James Baldwin.

Baldwin's biographical booklets : the story of Abraham Lincoln for young readers online

. (page 1 of 3)
Online LibraryJames BaldwinBaldwin's biographical booklets : the story of Abraham Lincoln for young readers → online text (page 1 of 3)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


.71.63 Baldwin, James






The story of Abraham Lincoln
for youno readers.



LINCOLN ROOM

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
LIBRARY




MEMORIAL

the Class of 1901

founded by

HARLAN HOYT HORNER

and
HENRIETTA CALHOUN HORNER




BALDWIN'S

BIOGRAPHICAL

BOOKLETS



BH

v^yffiz
HBffi



H

HM

GgfSrsSif

mm



THE STORY OF
ABRAHAM LINCOLN



FOR YOU
READERS



m

'/Staff



?ES BALDWIN



IIP




BALDWIN'S BIOGRAPHICAL BOOKLETS



THE STORY



OF



ABRAHAM LINCOLN



FOR YOUNG READERS




WERNER SCHOOL BOOK COMPANY

NEW YORK CHICAGO BOSTON



Baldwin's Biographical Booklet Series,

Biographical Stories of Great Americans
for Young Americans



JAMES BALDWIN, Ph.D.

IN these biographical stories the lives of great Americans are
presented In such a manner as to hold the attention of the
youngest reader. In lives like these the child finds the most
inspiring examples of good citizenship and true patriotism.

NOW READY
Four Great Americans PRICE

The Story of George Washington . . . . lOc

The Story of Benjamin Franklin .... lOc

The Story of Daniel Webster lOc

The Story of Abraham Lincoln ..... lOc
By JAMES BALDWIN

Four American Patriots

The Story of Patrick Henry lOc

The Story of Alexander Hamilton .... lOc

The Story of Andrew Jackson lOc

The Story of Ulysses S. Grant . . . . lOc
By MRS. ALMA HOLMAN BURTON

The Story of Henry Clay .... . . lOc

By FRANCES CRAVENS

IN PRES5
Four American Naval fleroes

The Story of Paul Jones lOc

The Story of Oliver H. Perry lOc

The Story of David G. Farragut lOc

The Story of George Dewey lOc

By MRS. MABEL BORTON BEEBE

Four American Poets

The Story of William Cullen Bryant . . . . lOc

The Story of Henry W. Longfellow lOc

The Story of John Greenleaf Whittier . . . lOc

The Story of Oliver Wendell Holmes . . . lOc
By SHERWIN CODY

OTHER VOLUMES IN PREPARATION



Copyright, 1896, by WERNER SCHOOL BOOK COMPANY
Efjr ILahfgilif \Srtss

R. R. DONNELLEY * SONS COMPANY
CHICAGO



CONTENTS



CHAPTER PAGE

I. THE KENTUCKY HOME ,5

II. WORK AND SORROW 10

III. THE NEW MOTHER 18

IV. SCHOOL AND BOOKS 20

V. LIFE IN THE BACKWOODS 25

VI. THE BOATMAN 28

VII. THE FIRST YEARS IN ILLINOIS 31

VIII. THE BLACK HAWK WAR 34

IX. IN THE LEGISLATURE . . ; . ... .37

X. POLITICS AND MARRIAGE . , . . . . 42

XI. CONGRESSMAN AND LAWYER 46

XII. THE QUESTION OF SLAVERY 49

XIII. LINCOLN AND DOUGLAS ...... 54

XIV. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES . . .58
XV. THE END OF A GREAT LIFE ..... 62







ABRAHAM LINCOLN.



THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.



I. THE KENTUCKY HOME.

Not far from Hodgensville, in Kentucky, there
once lived a man whose name was Thomas Lin-
coln. This man had built for himself a little log
cabin by the side of a brook, where there was an
ever-flowing spring of water.

There was but one room in this cabin. On the
side next to the brook there was a low doorway ;
and at one end there was a large fireplace, built
of rough stones and clay.

The chimney was very broad at the bottom
and narrow at the top. It was ma(Je of clay,
with flat stones and slender sticks laid around
the outside to keep it from falling apart.

In the wall, on one side of the fireplace, there
was a square hole for a window. But there was
no glass in this window. In the summer it was



6 THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

left open all the time. In cold weather a deer-
skin, or a piece of coarse cloth, was hung over
it to keep out the wind and the snow.

