Explore the ‘Life of Lincoln’

The “Life of Lincoln” series is an abbreviated biography of President Abraham Lincoln that Junior Dispatch and the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association has created in an effort to celebrate the United States of America’s 16th president.

This guide features all of the chapters, posters and teacher’s guides, plus a few additional items of interest.

LIFE OF LINCOLN

Each of these chapters includes a “Question of the Day,” where readers can talk about history and its effects on modern life. To answer them, just leave a comment or e-mail your response to juniordispatch@yorkdispatch.com or send it by regular mail to:
The Junior Dispatch
c/o The York Dispatch
205 North George St.
York, Pa. 17401

VIDEOS

Junior Dispatch recommends these YouTube videos to get to know Abraham Lincoln and the world he lived in.

POSTERS & MORE

You can use these PDF posters and lesson guides from the “Life of Lincoln” series.  (Coming soon! Check back!)

PROJECT OVERVIEW

The Pennsylvania Newspaper Association presented the results of their Life of Lincoln project in a 2009 seminar. This link takes to the PDF version of their PowerPoint Presentation.

 

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Step back to the time of Lincoln

narrow, muddy street in the Washington of Abraham Lincoln's time is re-created at the new Ford's Theatre Center for Education and Leadership Center. The museum and learning center is located across from Ford's Theatre in Washington and offers a blend of experiential history. (Washington Post photo by Linda Davidson)

What if you could walk through a door and be transported to another time?

We’re not talking about some portal of the future. Instead, we’re talking about taking a trip to the past, and you can do that right now in Washington.

Step off the elevator at the new Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership and you’ll find yourself on a narrow, brick sidewalk in the morning of April 15, 1865. Church bells toll. Gas street lamps flicker. It has rained overnight. (You can tell that because puddles have formed in the carriage tracks and hoofprints made in the dirt.) Overhead telegraph wires crackle with news of the day, like an old-fashioned version of CNN or Twitter.

On this morning , the news of the day is very big — and very sad: President Abraham Lincoln has been assassinated.

At the end of the street you see a train car. Step inside. Rest your hand on the flag that covers the replica of the president’s coffin. Count the flag’s stars, as proof that you are no longer in the 21st century. You can almost feel the train moving as it carries Lincoln’s body through 180 cities and seven states before arriving in Springfield, Ill. The president would be buried there on May 4.

From the train, move to the outside of a barn in Bowling Green, Va., as Lincoln’s killer, John Wilkes Booth, is found by Union soldiers after a 12-day manhunt. Hear sparks spit and sizzle as the barn catches fire and listen for the shot that would kill Booth.

Your journey of almost 150 years back in time is about to end, but there’s still much to discover at this new, beautiful and interactive museum.

- – -

Children wind down a four-story-tall staircase that loops around a stack of bent-aluminum books at the new Ford's Theatre Center for Education and Leadership in Washington. The nearly 7,000 books are all about President Abraham Lincoln and many are written for kids. (Washington Post photo by Linda Davidson)

Have you ever played Jenga? If so, how tall was your biggest tower?

The centerpiece of the new museum is an enormous, Jengalike sculpture that starts in the lobby and goes up and up and up and up. It stands 34 feet high, about as tall as a three-story house.

And it’s made entirely of almost 7,000 books about Lincoln. Or is it?

Look carefully at the tower. It certainly seems to be made of books. The titles even include ones for kids: “Abraham Lincoln and His Family Paper Dolls”; “Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek”; there’s even a Lincoln coloring book. Reach out and touch the tower gently. The books are smooth and even a little slippery. That’s because the books in the this tower are actually made from bent aluminum. (Aluminum won’t burn, and the “books” made of aluminum weigh less than real books.)

- – -

Jeansoe Pradel, 13, exits a replica of the train car that carried President Lincoln's coffin around the country. The display is part of the new Ford's Theatre Center for Education and Leadership Center in Washington. (Washington Post photo by Linda Davidson)

Can you imagine Abe Lincoln as a comic book superhero like Spider-Man? Would you wear shoes with Lincoln’s face on them? Have you ever seen Abraham Lincoln as a bobblehead doll? What about as a Smurf?

As silly as these things may sound, you can see them all (as well as Lincoln disguise kits, Lincoln logs and stuffed Lincoln dolls) on the museum’s third floor in a display case that shows how the 16th president has become part of popular culture.

Before you leave this level, stop to watch a short video called “The Unfinished Work.” People young and old, black and white, speak words as a kind of poetry while photographs from history — from the Civil War to modern times — flash and fade on the screens.

The words seem to talk about the world we live in today.

“War at the best, is terrible.

“We are not enemies, but friends.

“We must not be enemies.”

“May our children and our children’s children

“Enjoy a united country.

“An open field and a fair chance,

“Equal privileges in the race of life _

— It is for this the struggle should be maintained.”

All the words in the four-minute program were spoken by Abraham Lincoln. Your trip through the time machine ends, and you’re back on the streets of Washington in 2012. (You can tell because there’s a Hard Rock Cafe across the street.) But you probably have a better understanding of why Lincoln was so important then, and why he is still so important now.

Reported by Tracy Grant of The Washington Post.

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No bobblehead doll for John Wilkes Booth

Bobblehead dolls of the man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln have been pulled from sale at the Gettysburg National Military Park visitors’ center bookstore.

