Page images
[blocks in formation]




Preliminary-Birth of Abraham Lincoln-Removal from Kentucky-At Work-Self Education-Personal Characteristics-Another Removal-Trip to New Orleans-Becomes Clerk-Black Hawk War-Engages in Politics-Successive Elections to the Legislature-Anti-Slavery Protest-Commences Practice as a Lawyer-Traits of Character-Marriage-Return to Politics-Election to Congress.

THE leading incidents in the early life of the men who have most decidedly influenced the destinies of our republic, present a striking similarity. The details, indeed, differ; but the story, in outline, is the same "the short and simple annals of the poor."

Of obscure parentage-accustomed to toil from their tender years with few facilities for the education of the schoolthe most struggled on, independent, self-reliant, till by their own right hands they had hewed their way to the positions for which their individual talents and peculiarities stamped them as best fitted. Children of nature, rather than of art, they have ever in their later years-amid scenes and associations entirely dissimilar to those with which in youth and early manhood, they were familiar-retained somewhat indicative of their origin and training. In speech or in action. -often in both-they have smacked of their native soil. If they have lacked the grace of the courtier, ample compensation has been afforded in the honesty of the man. If their

Where Born.

Early Life.


address was at times abrupt, it was at least frank and unmistakable. Both friend and foe knew exactly where to find them. Unskilled in the doublings of the mere politician or the trimmer, they have borne themselves straight forward to the points whither their judgment and conscience directed. Such men may have been deemed fit subjects for the jests and sneers of more cultivated Europeans, but they are none the less dear to us as Americans-will none the less take their place among those whose names the good, throughout the world, will not willingly let die.

Of this class, pre-eminently, was the statesman whose life and public services the following pages are to exhibit.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Sixteenth President of the United States, son of Thomas and Nancy Lincoln-the former a Kentuckian, the latter a Virginian-was born February 12th, 1809, near Hodgenville, the county-seat of what is now known as La Rue county, Kentucky. He had one sister, two years his senior, who died, married, in early womanhood; and his only brother, his junior by two years, died in childhood.

When nine years of age, he lost his mother, the family having, two years previously, removed to what was then the territory of Indiana, and settled in the southern part, near the Ohio river, about midway between Louisville and Evansville. The thirteen years which the lad spent here inured him to all the exposures and hardships of frontier life. An active assistant in farm duties, he neglected no opportunity of strengthening his mind, reading with avidity such instructive works as he could procure-on winter evenings, oftentimes, by the light of the blazing fire-place. As satisfaction for damage accidentally done to a borrowed copy of Weems' Life of Washington-the only one known to be in the neighborhood-he pulled fodder for two days for the owner.

At twenty years of age, he had reached the Leight of nearly six feet and four inches, with a comparatively slender yet uncommonly strong, muscular frame-a youthful giant

« PreviousContinue »