At night, or on stormy days, the skin of a
bear was hung across the doorway ; for there was
no door on hinges to be opened and shut.

There was no ceiling to the room. But the
inmates of the cabin, by looking up, could see the
bare rafters and the rough roof-boards, which
Mr. Lincoln himself had split and hewn.

There was no floor, but only the bare ground
that had been smoothed and beaten until it was
as level and hard as pavement.

For chairs there were only blocks of wood and
a rude bench on one side of the fireplace. The
bed was a little platform of poles, on which were
spread the furry skins of wild animals, and a
patchwork quilt of homespun goods.

In this poor cabin, on the i2th of February,
1809, a baby boy was born. There was already
one child in the family a girl, two years old,
whose name was Sarah.

The little boy grew and became strong like



THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. J

other babies, and his parents named him Abra-
ham, after his grandfather, who had been killed
by the Indians many years before.

When he was old enough to run about, he liked
to play under the trees by the cabin door. Some-
times he would go with his little sister into the
woods and watch the birds and the squirrels.

He had no playmates. He did not know the
meaning of toys or playthings. But he was a
happy child and had many pleasant ways.

Thomas Lincoln, the father, was a kind-hearted
man, very strong and brave. Sometimes he
would take the child on his knee and tell him
strange, true stories of the great forest, and of
the Indians and the fierce beasts that roamed
among the woods and hills.

For Thomas Lincoln had always lived on the
wild frontier ; and he would rather hunt deer and
other game in the forest than do anything else.
Perhaps this is why he was so poor. Perhaps
this is why he was content to live in the little
log cabin with so few of the comforts of life.

But Nancy Lincoln, the young mother, did not



8 THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

complain. She, too, had grown up among the
rude scenes of the backwoods. She had never
known better things.

And yet she was by nature refined and gentle ;
and people who knew her said that she was very
handsome. She was a model housekeeper, too ;
and her poor log cabin was the neatest-and best-
kept house in all that neighborhood.

No woman could be busier than she. She
knew how to spin and weave, and she made all
the clothing for her family.

She knew how to wield the ax and the hoe ;
and she could work on the farm or in the garden
when her help was needed.

She had also learned how to shoot with a rifle ;
and she could bring down a deer or other wild
game with as much ease as could her husband.
And when the game was brought home, she
could dress it, she could cook the flesh for food,
and of the skins she could make clothing for her
husband and children.

There was still another thing that she could
do she could read ; and she read alj th,e books



THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 9

that she could get hold of. She taught her hus-
band the letters of the alphabet ; and she showed
him how to write his name. For Thomas Lin-
coln had never gone to school, and he had never
learned how to read.

As soon as little Abraham Lincoln was old
enough to understand, his mother read stories to
him from the Bible. Then, while he was still
very young, she taught him to read the stories
for himself. t

The neighbors thought it a wonderful thing
that so small a boy could read. There were very
few of them who could do as much. Few of them
thought it of any great use to learn how to read.

There were no school-houses in that part of
Kentucky in those days, and of course there
were no public schools.

One winter a traveling schoolmaster came
that way. He got leave to use a cabin not far
from Mr. Lincoln's, and gave notice that he
would teach school for two or three weeks. The
people were too poor to pay him for teaching
longer.



IO THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN'.

The name of this schoolmaster was Zachariah
Riney.

The young people for miles around flocked to
the school. Most of them were big boys and
girls, and a few were grown up young men.
The only little child was Abraham Lincoln, and
he was not yet five years old.

There was only one book studied at that
school, and it was a spelling-book. It had some
easy reading lessons at the end, but these were
not to be read until after every word in the book
had been spelled.

You can imagine how the big boys and girls
felt when Abraham Lincoln proved that he could
spell and read better than any of them.



II. WORK AND SORROW.

In the autumn, just after Abraham Lincoln
was eight years old, his parents left their Ken-
tucky home and moved to Spencer county, in
Indiana.

It was not yet a year since Indiana had become



THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. II

a state. Land could be bought very cheap, and
Mr. Lincoln thought that he could make a good
living there for his family. He had heard also
that game was plentiful in the Indiana woods.

It was not more than seventy or eighty miles
from the old home to the new. But it seemed very
far, indeed, and it was a good many days before
the slow-moving wagon reached its journey's end.
Over a part of the way there was no road, and
the movers had to cut a path for themselves
through the thick woods.

o

The boy, Abraham, was tall and very strong
for his age. He already knew how to handle an
ax, and few men could shoot with a rifle better
than he. He was his father's helper in all kinds
of work.

