on Rutledge*s dam with his trousers 
rolled up nine feet, more or less.'* 

One of the crew gave this account of ttielr 
mode of operations to get the stranded raft over 
the dam: 

"We unloaded the boat — ^that is, we trans- 
ferred the goods from our boat to a borrowed 
one. We tiien rolled the barrels forward ; Lin- 
coln bored a hole in the end (projectii^) over 
the dam; the water which had leaked in ran out 
then and we slid over. " 


Abraham Lineoln 

Offutt's enthusiasm over Abe's simple method 
of surmounting this great obstacle was bound- 
less. A crowd had gathered on a hillside to 
watch Lincoln's operations, 


For the novelty of the thing, John Hanks 
claimed to have taken young Lincoln to a 
"voodoo" negress. She is said to have become 
excited in reading the future of the tall, thin 
young man, saying to him, "Tou will be Presi- 
dent, and aU the negroes wiU be free." This 
story probably originated long afterward, when 
the strange prophecy had already come true — 
though fortune tellers often inform young men 
who come to them that they will be Presidents 
some day. That such a woman could read the 
Emancipation Proclamation in that young 
man's future is not at all likely. 

Another story is told of Abraham Lincoln's 
second visit to New Orleans that is more prob- 
able, but even this is not certain to have hap- 
pened exactly as related. The young northerner 
doubtless saw negroes in-chains, and his spirit, 
like that of his father and mother, rebelled 
against this inhumanity. There is little doubt 

Dig izedtv Google 

The Story of Young 

that in such sights, as one of his companions re- 
lated, "Slavery ran the iron into him then and 


But l^e story goes that the ttaee young fellows 
— ^Hanks, Johnston and Lincoln — ^went wander- 
ing about the city, and passed a slave market, 
•where a comely young mulatto girl was offered to 
the highest bidder. They saw prospective pur- 
chasers examine the weeping girl's teeth, pinch 
her flesh and pull her about as they would a cow 
or a horse. The whole scene was so revolting that 
lincoln recoiled from it with horror and hatred, 
saying to his two companions, "Boys, let's get 
away from this. If ever I get a chance to hit that 
thing" — meaning slavery — **ru hit it hard!" 

In June tlie four men took passage up the river 
on a steamboat for the return trip. At St Louis, 
Offutt got off to purchase stock for a store he 
proposed to open in New Salem, where he 
planned to place young lincoln in ^large. 


The other three started on foot to reach their 
several homes in Illinois. Abe improved the op- 
portunity to visit his father's family in Coles 

itv Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

Coimlrp', where Thomas Lineoln had removed as 
soon as he was able to leave their first Tllinois 
home near Decatur. 

Abe's reputation as a wrestler had preceded 
him and the Coles County Champion, Daniel 
Needham, came and challenged the tall visitor 
to a friendly contest. Young Lincoln laugh- 
ingly accepted and threw Needham twice. The 
crestfallen wrestler's pride vas deeply hurt, and 
he found it hard to give up beaten. 

"Lincoln," said he, "you have thrown me 
twice, but you can't whip me." 

Abe laughed again and replied: 

"Needham, are you satisfied that I can throw 
yout If you are not, and must be convinced 
throu^ a thrashing, I will do that, too — for 
your sake!** 



It was in August, 1831, that Abraham Lin- 
coln appeared in the village of New Salem, Dli- 

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The Story of Young 

nois. Neither Denton Offutt nor his merchan- 
dise had arrived as promised. While paying 
the penalty of the punctual man— by waiting for 
the tardy one — ^he seemed to the villagers to be 
loafing. But Abraham Lincoln was no loafer. 
He always fomid something useful and helpful 
to do. This time there was a local election, and 
one of the clerks had not appeared to perform 
Ms duties. A New Salem woman wrote of Lin- 
coln's first act in the village : 

"My father, Mentor Graham, was on that day, 
as usual, ap{>ointed to be a clerk, and Mr. Mc- 
Namee, who was to be the other, was sick and 
failed to come. They were looking aroimd for 
a man to fill his place when my father noticed 
Mr. Lincoln and asked if he could write. He 
answered that he could 'make a few rabbit 
tracks.* " 


A few days after the election the young 
stranger, who had become known by this time 
as the hero of the flatboat on Eutledge's dam 
four months before, found employment as a 
pilot A citizen. Dr. Nelson, wsa about to emi- 
grate to Texas. The easiest and b^ mode of 



It, Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

travel in those days was by flatboat down the 
river. He had loaded all his household goods 
and movable property on his "private convey- 
ance" and was looking about for a "driver." 
Young Lincoln, still waiting, unemployed, of- 
fered his services and took the Nelson family 
down the Sangamon Biver— a. more dif&cult 
task in August than in April, when the water 
was high on account of the spring rains. But 
the young pilot proceeded cautiously down the 
shallow stream, and reached Beardstown, on the 
Illinois River, where he was "discharged" and 
walked back over the hills to New Salem. 


Denton Offutt and his stock for the store ar- 
rived at last, and Lincoln soon had a little store 
opened for business. A coimtry store seemed 
too small for a clerk of such astoundii^ abilities, 
so the too enthusiastic employer bought Cam- 
eron's mill with the dam on which Lincoln had 
already distinguished himself, and made the 
clerk manager of the whole business. 

This was not enough. OfEutt sounded the 
praises of the new clerk to aU comers. He 
claimed that Abraham Lincoln "knew more than 

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The Story of Young 

any man in the United States/' As Mr. Offutt 
had never shown that he knew enough himself 
to prove this statement, the neighbors began to 
resent such rash claims. In addition, OfEutt 
boasted that Abe could "beat the counly" run- 
fiing, jumping and wrestling. Here was some- 
thing the new clerk could prove, if true, so his 
employer's statement was promptly challenged. 

When a strange man came to the village to 
live, even though no one boasted of his prowess, 
he was likely to suffer at the hands of the 
rougher element of the place. It was a sort of 
rude initiation into their society. These cere- 
monies were conducted with a savage sense of 
himior by a gang of rowdies known as the 
"Clary's Grove Boys,** of whom the "best 
fighter" was Jack Armstrong. 

Sometimes "the Boys" nailed up a stranger 
in a hogshead and it was rolled down hill. Some- 
times he was ingeniously insulted, or made to 
fight in self-defense, and beaten black and blue 
by the whole gang. They seemed not to be 
hampered by delicate notions of fair play in 
their actions toward a stranger. They "picked 
on him," as chickens, dogs and wolves do upon a 
newcomer among them. 

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Abraham Liaeoln 

So when young Lincoln heard his employer 
bracing about his brain and brawn he was suf- 
ficiently acquainted with backwoods nature to 
know that it boded no good to him. Even then 
* ' he knew how to bide his time, ' ' and turned it to 
good account, for he had a good chance, shortly 
to show the metal that was in him. 

"The Boys" called and began to banter with 
the long-legged clerk in the new store. This led 
to a challenge and comparison of strength and 
prowess between young Lincoln and Jack Arm- 
strong. Abe accepted the gaxmtlet with an alac- 
rity that pleased the crowd, especially the chief 
of the bully "Boys," who expected an easy vic- 
tory. But Jack was surprised to find that the 
stranger was his match — ^yes, more than his 
matdL Others of "the Boje" saw this, also, and 
began to interfere 1^ tripping Abe and trying to 
help their champion by unfair means. 

This made young Lincoln angry. Putting 
forth all his strength, he seized Armstrong by 
the Ihroat and "nearly choked the exuberant 
life out of him." When "the Boys" saw the 
stranger shaking their "best fighter" as if he 
were a mere child, their enmity gave place to 
admiration; and when Abe had thrown JTack 

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The Story of Young 

Armstrong upon the ground, in Ma wrath, as a 
lion would throw a dog that had been set upon 
him, and while the strong stranger stood there, 
with his back to the wall, challenging the whole 
gang, with deep-set eyes blazing with indigna- 
tion, they acknowledged him as tiieir conqueror, 
and declared that "Abe Lincoln is the cleverest 
fellow that ever broke into the settlement." 

The initiation was over, and young Lincohi's 
triumph complete. From that day "the Clary's 
Grove Boys" were his staunch supporters and 
defenders, and his employer was allowed to go 
on bragging about his wonderful clerk without 


A bumptious stranger came into the store one 
day and tried to pick a quarrel with the tall 
clerk. To this end he used language offensive to 
several women who were there trading. Lin- 
coln quietly aaked the fellow to desist as there 
were "ladies present" The bully considered 
this an admission that the clerk was afraid of 
him, so he began to swear and use more offensive 
language than before. As this was too much for 
Abraham's patience, he whispered to the fellow 


Abraham Lincoln 

that if he would keep quiet till the ladies went 
out, he (Lincoln) would go and "have it out." 

After the women went, the man became vio- 
lently abusive. Toimg Lincoln calmly went out- 
side with him, saying: **I see you must be 
whipped and I suppose I will have to do it." 
With this he seized the insolent fellow and made 
short work of h\m. Throwing the man on the 
ground, Lincoln sat on him, and, with his long 
arms, gathered a handful of "smartweed" which 
grew around them. He then rubbed it into the 
buUy's eyes until he roared witii pain. An ob- 
server of this incident said afterward: 

"Lincoln did all this without a particle of 
anger, and when the job was finished he went 
immediately for water, washed his victim's face 
and did everything he could to alleviate the 
man's distress. The upshot of the matter was 
that the fellow became his life-long friend, and 
was a better man from that day." 


Lincoln's morals were unusually good for that 
time and place. Smoking, chewii^, drinking, 
swearing and gambling were almost universal 

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The Stoiy of Young 

among his associates. 0€utt hired a young 
man, William Q. Greene, after the purchase of 
the mill. This assistant first told many of the 
stories, now so well known, concerning Abe at 
this period of his career: 

Young Greene was, like most of the young 
men in New Salem, addicted to i)etty gambling. 
He once related how Lincoln induced him to quit 
the habit. Abe said to him one day : 

"Billy, you ought to stop gambling with 
Estep." Billy made a lame excuse: 

"I'm ninety cents behind, and I can't quit 
until I win it back." 

"Ill help you get that back," ui^ed Lincoln, 
"if youTl promise me you won't gamble any 

The youth reflected a moment and made the 
required promise. Lincoln continued: 

"Here are some good hats, and you need a 
new one. Now, when Estep comes again, you 
draw him on by degrees, and finally bet him one 
of these hats that I can lift a forty-gallon barrel 
of whisky and take a drink out of the bung- 

Billy agreed, and the two clerks chuckled as 
they fixed the barrel so that the buughole would 


Abraham Lincoln 

come in the right place to win the bet, though 
the thing seemed impossible to Greene himself. 
Estep appeared in due time, and after long par- 
leying and bantering the wager was laid. Lin- 
coln then squatted before the barrel, lifted one 
end up on one knee, then raised the other end 
on to the other knee, bent over, and by a Hercu- 
lean effort, actually succeeded in taking a drink 
from the bunghole — ^though he sjrat it out imme- 
diately. "That was the only time," said G-reene 
long afterward, "that I ever saw Abraham Lin- 
coln take a drink of liquor of any kind." This 
was tiie more remarkable, as whisky was served 
on all occasions— even passed around with re- 
freshments at religious meetings, according to 
Mrs. Josiah Crawford, the woman for whom Abe 
and Nancy had worked as hired help. Much as 
Abe disapproved of drinking, he considered that 
"the end justified the means" employed to break 
his fellow clerk of the gambling habit. 

HOW HE WON THE 17AHE OF "honest abb' ' , 

Abe Lincoln could not endure the thought of 
cheating any one, even though it had been done 
unintentionally. One day a woman bought a 
bill of goods in Offutt's store amounting to some- 

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The Story of Young 

thing over two dollars. She paid Ahe the money 
and went away satisfied. That night, on goin^ 
over the sales of the day, Abe found that he had 
charged the woman six and one-fourth cents too 
much. After closing the store, though it was 
late, he could not go home to supper or to bed 
till he had restored that sixpence to its proper 
owner. She lived more than two miles away, but 
that did not matter to Abe Lincoln. When he 
had returned the money to the astonished woman 
he walked back to the village with a long 
step and a light heart, content with doii^ his 

Another evening, as he was closing the store, a 
woman came in for a half-pound of tea. He 
weighed it out for her and took the pay. But 
early next morning, when he came to "open up," 
he found the four-ounce weight instead of the 
eight-ounce on the scales, and inferred that he 
had given that woman only half as much tea as 
he had taken the money for. Of course, the 
woman would never know the difference, and it 
meant walkii^ several miles and back, but the 
honest clerk weighed out another quarter pound 
of tea, locked the store and took that long walk 
before breakfast As a "constituti(inal" it must 

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Abraham Lincoln 

have been a benefit to his health, for it satisfied 
his sensitive conscience and soothed his tender 
heart to "make good" in that way. 

Bnnk and misdirected enthusiasm interfered 
■with Benton OfEutt's success. After about a 
year in New Salem he "busted up," as the neigh- 
bors expressed it, and left his creditors in the 
lurch. Among them was the clerk he had 
boasted so much about. For a short time Abe 
Lincoln needed a home, and found a hearty wel- 
come with Jack Armstrong, tiie best fighter of 
Clary's Grovel 

J. G. Holland wrote, in his "Life of Abraham 
Lincoln," of the young man's progress during 
his first year in New Salem: 

* * The year that Lincoln was in Denton Off utt 's 
store was one of great advance. He had made 
new and valuable acquaintances, read mimy 
books, won multitudes of friends, and become 
ready for a step further in advance. Those who 
could appreciate brains respected him, and those 
whose ideas of a man related to his muscles were 
devoted to him. It was while he was performing 
the work of the store that he acquired the nick- 
name, 'Honest Abe' — a characterization that he 
never dishonored, an abbreviation that he never 


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The Story; of Young 

outgrew. He waa everybody's friend, the best- 
natured, the most sensible, the best-informed, the 
most modest and unassuming, the kindest, 
gentlest, roughest, strongest, best fellow in all 
27ew Salem and the region round about" 


Politics, Wab, Store Keeping and Studying 


By "a step still further in advance" Dr. Hol- 
land must have meant the young clerk's goii^ 
into politics. He had made many friends in New 
Salem, and they reflected back his good-will by 
urging him to nm for the State Ijegislature. 
Before doing this he consulted Mentor Graham, 
the village schoolmaster, with whom he had 
worked as election clerk when he first came to 
the place. Abe could read, write and cipher, 
but he felt that if he should succeed in poli- 
tics, he would disgrace his office and himself 


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Abraham Lmcoln 

by not speakmg and writing English correctly. 

The schoolmaster adTised: "If .you expect to 
go before the public in any capacity, I tbinV the 
best thing you can do is to study English gram- 

* 'If I had a grammar I would commence now, " 
sighed Abe. 

Mr. Graham thought one could be found at 
Vaner's, only six miles away. So Abe got up 
and started for it as fast aa he could stride. In 
an incredibly sort time he returned with a copy 
of Kirkham's Grammar, and set to work upon it 
at once. Sometimes he would steal away into 
the woods, where he could study * ' out loud " if he 
desired. He kept up his old habit of sitting up 
nights to read, and as lights were expensive, the 
village cooper allowed him to stay in his shop, 
where he burned the shavings and studied by the 
blaze as he had done in Indiana, after every one 
else had gone to bed. So it was not long before 
yoimg Lincoln, with the aid of Schoolmaster 
Graham, had mastered the principles of English 
grammar, and felt himself better equipped to 
enter polities and public life. Some of his rivals, 
however, did not trouble themselves about speak- 
ing and writing correctly. 


