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heraldry. Lincoln could trace an honorable descent from Quaker stock in Pennslyvania.
Washington was the natural representative of national independence. He might also have represented national unity, had this principle been challenged to bloody battle during his life ; for nothing was nearer his heart than the consolidation of our Union, which, in his letter to Congress transmitting the Constitution, he declared to be the greatest interest of every true Ameri
But another person was needed, of different birth and simpler life, to represent the ideas which were now assailed." *
There were not a few contrasts — in origin, in early life, in condition and opportunities--between Washington and Lincoln, but the parallels are more numerous; and Washington himself had a mighty influence on the boy Lincoln through the record of his life, which Abraham read while yet a dweller in the rude log-cabin on the outskirts of civilization. One biographer # of Lincoln says, “ The hatchet story of Washington, which has done more to make boys truthful than a hundred solemn exhortations, made a strong impression upon Abraham, and was one of those unseen, gentle influences which helped to form his character for integrity and honesty. Its effect may be traced in the following story, which bids fair to become as never-failing an accompaniment to a Life of Lincoln as the hatchet case to that of Washington:
“Mr. Crawford had lent him a copy of Ramsay's Life of Washington. During a severe storm, Abraham improved his leisure by reading this book. One night he laid it down carefully, as he thought, and the next morning he found it soaked through. The wind had Changed, the storm had beaten in through a crack in the logs, and the appearance of the book was ruined. How could he face the owner under such circumstances ? He had no money to offer as a return; but he took the book, went directly to Mr. Crawford, showed him the irreparable injury, and frankly and honestly offered to work for him until he should be satisfied. Mr. Crawford accepted the offer, and gave Abraham the book for his own in return for three days' steady labor in 'pulling fodder.' His manliness and straight-forwardness won the esteem of the Crawfords, and indeed of all the neighborhood."
*“Eulogy on Abraham Lincoln,” by Hon. Charles Sumner. | Henry J. Raymond.
Rev. William M. Thayer states, probably on the authority of those who knew Abraham Lincoln in early life, that, "during the long winter evenings of that first winter in Indiana, he read by the light of the fire only; for they could not afford the luxury of any other light in their cabin. This was true, very generally, of the pioneer families : they had no more than was absolutely necessary to supply their wants. They could exist without lamp-oil or candles, and so most of them did without either. They could afford the largest fire possible, since wood was so plenty that they studied to get rid of it. Hence the light of the fire was almost equal to a good chandelier. Large logs and branches of wood were piled together in the fireplace, and its mammoth blaze lighted up every nook and corner of the dwelling. Hence lamps were scarcely needed." *
Not long after the removal of the family to Indiana, the mother of Lincoln died. This was a sad loss to the whole of the little circle, especially to the children. Abraham had one sister who lived to womanhood, was married, and died shortly after, leaving no children. His only brother died in infancy. Mrs. Lincoln, as has been intimated, was one of the most devoted of mothers, sparing no pains to insure the welfare of her beloved children. Abraham was always a dutiful son, and her counsel and example were not lost on him, but, as good seed sown on good ground, her instructions sprang forth into a life of good order and usefulness. The bereaved boy was almost inconsolable at her loss. No minister was near to pray with the survivors as they laid down the dear head of the wife and mother for the last, long sleep amid the shadows of the forest. Sympathizing neighbors gathered around; but the want of a minister to conduct the usual solemn rites of Christian burial was deeply felt. Some months afterward, Abraham had an opportunity of learning to write, which with characteristic energy and industry he faithfully improved. "Af ter a few weeks of practice under the eye of his instructor, and also out of doors with a piece of chalk or charred stick, he was able to write his name, and in less than twelve months could and did write a letter."
* " The Pioneer Boy," p. 102.
One of the first letters he wrote was to an old friend of his mother, a travelling preacher, whom he desired to come and preach her funeral sermon. Parson Elkins did not receive the letter for some three months; but then he hastened to Indiana, and the neighbors again assembled - a year after her death — to pay a last tribute of respect to one universally beloved. Abraham's services as a letter-writer were thus known, and he soon found himself busied in writing letters for his neighbors.
President Lincoln never forgot his mother. It was very long before the loneliness and desolation of that sad bereavement passed away. Her lessons of divinest wisdom he kept stored in his heart, and all her hallowed influence was eternally sealed upon his soul by her departure from earth. Who shall say that it was not deepened and intensified by that very change which gave her henceforth more intimate communion with spirits, and possibly with the spirit of her son ? Her grave, to which hallowed spot the bereaved son was wont frequently to repair, and muse upon his great loss and her eternal gain, is still embowered amid the majestic foresttrees of that region. No tombstone yet denotes the sacred spot; and the place where the remains lie buried is an unfrequented locality, or nearly so. President Lincoln wrote a letter, shortly before his death, expressing his intention to visit the grave during the approaching summer, and cause a suitable monument to be erected; and in that letter, which was to an old friend, he expressed regret that care and business had so long hindered him from performing this duty.
He will never perform it. Instead of going to her grave, he has gone to her; and blissful beyond human computation must have been, ere this, the meeting of such a mother with such a son. Yet that humble grave should not be neglected. A nation owes it to the memory of a President martyred in its holy cause that his mother's tomb should be honorably distinguished.
During the next year after Mrs. Lincoln's death, Abraham's father married again, and secured in Mrs. Sally Johnston of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, a worthy stepmother for his children. She had three children, and seemed to have been one who could say with Mrs. Howe,
" Then spoke the angel of mothers
To me in gentle tone,
And thus deserve thine own.'"
Between her and the son to whom she became a true
friend as well as a step-mother sprang up a devoted at tachment; and she ever acted as if she said to him in tender tones of ardent sympathy, using the words of Mrs. Welby,
“ Child of the lost, the buried, and the sainted,
I call thee mine,
Her home be thine."
Step-mothers are not all heartless, and those who, like the writer of these pages, have known the devoted care and tender love of a good step-mother, do not like to hear them as a class condemned. This second mother of our late President still survives to remember his nobleness of soul, and to mourn his martyrdom. She resides at Goose Nest, Coles County, eight miles south of Charlestown, Illinois.
A few years after the death of his mother, a Mr. Crawford, one of the settlers, opened a school in his own cabin; and thither Abraham regularly repaired to add a knowledge of arithmetic to his reading and writing. His appearance was in keeping with his humble home. He was arrayed in buckskin clothes, with a raccoon-skin cap, and carried an old arithmetic, which had been industriously sought for his benefit. “ His progress was rapid, and his perseverance and faithfulness won the interest and esteem of his teacher." His love of books continued, and he read all that he could obtain far and
With the immortal dreamer of Bedford jail, he traced the pathway of the Christian pilgrim from the City of Destruction to his Celestial Home beyond the river; and no doubt he felt that he, too, would gladly follow such a path, sure as he was that his own dear mother would be one of the shining ones to greet him on the heavenly shore. He pored over such books as