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ABRAHAM LINCOLN




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ABRAHAM LINCOLN



BY
BRAND WHITLOCK



ILLUSTRATED




BOSTON

SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY

MCMXVI






Copyright, 1909, 1916

By small, MAYNARD & COMPANY

(incorpobated)



M'A ^.^ 'i-''



JAN i8!3l7



llrittttra
B. J. PAXXHII.L & Co., Boston, U.S.A.



TO
E L B.



PREFACE

To compress between the covers of a little
booh like this the whole story of Abraham
Lincoln, to present within such limitations a
life so epical, a character so original and yet so
universal, is obviously impossible. It would be
impossible, indeed, in a work of a score of
volumes. The fascinating subject has already
yielded a whole literature. In the List of Lin-
colniana in the Library of Congress, compiled
by Mr, George Thomas Ritchie, there are al-
ready a thousand titles. Almost any phase of
Lincoln's remarkable personality is worth a
volume by itself, Mr, Hill, for instance, has
written a charming book on ^'Lincoln the Law-
yer/' devoted in the main to what, in many re-
spects, is the most interesting period of his life;
namely, those years when he was on the old
Eighth Circuit, Mr, Bates's reminiscences of

9



PREFACE

''Lincoln in the Telegraph Office'' are most
delightful. The student mil wish to read
Herndon's racy pages, — though he would bet-
ter take some of them with a grain of salt, — for
these supply the biographers with all that is
known of the early life of the subject. He will
wish, too, to read Lamon, who used Herndon's
materials; he will wish to peruse the pious pages
of Holland; and he will find valuable the data
which but for Miss Tarbell might otherwise
have been lost. He will find Nicolay and
Hay's monumental work authoritative, if not
definitive; and he will not like to miss the fine
flavor of that latest volume, so sympathetic, so
full of insight, that has come to us from over
the sea in Mr, Binns's most excellent Life, He
will wish to read, also, the intimate personal
sketches Walt Whitman has scattered all
through his prose; and above all, of course, he
will wish to read Lincoln's speeches, letters,
messages, and State papers, where, better than
any other words can give it, is to be found the
expression of his noble personality,

10



PREFACE

To all these works, to all those cited in the
Bibliography, the present writer owes, and
wishes to express, his gratitude and acknowl-
edgments. All he knows, aside from some
personal recollections of Springfield friends, he
got from them. He makes no claim of original
research or new material: he has contributed
nothing of his own save the labour of condensa-
tion and a love of the subject which finds it hard
to resist the temptation to write at as great a
length as any of them. He would, however,
urge the reader to get the other books about the
greatest American, and to seek out for himself
the secret that was in his wonderful and beauti-
ful life, — the secret that, let us hope, was re-
vealed to America for the saving of the world.

Brand Whitlock.
Toledo, October 20, 1908



11



CHRONOLOGY

1809
February 12. Abraham Lincoln was born on the
Big South Fork of Nolin Creek, in Hardin, now
LaRue County, Kentucky.

1816
Removed with his parents to Indiana, settling on
Little Pigeon Creek, near Gentryville, Spencer
County.

1818
Nancy Hanks Lincoln, his mother, died.

1819
His father married Sarah Bush Johnston.

1828
Went to New Orleans on a flatboat.

1830
The Lincolns went to Illinois, settling near Decatur,

Macon County.
Abraham split the historic rails,

15



CHRONOLOGY

1831
Went to New Orleans on a flatboat.
July, Went to New Salem, Sangamon County.
Clerk in store.

1832
March, Announced himself candidate for legisla-
ture.
Captain in Black Hawk War.
July, Mustered out.
August, Defeated for election,

1833
Engaged in business with Berry. Began to study

law.
The firm of Lincoln & Berry failed.
May, Postmaster of New Salem. Deputy surveyor

of Sangamon County.

