Lincoln The Often Untold Story.doc

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					                              Lincoln The Often Untold Story
                                            By Nancy Peterson
                                     A presentation about Lincoln’s early life
A number of Narrators
Nancy Hanks Lincoln (first person written account)
Thomas Lincoln (first person written account)
Southern Bizzy-Body
Lincoln friend (first person written account)
William Herndon
Delegate from the Convention
Abraham Lincoln
Grace Bedell
Computer power point person(s)

Narrator: Abraham Lincoln came from roots so obscure that little is positively known about them. Decades of
persistent digging have provided a hazy sketch of his father, Thomas. But the riddle of his mother, Nancy is
almost insoluble.

Narrator: Historian Carl Sundburg found some answers and in his book Abraham Lincoln; the Prairie Years,
writes that Nancy Hanks was a illegitimate child born to Lucy Hanks in Virginia in 1784. Lucy moved through
the Cumberland Gap soon after giving birth, to Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Later after the move she married
Henry Sparrow. To be an unmarried mother in this era when such women became social outcasts, Sundburg
wonders how much of Abraham’s Grandmother’s past did Henry Sparrow know.

Narrator: Very little is known about Lincoln’s parents. Several facts seem to be clearly on record. On June 10,
1806 Thomas Lincoln traveled to Springfield, Kentucky to post a notice of his intention to marry Nancy Hanks.
Two days later he and Nancy Hanks were married in a ceremony performed at the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Narrator: Birth records show that their son, named Abraham, made his appearance on Sunday, February 12,

Nancy’s quote…..

Narrator: Nancy died in 1818 of milk sickness, caused when milk cows graze on poisonous white snakeroot.
Lincoln’s only reference to his mom was only of a fuzzy impression that when he was about nine he had
whittled pegs for her coffin.

Narrator: One year later Thomas remarried to a widow, Sarah Bush Johnston-she brought with her three of her
own children to join Thomas’s two. Abraham loved his step-mother.

Narrator: Lincoln who had very little formal schooling would rather read books than work in the field. This
lead to a difficult relationship with his father who was the opposite. Both of Lincoln’s parents were illiterate.

Thomas quote….

Narrator: Lincoln did not speak highly of his father, he called him a “wandering laboring-boy”. Thomas
survived until Abraham was 42 years old. Repeatedly informed of his father’s terminal condition, Abraham
refused to reply and when Thomas died in 1851, Abraham did not attend his funeral.
(Gossip quote first person. In a southern twang).. “That’s because he knew that Thomas Lincoln was not his
father! Now there are multi-layered body of tradition asserts. There’s the one that people in South Carolina
believe that Lincoln’s father was John C. Calhoun who later was a U.S. Congressmen, Jackson’s Vice
President, and a Presidential candidate. During the Civil War the south was sure that Lincoln was a half
brother to Jefferson Davis, who was the President of the Confederacy during the Civil War.”

Narrator: Documentation of these stories is little to none and most of it is folklore which could be attributed to
southern hatred of President Lincoln. However, William Herndon, Lincoln’s long-time associate who was first
his law partner, then his secretary, and finally, his biographer, was sure that the President believed himself to
be-like his mother, illegitimate.

Narrator: At age 17, Abraham left home to work on a flat boat, when his sister died in child birth. The flat boat
floated down stream to New Orleans. In 1830 he moved to west Illinois. Lincoln had various jobs-operating a
store, surveying, and serving as a postmaster. In 1835 he served in the Black Hawk war which opened up the
Iowa territory. His payment was 50 acres of Iowa land, located near today’s Denison. Lincoln never saw the
land, he sold it for cash. He also worked for a time as a rail splinter.

Friend quote…

Narrator: Lincoln became a member of the Whig party, and he served as a state legislature 1834-1842. He
studied law on his own during his spare time, pasted the bar exam and became a lawyer in 1836. He practiced
law in Springfield, Ill. From 1842-1846.

Narrator: When Lincoln served in the state legislature he met his first love a pretty girl named Ann Rutledge,
who, sadly, died in 1835.

Narrator: In 1842 he married Mary Todd after a three year court-ship and in eleven years they had four children.
Robert, Edward (Eddie), William (Willie) and Thomas (Tad).

Narrator: For two years he served as a Representative from Illinois in the Congress. Attempted to run for the
Senate in 1856, but lost to his close friend Stephen Douglas. During this Senate race the famous Lincoln-
Douglas debates took place.

Narrator: The point of contention between Douglas and Lincoln was over the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act.
According to Douglas this was a good compromise between the slaves and free states. It allowed for people in
a newly formed state to vote to see if they wanted to be a slave or free state.

Narrator: Lincoln hated this act. He made numerous speeches denouncing it. According to his close political
associates Lincoln gave his best speech at the newly formed anti-slavery party, the Republican convention on
May 29, 1856. It is known as the “Lost Speech” because so powerful was his eloquence that the reporters
forgot to take notes of what he was saying. And Lincoln spoke extemporaneously, that is from his heart, no

Narrator: William Herndon, his former law partner and biographer said

William: “I attempted for about 15 minutes as was usual with me then to take notes, but at the end of that time I
threw pen and paper away and lived only in the inspiration of the hour”.