A John Wilkes Booth bobblehead doll, left, is seen for sale alongside a President Abraham Lincoln bobblehead doll at the Gettysburg Museum and Visitors Center Battlefield Bookstore Friday, March 9, 2012 in Gettysburg, Pa. (AP Photo/The Evening Sun, Shane Dunlap)

The dolls of John Wilkes Booth with a handgun were removed from shelves on Saturday, a day after a reporter for Hanover’s The Evening Sun newspaper asked about them, officials said.

“On rare occasions, there’s an item that might cause concern, and obviously the bobbleheads appeared to be doing that,” Gettysburg Foundation spokeswoman Dru Anne Neil said Tuesday.

The Booth dolls, featuring big heads attached to the bodies by springs so they bobble, were available for only about a week before the park superintendent, the foundation president and the bookstore manager decided they shouldn’t be for sale, Neil said.

She declined to state the reason for the decision, and messages left Tuesday for the park and the company that operates the bookstore weren’t immediately returned.

The Booth dolls, which are about 7 inches tall and come in boxes that look like the inside of the theater where Lincoln was killed, sell online for about $20 each. They have proved to be popular, as more than 150 of the original run of 250 have been sold, and more are being made, Kansas City, Mo.-based manufacturer BobbleHead LLC said.

“There’s a market there,” sales manager Matt Powers said. “We like to let the customer decide if it’s a good item or not.”

Confederate sympathizer Booth shot and killed Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington in April 1865, as the Civil War was ending. He fled and was tracked into Virginia, where he was killed.

Gettysburg was the site of a July 1863 Civil War battle in which the Union Army repelled a Confederate invasion of the North under Gen. Robert E. Lee. The battle is often considered the turning point of the war.

Reported by the Associated Press from GETTYSBURG, Pa.

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Chapter 9: The Nomination of 1860

The subject of this chapter is the Republican convention that nominated Lincoln for the presidency. Up to this point, at least, Lincoln had no thought about the presidency. But he did want to be in the United States Senate. He accepted his defeat by Douglas in 1858 as only temporary. He knew there would be another senatorial election in four years. But as to anything higher, he declared, “I must in all candor say that I do not think myself fit for the presidency.”

Thus, at the beginning of 1860, Lincoln was really not in the race for the presidential nomination. In Illinois, his candidacy developed in February and came to a head at the Republican state convention at Decatur. Lincoln’s name had been prominent in the local conventions, and the enthusiasm was growing. Decatur was very near to the place where Thomas Lincoln had first settled when he came into the state. When Abraham Lincoln came into this convention, he was greeted with an outburst of enthusiasm.

After order had been restored, a banner was raised up, attached to two old fence rails in the hall. It was brightly decorated and it read:

“ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
THE RAIL CANDIDATE
FOR PRESIDENT IN 1860.

Two rails from a lot of 3,000 made in 1830 by Thos. Hanks and Abe Lincoln – whose father was the first pioneer of Macon County.”

The enthusiasm over the rails spread far and wide. That Lincoln had split rails, and that he even had done it well, was no test of his statesmanship or his ability to be president. But it was a reminder of his simple and humble beginnings, and it attached him to the common people, between whom and himself there had always been a warm feeling of sympathy.

Meanwhile, the Democratic convention nominated Douglas for president.

The second Republican national convention met in Chicago, May 16, 1860. At this point, there came in a political trick which has been often used in later years. One of the hopeful candidates, William Seward, had friends who had brought a huge number of noisemakers with them. These were given out to the audience, whose members were under orders to shout and make noise whenever Seward’s name was mentioned. This gave the appearance of spontaneous applause and seemed to arouse great enthusiasm for that candidate.

Lincoln’s friends soon came to understand the situation and planned to beat their rivals at their own game. They sent out into the country and secured two men with phenomenal voices. It was said, with playful exaggeration, that these two men could shout so as to be heard across Lake Michigan. They were made captains of two bands of followers. These were placed on opposite sides of the auditorium and were instructed to raise the shout supporting Lincoln at a signal and keep it up as long as desired. The plan worked.

During the convention, Lincoln remained in Springfield, where he was in communication via telegraph with his friends at the Chicago convention. At the time of his nomination, he had gone from his office to that of the newspaper, The Sangamon Journal. A messenger boy came rushing up to him, carrying a telegram and exclaiming, “You are nominated.”

With never-before-seen enthusiasm, the Republican Party started on this campaign, which led to its first victory in the election of Abraham Lincoln of Illinois.

One story that circulated about this time is that shortly after his nomination, Lincoln was at a party in Chicago. A little girl approached and asked for his autograph. Lincoln looked about and seeing that there were other little girls there, decided to write an autograph for each one so that none would be disappointed.

The campaign was one of great excitement. Lincoln showed his wisdom in his refusing to be diverted, or allowing his party to be diverted, from the one important question of preventing the further extension of slavery. People were not allowed to lose sight of the fact that this was the real issue.

The election took place on the sixth day of November. The vote was as follows: Lincoln received 1,866,452 popular votes, and 180 electoral votes. Douglas received 1,375,157 popular votes, and twelve electoral votes. John Breckinridge received 847,953 popular votes, and seventy-two electoral votes. John Bell received 590,631 popular votes, and thirty-nine electoral votes.

The morning of March 4, 1861, the day of the inauguration was clear, mild, and beautiful. Shortly after twelve o’clock noon, James Buchanan the outgoing president, called to escort Lincoln to the Capitol. The retiring president and the president-elect rode side by side through the streets. Reaching the grounds of the Capitol, they walked arm in arm through a tunnel to the building. This tunnel had been built to guard against assassination, of which there had recently been many threats. They passed through the Senate chamber and through the building to the large platform that had been put up. The procession was headed by the justices of the Supreme Court clothed in cap and gown.