1834
Again candidate for legislature, and elected.

1835
Was at Vandalia as member of legislature. Met

Stephen A. Douglas.
Fell in love with Anne Rutledge, who died. Was

plunged into melancholia.



16



CHRONOLOGY

1836

Love affair with Mary Owens.

Re-elected to legislature. Leader of "Long Nine."
Worked for Internal Improvement bubble, and
succeeded in having State capital removed to
Springfield.

Protested against resolutions condemning abolition-
ism.

Admitted to the bar.

1837
Settled in Springfield, forming partnership with
John T. Stuart.

1838
Re-elected to legislature. Minority candidate for
Speaker.

1840
Candidate for Presidential elector on Whig ticket.
Stumped the State for Harrison. Had encoun-
ters with Douglas.
Re-elected to legislature, and again minority candi-
date for Speaker.

1841
He and Douglas rivals for hand of Mary Todd.
Engagement with Mary Todd broken. Ill and al-
most deranged. Visited his friend Joshua Speed
in Kentucky.
Challenged to a duel by James T. Shields.

17



CHRONOLOGY

April 14. Formed law partnership with Judge Ste-
phen T. Logan.
Refused Whig nomination for governor.

1842
Novemher 4. Married to Mary Todd.

1843
September 20. Formed law partnership with Wil-
liam H. Herndon.

1844
Candidate for Presidential elector on Whig ticket,
and stumped Illinois and Indiana for Henry Clay.

1846
Elected to the Thirtieth Congress over Peter Cart-
wright.

1847
In Congress. Introduced famous *^Spot" Resolu-
tions.

1848
Presidential elector on Whig ticket, and stumped

New England for Taylor.
December, Attended second session of the Thirtieth
Congress. Voted for Wilmot Proviso and Ash-
mun's amendment.
Introduced bill abolishing slavery in District of Co-
lumbia.

18



CHRONOLOGY

Sought appointment as commissioner of General
Lands Office, and failed.

Declined appointment as Territorial Governor of
Oregon.

Went back to Springfield, disappointed and disillu-
sioned.

1849

Practised law on old Eighth Judicial Circuit of Illi-
nois.

1852

Campaigned for Scott.

1854
Roused by repeal of Missouri Compromise and pas-
sage of Kansas-Nebraska bill.
Attacked Douglas's position.
Novemher, Elected to legislature against his will.

1855
January. Resigned from legislature to become can-
didate for United States senator.
February. Defeated for United States senator.

1856

May 29. Spoke at Bloomington Convention, which
organised the Republican party in Illinois.

Received 110 votes for Vice-President in Republican
Convention at Philadelphia.
19



CHRONOLOGY

Candidate for Presidential elector on Republican

ticket, and campaigned for Fremont.
Attacked Douglas's position.

1858
June 16. Nominated for United States Senate by

Republicans in State Convention.
July 24. Challenged Douglas to joint debate.
Great debate with Douglas.
Carried Illinois for Republicans on popular vote, but

lost a majority of the legislative districts.

1859
January, Defeated for Senate by Douglas before

legislature.
Spoke that fall in Ohio, and in December in Kansas.

1860
February 27. Delivered notable address at Cooper

Institute, New York.
Spoke also in New England.
May 9. Named by Illinois Convention at Decatur

as "Rail" candidate for President.
May 16. Nominated for President by Republicans

at Chicago.
Nommher, Elected.

1861
February 11. Left Springfield for Washington.
March 4. Inaugurated as President.

20



CHRONOLOGY

April 13. Fall of Fort Sumter.

April 15. Issued call for volunteers, and convened
Congress in extraordinary session for July 4.

J% 21. Battle of Bull Run.

July 25. Appointed McClellan to command Army
of Potomac.

November 1. Appointed McClellan commander-in-
chief, under the President, of all armies.

December 3. Message to Congress.

December 25. Ordered the return of Mason and Sli-
dell, captured Commissioners of the Confederacy,
and averted war with England.

