This is a book review of the book “Abraham Lincoln The Image of His Greatness” which is authored by Fred Reed forward by Dr. Thomas R. Turner. Abraham Lincoln was our sixteenth President of the United States. Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, near Hodgenville in Hardin County, Kentucky. Thomas and Nancy (Hanks) Lincoln were the parents of Abraham Lincoln. Both of his parents were born in Virginia of undistinguished families. His mother died when he was ten on October 5, 1818. His father on Dec. 5, 1819. remarried Sarah Bush Johnston who was a widow herself with three children.
Abraham Lincoln’s paternal grandfather, also named Abraham, emigrated from Rockingham County, Virginia to Kentucky around 1781. He was killed a year or two later by Indians; where he was laboring to start a farm in the forest. Abraham Lincoln’s father, Thomas, was only six years old when his father was killed. Later on, in life, his father moved from Kentucky to what is now Spencer County, Indiana in December 1816, when Abraham was eight years old. Abraham Lincoln had a sister named Sarah who died in childbirth at the age of twenty when he was nineteen, and a younger brother named Thomas, who died in infancy.
Even though Abraham Lincoln was born and lived on the frontier he lived a remarkable life. Young Abe and Sarah briefly attended schools in Kentucky, but he was self-educated. He liked to lay under a shade tree to read and study when he was younger. Even though he did not have much schooling he taught himself how to read, write, and cipher to the Rule of Three. He did farm work till he was twenty-two. As a rail-splitter, he helped his father clear land and put up a fence on his father’s new farm. Abraham was not really into farming, so he moved to New Salem, Illinois. There he worked as a storekeeper and a surveyor. He, also, worked at the post office and was elected postmaster on May 7, 1833.He was elected Captain when he volunteered for the Black Hawk War. He said, “A success which gave me more pleasure than any I have had since”. He lived in New Salem for six years.
He joined the campaign trail and ran for Legislature in 1832. He was beaten by the people, but this was the only time. The following year and the next three after that he was elected to the Legislature. During this time he studied law and moved to and practiced in Springfield, Illinois. He continued to study law from 1849 to 1854 becoming a well-experienced lawyer and statesman. In 1846 he was elected to the Lower House of Congress but was not a candidate for re-election.
Abraham Lincoln was a very tall man. His height was six feet four inches and he weighed one-hundred and eighty pounds. He had a dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and very grey eyes. Once when he was a store clerk there was a wrestling match between Lincoln and the town bully, Jack Armstrong. Lincoln was enraged when he heard of the foul tactics just lifted Jack Armstrong by the throat and shook him like a rag. This earned him the respect and admiration of everyone, even the town bully.
He had a love affair with Ann Rutledge several years before he was married. She died on August 25, 1835. This was one of the saddest times in his life. Then, he was engaged to Mary Owens, a year after Ann Rutledge’s death. She felt that he wouldn’t be able to make her happy and refused his proposal. Then, he met Mary Todd. She was from an influential family from Kentucky. She was born on Dec 13, 1818. They were married on Nov. 4, 1842. He was not in love with her but saw that his marriage to her would help his political fortunes. They had four sons. Their names were Robert Todd, Edward Baker, Willie and Thomas “Tad”.
So, as his political career took off he was described as “a prince of good fellows and an old-line Whig”. He owed a great deal to the tradition of Henry Clay. Lincoln favored the interests of the central government, promoted centralized banking, and favored economic control and development.
From August 21 till October 15, 1858, Lincoln had political debates with Stephen Douglas for the senatorial seat. They faced-off against each other seven times about their views on the issues and slavery. The Republicans were ahead of the Democrats in the popular vote. Senators were chosen by the legislature not by popular vote.
On February 27, 1860, after posing for a portrait he gave a speech to his party. The speech was so good that he was seen as a man to be reckoned with. In that speech he said, “Let us have faith the RIGHT makes MIGHT, and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty, as we understand it.” His speech was about Stephen Douglas’s doctrine of popular sovereignty allowing the spread of slavery. Lincoln was against slavery after once seeing the horrors of human slavery.
On May 18, 1860, he was told that he had been chosen as the Republican presidential candidate. As legend has it, he may have been playing townball at that time and told the delegation chairman, “Tell the gentlemen they will have to wait a few minutes until I get my turn at bat.” Then, the next day he was formally notified of his nomination at his home. His running mate from Maine was Hannibal Hamlin. He was introduced to people as the frontier candidate, Honest Abe Lincoln, of Illinois, for President.
Abraham Lincoln was elected sixteenth President of the United States on November 6, 1860. His inauguration was held on the east portico of the U.S. Capital building, which the U.S. Capital dome was incomplete at the time. A year later on March 6, 1862, Lincoln urged Congress for a resolution to compensate all States for the abolition of slavery to ensure public safety and as a war measure. Both houses passed the resolution and President Abraham Lincoln signed it. He had to draft an executive order to free the slaves in rebellious districts when the states failed to act.
On July 22, 1862, President Lincoln read a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet members at the White House. It stated that all people held as slaves in rebellious states as of January 1 “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” He rewrote the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, after the Northern victory at Antietam during the Civil War. It was an ultimatum for rebels to throw down their arms.
Then, in November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln gave his finest speech yet. He was at the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The speech consisted of two-hundred and seventy-one words and lasted for only two minutes on the podium. His speech became known as the Gettysburg Address.
President Lincoln was nominated to run a second term on June 7, 1864. Andrew Johnson was chosen to be his running mate. In August he told his cabinet members that he did not look to be reelected President of the United States on November 8, 1864. He had fifty-five percent of the popular vote and ninety percent of the electoral vote. His second term began the following March.
On the evening of Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln, his wife, and his guest went to the Ford Theatre. They were watching our American Cousin from the balcony. John Wilkes Booth appeared off to the side of Lincoln, and assassinated him, shooting him in the head. President Abraham Lincoln died at 7:22 a.m. the next day at a boarding house across from the Ford Theatre.
Did you know that in 1953 Lincoln, Illinois “ the only city in the United States named for Abraham Lincoln before he became famous” celebrated its centennial with a series of wooden nickels? Also, Lincoln was the first president to appear on Federal paper money issued in this country.
In conclusion, I found the book very interesting. It is a must read if you want to learn a lot about our sixteenth President. The book tells about his childhood into his adult life. He went from being a rail splitter, to Honest Abe and our President of the United States.