L. E. (Lucius Eugene) Chittenden.

Personal reminiscences : including Lincoln and others, 1840- 1890 online

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Digitized by tlie Internet Arclnive

in 2010 with funding" from

Tlie Institute of Museum and Library Services through an Indiana State Library LSTA Grant

The True Abraham Lincoln


Copyriglit. 1891, by M. P. Rice

From an original, unretouched negative made in 1864

The True
Abraham Lincoln


William Eleroy Curtis

Author of "The True Thomas Jefferson," "The Turk and

his Lost Provinces," "The United States and

Foreign Powers," etc.

With Twenty-four Illustrations

Philadelphia ^ London

J. B. Lippincott Company

Copyright, 1902

Published April, 190J

Electrotyped and Printed by
y. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, U. S. A.

He knew to bide his time,

And can his fame abide,
Still patient in his simple faith sublime.

Till the wise years decide.
Great captains, with their guns and drums.

Disturb our judgment for the hour,
But at last silence comes ;

These all are gone, and, standing like a tower.
Our children shall behold his fame,

The kindly, earnest, brave, foreseeing man,
Sagacious, patient, dreading praise, not blame.

New birth of our new soil, the first American.

— Lowell^ Commemoration Ode



I. — The Man and his Kindred 13

II. — The Leader of the Springfield Bar 56

III. — A Great Orator and his Speeches 86

IV. — A Prairie Politician 129

V. — A President and his Cabinet 179

VI. — A Commander-in-Chief and his Generals 229

VII. — How Lincoln appeared in the White House 277

VIII — The Emancipation of the Slaves 314

IX. — A Master in Diplomacy 342

X. — Lincoln's Philosophy, Morals, and Religion 370


List of Illustrations


A.BRAHAM Lincoln Frontispiece

From an original, unretouched negative made in 1864, when
he commissioned Ulysses S. Grant Lieutenant-General and
commander of ell the armies of the republic.

The Birthplace of Abraham Lincoln 20

This cabin was long ago torn down, but the logs were saved,
and in August, 1895, it was rebuilt on the original site.

Rock Spring Farm, Kentucky, where Abraham Lincoln
WAS Born 22

From a photograph taken in September, 1895.

Rock Spring on the Farm where Lincoln was Born 26

From a photograph taken in September, 1895. The spring
is in a hollow at the foot of the gentle slope on which the
house stands.

Fac-simile of an Invitation to a Springfield Cotillion
Party 38

By special permission, from the collection of C. F. Gunther,
Esq., Chicago.

Mary Todd Lincoln, Wife of Abraham Lincoln 44

From a photograph by Brady in the War Department Col-

Abraham Lincoln early in 1861, when he First began to
WEAR A Beard 60

From a photograph in the collection of H. W. Fay, Esq.,
De Kalb, Illinois. By special permission.

Abraham Lincoln in the Summer of i860 75

From a negative taken for M. C. Tuttle, of St. Paul, Minne-
sota, for local use in the presidential campaign.




Abraham Lincoln in 1858 100

From a photograph owned by Hon. William J, Franklin,
Macomb, Illinois, taken in 1866 from an ambrotype made in
1858 at Macomb. By special permission.

Abraham Lincoln in i86i 125

Copied from the original in the possession of Frank A.
Brown, Esq., Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Abraham Lincoln's House at Springfield, Illinois 156

The tree in front of the house was planted by Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln in 1861 169

From a photograph by Klauber, qf Louisville, Kentucky,
taken especially for Mrs. Lucy G. Speed, in acknowledg-
ment of an Oxford Bible received from her twenty years
before. Reproduced by special permission of James B.
Speed, Esq., of Louisville, Kentucky.

Montgomery Blair, Postmaster-General 187

From a photograph by Brady.

Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy 196

From a photograph by Brady.

William H. Seward, Secretary of State 201

From a photograph by Brady.

General George B. McClellan at the Head-quarters of
General Morell's Brigade, Minor's Hill, Virginia ... 206

From a contemporary photograph by M. B. Brady.

Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War 224

From a photograph by Brady.

General Ulysses S. Grant 254

From an original, unretouched negative made in 1864, when
he was commissioned Lieutenant-General and commander
of all the armies of the republic.

Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac by President
Lincoln at Falmouth, Virginia, in April, 1863 271

From a drawing by W. R. Leigh.



