Abraham Lincoln was by far the greatest President in U.S. history and we all know how he freed the slaves and was killed by John Wilkes Booth, but all that most of us know about his early life is that he was born in a log cabin in Kentucky. Where did the great President come from? How did he become such a great speaker? Lincoln is still to this day a very mysterious individual even though more books have been written on him than any other American. In this paper I will try to shed some light on the early years of this great President.
Abraham Lincoln was born to Thomas and Nancy Lincoln on February 12, 1809. He was indeed born in a log cabin in what is now La Rue County, KY. His family was very poor and spent a lot of time moving from place to place because in that time land titles weren’t very secure and people often lost their land because of this. There was also another reason why the Lincoln’s would leave Kentucky. The Lincoln were Baptists and by being so their condemned slavery and wanted to live in a place were it was rarely practiced. In 1816, Lincoln and his family would move to Indiana. His father had sold their farm for $20 and $280 worth of whiskey, which equaled 10 barrels. They made their way to Indiana by the Ohio River and unfortunately their flat boat was destroyed by “sawyers” these were obstructions in the water that made an up and down sawing motion that would cut through flat beds and other boats. They were able to recover their possessions, including the whiskey that had made its way to the bottom of the river. Lincoln’s father made his way to their new property leaving behind the rest of his family until he got their possessions situated. It is during this time that Lincoln got his first look at sorrow. His mother had just recently had a baby and he had died and they buried him there in the woods and he watched as his mother grieved while leaving to go to their new home. Lincoln was only six years old at the time. Lincoln, his mother, father and older sister lived on their property for quite some time in Indiana. But they gave their cabin up to a family who had just moved to the area and built themselves an even better cabin. The family who had taken over their old cabin would eventually get sick of what was known as the “milk-sick” and would come to stay at the Lincoln’s new cabin. They unfortunately died there and Lincoln’s mother caught the disease and would die when he was nine years old. His father remarried, Sarah Bush Johnston who had three children of her own. She treated Abraham and his sister as her own children and taught Lincoln how to read and encouraged his education. It is important to note that Lincoln would only receive a total of one year of education and even this small amount wasn’t received all at once. Lincoln basically educated himself. He read tons of books, poetry and hymns. He did math in the sand because he rarely had anything to write on. In a notebook that was saved he had written: “Abraham Lincoln, his hand and pen, he will be good but, God knows when.” When Lincoln was in his late teens he left and moved to Illinois. There he would eventually go on to teach himself law and successfully pass the Illinois bar exam.
Work, Law, and Politics
At a very early age Lincoln learned to be a hard worker. His parents taught him that it was very important to work hard and by doing so you could achieve anything. While he was still quite young he split logs into fence rails, averaging 400 a day. From then on he would do a number of odd jobs including, running flat boats, working as a clerk, he learned to survey land, etc. During one of his trips down to New Orleans while manning a flat boat he saw slavery up close and personal for the first time. He had of course seen slavery while living in Kentucky, but nothing like this. He would later take another trip to New Orleans and again be sickened by what he saw. Lincoln hated slavery and of course would go on to end it.
Lincoln had one job that he loved more than any of them and that was being part of the Black Hawk War. Though he knew no one in the town he enlisted in and had no military experience, he was elected Captain. Around the same time he ran for the House of Representatives and lost. But when he ran again, he was successful. He stayed there from 1834-1840. Lincoln was at first a Whig, until the eventual break up of the party after which he became a Republican. Lincoln also ran a law office of his own very successfully. And on November 6, 1860 he would be elected President.
Other Important Facts
Lincoln was married to Mary Todd who well let’s face it, was crazy. He was a very depressed man having his mother and brother die when he was very young and his sister died when he was 21. A girlfriend of his also died. He also had a son who died before he took the office of President. Many say Lincoln was also psychic even dreamed about his death the night before he was killed. The man was extremely mysterious, intelligent, well spoken, and of course would go on to be our greatest President.
Abraham Lincoln: Life Before the Presidency. The National Park Services: Links to the Past.
Available at http://www.cr.nps.gov/logcabin/html/al1.html. Accessed on 30, April 2006.
Abraham Lincoln before the Presidency. Illinois Periodicals Online.
Available at http://www.lib.niu.edu/ipo/1995/ihy950225.html. Accessed on 30, April 2006.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN – A LIFETIME OF CHALLENGES. Lincoln Memorial.
Available at http://www.nps.gov/linc/lincoln/early.htm. Accessed on 30, April 2006.
Early Years. The Life of Abraham Lincoln.
Available at http://www.authorama.com/life-of-abraham-lincoln-5.html. Accessed on 30, April 2006.