The Story of Young 


James Butledge, a "substantial" citizen^ and 
the former owner of Eutledge's mill and dam, 
was the president of the New Salem debating 
club. Young Lincoln joined this society, and 
when he first rose to speak, everybody began to 
smile in anticipation of a fimny story, but Abe 
proceeded to discuss the question before the 
house in very good form. He was awkward in Ms 
movements and gestures at first, and amused 
those present by thrusting his unwieldy hands 
deep into his pockets, but his arguments were so 
well-put and forcible that all who heard him were 

Mr. Rutledge, that night after Abe's maiden 
effort at the lycemn, told his wife : 

"There is more in Abe Lincoln's head than 
mere wit and fun. He is already a fine speaker. 
All he needs is culture to fit him for a high posi- 
tion in public life." 

But there were occasions enough where some- 
thing besides culture was required. A man 
who was present and heard Lincoln's first real 
stump speech describes his appearance and ac- 
tions in the following picturesque language: 

"He wore a mixed jean coat, clawhammer 

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Abraham Lmcoln 

style, short in the sleeves and bob-tail — ^in fact, 
it was so short in the tail that he could not sit 
upon it — ^flax and tow linen pantaloons, and a 
straw hat. I think he wore a vest, but do not re- 
member how it looked. He wore pot metal (top) 

"His maiden effort on the stump was a speech 
on the occasion of a public sale at Pappj^rille, a 
village eleven miles from Springfield. After the 
sale was over and speechmaking had begun, a 
fight — a 'general fight' as one of the bystand- 
ers relates — ensued, and Lincoln, noticing one 
of his friends about to succumb to the attack of 
an infuriated rufBan, interposed to prevent it. 
He did 80 most effectually. Hastily descending 
from the rude platform, he edged his way 
through the crowd, and seizing the buUy by the 
neck and the seat of his trousers, threw him by 
means of his great strength and long arms, as 
one witne^ stoutly insists, 'twelve feet away.* 
Returning to the stand, and throwing aside his 
hat, he inaugurated his campaign with the fol- 
lowing brief and juiey declaration: 

"'Fellow-Citizens: I presume you all know 
who I am. I am humble Abraham Lincoln. I 
have been solicited by many friends to become a 

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The Storjr of Young 

candidate for the Legislature. My politics aie 
"short and sweet" like the old woman's dance. 
I am in favor of national bank. I am in favor 
of the internal improvement system, and a high 
protective tariff. These are my sentiments and 
political principles. If elected, I shall be thank- 
ful; if not, it will be all the same.' *' 

The only requirement for a candidate for the 
Illinois Legislature in 1832 was that he should 
announce his "sentiments." This Lincoln did, 
accordii^ to custom, in a circular of about two 
thousand words, rehearsing his experiences on 
the Sangamon Biver and in the community of 
New Salem. For a youth who had just turned 
twenty-three, who had never been to school a 
year in his life, who had no political training, 
and had never made a political speedi, it was a 
bold and dignified document, closing as follows: 

"Consideru^ the great degree of modesty 
which should always attend youth, it is probable 
I have already been presuming more than be- 
comes me. However, upon the subjects of which 
I have treated, I have spoken as I have though! 
I may be wrong in regard to any or all of them, 
but, holding it a sound maxim that it is better 
only sometimes to be right than at all times to be 


Abraham Lincoln 

wrong, so soon as I discover m7 opinions to be 
erroneous, I shall be ready to renounce them. 

"Every man is said to have his peculiar ambi- 
tion. "Whether this is true or not, I can say for 
one, that I have no other so great as that of being 
truly esteemed of my feUow-men by rendering 
myself worthy of their esteem. How far I shall 
succeed in gratifying this ambition is yet to be 
developed. I am young and unknown to mai^ 
of you. I was bom, and have ever remained in 
the most humble walks of hf e. I have no wealthy 
or popular relations or friends to recommend 
me. My case is thrown exclusively upon the in- 
dependent voters of the country; and, if elected, 
they will have conferred a favor on me for which 
I shall be unremitting in my labors to compen- 
sate. But if the good people in their wisdom 
shall see fit to keep me in the background, I have 
been too familiar with disappointments to be 
very much chagrined." 


Lincoln had hardly launched in his first po- 
litical venture when, in April, 1832, a messenger 
arrived in New Salem with the announcement 
from Governor Reynolds, of Illinois, that the 


The Story of Young 

Sacs and other hostile tribes, led by Black Hawk, 
had invaded the northern part of the State, 
spreadii^ terror among the white settlers in that 
region. The governor called upon those who 
were willing to help in driving back the Indians 
to report at Beardstown, on the Illinois Biver, 
within a week. 

Lincoln and other Sangamon County men 
went at once to Richmond where a company was 
formed. The principal candidate for captain 
was a man named Kirkpatrick, who had treated 
Lincoln shabbily when Abe, in one of the odd 
jobs he had done ia that region, worked in Kirk- 
patrick's sawmill. The employer had agreed to 
buy his hired man a cant-hook for handling the 
heavy logs. As there was a delay in doing this, 
Lincoln told him he would handle the logs with- 
out the cant-hook if Kirkpatrick would pay him 
the two dollars that implement would cost. The 
employer promised to do this, but never gave him 
the money. 

So when Lincoln saw that Kirkpatrick was a 
candidate for the captaincy, he said to Greene, 
who had worked with him in Offutt's store: 

"Bill, I believe I can make Kirkpatrick pay 

me that two dollars he owes me on the cant-hook 


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Abraham Lincohi 

now. I ^ess 111 run against >iiTn for captain." 
Therefore Abe Lincoln announced himself as 
a candidate. The vote was taken in an odd way. 
It was announced that when the men heard the 
command to march, each should go and stand by 
the man he wished to have for captain. The com- 
mand was given. At the word, "March," three- 
fourths of the company rallied round Abe Lin- 
coln. More than twenty-five years afterward, 
when Lincoln was a candidate for the presidency 
of the United States, he referred to hinaelf in 
the third i>eraon in describing this incident, say- 
ing that he was elected "to his own surprise," 
and "he says he has not since had any success in 
life which gave him so much satisfaction." 


But Lincoln was a "raw hand" at military 
tactics. He used to enjoy telling of his igno- 
rance and the expedients adopted in giving his 
commands to the company. Once when he was 
marching, twenty men abreast, across a field it 
became necessary to pass through a narrow gate- 
way into the next field. He said: 

**I could not, for the life of me, remember the 
word for gettii^ the company endwise so that it 

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The Story of Young 

could go through the gate; bo, as we came near 
the gate, I shouted, *This company is dismissed 
for two minutes, when it will fall in. again on the 
other side of the f«iee.* " 


Captain Lincoln had his sword taken from 
biTn for shooting within limits. Many have won- 
dered that a man of Lincoln's intelligence should 
have been guilty of this stupid infraction of ordi- 
nary army regulations. Biographers of Lincoln 
puzzled over this until the secret was explained 
by "William Turley Baker, of Bolivia, HL, at the 
Lincoln Centenary in Springfield. All uncon- 
scious of solving a historic mystery, "Uncle 
Billy" Baker related the following story which 
explains that the shooting was purely acci- 
dental : 

"My father was roadmaster general in the 
Black Hawk War. Lincoln used to come often 
to our house and talk it all over with father, 
when I was a boy, and I've heard them laugh 
over their experiences in that war. The best 
joke of all was this : Father received orders one 
day to throw log bridges over a certain stream 
the army had to cross. He felled some tall, slim 


Abraham Lincoln 

black wabiuts — ihe only ones he could find there 
— and the logs were so smooth and round that 
they were hard to walk on any time. This day it 
rained and made them very slippery. Half of 
the soldiera fell into the stream and got a good 
ducking. Captain Lincoln was one of those that 
tumbled in. He just laughed and scrambled out 
as quick as he could. He always made the best 
of everything like ttiat. 

''Well, that evening when the company camo 
to camp, some of them had dog tents — jxist a big 
canv£^ sheet — and the boys laughed to see Lin- 
coln crawl imder one of them little tents. He was 
so long that his head and hands and feet stuck 
out on all sides. The boys said he looked just 
like a big terrapin. After he had got himself 
stowed away for the night, he remembered that 
he hadn't deaned his pistol, after he fell into 
the creek. 

"So he backed out from under his canvas 
shell and started to clean it out. It was what 
was called a bulldog pistol, because it had a 
blunt, short muzzle. Abe*8 forefinger was long 
enough to use as a ramrod for it. But before he 
began operations he snapped the trigger and, to 
his astoniahmeut, the thing went off I 


The Sto^ of Young 

"Pretty soon an orderly came along in great 
haste, yeUin*, 'Who did that?— Who fired that 
shot?' Some of the men tried to send the or- 
derly along about his business, making believe 
the report was heard filrther on, but Lincoln he 
wouldn't stand for no such deception, spoken 
or unspoken. *I did it,' says he, beginning to 
explain how it happened. 

"You see, his legs was so blamed long, and 
he must have landed on his feet, in the creek, and 
got out of the water without his pistol getting 
wet, 'way up there in his weskiti 

"But he had to pay the penalty just the same, 
for they took his sword away from h\m for sev- 
eral days. You see, he was a captain and ought 
to 'a' set a good example in military discipline.*' 


One day an old "friendly Indian" came into 
camp with a "talking paper" or pass from the 
"big white war chief." The men, with the 
pioneer idea that "the only good Indian is a 
dead Indian," were for stringing him up. The 
poor old red man protested and held the gen- 
eral's letter before their eyes. 

"Me good Injun," he kept sayii^, "iriute war 

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Abraham Ldncoln 

chief say me good Injun. Look — talking paper 
— seel" 

"Get out 1 It's a forgery I Shoot him! String 
him up I" shouted the soldiers angrily. 

This noise brought Captain Lincoln out of his 
tent. At a glance he saw what they were about 
to do. He jumped in among them, shouting in- 

'* Stand back, all of you I For shame t 111 
fight you all, one after the other, just as you 
come. Take it out on me if you can, but you 
shan't hurt this poor old Indian. When a man 
comes to me for help, he's going to get it, if I 
have to lick all Sangamon Counly to give it to 

The three months for which the men were en- 
listed soon expired, and Lincoln's captaincy also 
ended. But he re-enlisted as a priTate, and re- 
mained in the ranks until the end of the war, 
which found him in Wisconsin, hundreds of 
miles from New Salem. He and a few com- 
panions walked home, as there were not many 
horses to be had. Lincoln enlivened the long 
tramp with his fund of stories and jokes. 

It is sometimes asserted that Abraham Lin- 
coln and Jefferson Davis met at this early day, 

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The Stoiy of Young 

as officers in the Black Hawk War, but this 
statement is not foimded on fact, for joung 
Lieutenant DaTls was absent on a furlough and 
could not have encountered the tall captain from 
the Sangamon then, as maiiy would like to be- 

Lincoln always referred to the Black Hawk 
War as a hiunorous adventure. He made a 
fimny speech in Congress describing some of his 
experiences in this campaign in which he did 
not take part in a battle, nor did he even catch 
sight of a hostile Indian. 


Abe was still out of work. Just before he en- 
listed he piloted the Talisman, a steamboat 
which had come up the Sangamon on a trial 
trip, in which the speed of the boat averaged 
four miles an hour. At that time the wildest ex- 
citement prevailed. The coming of the Talis- 
man up their little river was hailed with grand 
demonstrations and much speech-making. 
Every one expected the Government to spend 
millions of dollars to make the Sangamon navi- 
gable, and even New Salem (which is not now to 
be found on the map) was to become a flourish- 

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t, Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

ing city, in the hopeful imaginings of its few 
inhabitants. Lincoln, being a candidate, natu- 
rally "took the fever," and shared the delirixun 
that prevailed. He could hardly have done 
otherwise, even if he had been so disposed. This 
was before Ihe days of railroads, and the com- 
merce and prosperity of the country depended 
on making the smaller streams navigable. Lin- 
coln received forty dollars, however, for his serv- 
ices as pilot. The Talisman, instead of estab- 
lishing a river connection with the Mssissippi 
Biver cities, never came back. She was burned 
at the wharf in St. Louis, and the navigation of 
the poor little Sangamon, which was only a shal- 
low creek, was soon forgotten. 

uncoln's only defeat bt a direct vote 

When Abe returned from the war he had no 
steady employment. On this account, espe- 
cially, he must have been deeply disappointed to 
be defeated in the election which took place 
within two weeks after his arrival. His patriot- 
ism had been stroi^er than his political sagac- 
ity. If he had stayed at home to help himself to 
the Legislature he might have been elected, 
though he was then a comparative stranger in 

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The Story of Young 

the county. One of the four representatives 
chosen was Peter Cartwright, the backwoods 

Lincohi afterward mentioned that this was 
the only time he was ever defeated by a direct 
vote of the people. 


BiTTOTo AND Keeping a Stoee 

!&PTEB making what he considered a bad be- 
ginning politically, youi^ Lincoln was on the 
lookout for a "business chance." One came to 
him in a peculiar way. A man named Radford 
had opened a store in New Salem. Possessing 
neither the strength nor the sagacity and tact of 
Abe Lincoln, he was driven out of business by 
the Clary's Grove Boys, who broke Ms store fix- 
tures and drank his liquors. In his fright 
Radford was willing to sell out at almost any 
price and take most of his pay in promissory 
notes. He was quickly accommodated. Through 
William G. Greene a transfer was made at once 

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Abraham Lincoln 

from Reuben Radford to William Beny and 
Abraham Lincoln. Berry had $250 in cash and 
made the first payment. In a few hours after a 
violent visit from those ruf&ans from Clary's 
Grove Berry and Lincoln had formed a partner- 
ship and were the nominal owners of a country 

The new fimn soon absorbed the stock and 
business of another firm, James and Rowan 
Hemdon, who had previously acquired the stock 
and debts of the predecessors in their business, 
and all these obligations were passed on with the 
goods of both the Radford and Hemdon stores 
to "Honest Abe." 

The senior partner of the firm of Berry & 
Lincoln was devoted to the whisky which was 
found in the inventory of the Radford stock, 
and the jxmior partner was given over to tiie 
study of a set of "Blackstone's Commentaries," 
text-books which all lawyers have to study, that 
came into his possession in a peculiar way, as 
Candidate Lincoln told an artist who was paint- 
ing his portrait in 1860 : 

"One day a man who was migrating to the 

West drove up in front of my store with a 

wagon which contained his family and house- 


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The Stoiy of Young 

hold plunder. He asked me if I would buy an 
old barrel for which he had no room in his 
wagon, and which contained notiiing of special 
value. I did not want it, but to oblige him I 
bought it, and paid him, I think, half a dollar 
for it Without further examination I put it 
away in the store and forgot all about it. 

"Some time after, in overhauling things, I 
came upon the barrel, and emptying it on the 
floor to see what it contained, I found at the bot- 
tom of the rubbish a complete set of 'Black- 
stone's Oommentaries. ' I began to read those 
famous works. I had plenty of time ; for during 
the long summer days, when the farmers were 
busy with their crops, my customers were few 
and far between. The more I read the more in- 
tensely interested I became. Never in my whole 
life was my mind so thoroughly absorbed. I 
read until I devoured them." 

