Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Three Lincoln Mothers.

There were three mothers who greatly influenced Abraham Lincoln: his own mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln; his stepmother, Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln; and the mother of his children, Mary Todd Lincoln.

All three women spent their girlhood days in Kentucky. When Abraham was but nine years old he saw his mother for the last time. Just before leaving for the Inauguration at Washington in February 1861, he made a special trip to Coles County, Illinois, to bid his stepmother good-bye. On that fateful night in Ford's Theatre, he sat beside the mother of his children. Nancy lies buried close by her Indiana home in a beautiful state park, Sarah rests not far from her Illinois home which has also become a state park, and Mary lies beside her husband in the mausoleum at Springfield, Illinois.

Nancy Hanks

Lincoln's own mother was once despised and censured by most of those who wrote about her. She has now emerged from the purely traditional and misty background which made her a waif and an irresponsible wanderer, to an honorable place in the family history of her noble son. This has come about only by the untiring efforts of several historians who were not willing to allow her place in history to become established by the gossip about her collected by William Herndon. 

This mother had the privilege of tutoring her son, Abraham, but nine short years before she was snatched away. She was a young mother just in her early twenties when her first child, Sarah, was born. Two years later Abraham came, and then after another two years a child named Thomas for his father. The youngest boy died when about two years old so there were but two children left for the mother to care for, an easy task compared with the lot of so many pioneer mothers with large families.

When Nancy Hanks Lincoln moved with her husband to Elizabethtown, Kentucky, immediately after her wedding, there is every reason to believe that she found a close friend in a young lady of the town, Sarah Bush Johnston, who had been married but a few weeks before. Nancy Lincoln's first child and Sarah Johnston's first child were born about the same time. In the rearing of these infants, the young mothers would have much in common to discuss. Little did Nancy Lincoln dream at this time that her friend Sarah Johnston would become the stepmother of her children. She died in 1818.

Sarah Bush Johnston

The brother of Sarah Bush, Elijah, and Thomas Lincoln were very close friends in the early Kentucky days and they made a trip to New Orleans together in 1806. While they were away on the trip Sarah, but eighteen years old, married Daniel Johnston. When Thomas and Elijah returned, both purchased gifts for Sarah at the Bleakley and Montgomery Store. 

Thomas Lincoln as a young man had received the appointment as a patroller for Hardin County as early as 1803, and Sarah's father, Christopher Bush, was captain of the patrol. Thomas must have met Sarah who was then but fifteen years old, and he had probably known her as a growing child, as she was but nine years of age when he first went to Elizabethtown to work.

Nancy, Thomas Lincoln's first wife, died in 1818, and in the following year, he went back to Elizabethtown to marry a second wife. He chose the woman whom he had known from his childhood, Sarah Bush Johnston, then a widow. Abraham Lincoln's second mother or stepmother was even younger than his own mother. 

After the marriage, Sarah immediately became the mother of three orphaned groups: her own three children, Thomas Lincoln's two children, and a boy by the name of Dennis Hanks whose foster parents were dead and who therefore found lodging in the Lincoln home. It was no small task to mother three groups of children, yet she played no favorites in this Southern Indiana orphanage. 

No stepmother could have shown more kindness in bringing up a child than Sarah displayed in her rearing of Abraham Lincoln. She was richly rewarded for her motherly attention to the needs of this boy, as in her last years he was to establish her in a home which he had provided for her. She died in 1851.

Mary Todd

The name Mary has often been associated with motherhood because of the Nativity scene at Bethlehem. There is no evidence that Mary Lincoln was other than a good mother for Abraham Lincoln's four boys. She brought them all through the difficult years of early infancy and three of them passed from the period of childhood to youth.

When Mary Todd married Abraham Lincoln she was but twenty-four years of age while her husband was nine years her senior. No one in Springfield has even ventured the suggestion that she was not a capable mother in every respect. She was the intellectual superior to most of the mothers of the prairie country. She had always lived in a home of culture. There had always been new babies coming into the Todd home in Lexington during all the years she was growing up, and she must have known more than the average woman about rearing children.

Mary Todd was a good mother, in that she kept her own mind alert and was of tremendous help in bringing at least one of her sons to occupy a prominent place in government affairs, and the possibilities are that if Robert Lincoln had permitted his name to be used as a Presidential nominee, she might have reared a president as well as married one.

Mary Lincoln of course never knew her husband's own mother because she died the very year Mary was born. She did know Lincoln's stepmother, and a letter which she wrote to her, a copy of which was discovered in Charleston, Illinois, several years ago, might suggest the attitude towards the good woman who took care of Lincoln as a youth by the good wife who mothered his children when he became a man. She died in 1865.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Booth Saved Lincoln's Life.

Booth saved Lincoln’s life. The statement is true, but the incident to which it refers did not involve President Abraham Lincoln and his assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Instead, it refers to Edwin Booth (1833-1893), John Wilkes’ older brother, and Robert Todd Lincoln, the president’s only child to reach adulthood. 

As a general rule, historical anecdotes that seem a little “too perfect,” like “John Wilkes Booth’s brother saved the life of Abraham Lincoln’s son shortly before Lincoln was assassinated,” but, when researched thoroughly almost never turn out to be true. This, however, is one of the exceptions to that rule and it was no less than Robert Todd Lincoln himself who, in a letter to the editor of Century Magazine, Richard Gilder, in 1909 recounted the story of how Edwin Booth had saved his life.
Robert Todd Lincoln, Circa 1865.

The exact date of the event isn’t known, but it apparently took place sometime in late 1863 at the Jersey City railroad station, shortly before the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth. Robert Lincoln recounted the tale as follows:
"The incident occurred while a group of passengers were late at night purchasing their sleeping car places from the conductor who stood on the station platform at the entrance of the car. The platform was about the height of the car floor, and there was of course a narrow space between the platform and the car body. There was some crowding, and I happened to be pressed by it against the car body while waiting my turn. In this situation the train began to move, and by the motion I was twisted off my feet, and had dropped somewhat, with feet downward, into the open space, and was personally helpless, when my coat collar was vigorously seized and I was quickly pulled up and out to a secure footing on the platform. Upon turning to thank my rescuer I saw it was Edwin Booth, whose face was of course well known to me, and I expressed my gratitude to him, and in doing so, called him by name."
John Wilkes Booth (left), as Marc Antony; Junius Brutus Booth Jr. (center) as Cassius; and Edwin Booth (right), as Brutus, all critically acclaimed actors of their day, only once all three appeared in the same play together, in “Julius Caesar, performed in New York in 1864.

Edwin Booth, a strong supporter of Abraham Lincoln and a Unionist, was a point of contention between him and his brother’s relationships. Edwin did not know the identity of the man whose life he had saved until some months later in 1865 when Edwin received a letter from his friend, Colonel Adam Badeau, an officer on the staff of General Ulysses S. Grant. Badeau had heard the story from Robert Lincoln, who, at the time, was serving in the Union Army and was also on Grant's staff. In the letter, Badeau gave his compliments to Booth for his heroic deed.
Edwin Booth, Actor

Gen. Grant, who heard the life-saving story from Col. Badeau, wrote to Booth to congratulate him on his heroism. Grant not only praised Booth’s quick actions but also said that if he could ever serve Edwin, he would gladly do so. Edwin reportedly replied that when Grant was in Richmond, Virginia, the actor would like to perform for him.

While the rescue was clearly a significant event in Robert's life, there is no existing evidence that he ever told his parents about it. This may not be too surprising, given that he and his father were not particularly close and he thought that the President already had enough to worry about. Robert probably feared his mother’s reaction to the story. Mary still seemed fragile after the death of the Lincolns’ third son, Willie, in 1862.

