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the dignity and energy becoming the chief ruler of one of the most powerful nations on the globe. It was the 4th of March, 1861. Attempts had been made by the rebels to assassinate Abraham Lincoln on his journey to Washington. Very narrowly he escaped. It was deemed necessary to adopt the most careful precautions to secure him from assassination on the day of his inauguration. Mr. Buchanan remained in Washington to see his successor installed, and then retired to his home in Wheatland.
The administration of President Buchanan was certainly the most calamitous our country has experienced. His best friends cannot recall it with pleasure. And still more deplorable it is for his fame, that, in the dreadful conflict which rolled its billows of flame and blood over our whole land, no word came from the lips of President Buchanan to indicate his wish that our country's banner should triumph over the flag of rebellion. He might by a few words have rendered the nation the most signal service; but those words were not spoken. He still lives, in the fall of 1866, in his beautiful retreat at Wheatland, at the advanced age of seventyfive.
Life in a Log-cabin. - Excellence of Character early developed.- A Day-laborer. - A Boatman. A Shopkeeper. - A Student.- A Legislator. - A Lawyer. - A Member of Congress. A Political Speaker. - The Debate with Douglas.-Eloquence of Mr. Lincoln. Nominated for the Presidency. - Habits of Temperance. - His Sentiments.Anecdotes. Acts of his Administration. - His Assassination.
In the interior of the State of Kentucky, there is the county of Larue. Even now, it is but sparsely populated.
years ago it was quite a wilderness, highly picturesque in its streams, its forests, and its prairies; in places, smooth as a floor, and again swelling into gentle undulations like the ocean at the subsidence of a storm. The painted Indian here had free range;
a savage more ferocious than the wild beasts he pursued. Though Daniel Boone had explored this region, and had returned to the other side of the Alleghanies laden with peltry, and with the report that it was an earthly paradise, there were but few who were ready to plunge into the pathless wilderness, leaving all vestiges of civilization hundreds of miles behind them. But Providence, for the sake of peopling this country, seems to have raised up a peculiar class of men, who loved hardship and peril and utter loneliness. The Indians were always clustered in villages; but these men, the pioneers of civilization, penetrated the recesses of the forest, and reared their cabins in the most secluded valleys, where they seldom heard the voice or saw the face of their brother-man.
About the year 1780, when the war of the Revolution was still raging, one of these men, Abraham Lincoln, left the beautiful Valley of the Shenandoah, in Virginia, for the wilds of Kentucky. His wife and one or two children accompanied him. There were no roads; there were no paths but the trail of the Indian. All their worldly goods they must have carried in packs upon their backs; unless, possibly, they might have been enabled to take with them a horse or a mule. What motive could have induced a civilized man to take such a step, it is difficult to imagine; and still, from the earliest settlement of our country until the present day, there have been thousands thus ever crowding into the wilder ness. Only two years after this emigration, Abraham Lincoln, still a young man, while working one day in his field, was stealthily approached by an Indian, and shot dead. His widow was left in the extreme of poverty with five little children. How she struggled along through the terrible years of toil and destitution, we are not informed. It was one of those unwritten tragedies of which earth is full.
There were three boys and two girls in the family. Thomas, the youngest of these boys, was four years of age at the time of his father's death. This Thomas was the father of Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States, whose name must henceforth forever be enrolled amongst the most prominent in the annals of our world. Of course, no record has been kept of the life of one so lowly as Thomas Lincoln. He was among the poorest of the poor. His home was a wretched log-cabin; his food, the coarsest and the meanest. Education he had none: he could never
either read or write. As soon as he was able to do any thing for himself, he was compelled to leave the cabin of his starving mother, and push out into the world, a friendless, wandering boy, seeking work. He hired himself out, and thus spent the whole of his youth as a laborer in the fields of others.
When twenty-eight years of age, he built a log-cabin of his own, and married Nancy Hanks, the daughter of another family of poor Kentucky emigrants, who had also come from Virginia. Their second child was Abraham Lincoln, the subject of this sketch, Thomas, his father, was a generous, warm-hearted, good-natured man, with but little efficiency. He greatly deplored his want of education, and was anxious that his children should not suffer in this respect as he had done. The mother of Abraham was a noble woman, gentle, loving, pensive, created to adorn a palace, doomed to toil and pine and die in a hovel. "All that I am, or hope to be," exclaims the grateful son, "I owe to my angel-mother: blessings on her memory!"
Both the father and mother of Abraham Lincoln were earnest Christians. Their grateful son could ever say,
""Tis not my boast that I deduce my birth
The child of parents passed into the skies."
Abraham's mother had received some education, and would often delight her children by reading them some story from the very few books she could command. In that remote region, schools were few, and very humble in their character. Abraham, when in his seventh year, was sent to one teacher for about two months, and to another for about three. His zeal was so great, that, in that time, he learned both to read and write. His parents were members of the Baptist Church; and occasionally an itinerant preacher came along, and gathered the scattered families. under a grove or in a cabin for religious service. Good old Parson Elkin gave Abraham his first ideas of public speaking.
When he was eight years of age, his father sold his cabin and small farm, and moved to Indiana. Three horses took the family and all their household goods a seven-days' journey to their new home. Here kind neighbors helped them in putting up another log-cabin. In a home more cheerless and comfortless than the
readers of the present day can easily comprehend, Mrs. Lincoln, with the delicate organization, both of body and mind, of a lady, sank and died beneath the burdens which crushed her. Abraham was then ten years of age. Bitterly he wept as his mother was laid in her humble grave beneath the trees near the cabin. The high esteem in which this noble woman was held may be inferred from the fact that Parson Elkin rode a hundred miles on horseback, through the wilderness, to preach her funeral-sermon; and the neighbors, to the number of two hundred, who were scattered in that sparsely-settled region over a distance of twenty miles, assembled to attend the service.
It was a scene for a painter, - the log-cabin, alone in its solitude; the wide-spread prairie, beautiful in the light of the sabbathmorning sun; the grove; the grave; the group seated around upon logs and stumps; the venerable preacher; the mourning family; and Abraham, with his marked figure and countenance, his eyes swimming with tears, gazing upon the scene which was thus honoring the memory of his revered mother.
Abraham had written the letter inviting the pastor to preach the funeral-sermon. He soon became the scribe of the uneducated community around him. He could not have had a better school than this to teach him to put thoughts into words. He also became an eager reader. The books he could obtain were few: but these he read and re-read until they were almost committed to memory. The Bible, Æsop's " Fables," and the "Pilgrim's Prog ress," were his favorites. The Lives of Washington, Franklin, and Clay, produced a deep impression upon his sensitive mind. All the events of their varied careers were so stored up in his memory, that he could recall them at any time.
An anecdote is related illustrative of that conscientiousness of character which was early developed, and which subsequently gave him the name, throughout the whole breadth of the land, of "Honest Abe." He had borrowed Ramsay's "Life of Washington." By accident, the book was seriously injured by a shower. In consternation at the calamity, he took it back to the owner, and purchased the soiled copy by working for it for three days.
His father soon married again a very worthy woman, who had also several children. Abraham remained at home, toiling upon the farm, and occasionally working as a day-laborer. He had remarkable muscular strength and agility, was exceedingly genial