"With one partner drinking whisky and the 
other devouring "Blackstone," it was not sur- 
prising that the business "winked out," as Lin- 
coln whimsically expressed it, leaving the con- 
scientious junior partner saddled with the obli- 
gations of the former owners of two country 
stores, and owing an amoimt so large that Liu* 


Abraham Lincoln 

com often referred to it as "the national debt." 
"William Berry, the senior partner, who was 
equally responsible, "drank himself to death," 
leaving Lincoln alone to pay all the debts. 

According to the custom and conscience of the 
time, the insolvent young merchant was under 
no obligation whatever to pay Liabilities con- 
tracted by the other men, but Lincoln could 
never be induced even to compromise any of tiie 
accounts the othei^ had gone off and left liim to 
settle. "Honest Abe" paid the last cent of his 
"national debt" nearly twenty years later, after 
much toU, self-denial and hardship. 


Again out of employment, Abe was forced to 
accept the hospitality of his friends of whom he 
now had a large number. "While in business 
witii Berry he received the appointment as post- 
master. The pay of the New Salem post office 
was not large, but Lincoln, always longing for 
news and knowledge, had the privilege of read- 
ing the newspapers which passed through his 
hands. He took so much pains in delivering the 
letters and papers that came into his eharge as 

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The Story of Young 

postmaster tiiat he anticipated tiie "special de- 
livery" and "rural free delivery" features of 
the postal service of the present day. 

"a. ukooln, deputy subtetor" 

Later John Calhoun, the county surveyor, 
sent word to Lincoln that he would appoint him 
deputy surveyor of the counly if he would ac- 
cept the position. The young man, greatly as- 
tonished, went to Springfield to call on Calhoun 
and see if the story could be true. Calhoun knew 
that Lincoln was utterly ignorant of surveying, 
but told him he might take time to study up. As 
soon as Lincoln was assured that the appoints 
ment did not involve any political obligation — 
for Calhoxm was a Jackson Democrat, and Lin- 
coln was already a staunch "Whig — ^he procured 
a copy of Flint and Gibson's "Surveying" and 
went to work with a will. With the aid of Men- 
tor Graham, and studying day and night, he 
mastered the subject and reported to Calhoun in 
six weeks. The county surveyor was astounded, 
but when Lincoln gave ample proofs of his abil- 
ity to do field work, the chief surveyor appointed 
him a deputy and assigned him to the northern 
part of Sangamon County. 

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Abraham Liucoln 

Deputy Surveyor Lincoln had to run deeper 
in debt for a horse and surveying instruments in 
order to do this new work. Although he made 
three dollars a day at it — a large salary for that 
time — and board and expenses were cheap, he 
was unable to make money fast enough to satisfy 
one creditor who was pushing Tn'm to pay one of 
the old debts left by the failure of Berry & Un- 
coln. This man sued Lincoln and, getting judg- 
ment, seized the deputy's horse and instruments. 
This was like "killing the goose that laid the 
golden egg." Lincoln was in despair. But a 
friend, as a surprise, bought in the horse and 
instruments for one hundred and twenty dollars 
and presented them to the struggling surveyor. 

President Lincoln, many years afterward, 
generously repaid this man, "Uncle Jimmy" 
Short, for his friendly act in that hour of need. 

Lincoln's reputation as a story teller and 
wrestler had spread so that when it became 
known that he was to survey a tract in a certain 
district the whole neighborhood turned out and 
held a sort of picnic. Men and boys stood ready 
to "carry chain," drive stakes, blaze trees, or 
work for the popular deputy in any capacity — 
just to hear his funny stories and odd jokes. 

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The Story of Young 

They had foot races, wrestling matches and other 
athletic sports, in which the surveyor sometimes 
took part 

But Lincoln's honesty was as manifest in 
"running his lines" as in his weights and meas- 
ures while he was a clerk and storekeeper. In 
whatever he attempted he did his best. He had 
tiiat true genius, which is defined as "the ability 
to take pains. ' ' With all his j okes and fun Abra- 
ham Lincoln was deeply in earnest. Careless 
work in making surveys involved the landhold- 
ers of that part of the country in endless dis- 
putes and going to law about boundaries. But 
Lincoln's surveys were recognized as correct al- 
ways, so that, although he had mastered the sci- 
ence in six weeks, lawyers and courts had such 
confidence in his skill, as well as his honesty, 
that his record as to a certain comer or line was 
accepted as the true verdict and that ended the 


Hampered though he was by unjust debts and 
unreasonable creditors, Postmaster and Sur- 
veyor Lincoln gained an honorable reputation 
throughout the couniy, so that when he ran for 

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Abraham Lincoln 

the State Legislature, in 1834, he was elected by 
a creditable majority. 


The Yoxtno Leoislatob m Lote 

shoot's EESPONSmnJlT 

PAYmo his debts had kept Lincoln so poor 
that, though he had been elected to the I^egisla- 
ture, he was not properly clothed or equipped 
to make himself presentable as the people's rep- 
resentative at the State capital, then located at 
Vandalia. One day he went with a friend to 
call on an older acquaintance, named Smoot, 
who was almost as dry a joker as himself, but 
Smoot had more of this world's goods than the 
young legislator-elect. Lincoln began at once to 
chaff his friend. 

"Smoot," said he, "did you vote for me?" 

"I did that very thing,'* answered Smoot. 

"Well," said Lincoln with a wink, "that 
makes you responsible. You must lend me the 

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The Story of Young 

money to buy suitable clothing, for I want to 
make a decent appearance in fhe Legislature." 
"How much do you want?" asked Smoot. 
"About two hundred dollars, I reckon." 
For friendship's sake and for the honor of 
Sangamon County the young representative re- 
ceived the money at once. 


Abe Lincoln's new suit of clothes made him 
look still more handsome in the eyes of A-nn, the 
daughter of the proprietor of Rutledge's Tav- 
ern, where Abe was boarding at that time. She 
was a beautiful girl who had been betrothed to 
a young man named McNamar, who was said to 
have returned to New York State to care for his 
dying father and look after the family estate. 
It began to leak out that tiiis young man was 
going about under an assumed name and certain 
suspicious circumstances came to light. But 
Ann, though she loved the yoimg legislator, still 
clung to her promise and the man who had 
proved false to her. As time went on, though 
she was supposed to be betrothed to Mr. Lincoln, 
the treatment she had received from the recre- 
ant lover preyed upon her mind so that she fell 

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Abraham LincolB. 

into a decline in the sununer of 1835, about a 
year after her true lover's election to the Legis- 

William O. Stoddard, one of the President's 
private secretaries, has best told the story of the 
young lover's despair over the loss of his first 

"It is not' known precisely when Ann Rut- 
ledge told her suitor that her heart was his, but 
early in 1835 it was publicly known that they 
were solenmly betrothed. Even then the scrupu- 
lous maiden waited for the return of the absent 
McNamar, that she might be formally released 
from the obligation to him which he had so reck- 
lessly forfeited. Her friends argued with her 
that she was carrying her scruples too far, and 
at last, as neither man nor letter came, she per- 
mitted it to be understood that she would marry 
Abraham Lincoln as soon as his legal studies 
should be completed. 

"That was a glorious summer for him; the 
brightest, sweetest, most hopeful he yet had 
known. It was also the fairest time he was ever 
to see; for even now, as the golden days came 
and went, they brought an increasing diadow on 
their wings. It was a shadow that was not to 

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The Story; of Young 

pass away. Little by little came iadications that 
the health of Ann Butledge had sufEered under 
the prolonged strain to which she had been sub- 
jected. Her sensitive nature had been strung 
to too high a tension an^. the chords of her life 
were beginning to give way. 

"There were those of her friends who said 
that she died of a broken heart, but the doctors 
called it 'brain fever.' 

"On the 25th of August, 1835, just before the 
summer died, she passed away from earth. But 
she never faded from the heart of Abraham Lin- 
coln. ... In her early grave was buried the 
best hope he ever knew, and the shadow of that 
great darkness was never entirely lifted from 


"A few days before Ann's death a message 
from her brought her betrothed to her bedside, 
and they were left alone. No one ever knew 
what passed between them in the endless mo- 
ments of that last sad farewell ; but Lincoln left 
the house with inexpressible agony written upon 
his face. He had been to that hour a man of 
marvelous poise and self-control, but the pain he 
now struggled with grew deeper and more deep, 
until, when they came and told him she was 


Abraham Lincoln 

dead, his heart and will, and even his brain itself 
gave way. He was utterly without help or the 
knowledge of possible help in this world or 
beyond It. He was frantic for a time, seeming 
even to lose the sense of his own identity, and aU 
!N'ew Salem said that he was insane. He pite- 
ously moaned and raved: 

" *I never can be reconciled to have the snow, 
rain, and storms beat upon her grave.' 

"His best friends seemed to have lost their 
infiuence over him, ... all but one; for 
Bowling Green . . . managed to entice the 
poor fellow to his own home, a ^ort distance 
from the village, there to keep watch and ward 
over him until the fury of his sorrow should 
wear away. There were well-grounded feara 
lest he might do himself some injury, and the 
watch was vigilantly kept. 

"In a few weeks reason again obtained the 
mastery, and it was safe to let him return to his 
studies and his work. He could indeed work 
again, and he could once more study law, for 
there was a kind of relief in steady occupation 
and absorbing toil, but he was not, could not ever 
be the same man. . . . 

"Lincoln had been fond of poetry from boy- 


The Story of Young 

hood, and had gradually made himself familiar 
with large parts of Shakespeare's plays and the 
works of other great writers. He now discov- 
ered, in a strange collection of verses, the one 
poem which seemed best to express the morbid, 
troubled, sore condition of his mind, . . . the 
lines by William Knox, beginning: 

" *0h, why should the spirit of mortal be 

Like a swift fleeting meteor, a fast fly- 
ing cloud, 

A flash of th£ lightning, a break of the 

He passeth from life to his rest in the 
grave:' " 

"the long nine" and the removal to 

Two years was the term for which Lincoln was 
elected to the Legislature. The year following 
the death of Apn Butledge be threw himself into 
a vigorous campaign for re-election. He had 
found much to do at Vandalia. The greatest 
thing was the proposed removal of the State 
capital to Springfield. In this enterprise he had 
the co-operation of a group of tall men, known 


Abraham Lmcoln 

as "the Long Kine," of whom he was the tallest 
and came to be the leader. 

Lincoln announced his second candidacy in 
this brief, informal letter in the county paper : 

"New Sai;em, June 13, 1836. 


"In your paper of last Saturday I 
see a communication over the signature 
of 'Many Voters' in which the candi- 
dates who are announced in the Journal 
are called upon to 'show their hands.' 

* * Agreed. Here 's mine : 

"I go in for all sharing the privi- 
leges of the government who assist in 
bearing its burdens. Consequently, I 
go for admitting all whites to the right 
of suffrage who pay taxes or bear arms 
(by no means excluding females). 

"If elected, I shall consider the 
whole people of Sangamon my con- 
stituents, as well those that oppose as 
those that support me. 

"While acting as their Representa- 
tive, I shall be governed by their will 
on all subjects upon which I have the 
means of knowing what their will is; 
and upon all others I shall do what my 
own judgment teaches me will best ad- 

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The Storjr of Young 

vance their interests. Whether elected 
or not, I go for distributing the pro- 
ceeds of public lands to the several 
States to enable our State, in common 
with others, to dig canals and construct 
railroads without borrowing and pay- 
ing interest on it. 

"li alive on the first Monday in No- 
vember, I shall vote for Hugh L. 
White for President. 

"Very respectfully, 

"A. Lincoln." 

The earliest railroads in the United States 
had been built during the five years just preced- 
ing this announcement, the first one of all, only 
thirteen miles long, near Baltimore, in 1831. It 
is interesting to observe the enthusiasm with 
which the young frontier politician caught the 
progressive idea, and how quickly the minds of 
the people turned from impossible river "im- 
provements" to the grand possibilities of rail- 
way transportation. 

Many are the stories of the remarkable San- 
gamon campaign in 1836. Bowan Hemdon, 
Abe's fellow pilot and storekeeper, told the fol- 




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It, Google 

Abraham Lincoln 


"Abraham came to my house, near Island 
Grove, during harvest. There were some thirty 
men in the field. He got his dinner and went out 
into the field, where the men were at work. I 
gave him an introduction, and the boys said that 
they could not vote for a man unless he could 
take a hand. 

" 'Well, boys,* said he, 'if that is all, I am sure 
of your votes ' He took the 'cradle' and led all 
the way round with perfect ease. The boys vrere 
satisfied, and I don't think he lost a vote in the 

"The next day there was speaking at Berlin. 
He went from my house with Dr. Bamett, who 
had asked me who this man Lincoln was. I told 
him that he was a candidate for the Legi^ature. 
He laughed and said: 

" 'Can't the party raise any better material 
than that I* 

"I said, 'Go to-morrow and hear him before 
you pronounce judgment.' 

"When he came back I said, 'Doctor, what do 
you say now?' 

'* 'Why, sir,' said he, 'he is a perfect "take- 

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The Story of Yoimg 

in." He knows more than all of them put to- 
gether.* " 


Young Lincoln happened to call to speak to a 
leading farmer in the district, and found his 
rival, a Democratic candidate, there on the same 
errand. The farmer was away from home, so 
each of the candidates did his best to gain the 
good-will of the farmer's "better half," who was 
on her way to milk the cow. The Democrat 
seized the pail and insisted on doing the work 
for her. Lincoln did not make the slightest ob- 
jection, but improved the opportunity thus given 
to chat with their hostess. This he did so suc- 
cessfully that when his rival had finished the 
unpleasant task, the only acknowledgment he 
received was a profusion of thanks from the 
woman for the opportunity he had given her of 
having "awcA a pleasant talk mth Mr. Lincoln!'* 


Abe disinguished himself in his first political 
speech at Springfield, the county seat. A lead- 
ing citizen there, George Forquer, was accused 


Abraham Lincoln 

of changing his political opinions to secure a cer- 
tain government position ; he, also had his fine 
residence protected by the first lightning-rod 
ever seen in that part of the eomitry. 

The contest was close and exciting. There 
were seven Democratic and seven Whig candi- 
dates for the Icwer branch of the Legislature. 
Porquer, though not a candidate, asked to be 
heard in reply to young Lincoln, whom he pro- 
ceeded to attack in a sneering overbearing way, 
ridiculing the young man's appearance, dress, 
manners and so on. Turning to Lincoln who 
then stood within a few feet of him, Forquer an- 
nounced his intention in these words: "This 
yoimg man must be taken down, and I am truly 
sorry that the task devolves upon me." 

The "Clary's Grove Boys," who attended the 
meeting in a body — or a gang I — could hardly be 
restrained from arising in their might and smit- 
ing the pompous Forquer, hip and thigh. 

But their hero, with pale face and flashing 
eyes, smiled as he shook his head at them, and 
calmly answered the insulting speech of his op- 
ponent. Among other things he said: 

"The gentleman commenced his speech by say- 
ing 'this young man,' alluding to me, 'must be 

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The Story of Young 

taken down.* I am not so young in years as I 
am in the tricks and trades of a politician, but'* 
— ^pointing at Forquer — "live long or die young, 
I would rather die now than, like the gentleman, 
change my politics, and with the change receive 
an office worth three thousand dollars a year, 
and then feel obliged to erect a lightning-rod 
over my house to protect a guilty conscience 
from an offended GodI" 

This stroke blasted Forquer's political pros- 
pects forever, and satisfied tJie Clary's Grove 
Boys that it was even better thaji all the things 
they would have done to him. 