Narrator: One delegate at the convention said…
Delegate: “Never was an audience more completely electrified by human eloquence. Again and again, during
the delivery, the audience sprang to their feet, and by long-continued cheers, expressed how deeply the speaker
had roused them.”
Narrator: His most famous speech, “The House Divided” we do have copies of..

Lincoln: “A house divided against itself cannot stand..I believe this government cannot endure permanently half
slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved-I do not expect the house to fall-but I do expect it
will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will
arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of
ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall because alike lawful in all the States, old as
well as new- North as well as South.

Here we no tendency to the latter condition?

Let any one who doubts, carefully contemplate that now almost complete legal combination—piece of
machinery, so to speak – compounded of the Nebraska doctrine, and the Dred Scott decision. Let him consider
not only what work the machinery is adapted to do, and how well adapted; but also, let him study the history of
its construction, and trace, if he can, or rather fail, if he can, to trace the evidences of design and concert of
action among its chief architects, from the beginning.

Two years ago the Republicans of the nation mustered over thirteen hundred thousand strong. We did this
under the single impulse of resistance to a common danger…... Did we brave all then to falter now? Now when
that same enemy is wavering, dissevered and belligerent? The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail—if we
stand firm, we shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes delay it, but, sooner or later, the victory
is sure to come.”

Narrator: In 1860 Lincoln won the Republican party nomination and ran for President. Grace Bedell, an 11
year old girl from Westfield, New York, saw a picture of Lincoln and told her mother

Grace: “I think, mother, that Mr. Lincoln would look better if he wore whiskers, and I mean to write and tell
him so.”

Narrator: So she wrote candidate Lincoln

Grace: “Dear Mr. Lincoln,

My name is Grace Bedell, I am 11 years old and I am a Republican. I think you will make a good President, but
I think you would look better if you grew whiskers. If you have not time to answer my letter will you allow
your little girl to reply for you?”

Narrator: Lincoln wrote back

Lincoln: “My Dear Little Miss:

 Your very agreeable letter is received, I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughter. I have three sons,
they are with their mother and constitute my whole family. As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you
not think people would call it a piece of silly affection if I should begin it now?

Your very sincere well-wisher, A. Lincoln”

Narrator: In February, 1861, as he traveled to Washington D.C. for the inauguration, Lincoln’s train stopped at
Westfield and Lincoln remembering his little correspondent mentioned her to the New York Lt. Governor who
called out and asked if Grace Bedell was present. She was. The crowd opened a pathway for her and she came
up timidly to Lincoln who told her she might see that he had allowed his whiskers to grow at her request.

Narrator: On March 4, 1861 Abraham Lincoln became the 16th President, of the United States. South Carolina
had already left the union thus laying on Lincoln’s lap a Civil War which would occupy his time as President.

Narrator: This February 12th we celebrate 200 years since Abraham Lincoln’s humble birth. Proving that even
great men come from humble origins. Even though Lincoln had many struggles in life he chose to work hard,
he never gave up, and he had a passion for life, because of these traits he rose to greatness.

                                                   The End


Abraham Lincoln Research Site

The History Place

A Treasury of White House Tales by Webb Garrison Rutledge Hill Press, Nashville, TN 1989

Presidential Campaigns by Paul F. Boller, Jr Oxford University Press, New York, NY 1985

                                        Teacher Instructions
This presentation about Lincoln’s early years involves narrative and first-hand accounts. This can be a student
creative writing project and a research project. A power point can accompany this presentation. The students
can look at the presentation and determine what images they can include in a power point and then research the

A number of Narrators                              Grace Bedell
William Herndon                                    Abraham Lincoln
Southern bizzy-body                                Convention Delegate
Nancy Hanks Lincoln (first person written account)
Thomas Lincoln (first person written account)
Lincoln friend (first person written account)
Computer power point person(s)

                                          First hand accounts-
These assignments are for the students to use their creative writing talents and write their part of what they think
their character might say.

Nancy’s First person. Here is what you should include in your first person account. Nancy is holding the baby
and naming him Abraham after paternal grandfather (his father’s father). Say something about how this baby
will have a father and mother, making reference to her knowledge that she was illegitimate.
Thomas First person. Thomas could not communicate well if at all with his son. Thomas was a carpenter, and
he can’t understand Abraham’s consent need to read. Abraham was always bugging the neighbors by borrowing
their books.

Friend first person… Have in your first person account the following information….he earned his nickname
“honest abe” when he wrestled the town bully. He was 6 feet 4 inch tall and very strong. He average 76,000
rails a day that he split. New Albany Herald wrote… “If you put all the rails Lincoln had split together you
could make a ten foot rail-fence reaching from the North to the South Pole.”

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