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ASTOR, LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS 1899
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, by
RUDD & CARLETON,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.
THE LIFE OF ABRAM LINCOLN.
If there is any one peculiarity of American nationality, any phase of American character by which it is distinguished in the eyes of discerning foreigners, any trait that will make it pre-eminent in history, it is that singular sort of energy, half physical and half intellectual, nervous, intense, untiring, which has achieved all of greatness that America has yet attained; it is this that is applied to every aim, that is found in every class in life, that is evident in Morse and Franklin and Webster and Scott; that captures Monterey and searches for the North Pole, that lays Atlantic Telegraphs and subdues the Indian race; that covers a continent with railways, that converts a distant colony into a thriving State in half a dozen years, that has carried this people to its present height of prosperity and power. Now, although this nervous untiring energy is in some sort intellectual, although it implies the possession and the exercise of brain, yet it is as much material as intellectual; it consists in the application of power to matter; it is not ideal but eminently practical; it is like a steam engine, the product, the result of profound and hidden forces, of internal fires, but its action is externally demonstrated; it rides over and under mountains, it bridges rivers, and reaches its aim by trampling upon obstacles: it is not delicate nor dainty, but tremendous and terrible; it is successful. This energy is manifested in various ways and by various characters,
but by none more emphatically than the backwoodsman: the backwoods-man of to-day corresponds to the Puritan of two centuries ago. The same work which the Pilgrim Fathers had to do in New England, is now set for the settlers in Illinois and Wisconsin. This work, whose accomplishment is the wonder of Europe, is the subduing of nature, the civilization of a continent.
The backwoods-man represents this individual trait of American character. Abroad, the backwoods-man is looked upon, and rightly, as the representative American. Hitherto the backwoods-man has been powerful and important, it is true, but never until now has been conceded to him the first place. Men of experience and culture and training in the arts of polished life have claimed the highest honors in America as abroad. But the natural result of democratic institutions is now accomplished, and a great and powerful party has selected for its standard bearer, one who never received more than six months' schooling, who has not only sprung directly from the people, but who still belongs to the people, who is of them, and among them; who, like Antæus, finds his greatest strength in his contact with that from which he sprang; one whose parents were poor, and who is now not rich, but whose native energies and untutored talents have obtained for him the remarkable recognition which we chronicle. Whatever may be the result of the approaching Presidential election, it will always be distinguished for the elevation of one who had been a working man to such pre-eminence as that accorded to Abram Lincoln. This is a legitimate result of democracy; Lincoln himself in his history and in his character is the true offspring of a democracy. No where else in the world could such things be, and be
normal and natural. A fisherman may be for three days king of Naples, but Massaniello was the child of a revolution; a butcher-boy has in England been prime-minister, but it was the church and the favor of his sovereign that elevated Wolsey; only in America could a man possessing none of the advantages of birth or fortune, or friends or education-achieve so marked success, in the ordinary course of events, and solely by dint of his own energy and industry and ability. Should he be elected President, Abram Lincoln will be the truest illustration and exponent and outcrop of American institutions that those institututions have ever known.
He has revolutionary blood in his veins. The Lincolns of Massachusetts, who are known for their patriotism in the war of '76, were his progenitors. That General Lincoln, who at Yorktown, received from Washington the sword of Cornwallis, was of the same family; but in this country, families are not long powerful or distinguished; they not only rise suddenly from obscurity, but they descend to it again as abruptly. It was so in this instance. Abram Lincoln, the grandfather of him who is now the leader of the Republican party, was originally a quaker of Berks county, Pennsylvania; and in the eastern part of that state, some of his kindred and name may still be found. He early emigrated to Rockingham county, Virginia, where some of his children were born. However, not all the descendants of the old Friend, were destined to be southerners, for in 1782 he, who seems to have been a sort of patriarch, governing the conduct even of his adult and married sons, removed to Hardin county, Kentucky, where he was surprised and killed by Indians while at work on his clearing. His grandson, Abram, was born Feb. 12, 1809: the lad enjoyed lit
tle parental care, for when he was but six years old, his father died, leaving a widow and several children, poor, and almost friendless; so his entrance into life was under any but apparently favorable auspices; in the uncleared forests of Kentucky, amid the rude associations of poverty and comparative ignorance; familiarized with the logcabin and the rifle, rather than the school-room or the primer; accustomed to the plow, and to the most ordinary and roughest sorts of labor from his very boyhood. Yet, such influences as these have trained others into men of mark; have schooled the character and developed the intellects of some whose figure in the world has not been despicable. There are natures for whom such hardening associations are the happiest, and Abram Lincoln seems to have been of these.
The family removed to Spencer county, Indiana, in 1816, but hardly relieved their destitution by this change of abode; so in 1830, Abram pushed still further west, into Illinois. He was now twenty-one, and had grown to more than the ordinary stature of manhood, his height being six feet and three inches, but his mental faculties had hitherto received no technical training; opportunities for what is ordinarily styled education, had been utterly without his reach. He had lived, and still lived
the life of the laborious poor. He was, by turns, a common farm laborer, a workman in a saw-mill, a splitter of rails, and a flat-boatman on the Wabash and Mississippi rivers-positions, none of them affording remarkable educational advantages. Still, he must have been awake and alive to what opportunities were thrown in his way, and a vigorous mind makes opportunities for itself. That he had a vigorous mind, is amply proven by his after career. He was being moulded by circumstances even so unpro