« PreviousContinue »
EARLY DAYS IN OBSCURITY.
"Honor and shame from no condition rise:
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty;
"And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
"That no flesh should glory in his presence."-ST. PAUL (1 Cor. i. 27).
THE sixteenth President of the United States was born in obscurity. No Gabriel heralded his birth; no shepherds saw the star of his nativity, and heard the chanting of celestial visitants to earth; nor did sages and philosophers come to his cradle-side with costly offerings and significant homage. Yet he had a grand mission on earth to perform, and was to be, in some sense, the savior of many, and in the obscurity of his birth, at least, resembled the Master whose footsteps he afterward loved to follow. It is the design of Infinite Wisdom that the tiny acorn should precede the towering oak, the little rivulet commence the mighty river; and that Wisdom was no less manifest in the humble birth and parentage of one whom the good of all nations, in all time, should afterward delight to honor.
In that part of Hardin County, Ky., now known as La Rue, on the 12th of February, 1809, ABRAHAM
LINCOLN entered upon existence. His father, Thomas Lincoln, and the grandfather whose patriarchal name he bore, were natives of Rockingham County, Va., a part of the "Old Dominion" to which their ancestors had removed from Berks County, Penn.
Abraham, the grandfather, migrated to Kentucky with his family in the year 1780, where he obtained possession of a small tract of land in the then wilderness, and there erected a rude cabin, and commenced a life of toil and danger. Like the Pilgrim colonists of our own New England, he was accustomed to carry his gun with his axe, or other implement of labor, when he went forth to his toil; and, when he laid his head upon his nightly pillow, it was with his trusty firelock conveniently at hand, that there might be safety for him and his should the wild war-whoop of the savage Indian break upon his slumbers. These merciless "lords of the forest" manifested intense hostility to the "pale-faces," and with ruthless barbarity murdered men, women, and children, when the opportunity was afforded them. For four years, our President's grandfather was unharmed; but at the end of that period, while he was using his axe at a place some four miles from his home, he was suddenly attacked by the Indians, and, unable to reach his gun in season, was overpowered, killed, and scalped after the hideous Indian fashion. Search was made for him when his prolonged absence awakened alarm, and the next morning his remains were discovered. This loss of their beloved father resulted finally in the scattering of the children.
The father of our martyred President left his early home when only about twelve years old, but afterwards returned to Kentucky, and in 1806 married Miss Nancy Sparrow, who was a native of Virginia. Both of our late President's parents were members of the Baptist Church,
and well known as a pious, unassuming, but uneducated couple. The father could neither read nor write, save to scribble his name in rude hieroglyphic letters which could hardly be understood. The mother could not write, but she could read; and this accomplishment made her seem a remarkable woman for that time and place. Moreover, it gave her the power to peruse the blessed volume, and to read its holy words to her husband for his guidance and consolation, and its interesting stories to her beloved son Abraham.
Thomas Lincoln appreciated this privilege which his wife possessed, and it deepened his respect for her; for, though himself so unlearned, he appreciated all the more, perhaps, the advantages of education: and all who possessed a more than ordinary share of learning challenged and received from him the most unbounded respect. And, could he have foreseen the career of his noble and excellent son, he would have been still more desirous than he was that Abraham should have the opportunity to study, and still more proud of the facility with which he mastered his lessons.
It was at the age of seven that "Abe," as he was familiarly termed in the home-circle, first began to attend school in a small academy with a teacher who loved not his great work, and was only anxious that his pupils should learn to read and write. Having put into their hands the power to do these two great things, he left them to use that power or not, as they pleased. But, under this apathetic and incompetent teacher, Abraham was not destined long to stay.
His father was a lover of liberty. He could not breathe freely in a slave State. He saw the peculiar disadvantages of life for poor whites in a land where labor was degraded by slavery; and he resolved that his children