Based on the book by Henry Ketcham
Edited by Deborah Carroll

QUESTION OF THE DAY
In today’s chapter, a little girl approaches Abraham Lincoln and asks him for his autograph. Who’s autograph would you like to get and why?

Post a comment below after registering, e-mail your response to juniordispatch@yorkdispatch.com or send it by regular mail to:
The Junior Dispatch
c/o The York Dispatch
205 North George St.
York, Pa. 17401

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Chapter Two: The Early Years

The year 1809 was a great year for the birth of great men – Charles Darwin, scientist; Alfred Tennyson, poet; William E. Gladstone, statesman; and, not least, Abraham Lincoln, president.

After his marriage to Nancy Hanks, Thomas Lincoln lived in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where the first child, Sarah, was born. On the twelfth day of February 1809, Nancy gave birth to the son, who was named Abraham after his grandfather. The child was born in a log cabin of a kind very common in that day. It was built in a square and had only one room, one window, and a door.

In 1816, Thomas decided to move to Indiana. The family and their modest furniture were loaded into a wagon or a cart, and they were soon on the way.

The next thing was to build a cabin. In this case, the cabin was what was called a half-faced camp. That is, the building was entirely open on one of its four sides. This was at the lower side of the roof, and the opening was partly hidden by the hanging of the skins of deer and other wild animals. This open face acted as both door and window.

Today, much of a child’s life happens in school. As nearly as can be determined, all of young Lincoln’s schooling added up to about one year. This was divided among five teachers – an average of less than three months to each – and spread out over about five years. The branches taught were “readin’, writin’, and cipherin’ to the rule of three.”

His mother’s instruction was of more value than all these put together. A woman who had energy enough to teach her husband and her children to read and write was a rare character. Her influence on young Lincoln was enormous.

It is important that every boy learn to read. But a far more important question is: What use does he make of his ability to read? Let us now see what use Lincoln made of his knowledge of reading.

In those days, books were rare and his library was small. It included at least these three volumes: the Bible, Aesop’s Fables, and Pilgrim’s Progress. Day after day Lincoln read, thought about the books, and digested them until they were his own. We begin to understand where he got his values, his writing style, and his sharp humor.

Once, he borrowed from a neighbor, Josiah Crawford, a copy of the book Life of Washington. He didn’t own a bookcase, so one night Lincoln tucked the book into the wall of his cabin. A rainstorm came up and soaked the book through and through. The damage was done and could not be repaired. The lad, sadly, carried the book back to the owner and, having no money, offered to pay for the damage in work. Crawford agreed and named seventy-five cents (in labor) as a fair sum.

“Does this pay for the book,” Lincoln asked, “or only for the damage?” Crawford determined that the book “wasn’t of much account to him nor to anyone else.” So Lincoln cheerfully did the work – for three days – and owned the book.

Later he had the book A Life of Henry Clay, and he idolized Henry Clay. His favorite poet was Burns, whom he knew by heart. Throughout his life, he ranked Burns next to Shakespeare as his favorite writers.

Having no slate or anything to write on, he did his “sums” in the sand on the ground or on a wooden shovel, which, after it was covered on both sides, he scraped down so as to erase the work. One of Lincoln’s notebooks has been preserved, containing, along with examples in arithmetic, this boyish poem:

Abraham Lincoln
His hand and pen
He will be good but
God knows When.

In 1818, a mysterious illness passed over the region. It was called the “milk-sick.” Mrs. Lincoln, Abe’s mother, came down with it. There was no doctor to be had, the nearest one being thirty-five miles away. She soon died.

Lincoln was nine years old when his mother died, October 5, 1818. Her lot was hard, her horizon was narrow, her opportunities were limited, and her life was one of hard work and poverty. All through her life and after her death, many people would have said that she had had at best but a poor chance in the world. Surely no one would have predicted that her name would come to be known and respected from ocean to ocean. But she was faithful, brave, and cheerful. She did her duty lovingly. In later years, the nation joined with her son in paying honor to the memory of this noble, overworked, uncomplaining woman.

The death of his wife left Thomas Lincoln with the care of three young children: Sarah, eleven years old; Abe, ten years old; and the foster brother, Dennis Hanks. One of them would grow up to be president.

Based on the book by Henry Ketcham
Edited by Deborah Carroll

YOUR QUESTION OF THE DAY
The opening line of today’s chapter mentions the great people born the same year as Abraham Lincoln. While it’s probably not clear what great people were born in your birth year, you can do some research to find out what great people were born on your birthday. After you find a list (try a site such as this one) and read about those included on your birthday, who do you think is the greatest person born on your birthday?

Post a comment below after registering, e-mail your response to juniordispatch@yorkdispatch.com or send it by regular mail to:
The Junior Dispatch
c/o The York Dispatch
205 North George St.
York, Pa. 17401

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Chapter One: The Wild West

In 1800, most of the country was frontier. In any part of the country today, in villages or small towns, on the enormous farms of the Dakotas or the vast ranches of California, one is certain to find some, if not many, of the modern appliances that weren’t dreamed of one hundred years before. It requires an extraordinary effort of the imagination to understand what life was like during the opening years of that century.

The first quarter of the century ended with 1825. Abraham Lincoln was nearly seventeen years old. Our deepest impressions of life are created very early. The things that happen to us when we’re younger than seventeen have much to do with the way we turn out. So, if we go back to the period named, we can tell what life was like during Lincoln’s early years. Though we cannot know exactly what he had, we can name many things, which today we think of as necessities, that he had to do without, for the simple reason that they had not yet been invented.