1862

January 13. Appointed Edwin M. Stanton Secre-
tary of War.

Sent special message to Congress, recommending
gradual compensated emancipation of slaves.

July 11. Appointed Halleck general-in-chief.

September 22. Issued preliminary proclamation of
emancipation after battle of Antietaip.

December, Message to Congress again urging
gradual compensated emancipation.

Superseded McClellan in command of Army of the
Potomac by Burnside.

December 13. Burnside defeated at Fredericksburg.

1863
January 1. Issued Emancipation Proclamation.

21



ABRAHAM LINCOLN

January 26. Appointed Hooker to succeed Burn-
side.

May 2. Hooker lost battle of Chancellorsville.

June 27. Appointed Meade to succeed Hooker.

July 1-4. Battle of Gettysburg.

July 4. Fall of Vicksburg.

September 19-20. Battle of Chickamauga.

November 19. Delivered address at dedication of
the National Cemetery on the battlefield of Gettys-
burg.

November 24-25. Grant won battles of Lookout
Mountain and Missionary Ridge.

December 8. Message to Congress and Proclama-
tion of Amnesty.

1864
March 3. Commissioned Grant lieutenant-general

and placed him in command of all the armies.
June 7. Renominated for President by Republican

National Convention at Baltimore.
August 23. Had premonition of defeat.
November 8. Re-elected.

1865
February 1, Hampton Roads Peace Conference

with Confederate Commissioners.
March 4. Inaugurated as President a second time.
March 22. Visited Grant at City Point.

22



CHRONOLOGY

April 4. Entered Richmond.

April 14. Shot in Ford's Theatre at lO.SO o'clock

in the evening.
April 15. Died at 7.22 o'clock in the morning.
Mat/ 4. Buried in Springfield.



23



ABRAHAM LINCOLN



ABRAHAM LINCOLN



The story of Lincoln, perfect in its unities,
appealing to the imagination like some old
tragedy, has been told over and over, and will
be told over and over again. The log cabin
where he was born, the axe he swung in the
backwoods, the long sweep to which he bent on
the flatboat in the river, the pine knot at mid-
night, — these are the rough symbols of the
forces by which he made his own slow way.
Surveyor and legislator, country lawyer riding
the circuit, politician on the stump and in Con-
gress, the unwearied rival of Douglas, finally,
as the lucky choice of a new party, the Presi-
dent, — the story is wholly typical of these
States in that earlier epoch when the like was
possible to any boy. But the story does not

27



ABRAHAM LINCOLN

end here. He is in the White House at last,
but in an hour when reahsed ambitions turn to
ashes, the nation is divided, a crisis confronts
the land, and menaces the old cause of liberty.
We see him become the wise leader of that old
cause, the sad, gentle captain of a mighty war,
the liberator of a whole race, and not only the
saviour of a republic, but the creator of a na-
tion ; and then, in the very hour of triumph, —
the tragedy for which destiny plainly marked
him. Rightly told, the story is the epic of
America.

It was like him to have little interest in his
forbears. In the brief autobiographical notes
of 1859 he mentioned the Lincolns of Massa-
chusetts, but he did not know that with them he
was descended from those Lincolns who came
from England about 1635. The genealogists
trace the line down to that Abraham who, in
Kentucky in 1788, was killed by the Indians.
The tragedy separated the family. Thomas,
the youngest son, was only ten. He did not

28



ABRAHAM LINCOLN

even know how to read. He worked as he
could, became a carpenter, and in 1806 married
his cousin, Nancy Hanks, whose pathetic
young figure has emerged from mystery as the
daughter of Joseph Hanks and his Quaker
wife, Nannie Shipley, whose sister Mary was
Thomas Lincoln's mother.

