How much do I want to read more? 6/10
I like this trait: "He hoped to turn his enemies back into his friends."
It reminds me of a story I wrote when I was 11 years old, about a boy not stopping to the cold appearance of the forest. That boy was "seeing through", those trees were defending themselves from human aggression, but the boy loved trees, so they opened up to him and started becoming friendly.
Seeing farther, having this faith that others need help in spite of their appearance, seeing through their heart from our heart.
From the window of the White House, the president addressed the big crowd below. His twelve-year-old son, Tad, was at his feet, collecting the pages of the speech as the president dropped them to the floor.
A man in the audience called out, “What shall we do with the rebels?”
Someone answered, “Hang them!”
Before the president could answer, Tad piped up. “No, we must hang on to them.”
Sometimes Tad understood his father better than anyone else. President Lincoln wanted to hang on to the defeated Southern states. He wanted to make them feel that once again they were part of the Union. He wasn’t interested in revenge. Lincoln was a remarkable president and a remarkable man. He hoped to turn his enemies back into his friends.
Chapter 1 - Life in a Log Cabin
The man who is often called America’s greatest president was born on February 12, 1809, in a crude log cabin in Kentucky.
His father, Thomas Lincoln, was hardworking and quiet, and famous for his honesty. He’d had little schooling—just enough to sign his name. Abraham’s mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, was intelligent and curious. She could read a little, but couldn’t write at all.
The Lincolns were poor. They moved from one small farm to another, trying to scratch out a living. When Abraham was seven, the family moved from Kentucky to Indiana.
Even as small children, Abraham and his older sister, Sarah, worked hard. Abraham was tall and strong for his age. By the time he was eight, he could pick up an ax and split wood as well as any man. He also helped with the plowing and harvesting. But not hunting—when he was seven years old, he shot a wild turkey and discovered that he hated killing things.
When Abraham was nine, his mother died. It was a terrible loss for him and his sister. Thomas Lincoln couldn’t raise the children by himself. Their home was miles from most other people. So he went back to Kentucky and returned with a new wife.
Much as he missed his own mother, Abraham quickly came to love Sarah. She encouraged all his interests. He called her “Mama” and was much closer to her than to his own father. Because of Sarah, Abraham remembered his childhood as a happy time.
With so much work to do, there wasn’t much time for schooling. Anyway, out in the wilderness there weren’t many schools. In Kentucky, Abraham had gone to an “A, B, C school,” where he had learned the alphabet, but not how to read or write. In Indiana, he sometimes went to a “blab school”—a place where all the students said their lessons out loud together. The schoolmaster listened and tried to pick out their mistakes through the noise.
Abraham finished with school for good at the age of fifteen. Altogether, he had gone for only about a year. But he had learned how to read. Now he could teach himself anything he wanted. He read every book he could find. He once walked twenty miles to borrow one.
It took him a long time to finish a book. Many people thought he seemed slow and plodding. But his stepmother understood why he took so long to learn. He wanted to be sure he really understood everything. Sometimes he’d learn part of a book by heart. Because paper was expensive and hard to get, he wrote out passages on a piece of wood. When the wood got so black he couldn’t see what he was writing, he would shave it off. Then he would start over again.
People liked Abraham. He was so good at telling funny stories. He was also famous for practical jokes. He once managed to have two men who were getting married on the same day delivered to the wrong brides. People were still talking about this joke years later.
MOST OF THE BOOKS ABRAHAM LINCOLN READ AS A CHILD WERE ONES HIS STEPMOTHER, SARAH, BROUGHT WITH HER WHEN SHE MARRIED HIS FATHER. THERE WAS THE BIBLE, OF COURSE, And ALSO AESOP’S FABLES. HE LOVED THESE FABLES, WHICH TAUGHT HIM HOW TO USE FUNNY LITTLE STORIES TO MAKE IMPORTANT POINTS. HE MEMORIZED PASSAGES FROM SHAKESPEARE, And COULD STILL RECITE THEM WHEN HE WAS PRESIDENT. ANOTHER FAVORITE BOOK WAS A BIOGRAPHY OF GEORGE WASHINGTON. AS A CHILD, THOUGH, LINCOLN COULdN’T HAVE KNOWN THAT SOMEDAY HE WOULD BE CONSIDERED JUST AS GREAT A PRESIDENT!
Chapter 2 - The Wider World
Abraham Lincoln knew he didn’t want to be a farmer like his father. But he didn’t know what he did want to do. So when he was twenty-one, he decided to leave home and find out.
He was hired to help sail flatboats loaded with supplies down the Sangamon River.
One time, the boat got stuck on a dam in front of the town of New Salem in central Illinois. It began filling with water. Lincoln and the others onboard couldn’t free it. Suddenly Lincoln had a brilliant idea. He bored a hole in the front of the boat and shifted all the supplies to that end. The boat tipped toward the hole and all the water ran out until the boat was high enough to go over the dam. Denton Offutt, the boat’s owner, was so impressed that he offered to put Lincoln in business. He decided to build a store in New Salem. Lincoln would manage it.
New Salem was a small village. But to Lincoln it seemed large and bustling. The store was a place where people gathered. Lincoln quickly became popular. People trusted him. He would never take advantage of anyone, even for a few cents. He joined a debating club and took part in town politics. He also went to the meetings of the local court. The justice of the peace began asking his opinion on cases, because what he said was always so funny. But his opinions were also very intelligent. Soon people began coming to Lincoln for legal advice.
Lincoln didn’t just impress people in town. Some rough farm boys called the Clary’s Grove gang had heard about Lincoln—the young man everyone was praising so much. They wanted to take him down a peg. So they challenged him to a wrestling match. We don’t know whether Lincoln won or lost. But the way he took on the whole gang won the boys over. They became his friends and loyal supporters, too.
He decided to run for the state legislature again. He could count on support from all his friends in New Salem. But some farmers thought he was just a town fellow who didn’t know how to work in the fields. So Lincoln pitched in with the harvest.
That won him the farmers’ votes. And he could count on the Clary’s Grove gang to make sure their friends would vote for him, too. This time, Lincoln won.
Lincoln decided he would be a better representative if he knew more about law. So he began to read law books. Although he never studied law formally, Lincoln taught himself enough to earn his law license by studying every spare second of the day. Often he studied while lying on his back, with his long legs resting on the trunk of a tree. As the sun moved, he followed it around the tree.
LINCOLN ENJOYED LIFE. HE WAS USUALLY In THE CENTER OF A CROWD, TELLING STORIES. WHEN HE REACHED THE PUNCH LINE, NO ONE LAUGHED HARDER THAN HE DID. BUT EVERYONE AROUND HIM NOTICED THAT HE ALSO CARRIED WITH HIM A TERRIBLE SADNESS. SOMETIMES, ONLY An HOUR AFTER HE HAD BEEN TELLING JOKES, HE MIGHT BE FOUND SITTING ALONE, HUNCHED UP WITH HIS ARMS AROUND HIS KNEES. NO ONE DARED TO GO NEAR HIM DURING THESE TIMES. LINCOLN SUFFERED FROM ATTACKS OF DEPRESSION ALL HIS LIFE.