After the assassination, Edwin Booth saw his famed family name ruined; lost his brother; lost his President, whom he staunchly supported; and nearly lost his career, due to his association with his brother—all in one day, and with none of it due to anything he had done.  It was reported by his friends that he was brought stricken to the ground and only with time and the aid of his friends taking turns keeping a close watch on him in the coming months did he begin to make a recovery. He eventually made a successful return to the stage in January of 1866, about 8 months after the assassination. It was acknowledged that the knowledge that Edwin had saved the President’s eldest son’s life gave him some comfort going forward with his life.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Mrs. Lincoln Surprised Abe with a Home Remodeling Project.

In 1856, Mary Todd Lincoln pulled off the greatest surprise on Abe. Mrs. Lincoln apparently was no exception to the rule of women being admittedly the prime movers in home improvement. In fact, she had the Lincoln home in Springfield, Illinois, completely remodeled from a story and a half to a big two-story house while Circuit Lawyer Abe was out of town. She wanted to surprise her husband when he came home, and she certainly did. She had spent $1,300 ($375,000 today) on her modernization project. That was a lot of money in those days. It was about as much as Lincoln had originally paid for the house. 

According to the story, Lincoln came striding up to his property at the corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets (413 South 8th Street, Springfield), carrying a beefsteak under his arm, and he didn't know his own house. But he got to like it all right. The family sitting room, which measured 16 by 20 feet, and adjoining formal parlor that opened through a large double door, soon became a frequent meeting place for Abe's political associates.
Mary Todd Lincoln had that house remodeled because she didn't like it. You've probably heard that reason in connection with modern remodeling jobs. And she seemed to be a woman who could get what she wanted. She always said Lincoln would land in the White House. 

But Mrs. Lincoln had been very disappointed when Abe bought the house in 1844 from the Rev. Charles  Dresser. Even though her husband would show her the solidity of its hand-hewn oak construction, wooden pegs, walnut clapboards, and shingles, she thought the house was ugly and wanted a bigger house.

However, the house had seven rooms, several fireplaces and occupied a lot 50 by 152 feet, which also contained a woodshed, privy and carriage shed. In order to save up enough money to buy the place, Lincoln spent virtually nothing on himself, even giving up his handball games which had cost him 10¢ per game. 

One drawback to the house was that the two bedrooms upstairs had such low ceilings where Lincoln could stand erect only in the center under the ridge of the roof. Mrs. Lincoln fixed that. She raised the roof 12 feet, added several bedrooms upstairs, installed new wood stoves in place of fireplaces, and had bookshelves built for Abraham's law library. 

The exact amount that Lincoln had paid for the house is not entirely clear. Carl Sandburg in "The Prairie Years" says the deal involved $750 in cash, plus a lot Lincoln owned which was valued at $300. However, Sandburg notes there was a mortgage for $900 on the 'property which was not mentioned in the deed, Lincoln apparently trusting the Rev. Mr. Dresser to get rid of it.

A contract in Lincoln's handwriting mentions $1,200 as the price, but some historians say the final price was actually $1,500. 

We asked Myron Matthews of the Dow Service Building Reports to give us an estimate of what it would cost to build that house today. He figured that $20,000 might do it, with $5,000 added for the lot. In some ways, this puts a pretty low value on the 1850s dollar.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

The First Statue of Abraham Lincoln and his Wife, Mary in the United States.

In late June of 1867, Mary Todd Lincoln traveled to Racine, Wisconsin. Her sons, Robert and Tad, had been called to Washington to testify in the trial of John Surratt. (Surratt had been an accomplice of John Wilkes Booth. Surratt escaped after the assassination but was later caught and brought to trial.) Racine was the site of an Episcopal secondary school, Racine College, which had been recommended to Mary for Tad. Mary took advantage of her sons' absence to spend time relaxing in Racine and looking over this school.

Many years later a pioneer resident of Racine, Miss Lena Rosewall, who had studied the lives of the Lincolns, felt Mary had done much to further her husband's career. When Miss Rosewall passed away in 1935, she left her entire estate of $20,000 for the construction of a memorial of Abraham and Mary together. The executors of Miss Rosewall's estate chose Frederick C. Hibbard, a well-known artist, and sculptor, to make the statue.
The statue's base is of Minnesota pink granite five feet high. The Lincolns are chiseled from Elberton gray granite from Georgia. Mary stands seven feet high.

Hibbard, who completed the two-year project in his Chicago studio, said he wanted to portray the Lincolns "before Abe became president in 1861, before the president's face became seamed and furrowed in the struggle to save the Union, and while Mrs. Lincoln's future was unclouded." The statue portrays Abraham seated with Mary standing beside him. They are dressed for a formal occasion. The statue was dedicated on July 4, 1943. The work stands in Racine's East Park in front of the Gateway Technical College campus on Main Street.
NOTE: A second statue of the Lincolns together, which was patterned after the Racine statue, is located in Phillips, Wisconsin, at Fred Smith's Wisconsin Concrete Park.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.
Contributor, Abraham Lincoln Research Site

Monday, November 23, 2020

Abe Lincoln's Favorite Gingerbread and Topping Recipe.

Lincoln was extraordinarily fond of gingerbread. A plain man with tastes to match, Lincoln once said, "I don't s'pose anybody on earth likes gingerbread better'n I do—and gets less'n I do.
This is the kitchen Mary Todd Lincoln cooked and baked for the man who later became President of the United States. Their modest home at Eighth and Jackson Streets in Springfield, Illinois, is a National Historic Site. The Lincolns lived here from 1844 until 1861.

This was in the days before the package mix, otherwise Mrs. Lincoln surely would have catered more closely to her husband's food likes. And here is one of the best possible dress-ups for it, a buttery brown sugar and apple topping particularly compatible with the spicy goodness of gingerbread warm from the oven.

If it's for company, or even if it isn't, a puff of whipped cream makes it even better.

  • Take two pounds and a half of flour
  • Mix an ounce of beat ginger with it, and half a pound of brown sugar
  • Cut three-quarters of a pound of orange-peel and citron (a citrus fruit) not too small
  • One ounce of Carraway seeds
  • Mix all these together
  • Take a mutchkin and a half (a Scottish unit of capacity equal to a little less than a pint or 14.5oz) of good treacle (treacle and molasses may both be by-products of the sugar refining process, but they are not as interchangeable as many believe) 21.75oz of treacle, and melt it on the fire
  • Beat five large eggs
  • Wet the flour with the treacle and eggs
  • Weight half a pound of fresh butter, "Scots weight" (8 ounces)
  • Melt it and pour it in amongst your other materials
  • Cast them all well together
  • Butter a frame, and put it in the oven. (NOTE: There is no oven temperature given because they used wood to bake and cook.) All these cakes must be fired in an oven neither too hot nor too cold. 
  • This gingerbread won't fire without frames. (not important in today's ovens)
  • If it rises in blisters when it is in the oven, run a fork through it. 
  • It makes very fine plain bread without the fruit, with a few caraway seeds.
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 medium apples, sliced very thin
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
Combine brown sugar, butter, and milk in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves, then add apple slices and simmer just until tender. Spoon out the apple slices and arrange on baked gingerbread. Combine cornstarch and cold water and stir into syrup in which apples were cooked. Stir over low heat until thickened, then pour over apples and gingerbread. Serve with whipped cream if you like.

Research by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

The Truth About a Tavern License for the Berry-Lincoln Store in New Salem, Illinois.

In the spring of 1831, at 22 years old, Abraham Lincoln arrived in a flatboat in New Salem, where he would live for the next six years. He soon made friends with William "Bill" Franklin Berry, a hard-working young man who was the son of Reverend John McCutchen Berry, founder of Rock Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church and a Christian leader. Apparently, the business attracted Lincoln for lack of other plans. 

In August 1832, Abraham Lincoln entered into a partnership as a storekeeper with Berry in the town of New Salem. Bill Berry was noted as being a very astute businessman. Contrary to popular belief, he did not leave a large debt for Lincoln to pay off and is in fact noted for having paid off some of Lincoln's personal debts. Bill died of Malaria fever on January 10, 1835, at the young age of 24.
For a short time, the two men were thriving merchants until they bought Rubin Radford’s stock of goods, then moved across Main Street into the second “Berry-Lincoln Store.” The second Store was probably the first building in the original village of New Salem being constructed in 1829. The building was sold to Berry and Lincoln as a General or Dry Goods Store in January of 1833. 
The second Berry-Lincoln store was north on Main Street and was a one-story frame building, twenty feet square on the outside, and consisted of two rooms. One was a large room in front with a smaller room adjoining on the north. The smaller room had a fireplace. Mr. Lincoln stayed there. When it was slow, as it often was, Lincoln would get lost in the pages of a book.