President Lincoln and his Son **Tad" 287

From a photograph by Brady, now in the War Department
Collection, Washington, D. C.

John Wilkes Booth 311

From a photograph by Brady.

Abraham Lincoln in 1864 320

From a photograph in the War Department Collection.

Fac-simile of Letter by Abraham Lincoln to Hon. Michael.
Hahn, first Free State Governor of Louisiana 338

By special permission of John M. Crampton, Esq., New
Haven, Connecticut.

Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury 356

From a photograph by Brady.


A Lincoln Calendar

Born February 12, 1809

Removed to Indiana 1816

Nancy Hanks Lincoln died 1817

Thomas Lincoln married Sally Bush John-
ston 1819

First trip to New Orleans 1828

Removed to Illinois March, 1830

Went to New Salem March, 1831

Second trip to New Orleans April, 183 1

Enters Offutt's store August, 1831

Candidate for Legislature March, 1832

Black Hawk War April, 1832

Defeated for Legislature August, 1832

Buys store with Berry 1832

Appointed Postmaster May, 1833

Appointed Surveyor November, 1833

Elected to Legislature August, 1834

Removed to Springfield April, 1837

Re-elected to Legislature 1836-1838-1840

First meets Douglas in debate December, 1839

Duel with Shields 1842

Married November 4, 1842

Partnership with Logan 1842

Defeat for Congressional nomination 1844



Elected to Congress 1846

Candidate for United States Senator 1855

Assists organization of Republican party February 22, 1856

Delegate to Philadelphia Convention June 17, 1856

Challenges Douglas to joint debate July 17, 1858

Second defeat for Senator January, 1859

Cooper Institute speech February 27, i860

Nominated for President May 16, i860

Elected President November 6, i860

Leaves Springfield for Washington February 11, 1861

Arrival at Washington February 23, 1861

Inaugurated President March 4, 1861

Renominated for President June 8, 1864

Re-elected President November 8, 1864

Second inauguration March 4, 1865

Assassinated April 14, 1865


The True
Abraham Lincoln



This is not a conventional biography. It is a collec-
tion of sketches in which an attempt is made to portray
the character of Abraham Lincoln as the highest type
of the American from several interesting points of view.
He has doubtless been the subject of more literary com-
position than any other man of modern times, although
there was nothing eccentric or abnormal about him;
there were no mysteries in his career to excite curi-
osity; no controversies concerning his conduct, morals,
or motives ; no doubt as to his purposes ; and no dif-
ference of opinion as to his unselfish patriotism or the
success of his administration of the government in the
most trying period of its existence. Perhaps there is
no other man of prominence in American history, or
in the history of the human family, whose reputation
is more firmly and clearly established. There is certainly
none more beloved and revered, whose character is so
well understood and so universally admired, and whose
political, moral, and intellectual integrity is so fully
admitted by his opponents as well as his supporters.

Of such a man, wrote a well-known writer, the last
word can never be said. Each succeeding generation
may profit by the contemplation of his strength and
triumphs. His rise from obscurity to fame and power



was almost as sudden and startling as that of Napo-
leon, for it may truthfully be said that when Mr. Lin-
coln was nominated for the Presidency he was an un-
known man. He had occupied no important position;
he had rendered no great public service ; his reputation
was that of a debater and politician, and did not be-
come national until he delivered a remarkable speech at
Cooper Union, New York. His election was not due
to personal popularity, nor to the strength of the party
he represented, nor to the justice of his cause; but
to factional strife and jealousies among his opponents.
When the American people were approaching the great-
est crisis in their history, it was the hand of Providence
that turned the eyes of the loyal people of the North
to this plain man of the prairies, and his rugged figure
rose before them as if he were created for their leader.
Napoleon became dizzy; yielded to the temptations
of power, betrayed his people, grasped at empire, and
fell; but the higher Lincoln rose the more modest be-
came his manners, the more serene his temper, the more
conspicuous his unselfishness, the purer and more pa-
triotic his motives. With masterful tact and force he
assumed responsibilities that made men shudder. The
captain of a company of uncouth volunteers began to
organize vast armies, undertook the direction of mili-
tary campaigns and of a momentous civil war, and con-
ducted the diplomatic relations of a nation with skill
and statesmanship that astonished his ministers and
his generals. He, an humble country lawyer and local
politician, suddenly took his place with the world's
greatest statesmen, planned and managed the legislation
of Congress, proposed financial measures that involved
the wealth of the nation, and alone, in the midst of the
confusion of war and the clamor of greedy politicians
and the dissensions of his advisers, solved problems
that staggered the wisest minds of the nation. The
popular story-teller of the cross-roads, the crack debater



of the New Salem Literary Club, became an orator of
immortal fame. The rail-splitter of the Sangamon be-
came the most honored and respected man o£ his genera-

