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When Abraham Lincoln was a Child


Uncle Reed displays his favorite bust of Lincoln
Abraham was one of the greatest presidents ever. He was honest and caring. He worked for the good of the people. President Lincoln helped this country end a long war and when it was over, he freed all the people who were slaves.

Was he born rich or famous or powerful? No! He was different from all the presidents before him. George Washington, America's first president was really rich, but not Abe! His family was very poor and he hardly went to school, but he became a president.

He was born in 1809 (almost 200 years ago!) on a farm in Kentucky, in a little log cabin with a dirt floor, one window, one door, and a small fireplace. They lived deep in the forest, away from the big cities.

Daphne and the log cabin
Abe Lincoln's parents had never been to school. His father Thomas could not read and the only thing he could write was his own name. He was a carpenter and a farmer. His mother Nancy took care of the children and the house. Everything was a chore: fetching water, hunting, cooking meals, cleaning the house and making clothes.

Lincoln used this saw to cut wood
When Abraham was seven years old, his family moved to Illinois. Thomas and Nancy were very brave! They moved to a new land with two young children and not much else. When they arrived, they had to start building a cabin right away, because a cold winter was coming.

Steph hangs out in the woods of Indiana
Two years later, his mother died when she drank milk from a cow that had eaten a poisonous plant. Abe's sister Sarah had to take over all the housework.

Abe hardly ever went to school, but he loved to learn. If you added up all the time he spent in school in his whole life, it would be less than one year! How did Abe learn to read and write? How did Abe learn enough to become President? Are you ready for his secret?

He reads books and books and books and more books. He LOVED to READ!

Daphne sits at the very same spot where Abe used to read
As you can imagine, books were hard to find in the woods of Indiana. But still he found a way. His first book was the only book his parents owned: the Bible. He read it so much he could recite parts aloud from memory! He borrowed a book from a neighbor, but rain fell on it and ruined it. Abe worked very hard to pay his neighbor back.

Abe carried books to work and to the forest. He read by candlelight and saved money to buy more books. He learned the power of words and he was full of hope. Books taught him that the world was bigger than he could even imagine.

Steph, her uncle, and Abe!
Abe Lincoln didn't have a lot, but he had his dreams; he knew that life would bring bigger and better things - all he had to do was try. He taught us that we really can do anything! Next time you think you can't, say to yourself, "If Lincoln could do it, so can I!"


Please email me at: daphne@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Stephanie - Dred Scott: "a simple man who wanted to be free"
Daphne - Bloodshed in Kansas: we're part of the war now, Toto
Neda - Mozart vs. Jay-Z and other reasons people go to war