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Parents of Abraham Lincoln : an address / by William E. Barton. Barton, William Eleazar, 1861-1930. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images University of Kentucky, Electronic Information Access & Management Center Lexington, Kentucky 2002 b92-182-30418059 Electronic reproduction. 2002. (Beyond the shelf, serving historic Kentuckiana through virtual access (IMLS LG-03-02-0012-02) ; These pages may be freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Parents of Abraham Lincoln : an address / by William E. Barton. Barton, William Eleazar, 1861-1930. Charleston Daily Courier, Charleston, Ill. : 1922. 8 p. ; 23 cm. Coleman "Delivered at the grave of Thomas Lincoln, Goose Nest Prairie, near Janesville, Illinois, September 18, 1922." Microfilm. Atlanta, Ga. : SOLINET, 1994. 1 microfilm reel ; 35 mm. (SOLINET/ASERL Cooperative Microfilming Project (NEH PS-20317) ; SOL MN04281.09 KUK) Printing Master B92-182. IMLS This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 Family. Lincoln, Thomas, 1778-1851. Lincoln family. The Parents of Abraham Lincoln By WILLIAM E. BARTON f ) MMWlj !A"Vl J i Ii I This page in the original text is blank. The Parents of Abraham Lincoln An Address by WILLIAM E. BARTON AL uthor of "The Soul of Abralham Lincolb," "The Paternity of Abraham Libwoln," etc. Dtelivered at. the ograve of Thomas Lineoln, Goose Nest Prailrie, near Janesville, Illilois, September 18, 1922. CHARLESTON, ILLINOIS The Charleston Daily Courier 1922 THlE C(ELEBRA TION A TSHI bLOHI Shiloh (Cthurch, 'which adjoins the cemetery where Thomlioas Linicolin and Sarah Bush Lincolni are buried, was recentli remodeled and its facilities were enlar-ed. A service of rede(ication was held, and a memorial window was (ledicated to the memory of Thomas and Sarah Liii- coln. Shortlv after this rededication, a notable Lincolni celebrationi was held, allul atte(ldedl by people fromi the neiglhborhood anll( froin several a(dja en;t towns. A niumiber of people were present .who had1 personally knowni Thomas Lincoln, and nman 'y who had knowu his widow. The speaker of the (lay was D)r. WAilliamn E. Barton, who (he- livereld tWo a(l(lresses, one oin The (Greatness of Abraham Lincoln and(] the other on "The Parenits of Abraham Liii- coln." The church wvas packed to its capacity for the niorniia address. This was followed by a picnic (diliner, and(1 1-eunion of ol( fIrienids. The afternoon nmeetin g was held out of (loors, iii the cemetery. l)r. Barton delivered his adl(lress stai(lin- beeside the graves of Thomas and Sarah Lincoln. The Parents of Abraham Lincoln T1hlee i i mighty forces go to the nitakiig (of aity luau. First is that 11mysterious elenmenit of personality wher-ein everv man differs from every other miian. -No two men, Vevi tiholl-1 born of the salle parenifts alld reared ill the samiie surroiindii-s, lo'vXe to be wholly similar. No two leaves upoii the tree, no two blades of grass, no two thunmb- prhits of the humjan hanid, no two brains, no tn o chaac- ters are l)recisely alike. The secoll(l of the forces which mliake us what, we are is hlee(lity. Ever-y minai is what lhe is par tly because of what his parents, his grandparents and his remote ancestors wei-e. The third of these forces is eimvironmnent. Every man's life is shaped by the influ- ence, of other lives, by soil, climate, and other conditions surr1ounllding himin. Tlie life of Abraham Lincoln was what it was partly because of his successive viri-onmlllellts, plartly because of his inheritance, and pattly belcause of his own personality. It is fitting that we should consider today something of his iliheritauce through his father, Thomas Lincoln, his mtotler, 'Nancy Haimks, and the subse- uent- influence uponI hili of his devoted step-mother, Sarah Brush Johnson, the second wife of Thomas Lincoln. It. is surpr'ising that so little reliable work has been do(le iii this field. Oin the death of Abralham Lincoln no nmember of the Lincoln family was present at his funeral save his widow, M1a1ary Todd Lincoln, and her two survivin, soIIs, Robert, amid Thomas. Although most. of the Todds were Confederates, there were Todd relatives at the fu- imeral, but no Lincoln. There has beeii but little oppor- tunity to learn to what extelt, Abrahlam Lincoln was a Lincoln. His own contact with the Lincoln family was exceedingly meatger. This we