Lincoln Discussion Symposium

Full Version: Abe Lincoln-Born in Ky-Raised in Ind-Lived in IL.
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Lincoln lived in many places.Which homestead had the most impact on creating the Lincoln that we know Today?
Herb: As I thought about your question, my mind took me to the train depot in Springfield on the morning of Lincoln's departure for Washington. As he bid the crowd farewell, he made a statement about the impact of living there. He said he owed everything to the people and the place. So maybe Lincoln felt his Illinois years-specifically his time in Springfield-were most influential.
Taking a short break, waiting for lunch.

To be honest, I think one really cannot separate the three, although, of course, there are varying degrees of influence. Kentucky probably had the least effect, simply because Lincoln was too young to remember much of it. It wasn't until the family moved to Knob Creek that he really started to remember anything.

Ida Tarbell did, I believe, a great service to Lincoln studies by insisting that the Indiana years brought much to Lincoln that he would carry over to the rest of his life. Those Indiana years saw him go from boy to man.

Of course, being from Illinois, I'd like to think these were the most important, and in some ways they were. He came to political maturity here and also started to develop much of what made Lincoln Lincoln. He found love here and also a career in which he excelled, but he hungered for far more, much of which came from the nature of his early years in Indiana where he had to work ceaselessly and without much rest.

So, I think each state performed a valuable "service" if you will in making Lincoln who he was, just as our own lives are shaped by each experience we have.

Lunch is ready, and then it's back to work.

I agree, Rob. One of the reasons I am so much more interested in Lincoln before he became President is because of my interest in the forces that shaped him, including events, experiences, and individuals. And that is why the New Salem years--short as they were--have such an attraction for me. And that is why I am crazy enough to walk through farm fields and other rural locales in 90F+ temperatures just to visit and chronicle the graves of the New Salem people who befriended Lincoln. The statue of Lincoln at New Salem that depicts him with both an ax and a book says a lot to me--he came to that small village a frontiersman (ax) and left it a lawyer and legislator (book). Tarbell's THE EARLY LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN is still a good source. More contemporary sources that I find valuable are Wilson's HONOR'S VOICE (par excellence!), Wilson and Davis HERNDON'S INFORMANTS, and Thomas's LINCOLN'S NEW SALEM--although there are others, too, such as Mazrim's THE SANGAMO FONTIER.
That is a good question Herb. I would say each of them had there effects on his future life, but I have heard somewhere that a persons future behavior and character is generally formed during the first 10 years of life. So I will go with Kentucky, although I could easily go with both Indiana or Illinois.

You guys are tremedous! If I didn't grow up in the city neighborhood I did,I don't think that I woud be so "street smart"!
New Salem...He made new friends that lasted a life time. It was there he first went into business, and ran up dept. It was there he decided to study law, first ran for public office..and lost, fell in love and lost a loved one for the third time. He faced events that must have made him wonder if life was worth living. It was there he decided he could and would keep trying.
Paul Horgan, author of Citizen of New Salem put it this way in writing about its influence on Lincoln: "New Salem had been his school, his academy, his college. There he learned how to use language correctly and beautifully; how to speak and debate in public; how to study; how to plan towns; how to write laws by reading law; how to live amidst people and how to respect their common concerns and forgive their uncommon ones. There it was that he left the forest and the river, which had also taught him much, and had found the world. Like all others, he had to find out where to look for it, but it was there to be seen, if he would look, in a hamlet in a wood above a river. In all his young life he had worked to overcome disadvantages, and as they enlarged, so did he, in spirit, patience and strength, among his neighbors of New Salem. They had suffered him when he suffered, and laughed for him when he reached for their funny-bones, and allowed him his hopes, and voted for him when he asked them to. As he was, so had New Salem helped to make him."
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