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years of age, she had given him the blessings of her meagre education, had helped him to read and write, had inspired him with a love for learning, and left such mental and moral impress upon the lad that he afterward said:

“All that I am and all that I hope to be, I owe to my angel mother. Blessings on her memory.”

Herndon,* in his biography, relates an intimate talk that he once had with Lincoln concerning the latter's mother:

“She was the daughter of Lucy Hanks and a wellbred but obscure Virginia farmer or planter, and he (Lincoln) argued that from this last source came his power of analysis, his logic, his mental activity, his ambition, and all the qualities that distinguished him from the other members and descendants of the Hanks family.” |

Perhaps the longest personal statement he ever made concerning himself was made to J. W. Fell, in 1859, in his own handwriting:

I was born February 12, 1809, in Hardin county, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families-second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family by the name of Hanks. ... My paternal grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from Rockingham county, Virginia, to Kentucky about 1781 or 1782, where, a year or two later, he was killed by the Indians, not in battle, but by stealth, when he was laboring to open a farm in the forest.

* I shall very often quote from William H. Herndon's biography of Lincoln in two volumes. This biography furnishes the basis of Lincoln's life until he became President of the United States, and furnishes the basis of most of the reliable facts of Lincoln's life as used by other biographers.

Members of Herndon's family lived in and about New Salem, and Herndon himself became acquainted with Lincoln shortly after he entered the State Legislature at Springfield. He was the junior partner of Lincoln from 1843 until March 4, 1861. Taken altogether, he had unusual opportunities to know and study Abraham Lincoln, and to write about him at first hand. Moreover, no one ever accused Herndon of overstating anything in Lincoln's favor.

Vol. I, p. 3.

“My father (Thomas Lincoln) at the death of his father was but six years of age. By the early death of his father, and the very narrow circumstances of his mother, he was, even in childhood, a wandering, laboring boy, and grew up literally without education. He never did more in the way of writing than bunglingly to write his own name. He removed from Kentucky to what is now Spencer county, Indiana, in my eighth year. ... It was a wild region, with many bears and other animals still in the woods. There were some schools, so-called, but no qualification was ever required of a teacher beyond 'readin' writin', and cipherin' to the rule of three. If a straggler supposed to understand Latin happened to sojourn in the neighborhood he was looked upon as a wizard. ... Of course, when I came of age I did not know much. Still, somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to the rule of three. But that was all. . . The little advance I now have upon this store of education I have picked up from time to time under the pressure of necessity.

"I was raised to farm work ... till I was twentytwo. At twenty-one I came to Illinois,-Macon county. Then I got to New Salem, where I remained a year as a sort of clerk in a store. Then came the Black Hawk war; and I was elected captain of a volunteer company, a success that gave me more pleasure than any I have had since. I went into the


campaign-was elated-ran for the Legislature the same year (1832), and was beaten—the only time I ever have been beaten by the people. The next, and three succeeding biennial elections, I was elected to the Legislature. I was not a candidate afterward. During the legislative period I had studied law and removed to Springfield to practice it. In 1846 I was elected to the lower house of Congress. Was not a candidate for re-election. From 1849 to 1854, inclusive, practised law more assiduously than ever before. Always a Whig in politics, and generally on the Whig electoral tickets, making active canvasses. I was losing interest in politics when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused me again.

“If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it may be said that I am in height six feet four inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing on an average one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with coarse black hair and gray eyes. No other marks or brands recollected."

An unusually modest estimate of one who within a year was to be elected President of the United States.

This scarcely reads like the story of one who had a "passion for knowledge.

After Lincoln's nomination for the presidency, he was repeatedly requested to furnish for his friends and biographers the story of his life.

One of the earliest to arrive at Springfield, Ill., was J. L. Scripps of the Chicago Tribune, a paper very friendly to Lincoln. Scripps wanted to prepare and publish the story of his life.

Why, Scripps,” said he, “it is a great piece of folly to attempt to make anything out of me or my early life. It can all be condensed into a single sentence, and that sentence you will find in Gray's ‘Elegy.'

“The short and simple annals of the poor.'

“That's my life and that's all that you or anybody else can make out of it." *

For the purpose of knowing more about the metal in his making, than this modest man has himself given us, a fuller statement will be made of his earlier as well as later days.

Lincoln was born in a log cabin of Kentucky, near Hodgenvillea cabin that was doorless, windowless, and floorless. Oh, of course, it had a floor. · It was dirt furnished by good old Mother Earth.

If there was any log cabin in Kentucky ruder or more primitive than the Lincoln cabin, it has not been discovered.

But few incidents of consequence occurred in Kentucky that are really important or indicative of character in the boy's life. He several times heard Parson Elkins preach, the Baptist minister of that circuit. The probabilities are this gave him his first inspiration for public speaking.

As to schools, they were few and four miles at least from home. Two or three months at most would cover the entire time at irregular intervals that he received the benefit of even the most elementary teachers.

When young Abraham was but seven, the Lincoln family moved to what is now Spencer County, in southern Indiana, just north of the Ohio River. The first family residence in Indiana was but little, if any, improvement over the home in Kentucky. It was scarcely creditable to a carpenter's handiwork.

* Herndon, vol. I, p. 2.

Herndon says:

“The structure when completed was fourteen feet square and was built of small unhewn logs. In the language of the day it was called a 'half faced camp,' being enclosed on all sides but one. It had neither floor, door, nor windows. In this forbidding hovel these doughty emigrants braved the exposure of the varying seasons for an entire year. At the end of that time Thomas and Betsy Sparrow followed, bringing with them Dennis Hanks and to them Thomas Lincoln surrendered the ‘half faced camp' while he moved into a more pretentious structure,-a cabin enclosed on all sides." *

This cabin is further described by Herndon as follows:

“It was of hewed logs, and was eighteen feet square. It was high enough to admit of a loft, where Abe slept, and to which he ascended each night by means of pegs driven in the wall. The rude furniture was in keeping with the surroundings. Three-legged stools answered for chairs. The bedstead, made of poles fastened in the cracks of the logs on one side, and supported by a crotched stick driven in the ground floor on the other, was covered with skins, leaves, and old clothes. A table of the same finish as the stools, a few pewter dishes, a Dutch oven, and a skillet completed the household outfit. In this uninviting frontier structure the future President was destined to pass the greater part of his boyhood.” †

Holland confirms this account in the following language: * Herndon, vol. I, p. 19.

Herndon, vol. I, p. 20.


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