First, we must bear in mind that Lincoln lived in the woods. There was little schooling. But the woodsman has an education of his own. The region was wild in the sense that very few people lived there and only small areas of land were cleared or used. The forests, from the mountains in the East to the prairies in the West, were almost unbroken and were the living place for wild birds and wild beasts. Bears, deer, wild cats, raccoons, wild turkeys, wild pigeons, wild ducks, and similar creatures abounded everywhere.

There may have been lots of animals, but there weren’t many people. In 1810, in Illinois, with its more than 56,000 square miles of land, lived only 12,282 people; in 1820, only 55,211, or less than one to the square mile; while in 1825 its population had grown to a little more than 100,000, or less than two to the square mile.

When he was a boy, Lincoln lived only in the wildest of the wild woods, where the animals from the chipmunk to the bear were much more numerous, and probably more at home, than people were.

There were few roads of any kind, and certainly none that could be called good. For the mud of Indiana and Illinois was very deep. There were good horses, a decent number of oxen, and carts that were crude and simple. But there were no trains, no bicycles, and no cars. As to carriages, there may have been some, but a good carriage would be only a waste on those roads and in that forest.

The only pen was the goose-quill, and the ink was homemade. Paper was scarce, expensive, and, while of good material, poorly made. Newspapers were unknown, and books were like angels’ visits, few and far between.

Imagine this boy. Begin at his head and look down him – a long look, for he was tall and skinny. His cap in winter may have been of coonskin, with the tail of the animal hanging down Lincoln’s back. In summer, he could have worn a misshapen straw hat. His shirt was likely of no color whatever, unless you call it “the color of dirt.” His breeches or pants were likely of deerskin and perhaps held up by one suspender. The hunting shirt was likewise of deerskin. The socks? Well, there probably weren’t any. The shoes were cowhide, though moccasins made by his mother were probably worn in dry weather. He was tall and perhaps grew quickly so there may have been a space of several inches between the pants and the shoes, exposing a tanned and bluish skin. For about half the year, Lincoln probably went barefoot.

There were schools, but they were quite simple. The “little red schoolhouse on the hill,” with the flag floating proudly above it, was not of that day. There were preachers who went from town to town holding “revival meetings.” But church buildings were rare and, to say the least, not of artistic design. There were no regular means of travel. Even the post office department was slow in reaching those isolated communities.

Into such circumstances and conditions Lincoln was born and grew into manhood.

Based on the book by Henry Ketcham
Edited by Deborah Carroll

YOUR QUESTION FOR THE DAY
What part of modern day life couldn’t you live without?
Televison? Your iPod? A cell phone or computer?

Post a comment below after registering, e-mail your response to juniordispatch@yorkdispatch.com or send it by regular mail to:
The Junior Dispatch
c/o The York Dispatch
205 North George St.
York, Pa. 17401

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Chapter Ten: Lincoln As President

When Lincoln took office, his tasks were many. First, of the fifteen slave states, seven had seceded and withdrawn from the United States. It was Lincoln’s job as president to hold the remaining eight states.

Lincoln’s next task was to unite the North as far as possible. There was in the North an extreme devotion to the flag. Benjamin F. Butler, a Democrat, had warned the people in the South that while they might count on a large pro-slavery vote in the North, war was a different matter. The moment you fire on the flag, he said, you unite the North; and if war comes, slavery goes.

Lincoln also had to deal with foreign nations. The sympathies of these, especially England and France, were strongly with the South. They would jump at the chance to recognize the South as an independent nation. It was a difficult matter to guide affairs so that this didn’t happen.

Lincoln kept the two promises of his inaugural. First, that he would hold the United States forts, and second, that he would not be the aggressor. “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government; while I have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect, and defend’ it.”

In other words, if there were to be war, the South would have to fire the first shot.

And it did.

On Friday, April 12, 1861, the South fired on Fort Sumter, S.C., a U.S. military base. The Civil War had begun.

When Fort Sumter fell, Lincoln had been in office less than six weeks. The fall of Sumter caused an outburst of patriotism in the North. For a time, enthusiasm and patriotism ran very high. Those in the North who were in sympathy with the South remained quiet, and those who were doubtful were swept along with the tide of popular feeling. The flag had been fired on. That one fact unified the North.

The morning after the evacuation of Fort Sumter, Lincoln issued his call for 75,000 volunteers to serve in the Army for three months. The reason why the number was so small was that this was the largest number that could be clothed and armed quickly. It was later learned that three months was way too short a period for so serious a fight. Did Lincoln really think the rebellion could be put down in three months? Why did he not call for five-year enlistments at the beginning?

First, he had no legal power to call for a longer period of enlistment. And, Lincoln did not want it to look like he was preparing for a long war. Had his first call been for 500,000 men for three years, it would have looked as if he intended and desired a long, bloody war, and this would have angered lots of people.

The U.S. and Confederate armies fought, literally sweeping the face of the country with destruction. The oldest soldiers were fifty-five when the war closed. The youngest were twelve when the war opened. Older men and younger boys were in the war and were killed on the field of battle.

In the early part of the war, there were certain attempts at emancipation, or freeing the slaves, a movement that Lincoln held in check because the time for that had not arrived. “There’s a tide in the affairs of men,” he said.

But when Lincoln felt the “tide” had turned and the time was right, he presented his first proclamation to his cabinet on July 22, 1862. The real proclamation of emancipation was issued January 1, 1863.

EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:–

That on the first day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any state, or designated part of a state, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward and forever free, and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

In January 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was passed, abolishing slavery. On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate army of the South surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant of the army of the North. The Civil War was just about over, although the last fighting didn’t end until May 26, 1865.

Slavery was over. The country was whole again and faced the future with much to do. It would face it without Lincoln at the helm, though. An assassin’s bullet to Lincoln’s head ended the president’s life on April 15, 1865. His legacy lives on.

Based on the book by Henry Ketcham
Edited by Deborah Carroll

QUESTION OF THE DAY
In today’s finale, Lincoln speaks that “there’s a tide in the affairs of men,” meaning that timing is everything when you make a significant change. In your life, what significant change is it time for? Maybe you should take on additional responsiblities at home. Or perhaps its the right moment to discard an old, childish habit that you’ve continued. So tell us, what change needs to happen in your life?

Post a comment below after registering, e-mail your response to juniordispatch@yorkdispatch.com or send it by regular mail to:
The Junior Dispatch
c/o The York Dispatch
205 North George St.
York, Pa. 17401

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Chapter Eight: The Birth of a Political Party

In the course of history there sometimes arises a man who has a marvelous power of attaching others to himself. He commands devotion and enthusiasm that it is impossible fully to understand. Such a man was Henry Clay. And Lincoln was fascinated by him. From childhood to maturity, Clay had been Lincoln’s idol, and Clay’s party, the Whig party, was very popular in American politics. It was therefore no easy matter for Lincoln to leave the Whig party. Nothing could have made him do this except the overmastering power of his noble emotion — his deep desire to end slavery.

Lincoln hated slavery. The fact that Kentucky was a slave state was one reason why his father wanted to move to Indiana. And what Lincoln saw during his own journeys down the Mississippi River had given him a stronger feeling against slavery.

Though Clay himself and a majority of the Whig party were against slavery, there were still pro-slavery men in its ranks in big enough numbers to prevent any real change on the slavery question.

On the other hand, while the Democratic Party was overwhelmingly pro-slavery, there were many anti-slavery Democrats who were not to be overlooked. If the anti-slavery men from other parties were to be united, it would have to be under another organization. A new party would have to be formed.

Newspapers took up the battle. A number of papers printed editorials calling for a convention. The men interested in forming a new party – the Republican party – met on Washington’s birthday in February 1856. The meeting included Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soilers, Abolitionists, and Know-Nothings (yes, there really was a political party called the “Know-Nothings”). Said Lincoln: “Of strange, discordant, even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds.”

Later that year, Lincoln spoke at a Republican banquet in Chicago. The purpose of the speech was to forecast the future of the young party. The following quotes from that speech are interesting:

“Let bygones be bygones; let past differences as nothing be; and with steady eye on the real issue, let us reinaugurate the good old ‘central ideas’ of the republic. We can do it. The human heart is with us; God is with us. We shall again be able to declare, not that ‘all states as states are equal,’ nor yet that ‘all citizens as citizens are equal,’ but to renew the broader, better declaration, including these and much more, that ‘all men are created equal.’”

It was upon the wisdom of this plan that, four years later, Lincoln held the enemies of slavery united, while the enemies of freedom were divided among themselves. It was this that carried the Republican Party to its first victory and made him president.

Lincoln’s main opponent was Stephen Douglas. The admiring friends of Douglas had given him the nickname of “the little giant.” Physically he was very little. Intellectually he was a giant. In 1858, Douglas was perhaps the most well known man in the United States. He was the unquestioned leader of the Democratic Party. He had been so long in public life that he was familiar with every public question. Lincoln was a giant physically, and it soon became evident that he was no less intellectually. These two men soon were to come together in a series of joint debates. This would be a battle of intellectual giants. No other such debates had ever occurred in the history of the country.

In 1858, the senatorial term of Douglas was about to expire and a successor would be chosen. Douglas was the candidate of his own party. The Republicans turned naturally to Lincoln, for it would be no light task to defeat so strong an opponent.

At the Republican convention, he said, “We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to the slavery agitation. In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Un,ion to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

Lincoln wrote Douglas a letter proposing a series of debates. Douglas accepted the proposal. They arranged for seven discussions, the locations being scattered fairly over the entire territory of the state.

The speechmaking ability of the two men is shown by the remark of a woman who heard them speak, and said: “I can recall only one fact of the debates, that I felt so sorry for Lincoln while Douglas was speaking, and then so sorry for Douglas while Lincoln was speaking.”

The men were well matched in speechmaking, but Douglas did win that election for senator. It would, however, not be the men’s last battle.

Based on the book by Henry Ketcham
Edited by Deborah Carroll

YOUR QUESTION OF THE DAY
This chapter lists a number of different political parties, each with their own stands on a variety of issues. Make up your own idea for a political party. What causes would it adopt?

Post a comment below after registering, e-mail your response to juniordispatch@yorkdispatch.com or send it by regular mail to:
The Junior Dispatch
c/o The York Dispatch
205 North George St.
York, Pa. 17401

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Chapter Seven: On The Circuit

There were two qualities in Lincoln’s stories: their fun and their appropriateness. When Lincoln came into court, it was usually with a new story, and as he would tell it in low tones, the lawyers would crowd about him and ignore everything else, to the great annoyance of the judge. Because of that, a judge once called out: “Mr. Lincoln, we can’t hold two courts, one up here and one down there. Either yours or mine must adjourn.”

