N the following pages I have endeavored to give the life of Abraham
Lincoln, from his birth to his inauguration as President of the United
States. The reader will judge the character of the performance by the
work itself: for that reason I shall spare him the perusal of much prefatory
At the time of Mr. Lincoln's death, I determined to write his history, as
I had in my possession much valuable material for such a purpose. I did
not then imagine that any person could have better or more extensive
materials than I possessed. I soon learned, however, that Mr. William H.
Herndon of Springfield, Ill., was similarly engaged. There could be no
rivalry between us ; for the supreme object of both was to make the real
history and character of Mr. Lincoln as well known to the public as they
were to us. He deplored, as I did, the many publications pretending to be
biographies which came teeming from the press, so long as the public inter-
est about Mr. Lincoln excited the hope of gain. Out of the mass of works
which appeared, of one only – Dr. Holland's is it possible to speak with
any degree of respect.
Early in 1869, Mr. Herndon placed at my disposal his remarkable col-
lection of materials, — the richest, rarest, and fullest collection it was possi-
ble to conceive. Along with them came an offer of hearty co-operation, of
which I have availed myself so extensively, that no art of mine would serve
to conceal it. Added to my own collections, these acquisitions have enabled
me to do what could not have been done before, -prepare an authentic
biography of Mr. Lincoln.
Mr. Herndon had been the partner in business and the intimate personal
associate of Mr. Lincoln for something like a quarter of a century; and Mr.