know, however, that, Abraham Lincoln w\-as thoroughlly a, Lincoln. We know eniough of the Lincoln family traits to assure ourselves. that. however grl'eat the contrast between hini and either of his parents, lie had ani important, heritage froom both. While Thomas Lincoln never 1 could have been as great a inan as his soii, and while Nancy Hanks niever contemplated the possibility of herself becotimii a notable wonian, each of these two gave Soille- thing important to the making of Lincolhm. The picture of 'Nancy Hanks, which has come down to us, is vagule in its outline and elusive in its definition. But Lincolhn him- self said of his mother that she was a woman of strong 3 mind and character and that, front her he inherited his power of analysis and his logical mind. Thomas Lincoln died before his son became fainios, and he was held in no very high regard by Lincoln's earlier biographers; but, in proportion as we come to know the Lincohis, and to be able to foim some judgment, of the character of Thomas Lincoln, we find him. to have been indispensable in the heredity of his great son. No one of us can spare any one of his ancestors. There is no way in which we caii short-circuit the line of descent so as to cut, out, the obscurest and least interesting of them, Each one of them, male and female, is indispensable in his or her own generation; and had the place of any one mail or aiiy one woman among them been taken by any other man or woman in that generation, we should note be what now we are. We have to reckon with Abraham Lincolii as he was; and it is in some respects a minor question how he came to be what he was; butt this we know, that his personality was a strange compoumid of diverse elements, some of them inherited from his paternal and some from his maternal lines, and that he needed all of theni to be Abraham Lin- coln. So much of error has been printed as truth, it may be well to give a few dates and other biographical data. First. of all, the dates given on the tombstone of Thomas Lincoln, I am colifident,, are correct, and not those furnished in some of the biographies. He was born in Rockingham County, Virginia, January 7, 1778, and he died January 15, 1851. He was the youngest of three sons, and next to the vouingest of five children of Abraham and Bathsheba Lincoln. His father was not twice married; the five children were all children of one mother, who re- moved to Kenttuckv with her husband in 1782, and long survived him. Abirahaim Lincoln the elder was killed by Indians in Mlay, 1780;, and not in 1784, as is usually stated. Thomas Lincoln learmned the car-peniter's trade. He was probably not a very skilled carpemiter, but he was compe- tent, to do the kind of work which the frontier required. -Nancy Hanks, fimst wife of Thomas Lincoln, and mother of the President, w-as born in Virginia in 1783; removed with her family to Kentucky in early childhood; was married to Thomas Lincoln by Rev. Jesse Head on Beech Fork, in Washington Oounty, on June 12, 1806. With her husband and children she removed to Indiana. in 1816, and she died October 5, 1818. 4 Sarah or Sally Bush, secoiid wife of Thomias Lincoln, lived in Elizabetlhtown i, Kentucky, a id married, first, Daniel Johiiston, by w-hom she had three childreii, .JohnI D., Sarah aimd Matilda. After the death of ler first huts- band, she married Thomas Lincoln December 2, 1819. She was a good mnother-, both to her own Chlldlrenl aid to tlte two children of Thonmas Lincoln, Sarah and Abralaill. She (lied April 10, 18(i9, and is buried here beside her hits- band. Her influence upon the life of AbrahamL Lincoln was wholly good. He held her in honor-, and she cherished his memory with a beautiful and truly mimotherly affection. Standimwg here today by the grave of Thomias Lincoln, and that of his second wife, Sally Bush, the second mother of Abrahamn Limicoln, we have to remind ourselves that there is muc(h1 need of revision of popular knowledge, or what, passes for knowledge, comncerning Lincoln's parelts. His step-mother survived himmi, and lived to be interviewed by the earlier biographers. She was able to bear her testi- mnomiv that Abrahani was always a good bov and never spoke to her a, cross word, and that she loved him as her own son. But. Thomas all(l Naney Lincoln died long before Abraham, and there is munch error commonly accepted asI truth in the literature,( concerIiini both