At Elizabethtown a daughter was born.
Then they moved to a farm on the Big South
Fork of Nolin Creek, three miles from
Hodgensville, in what was then Hardin, now
LaRue, County. And here in a cabin, on
February 12, 1809, their second child was born.
They named him Abraham, after old Abraham,
his grandfather, who had been killed by the In-
dians. When he was four years old, his father
removed to Knob Creek, then, in 1816, aban-
doned his clearing, and went to Indiana. He
staked off a claim on Pigeon Creek, near Gen-
tryville, Spencer County, and built a "half-
faced camp" of unhewn logs, without floor, en-
closed on three sides, the open front protected
only by skins. Here they lived for a whole

29



ABRAHAM LINCOLN

year. Then Thomas and Betsy Sparrow came,
and Dennis Hanks, and they reared a log
cabin. The life was hard, but Abraham could
play and sometimes hunt with his cousin Den-
nis, though he was too tenderhearted to kill,
and after one day shooting a wild turkey, he
never afterward, as he was able to record in
1860, "pulled the trigger on any larger game."
Despite the abounding game, however, the fare
was poor; and one day, after the "blessing" had
been said over the monotonous potatoes, the boy
looked up with that expression which in later
years foretold a joke, and said, "I call these
mighty poor blessings."

In 1818 the settlement was swept by the
dreaded "milk-sick." Thomas and Betsy
Sparrow died of it; then Thomas Lincoln's
wife fell ill. She lived a week, and, calling the
children to her bed of skins and leaves, she told
them "to love their kindred and worship God,"
and so died. There were no ceremonies at this
most miserable funeral, and the winter that
came upon the grave in the forest, where

30



ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Thomas Lincoln laid his wife in the rude coffin
he had made, beat on a desolate home. The
motherless childixn shivered in a cabin without
a floor, and the sorrow of it all, the mystery of
death, the loneliness of the woods, made a dark
impression on the sensitive boy.

But back in Kentucky there was a widow,
Sarah Buck Johnston, once a sweetheart of
Thomas Lincoln. He went to court her, and
in December, 1819, they were married. Her
household goods— among them "a M^alnut bu-
reau valued at fifty dollars"— improved the
cabin, and the family, augmented by her three
children, began life anew. This motherly
housewife dressed the forlorn little Lincolns in
her own children's clothes, and for the first time
they knew the luxury of a feather bed. And,
best miracle of all, she inspired Thomas to lay
a floor, mend doors, cut windows, and plaster
the chinks in the cabin walls. She had what
poor Nancy Hanks had lacked,— the robust
strength for rude labour. She was a "very tall
woman, straight as an Indian, of fair complex-

31



ABRAHAM LINCOLN

ion, . . . handsome, sprightly, talkative and
proud." And between her and the young Ab-
raham there grew a love which was to last all
his life : she said he was the best son woman ever
had. Thomas Lincoln had little patience with
*'book learning," and, failing to interest Abra-
ham in carpentry, hired him out to neighbours.
He went to school, as he said, "by littles," —
scarcely a year in all; but he learned "reading,
writing and ciphering to the Rule o' Three,"
became an excellent penman, and, it is said,
corrected the spelling and the pronunciation of
the family name, which in the settlement was
"Linkhern" or "Linkhorn." The new mother
encouraged him to study at home, and he read
"every book he heard of within a circuit of fifty
miles," — Murray's English Reader, the Bible,
iEsop's Fables, Robinson Crusoe, The Pil-
grimfs Progress, a History of the United
States, and Weems's Life of Washington,
This last book he had borrowed of Josiah Craw-
ford, and one night, through carelessness, it
was stained and warped by rain. Crawford

32



ABRAHAM LINCOLN

made him pull fodder for three days at twenty-
five cents a day to pay for the volume, and the
boy in revenge bestowed on him the enduring
niclmame of ''Blue Nose."