On another occasion Lincoln's wit suddenly 
turned the tables on an abusive opponent. One 
of the Democratic orators was Colonel Dick 
Taylor, a dapper, but bombastic little man, who 
rode in his carriage, and dressed richly. But, 
politically, he boasted of belonging to the Dem- 
ocrats, "the bone and sinew, the hard-fisted yeo- 
manry of the land," and sneered at those "rag 
barons," those Whig aristocrats, the "silk stock- 
ing gentry I " As Abe Lincoln, the leading Whig 
present, was dressed in Kentucky jeans, coarse 


Abraham Lincoln 

boots, a checkered shirt without a collar or neck- 
tie, and an old slouch hat, Colonel Taylor's at- 
tack on the "bloated Whig aristocracy" sounded 
rather absurd. 

Once the colonel made a gesture so violent that 
It tore his vest open and exposed his elegant shirt 
ruffles, his gold watch-fob, his seals and other 
ornaments to the view of all. Before Taylor, in 
his embarrassment, could adjust his waistcoat, 
Lincoln stepped to the front exclaiming; 

"Behold the hard-fisted Democratl Look at 
this specimen of 'bone and sinew' — and here, 
gentlemen," laying his big work-bronzed hand 
on his heart and bowing obsequiously — "here, at 
your service, is your ' aristocrat 1' Here is one 
of your 'silk stocking gentry I' Then spreading 
out his great bony hands he continued, "Here is 
your 'rag baron' with his lily-white hands. Yes, 
I suppose I am, according to my friend Taylor, 
a 'bloated aristocrat!' " 

The contrast was so ludicrous, and Abe had 
quoted the speaker's stock phrases with such a 
marvelous mimicry that the crowd burst into a 
roar, and Colonel Dick Taylor's usefulness as a 
campaign speaker was at an end. 

Small wonder, then, that young Lincoln's wit, 


The Story of Young 

wisdom and power of ridicule made h^m known 
in that campaign as one of the greatest orators 
in the State, or that he was elected by such an 
astonishing plurality that the county, "vdiich had 
always been strongly Democratic, elected Whig 
representatives that year. 

After Herculean labors "the Long Nine" suc- 
ceeded in having the State capital removed from 
Vandalia to Springfield. This move added 
greatly to the influence and renown of its "prime 
mover," Abraham Lincoln, who was feasted and 
"toasted" by the people of Springfield and by 
politicians all over the State. After reading 
"Blackstone" during his political campaigns, 
young Lincoln fell in again with Major John T. 
Stuart, whom he had met in the Black Hawk 
War, and who gave him helpful advice and lent 
him other books that he might "read law." 


Although he had no idea of it at the time^ 
Abraham Lincoln took part in a grander move- 
ment than the removal of a State capitaL Reso- 
lutions were adopted in the Legislature in favor 
of slavery and denouncing the hated "abolition- 
ists" — or people who spoke and wrote for the 


Abraham Lincola 

abolition of slavery. It required true heroism 
for a young man thus to stand out against the 
legislators of bis State, but Abe Lincoln seems 
to have thought little of that. The hatred of the 
people for any one who opposed slavery was very 
bitter. Lincoln found one man, named Stone, 
who was wiUing to sign a protest against the 
resolutions f avorii^ slavery, which read as f ol' 

"Eesolutions upon the subject of do- 
mestic slavery having passed both 
branches of the General Assembly at 
its present session, the undersigned 
hereby protest against the passage of 
the same. 

"They believe that the institution of 
slavery is foimded on both injustice 
and bad policy. [After several state- 
ments of their belief concerning the 
powers of Congress, the protest closed 
as follows:] 

"The difference between their opin- 
ions and those contained in the said 
resolution is their reason for enterit^ 
this protest. 

"Dax Stone, 
"A Lincoln." 


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The Stor;g of Youitg 


Movmo TO Spbincoieu) 

New Salem could no longer give jouz^ Lin- 
coln scope for his growing power and influence. 
"Within a few weeks after the Lincoln-Stone pro- 
test, late in March, 1837, after living six years in 
the little village which held so much of life and 
sorrow for him, Abe sold his surveying compass, 
marking-pins, chain and pole, packed all his ef- 
fects into his saddle-bags, borrowed a horse of 
his good friend "Squire" Bowling Green, and 
reluctantly said good-bye to his friends tiiere. It 
is a strange fact that New Salem ceased to exist 
within a year from the day "Honest Abe" left 
it. Even its little post office was discontinued by 
the Government. 

Henry C. Whitney, who was associated with 
liincoln in those early days, describes Abe's mod- 
est entry into the future State capital, with all 
his possessions in a pair of saddle-bags, and call- 
ing at the store of Joshua ¥. Speed, overlookix^ 
"the square," in the following dialogue: 


Abraham Lincoln 

Speed — "Hello, Abe, just from Salem?" 

Lincoln — "Howdy, Speed 1 Yes, this is my 
first show-up." 

Speed — **So you are to be one of uat" 

Lincoln — "I reckon so, if you will let me take 
pot luck with you." 

Speed — "All right, Abe; it's better than 

Lincoln — "IVe been to Gorman's and got a 
single bedstead ; now you figure out what it will 
cost for a tick, blankets and so forth." 

Speed (after figuring) — ^"Say, seventeen dol- 
lars or 80." 

Lincoln (countenance paling) — ^"I had no idea 
it would cost half that, and I — I can 't pay it ; but 
if you can wait on me till Christmas, and I make 
anything, 111 pay; if I don't, I can't." 

Speed — "I can do better than that; upstairs I 
sleep in a bed big enough for two, and you just 
come and sleep with me till you can do bet- 

Lincoln (brightening) — "Good, where is it?" 

Speed — "Upstairs behind that pile of barrels 
— turn to the right when you go up." 

Lincoln (returning joyously) — "Well, Speed, 


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The Stoi7 of Young 


Major Stuart had grown so thorougbl7 inter- 
ested in Lincoln, approving the diligence with 
which the young law student applied himself to 
the books which he had lent him, that, after his 
signal success in bringing about the removal of 
the State capital to Springfield, the older man 
invited the younger to go into partnership with 

Abe had been admitted to the bar the year be- 
fore, and had practiced law in a small way be- 
fore Squire Bowling Green in -New Salem. 
Greatly fiattered by the offer of such a man, Abe 
gladly accepted, and soon after his arrival in 
Springfield this sign, which thrilled the junior 
partner's whole being, appeared in front of an 
office near the square: 



After a while Lincoln left Speed's friendly 
loft and slept on a loui^e in the law office, keep- 


Abraham Lincoln 

ing his few effects in the little old-fashioned 
trunk pushed out of sight under his couch. 

One day an agent of the Post Office Depart- 
ment came in and asked if Abraham Lincoln 
could be found there. Abe arose and, reaching 
out his hand, said that was his name. The agent 
then stated his business ; he had come to collect 
a balance due the Post Office Department since 
the closing of the post office at New Salem. 

The young ex-postmaster looked puzzled for 
a moment, and a friend, who happened to be 
present, hastened to his rescue with, "Lincoln, 
if you are in need of money, let us help you." 

Abe made no reply, but, pulling out his little 
old trunk, he asked the agent how much he owed. 
The man stated the amount, and he, opening the 
trunk, took out an old cotton cloth containing 
coins, which he handed to the official without 
counting, and it proved to be the exact sum re- 
quired, over seventeen dollars, evidently the 
veiy pieces of money Abe had received while 
acting as postmaster years before! 

After the department agent had receipted for 
the money and had gone out, Mr. Lincoln quietly 

*'I never use any one's money but my own," 

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The Story of Young 


Stuart & Lincoln's office was, for a time, over 
a court room, which, was used evening as a halL 
There was a square opening in the ceiling of the 
court room, covered by a trap door in the room 
overhead where Lineohi slept. One night there 
was a promiscuous crowd in the hall, and 
Lincoln's friend, B. D. Baker, was deliver- 
ing a political harangue. Becoming some- 
what excited Baker made an accusation against 
a well-known newspaper in Springfield, and 
the remark was resented by several in the audi- 

"Pull TiiTTi down I" yelled one of them as they 
came up to the platform threatening Baker with 
personal violence. There was considerable con- 
fusion which might become a riot. 

Just at this jxmcture the spectators were 
astonished to see a pair of long legs dangling 
from the ceiling and Abraham Lincoln dropped 
upon the platform. Seizing the water pitcher 
he took his stand beside the speaker, and 
brandished it, his face ablaze with indignation. 

"Gentlemen," he said, when the confusion 
had subsided, "let us not disgrace the age and 

Dig izedtv Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

the country in which we live. This ia a land 
where freedom of speech is guaranteed. Mr. 
Baker has a right to speak, and ought to be per- 
mitted to do so. I am here to protect h\m and no 
man shall take him from this stand if I can pre- 
vent it." Lincoln had opened the trap door in 
his room and silently watched the proceedings 
until he saw th&t his presence was needed below. 
Then he dropped right into the midst of the fray, 
and defended his friend and the right of free 
speech at the same time. 


A widow came to Mr. Lincoln and told him 
how an attorney had charged her an exorbitant 
fee for collecting her pension. Such cases filled 
him with righteous wrath- He cared nothing for 
"professional etiquette," if it permitted the 
swindling of a jwor woman. Going directly to 
the greedy lawyer, he forced him to refund to 
the widow all that he had charged in excess of a 
fair fee for his services, or he would start pro- 
ceedings at once to prevent the extortionate at- 
torney from practicing law any loi^r at the 
Springfield bar. 

Dig izedtv Google 

The Story of Young 

If a negro had been wronged in any way, Law- 
yer Lincoln was the only attorney in Spring- 
field who dared to appear in his behalf, for he 
always did so at great risk to his political stand- 
ii^. Sometimes he appeared in defense of fugi- 
tive slaves, or negroes who had been freed or had 
run away from southern or "slave" States 
where slavery prevailed to gain liberty in "free" 
States in wMeh slavery was not allowed. Law- 
yer Liucoln did all this at the risk of making 
himself very unpopular with his fellow-attor- 
neys and among the people at large, the greater 
part of whom were then in favor of i)ermitting 
those who wished to own, buy and sell negroes as 

Lincoln always sympathized with the poor 
and down-trodden. He could not bear to charge 
what his fellow-lawyers considered a fair price 
for the amount of work and time spent on a 
case. He often advised those who came to ^litn 
to settle their disputes without going to law. 
Once he told a man he woiUd charge him a lai^ 
fee if he had to try the case, but if the parties in 
the dispute settled their difficulty without going 
into court he would furnish them all the legal 
advice they needed free of charge. Here is some 

itv Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

excellent counsel Lawyer Lincoln gave, in later 
life, in an address to a class of young attor- 
neys : 

"Biscourage litigation. Fei^uade your neigh- 
bors to compromise whenever you can. Point 
out to them how the nominal winner is often the 
real loser — ^in fees, expenses and waste of time. 
As a peacemaker a lawyer has a superior opx>or- 
tmiity of becoming a good man. There will al- 
ways be enough business. Never stir up litiga- 
tion. A worse man can scarcely be found than 
one who does this. Who can be more nearly a 
fiend than he who habitually overhauls the 
register of deeds in search of defects in titles 
whereon to stir up strife and put money in his 
pocket. A moral tone ought to be infused into 
the profession which should drive such men out 
of iV> 


A wagonmaker in Mechanicsville, near 
Springfield, was sued on account of a disputed 
bill. The other side had engaged the best lawyer 
in the place. The cartwright saw that his own 
attorney would be unable to defend the case well. 


The Story of Young 

So, when the day of the trial arrived he sent his 
son-in-law to Springfield to bring Mr. Lincoln 
to save the day for him if possible. He said to 
the messenger: 

*'Son, you've just got time. Take this letter 
to my yoimg friend, Abe Lincoln, and bring him 
back in the buggy to appear in the case. Guess 
he'll come if he can." 

The young man from Mechanicsville found the 
lawyer in the street playing "knucks" with a 
troop of children and laughing heartUy at the 
fxm they were all having. When the note was 
handed to ^n'm, Lincoln said : 

"All right, wait a minute," and the game soon 
ended amid peals of laughter. Then the young 
lawyer jimiped into the buggy. On the way 
back Mr. Lincoln told his companion such funny 
stories that the yoimg man, convulsed with 
laughter, was unable to drive. The horse, badly 
broken, upset them into a ditch^ smashing the 

"You stay behind and look after the buggy," 
said the lawyer. "I'll walk on." 

He came, with long strides, into the court 
room just in time for the trial and won the case 
for the wagonmaker. 

itv Google 

.AJbraham Lincoln 

"What am I to pay yonV asked the client de- 

"I hope you wont think ten or fifteen dollars 
too much," said the young attorney, "and 111 
pay half the hire of the buggy and half the cost 
of repairing it." 


About the time Mr. Liucoln was admitted to 
the bar. Miss Mary Owens, a bright and beauti- 
ful young woman from Kentucl^, came to visit 
her married sister near New Salem. The sister 
had boasted that she was going to "make a 
match" between her sister and Lawyer Lincoln. 
The newly admitted attorney smiled indulgently 
at all this banter until he began to consider him- 
self under obligations to marry Miss Owens if 
that young lady proved willing. 

After he went to live in Springfield, with no 
home but his ofi&ce, he wrote ttie young lady a 
long, discouraging letter, of which this is a part : 

"I am thinking of what we said about 
your coming to Uve in Springfield. I 
am afraid you would not be satisfied. 
There is a great deal of fiourishing 
about la carriages here, which it would 


The Story of Young 

be your doom to see without sharing it 
You would have to be poor without the 
means of hidii^ your poverty. Do you 
believe that you could bear that pa- 
tiently 1 "Whatever woman may cast 
her lot with mine, should any ever do 
80, it is my intention to do all in my 
power to make her happy and con- 
tented, and there is nothing I can 
imagine that could make me more un- 
happy than to fail in that effort. I 
know I should be much happier with 
you than the way I am, provided I saw 
no sign of discontent in you. 

"I much wish you would t>iinlr seri- 
ously before you decide. What I have 
said, I will moat positively abide by, 
provided you wish it. You have not 
been accustomed to hardship, and it 
may be more severe than you now 
imagine. I know you are capable of 
thinking correctly on any subject, and 
if you deliberate maturely upon this 
before you decide, then I am willing to 
abide by your decision. 

"Yours, etc, 


For a love letter this was nearly as cold and 

formal as a legal document Miss Owens could 


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Abraham Lincoln 

see well enough that Lawyer Lineoln was not 
much in love with her, and she let him know, as 
kindly as she could, that she was not disposed to 
cast her lot for life with an enforced lover, as he 
had proved himself to be. She afterward con- 
fided to a friend that "Mr. Lineoln was deficient 
in those little links which make up the chain of 
a woman's happiness." 


