I'll start with letting my readers know that their wonderful comments on my previous post about Cory touched me deeply. Thank you so much for your supportive words, and I'm glad to know that my words are reaching other people and perhaps making a difference as we all work towards improvement in the field of mental health treatment!
Since I spent most of my school years living in Illinois the phrase "Land of Lincoln" pops about as naturally into my head as "Give a Hoot, don't pollute" or "Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids!" so I was a bit surprised to see a sign on the highway for the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park. Never one to pass up a National Park of any kind if I can help it I took the exit and even though it was a little bit out of my way I ended up being really glad that I did. On my way there I passed through the town of Hodgenville where a bronze statue erected for the Lincoln Centennial in 1909 stands. It was carved by the same sculptor who created the Lincoln statue I viewed not long ago in Kentucky's Capitol.
A few miles outside of the small square in Hodgenville is where his birthplace is located. First off let me say that upon entering the visitor center I was directed to go in and see the movie which had just started. While I don't always enjoy the movies, this one was a winner. It was so good, in fact, that I'm including the link here for you to watch! I wish it was available on YouTube to make all our lives easier and embed it directly in the post, but alas it is not.
|Thomas and Nancy with baby Abraham|
and his older sister, Sarah
If you don't watch the video some of the interesting things I learned was that while Lincoln was "born in a one-room log cabin" this was not the devastating humble beginning that it has been overdramatized to be. They lived on the frontier, after all, mansions and McDonald's were not to be found at the edge of civilization! Tax records show that Abe's father Thomas was doing well for himself as a farmer in those Kentucky years and their life might have been filled with hard work and humble lodgings, but they were well respected and probably considered middle-class. Pieces of that log cabin survived and a replica was constructed and ensconced inside the memorial that I visited.
The Lincoln family story is one of migration, which was fascinating too. His pioneer grandfather came from Massachusetts through the Cumberland Pass to Virginia where he settled in what is now Kentucky. When Lincoln was 7 years old his family moved from Kentucky to Indiana to farm there due to land rights battles and apparently it did not go as well. And when he was 21 he moved with his father and stepmother to Illinois... Land of Adult Lincoln, apparently!
How dare Illinois lay claim to Lincoln, right? But we won't talk about those later years here, we'll talk about that young Kentucky boy.
|another bronze in the square of Hodgenville|
Another interesting fact was that Abe received very little formal schooling in Kentucky due to that same frontier environment. School was a two mile walk each way in the second farm they had a few miles down the road, and he and his sister attended very irregularly. I wonder how much more "formal" schooling he got in Indiana? Lincoln himself admitted that the total amount of schooling he received in his very rural childhood was no more than twelve months; nevertheless, he became an excellent reader, learned to write, measure, and make division and multiplication calculations during his childhood. I've always loved stories like this that demonstrate that pursuit of knowledge is the best teacher!
He wasn't called "Honest Abe" for nothing, and while as a boy he was a bit of a prankster he had a big heart and did not enjoy killing animals for sport. And of course, his anti-slavery views evolved and became the stuff of legend. The young president cut down in his prime was so revered that this Memorial's cornerstone was laid 44 years after his death on what would have been his 100th birthday.
It's a beautiful building, constructed over the spring that made this spot so valuable to his father and the 56 stairs leading up to it signify the 56 years of his life.
So my final thought here is a reminder for us all to encourage those youth from humble beginnings with little education. Who knows where they could go if they put their minds to it?