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LIFE AND ADMINISTRATION
His early History and Education-His Experience as a Flat-Boat
man-Removal to Illinois ---Hard Experiences,Second Flat-Boat Voyage—Is known as “Honest Abe"-Enlists as a Volunteer in the Black Hawk War.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN was born on the 12th day of February, 1809, in an obscure cabin in that portion of Hardin county, Kentucky, which has since been formed into the county of Larue. Like that of Jackson, Clay, Webster, and others whose illustrious names are bright upon the scroll of American history, his early life was cast in the unfavouring crucible of poverty and toil—a crucible from which we come forth dross or gold, as the case may be. Thomas Lincoln, his father, and Abraham, his grandfather, were natives of Rockingham county, Virginia, their ancestors having emigrated thither from Berks county, Pennsylvania. Further back than this, we find it difficult to trace his genealogy. a Quaker family, originally, but subsequently, the
characteristic habits of that sect seem to have been forsaken by the Lincolns. Our hero's grandsire, Abraham, had four brothers-Isaac, Jacob, John, and Thomas. Isaac emigrated to a point near the junction of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, where his descendants are now living. The descendants of Jacob and John are still living in Virginia. Thomas came to the wilds of Kentucky, and, subsequently, died in that State, whence his descendants migrated still further west, to Missouri.
In the year 1780, the remaining brother, Abraham, removed to Kentucky with his family, and took possession of a small tract of land in the forest solitude. Armed with the pioneer's watchword, “Hope and hard work," he here set himself resolutely to the project of hewing for himself a comfortable and permanent home out of the game-peopled, Indian-haunted wilderness. But his occupation was accompanied by considerable personal peril, which was greatly increased by the isolated locality which he had selected for his habitation. He had not long occupied his new home when he shared the fate of hundreds of the pioneers of those early days. A skulking savage murdered him while occupied at a distance from his cabin, and his scalped remains were found the next morning by his afflicted family.
Upon sustaining this heavy loss, the widow was left alone in the inhospitable wilderness with her three sons and two daughters. Poverty compelled a family separation, and all the children but Thomas bade a farewell to their sorrowing mother, to seek other homes, the second son migrating to Indiana, and the rest to other portions of Kentucky. Thomas, the younger son, owing to his mother's straitened circumstances, was, from early childhood, a wandering farm-boy, and grew up without education. The extent of his knowledge of penmanship was the mastery of his own signature. He was in his twenty-eighth year when, upon his final return to Kentucky, he married Nancy Hanks, mother of our subject, in the year 1806. Thomas Lincoln and his wife were plain people, members of the Baptist church, and both uneducated. The latter could read, but could not write. Nevertheless, he could fully appreciate the value of a better education than he himself possessed, and was not devoid of that truly democratic
everence which can bow before superior mental attainments in others. He was, besides, an industrious, cheerful, kind-hearted man. His wife was a woman of excellent judgment, sound sense, and proverbial piety, and, withal, an excellent helpmeet for a backwoodsman of Thomas Lincoln's stamp, and a mother whose piety and affection must have been of inestimable value in the shaping and directing of her children's destinies. Says the poet :
“There's a Divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough hew them as we will." But how much that divinity is controlled and directed by the heart and hand of the mother, the lives of all men remind us. In their keeping rests the destiny of their children.
Three children were the fruit of this union-a daughter, a son who died in infancy, and Abraham. The sister, who was older than Abraham, attained the years of womanhood and married, but long since died without issue, so that the subject of this biography had, at the time of his death, neither brother nor sister.