Soon after Mr. Lincoln came to Springfield he 
met Stephen A. Douglas, a brilliant little man 
from Vermont. The two seemed naturally to 
take opposing sides of every question. They 
were opposite in every way. Lincoln was tall, 
angular and awkward. Douglas was small, 
round and graceful — ^he came to be known as 
"the Little Giant." Douglas was a Democrat 
and favored slavery. Lincoln was a Whig, and 
strongly opposed that dark institution. Even in 
petty discussions in Speed's store, the two men 
seemed to gravitate to opposite sides. A little 
later they were rivals for the hand of the same 
young woman. 

One night, in a convivial company, Mr. Doug- 


The Story of Young 

las's attention was directed to the fact that Mr. 
Lincoln neither smoked nor drank. Considering 
this a reflection upon his own habits, the little 
man sneered : 

""What, Mr. Lincoln, are you a temperance 

"No," replied Lincoln with a smile full of 
meaning, "I'm not exactly a temperance man, 
but I am temperate in this, to wit: — ^I don't 

In spite of this remark, Mr. Lincoln was an 
ardent temperance man. One ■Washington*s 
birthday he delivered a temperance address be- 
for the the "Washingtonian Society of Spring- 
field, on "Charity in Temperance Reform," in 
which he made a strong comparison between the 
drink habit and black slavery. 


In 1841 the partnership between Stuart and 
Lincoln was dissolved and the younger man be- 
came a member of the firm of Logan & Lincoln. 
This was considered a long step in advance for 
the young lawyer, as Judge Stephen T. Logan 
was known as one of the leading lawyers in the 


Abraham Lincoln 

State. Prom this senior partner he learned to 
make the thorough study of Ms cases that 
characterized his work throughout his later 

While in partnership with Logan, Mr. Lincoln 
was helping a young fellow named "Billy" 
Hemdon, a clerk in his friend Speed's store, ad- 
vising him in his law studies and promising to 
give the youth a place in his own office as soon as 
young Hemdon should be fitted to fill it. 


During the interim between two partnerships, 
after he had left Major Stuart, and before he 
went into the office with Logan, Mr. Lincoln con- 
ducted a case alone. He worked very hard and 
made a brilliant success of it, winning the verdict 
and a five hundred dollar fee. When an old law- 
yer friend called on him, Lincoln had the money 
spread out on the table counting it over. 

"Look here, judge," said the young lawyer. 
"See what a heap of money I've got from that 
case. Did you ever see anything like iti Why, 
I never in my life had so much money all at 



The Story; of Young 

Then his nuumeT changed, and crossing his 
long arms on the table he said : 

"I have got just five hundred dollars; if it 
were only seven hundred and fifty I would go 
and buy a quarter section (160 acres) of land 
and give it to my old stepmother." 

The friend offered to lend him the two hun- 
dred and fifty dollars needed. While drawii^ up 
the necessary papers, the old judge gave the 
young lawyer this advice : 

"Lincoln, I wouldn't do it quite tiiat way. 
Tour stepmother ia getting old, and, in all prob- 
ability, will not live many years. I would settle 
the properly upon her for use during her life- 
time, to revert to you upon her death." 

"I shaU do no such thing," Lincoln Teplied 
with deep feeling. "It is a poor return, at best, 
for all the good woman's devotion to me, and 
there is not going to be any half-way business 
about it." 

The dutiful stepson did as he planned. Some 
years later he was obliged to write to John 
Johnston, his stepmother's son, appealing to 
Tiim not to try to induce his mother to sell the 
land lest the old woman should lose the support 
he had provided for her in her declining years. 

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Abraham Lincoln 


Lincoln's popularity in Sangamon Coimty, al- 
ways increasing, was greatly strengthened by 
the part he had taken in the removal of the cap- 
ital to Springfield, which was the county seat as 
well as the State capital. So he was returned to 
the Legislature, now held in Springfield, time 
after time, without further effort on his part. 
He was looked upon as a young man with a great 
future. "While he was in the ofl&ce with Major 
Stuart that gentleman's cousin, Miss Mary 
Todd, a witty, accomplished yomig lady from 
Louisville, Kentuclg^, came to Springfield to 
visit her sister, wife of Ninian W. Edwards, one 
of the "Loi^ Nine" in the State ABsembly. 

Miss Todd was brilliant and gay, a society girl 
— ^in every way the opposite of Mr. Lincoln — 
and he was charmed with everything she said 
and did. Judge Douglas was one of her numer- 
ous admirers, and it is said that the Louisville 
belle was so flattered by his attentions that she 
was in doubt, for a time, which suitor to accept. 
She was an ambitious young woman, having 
boasted from girlhood that she would one day be 
mistress of the White House. 

To all appearances Douglas was the more 

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The Story of Young 

likely to fulfill Miaa Todd's high ambition. He 
was a society man, witty in conTersation, popu- 
lar with women as well as with men, and had 
been to Congress, so he had a national reputa- 
tion, while Lincoln's was only local, or at most 
confined to Sangamon County and the Eighth 
Judicial Circuit of Illinois. 

But Mr. Douglas was already addicted to 
drink, and Miss Todd saw doubtless that he 
could not go on long at the rapid pace he was 
keeping up. It is often said that she was in 
favor of slavery, as some of her relatives who 
owned slaves, years later, entered the Confed- 
erate ranks to fight against the Union. But the 
remarkable fact that she finally chose Lincoln 
shows that her sympathies were against slavery, 
and she thus cut herself off from several mem- 
bers of her own family. With a woman's intui- 
tion she saw the true worth of Abraham Lincoln, 
and before long they were understood to be en- 

But tlie young lawyer, after his recent experi- 
ence with Mary Owens, distrusted his ability to 
make any woman happy — much less the belle 
from Louisville, so brilliant, vivacious, well edu- 
cated and exacting. He seemed to grow mor- 

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AbraJdam Lincoln 

bidly conscious of his shortcomings, and she was 
high-strung. A misunderstanding arose, and, 
between such exceptional natures, "the course of 
true love never did run smootiL" 

Their engagement, if they were actually be- 
trothed, was broken, and the lawyer-lover was 
plunged in deep melancholy. He wrote long, 
morbid letters to his friend Speed, who had re- 
turned to Kentuelqr, and had recently married 
there. Lincoln even went to Louisville to visit 
the Speeds, hoping that the change of scene and 
friendly sympathies and counsel would revive 
his health and spirits. 

In one of his letters Lincoln bemoaned his sad 
fate and referred to "the fatal 1st of January," 
probably the date when his engagement or "the 
understanding" with Maiy Todd was broken. 
From this expression, one of Lincoln's biogra- 
phers daborated a damaging fiction, stating that 
Lincoln and his afi&anced were to have been mar- 
ried that day, that the wedding supper was 
ready, that the bride was all dressed for the cere- 
mony, the guests assembled — ^but the melandioly 
bridegroom failed to come to his own wed- 
ding I 

If such a thing had happened in a little town 




■---■■1- ^ -; 


t, Google 

The Story of Young 

like Springfield in those days, the guests would 
have told of it, and everybody would have gos- 
siped about it. It would have been a nine days* 
wonder, and such a great joker as Lincoln would 
"never have heard the last of it" 


After lincoln's return from visiting the 
Speeds in Louisville, he threw himself into poli- 
tics again, not, however, in his own behalf. He 
declined to be a candidate again for the State 
Legislature, in which he had served four con- 
secutive terms, covering a period of eight years. 
He engaged enthusiastically in the "Log Cabin" 
campaign of 1840, when the country went for 
"Tippecanoe and Tyler, too," which means that 
(General William Henry Harrison, the hero of 
the battle of Tippecanoe, and John Tyler were 
elected President and Vice-President of the 
United States. 

In 1842 the young lawyer had so far recovered 
from bodily illness and mental unhappiness as 
to write more cheerful letters to his friend 
Speed of which two short extracts follow: 

"It seems to me that I should have been en- 

it> Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

tirely happy but for the never-absent idea that 
there is one (Miss Todd) still unhappy whom I 
have contributed to make so. That still kills my 
souL I cannot but reproach myself for even 
wishing to be happy while she is otherwise. She 
accompanied a large party on the railroad cars 
to Jacksonville last Monday, and at her return 
spoke, so I heard of it, of having 'enjoyed the 
trip exceedingly.' God be praised for that." 

"You will see by the last Sangamon Journal 
that I made a temperance speech on the 22d of 
February, T^diich I claim ttiat Fanny and you 
shall read as an act of charity toward me ; for I 
cannot learn that anybody has read it or is likely 
to. Fortunately it is not long, and I shall deem 
it a sufficient compliance with my request if one 
of you listens while the other reads it." 

Early the following summer Lincoln wrote for 
the Sangtm,on Journal a humorous criticism of 
State Auditor Shields, a vain and "touchy" 
little man. Tliis was in the form of a story and 
signed by "Rebecca of the Lost Townships." 
The article created considerable amusement and 
might have passed unnoticed by the conceited 
little auditor if it had not been followed by an- 

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Ite Story of Young 

other, less humorouB, but more personal and 
satirical, signed in the same way, but the second 
communication was written by two mischievous 
(if not malicious) girls — Mary Todd and her 
friend, Julia Jayae. This stinging attack made 
Shields wild with rage, and he demanded the 
name of the writer of it. Lincoln told the editor 
to give Shields his name as if he had written both 
contributions and thus protect the two young 
ladies. The auditor then challenged the lawyer 
to fight a dueL Lincoln, averse to dueling, chose 
absurd weapons, imposed ridiculous conditions 
and tried to treat the whole affair as a huge joke. 
When the two came face to face, explanations 
became possible and the ludicrous duel was 
avoided. Lincoln's conduct throughout this hu- 
miliating affair plainly showed that, while 
Shields would gladly have kiUed him, he had no 
intention of injuring the man who had dial- 
lenged him. 

Mary Todd's heart seems to have softened 
toward the young man who was willing to risk 
his life for her sake, and the pair, after a long 
and miserable misunderstanding on both sides, 
were happily married on the 4th of November, 
1842. Their wedding ceremony was the first ever 

itv Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

performed in Springfield by the use of the Epis- 
copal ritual. 

"When one of the guests, blufE old Judge Tom 
Brown, saw the bridegroom placing the ring on 
Miss Todd's finger, and repeating after the min- 
istar, "With this ring" — "I thee wed" — "and 
with all" — "my worldly goods" — "I thee en- 
dow" — ^he exclaimed, in a stage whisper : 

"Grace to Goshen, Lincoln, the statute fixes 

In a letter to Speed, not long after this event, 
the happy bridegroom wrote : 

"We are not keeping house but boarding at 
the Globe Tavern, which is very well kept now 
by a widow lady of the name of Beck. Our rooms 
are the same Dr. Wallace occupied there, and 
boarding only costs four dollars a week (for the 
two). I most heartily wish you and your family 
will not fail to come. Just let us know the time, 
a week in advance, and we will have a room pre- 
pared for you and well all be merry together for 
a while." 



The Story of Young 




LiNGOLH remained in the ofBce with Judge 
Logan about four years, dissolving partnership 
in 1845. Meanwhile he was interesting himself 
in bdialf of young WiUiam H. Hemdon, who, 
after Speed's removal to Kentuel^, had gone to 
college at Jacksonville, HI. The yom^ man 
seemed to be made of the right kind of metal, was 
industrious, and agreeable, and Mr. Lincoln 
looked forward to the time when he could have 
"BiUy" with him in a business of his own. 

Mrs. Lincoln, with that marvelous instinct 
which women often possess, opposed her hus- 
band's taking Bill Hemdon into partnership. 
"While the young man was honest and capable 
enough, he was neither brilliant nor steady. He 
contracted the habit of drinking, the bane of Lin- 
coln's business career. As Mr. Lincoln had not 
yet paid off "the national debt" largely due to 

itv Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

his first business partner's drunkenness, it seems 
rather strange that he did not listen to his wife 's 
admonitions. But young Hemdon seems always 
to have exercised a strange fascination over his 
older friend and partner. 

"While yet in partnership with Judge Logan, 
Mr. Lincoln went into the national campaign of 
1844, making speeches in Illinois and Indiana 
for Henry Clay, to whom he was thoroughly de- 

Before this campaign Lincoln had written to 
Mr. Speed: 

"We had a meeting of the Whigs of the 
county here last Monday to appoint delegates to 
a district convention; and Baker beat me, and 
got the delegation instructed to go for him. The 
meeting, in spite of my attempts to decline it, 
appointed me one of the delegate, so that in get- 
ting Baker the nomination I shall be fixed like a 
fellow who is made a groomsman to a fellow 
that has cut him out, and is marrying his own 
dear'gaL' " 

Mr. Lincoln, about this time, was offered the 
nomination for Governor of Illinois, and de- 
clined the honor. Mrs. Lincoln, who had su- 
preme confidence in her husband's ability, tried 


The Story of Young 

to make him more self-seeking in his political ef- 
forts. He visited his old home in Indiana, mak- 
ing several speeches in that part of the State. It 
was fourteen years after he and all the family 
had removed to Illinois. One of his speeches was 
delivered from the door of a harness shop near 
Gtentryville, and one he made in the "Old Carter 
Schoolhouse. " After this address he drove 
home with Mr. Joaiah Crawford — ^"Old Blue 
Nose" for whom he had "pulled fodder" to pay 
an exorbitant price for "Weems 's * ' life of Wash- 
ington," and in whose house his sister and he 
had lived as hired girl and hired man. He de- 
lighted the old friends by asking about every- 
body, and being interested in the "old swim- 
ming-hole," Jones's grocery where he had often 
argued and "held forth," the saw-pit, the old 
mill, the blacksmith shop, whose owner, Mr. 
Baldwin, had told him some of his best stories, 
and where he once started in to leam the black- 
smithes trade. He went around and called on all 
his former acquaintances who were stDl living in 
the neighborhood. His memories were so vivid 
and his emotions so keen that he wrote a long 
poem about this, from which the following are 
three stanzas : 



b,, ,z,dtvGoo^k' 

It, Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

"My <MIdhood*s home I see again 
And sadder with the view; 
And still, as memory crowds the brain. 
There's pleasure in it, too. 

"Ah, Memory 1 thou midway world 
'Twixt earth and paradise, 
Where things decayed and loved ones lost 
In dreamy shadows rise. 

"And freed from all that's earthy, vile, 
Seems hallowed, pure and bright. 
Like scenes in some enchanted isle, 
All bathed in liquid light." 


As Mr. Lincohi spent so much of his time 
away from Springfield he felt that he needed a 
yoimger assistant to "keep office" and look after 
his cases in ttie different coxirts. He should not 
have made "Billy" Hemdon an equal partner, 
but he did" so, tiiough the young man had neither 
the ability nor experience to earn anything like 
half the income of the office. If Hemdon had 
kept sober and done his best he might have made 
some return for all that Mr, Lincoln, who 
treated him like a foster-father, was trying to 
do for him. But "Billy" did nothing of the 



The Story of Young 

sort He took advantage of his senior partner's 
absences hj going on sprees with several dissi- 
pated young men about town. 


A Springfield gentleman relates ike following 
stoiy which shows Lawyer Lincoln's business 
methods, his unwillii^ness to charge much for 
his legal services; and his great longing to save 
his young partner from the dutches of drink : 

"My father," said the neighbor, "was in busi- 
ness, facing the square, not far from the Court 
House. He had an account with a man who 
seemed to be doing a good, straight business for 
years, but the fellow disappeared one night, 
owing father about $1000. Time went on and 
father got no trace of the vanished debtor. He 
considered the account as good as lost. 