This venture in the 2nd building didn't last long. A liquor license was issued on March 6, 1833. According to Lincoln, the business simply put him deeper and deeper in debt. According to the New Salem tradition, Lincoln was more interested in reading and talking politics while Berry was interested in drinking the spirits. In April of 1833, Abe sold his interest in the Berry-Lincoln store to Berry, after only 3 months, and Berry sold out to the Trent Brothers.

A printed document featuring a tavern license taken out in the name of Berry and Lincoln at New Salem has circulated for years. There has been a large number of posters of various sizes presenting this information which have become known to Lincoln scholars as "The Tavern License Broadside."

This reproduction of two early documents associated with Lincoln's New Salem days which may be found in many forms and sizes usually is captioned "Abraham Lincoln's Saloon License" and it has been given nationwide circulation. A picture of Lincoln is often associated with a facsimile of the tavern license taken out by William F. Berry, and another facsimile of a "good behavior" bond purported to be signed by Abraham Lincoln, William F. Berry, and John Bowling Green. Without careful scrutiny, the observer would conclude that here is positive proof that Abraham Lincoln at one time ran the general or dry goods store as a tavern/saloon or a "grocery" as it was then called, and it is apparent from notations on the broadsides and the featuring of the alleged Lincoln signature that the purpose of the broadsides is to convey this idea.

The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln should be accepted as a final authority on the genuineness of all original documents which have come to the attention of its editors. Roy P. Basler and his assistant, Mrs. Harry Pratt, who are experts in the field of Lincoln's handwriting, in passing on the authenticity of writings submitted also have had the professional advice of three other Lincoln authorities, Paul M. Angle, the late J. G. Randall, and Benjamin P. Thomas. 

Appendix two in the Collected Works presents a list of documents where someone other than Lincoln signed his name. The first manuscript noted where this occurs is on the peace bond mentioned above. The comment of the editors of the Collected Works who had before them this original bond is now in the archives of the Illinois State Historical Society.
This commemorative print features the tavern license for the store in New Salem, Illinois, owned by William F. Berry and Abraham Lincoln in 1833. They obtained a license on March 6, 1833, from the [Sangamon] County Commissioners Court to keep a tavern in the town of New Salem for one year. The license was in Berry's name only. The rates they were allowed to charge were also listed. A note just below the price list reads, "Facsimile of tavern license issued to Berry and Lincoln. Certified by Chas. E. Oppel, Clerk Sangamon County Court, Springfield, Ill. Date April 25, 1908." A second note below the paragraph stating the condition of the $300 bond reads, "Facsimile of Bond given by Abraham Lincoln, William F. Berry and John Bowling Green binding themselves in a penalty of $300 not to sell whiskey to negroes, Indians, or children, i. e. to obey the liquor laws of the State of Illinois." Below this note is a paragraph of explanatory text about whiskey typically being sold in grocery stores at that time. The License and the bond are each shown printed on an illustrated scroll.

Here these authorities substantiate what leading Lincoln scholars have claimed for years that the signature in question is not that of Abraham Lincoln. William Townsend in his book Lincoln and Liquor published as early as 1934 states: "Apparently Berry subscribed his partners' name to the document since an examination of the original shows that it is not in Lincoln's handwriting."  

The other manuscript usually displayed, although not given so much prominence, is the license that was issued on the strength of the bond. It, however, was taken out by William Berry and apparently issued to him personally to do business in the name of Berry and Lincoln. An excerpt from the license follows:
Springfield, Wednesday, March 6, 1833
Ordered that William F. Berry, in the name of Berry & Lincoln, have a license to keep a tavern in New Salem to continue twelve months from this date and that they pay $1 in addition to thr $6 heretofore paid as sub-treasury receipt and that they be allowed the following rates: 
French brandy, per pint, 25¢
Peach brandy, per pint, 18¾¢
Apple brandy, per pint, 12¢
Holland Gin, per pint, 18¢
Wine, per pint, 35¢
Rum, per pint, 18¾¢
Whiskey, per pint, 12½¢

Breakfast, dinner and supper, 25¢
Lodging for night, 12½¢
Horse, for night, 25¢
Single feed 12½¢
Breakfast, dinner or supper, for stage passenger, 37½¢
As an example of another liquor license, the Green Tree Tavern, established in 1833 at Lake and West Water Streets in Chicago, a Cook County Liquor License, costing $5, which permitted the recipient to not only sell carryout pints of spirits but to also keep an inn and tavern serving drinks at a bar and with meals. My Green Tree Tavern article includes an eye-opening first-hand account of an overnight stay. The Green Tree Tavern license contained printed regulations and maximum charges:
For each ½ Pint; Rum, Wine, or Brandy - 25¢ 
For each Pint; Rum, Wine, or Brandy - 37½¢ 
For each ½ Pint Gin - 18¾¢ 
For each Pint Gin - 31¼¢ 
For each Glass of Whiskey - 06¼¢ 
For each ½ Pint Whiskey - 12½¢ 
For Cider or Beer: 1 Pint - .06¼¢; 1 Quart - 12½¢
For Breakfast and Supper - 25¢ 
For Dinner - 37½¢ 
For Horse single feed - 25¢ 
For Lodging for each person one night - 12½¢ 
 As was customary, in those days, most general or dry good stores sold spirits, some having a serving license for shots and glasses of liquor at the business's bar or tables.

While the documents seem to designate the firm name of the tavern operators as Berry and Lincoln, it is evident that Lincoln was not present when the bond was signed or it would have contained his actual signature. The same conclusion might be drawn with respect to the granting of the license to Berry individually instead of to the partners' Berry and Lincoln. 
UNFOUNDED CLAIM: "I [Daniel Green Burner] clerked in the [Barry-Lincoln] store through the winter of 1833-34 {, up to the 1st of March. While I was there they had nothing for sale but liquors. They may have had some groceries before that, but I am certain they had none then. I used to sell whiskey over their counter at 6¢ a glass—and charged it too. N. A. Garland started a store, and Lincoln wanted Berry to ask his father for a loan, so they could buy out Garland; but Berry refused, saying this was one of the last things he would think of doing." —Abraham Lincoln the Man of the People, Norman Hapgood, page 37, published 1899. 
NOTE: The 2nd Berry-Lincoln store was open from January 1833 and closed in April 1833; the liquor license was obtained on March 6, 1833. William Berry sold out to the Trent Brothers shortly thereafter, so Daniel Green Burner has the owner or time-frame wrong.
During the first debate with Lincoln at Ottawa on August 21, 1858, Douglas made this statement early in his speech: 
"I have known him (Lincoln) for nearly twenty-five years. There were many points of sympathy between us... I was a school teacher in the town of Winchester, and he a flourishing grocery-keeper in the town of Salem. (Applause and laughter)."
Mr. Lincoln opened his argument with Douglas in these words:
"When a man hears himself somewhat misrepresented, it provokes him—at least, I find it so with myself; but when the misrepresentation becomes very gross and palpable, it is more apt to amuse him. (Laughter)."
Lincoln then goes on to discuss some politically important questions in which he had been misrepresented, passing by the more personal allusions until later in the speech when he says:
"Now I pass on to consider one or two more of these little follies. The Judge is woefully at fault about his early friend Lincoln being a 'grocery keeper.' (Laughter). I don't know as it would be a great sin, if I had been, but he is mistaken. Lincoln never kept a grocery anywhere in the world. (Laughter)." 
Abraham Lincoln in his speech at Charleston, Illinois during the debate on September 18, 1858, gave the definition of a forgery: 
"What is a forgery? It is the bringing forward something in writing or in print purporting to be of certain effect when it is altogether untrue."
With this definition before us and the statement of Lincoln's that he "never kept a grocery," we are inclined to look upon this whole tavern license transaction as it is now so widely publicized as a forgery. There is a tradition extant that Berry's procedure in securing the tavern license was responsible for the immediate dissolution of the merchandise partnership of the two men at New Salem.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Lincoln's Logic - How Abe Learned to Tell When a Thing Is Proved.

