Blog Post-3: June 28, 2012 by J. Herrera
Abraham Lincoln: Against All Odds
One of America’s best-known presidents of the 19th century and remembered most for his dramatic political career and demise is Abraham Lincoln. One of the most intriguing facts about this presidential hero is his humble upbringing in the backwoods of Kentucky only to later marry a Kentucky socialite, Mary Todd. Ironically, and contrary to what is known today concerning Lincoln’s intellectual ability, is the fact that he was not considered very bright back in his youth. In fact, David Donald states, “There wasn’t much to this boy at first. He was little and all spindle. Learning was hard for him.”  The truth remains that today he is best known for attaining great knowledge and developed a reputation for surrounding himself with progressive thinkers of his time while in office. Beschloss and Sidey also note, “His law partner said of him, ‘His ambition was a little engine that knew no rest.’”  Obviously growing up in a farm gave young Abe ample opportunities to learn the value of skilled labor such as; farming, carpentry, hunting, fishing, and boating. These activities aided him in physical strength and no doubt endurance in hard work. Nevertheless, even though much is written about his presidential experience while in office, most who studies Abraham Lincoln do not usually focus on who and what influenced him to become a man of such great success and accomplishment.
Perhaps life’s struggles and deep tragedies can become a source to building great character in a person and Lincoln was no exception. Researching Lincoln’s background can most likely shed light to how and why Abraham Lincoln became such a great man in history. Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 to Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks in La Rue County Kentucky. Obviously those who impact us the most are our parents and here author, Henry Ketcham describes Abraham’s father, “Thomas Lincoln was left fatherless in early boyhood, and grew up without any schooling or any definite work. For the most part he did odd jobs as they were offered.”  Perhaps the fact that his father was illiterate and worked at whatever jobs he could find, Lincoln would develop a passion for learning, which later Lincoln was known to be self-taught in law.
At the age of nine the death of Lincoln’s mother, Nancy may have contributed to his willingness to overcome life’s setbacks. Ketchem notes, “ By this time Mrs. Lincoln was down with the same scourge….At all events she soon died and the future president passed into his first sorrow.” President Lincoln experienced other deaths such as his older sister Sarah and later three of his four sons. Colonel Alexander K. McClure writes, “Edward Baker, born March 10, 1846, died in infancy, William Wallace, born December 21, 1850, died in the White House in February, 1862, and Thomas (known as “Tad”), born April 4, 1853, died in 1871.”  The mere fact that an individual will experience tragedy through loss can either “make or break” a person, but for some individuals adversity can be used to their advantage later in life. This became true for Abraham Lincoln with the adversity he was confronted with politically during and after the Civil War, which later became his demise.
1] David Herbert Donald, Lincoln. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 36.
 Michael Beschloss and Hugh Sidey. 16, Abraham Lincoln 1861-1865 (White House Historical Association, 2009), accessed June 27, 2012, http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/abrahamlincoln.
 Henry Ketcham, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Chapter III. Early Years, accessed June 27, 2012, http://www.authorama.com/life-of-abraham-lincoln-5.html.
 Henry Ketcham, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Chapter III. Early Years.