of them. It is often alleged that the liamne of Thomas Linmcolnu was not Lincoln but Linkhor'n. Various authors lhave de- clared that this branch of the famiyv never wrote the name as Lincolim until Abraham Lincoln himself obtained suffi- cient education to settle the spelling. As recent, a writer as NornIan Hapgood says of Thoias Lincoln, or Linkbornm, "His name was under the circunmstancces unstable, but in Indiana. it showed a genieral drift toward Lickern, away froum the favorite Kemitucky forum of Linkhorn, settling) its present spelling mnaumy years later in Illinois." Mr. Hap- good is wrong iii this and in munch besides. In the back- woods, not, only the nanae of Lincoln but. most, other names were mispronounmced auI(l nmisspelled, but I have not, found one single instance of its being umuisspelled bv a member of the family. Thonmas Lincoln a-nd Thoimas Lincoln's father Abraham and Thomas Lincoln's uinle Thomas, for whoin he was named, and his grandfather amid his great-granid- father all sigmied their namies Lincoln. It is often alleged and commonly believed that Thomas Lincoln was tatult. to read and write bv his first wife, Nanicv Hanks. Onl the contrary, lie signed his name before he was married. We have reason to believe that Nanc-y Hanks did write, but in the only document that has 5 been dliscovered executed bly these two, Thomas Lincoln signed his inainie aid Nanye i imade her mai'k. It, is true that Thomas Lincoln's education was very mleager. As his famous soX said of him, he was able "bunglingly to write his own name' and that' wvas all. But that was something of a (listinctinll in a tiie Aw-hen so iuaiiv niei il ('Onteml- porl-at-y life and with like advanitages signed their nialmes with a c-ross. It. is often alleged that Thomas LincolnI was cheate(i out of his inheritance by his two older brothers, Mordecai and Josiah, Alordecai taking the whole property by right. of prinmogeniture aiid distributing a mlinorI portion to Josiah bv leavin,_ Thomas entirely ulnl)lpoi(le(i for. Oin the contrary, it. appears that Mlordecai as heir-at.-law of his father represented hono-abl yv the interests of the whole familv. So01n after Thonmas Lincoln became of agVe he was able to buy an improved farnm and to pay for it, in cash. The money pr'estimmiably ha(l commie to hmimim througgh the set- tlemieit. of his father's estate. Very nearly everiything that has been written about Thomas Lincolin's thr-ee farmiis in Kentucky is wrong. The historians and biographers, even the best, of them, have the three hopelessly mlixe(l uip, anul hardly anythinig that thev tell about. thenm is authentic. It is comnonlv asserted that Thomas Lincolmn and his first wife, -Nancy Halliks, were first. cOusins, she being the daubghter of .Joseph and Nancy Shipley Hanks, and he the son of Abraham anld Malry Shipley Lincoln, and that. Nancv was brought up by a third of the five Shipley sis- ters, her dear Aunt Lucy, wife of Richard Berry. Thomas Lincoln and Nanecy Haniks w-er-e not cousins: we inight even g.o the Hiber-nian leng-th of saying that "neither of them welre Coullsms." Her nmother was not N\aney Shipley and his mimother was not 3airv Shipley, and her Aunt. Lucy was not Aunt Lucy, but was named i Rachel and there was 1o proof that she was Nancv's aunt. It is (comninolv asserted that Thomas Lincoln was virtually a pauper, and )athetic stories are told of the ex- treme poverty of himself and wife at, the time of the birth of Abraham. The Lincoln family was poor, even as pov- erty is judged ill the backwoodsx but there exist records of certain purchases ii made by TPhonmas5 Lincoln of articles for the home, showning that, even in those primitive days in the backwoods of Kentucky the discouufomt was not quite so oreat. nor the povel-ty so wretc-hed as has been- described. Authors have seemed to feel the necessity of going to 6 one or two extrenies in their description of the early life of Lincolii. Either they idlealize it, so that there is no real p)oN'eitv, or thev exag gerate coii dition s of squalor to utter wretclhediiess. Neither is quite triue. It is ofteni affliriiiel that Thomas Lincoln owned no live stoek, amid had to bmorriow horses with which to make his Iioirationu fr-om Kenitucky. On the coiitrary, Thomas Lillcoln ownied a horse befor-e lie was of age, and during his iiiarrie(l life, as show-NN b)y authentic and contemporary lists, lie always hald