A man who heard Abraham Lincoln speak in Norwich, Connecticut on March 9, 1860, in support of Republican Governor William Alfred Buckingham’s re-election, two months prior to his nomination for president, was greatly impressed by the closely-knit logic of the speech Lincoln gave. 
Governor William Alfred Buckingham

Meeting him the next day on a train he asked Mr. Lincoln how he acquired his wonderful logical powers and such acuteness in analysis. Lincoln replied:
"It was my terrible discouragement which did that for me. When I was a young man, I went Into an office to study law. I saw that a lawyer's business is largely to prove things. I said to myself, 'Lincoln, when is a thing proved?' That was a poser. What constitutes proof? Not evidence; that was not the point. There may be evidence enough, but wherein consists the proof? I groaned over the question, and finally said to myself, 'Ah, Lincoln, you can't tell.' Then I thought what use is it for me to be In a law office if I can't tell when a thing Is proved?
So I gave it up and went back home. Soon after I returned to the old log cabin I fell in with a copy of Euclid's Elements of Geometry. I had not the slightest notion of what [or who] Euclid was, and I thought I would find out. I, therefore, began at the beginning, and before spring I had gone through the old Euclid's geometry and could demonstrate every proposition in the book. Then in the spring, when I had got through with it, I said to myself one day, 'Ah, do you know when a thing is proved?' and I answered, 'Yes, sir, I do. Then you may go back to the law shop;' and I went."
Abraham Lincoln was a very good math student. This video shares the story of why Abe studied Euclid's "Elements of Geometry." This mathematics problem he solved in school when he was about 16 years old, shows how he came up with the correct answer and thus the interworkings of his thought processes. We can deduce the steps he took from the somewhat mysterious calculations he noted in his manuscript and put the calculations into today's algebra equation. [Runtime 6:14]
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

[1] Euclidean geometry is a mathematical system attributed to Alexandrian Greek mathematician Euclid (sometimes called Euclid of Alexandria), the "father of geometry," who lived in the Greek city of Alexandria, Egypt around 300BC, where he founded a school of mathematics.
Abraham Lincoln read Euclid's "Elements of Geometry," 7th edition, 1826.

Euclid's method consists in assuming a small set of intuitively appealing axioms, and deducing many other propositions (theorems) from these, in his textbook on geometry: the Elements of Geometry. Since 1482, there have been more than a thousand editions of Euclid's Elements of Geometry printed.

How Lincoln Became Known as "Honest Abe."

As a general store clerk at New Salem, Illinois, Lincoln was scrupulously holiest. This trait soon became known, but the two following incidents are particularly responsible for the appellation of "Honest Abe," given him and by which he has been so familiarly known. 

He once took 6¼¢ too much from a customer. He.did not say to himself, "never mind such little things," but walked three miles that evening after closing his store to return the money. 

On another occasion he weighed 1½ lb of tea, as he supposed, it being night when he did so, and that was the last thing he sold in the store before going home. Upon entering the store in the morning he discovered a four-ounce weight on the scale. He saw his mistake, closed the shop, and hurried off to deliver the remainder of the tea. 

People recognized his integrity and were soon asking him to act as a mediator or judge in various contests, fights, and arguments. According to Robert Rutledge of New Salem, "Lincoln's judgment was final in all that region of the country. People relied implicitly upon his honesty, integrity, and impartiality."

These acts of his soon gained him the now-famous title of "Honest Abe." It was a nickname that Abraham Lincoln embraced with pride throughout his life.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Mrs. Haupt, of Philadelphia Remembers Kissing President Lincoln at 13 years old for a 10¢ Union Fund Raiser in 1864.

Mrs. John Haupt, north Main street, claims the proud honor of having kissed Abraham Lincoln. Mrs. Haupt, who is fairly steeped in the tales of good old times which she is always glad to relate, tells the story in this manner: "It was in 1864 that Lincoln, who was then President, came to Philadelphia to be present at the Sanitary Fair given in that city. I was then a girl of 13 years and with a number of school children, I went to the Fair to see this wonderful man who was talked of so much."
The Philadelphia Sanitary Fair at Logan Square, June 7th to June 21st, 1864.

Mr. Lincoln had his seat on a raised platform and the children, those who cared to, mounted the rostrum, and took the offered privilege. The charge for the kiss was 10¢, of which all the money went to the benefit of the Union soldiers. I wore long curls when I was a girl and I remember that Mr. Lincoln said, "What pretty curls you have." 

Little else comes to my memory of what happened with the exception of the scolding I received when I reached home. My father, who was not a Republican, said, "If I had been you, Emma, I would not have kissed the old rail-splitter." Lincoln was being entertained at the home of an old friend of our family, Dr. Wright, in Philadelphia, and I can recall just how I felt what a great thing I had done when I gave my ten cents and took the kiss on the cheek, just as the other children did."

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Senator John D. Hatfield Escaped From Libby Prison by Tunneling Out.

Hatfield Honored by Abe Lincoln. President Introduced Him to Both Houses of Congress—Story of the Famous Escape of 131 Men.

While eloquent members of the Nebraska state senate was eulogizing Abraham Lincoln on the 100th birthday of the martyred president, there sat silent, but attentive to the proceeding one member of that body who had the honor of having been introduced by Lincoln to both branches of congress. 

That man was Senator John D. "J.D." Hatfield [D] (1909-1911) of Antelope county. Few persons on the occasion of the speechmaking in the senate knew that Senator Hatfield had been thus honored or was aware of the reasons why President Lincoln had paid him this tribute. 
Captain John D. Hatfield of Neligh, Nebraska.
Escaped from Libby Prison and was Honored by President Lincoln.
Some may have noticed a little bronze button on the lapel of the senator's coat, but he had been among his fellow senators only a short time and had been so quiet that it was not even known that he claimed the honor of having met the Lincoln who is now the ideal of the American people and of the world Senator Hatfield is like four of the other members of the senate. 

He had the fortune to serve in the war of the rebellion in defense of the union. He was one of the 131 brave Union prisoners-of-war to escape from captivity by planning and digging a tunnel from Libby prison to the open air of freedom. Captain Hatfield was one of the men who escaped and made their way to the Union lines. A few days later, Hatfield was personally invited to the White House by President Abraham Lincoln to be shown every honor.

Libby Prison
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Luther Libby was running a ship supply shop from the corner of a large warehouse in Richmond, Virginia. In need of a new prison for captured Union officers, Confederate soldiers gave Libby 48 hours to evacuate his property. The sign over the north-west corner reading "L. Libby & Son, Ship Chandlers" was never removed, and consequently, the building and prison bore his name. Since the Confederates believed the building inescapable, the staff considered their job relatively easy.
Libby Prison, August 23, 1863.

Death Lottery
It was also his fortune while in Libby Prison at Richmond, Virginia to be one of the prisoners of the rank of captain who drew lots one of the most gruesome of prizes, the privilege of being hanged by the neck till dead, a fate which the rebel authorities proposed in retaliation for the hanging of two southern spies found within the union lines Neither of the two little black beans in the lottery fell to him.

Captured In a Charge
How Senator Hatfield came to meet President Lincoln dates back to Jackson, Mississippi, when by the blunder of some superior officer his troops were ordered to charge strong breastworks of the confederates.- He obeyed, as captain of Company H, 53rd Illinois, and while many of the soldiers remained on the battlefield, dead or wounded, he and about 200 others went over the breastworks. It is needless to say he stayed there as a prisoner of war. While in the hands of the southern men who commanded troops in the field he was well treated but his transfer to Libby prison at Richmond, Virginia. was a different story. Immediately after his capture, he asked permission to go back over the field. Under a guard, he was allowed this privilege. What he saw there was the most distressing sight of his life. His colonel and the lieutenant colonel were among the dead.