"But one day, in connection with other busi- 
ness, he told Mr. Lincoln he would give h\m half 
of what he could recover of that bad debt. The 
tall attorney's deep gray eyes twinkled as he 
said, 'One-half of nought is nothing. I*m 
neiUier a E^ark nor a shyster, Mr. Man. If I 
should collect it, I would accept only my regular 



Abraham Lincoln 

" 'But I mean it,' father said earnestly. *I 
should consider it as good as finding money in 
the street.* 

" *Aad "the finder will be liberally re- 
warded," eh)' said Mr, Lincoln with a laugh. 

" *Tes,' my father replied, 'that's about the 
size of it; and I'm glad if you understand it. 
The members of the bar here grumble because 
you charge too little for your professional serv- 
ices, and I'm willing to do my share toward ed- 
ucating you in the right direction.* 

" *"Well, seein' as it's you,' said Mr. Lincoln 
with a whimsical smile, 'considering that you're 
such an intimate friend, I'd do it for twice as 
much as I'd charge a total stranger! Is that 

" *I should not be satisfied with giving you 
less than half the gross amount collected — in 
this case,' my father insisted. 'I don't see why 
you are so loath to take what is your due, Mr. 
Lincoln. You have a family to support and will 
have to provide for the future of several boys. 
They need money and are as worthy of it as any 
other man's wife and sons.' 

"Mr. Lincoln put out his big bony hand as if 
to ward off a blow, exclaiming in a pained tone : 

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The Story of Young 

" *That isn't it, Mr. Man. That isn't it I 
yield to no man in love to my wife and babies, 
and I provide enough for them. Most of those 
who bring their cases to me need the money more 
than I do. Other lawyers rob them. They act 
like a pack of wolves. They have no mercy. So 
when a needy fellow comes to me in his trouble 
— sometimes it's a poor widow — ^I can't take 
much from them. I'm not much of a Shyloek. 
I always try to get them to settle it without go- 
ing into court. I tell them if they will make it 
up among themselves I won't charge them any- 

" 'Well, Mr. Lincoln,' said father with a 
laugh, *if they were all like you there would be 
no need of lawyers.' 

" 'Well,' exclaimed Lawyer Lincoln with a 
quizzical inflection which meant much. 'Look 
out for the milleTinium, Mr. Man — still, as a 
great favor. 111 charge you a fat fee if I ever 
find that fellow and can get anything out of h\m. 
But that's like promising to give you half of the 
first dollar I find floating up the Sai^amon on a 
grindstone, isn 't it ? I '11 take a big slice, though, 
out of the grindstone itself, if you say so,' and 
the tall attorney went out with the peculiar 


Abrahjun Lincoln 

laugh that afterward became world-famous. 

"Not long afterward, while in Bloomington, 
out on the circuit, Mr. Lincoln ran across tiie 
man who had disappeared from Springfield 'be- 
tween two days,' carrying on an apparently 
prosperous business under an assumed name. 
Following the man to his ofQce and managing to 
talk with him alone, the lawyer, by means of 
threats, made the man go right to i^e bank and 
draw out the whole thousand then. It meant 
payment in full or the penitentiary. The man 
underatood it and went white as a sheet. In all 
his sympathy for the poor and needy, Mr. Lin- 
coln had no pily on the flourishing criminal. 
Money could not purchase the favor of Lincoln. 

"Well, I hardly know which half of that thou- 
sand dollars fattier was gladder to get, but I 
honestly believe he was more pleased on Mr. 
Lincoln's account than on his own. 

" 'Let me give you your five hundred dollars 
before I change my mind,' he said to the attor- 

" *One hundred dollars is all 111 take out of 
that,' Mr. Lincoln replied emphatically. 'It was 
no trouble, and — and I haven't earned even that 


itv Google 

The Story of Young 

" 'But Mr. Lincoln,* my father demurred, 
'you promised to take half.' 

" *Tes, but you got my word under false pre- 
tenses, as it were. Neither of us had the least 
idea I would coUect the bill even if I ever found 
the fellow.' 

"As he would not accept more than one hun- 
dred dollars that day, father wouldn't give him 
any of the money due, for fear the too scrupu- 
lous attorney would give him a receipt in full for 
collecting. Finally, Mr. Lincoln went away 
after yielding enough to say he might accept two 
hundred and fifty dollars sometime in a pinch 
of some sort. 

"The occasion was not long delayed — ^but it 
was not because of illness or any special neces- 
sity in his own family. His young partner, 
'Billy' Hemdon, had been carousing with sev- 
eral of his cronies in a saloon around on Fourth 
Street, and the gang had broken mirrors, de- 
canters and other things in their drunken spree. 
The proprietor, tired of such work, had had 
them all arrested. 

"Mr. Lincoln, always alarmed when Billy 
failed to appear at the usual hour in the morn- 
ing, went in search of him, and foimd him and 


Abraham Lincoln 

his partners in distress, locked up in the cala- 
boose. The others were helpless, unable to pay 
or to promise to pay for any of the damages, so 
it devolved on Mr. Lincoln to raise the whole 
two himdred and fifty dollars the angry saloon 
keeper demanded. 

"He came into our office out of breath and 
said sheepishly: 

" *I reckon I can use that two-fifty now.' 

*' *Check or currency?' asked father. 

" *C3urreney, if you've got it handy.' 

" 'Give Mr. Lincoln two hundred and fifty 
dollars,' father called to a clerk in the ofBee. 

"There was a moment's pause, during which 
my father refrained iCrom asking any questions, 
and Mr. Lincoln was in no mood to give informa- 
tion. As soon as the money was brought, the tall 
attorney seized the bills and stalked out without 
counting it or saying an3iihing but 'Thankee, 
Mr. Man,' and hurried diagonally across the 
square toward the Court House, clutching the 
precious banknotes in his bony talons. 

"Father saw him cross the street so fast that 
the tails of his long coat stood out straight be- 
hind ; then go up the Court House steps, two at 
a time, and disappear. 


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The Story; of Young 

"We learned afterward what he did with tiie 
money. Of course, Bill Hemdon was penitent 
and promised to mend his ways, and, of course, 
l£r. Lincoln believed him. He took the money 
very much against his will, eren against his 
principle — thinking it might save his junior 
partner from the drunkard's grave. But the 
heart of Abraham Lincoln was hoping against 


His Kindhess of Heabt 


Mb. Lincoln's tender-heartedness was the 
subject of mudi amusement among his fellow- 
attorneys. One day, while out riding with sev- 
eral friends, they missed Lincoln. One of them, 
havii^ heard the distressed cries of two young 
birds that had fallen from the nest, surmised 
that this had something to do with Mr. Lincoln's 
disappearance. The man was right. Lincoln 
had hitdied his horse and climbed the fence into 
the thicket where the fledglings were fluttering 


Abraham Lincoln 

on the ground in great fright He caught the 
young birds and tenderly carried them about 
until he found their nest. Climbing the tree he 
put the birdlings back where they belonged. 

After an hour Mr. Lincoln caught up vrfth his 
companions, who laughed at him for what they 
considered mere childishness. 

" Gentlemen," he said with great earnestness, 
"you may laugh, but I could not have slept well 
to-night if I had not saved those birds. Their 
cries would have rung in my ears." 


Late one afternoon Mr. Lincoln was riding 
along the coimtry road with a group of lawyer 
friends who were going together from one town 
to another to attend court, when they saw a pig 
mired at one side of the way, squealing lustily. 
The men all laughed at the ludicrousness of its 

"Let's get the pig out of there 1" exclaimed 
Lincoln impulsively. 

This proposition was received with jeers from 
the rest, for they well knew that whoever went 
to the pig*8 rescue would only get himself plas- 
tered with mud for his pains. Lincoln rode on 

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The Story of Young 

with the others, but that cry of distress kept 
ringing in his ears, and he found he could not 
go on. He bore it as long as he could, then 
lagged behind, till his fellow-travelers had gone 
round a bend in the road, then he turned and 
rode back as fast as he could to where tlie pig 
was still squealing feebly. Dismounting, he took 
several rails from the fence, laid them on the 
ground beside the pig to use in prying over. 
Then he took another rail and stuck the end of 
it deep into the mud, under the struggling ani- 
mal, and pried up, firmly but gently, until the 
pig planted its feet on the firm ground and ran 
gnmting away, without showing as much grati- 
tude as the little dog did when he saved it from 
being left behind, on the way from Indiana to 
Illinois many years before. 

He knew the other men would lau^ at his 
childish sentiment and his muddy clothes, but he 
did not care, for he had saved himself from 
hearing a suffering animal *s cries of distress 
during the long, lonely nights afterward. 


In 1846 Abraham Lincoln was elected to Con- 
gress, defeating the Rev. Peter Cartwright, the 


Abraham Lincoln 

famous backwoods preacher, who was elected to 
th^ State Legislature fourteen years before, the 
first time Lincoln was a candidate and the only 
time he was ever defeated by popular vote. 
Cartwright had made a vigorous canvass, telling 
the people that Lincoln was "an aristocrat and 
an atheist." But, though they had a great re- 
spect for Peter Cartwright and his preaching, 
the people did not believe all that he said against 
Lincoln, and they elected him, Shortly after 
this he wrote again to Speed : 

"You, no doubt, assign the suspen- 
sion of our correspondence to the true 
philosophic cause; though it must be 
confessed by both of us that this ia a 
rather cold reason for allowii^ such a 
friendship as ours to die out by de- 

"Being elected to Congress, though I 
am very grateful to our friends for 
having done it, has not pleased me as 
much as I expected." 

In the same letter he imparted to his friend 
some information which seems to have been 
much more interesting to Tiim than being elected 
to Congress: 



The Storjr of Young 

"We have another boy, bom the 10th 
of March (1846). He is very much 
such a child as Bob was at his age, 
rather of a longer order. Bob is 'short 
and low,' and I expect always will be. 
He tallcs very plainly, almost as plainly 
as anybody. He is quite smart enough. 
I sometimes fear he is one of the little 
rare-ripe sort that are smarter at five 
than ever after. 

"Since I began this letter, a messen- 
ger came to tell me Bob was lost; but 
by ttie time I reached the house his 
mother had found him and had him 
whipped, and by now very likely he has 
run away again! 

"As ever yours, 

"A. IdlfCOLN." 

The new baby mentioned in this letter was 
Edward, who died in 1850, before his fourth 
birthday. "Bob," or Robert, the eldest of the 
Lincoln's four children, was bom in 1843. Will- 
iam, bom in 1850, died in the White House. The 
youngest was bom in 1853, after the death of 
Thomas Lincoln, so he was named for his grand- 
father, but he was known only by his nickname, 
"Tad." "Little Tad" was his father's constant 

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Abraham Lincoln 

companion during ttie terrible years of the Civil 
War,- especially after WiUie's deaUi, in 1862. 
"Tad" became "the child of the nation." He 
died in Chicago, July 10, 1871, at the age of 
eighteen, after retximing from Europe with his 
widowed mother and his brother Robert. Rob- 
ert has served his country as Secretary of War 
and Ambassador to the English court, and is 
recognized as a leader in national affairs. 

When Lincoln was sent to the national House 
of Representatives, Douglas was elected to the 
Senate for the first time. Lincoln was the only 
Whig from Illinois. This shows his great per- 
sonal popularity. Daniel Webster was then liv- 
ing in the national capital, and Congressman 
Lincoln stopped once at Ashland, Ky., on his 
way to Washington to visit the idol of the 
Whigs, Henry Clay. 

As soon as Lincoln was elected, an editor 
wrote to ask him for a biographical sketch of 
himself for the "Congressional Directory." 
This is all Mr. Lincoln wrote — in a blank form 
sent for the purpose : 

"Bom February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, 

"Education defective. 

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The Story of Toui^ 

"Profession, lawyer. 

"Military service, captain of volunteers in 
Black Hawk War. 

"Offices held: Postmaster at a veiy small 
office ; four times a member of the Illinois Legis- 
lature, and elected to the lower House of the 
next Congress." 

Mr. Lincoln was in Congress while the Mexi- 
can "War was in progress, and there was much 
discussion over President Polk's action in de- 
claring that war. 

As Mrs. Lincoln was obliged to stay in Spring- 
field to care for her two little boys, Congress- 
man Lincoln lived in a Washington boarding- 
house. He soon gained the reputation of telling 
the best stories at the capital He made a hu- 
morous speech on General Cass, comparing the 
general's army experiences with his own in the 
Black Hawk War. He also drafted a bill to 
abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, 
which was never brought to a vote. Most of his 
care seems to have been for Billy Hemdon, who 
wrote complaining letters to him about the "old 
men" in Springfield who were always trying to 
"keep the young men down.'* Here are two of 
Mr. Lincoln's replies: 


t» Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

"Washington, June 22, 1848. 
"Dear William : 

"Judge how heart-rending it was to 
come to my room and find and read 
your discouraging letter of the 15th. 
Now, as to the young men, you must not 
wait to be brought forward by the older 
men. For instance, do you suppose 
that I would ever have got into notice if 
I had waited to be hunted up and 
pushed forward by older men I" 

* 'Deab William : 

"Your letter was received last night. 
The subject of that letter is exceedingly 
painful to me; and I cannot but think 
that there is some mistake in your im- 
pression of the motives of the old men. 
Of coursel cannot demonstrate what I 
say; but I was young once, and I am 
sure I was never ungenerously thrust 
back. I hardly know what to say. The 
way for a young man to rise is to im- 
prove himself every way he can, never 
suspecting that anybody wishes to 
hinder him. Allow me to assure you 
that suspicion and jealousy never did 
keep any man in any situation. There 
may be sometimes ungenerous attempts 
to keep a young man down; and they 

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The Story of Young 

will succeed, tdo, if he allows his mind 
to be diverted from its true channel to 
brood over the attempted injury. Cast 
about, and see if this feeling has not 
injured every person you have ever 
known to fall into it. 

"Now in what I have said, I am sure 
you will suspect nothing but sincere 
friendship. I would save you from a 
fatal error. You have been a laborious, 
studious young man. You are far bet- 
ter informed on almost all subjects 
than I have ever been. You cannot fail 
in ai^ laudable object, unless you allow 
your mind to be improperly directed. 
I have somewhat the advantage of you 
in the world's experience, merely by 
being older ; and it is this that induces 
me to advise. 

"Your friend, as ever, 

"A. Lincoln." 


Mr. Lincoln did not allow bis name to be used 
as a candidate for re-election, as there were 
other men in the congressional district who de- 
served the honor of going to Washington as 
much as he. On his way home from Washing- 
ton, after tiie last session of the Thirtieth Con- 

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Abraham Lincoln 

gress, he Tisited New England, where he made a 
few speeches, and stopped at Niagara Falls, 
which impressed >iiTn so stiongly that he wrote a 
lecture on the subject. 

After returning home he made a flying viait to 
"Washington to enter his patent steamboat, 
equipped so that it would navigate shallow west- 
em rivers. This boat, he told a friend, "would 
go where the ground is a little damp." The 
model of Lincoln's steamboat is one of the si^ts 
of the Patent Office to this day. 

