braham Lincoln is
probably the best-known, yet least understood American president. Even his intimate
friends were puzzled by the brooding lawyer and statesman who turned
aside questions about his early life--and whose frontier origins were first parodied
and then mythologized.
Lincoln was arguably the most eloquent chief
executive, yet his formal education amounted to only a few months. Elected in
1860 as a compromise candidate, Lincoln bore the weight of personal tragedy and
the burden of civil war through his presidency. He secured emancipation of an
oppressed race, preserved the union, and inaugurated "a new birth of freedom" to
a republic reaching to the Pacific, before falling to a assassin just months
after his reelection.
Yet the character of the "Great
Emancipator" was forged not in wartime Washington, DC but in the forgotten
homesteads of the Kentucky and Indiana frontier. Lincoln was twenty one when he
arrived in the short-lived settlement of New Salem in central Illinois. Another eight years
would pass before he migrated to the new capital at Springfield and emerged as a preeminent trial lawyer and
This series explores the formative years of
Abraham Lincoln. It is a personal journey following in the youthful Lincoln's
footsteps. The physical environment
that nurtured the future president is surprisingly intact. What impressions of
the world drawn these rural settings engendered Lincolnís compassion for
suffering, his reverence for the ideals of Americaís founding, and his supreme
effort to raise himself above his contemporaries?
The English statesman William Gladstone saw in
Lincoln "evidence of a moral elevation most rare in a statesman, or indeed
in any man." The America of Lincolnís youth may have passed, but Abraham
Lincolnís rise from the humblest origins to the presidency is among the
greatest character studies known to history.