He remained seven months in Libby before the historical escape occurred. The life there was not to be compared to that at Andersonville, but it was bad enough. The open windows [of the large tobacco warehouse let in cold and one night the temperature fell to 4° below zero. The prisoners had nothing but one blanket and a bare floor to sleep upon and they had to run about the prison all night to keep from freezing to death.

Plan to Escape.
"I never knew who dug the tunnel," said Captain Hatfield, "for the reason that we worked at night and never were able to recognize each other in the day time. 

By removing a stove on the first floor and chipping their way into the adjoining chimney, the officers constructed a cramped but effective passage for access to the eastern basement. Once access between the two floors was established, the officers set about plans to tunnel their way out. There were fifteen men on the work and it required fifty-one days and nights.

Among the number was one civil engineer who did some calculating for us, but after all, we started to come out of the ground with the tunnel too soon before we had got past a high board fence in a vacant lot where we desired to have the exit. 

History gives the credit to Colonel Rose for planning the escape, but it belongs to others as I understand it. The men who started it found the Work too slow and called in others to help. I was confided in after the work started. The basement below where we were imprisoned was used as a storeroom and we dared not use it, so a sloping tunnel was started through the brick wall to a basement opposite our quarters. This second basement was over 100 feet long and was lighted only by one door with dirty glass. The farthest end where it was dark and where some hogsheads and barrels were piled, was the place chosen for the entrance to the main tunnel. It was planned to go under the street and come out in a vacant lot behind a store, the proposed exit being behind a high board fence. 

"You can imagine it was slow work. Two men labored in the day time and two at night. We had nothing to work with except a case knife and a chisel. To haul the dirt out of the place we had to use a wooden spittoon. To this, we tied a strip of a blanket to haul it out and to haul it into the tunnel. Every time the work stopped the hole in the wall had to be stopped up and ashes were used to make the wall look solid. Then we had to prevent the guards from missing the two men who were constantly on the work. The count taken in the morning and at night was not by actual count, but by squares of men lined up four abreast. To make the square look full one prisoner would playfully jostle another to one side and sometimes a hat would be held up to represent a man in the squad. 

We started to throw the earth taken from the tunnel into a sewer that emptied into a canal near the prison, but this was abandoned because the dirt discolored the water and made us afraid our plans would be discovered. The dirt was piled in the dark end of a large basement room behind hogsheads and barrels.

The Tunnel Finished
"The supreme moment came on the evening of February 9, 1864. At eight o'clock prisoners began to enter the tunnel to make their strike for liberty. The hole was so narrow that a big man had difficulty in worming his way through. There was danger that men would smother to death in the hole and stop our way to the open air. I entered the tunnel at 11 o'clock at night. I did not care to start earlier for fear of the patrol through the city. A large man in front of me puffed and groaned in his efforts to wiggle through the hole. One big man had to be assisted. Others crept up behind him and he put his feet on the shoulders of the man next to him and pushed, while the man in front of him pulled with all his might on his arms.

"One hundred and nine passed through the tunnel by daylight. Before I wont out I loosened and pulled out of position two bars to a window. This was planned in the hope that the rebels would not find our exit, but would think we got out of the window and that the guards would be blamed. Then it was hoped other prisoners might use the tunne! the next night. It turned out as we supposed. When the prisoners were missed in the morning the guards were placed under arrest for negligence. Diligent search was made all day for the means of escape, but nothing except the disarranged bars of the window were found till some one saw the hole in the vacant lot. Then a negro was put into it and he worked his way back into the prison through the tunnel we had used. 

"It was never accurately known how many of the 109 got into the union lines. The number was between 37 and 56. The escaped men went in twos or singly, i was alone and was five days traveling ninety miles to the union lines at Williamsburg, Va., where the Seventh New York cavalry took me in charge. I was bareheaded and barefooted and badly frozen and had only one meal of victuals in five days.

"It is no easy job to hide in the winter in the daytime. By traveling at night and hiding by day I managed to get through. The open fields, especially if they were overgrown I found the best places to hide in. The ground was frozen and made a nice place to lie in. As what clothing I had was already frozen I did not mind the frozen ground. A strong constitution was probably all that enabled me to endure the hardship of the trip. Frequently I could see the rebels searching in skirmish lines through the timber and fields for the escaped men. This kept me alert and I had little chance to forget the seriousness of the situation. 

Negro Furnishes Aid
"The rebels had destroyed all of the boats on the Chickahominy River that I had to cross and I was looking for cordwood or some other means of floating across because I knew I would die if I attempted to swim. Just then I heard someone coming through the brush. I hid under the boards of a little boat landing and when I thought the person approaching was near me I jumped out and grasped him by the neck and told him I would kill him if he tried to getaway. The only weapons I had were a butcher knife and a cane.

"Good Lord, Massey spare my life," said the man. Then I knew he was a negro, and I did not harm him. I told him who I was and what I wanted and he said he had a boat hidden in the brush. We carried it to the river and he rowed me over and said he would go back and get something for me to eat. True to his word he came back with a nice supper of cornbread and bacon, which he had had his wife cook in their cabin. That was the only meal I had on the way. 

For two days I remained at Williamsburg and then went to Fortress Monroe, where I remained one day. General Ben Butler was in command there. I had never seen him but was able to recognize him from ' descriptions of his peculiar countenance. He gave me a pass to Washington, where I arrived at 7 o'clock in the evening. The return of one of the Libby prison men appeared to create some commotion. At 8 o'clock in the evening, President Lincoln sent an orderly and invited me to come to the White House and stay overnight. I was poorly clad and felt unfit physically to appear before him and asked the orderly to present my excuse. The next morning while passing up Pennsylvania avenue a Jewish merchant came out and asked me if I was the man who came in yesterday. He wanted to sell me a uniform, but I told him I was poor and had no money. He took me in the store and insisted on giving me a uniform of my rank with the understanding that if I did not get my pay he would let me keep it for free.

I visited a barbershop and got my hair cut and with the new uniform on my back, I felt better and must have looked somewhat like a human being.

Interview With Lincoln
A brother of Governor Morton of Indiana introduced himself to me and offered to go with me to the white house. He said he was personally acquainted with the president. I accepted his offer. I can never forget how Lincoln looked. He sat down in a chair and wrapped his long loose looking legs in a peculiar way, one behind the other under the chair rungs.

"Captain," he said, "I always said if I found a man homelier than myself I would kill him. I believe I have found him."

"All right," I said, "I am not much good; I am about played out anyway."

"I'll give you one chance," he said, "I'll leave it to Mrs. Lincoln."

"If you do, my life will be spared," I replied.

He called for Mrs. Lincoln and when she entered the room, he introduced me and said, "Now, haven't I found him?"

"No," she replied, "If he were well he would be a better-looking man than you."

Lincoln then asked me questions about the escape of the prisoners and about myself. This took up the time till noon and he had me remain for dinner. He asked me if I had ever seen Washington and when I told him I had not, he offered to take me about the city. He first took me to congress, which was then in session, and introduced me to both houses. We visited all the places of interest. He took me to the paymaster general and there I drew pay amounting to $1,015 ($16,850 today). He took me to Secretary of War Stanton and told him to give me a leave of absence for thirty days and a free pass to Illinois. I suggested that I would not be in condition for service in thirty days, but Lincoln said under general orders a leave could not be granted for a longer period. He told me to report my condition and he would leave it to my honor and if necessary extend the leave of absence. I got one extension signed by President Lincoln and then went back to the service and marched with Sherman to the sea.

Butler's Famous Threat
"While with General Butler I asked about his threat to hang General Fitzhugh Lee and Captain Winder, confederate prisoners in his charge, if the rebels carried out their threat to hang Captain Sawyer and Captain Flynn of Libby prison. He said he surely would have done it. I suggested that he would not because Lincoln would not have let him.

