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I THE EVOLUTION OF THE MAN
On the twelfth of February, 1909, the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, Americans gathered together, throughout the entire country, to honour the memory of a great American, one who may come to be accepted as the greatest of Americans. It was in every way fitting that this honour should be rendered to Abraham Lincoln and that, on such commemoration day, his fellow-citizens should not fail to bear also in honoured memory the thousands of other good Americans who like Lincoln gave their lives for their country and without whose loyal devotion Lincoln's leadership would have been in vain.

The chief purpose, however, as I understand, of a memorial service is not so much to glorify the dead as to enlighten and inspire the living. We borrow the thought of his own Gettysburg address (so eloquent in its exquisite simplicity) when we say that no words of ours can add any glory to the name of Abraham Lincoln. His work is accomplished. His fame is secure. It is for us, his fellow-citizens, for the older men who had personal touch with the great struggle in which Lincoln was the nation's leader, for the younger men who have grown up in the generation since the War, and for the children by whom are to be handed down through the new century the great traditions of the Republic, to secure from the life and character of our great leader incentive, illumination, and inspiration to good citizenship, in order that Lincoln and his fellow-martyrs shall not have died in vain.

It is possible within the limits of this paper simply to touch upon the chief events and experiences in Lincoln's life. It has been my endeavour to select those that were the most important in the forming or in the expression of his character. The term "forming" is, however, not adequate to indicate the development of a personality like Lincoln's. We rather think of his sturdy character as having been forged into its final form through the fiery furnace of fierce struggle, as hammered out under the blows of difficulties and disasters, and as pressed beneath the weight of the nation's burdens, until was at last produced the finely tempered nature of the man we know, the Lincoln of history, that exquisite combination of sweetness of nature and strength of character. The type is described in Schiller's Song of the Founding of the Bell:

Denn, wo das strenge mit dem zarten,

Wo mildes sich und starkes paarten,

Da giebt es einen guten Klang.

There is a tendency to apply the term "miraculous" to the career of every hero, and in a sense such description is, of course, true. The life of every man, however restricted its range, is something of a miracle; but the course of a single life, like that of humanity, is assuredly based on a development that proceeds from a series of causations. Holmes says that the education of a man begins two centuries before his birth. We may recall in this connection that Lincoln came of good stock. It is true that his parents belonged to the class of poor whites; but the Lincoln family can be traced from an eastern county of England (we might hope for the purpose of genealogical harmony that the county was Lincolnshire) to Hingham in Massachusetts, and by way of Pennsylvania and Virginia to Kentucky. The grandfather of our Abraham was killed, while working in his field on the Kentucky farm, by predatory Indians shooting from the cover of the dense forest. Abraham's father, Thomas, at that time a boy, was working in the field where his father was murdered. Such an incident in Kentucky simply repeated what had been going on just a century before in Massachusetts, at Deerfield and at dozens of other settlements on the edge of the great forest which was the home of the Indians. During the hundred years, the frontier of the white man's domain had been moved a thousand miles to the south-west and, as ever, there was still friction at the point of contact.

The record of the boyhood of our Lincoln has been told in dozens of forms and in hundreds of monographs. We know of the simplicity, of the penury, of the family life in the little one-roomed log hut that formed the home for the first ten years of Abraham's life. We know of his little group of books collected with toil and self-sacrifice. The series, after some years of strenuous labour, comprised the Bible, Aesop's Fables, a tattered copy of Euclid's Geometry, and Weems's Life of Washington. The Euclid he had secured as a great prize from the son of a neighbouring farmer. Abraham had asked the boy the meaning of the word "demonstrate." His friend said that he did not himself know, but that he knew the word was in a book which he had at school, and he hunted up the Euclid. After some bargaining, the Euclid came into Abraham's possession. In accordance with his practice, the whole contents were learned by heart. Abraham's later opponents at the Bar or in political discussion came to realise that he understood the meaning of the word "demonstrate." In fact, references to specific problems of Euclid occurred in some of his earlier speeches at the Bar.

A year or more later, when the Lincoln family had crossed the river to Indiana, there was added to the "library" a copy of the revised Statutes of the State. The Weems's Washington had been borrowed by Lincoln from a neighbouring farmer. The boy kept it at night under his pillow, and on the occasion of a storm, the water blew in through the chinks of the logs that formed the wall of the cabin, drenching the pillow and the head of the boy (a small matter in itself) and wetting and almost spoiling the book. This was a grave misfortune. Lincoln took his damaged volume to the owner and asked how he could make payment for the loss. It was arranged that the boy should put in three days' work shucking corn on the farm. "Will that work pay for the book or only for the damage?" asked the boy. It was agreed that the labour of three days should be considered sufficient for the purchase of the book.