Such men are not accidents. The strength of a struc-
ture depends upon the material used and the treatment
it has received. Poor material may be improved and
good material is often spoiled in the making; but only
when the pure metal has passed through the fire and
the forge is it fit to sustain a severe strain. Thus Abra-
ham Lincoln, unconscious of his destiny, by the struggles
and privations of his early life was qualified for the task
to which Infinite Wisdom had assigned him.

Abraham Lincoln's father was descended from Sam-
uel Lincoln, who emigrated from the west of England
a few years after the landing of the Pilgrims and settled
at the village of Hingham, on the south shore of Massa-
chusetts Bay, between Boston and Plymouth. Eight
men bearing that name came over on the same ship and
are supposed to have been related. An army of their
descendants is scattered over the Union. One of them,
Samuel Lincoln, left a large family which has produced
several prominent figures besides a President of the
United States. One of his grandsons in the third gen-
eration, Levi Lincoln, was recognized for a generation
as the leader of the New England bar. He was Secre-
tary of State and Attorney- General in the Cabinet of
President Jefferson, a member of the Legislature of
Massachusetts, and one of the ablest and most influ-
ential men of his day.

The fourth son of Samuel Lincoln, Mordecai, I, ac-
quired wealth as a manufacturer. His eldest son, who
inherited his name, moved to Berks County, Pennsyl-
vania, and had a son named John, who took up a tract
of land in Virginia about the year 1760, where, like the
rest of his name, he raised a large family. John Lin-
coln, II, his second son, became prominent in public



affairs, and was a member of the Convention that framed
the first Constitution of the State of Pennsylvania.

On July 10, 1760, Abraham, I, the third of the five
sons of John Lincoln, II, married Anna Boone, a cousin
of Daniel Boone, the most famous of American pioneers,
and his father gave him a farm in the Shenandoah Val-
ley. By frequent intermarriages between the Boones
and the Lincolns they were closely allied. By the will
of Mordecai Lincoln, II, his " loving friend and neigh-
bor George Boone" was made executor of his estate and
Squire Boone, father of the celebrated Daniel, was ap-
pointed to make an inventory of the property. Hana-
niah Lincoln was a partner of Daniel Boone in the pur-
chase of a tract of land on the Missouri River in 1798,
and it was there that the great woodsman died.

The name Abraham was a favorite among the Lin-
coln family. It occurs frequently in their genealogy.
A young man named Abraham Lincoln distinguished
himself for courage and brutality on the Confederate
side during the Civil War. He killed a Dunkard
preacher whom he suspected of furnishing information
to the Union army. The Union President received
several letters of offensive tone from his kinsman in
the South during the earlier part of his administration.

The farm of Abraham Lincoln, I, in the Shenandoah
Valley, was on the great national highway along which
the course of empire took its westward way, and, in-
fected by continual contact with the emigrants and en-
couraged by the greatest of American pioneers, he sold
the property his father had given him, packed his wife
and five children into a Conestoga wagon, and followed
the great migration until it led him to what is now
Hughes Station, Jefferson County, Kentucky, where he
entered a large tract of land and paid for it one hundred
and sixty pounds " in current money." The original
warrant, dated March 4, 1780, is still in existence. By
the blunder of a clerk in the Land Office the name was



misspelled Linkhorn, and Abraham, I, was too careless
or busy to correct it, for it appears that way in all the
subsequent records. Hananiah Lincoln, the partner of
Daniel Boone, furnished the surveyor's certificate.

