Young Years of Abraham Lincoln. Essay.
Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.
Sponsorship, back support and resources of large industrial empires and business houses are needed now to make a person the head of a nation, and it is not a secret too. Elections are won or lost according to the skill and riches of supporting industrialists and businessmen. Things were not so till a few decades earlier. It was an era when people said ‘my cause is greater than my birth.’
Life of Lincoln a reminder of the height of political commitment and humanitarian elation from which we have fallen.
When mighty nations arose out of chaos and struggles in the past centuries, the quality of statesmanship and dedication and loyalty of the candidate to his country and his men had been the deciding factor in determining his candidature and ascension to presidentship and captaincy. Poverty, manual labour, hard work and sympathy to others went into the making of such great men. The greatest modern day politician and statesman of the world, Abraham Lincoln, is remembered more as a lover and liberator of mankind than as a President of the Unites States of Americas. The life of Abraham Lincoln is a reminder of the height of political commitment, humanitarian elation and visionary insight from which we have fallen lately. This short article attempts to outline how his earlier years were spent and how this boy who read by the kitchen firelight assumed himself to be a ruthless political fighter. His boyhood years are presented here as he grew up strong and independent enough to fight the slave owners and the slave economy of his great continent fearlessly and mercilessly.
A vast prairee of mountains, plains, rivers and bisons that became a motherland to multitudes from every part of the world.
The American Continent is one of the most fertile and vast regions in the world. Discovery of this new world attracted energetic and brave adventurers from almost all corners of the world. Whoever were being intolerably exploited, oppressed and suppressed in their native lands, if possible, escaped to this new world. Their hard work, determination and dedication is what erected this mighty nation as a pillar of democracy and a beacon of hope to the world. When we read and learn about the history of America, we will wonder how hard the bygone generations of this beautiful Promised Land strove to cherish the dream and ambition of realizing and materializing a land of equal opportunities and unquestionable democratic principles. People with lesser knowledge laugh, saying America is assuming the role of World Police. But people who have read about the evils of the world from which multitudes of people escaped and migrated to America to raise a nation and a policy of their own through the centuries know better.
The rise of American timber, meat and fur industry and the coming of Western Classics.
People of those times engaged in mostly bison hunting and trapping for furs. Raising cattle also was one of their major engagements. Huge ranches came to be established as a result of vast stretches of available pasture land and limitless availability of free-roaming bison and buffalo which only needed to be roped. Logging also developed as a major industry that provided employment to millions of people. America supplied timber, meat and fur to many countries. American timber, meat and fur industries owe their origins to those times of adventure and migration. The magnificent life of the brave and bold people of those times constitutes a memorable part in English Literature also in the form of the Great Westerns written by Louis La Amour and the like. But a period of boom will not last. Land, and resources like bison raccoon beaver and trees, began to be less and less available and people began to move. In fact, movement of people across endless plains and along broad river basins in quest of a new life is the characteristic of this part of the American history.
The great march of the early American settlers to the west, across plains and along river basins.
When the early settlers of America began their great march to the West, new states were formed on their way, the earliest one among them being Kentucky. It was a beautiful state with dense forests, trees and far-stretching grass lands where Abraham Lincoln was born in a small farm and brought up to eight years. There his beloved mother taught him to read books, and in the evenings sat with him by the fireside telling him stories. Those were the unforgettable years of his primary education. Then the family moved further west, crossed the great Ohio River and settled in the newly formed state of Indiana which had no cities, towns and villages, but forests, forests and forests alone.
Agriculture, manual labour, walking, reading and education: The constituents of a brave world citizen.
Trees were cut, they cleared the forest and built an eighteen feet square log house which had a loft in the roof and that was Abe’s bed. Even the eight year old Abe was given an axe to help in the work- the initial training which made Abe Lincoln, an Able Lincoln. This lonely family cleared the ground and planted corn, hunted game in the forest and caught fish from the rivers. After his hard work in the fields and forests, he found one or two hours daily to read books by the firelight, among which the Bible, John Banyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Life of George Washington and Aesop’s Fables were his favourites. He was an avid reader. When a school master came to live many miles away, young Lincoln and his sister daily walked this long distance to and fro to learn things. At his eleventh year his mother passed away and two years later his father presented them with a new mother who was kind and took care of the children extremely well.
A village where all had log cabins and all worked from morning till night.