The text of this biography and the words of each valued volume in the little "library" were absorbed into the memory of the reader. It was his practice when going into the field for work, to take with him written-out paragraphs from the book that he had at the moment in mind and to repeat these paragraphs between the various chores or between the wood-chopping until every page was committed by heart. Paper was scarce and dear and for the boy unattainable. He used for his copying bits of board shaved smooth with his jack-knife. This material had the advantage that when the task of one day had been mastered, a little labour with the jack-knife prepared the surface of the board for the work of the next day. As I read this incident in Lincoln's boyhood, I was reminded of an experience of my own in Louisiana. It happened frequently during the campaign of 1863 that our supplies were cut off through the capture of our waggon trains by that active Confederate commander, General Taylor. More than once, we were short of provisions, and, in one instance, a supply of stationery for which the adjutants of the brigade had been waiting, was carried off to serve the needs of our opponents. We tore down a convenient and unnecessary shed and utilised from the roof the shingles, the clean portions of which made an admirable substitute for paper. For some days, the morning reports of the brigade were filed on shingles.

Lincoln's work as a farm-hand was varied by two trips down the river to New Orleans. The opportunity had been offered to the young man by the neighbouring store-keeper, Gentry, to take part in the trip of a flat-boat which carried the produce of the county to New Orleans, to be there sold in exchange for sugar or rum. Lincoln was, at the time of these trips, already familiar with certain of the aspects and conditions of slavery, but the inspection of the slave-market in New Orleans stamped upon his sensitive imagination a fresh and more sombre picture, and made a lasting impression of the iniquity and horror of the institution. From the time of his early manhood, Lincoln hated slavery. What was exceptional, however, in his state of mind was that, while abominating the institution, he was able to give a sympathetic understanding to the opinions and to the prejudices of the slave-owners. In all his long fight against slavery as the curse both of the white and of the black, and as the great obstacle to the natural and wholesome development of the nation, we do not at any time find a trace of bitterness against the men of the South who were endeavouring to maintain and to extend the system.

It was of essential importance for the development of Lincoln as a political leader, first for his State, and later in the contest that became national, that he should have possessed an understanding, which was denied to many of the anti-slavery leaders, of the actual nature, character, and purpose of the men against whom he was contending. It became of larger importance when Lincoln was directing from Washington the policy of the national administration that he should have a sympathetic knowledge of the problems of the men of the Border States who with the outbreak of the War had been placed in a position of exceptional difficulty, and that he should have secured and retained the confidence of these men. It seems probable that if the War President had been a man of Northern birth and Northern prejudices, if he had been one to whom the wider, the more patient and sympathetic view of these problems had been impossible or difficult, the Border States could not have been saved to the union. It is probable that the support given to the cause of the North by the sixty thousand or seventy thousand loyal recruits from Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, and Virginia, may even have proved the deciding factor in turning the tide of events. The nation's leader for the struggle seems to have been secured through a process of natural selection as had been the case a century earlier with Washington. We may recall that Washington died but ten years before Lincoln was born; and from the fact that each leader was at hand when the demand came for his service, and when without such service the nation might have been pressed to destruction, we may grasp the hope that in time of need the nation will always be provided with the leader who can meet the requirement.

After Lincoln returned from New Orleans, he secured employment for a time in the grocery or general store of Gentry, and when he was twenty-two years of age, he went into business with a partner, some twenty years older than himself, in carrying on such a store. He had so impressed himself upon the confidence of his neighbours that, while he was absolutely without resources, there was no difficulty in his borrowing the money required for his share of the capital. The undertaking did not prove a success. Lincoln had no business experience and no particular business capacity, while his partner proved to be untrustworthy. The partner decamped, leaving Lincoln to close up the business and to take the responsibility for the joint indebtedness. It was seventeen years before Lincoln was able, from his modest earnings as a lawyer, to clear off this indebtedness. The debt became outlawed in six years' time but this could not affect Lincoln's sense of the obligation. After the failure of the business, Lincoln secured work as county surveyor. In this, he was following the example of his predecessor Washington, with whose career as a surveyor the youngster who knew Weems's biography by heart, was of course familiar. His new occupation took him through the county and brought him into personal relations with a much wider circle than he had known in the village of New Salem, and in his case, the personal relation counted for much; the history shows that no one who knew Lincoln failed to be attracted by him or to be impressed with the fullest confidence in the man's integrity of purpose and of action.
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