His practice was as large as that of any lawyer, and he had lots of important cases. But he never accumulated a large sum of money. Probably no other successful lawyer in that region had a smaller income.

This chapter will not be complete without making mention of Lincoln’s professional kindness to the poor and unfortunate. Those who could find no other friends were sure to find a friend in Lincoln. He would freely give his services to the needy.

While Lincoln was a lawyer in Springfield, came a pretty, bright, educated, cultured young lady – Miss Mary Todd. She was from a wealthy family from Kentucky. It is said that she could trace the family genealogy back many centuries. Lincoln was a very popular man and Miss Todd was quite a popular young lady in Springfield. But, in everything except their popularity, they were as unlike as they could be.

They were quietly married on November 4, 1842. Lincoln made a loyal and true husband. Mrs. Lincoln made a home that was hospitable, cultured, and not fancy. They lived together until Lincoln’s death more than twenty-two years later. They had four children, all boys. Only the eldest, Robert Todd Lincoln, grew to manhood.

It is necessary at this point to take a glance at the history of American slavery, in order to understand Lincoln’s career. In 1619, or one year before the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth, a Dutch ship landed a cargo of slaves at Jamestown, Virginia. For nearly two centuries after this, the slave trade was more or less brisk. The slaves were distributed, though unevenly, over all the colonies. But as time passed, differences appeared. In the North, most people believed slavery to be wrong, while in the South most did not. There were many exceptions in both areas, but the public sentiment, the general feeling, was as stated.

It is generally believed that the founders of our government looked forward to slowly getting rid of slavery. In the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson put in some remarks about the King’s part in the slave traffic. But it was felt that such remarks would not be well received in colonies that allowed slavery, and the passage was taken out.

Based on the book by Henry Ketcham
Edited by Deborah Carroll

YOUR QUESTION OF THE DAY
Today’s chapter mentions how Abraham Lincoln often gave his legal services to the needy. Have you ever volunteered your time and skills to a charity? What did you do? How would you like to help the needy?

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Chapter Six: Entering the Law

In 1834, while running for election, Lincoln became friends again with a man he had met while serving in the army, Major John T. Stuart. Stuart advised him to study the law, and Lincoln decided to do so. This proved to be quite the most important thing that occurred to him that year.

Stuart offered to lend him law books. This offer was gladly accepted. Lincoln, having no means of transportation, walked to and from Springfield, a distance of 20 miles, to get the books and return them.

During this time, as he studied law, Lincoln continued working at other jobs – storekeeping, postmaster, and surveyor. These jobs may not have interfered greatly with the study of the law, but the study of the law certainly interfered with the first of these, being a storekeeper. He read much outdoors. He would lie on his back in the shade of some tree, with his feet resting part way up the tree, then follow the shadow around from west to east, grinding around with the progress of the sun so he’d have light shining on his pages.

He was admitted to the bar, becoming a lawyer in 1837. At that time, there was no lawyer nearer to New Salem than those in Springfield, which was twenty miles off. So his neighbors often came to him for their legal needs, like writing up contracts. He had no office, and he often worked outside using a slab of wood for a desk.

This same year, he became a law partner of Stuart, in Springfield. Lincoln wanted to get into politics, and it was important that he should have a trustworthy partner. So the firm of Stuart and Lincoln was established in 1837 and lasted for four years. (Later, in 1845, was established the firm of Lincoln and Herndon, which continued until the assassination of the president in 1865.)

His partnership with Stuart of course had made it necessary for Lincoln to move to Springfield. Here, he met Joshua Speed, who turned out to be a friend for the rest of Lincoln’s life. Their meeting is described here, partly in Speed’s own words:

“He had ridden into town on a borrowed horse, with no earthly property save a pair of saddlebags containing a few clothes. I was a merchant at Springfield and kept a large country store, embracing dry goods, groceries, hardware, books, medicines, bedclothes, mattresses – in fact, everything that the country needed. Lincoln said he wanted to buy the furniture for a single bed. The mattress, blankets, sheets, coverlet, and pillow, according to the figures made by me, would cost seventeen dollars. He said that perhaps was cheap enough; but small as the price was, he was unable to pay it. But if I would credit him until Christmas, and his experiment as a lawyer was a success, he would pay then; saying in the saddest tone, ’If I fail in this, I do not know that I ever can pay you.’ As I looked up at him I thought then, and I think now, that I never saw a sadder face.

“I said to him: ‘You seem to be so much pained at contracting so small a debt, I think I can suggest a plan by which you can avoid the debt, and at the same time attain your end. I have a large room upstairs, which you are very welcome to share with me.’

The Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill.He took his saddlebags on his arm, went upstairs, set them on the floor, and came down with the most changed expression. Beaming with pleasure, he exclaimed:

‘Well, Speed, I am moved!’”

Thus he became established in the profession of the law and a resident of Springfield. It was not a large city, but it was a very active one and was the capital of the state. His first law partner was very helpful to him, and he had reason all his life to be thankful also for the friendship of Joshua F. Speed.

Lincoln got deeper into politics, this period ending with the term in Congress. While in Congress, he let his law practice go a bit, but late in 1848, or early in 1849, he returned to the law, giving it his undivided attention for six years.

Based on the book by Henry Ketcham
Edited by Deborah Carroll

YOUR QUESTION OF THE DAY
In 1834, the most important thing that happened to future president Lincoln was that he joined a law practice with Major John T. Stuart. What was the most important thing that happened to you last year?