After Mr. Lincoln had settled down to his law 
business, permanently, as he hoped, his former 
fellow-fllerk, William G. Greene, having busi- 
ness in Coles County, went to "Goosenest Prai- 
rie" to call on Abe's father and stepmother, who 
still lived in a log cabin. Thomas Lincoln re- 
ceived his son's friend very hospitably. During 
the young man's visit, the father reverted to the 
old subject, his disapproval of his son's wasting 
his time in study. He said: 

"I s'pose Abe's still a-foolin' hisself with 
eddication. I tried to stop it, but he's got that 
fool idee in his head an' it can't be got out. Now 
I baint got no eddication, but I git along better 
than if I had." 


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The Story of Youi^ 

Kot loi^ after this, in 1851, Abraham learned 
that his father waa very ill. As he could not 
leave Springfield then, he wrote to his step- 
brother (for Thomas Lincoln could not read) 
the following comforting letter to be read to his 

"I sincerely hope father may recover his 
health; but at all events, tell bim to remember to 
call upon and confide in our great and merciful 
Maker, who will not turn away from him in any 
extremity. He notes the fall of the sparrow, and 
numbers the hairs of our heads, and He will not 
forget the dying man who puts his trust in Him. 
Say to him, that, if we could meet now, it is 
doubtful whether it would be more painful than 
pleasant, but if it is his lot to go now, he will 
soon have a joyful meeting with the loved ones 
gone before, and where the rest of us, through 
the mercy of God, hope ere long to join them." 

Thomas Lincoln died that year, at the age of 


After his father's death Abraham Lincoln 
had, on several occasions, to protect his step- 


Abraham Lincoln 

mother against the schemes of her own lazy, 
good-for-nothing son. Here is one of the letters 
written, at this time, to his stepbrother, John 
Johnston : 

"Dear Bbother : I hear that you were anxious 
to sell the land where you live, and move to 
Missouri. "What can you do in Missouri better 
than here? Is the land any richer! Can you 
there, any more than here, raise com and wheat 
and oats without work! Will anybody there, 
any more than here, do your work for you I If 
you intend to go to work, there is no better place 
than right where you are ; if you do not intend 
to go to work, you cannot get along anywhere. 
Squirming and crawling about from place to 
place can do no good. Tou have raised no crop 
this year, and what you reaUy want is to sell the 
land, get the money and spend it. Part with the 
land you have and, my life upon it, you will 
never own a spot big enough to bury you ip. 
Half you will get for the land you will spend in 
moving to Missouri, and the other half you will. 
eat and drink and wear out, and no foot of land 
will be bought. 

* ' Now, I feel that it is my duty to have no hand 
in such a piece of foolery. I feel it is so even on 


The Story of Young 

your own account, and particularly on mother's 

"Now do not misunderstand this letter. I do 
not write it in any unkindness. I write it in 
order, if possible, to get you to face the truth, 
which truth is, you are destitute because you 
have idled away your time. Your thousand pre- 
tenses deceive nobody but yourself. Go to work 
is the only cure for your case." 


What Made the Difference Between Abba- 

These letters show the wide difference be- 
tween the real lives of two boys brought up in 
the same surroundii^s, and under sinular con- 
ditions. The advantages were in John Johns- 
ton's favor. He and Dennis Hanks never rose 
above the lower level of poverty and igno- 
rance. John was looked down upon by the 
poor illiterates around him as a lazy, good- 
for-nothing fellow, and Dennis Hanks was 


Abraham Lincoln 

known to be careless about telling the truth. 
. In speaking of the early life of Abe's father 
and mother, Dennis threw in the remark that 
"the Hankses was some smarter than the Lin- 
colns." It was not "smartness" that made Abe 
Lincoln grow to be a greater man than Dennis 
Hanks. There are men in Springfield to-day 
who say, "There were a dozen smarter men in 
this town than Mr. Lincoln when he happened 
to be nominated, and peculiar conditions pre- 
vailing at that time brought about his election 
to the presidency 1" 

True greatness is made of goodness rather 
than smartness. Abraham Lincoln was honest 
with himself while a boy and a man, and it was 
"Honest Abe" who became President of the 
United States. The people loved him for his big 
heart — because he loved them more than he loved 
himself and they knew it. Id his second in- 
augural address as President he used this ex- 
pression: "With malice toward none, with char- 
ity for all." This was not a new thought, but it 
was full of meaning to the country because little 
Abe Lincoln had lived that idea all his life, with 
his own family, his friends, acquaintances, and 
employers. He became the most beloved man in 


The Story of Young 

the world, in his own or any other time, becaiiae 
he himself loved everybody. 

Mrs. Crawford, the wife of "Old Blue Kose," 
used to laugh, at the very idea of Abe LLncoln 
ever becoming President. Lincoln often said to 
her: "111 get ready and the time wUl come." 
He got ready in his father's log hut and when 
the door of opportunity opened he walked ri^t 
into the White House. He "made himself at 
home" there, because he had only to go on in 
the same way after he became the "servant of 
the people" that he had followed when he was 
"Old Blue N'ose*s" hired boy and man. 


Then there was William F. Hemdon, known 
to the world only because he happened to be 
"Lincoln's law partner." His advantages were 
superior to those of Lincoln's. More than that, 
he had his great partner's help to push him for- 
ward and upward. But "poor Billy" had an 
unfortunate appetite. He could not deny him- 
self, though it always made him ashamed and 
miserable. It dragged him down, down from 
"the President's partner" to the gutter. That 


Abraham Lincoln 

was not all. When he asked his old partner to 
give him a government appointment whidi he 
had, for years, been making himself wholly un- 
worthy to fill, President Lincoln, much as he had 
loved Billy all along, could not give it to him. 
It grieved Mr. Lincoln's great heart to refuse 
Billy an3rthing. But Hemdon did not blame 
himself for all that. He spent the rest of his 
wretched life in bitterness and spite — avenging 
himself on his noble benefactor by putting un- 
truths into the "Life of Lincoln" he was able to 
write because Abraham Lincoln, against the ad- 
vice of his wife and friends, had insisted on 
keeping Tn'm close to his heart. It is a terrible 
thing— tiiat spirit of spite I Among many good 
and true things he had to say about his fatherly 
law partner, he poisoned the good name of Abra- 
ham Lincoln in the minds of millions, by writing 
stealthy slander about Lincoln's motiier and 
wife, and made many people believe that the 
most religious of men at heart was an infidel 
(because he himself was one I), that Mr. Lincoln 
sometimes acted from unworthy and unpatriotic 
motives, and that he failed to come to his own 
wedding. If these things had been true it would 
have been wrong to publish them to the preju- 

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The Story of Young 

dice of a great man's good name — ^then how 
much more wicked to invent and spread broad- 
cast falsdioods which hurt the heart and in- 
jured the mind of the whole world — and just to 
spite the memory of the best friend a man ever 
had I The fate of the firm of Lincoln & Hemdon 
shows in a striking way how the world looks 
upon the heart that hates and the heart that 
loves, for the hateful junior partner died miser- 
ably in an almshouse, wMle the senior partner 
was crowned with immortal martyrdom in the 
White House. 


There was Stephen A. Douglas, also, "the 
Little Giant, ' ' who latched and sneered at young 
Lincoln. Brilliant and resourceful, be always 
kept ahead of his big, plodding opponent. Doug- 
las was a great and successful politician, but he 
was not honest with himself — ^that is, he was not 
sincere through Eind through. He held certain 
opinions because he tiiought they would make 
him President. Lincoln challenged bim to de- 
bate certain questions before the country while 
both were candidates for the Senate. Douglas 
won the fight for senator from Illinois, but Lin- 

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Abraham Lincoln 

coin exposed his opponent's lack of sincerity, 
before the whole nation, and the people, seeing 
the difference, made Lincoln President of the 
United States. 

When President Lincoln came forward to de- 
liver his first inaugural address, he had his hat 
in his hand. While looking about for a place to 
put it down, Senator Douglas, his lifelong oppo- 
nent, sprang forward and took it, saying with a 
meaning smile as he did so : 
"If I can't be President, I can hold his hat!" 
Imagine Mrs. Lincoln's feelings then I She 
had gained the goal of her girlhood ambition, 
she was now "Mistress of the White House." 
But above all, she was a devoted mother. Be- 
fore the Lincolns had lived in the White House 
a year, Willie died, and the heart-broken mother 
never again could go into the room where he 
died, nor enter the beautiful Blue Boom where 
his funeral had been held. It is true that great 
sorrows come to mothers in humbler homes, but 
Mrs. Lincoln's greatest griefs were so sudden 
and terrible that they xmhinged her reason. It 
would have been wonderful if she could have 
borne them all without a breaking heart and 



The Story of Young 

Abraham Lincobi's end came as he would have 
had it if he could have <^osen — sudden and pain- 
less. He had been a martyr all his life long, suf- 
fering with the sorrows of others. H i s friends 
used to say that, even when he was young, his 
face, in unconscious repose, was the saddest 
thing they ever saw — "It would make you cry," 
they said. 


"No End op a Bot" 

"The Story of Young Abraham Lincoln" 
would be incomplete without some insight into 
the perfect boyishn^s of the President of the 
ITnited States. "When the cares of State and the 
horrors of war had made his homely yet beauti- 
ful face pallid and seamed, till it became a sen- 
sitive map of the Civil War, it was said that the 
only times the President was ever happy were 
when he was playing with little Tad. 

He used to carry the boy on his shoulder or 
"pick-a-back," cantering through the spacious 

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Abraham Lincoln 

rooms of the Executive Mansion, hoik yelling 

like Comanches, The little hoy was lonely after 
Willie died, and the father's heart yearned over 
the only boy left at home, for Bobert was at Har- 
vard until near the close of the war, when he went 
to the front as an aide to General Grant So 
little Tad was his father's most constant com- 
panion and the President became the boy's only 
playfellow. Mr. Lincoln, with a heart as fuU of 
faith as a little child's, had always lived in 
deep sympathy with the children, and this 
feeling was intensified toward his own off- 

When Abe Lincoln was living in New Salem 
he distinguished himself by carii^ for the little 
children — ^a thing beneath the dignity of the 
other young men of the settlement. 

Hannah Armstrong, wife of the Clary*s Grove 
bully, whom Abe had to "lick" to a finish in 
order to establish himself on a solid basis in 
New Salem society, told how friendly their rela- 
tions became after the thrashing he gave her 

"Abe would come to our house, drink milk, 
eat mush, combread and butter, bring the chil- 
dren candy and rock the cradle." (This seemed 


The Story of Young 

a strange thing to her.) "He would nurse 
babies — do anything to accommodate anybody." 


"When Mrs. Armstrong's baby boy grew to 
manhood he got into deep trouble; He was ar- 
rested for murder. His mother was a poor 
widow and had no money to defend her son. 
Lawyer Lincoln, then living in Springfield, and 
known as a successful jury pleader^ wrote and 
offered his services in behalf of the child he had 
rocked, "without money and without price," be- 
cause the mother had been kind to him in days 
gone by. 

It became a celebrated ease. Mr. Lincoln se- 
cured his acquittal by showing that there was a 
conspiracy on the part of the young man's ac- 
cusers, one of whom testified that he saw 
"Buck" Armstrong strike the fatal blow by the 
bright light of the moon. Lawyer Lincoln, after 
drawing the witness out and making him de- 
scribe minutely what he had seen, suddenly pro- 
duced an almanac proving that there was. no 
moon in the sky at that time I 

The tears of that widowed mother and the 
gratitude of the boy he had rocked were the best 

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Abraham Lincoln 

sort of pay to Lawyer Lincoln for an act of kind- 
ness and life-saving. 

"jtrsT what's the matter with the whoi^ 

A Springfield neighbor used to say tiiat it was 
almost a habit with Mr. Lincoln to carry his 
children about on his shoulders. Indeed, the 
man said he seldom saw the tall lawyer go by 
without one or both boys perched on high or tug- 
ging at the tails of his long coat. This neighbor 
relates that he vras attracted to the door of his 
own house one day by a great noise of crying 
children, and saw Mr. Lincoln passing witii the 
two boys in their usual position, and both were 
howling lustily. 

"Why, Mr. Lincoln, what's the matter 1" he 
asked in astoniedmieiit 

"Just what's the matter with the whole 
world," the lawyer replied coolly. "I've got 
three walnuts, and each wants two." 

THE "buokhtq" chess board 

Several years later Judge Treat, of Spring- 
field was playing chess witii Mr. Lincoln in bis 


The Story of Young 

law office when Tad came in to call his father to 
supper. The boy, impatient at the delay of the 
slow and silent game, tried to break it up by a 
flank moTement against the chess board, but the 
attacks were warded off, each time, by his 
father's long arma 

The child disappeared, and when the two 
players had begun to believe they were to be per- 
mitted to end the game in peace, the table sud- 
denly '*bueked" and tiie board and diessmen 
were sent flying all over the floor. 

Judge Treat was much vexed, and expressed 
impatience, not hesitatii^ to tell Mr. Lincoln 
that the boy ought to be punished severdy. 

Mr. Lincoln replied, as he gently took down 
his hat to go home to supper: 

"Considering the position of your pieces, 
judge, at the time of the upheaval, I think you 
have no reason to complain." 


Tet, indulgent as he was, there were some 
things Mr. Lincoln would not allow even his 
youngest child to do. An observer who saw the 
President-elect and his family in their train on 
the way to Washington to take the helm of State, 

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Abraham Lincoln 

relates that little Tad amused himself by raising 
the car window an inch or two and trying, by 
shutting it down suddenly, to catch the fingera 
of the curious boys outside who were holding 
themselves up by their hands on the window sill 
of the car to catch sight of the new President 
and his family. 

The President-elect, who had to go out to the 
platform to make a little speech to a crowd at 
nearly every stop, noticed Tad's attempts to 
pinch the boj^' fingers. He spoke sharply to his 
son and commanded him to stop that. Tad 
obeyed for a time, but his father, catching bim 
at ihe same trick again, leaned over, and taking 
the little fellow across his knee, gave him a good, 
sound spanking, exclaiming as he did so : 

"Why do you want to mash those boys* fin- 


Mr. Lincoln was always lenient when the of- 
fense was against himself. The Hon. Robert 
Todd Lincoln, the only living son of the great 
President, tells how the satchel containing his 
father's inaugural address was lost for a time. 

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The Story; of Young 

Some writers have related the story of this loss, 
stating that it all happened at Harrisburg, and 
telling how the President-elect discovered a bag 
lite his own, and on opening it found only a 
pack of greasy cards, a bottle of whis^ and a 
soiled paper collar. Also that Mr. Lincoln was 
"reminded" of a cheap, ill-fitting story— but 
none of these things really took place. 

Here is the true story, as related to the writer 
by Robert Lincoln himself: 

"My father had confided to me the care of the 
satchel containing his inaugural address. It was 
lost for a little while during the stay of our party 
at the old Bates House in Indianapolis. When 
we entered the hotel I set the bag down with the 
other luggage, which was all removed to a room 
back of the clerk's desk. 

"As soon as I missed the valise I went right 
to father, in great distre^ of mind. He ordered 
a search made. We were naturally much 
alarmed, for it was the only copy he had of his 
inaugural address, which he had carefully writ- 
ten before leaving Springfield. Of course, he 
added certain parts after reaching Washington. 
The missing bag was soon found in a safe place. 