"I would have had them shot first," said General Butler, "and then reported to Lincoln what I had done." "I never knew why Captain Sawyer and Captain Flynn were not hanged by the rebels, but I understood that the threat of General Butler saved their lives. Before I left Libby prison I heard the rebels say of General Butler, "The old brute will do it."
Letters from Libby Prison [Runtime 16:11]

The Libby Prison Break was the largest and most successful of the Civil War.

Nebraska State Journal, February 14, 1909
Edited by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Friday, November 20, 2020

A Boy Kept Jesting Promise to Vote for Abe Lincoln.

Among the interesting reminiscences told regarding the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates which took place during the Senatorial campaign of 1858, is an incident related by George W. Hartman of San Bernardino, who was a personal acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln.

In those days there were no halls In that part of the country large enough in which to hold the political meetings, so the gatherings were held out-of-doors. On the occasion to which we refer the debate was held in a sugar grove near Rushville, Schuyler County, Illinois, and people traveled forty and fifty miles to attend it. Some came with ox teams, others in "one-hoss shays," and still others walked fifteen and twenty miles and remained overnight.
A One-Hoss Shay.

As was the custom, a torchlight procession immediately preceded the debate, each party lining up with its respective candidate in the lead. The Douglas contingent was accompanied by half a dozen bands, each consisting of a fife and a drum, playing "Yankee Doodle."

Mr. Hartman marched with Lincoln's followers, just a few feet behind the statesman.

"Abe, when you run for President I'll vote for you," he called to the man in front, and Abe Lincoln responded, "Good for you."

The procession moved on to the meeting place and Stephen Douglas opened the meeting. After he had finished with his speech he climbed out of the farm wagon which was being used as a stage and came and sat down directly in front of Lincoln. According to Mr. Hartman, the most impressive part of the debate was the significant moment when Abe Lincoln pointed his long bony finger at Stephen Douglas and repeated his famous slogan, "Stephen, you know that a nation cannot function and long survive one-half free and one-half slave."

In 1864 Mr. Hartman enlisted with the Kansas Cavalry in defense of the Union. The following year, while he was stationed with the Kansas troops at Fort Lincoln, De Vall's Bluff, Arkansas, he cast his first Presidential ballot, voting for the man to whom he had made his boyish promise six years beforehand.

By H. F. S.
Los Angeles Times, Sunday, February 8, 1925

Nancy Hanks Lincoln

A Sermon Delivered at All Souls Church in the Abraham Lincoln Centre in Chicago, by Reverend Jenkin Lloyd Jones. February 8, 1903.

Mrs. Caroline Hanks Hitchcock, of Cambridge, Mass., has recently published a little book entitled "Nancy Hanks: the Story of Abraham Lincoln's Mother," which is the forerunner of a larger work promised on the genealogy of the Hanks family in America. The book already published, with the assurance it gives of the contents of the book unpublished, throws a flood of light on what was supposed to be a dark subject, and brings belated assurance that the law of heredity was not tricked in the birth of Abraham Lincoln. At last, tardily, the great son is given back into the arms of the little pioneer mother, too long deprived of the confidence and love of those who have honored and revered the son, although he himself, while still in obscurity, said to his partner, Herndon, "God bless my mother! All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to her." 
Nancy Hanks Lincoln

There is no sadder chapter in American history, no more disgraceful manifestation of the vulgarity, brutality, and malignity of political methods and the obliquity of politicians than the careless if not wilful dishonoring of the ancestry of Abraham Lincoln. The idle gossip of unlettered communities set agog by political bitterness, and making common cause with unscrupulous agitators, was mistaken for history by nearly all of those who hastened to meet the want of the hour in their hurried biographies of Abraham Lincoln. There is no lack of lives of the great President; each year adds to the already long shelf of Lincoln books in America, but obviously, the true life of Abraham Lincoln is not yet written. We are too near our subject to see him in his just perspective, and there has not been time for the careful search for records, sifting of evidence, and discovery of the great forces and facts which are always involved in the making of a great historical character. Perhaps when the real life of Abraham Lincoln is written, it will be found that the material for the history of his later years, the public career of the greatest President and captain of the greatest of armies has been reasonably compassed in the books now at hand. The ten splendid volumes by John Nicolay and John Hay, the life and correspondence, supplemented by the two great, volumes of speeches, letters, and state papers of Abraham Lincoln, probably contain an amplitude of documents and most of the facts available, but certainly, the chapters concerning Lincoln's fore-elders and early childhood must all be re-written. Even the later lives of Hapgood and Morse reiterate the old scandals of illegitimacy and uncertainties of birth and marital relations which are now utterly denied by conclusive documentary evidence found in courts of record.

"Abraham Lincoln, A History" by John Nicolay and John Hay
The Complete 10 Volume Set - Vol: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10

This cloud of obscurity and distrust has hung most heavily over the name of Nancy Hanks, the mother of Abraham Lincoln. But today let it be gratefully noted that accurate historical researches have already brought about a vindication that must result in the loving appreciation of this maligned and much-neglected name. This vindication has come largely through the diligent and fearless researches of three women, who in this work have merited and will ultimately receive the unmeasured gratitude, not only of the American people but of all lovers of the race, all believers in human nature who rejoice in its noblest representatives. 

I refer, first, to Mrs. C. S. Hobart Vawter, a relative of Vice-President Hobart, whose grandmother was Sarah Mitchell, of Kentucky, a kinswoman of Nancy Hanks. She was who was instrumental in discovering the marriage bond of Thomas Lincoln and the marriage record of Jesse Head, the Methodist minister who officiated at the marriage of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks on June 17, 1806. Another of these women is the CaroHne Hanks Hitchcock, already mentioned, who took to herself the high task of discovering the Hanks family, thus throwing a flood of light upon the ancestry of Abraham Lincoln and consequently upon the foundations of his character and power. 

The last of the three women referred to is Ida M. Tarbell, who, in her Life of Lincoln, has risen above the unfounded traditions and coarse implications of the earlier biographers. They, from lack of critical ability or ethical insight, mistook campaign gossip for evidence and idle tradition for history.

There is no doubt but that Lincoln went to his grave feeling that his own antecedents were hopelessly lost in the obscurity of the common people. In his blessed preoccupation and manly independence of tradition, inheritance, and public opinion, it probably never occurred to him to revise the statement made to Mr. J. L. Scripps, of the Chicago Tribune, in i860, who compiled the first campaign biography. Said Lincoln: "It is a great piece of folly to attempt to make anything out of me or my early life. It can all be condensed into a single sentence, and that sentence we find in Gray's Elegy," 'The short and simple annals of the poor.'

"This is my life, and that is all you or anybody else can make of it." 

''And," adds the reporter, "Mr. Lincoln seemed painfully impressed with the extreme poverty of his early surroundings and the utter absence of all romantic and heroic elements."

It was better thus, perhaps, for this child of the backwoods. He was thrown back the more surely on the ultimate resources of his own manliness.

The American people have, in the main, taken literally Lowell's lines:

"For him her Old-World moulds aside she threw.
And choosing sweet clay from the breast
of the unexhausted West.
With stuff untainted shaped a hero new.
Wise, steadfast in the strength of God, and true."

Abraham Lincoln, in popular conception, was for many years a nineteenth-century Melchisedec—"a prince of righteousness and King of Salem, without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, made like unto the Son of God, abiding a priest continually." At least the chief bit of autobiographical writing that we have from the great President was taken as final. This was furnished to his friend and yoke-fellow, Jesse W. Fell, of Bloomington, Illinois, for campaign purposes in the year 1859. Mr. Fell was perhaps the most prophetic of the sons of Illinois, who hailed from afar the rising man of destiny. His vision was clear, even in the fifties. In this sketch Mr. Lincoln says: 

"I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Harding County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia of undistinguished families, second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of the family of the name of Hanks, some of whom now remain in Adams and others in Macon Counties, Illinois. My paternal grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from Rockingham County, Virginia, to Kentucky, about 1 77 1 or 1772, and a year or two later he was killed by Indians, not in battle but by stealth when he was laboring to open a farm in the forest. His ancestors, who were Quakers, went to Virginia from Berks County, Pennsylvania. An effort to identify them with the New England family of the same name ended in nothing more definite than a similarity of Christian names in both families—such as Enoch, Levi, Mordecai, Solomon, Abraham, and the like.