From these books he made extracts in brier-
root ink with a pen made from a buzzard's
quill. Sometimes he figured with charcoal on
the wooden fire-shovel, shaving it off white and
clean when it was covered. He studied by the
firelight, and was up with his book at dawn.
He read everything, even the Revised Statutes
of Indiana; and, if he did not commit its con-
tents to memory,— for so preposterously has
the legend grown,— he must have studied the
Declaration of Independence and the Constitu-
tion. He would mount a stump and harangue
the field hands, telling even then his stories or
imitating to the life the last itinerant preacher
who had passed that way. He wrote, too,
articles on "Temperance," on ''Government,"
and on "Cruelty to Animals." Unkindness he
could not endure, and unkindness was not un-
common among those thoughtless folk. Thus

33



ABRAHAM LINCOLN

he made friends — even of the town drunkard,
whose hfe he saved one night by dragging him
from a ditch. He even attempted rhymes and
satire, not always in the best taste, avenging
himself on Blue Nose Crawford and on the
Grigsbys for not inviting him to a wedding.
Of course, he attended court over at Boonville,
walking fifteen miles to watch the little come-
dies and tragedies. Once he was bold enough
to congratulate counsel for defence in a murder
trial, and years afterward, in the White House,
the greatest of the Presidents said to that law-
yer, "I felt that, if I could ever make as good
a speech as that, my soul would be satisfied."
He said his "father taught him to work, but
never taught him to love it." He preferred the
pioneer sports, — running and wrestling, — but
he did work, and worked hard, making rails,
ploughing, mowing, doing everything. At
nineteen he attained his extraordinary physical
growth, *'six feet, two inches tall, weighing one
hundred and fifty pounds — with long arms and
legs, huge and awkward feet and hands, a slen-

34



ABRAHAM LINCOLN

der body and small head." Surely, an un-
gainly figure, almost grotesque, in coon-skin
cap, linsey-woolsey shirt, and buckskin breeches
so short that they exposed his shins. He was
said to be "equal to three men," able to "hft and
bear a pair of logs." He could "strike with a
maul a heavier blow — could sink an axe deeper
into wood than any man I ever saw."

In 1828 he went for the first time out into
the world as bowman on a flatboat, down to
New Orleans. It was an adventure for him, of
course, — at Baton Rouge a fight with negroes,
at New Orleans the levees and the slave mart.
Thus he grew and came to manhood, with
some knowledge of books, some knowledge of
men, some knowledge of life. His learning
was tainted with the superstitions that were rife
in the settlement, and always, in a measure,
they clung to him, to merge in later years into
the mysticism of his poetic nature. There had
been sorrows, too: his sister Sarah had married
and died in child-birth; then in 1829 the milk-
sick again, and the call of the West.

35



ABRAHAM LINCOLlSr

In March, 1830, they set out for lUinois.
The tall young Abraham, in coonskin cap and
buckskins, strode beside the huge wagon, wield-
ing a long gad over the oxen. They were two
weeks on the way, over roads that froze by
night and thawed by day, but at last they all
arrived safely in the Sangamon country, even
the dog which, left behind one morning after
they had forded a stream, looked with such re-
proachful eyes that the tender-hearted Abra-
ham waded to his rescue back through the icy
waters. John Hanks met them five miles
north-west of Decatur, in Macon County; and
on a bluff overlooking the muddy Sangamon
they built a cabin, split rails, fenced in fifteen
acres, and broke the virgin prairie. Abraham
was twenty-one and free. He remained in
Macon County, however, that winter, splitting
rails, "four hundred for every yard of jeans
dyed with walnut juice necessary to make him
a pair of trousers," and all of them for history,
and in the spring found a patron in Denton
Offut, an adventurer who engaged him, with

36



ABRAHAINI LINCOLN

Hanks, to take a boat-load of provisions to
New Orleans. At New Salem the boat
grounded on a dam, and but for Lincoln's inge-
nuity would have been broken up. The inci-
dent moved Lincoln to invent and ultimately,
in 1849, to patent an apparatus to lift vessels
over shoals, and it introduced him to New
Salem with eclat, for the people gathered and
cheered the young navigator when he cleverly
contrived to get his boat off the dam and on its
way. At New Orleans he spent a month on
the levee, among the half -savage rivermen ; and
the slave mart brought home to him in all poign-
ancy and pity the institution he had already be-
gun to study and, perhaps, to hate.