It was in November when the family came to
the place which was to be their future home.
Winter was near at hand. There was no house,
nor shelter of any kind. What would become of
the patient, tired mother, and the gentle little
sister, who had borne themselves so bravely
during the long, hard journey ?



12 THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

No sooner had the horses been loosed from
the wagon than Abraham and his father were at
work with their axes. In a short time they had
built what they called a " camp."

This camp was but a rude shed, made of poles
and thatched with leaves and branches. It was
enclosed on three sides, so that the chill winds
or the driving rains from the north and west could
not enter. The fourth side was left open, and in
front of it a fire was built.

This fire was kept burning all the time. It
warmed the interior of the camp. A big iron
kettle was hung over it by means of a chain and
pole, and in this kettle the fat bacon, the venison,
the beans, and the corn were boiled for the fam-
ily's dinner and supper. In the hot ashes the
good mother baked luscious " corn dodgers,"
and sometimes, perhaps, a few potatoes.

In one end of the camp were the few cooking
utensils and little articles of furniture which even
the poorest house cannot do without. The rest
of the space was the family sitting-room and
bed-room. The floor was covered with leaves,



THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 13

and on these were spread the furry skins of deer
and bears, and other animals.

It was in this camp that the family spent their
first winter in Indiana. How very cold and
dreary that winter must have been ! Think of
the stormy nights, of the shrieking wind, of the
snow and the sleet and the bitter frost ! It is
not much wonder if, before the spring months
came, the mother's strength began to fail.

But it was' a busy winter for Thomas Lincoln.
Every day his ax was heard in the woods. He
was clearing the ground, so that in the spring it
might be planted with corn and vegetables.

He was hewing logs for his new house ; for he
had made up his mind, now, to have something
better than a cabin.

The woods were full of wild animals. It
was easy for Abraham and his father to kill
plenty of game, and thus keep the family sup-
plied \vith fresh meat.

And Abraham, with chopping and hewing
and hunting and trapping, was very busy for a
little boy. He had but little time to play ; and,



14 THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

since he had no playmates, we cannot know
whether he even wanted to play.

With his mother, he read over and over the
Bible stories which both of them loved so well.
And, during the cold, stormy days, when he
could not leave the camp, his mother taught him
how to write.

In the spring the new house was raised. It
was only a hewed log house, with one room be-
low and a loft above. But it was so much bet-
ter than the old cabin in Kentucky that it seemed
like a palace.

The family had become so tired of living in
the " camp," that they moved into the new house
before the floor was laid, or any door hung at
t\he doorway.

Then came the plowing and the planting and
the hoeing. Everybody was busy from day-
light to dark. There were so many trees and
stumps that there was but little room for the
corn to grow.

The summer passed, and autumn came. Then
the poor mother's strength gave out. She could



THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 15

no longer go about her household duties. She
had to depend more and more upon the help
that her children could give her.

At length she became too feeble to leave her
bed. She called her boy to her side. She put
her arms about him and said : " Abraham, I am
going away from you, and you will never see me
again. I know that you will always be good
and kind to your sister and father. Try to live
as I have taught you, and to love your heavenly
Father."

On the 5th of October she fell asleep, never to
wake again.

Under a big sycamore tree, half a mile from
the house, the neighbors dug the grave for the
mother of Abraham Lincoln. And there they
buried her in silence and great sorrow.

There was no minister there to conduct relig-
ious services. In all that new country there was
no church ; and no holy man could be found to
speak words of comfort and hope to the grieving
ones around the grave.

But the boy, Abraham, remembered a travel-



I 6 THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

ing preacher, whom they had known in Ken-
tucky. The name of this preacher was David
Elkin. If he would only come !

And so, after all was over, the lad sat down
and wrote a letter to David Elkin. He was only
a child nine years old, but he believed that the
good man would remember his poor mother, and
come.

It was no easy task to write a letter. Paper
and ink were not things of common use, as they
are with us. A pen had to be made from the
quill of a goose.

But at last the letter was finished and sent
away. How it was carried I do not know ; for
the mails were few and far between in those
days, and postage was very high. It is more
than likely that some friend, who was going into
Kentucky, undertook to have it finally handed
to the good preacher.