''My father at the death of his father was but six years of age, and he grew up literally without education. He removed from Kentucky to what is now Spencer County, Indiana, in my eighth year. We reached my new home about the time the State came into the Union. It was a wild region with bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up. There were some schools, so-called, but no qualifications were ever required of a teacher beyond 'Readin', Writin', and 'Cipherin to the Rule of Three.'" 

Here ended the question of ancestry for Mr. Lincoln himself and his early biographers, but it has now been clearly established that the name of Lincoln was given him by an ancestry that settles solidly into the best there is in New England life. They were among those who overflowed the Norwich jail in England because ''they would not accept the ritual prepared for them by the bishop;" they pelted the tax-collector with stones, and finally, in order to "rid themselves of an odious government," they sailed away from Yarmouth Bay in 1636, and in due time founded the colony of Hingham. It was these Lincoln land-owners, blacksmiths, early ironmasters, who sent their representatives southward into Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and at last into Kentucky. The Abraham Lincoln who was fifth in descent from the Samuel Lincoln of England, and who had become the owner of large tracts of wild land in Kentucky, fell by the treacherous bullet of a lurking Indian in the sight of his three boys —Mordecai, Joseph, and Thomas, the latter a six-year-old boy who was saved by the timely crack of the rifle in the hands of the older brother, to become the father of the Great Emancipator.

Thomas Lincoln was not the accident in human life, the irresponsible, unaccountable, and ne'er do well that even the sober biographers of Lincoln have amused themselves over. The true estimate of Thomas Lincoln has not yet been made.

But my present purpose is to try to put into our minds and hearts the obscure, neglected, unappreciated little mother, Nancy Hanks. Thanks to Mrs. Hitchcock, we now know that Hanks is a name nobody needs to be ashamed of. It has annals that are in themselves interesting written deep in the history of England and America. I rejoice that the greatest American wasted no time in pedigree-hunting. The pride of descent is poor capital. Life is too short to be wasted on genealogies for the sake of bolstering up family pride. But there is great joy in doing justice to the memory of the dead. Let those who have pitied the great Lincoln on account of his mother or written small her place in the mystic line of causes that brought forth the beautiful mystery, hasten to repent and make amends. 

The little woman who at thirty-five years of age placed her dying hand upon the head of nine-year-old Abraham away in the backwoods of Indiana bore a name that has been traced back across the sea to the time of Alfred the Great, where two brothers of that name received ''the commoners' rights in Malmsbury" for service rendered in defeating the Danes, and the name of King Athelstan, grandson of Alfred, is on the deed. Thomas Hanks, a descendant, who was a soldier under Oliver Cromwell, had a grandson who sailed from London to Plymouth, Mass., in 1699. This Benjamin Hanks was the father of twelve children, the third of whom was William, born February 11, 1704; William moved to Pennsylvania, and his son, John Hanks, married Sarah, a daughter of Cadwallader Evans and Sarah Morris. The record runs, "John Hanks, yeoman, Sarah Evans, spinster." A grandchild of this union was Joseph Hanks, who was borne southwestward with the tide of emigration inspired and in a large measure headed by Daniel Boone, whose story and whose blood are strangely intermingled with those of the large families of Shipleys, Hankses, and Lincolns, who were much intermarried. This Joseph Hanks crossed the mountains with his family of eight children and herds of cattle and horses. He bought one hundred and fifty acres of land as his homestead near Elizabethtown, in Nelson County, Kentucky. The youngest of eight children in this migration was little Nancy, five years of age when they crossed the mountains. After four years of home-making in the wilderness, Joseph came to his death. His will, dated January 9, 1793. probated May 14. 1793, has been discovered, and a facsimile appears in Mrs. Hitchcock's book. It runs thus, somewhat abbreviated:

"In the name of God. amen. I, Joseph Hanks, of Nelson County, State of Kentucky, being of sound mind and memory but weak in body, calling to mind the frailty of all human nature, do make and demise this, my last will and testament, in the manner and form following, to-wit: I give to my son Thomas one sorrel horse, called Major'; to Joshua the grey mare, 'Bonney'; to William the grey horse, 'Gilbert'; to Charles the roan horse, Tobe'; to Joseph the horse called 'Bald.' Also I give and bequeath unto my daughter Elizabeth one heifer called 'Gentle'; to Polly a heifer called Lady,' and to my daughter Nancy one heifer, yearling, called 'Peidy.' I give and bequeath unto my wife, Nanny, my whole estate during her life, afterward to be divided among all my children."

This neglected document now reproduced in facsimile in Mrs. Hitchcock's book settles once and forever the legitimacy of the parentage of Nancy Hanks. She had a father who recognized his paternity in the thoughtful will of a prosperous pioneer. This in the eyes of the law as well as of public opinion establishes her place as a rightful child of honorable parents. 

The mother survived but a few months. The story of all the children is promised in the forthcoming Hanks Genealogy by Mrs. Hitchcock. Enough for our present purpose to know that the little orphaned Nancy, now nine years old, found a home with her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Berry, near Springfield, Ky., Mrs. Berry being her mother's sister and a member of the Shipley family. Here she lived a happy and joyous life until twenty-three years old, when Thomas Lincoln, who had learned his carpenter's trade of her uncle, Joseph Hanks, was married to her on June 17, 1806, according to official records already mentioned. The "marriage bond," to the extent of fifty pounds, required by the laws of Kentucky at that time, signed by Thomas Lincoln and Richard Berry, was duly recorded seven days before. This happy wedding was celebrated as became prosperous and well-meaning pioneers. The loving uncle and aunt. gave an "infare" to which the neighbors were bidden. Dr. Graham, an eminent Naturalist of Louisville, who died in 1885, wrote out his remembrances of that festival and testified to the same before. a notary in the 98th year of his age. He said:

"I know Nancy Hanks to have been virtuous, respectable, and of good parentage, and I knew Jesse Head, Methodist preacher of Springfield, who performed the ceremony. The house in which the ceremony was performed was a large one for those days. Jesse Head was a noted man—able to own slaves but did not on principle. At the festival, there was bear meat, venison, wild turkey, duck, and a sheep that two families barbecued over the coals of wood burned in a pit and covered with green boughs to keep the juices in."

The traditions of the neighborhood say that Nancy's cheerful disposition and active habits were considered a dower among the pioneers. She was adept at spinning flax, and in the spinning parties, to which ladies brought their wheels, Nancy Hanks generally bore off the palm, ''her spools yielding the longest and finest thread." 

The biographers agree that she was above her neighbors in education. She carried the traditions of schooling in Virginia with her over the mountains. She was a great reader; had Esop's Fables; loved the Bible and the hymn book; had a sweet voice, and loved to sing hymns.

The old neighbors remembered her as having "a gentle and trusting nature." A grandson of Joseph, an older brother of Nancy, said: 

''My grandfather always spoke of his angel sister Nancy with emotion. She taught him to read. He often told us children stories of their life together." The first child of Thomas and Nancy Lincoln was a daughter, Sarah. Three years after marriage came the boy, Abraham. Another son came and was named Thomas; he stayed but a few months, but long enough to touch permanently the heart of Abraham with a sense of tenderness and awe. Before they started for their new home in Indiana he remembered the mother taking her two little children by the hand, walking across the hills, and sitting down and weeping over the grave of the little babe before she left it behind forever. 

The story of that primitive home in Indiana has been told over and over again, but never with sufficient insight. Only pioneers can understand how piety and simplicity, trust and poverty, exposure and hospitality, inadequate clothing, and meagerest diet, can go hand in hand with cheerful content. 