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Chapter Four: Second Journey to New Orleans

Lincoln’s first winter in Illinois, 1830-31, was one of those unusual seasons that come to all communities. It is remembered for the extraordinary amount of snow that fell. There is little doing in such a community during any winter; but in such a winter as that, there was practically nothing doing. Lincoln always held himself ready to accept any opportunity for work, but there was no opening that winter. The only thing he accomplished was what he did every winter and every summer of his life: namely, he made many friends.

When spring came, Denton Offutt decided to send a cargo of merchandise down to New Orleans. Hearing that Lincoln, John Hanks, and John Johnston were “likely boys,” he employed them to take charge of the project. Their pay was to be fifty cents a day and, if the effort proved successful, an additional sum of twenty dollars. Lincoln said that none of them had ever seen so much money at one time, and they were glad to accept the offer.

Two interesting events occurred during this trip.

The boat and its cargo had been set afloat in the Sangamon River at Springfield. All went well until, at New Salem, they came to a mill dam where, although the water was high, owing to the spring floods, the boat stuck. Lincoln rolled his trousers “five feet more or less” up his long, lank legs, waded out to the boat, and got the bow of the boat over the dam. Then, without waiting to bail the water out, he drilled a hole in the bottom and let the water run out. He constructed a machine that lifted and pushed the boat over the obstruction, and their voyage was quickly resumed. Many years later, when he was a lawyer, he whittled out a model of his invention and had it patented. The model may today be seen in the patent office in Washington D.C. The patent brought him no fortune, but it is an interesting relic.

This story tells something about Lincoln’s character – his ingenuity and cleverness. He was remarkably good at devising ways and means of getting out of unexpected difficulties. Later, in 1860, when the “ship of state” (the United States) seemed about to run aground and get hopelessly stuck in bad times (Civil War), it was Lincoln’s determination and ingenuity that averted total wreck. Just as in his youth, he saved the flatboat, so in his mature years he saved the nation.

The other event was that at New Orleans, where he saw with his own eyes some of the horrors of slavery. He never could tolerate a moral wrong or mistreatment of people. Though born in a slave state, he had an earnest and growing hatred of slavery. Still, up to this time he had never seen much of its workings. At this time, he saw a slave market – the auctioning off and selling of human beings.

The details of this auction were coarse and ugly. Lincoln saw it all. He saw a beautiful girl shown like a racehorse, her “points” described, one by one, in order, as the auctioneer said, that “bidders might satisfy themselves whether the article they were offering to buy was sound or not.” One of his companions said slavery ran the iron into Lincoln then and there. His soul was stirred with a righteous indignation. Turning to the others, Lincoln exclaimed with a solemn oath: “Boys, if ever I get a chance to hit that thing [slavery], I’ll hit it hard!”

He bided his time. One-third of a century later he had the chance to hit that thing. He kept his promise. He hit it hard.

The success of the trip to New Orleans had won the admiration of his employer, Offutt, and he now offered Lincoln a clerkship in his store. The offer was accepted, partly because it gave him some time to read. It was here that he came to know the two great poets, Burns and Shakespeare.

There are some stories connected with his work in the store that are worth saving because they show traits of his character. He once sold a half-pound of tea to a customer. The next morning, as he was tidying up the store he saw, by the weights that remained in the scales, that he had mistakenly given her four, instead of eight, ounces. He instantly weighed out the balance and carried it to her.

At another time when he counted up his cash at night, he discovered that he had charged a customer six and a quarter cents too much. He closed up the store at once and walked to the home of the customer and returned the money. It was such things as these, in little matters as well as great, that gave him the nickname of “honest Abe,” which, to his honor be it said, clung to him through life.

Based on the book by Henry Ketcham
Edited by Deborah Carroll

YOUR QUESTION OF THE DAY
What local, state, national or world problem would you like to ‘hit hard’ just as Lincoln promised about slavery to his friends?

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Chapter Five: Entering Politics

In 1833, Lincoln became the postmaster at New Salem. To him, the best part of this job was the fact that it gave him the means to read the newspapers. The principal one of these was the Louisville Journal.

A year or two later, Lincoln met his first love, got engaged to a beautiful girl, Ann Rutledge, and then experienced great grief. Her untimely death upset his mind and broke his heart. A friend once begged him to try to forget his sorrow. “I cannot,” he said; “the thought of the rain and snow on her grave fills me with indescribable grief.”

This deep sadness took much from Lincoln. But it gave him something, too. Patience, earnestness, tenderness, sympathy – these are sometimes gifts. This sad event added these gifts to the character of this great man and would become even more useful in later years.

Lincoln’s duties at New Salem as clerk, storekeeper, and postmaster had resulted in many friendships with the people of that area. His later duties as surveyor took him into the outlying districts, where even more people got to know him. His social skills won him friends wherever he was known, while his shining character gave him an unusual amount of influence for a young man. He had always had an interest in public, even national, questions, and his fondness for debate and speechmaking increased this interest. Plus, he had lived month to month going from one job to another, and he had not yet found his permanent calling or career.

But it seemed that, given all the things he was good at, he would sooner or later enter politics. This he did at the age of twenty-three, in 1832.

According to the custom of the day, he announced in the spring his candidacy for state legislature and began his campaign. He was making a speech at a place called Cappsville when two men in the audience got into a fight. One was a friend of his.

Lincoln proceeded in his speech until it became clear that his friend was getting the worse of the scuffle, so Lincoln walked down from the platform, grabbed his friend’s opponent, and threw him ten or twelve feet away on the ground. Lincoln then remounted the platform and took up his speech right where he had left off.