Months passed. The leaves were again on the
trees. The wild flowers were blossoming in the
woods. At last the preacher came.

He had ridden a hundred miles on horseback ;



THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. }J

he had forded rivers, and traveled through path-
less woods ; he had dared the dangers of the wild
forest : all in answer to the lad's beseeching letter.

He had no hope of reward, save that which
is given to every man who does his duty. He
did not know that there would come a time
when the greatest preachers in the world would
envy him his sad task.

And now the friends and neighbors gathered
again under the great sycamore tree. The fu-
neral sermon was preached. Hymns were sung.
A prayer was offered. Words of comfort and
sympathy were spoken.

From that time forward the mind of Abraham
Lincoln was filled with a high and noble pur-
pose. In his earliest childhood his mother
had taught him to love truth and justice, to be
honest and upright among men, and to reverence
God. These lessons he never forgot.

Long afterward, when the world had come to
know him as a very great man, he said : " All
that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel
inother."



1 8 THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.



III. THE NEW MOTHER.

The log house, which Abraham Lincoln called
his home, was now more lonely and cheerless
than before. The sunlight of his mother's pres-
ence had gone out of it forever.

His sister Sarah, twelve years old, was the
housekeeper and cook. His father had not yet
found time to lay a floor in the house, or to hang
a door. There were great crevices between the
logs, through which the wind and the rain drifted
on every stormy day. There was not much com-
fort in such a house.

But the lad was never idle. In the long win-
ter days, when there was no work to be done, he
spent the time in reading or in trying to improve
his writing.

There were very few books in the cabins of
that backwoods settlement. But if Abraham
Lincoln heard of one, he could not rest till he
nad borrowed it and read it.

Another summer passed, and then another
winter. Then, one day, Mr. Lincoln went on a



THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. ig

visit to Kentucky, leaving his two children and
their cousin, Dennis Hanks, at home to care for
the house and the farm.

I do not know how long he stayed away, but
it could not have been many weeks. One eve-
ning, the children were surprised to see a four-
horse wagon draw up before the door.

Their father was in the wagon ; and by his
side was a kind-faced woman ; and, sitting on
the straw at the bottom of the wagon-bed, there
were three well-dressed children two girls and
a boy.

And there were some grand things in the
wagon, too. There were six split -bottomed
chairs, a bureau with drawers, a wooden chest,
and a feather bed. All these things were very
wonderful to the lad and lassie who had never
known the use of such luxuries.

" Abraham and Sarah," said Mr. Lincoln, as he
leaped from the wagon, " I have brought you a
new mother and a new brother and two new
sisters."

The new mother greeted them very kindly,



2O THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

and, no doubt, looked with gentle pity upon
them. They were barefooted ; their scant cloth-
ing was little more than rags and tatters ; they
did not look much like her own happy children,
whom she had cared for so well.

And now it was not long until a great change
was made in the Lincoln home. A floor was
laid, a door was hung, a window was made, the
crevices between the logs were daubed with clay.

The house was furnished in fine style, with the
chairs and the bureau and the feather bed. The
kind, new mother brought sunshine and hope
into the place that had once been so cheerless.

With the young lad, Dennis Hanks, there were
now six children in the family. But all were
treated with the same kindness ; all had the same
motherly care. And so, in the midst of much
hard work, there were many pleasant days for
them all.



IV. SCHOOL AND BOOKS.

Not very long after this, the people of the
neighborhood made up their minds that they



THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 21

must have a school-house. And so, one day
after harvest, the men met together and chopped
down trees, and built a little low-roofed log-
cabin to serve for that purpose.

If you could see that cabin you would think it
a queer kind of school-house. There was no
floor. There was only one window, and in it
were strips of greased paper pasted across, in-
stead of glass. There were no desks, but only
rough benches made of logs split in halves. In
one end of the room was a huge fireplace ; at the
other end was the low doorway.

The first teacher was a man whose name was
Azel Dorsey. The term of school was very
short ; for the settlers could not afford to pay
him much. It was in mid-winter, for then there
was no work for the big boys to do at home.

And the big boys, as well as the girls and the
smaller boys, for miles around, came in to learn
what they could from Azel Dorsey. The most
of the children studied only spelling ; but some
of the larger ones learned reading and writing
and arithmetic.



22 THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

There were not very many scholars, for the
houses in that new settlement were few and far
apart. School began at an early hour in the
morning, and did not close until the sun was
down.