In August he was back at New Salem, "a
piece of floating driftwood," as he said, await-
ing Offut, who was to open a store. The vil-
lage had a busy land office, twenty log cabins,
and a hundred inhabitants. In seven years it
had vanished from the earth. Here Lincoln
loafed about, a river boatman out of a job, un-
til election day, and then, naturally, loafed

37



ABRAHAM LINCOLN

about the polls. Mentor Graham, village
schoolmaster, clerk of elections, needed an as-
sistant, and, looking up, saw the tall, young
stranger. *'Can you write ?" he asked. "I can
make a few rabbit tracks," said Lincoln. He
did the work to Graham's satisfaction, and,
while the voters straggled up, "spun a stock of
Indiana yarns." They made a hit, and New
Salem long afterwards repeated his stories,
even those, perhaps, that would better not have
been repeated. Offut opened his store, put
Lincoln in charge, bragged of him, and claimed
that he could outrun, whip, or throw any man
in Sangamon County. The '^Clary's Grove
Boys" — ^the name itself suggests their charac-
ter — issued promptly from their strip of tim-
ber, declaring that Jack Armstrong was "a bet-
ter man than Lincoln." Lincoln said he did
not like to "tussle and scuffle," and despised
"pulling and wooling," but he was badgered
into it, and gave their champion a famous
thrashing. The victory established him in
New Salem, and the Clary's Grove Boys

38



ABRAHAM LINCOLN

formed the nucleus of his pohtical following.
Before long he had part in a picturesque scene,
piloting the first steamboat, the Talisman, up
the Sangamon. There was a banquet at
Springfield to celebrate the event, but Lincoln
was not invited. Only the "gentlemen" w^ere
asked, and Lincoln was but a pilot. Within a
year Offut failed, and Lincoln found himself
floating driftwood again.

A young man in the Illinois of 1832, who
was ambitious, given to stump-speaking, to the
reading of history and of law, and to arguing in
country stores, must necessarily have found a
lively interest in politics. So it was with Lin-
coln. From youth he had been attracted by
the romantic figure of Henry Clay, and had
adopted most of his political principles. If he
was not a Whig, he was Whiggish, as Lamon
puts it. To one of Clay's principles, that of
gradual, compensated emancipation, he clung
with devotion all his life. In March, there-
fore, of the year under notice, he announced
himself as a candidate for the legislature, de-

39



ABRAHAM LINCOLN

daring in favour of "at least a moderate educa-
tion" for every man, and a law against usury,
though "in cases of extreme necessity there
could always be means found to cheat the law.
. . . My case is thrown exclusively upon the
independent voters of the county. . . . But if
the good people in their wisdom shall see fit to
keep me in the background, I have been too
familiar with disappointments to be very much
chagrined."

Here, indeed, with the people he had to leave
his case, for his campaign was presently inter-
rupted by the Black Hawk War. The old
chief of the Sacs, who gave his name to this last
Indian uprising in Illinois, had broken the
treaties by which the tribes had gone beyond
the Mississippi, and, asserting that "land can-
not be sold," appeared at the head of his braves
in war paint on the ancestral hunting-grounds
in northern Illinois. Governor Beynolds
called for volunteers, and Lincoln was among
the first to respond. The Clary's Grove Boys,
glad of a chance of fun and fighting, enlisted

40



ABRAHAM LINCOLN

enthusiastically, and elected Lincoln captain, —
*'a success," he afterwards wrote, "which gave
me more pleasure than any I have had since."
His enjoymentjof the whole experience, indeed,
seems to have been keen. But withal there
were weariness and hardship. He was learn-
ing something of the gentle art of ruling men,
though with his company, impatient of disci-


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