Four years later, in the spring of 1784, occurred the
first tragedy in the annals of the Lincoln family. Abra-
ham, I, with his three sons, were at work clearing
ground upon his farm when they were attacked by a
wandering squad of Indians. The first shot from the
brush killed the father. Mordecai, III, the eldest son,
started to the house for his rifle; Josiah ran to the
neighbors for assistance, leaving Thomas, a child of six,
alone with his father. After Mordecai had recovered
his rifle he saw an Indian in war-paint appear upon the
scene, examine the dead body of his father, and stoop
to raise the lad from the ground. Taking deliberate
aim at a white ornament that hung from the neck of the
savage, he brought him down and his Httle brother
escaped to the cabin. The Indians began to appear in
the thicket, but Mordecai, shooting through the loop-
holes of the pabin, held them off until Josiah returned
with reinforcements.

From circumstantial evidence we must infer that Anna
Lincoln was a poor manager, or perhaps she suffered
from some misfortune. All we know is that she aban-
doned the farm in Jefferson County and moved south
into the neighboring county of Washington, where she
disappears from human knowledge. Her eldest son,
Mordecai, III, appears to have inherited his father's
money, as the rules of primogeniture prevailed in those
days. He was sheriff of Washington County, a member
of the Kentucky Legislature, and tradition g^ves him
the reputation of an honorable and influential citizen.
Late in life he removed to Hancock County, Illinois,
where he died and is buried. Josiah, the second son,
crossed the Ohio River and took up a homestead in
what is now called Harrison County, Indiana. Mary,

2 YJ


the eldest daughter, married Ralph Crume, and Nancy,
the fourth child, married William Brumfield. Their de-
scendants are still found in Hardin, Washington, and
other counties in that neighborhood.

Explanations are wanting for the circumstance that
Thomas, the youngest son and brother of this pros-
perous family, whose father was slain before his eyes
when he was only six years old, was turned adrift, with-
out home or care, for at ten years of age we find him
" a wandering, laboring boy" who was left uneducated
and supported himself by farm work and other menial
employment, and learned the trades of carpenter and
cabinet-maker. But he must have had good stuff in
him, for when he was twenty-five years old he had saved
enough from his wages to buy a farm in Hardin County.
Local tradition, which, however, cannot always be
trusted, represents him to have been " an easy going
man, and slow to anger, but when 'roused a formidable
adversary." He was above the medium height, had a
powerful frame, and, like his immortal son, had a wide
local reputation as a wrestler.

While learning his trade in the carpenter shop of
Joseph Hanks, Thomas Lincoln married Nancy Hanks,
his own cousin, and the niece of his employer. He prob-
ably met her at the house of Richard Berry, with whom
she lived, and must have seen a good deal of her at
the home of her uncle. At all events, the cousins became
engaged; their nuptial bond was signed according to
the law on June lo, 1806, and two days later they were
married by the Rev. Jesse Head, at the home of Richard
Berry, near Beechland, Washington County, Kentucky.

Nancy Hanks was descended from William Hanks,
who came to this country in 1699 ^^^ settled at Ply-
mouth, Massachusetts. Four of his five sons moved to
Amelia County, Virginia, where they had a large tract
of land. One of their descendants, Joseph Hanks, mar-
ried Nancy Shipley, and in 1789 moved to Kentucky



with a large party of his relatives. In 1793 he died,
leaving eight children, who were scattered among their
relatives, and Nancy, the youngest, when nine years old,
found a home with her aunt, Lucy Shipley, the wife of
Richard Berry. She is represented to have been a
sweet-tempered and handsome woman, of intellect, ap-
pearance, and character superior to her position; and
could even read and write, which was a remarkable
accomplishment among the women of that day. She
taught her husband to write his name. But she had no
means whatever, being entirely dependent upon her
uncle, and it is probable that she was willing to marry
even so humble a husband as Thomas Lincoln, for the
sake of securing independence and a home.

Thomas Lincoln took his wife to a little log cabin
in a hamlet called Elizabethtown, probably because he
thought that it would be more congenial for her than
his lonely farm in Hardin County, which was fourteen
miles away ; and perhaps he thought that he could earn
a better living by carpenter work than by farming. Here
their first child, Sarah, was bom about a year after the

Thomas Lincoln either failed to earn sufficient money
to meet his household expenses or grew tired of his
carpenter work, for, two years later, he left Elizabeth-
town and moved his family to his farm near Hodgens-
ville, on the Big South Fork of Nolen Creek. It was a
miserable place, of thin, unproductive soil and only
partly cleared. Its only attraction was a fine spring of
water, shaded by a little grove, which caused it to be
called " Rock Spring Farm." The cabin was of the
rudest sort, with a single room, a single window, a big
fireplace, and a huge outside chimney.