Just how Abraham Lincoln stood in his classes
I do not know ; but I must believe that he stud-
ied hard and did everything as well as he could.
In the arithmetic which he used, he wrote these
lines :

"Abraham Lincoln,
His hand and pen,
He will be good,
But God knows when."

In a few weeks, Azel Dorsey's school came to
a close ; and Abraham Lincoln was again as
busy as ever about his father's farm. After that
he attended school only two or three short
terms. If all his school-days were put together
they would not make a twelve-month.

But he kept on reading and studying at home.
His step-mother said of him: "He read every-
thing he could lay his hands on. When he came



THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 2$

across a passage that struck him, he would write
it down on boards, if he had no paper, and keep
it until he had got paper. Then he would copy
it, look at it, commit it to memory, and repeat it."

Among the books that he read were the Bible,
the Pilgrims Progress, and the poems of Rob-
ert Burns. One day he walked a long distance
to borrow a book of a farmer. This book was
Weems's Life of Washington. He read as
much as he could while walking home.

By that time it was dark, and so he sat down
by the chimney and read by firelight until bed-
time. Then he took the book to bed with him
in the loft, and read by the light of a tallow
candle.

In an hour the candle burned out. He laid
the book in a crevice between two of the logs of
the cabin, so that he might begin reading again
as soon as it was daylight.

But in the night a storm came up. The rain
was blown in, and the book was wet through
and through.

In the morning, when Abraham awoke, he saw



24 THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

what had happened. He dried the leaves as well
as he could, and then finished reading the book.

As soon as he had eaten his breakfast, he hur-
ried to carry the book to its owner. He ex-
plained how the accident had happened.

" Mr. Crawford," he said, " I am willing to pay
you for the book, I have no money ; but, if you
will let me, I will work for you until I have made
its price."

Mr. Crawford thought that the book was
worth seventy-five cents, and that Abraham's
work would be worth about twenty-five cents a
day. And so the lad helped the farmer gather
corn for three days, and thus became the owner
of the delightful book.

He read the story of Washington many times
over. He carried the book with him to the field,
and read it while he was following the plow.

From that time, Washington was the one great
hero whom he admired. Why could not he
model his own life after that of Washington ?
Why could not he also be a doer of great things
for his country ?



THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 25

V. LIFE IN THE BACKWOODS.

Abraham Lincoln now set to work with a will
to educate himself. His father thought that he
did not need to learn anything more. He did
not see that there was any good in book-learning.
If a man could read and write and cipher, what
more was needed ?

But the good step-mother thought differently ;
and when another short term of school began in
the little log school-house, all six of the children
from the Lincoln cabin were among the scholars.

In a few weeks, however, the school had
closed ; and the three boys were again hard at
work, chopping and grubbing in Mr. Lincoln's
clearings. They were good-natured, jolly young
fellows, and they lightened their labor with
many a joke and playful prank.

Many were the droll stories with which Abra-
ham amused his two companions. Many were
the puzzling questions that he asked. Some-
times in the evening, with the other five children
around him, he would declaim some piece that



26 THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

he had learned ; or he would deliver a speech
of his own on some subject of common interest.

If you could see him as he then appeared, you
would hardly think that such a boy would ever
become one of the most famous men of history.
On his head he wore a cap made from the skin
of a squirrel or a raccoon. Instead of trousers
of cloth, he wore buckskin breeches, the legs of
which were many inches too short. His shirt
was of deerskin in the winter, and of homespun
tow in the summer. Stockings he had none.
His shoes were of heavy cowhide, and were
worn only on Sundays or in very cold weather.

The family lived in such a way as to need very
little money. Their bread was made of corn
meal. Their meat was chiefly the flesh of wild
game found in the forest.

Pewter plates and wooden trenchers were
used on the table. The tea and coffee cups were of
painted tin. There was no stove, and all the cook-
ing was done on the hearth of the big fireplace.

But poverty was no hindrance to Abraham
Lincoln. He kept on with his reading and his



THE STORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 27

studies as best he could. Sometimes he would
go to the little village of Gentryville, near by, to
spend an evening. He would tell so many
jokes and so many funny stories, that all the
people would gather round him to listen.

When he was sixteen years old he went one


1 3

Online LibraryJames BaldwinBaldwin's biographical booklets : the story of Abraham Lincoln for young readers → online text (page 1 of 3)