"Instead of taking out the precious manu- 

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Abraham Lincoln 

script and stuffing it into his own pocket, fattier 
handed it right back to me, saying : 

" 'There, Bob, see if you can't take better care 
of it this time' — and you may be sure I was true 
to the trust he placed in me. Why, I hardly let 
that precious gripsack get out of my sight dur- 
ing my waking hours all the rest of the long 
roundabout journey to "Washington.** 


The death of Willie, who was nearly three 
years older than Tad, early in 1862, during their 
first year in the White House, nearly broke his 
father's heart. It was said that Mr. Lincoln 
never recovered from that bereavement It 
made Mm yearn the more tenderly over his 
youngest son who sadly missed the brother who 
had been his constant companion. 

It was natural for a lad who was so much in- 
dulged to take advantage of his freedom. Tad 
had a slight impediment in his speech -wbich 
made the street urchins laugh at him, and even 
cabinet members, because they could not under- 
stand him, considered him a little nuisance. So 
Tad, though known as "the child of the nation," 
and greatly beloved and petted by those who 


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The Story of Young 

knew him for a lovable affectionate child, found 
himself alone in a class by himself, and against 
all classes of people. 


He illustrated this spirit one day by getting 
hold of the hose and turning it on some dignified 
State officials, several army officers, and finally 
on a soldier on guard who was ordered to charge 
and take possession of that water battery. Al- 
though that little escapade appealed to the Pres- 
ident's sense of humor, for he himself liked 
nothi]^ better than to take generals and pom- 
pous officials down "a peg or two," Tad got well 
spanked for the havoc he wrought that day. 


The members of the President's cabinet had 
reason to be annoyed by the boy*8 frequent in- 
terruptions. He seemed to have ttie right of 
way wherever his father happened to be. No 
matter if Senator Sumner or Secretary Stanton 
was discussii^ some weighty matter of State or 
war, if Tad came in, his father turned from the 
men of high estate to minister to the wants of his 
little boy. He did it to get rid of him, for of 

itv Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

course he knew Tad would raise sudi a racket 
that no one could talk or think tiU his wants 
were disposed of. 


A story is told of the boy's interruption of a 
council of war. This habit of Tad's enraged 
Secretary Stanton, whose horror of the boy was 
similar to that of an elephant for a mouse. The 
President was giving his opinion on a certain 
piece of strategy which he thought the general 
in question might carry out— when a great noise 
was heard out in the hall, followed by a number 
of sharp raps on the door of the cabinet room. 

Strategy, war, everything was, for the mo- 
ment forgotten by the President, whose wan face 
assumed an expression of unusual pleasure, 
while he gathered up his great, weary length 
from different parts of the room as he had half 
lain, sprawling about, across and around his 
chair and the great table. 

"That's Tad," he exclaimed, "I wonder what 

that boys wants now." On his way to open the 

door, Mr. Lincoln explained that those knocks 

had just been adopted by the boy and himself, as 



The Storjr of Young 

part of the telegraph ^j^ten^ and that he was 
obliged to let the lad in — "for it wouldn't do to 
go back on the code now," he added, half in 
apology for permitting such a sudden break in 
their deliberations. 

"When the door was opened, Tad, with flushed 
face and sparkling eyes, sprang in and threw hia 
arms around his father's neck. The President 
straightened up and embraced the boy with an 
expression of happiness never seen on his face 
except while playing with his little son. 

Mr. Lincoln turned, with the boy still in his 
arms, to explain that he and Tad had agreed 
upon this telegraphic code to prevent the lad 
from bursting in upon them without warning. 
The members of the cabinet looked pxizzled or 
disgusted, as though th^ failed to see that sev- 
eral startling raps could be any better than hav- 
ing Tad break in with a whoop or a wall, as had 
been the boy's custom. 


The boy raised a question of right. He had 

besieged Peter, the colored steward, demandmg 

that a dinner be served to several urchins he had 

picked up outside — ^two of whom were sons of 


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Abraham Liucolii 

soldiers. Peter had protested that he "had 
other fish to fry" just then. 

The President recognized at once that this was 
a case for diplomacy. Turning to various mem- 
bers of the cabinet^ he called on each to con- 
tribute from his store of wisdom, what would be 
best to do in a case of such vast importance. 
Tad looked on in wonder as his father set the 
great machinery of government in motion to 
make out a commissary order on black Peter, 
which would force that astonished servant to de- 
liver certain pieces of pie and other desired eat- 
ables to Tad, for himself and his boy friends. 

At last an "order'* was prepared by the Chief 
Executive of the United States directing "The 
Commissary Department of the Presidential 
Residence to issue rations to Lieutenant Tad 
Lincoln and his five associates, two of whom are 
the sons of soldiers in the Army of the Po- 

With an expression of deep gravity and a sol- 
emn flourish, the President tendered this Com- 
missary Order to the lieutenant, his son, saying 
as he presented the document: 

"I reckon Peter will have to come to time 



The StoiT; of Toung 

LzEUiXNANT Tad Linooln, Patriot 

There was no more sturdy little patriot ia the 
whole country than Lieutenant Tad Lincoln, 
"the child of the nation," nor had the President 
of the United States a more devoted admirer 
and follower than his own small son. A word 
from his father would melt the lad to tears and 
submission, or bring bim out of a nervous tan- 
trum with his small round face wreathed with 
smiles, and a chuckling in his throat of "Papa- 
day, my papa-day I " No one knew exactly what 
the boy meant by papa-day. It was his pet name 
for the dearest man on earth, and it was his only 
way of expressing the greatest pleasure his boy- 
ish heart was able to hold. It was the "sweetest 
word ever heard" by the war-burdened, crushed 
and sorrowing soul of the broken-hearted Presi- 
dent of the United States. 

Mr. Lincoln took his youngest son with him 

everywhere — on his great mission to Portress 

Monroe, and th^ — "the long and the short of 

it," l^e soldiers said — ^marched hand in hand 



Abraham Lincoln 

through the streets of fallen Richmond. The 
understanding between the man and the boy was 
so complete and sacred, that some acts which 
seemed to outsiders absurd and ill-fittii^, be- 
came perfectly right and proper when certain 
unknown facts were taken into account. 


For instance, one night, during an entiiusi- 
astic serenade at the White House, after a great 
victory of the northern armies, when the Presi- 
dent had been out and made a happy speech in 
response to the congratulations he had received, 
everybody was horrified to see the Confederate 
"Stars and Bars" waving frantically from an 
upper window with shouts followed by shrieks 
as old Edward, the faithful colored servant, 
pulled in the flag and the boy who was guilty of 
the mischief. 

"That was little Tad I" exclaimed some one in 
the crowd. Many laughed, but some spectators 
thought the boy ought to be punished for such a 
treasonable outbreak on the part of a Presi- 
dent's boy in a soldier's uniform, 

"If he don't know any better than that," said 


The Story; of Young 

one man, "he should be taught better. It's an 
insult to the North and the President ought to 
stop it and ajwlogize, too." 

*'bOT8 en K.UE" AND "B0T8 IN GBAY" 

But little Tad understood his father's spirit 
better than the crowd did. He knew that the 
President's love was not confined to "the Boy^ 
in Blue, * ' but that his heart went out also to ' ' the 
Boys in Gray." The soldiera were all "boys" to 
him. They knew he loved them. They said 
amoi^ themselves : ' 'He cares for us. He takes 
our part. We will fight for him ; yes, we will die 
for him." 

And a lai^e part of the common soldier's pa- 
triotism was this heart-response of "the boys" 
to the great "boy" in the Whit© House. That 
was tiie meaning of their song as they trooped to 
the front at his call : 

"We are coming, Father Abraham; 
Three hundred thousand more." 

Little Taa saw plenty of evidences of his 
father's love for the younger soldiers — ^the real 
boys of the army. Going always with the Presi- 
dent, he had heard his "Papa-day" say of sev- 

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Abraliam Lincoln 

eral youths condemned to be shot for Bleeping at 
their post or some like ofEense : 

"That boy is worth more above ground than 
under;" or, "A live boy can serve his country 
better than a dead one." 

"Give the boys a chance," was Abraham Lin- 
coln's motto. He hadn't had much of a chance 
himself and he wanted all other boys to have a 
fair show. His own father had been too hard 
with him, and he was going to make it up to all 
the other boj^ he could readi. This passion for 
doing good to others began in the log cabin when 
he had no idea he could ever be exercising liis 
loving kindness in l^e Executive Mansion— the 
Home of the Nation. "With malice toward 
none, with charity for all," was the rule of his 
life in the backwoods as well as in the National 

And "the Boys in Gray" were his "boys," too, 
but they didn't understand, so they had wan- 
dered away— they were a little wayward, but he 
would win them back. The great diivalrous 
South has learned, since those bitter, ruinous 
days, ttiat Abraham Lincoln was the best friend 
the South then had in the North. Tad had seen 
his father show great tenderness to all the 


The Stoij of Young 

"boyB" he met in the gray umform, but the 
President had few opportunities to show his 
tenderness to the South — though there was a se- 
cret pigeonhole in his desk stuffed full of threats 
of assassination. He was not afraid of death — 
Indeed, he was glad to die if it would do his 
"boys" and the country any good. But it hurt 
him deep in his heart to know that some of his 
beloved children misimderstood him so that they 
were willing to kill h im I 

It was no one*8 bullet whidi made Abraham 
Lincoln a martyr. All his life he bad shown the 
spirit of love which was willing to give his very 
life if it could save or help others. 

All these things little Tad could not have ex- 
plained, but they were inbred into the deep un- 
derstanding of the big father and the small son 
who were living in the "White House as boys to- 

MB. LmCOUr'S last speech AltD HOW TAD HELPED 

A few days after the war ended at Appomat- 
tox, a great crowd came to the White House to 
serenade the President. It was Tuesday even- 
ing, April 11, 1865. Mr. Lincoln had written a 
short address for the occasion. The times were 


Abraham Lincoln 

BO oat of joint and evety word was bo important 
that the President could not trust himself to 
epeak oif-hand. 

A friend stepped out on the northern portico 
with him to hold the candle by which Mr. Lin- 
coln was to read his speech. Little Tad was with 
his father, as usual, and when the President had 
finished reading a page of his manuscript he let 
it flutter down, like a leaf, or a big white butter- 
fly, for Tad to catch. When the pages came too 
slowly the boy pulled his father's coat-tail, pip- 
ing up in a muffled, excited tone : 

"Give me 'nother paper, Papa-day." 

To the few in the front of the crowd who wit- 
nessed this little by-play it seemed ridiculous 
that the President of the United States should 
allow any child to behave Uke that and hamper 
him while delivering a great address which 
would wield a national, if not world-wide influ- 
ence. But little Tad did not trouble his father 
in the least. It was a part of the little game they 
were constantly playing together. 

The address ojwned with these words : 

"Fellow-citizenb: We meet this 
evening not in sorrow, but gladness of 
heart The evacuation of Petersburg 


The Btory of Young 

and Richmond, and the surrender of 
the principal insurgent army (at Ap- 
pomattox) give hope of a righteous 
and si>eedy peace whose joyous expres- 
sion cannot be restrained. In the midst 
of this, however, He from whom all 
blessings flow mxisi not be forgotten. A 
call for national thanksgiving is being 
prepared and will be duly promul- 

"orvE TJs 'dixie,' Boxal" 

Then he went on outlining a policy of peace 
and friendship toward the South — showing a 
spirit far higher and more advanced than that of 
the listening crowd. On concluding his address 
and bidding the assembled multitude good night, 
he turned to the serenading band and shouted 
joyously : 

"Give us *Bixie,* boys; play 'Dixie.* "We have 
a right to that tune now. ' * 

There was a moment of silence. Some of the 
people gasped, as they had done when they saw 
Tad waving the Confederate flag at the window. 
But the band, loyal even to a mere whim (as they 
then thought it) of "Father Abraham," started 
the long-forbidden tune, and the President^ bow- 

it, Google 

Abraham Lincoln 

ing, retired, with little Tad, within the White 
House. Those words, "Give us 'Dixie,' boys," 
were President Lincoln's last public utterance. 

As Mr. Lincoln came in through the door after 
speaking to the crowd, Mrs. Lincoln — ^who had 
been, with a group of friends, looking on from 
within — exclaimed to him: 

"You must not be so careless. Some one could 
easily have shot you while you were speaking 
there — and you know they are threatening your 
life I" 

The President smiled at his wife, through a 
look of inexpressible pain and sadness, and 
shrugged his great shoulders, but "still he an- 
swered not a word." 


At a late hour Good Friday night, that same 
week, little Tad came in alone at a basement door 
of the White House from the National Theater, 
where he knew the manager, and some of the 
company, had made a great pet of >^iTn. He had 
often gone there alone or with his tutor. How 
he had heard the terrible news from Ford's 
Theater is not known, but he came up the lower 
Btairway with heartrending cries like a wounded 


The Story of Toui^ 

animal. Seeing Thomas Pendel, the faithful 
doorkeeper, he wailed from his breaking heart; 
"Toln Pen, Tom Pen, they have killed Papa- 
day I They have killed my Papa-day 1 ' ' 

After the funeral the little fellow was more 
lonely than ever. It was hard to have his pony 
burned up in the stable. It was harder still to 
lose Brother Willie, his constant companion, 
and now his mother was desperately ill, and his 
father had been killed. Tad, of course, could not 
comprehend why any one could be so cruel and 
wicked as to wish to murder his darling Papa- 
day, who loved every one so ! 

He wandered through the emply rooms, 
aching with loneliness, murmuring sofUy to him- 

"Papa-day, Where's my Papa-day. I'm tired 
— ^tired of playing alone. I want to play to- 
gether. Please, Papa-day, come back and play 
with your little Tad." 

Toung though he was he could not sleep long 
at night. His sense of loneliness penetrated his 
dreams. Sometimes he would chuckle and 
gurgle in an ecstacy, as he had done when riding 
on bis father's back, romping through the stately 


Abraham Liucola 

rooms. He would throw his arm about the neck 
of the doorkeeper or lifeguard who had lain 
down beside him to console the boy and try to get 
^iJTn to sleep. "When the man spoke to comfort 
him, Tad would find out his terrible mistake, 
that his father was not with him. 

Then he would wail again in the bitterness of 
his disappointment: 

"Papa-day, where's my Papa-dayt" 

"Your papa's gone 'way off" — said his com- 
panion, his voice breaking with emotion — "gone 
to heaven." 

Tad opened his eyes wide with wonder. "Is 
Papa-day happy in heaven?" he asked eagerly. 

"Yes, yes, I'm sure he's happy there, Taddie 
dear; now go to sleep." 

"Papa-day's happy. I'm glad — so glad I" — 
sighed the little boy — "for Papa-day never was 
.happy here." 

Then he fell into his first sweet sleep since that 
terrible night 

"give the bots a chance" 

The fond-hearted little fellow went abroad 
with his mother a few years after the tragedy 

Dig izedtv Google 

The Story of Young 

that bcoke both their lives. By a surgical opera- 
tion, and by struggling manfully, he had cor- 
rected the imperfection in his speech. But the 
heart of little Tad had been broken. While still 
& lad he joined his fond father in the Beyond. 

"Give the boys a chance," had amounted to a 
passion with Abraham Lincoln, yet through 
great wickedness and sad misunderstanding his 
own little son was robbed of this great boon. 
Little Tad had been denied ihe one chance he 
sorely needed for his very existence. For this, 
as for all tiie inequities the great heart of the 
White House was prepared. His spirit had 
shone through his whole life as if in letters of 
living fire : 

"With malice toward none; with charity for 


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