In this cabin Abraham Lincoln was born on February
12, 1809, and here he spent the first four years of his
childhood. It was a far reach to the White House.
Soon after his nomination for the Presidency he fur-



nished a brief autobiography to Mr. Hicks, an artist who
was painting his portrait, in which he said, —

" I was bom February 12, 1809, in then Hardin
County, Kentucky, at a point within the now County
of Larue, a mile or a mile and a half from where Hod-
gen's mill now is. My parents being dead, and my own
memory not serving, I know no means of identifying the
precise locality. It was on Nolen Creek.

" A. Lincoln.

"June 14, i860."

The precise spot has since been clearly identified, and
the cabin was still standing after his death.

In 181 3 the family removed to a more comfortable
home on Knob Creek, six miles from Hodgensville,
where Thomas Lincoln bought a better farm of two
hundred and thirty-eight acres for one hundred and
eighteen pounds and gave his note in payment. This
was Abraham Lincoln's second home, and there he lived
for four years.

We know little about his childhood, except that it
was of continual privation in a cheerless home, for
Thomas Lincoln evidently found it difficult to supply
his family with food and clothing. Mr. Lincoln seldom
talked freely of those days, even to his most intimate
friends, although from remarks which he dropped from
time to time they judged that the impressions of his first
years were indelible upon his temperament and con-
tributed to his melancholy. On one occasion, being
asked if he remembered anything about the War of
1812, he said that when a child, returning from fishing
one day, he met a soldier in the road and, having been
admonished by his mother that everybody should be
good to the soldiers, he gave him his fish.

Thomas and Nancy Lincoln had three children. Sarah,
the eldest, at the age of fourteen married Aaron



Griggsby and died in childbirth a year later. Thomas,
the third child, died when only three days old.

When Abraham was about seven years old his father
became restless and went across the river into Indiana
to look for a new home. It has been represented by
some of Lincoln's biographers that the motive of his
removal was his dislike of slavery; that he wished to
remove his son from its influence ; but Lincoln attributed
the determination to other reasons, particularly his
father's difficulty in securing a valid title to his land. It
is quite as probable that, like other men of his tempera-
ment, he thought he could do better in a new place;
like other rolling stones, that he could gather more moss
in a new soil. He found a purchaser for his farm who
gave him in payment twenty dollars in money and ten
barrels of whiskey, which Thomas Lincoln loaded upon
a flat-boat, with his household furniture, floating it down
Knob Creek to Rolling Fork, to Salt River, to the Ohio
River, and down the Ohio to Thompson's Ferry in
Perry County, Indiana. The boat upset on the way
and part of the whiskey and some of his carpenter tools
were lost. He plunged into the forest, found a location
that suited him about sixteen miles from the river, called
Pigeon Creek, where he left his property with a settler,
and, as his boat could not float upstream, he sold it and
walked back to Hodgensville to get his wife and two
children. He secured a wagon and two horses, in which
he carried his family and whatever of his household
effects were then remaining.

Arriving at his location, which was a piece of timber
land a mile and a half east of what is now Gentryville,
Spencer County, he built a log cabin fourteen feet square,
open to the weather on one side, and without windows
or chimney. This was Abraham Lincoln's third home,
and the family lived in that rude, primitive way for
more than a year, managing to raise a patch of corn and
a few vegetables during the following summer, which,



with corn meal ground at a hand grist-mill seven miles
away, were their chief food. Game, however, was abun-
dant. The streams were full of fish and wild fruits could
be gathered in the forest. The future President of the
United States slept upon a heap of dry leaves in a nar-
row loft at one end of the cabin, to which he climbed
by means of pegs driven into the wall. A year after
his arrival Thomas Lincoln entered the quarter section
of land he occupied and made his first payment under
what was familiarly known as the " two-doUar-an-acre
law," but it was eleven years before he could pay enough
to obtain a patent for half of it. He then erected a
permanent home of logs which was comparatively com-
fortable and was perhaps as good as those occupied by
most of his neighbors.

In the fall of 1818 the Httle community of pioneers
was almost exterminated by an epidemic known as " milk
sickness," and among the victims was Nancy Hanks

Online LibraryL. E. (Lucius Eugene) ChittendenPersonal reminiscences : including Lincoln and others, 1840- 1890 → online text (page 1 of 32)