Here is a description of Lincoln’s methods of election campaigning, given by Ida Tarbell, who wrote a biography of the man:

“Wherever he saw a crowd of men, he joined them, and he never failed to adapt himself to their point of view in asking for votes. If the degree of physical strength was the test for a candidate, he was ready to lift a weight, or wrestle with the countryside champion.”

Because Lincoln had been serving in the army during much of the election season, he had only ten days to campaign. The ten days were not enough, and he lost. The vote against him was mostly in the regions where he was little known. It must have made him feel better to know that in his own area, where he was so well known, he received the almost unanimous vote of all parties. Of this election, Lincoln himself said: “This was the only time Abraham was ever defeated on the direct vote of the people.”

His next political experience was a run for the legislature in 1834. This time he was successful. Though Lincoln probably did not realize it, this election put an end to his drifting life. Up to this point, he was always looking for a job that he loved. From this time on, he was not passing from one thing to another. In this country, politics and law are closely tied. And it was these two that kept him busy for the rest of his life.

Lincoln was reelected to the legislature as often as he was willing to be a candidate, and he served continuously for eight years. In 1842, he decided to run for Congress. He was, however, defeated in the primary. In 1846, he tried again, this time with flattering success.

Based on the book by Henry Ketcham
Edited by Deborah Carroll

YOUR QUESTION OF THE DAY
The future president received much of his news through newspapers. Where do you get news that’s important to your life? What type of news do you like to read or hear about?

Post a comment below after registering, e-mail your response to juniordispatch@yorkdispatch.com or send it by regular mail to:
The Junior Dispatch
c/o The York Dispatch
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York, Pa. 17401

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Chapter Three: In Indiana

In 1819, Abraham’s father, Thomas Lincoln, returned to Kentucky and proposed marriage to a widow, Mrs. Sally Bush Johnston. They were married the next morning. The new wife brought with her lots of articles of household furniture and three children of various ages. Parents, children, and goods were loaded into a wagon drawn by a four-horse team and were driven over indescribable roads, through woods and fields, to their Indiana home.

Sally’s furniture made an improvement in the Lincoln home. What was most important, she brought the sweet spirit of motherhood, giving to all the children a generous portion of mother’s love. She did not humor them to the point of idleness, but wisely ruled with strictness. The influence upon the growing lad of two such women as Nancy Hanks and Sally Bush was worth more than that of the best college in all the land.

Young Abe grew very fast. While still in his teens, he reached his full height – six feet and four inches. His strength was astonishing. Many stories–some perhaps exaggerated–were told of his strength, such as: He once lifted up a hencoop weighing 600 pounds and carried it off; he could lift a full barrel of cider to his mouth and drink from it; he could sink an ax deeper into a log than any man in the country. It’s not known if such a contest existed but the stories about Lincoln’s strength did.

During his youth, he spent much of his time reading, talking, and, after a fashion, making speeches. He also wrote. His political writings won great admiration from his neighbors. This shows that from boyhood he knew the force of this formidable weapon, which later he used with so much skill.

Men gathered at the country store as they might today at a cafe’ or bar. Young Lincoln was the life of the gatherings, being an expert in the telling of a humorous story and having always a plentiful supply. Rumor was that some men would leave their work to listen to him.

When sixteen years old, Lincoln had his first lesson in speechmaking or oratory. He attended court and heard a case in which one of the wealthy Breckenridges of Kentucky was attorney for the defense. The power of the lawyer’s speech was a revelation. It opened Lincoln’s eyes to the strength of good writing and strong speaking skills.

At the end, the awkward, ill-dressed, bashful but enthusiastic young Lincoln pressed forward to offer his congratulations and thanks to the eloquent lawyer, who brushed by the young man without accepting the outstretched hand. In later years, the men met again, this time in Washington City, in the White House, when Lincoln was president. The president reminded Breckenridge of the incident, which the lawyer had no desire to recall.

In 1830, the epidemic “milk-sick” reappeared in Indiana. Thomas Lincoln had a desire to get out of there. Illinois was at that time settling up rapidly. There were glowing accounts of its desirability. Thomas Lincoln’s decision to move to the new land made good sense.

The family settled in Macon County. Abe worked faithfully with his father until the family was settled, then started out in life for himself. He had now reached the age of twenty-one. As he had passed through the periods of childhood and youth and was on the threshold of manhood, it is right and fitting to offer at this point the words of Sally Bush, his stepmother:

“Abe was a good boy, and I can say what scarcely one woman – a mother – can say in a thousand: Abe never gave me a cross word or look, and never refused, in fact or appearance, to do anything I requested him. I never gave him a cross word in all my life. … He was a dutiful son to me always. I think he loved me truly. I had a son John who was raised with Abe. Both were good boys; but I must say, both being now dead, that Abe was the best boy I ever saw, or expect to see.”

Lincoln came into manhood with good values. He had formed no habits that would cause years of struggle to overcome. He had committed no deed that would bring the blush of shame to his cheek. He was as free from bad habits as from crime. He didn’t swear, he had never tasted liquor, he was no brawler, and he never gambled. He was honest and truthful. He had a genius for making friends. He was the center of every social circle and he was a good talker. He was well prepared for the great responsibilities awaiting him.

Based on the book by Henry Ketcham
Edited by Deborah Carroll

QUESTION OF THE DAY
Abraham Lincoln was inspired by Attorney Breckenridge to become a great lawyer, orator and statesman. Who inspires you?

Post a comment below after registering, e-mail your response to juniordispatch@yorkdispatch.com or send it by regular mail to:
The Junior Dispatch
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