Lincoln’s life has been summed up as ‘From Log House to the White House’ which is only a romantic statement far from reality. All people in his village had log houses. There were trees thick-packed everywhere. When ground had to be cleared for building a house, what will one do with the trees cut down from there? It cannot be moved to another tree-saturated spot. And timber was the natural and abundant building material available there. In fact, there were many beautiful log houses constructed there in his village. The doctor, school, post office, everything in the village was housed in log cabins. In one, once Lincoln ran a store which gained him an additional name, ‘Honest Abe’. It was really the physical strength and free spirit he gained during those times that gained America a fearless President.
If trees were heard falling in the forest one after the other, everyone knew Abraham Lincoln was at work.
There have been questions on the tallness of Abraham Lincoln for which there has been only one logical answer- good food, hard labour and a clean environment. At seventeen, he was Six feet Four inches tall and he grew big and strong each day. Timber cutting was their livelihood and he cut more trees than any other person in his village a day. If in the forest trees were heard falling one after the other, people knew that Lincoln was at work. He was the prize-winning runner, jumper, swimmer and shooter in the village. Long walks in the hills and forests were his hobby. He hated to kill. Animals, birds, trees, rivers and snow, all shared his ardence. And he liked debates, arguments and talking and assembled his friends till midnight doing these things. Once he walked thirty four miles to hear a famous lawyer speak and see him setting free through his eloquence and oratory skills an innocent man accused of murder. It was then and there that the impressed Abe decided to make himself a lawyer. So in the woods he made imaginary speeches to the trees and birds, perfecting the skill. And thus his teen years were over.
Birth of a young man determined to make the world free of oppressors, suppressors, dictators and slave owners.
But the World remember him for his two great acts, preventing the young United States from separation in a civil war and abolishing slavery as a guiding beacon to this world. It is true, the southern states in America had so many cotton plantations and depended much on the easily and cheaply available slave labour for the stability and balancing of their economy. It was also true that not all planters were as cruel and rude to their slaves as many. But there indeed was insufferable tyranny, neglect and torture in most quarters. And as a principle, the freedom of man, whether Negro, slave, African or any other began to be considered of paramount importance. Naturally abolition of slavery resulted in a civil war in which the young nation might have been torn and separated but for the strong political will of Lincoln. This course of historical events was made possible through an adventurous journey undertaken by Lincoln at twenty one, so it cannot be left out here. He with his friend following the business advice of his father undertook a One thousand Eight hundred mile journey in a small boat down the Mississippi which is one of the greatest rivers in this world. Their destination was New Orleans where they reached enduring rapids and human attacks on the way. There, for the first time in his life, he saw slave labourers working in the cotton plantations. Also he saw slave markets where people were auctioned, bargained and sold. The humiliation and pain he saw in the eyes of those girls, mothers, children and men being sold in auction in markets there made his determination to wipe out this human evil from the face of this earth for ever and to make this world free of oppressors, suppressors, dictators and slave owners, which in time culminated in the firm policy of his nation.
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.
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Translations of this article in French, German, Spanish and Italian published in Knol.com can be read by clicking here.
Abraham Lincoln, America In The Making, American History, American Idol, American Literature, American Presidents, American Values, English Literature, Essayists, P S Remesh Chandran, Reintroductions, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Writers, Young Years Of Abraham Lincoln
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Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.
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This is a fantastic article, well researched and very well written. Congratulations on a well-deserved star page, PSRemeshChandra.
Darn good information on Abraham Lincoln. Also great writing. Congrats on the star page, it is well deserved. Thank you for sharing.
Dear Steve Kinsman,
Dear Denise O,
Abraham Lincoln is one of the few world leaders whom I respect most. When I was a school student, I had opportunity to read many things aboutLincoln which I have not forgotten still. They were taught me in the class by my father who was also my class teacher and English teacher in the school and an admirer of Abraham Lincoln. Those incidents include his excellent jokes which were many. Once he asked a neighbour if he would take his coat to the town in his cart. The neighbour asked him when and how Lincoln would be going to get his coat back. Lincoln’s reply was that he intended to stay inside his coat. His hands were not only strong to cut trees down within moments, but quick also to help the poor without even them knowing about it. His lawyer profession was solely for helping the poor and the innocent, and practically gained nothing by way of fees. There are excellent stories of him rescuing many innocent people from the labyrinth of law. Thank you for your appreciation of the article.