Among the last recorded words of Nancy Lincoln was one of cheer. It was but a few days before her death when she went to visit a sick neighbor, the mother of one who was to become Rev. Allen Brooner, who tells the story. The neighbor was despondent and thought she would not live long. Said Mrs. Lincoln: ''O you will live longer than I. Cheer up." And so it proved. The pestilential milk sickness was abroad, smiting men and cattle. Uncle Thomas and Aunt Betsy Sparrow both died within a few days of each other. Soon the frail but heroic little mother was smitten. Said a neighbor: "She struggled day by day, but on the seventh day she died." There was no physician within thirty-five miles; no minister within a hundred miles. Placing her hand on the head of the little boy, nine years old, she left him her dying bequest, and the great President many years afterward in a burst of confidence entrusted the message to the memory of Joshua A. Speed, one of his earliest and most intimate friends:

"I am going away from you, Abraham, and shall not return. I know that you will be a good boy; that you will be kind to Sarah and to your father. I want you to live as I have taught you and to love your Heavenly Father."

Thomas Lincoln, wise in woodlore and not without that culture that comes with the handicrafts, sawed the boards with his own whip-saw from the trees he felled and made the coffins with his own hands for the Sparrows and for his wife. 

It was three months before Parson David Elkins came on horseback from the old Kentucky home, in response to the first letter that little Abraham ever wrote, to stand under the trees by the grave and speak his word of loving remembrance and high appreciation of the departed and of consolation and hope to the neighbors who had gathered from far and near. 

No reporter was there to take down the address, no camera was there to catch the picture, and no artist has risen to paint the scene, but it is one of the most touching events in American history. 

"Stoop-shouldered," ''thin-breasted" were the words used to describe her appearance in Indiana, but ''bright, scintillating, noted for her keen wit and repartee," was a phrase used by those who knew her as a girl in the home of her foster parents. Uncle and Aunt Berry, in Kentucky.

"The little girl grew up into a sweet-tempered and beautiful woman, the center of all the country merrymaking, a famous spinner, and housewife," says Miss Tarbell. "I remember Nancy well at the wedding, a fresh-looking girl," said Dr. Graham. 

But who has a better right to characterize the mother who bore him than the great Lincoln himself? He describes her as "of medium stature, dark, with soft and rather mirthful eyes; a woman of great force of character, passionately fond of reading; every book she could get her hands on was eagerly read." 

And why should she not be such? The Hanks blood was vital, aggressive, virile. Mrs. Hitchcock offers abundant facts to prove that "the mother of Abraham Lincoln belonged to a family which has given to America some of her finest minds and most heroic deeds."

This same Hanks family was a "remarkably inventive family. The first bell ever made in America was cast on Hanks Hill, in the old New England home. The first tower clock made in America, placed in the old Dutch church in New York City, was made by a Hanks. The bell that replaced the old Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, as well as the great Columbian bell, that was made from the relics of gold, silver, old coins and metals sent from all parts of the world, a bell which in addition to .the, old inscriptions of, the Liberty Bell added, "A new commandment I give unto you—that ye love one another," was cast by members of the Hanks family. The first silk mills in America were built by a Hanks. One of the founders of the American Bank Note Company was a Hanks. ''Hanksite" is the name of a mineral named after the discoverer, a state mineralogist of California.

Lincoln used to say that his Uncle Mordecai, his father's oldest brother, ''got away with all the brains of the family." He was a prominent member of the Kentucky legislature at one time. He was a famous storyteller, and Thomas, the carpenter, was a favorite wherever he went. He was withy, though small of stature, a famous wrestler, and, when the provocation was adequate, a terrible foe in a fight.

All these traits appear in the President, but none the less perceptible is the inheritance from the mother's side. Mrs. Hitchcock's little book shows two portraits side by side—that of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and the Rev. Stedman Wright Hanks, of Cambridge, Mass.—and the resemblance is so striking that one might readily be taken for the other. 

No less marked were the characteristics of the Welsh Evanses and Morrises, whose blood flowed in the veins of Nancy Hanks, as shown in Coffin's life of Lincoln.

Says Noah Brooks in his life: "Lincoln said that his earliest recollections of his mother were of his sitting at her feet with his sister, drinking in the tales and legends that were read and related to them by the house mother."

Let the land of Merlin rejoice, for, through this far-off child of the wilderness, it made its contribution of poetry, hope, and tenderness to the life of the Great Emancipator.

We have seen how the estates of his ancestors, while not insignificant, were untainted by the claim of human chattels. He himself has told us that one reason why his parents left Kentucky was their antipathy to slavery. And Miss Tarbell has found evidence that in the old Lincoln home in Kentucky there were high debates over the rights of man as set forth by Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine.

The records of the Lincohi ancestry on both sides were cruelly mutilated and for the most part, destroyed by the vandal hands of the [Civil] War of 1861-5; the war that ransacked courthouses and made bonfires of records. They were broken into again by that inevitable abandonment of impediment that goes with successive generations of pioneers. They who go forth to conquer a new world must need to go in light marching order. Those fore elders of Lincoln took their souls along with them but left their records behind. In their zeal for the future, they grew indifferent to the past. The present so absorbed them that they sacrificed their traditions. 

Once more the Lincoln ancestry is obscured by the universal indifference to the feminine links in human descent. It will not always be so, for whatever her estimation may be in the statutes of men, women have a legislative and executive place in the statutes of God, and she contributes her full quota towards the making of man—intellectually and spiritually as well as physically. 

Lastly, the Lincoln traditions were broken upon the dead wall of slavery. The tides of New England life and European energy that traveled south and southwestward fared poorly compared with the same tides that traveled westward. It was not the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it was the black lines of slavery that held down and held back that enterprising blood and doomed to illiteracy that progeny of high ancestry. But that great wave of noble blood, at last, gathered strength in the zeal of Abraham Lincoln and his compatriots. They dashed themselves against the wall that had well-nigh wrecked them and battered it down, and public schools, free intercourse of man with man, the upward reach of the common people began to redeem the land and to restore the records and to vindicate the law of heredity. Then let us give to Nancy Hanks the place that belongs to her.

We of All Souls Church have set for ourselves the high task of interpreting Abraham Lincoln in terms of institutional life, civic energy, and religious liberty.

We have undertaken to build an Abraham Lincoln Centre across the way. Would that someone would see to it that there shall be one tender shrine, one mellowed and mellowing home corner within that building, that may lovingly and gratefully bear the name of Nancy Hanks Lincoln.

I wish this name might be related to an industry that shall touch the lives of generations of girls yet unborn with the benignant skill of home-making, the divine aptitudes of the fireside, the homely skill that made the pioneer fireside of Nancy Hanks Lincoln a training school for giants, a nursery of ideals, a haven for the wandering and the homeless. The day of the distaff and the skillet is gone; the Dutch oven, the open fireplace with its iron crane, are no longer parts of the household equipment or necessary elements in the training of a girl, but their equivalents remain, and homemaking is still the finest of fine arts, the test of a woman's potency now as then, as it ought to be the ideal of a true woman's training now as then. Much has been said of late about home-making; much attention has been given to schools of domestic science. I wish that such purposes might be touched with the patriotism, the historic truthfulness, the growing gratitude of humanity that rightfully goes with the name of Nancy  Hanks Lincoln.

How benign in the Lincoln Centre would be a Nancy Hanks School of Domestic Arts. What a prophetic investment of money! What a high invitation to those to whom is entrusted the grave responsibilities of wealth! What a significant opportunity! What a rare chance for investing capital in a way that will bring sure, lasting, aye, everlasting returns! When someone thinks of it so deeply that the dream becomes a fact, then the vindication of Nancy Hanks will not only have been begun, but it will have been accomplished, at least in one little corner of this great country; in one Centre that shall radiate life to one group of the children who will thus become her unmeasured beneficiaries. 

Edited by Neil Gale, Ph.D.