at least, onve hor se aiid commonly more than olle. There is eideImce that. he was soniething of a honse-bIee(ler. At onle time he owned a stallionm and sev- er-al ialres. He also owie(l cattle. It is ofteni affirmed that. Thomas Liiicolh was a kind of religious vagnant, having no, settled religious life but d(iifti-lo ini a derelict way iiito onie sect after another and e)(i411g brouplit. inito church miiemiibership through the infln- emice of his se(coniid wife. Oni the conft rary, Thomas Lincoln was a mnenubem' of the church ini Kentucky, where Nancy Bfaltks also appears to lhave b)een a. member, and when he joined the churc(h- ih Indiana with his seconld wife, Sarah Bllsh liiicoNim, he joined b)y letter amid she by experience. He was a church imieimlber befor-e she was. He was an offi- cial inemImbei' of the church, somimetimes acting as moderator, sonietimes as referee in niiatters of arbitration between church members, sometinmes as delegate to other churches. Thomas Lincoln was an easy-going niami, without am- bitioll, alnd be (calnot be called industrious. 1I3ut he was frieil lv, honest, neighbl)o-ly, and, jid(lge(l bly time standard(ls of his (l.y, teiiiperatip. He won the hearts of two good woel'i. Time first of these w-vas Nancy Hank s, a chaste young- woman, who lbeipueathied to her Slon fine qualities of character, teniperaniewit, (dis1)Ositioli and powver of mliental grasp): while hIe bqueathp ( led a genrill (lisposition, sound gooold sense, a lovel of stor-y-telling, alid those companion- al)le (1llalities wlii( lh iiealilt so niiii h to the life of Abraham Lincoln. The other wNas Sarahfl Bush Limucoln, who made Thomas a loviij- amnd faithfuil wife and Abraham a devoted mother. In her youni-er- years she was alert, active, indus- trioisand all her life she was a true and sincere Chris- tian woman. M uch pity has been wasted upon her for hav- ii- maarrie(l Thomas bincoli. There is no evidence that she felt the nieed of such pity: nor is it, any libel upon her first, hulsband to say that her second marriage brought her quite as much happiness as the first. Of the vast (luiantities of literature that have been pro- 7 dluced concerning Thomas Lincoln and his two marriages, not quite all is false, but more than half of it is in great inred of revision, aiid some is utter trash. The parents of uincolu were undistinguished, but they were good people, aiid neither Lincolni nor we have anv oecasion to be ashanied of them. There is of course a. narked contrast. between their obscurity amid his inmnortal fame, but except. for them we should miever have had him. Trhey helped to make him the man he was. We hold in lastint honor the mnerntomv of Abrahlanm Limiioli. W'e are in 11o damnrer of honoring' him more hIihl!v thanl he deser'ves. He is worthv of all our devotion. ulit just, now we are reenienbering these humble folk, his parenets, his father, his mother and his step-mother. They w-ere a part of the common stuff of American life in that period of movement, and of new settlement., with nothing to (listilnguish theni above their neighbors, save this, only, that fronI their home went forth into the world a miighty leader of mankind. We (0o1ld not, have expected that alnV such son as Abrahain Lincoln should have gone forth from their cabin, but we have no reason to be surprised that such was the case. In their veins flowed good, sturdy, clean American blood. They were honest, virtuous, sober people. They were sincere and religious. With little edu- cation, they had good sense and good native ability. They cont ributcd the qualities which were essential to the hereditv and early environment, of the man who was to save this nation and to make it. forever free. Let us honor today the homiest, sturdy pioneers of whom they were fair averaoe exaniples. Let. Is be glad that from homes as hunible as theirs amid descended from families as little known to fame as theirs had been, so great a mail could go(I forth. For this is one chief hope of American life, that. our leaders are to. be made out of the stuff of our common nianhood. From fathel's and mothers as simple and mn- pletentiolls as Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, from homes as poor as that of Thomas Lincohlm and Sally Bush, are to go forth meii of learning and power. These are in large measure the hope of America, amid increasingly are they to be the hope of the world. 8