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Abraham Lincoln's life was not particularly unique. More than
one president was raised in a log cabin. Some may have been raised in a
sustenance lifestyle that resembles poverty, and had suffered with death
of family members, but Abraham Lincoln was special in that he learned to
read, stump speak, figure mathematics, survey, and would study law to
get his license to practice in Illinois. All these would be
accomplished with one year of actual schooling, and years of
self-learning. Abraham would learn from his birth mother and
step-mother, but they were illiterate. Dennis Hanks, Abraham's ten year
older cousin, would actually live with him and the Lincoln family in
Indiana. He told stories of teaching Abraham his ABC's. Dennis must
have been literate, and was raised in the pioneer environment at
Abraham. It makes one wonder how he could be educated. Abraham was
perhaps taught to memorize from his birth mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln.
She could recite Bible verses, as well as sing Christian songs. Abraham
would memorize the words of people speaking, and after reading, would
memorize what he read. From this, he would use the knowledge in
developing life experiences and later speeches,
Abraham's law partner Billy Herndon described Abraham as a
reader, who read the newspaper "out loud" during the mornings in the
office. It has been said that he read "out loud." Personal reading
included works of Shakespeare, and Euclid's works on geometry.
Another point to bring out is that illiteracy does not mean
un-intelligent. These two women were a tremendous influence on the boy
Abraham by encouraging him to read and study. Abraham's father, on the
other hand would teach him humor, how to work hard, and attempted to
keep him from reading. Abraham's father, Thomas Lincoln, also disliked
education, surveyors and especially lawyers. Abraham would go against
his father on all these career choices.
If Abraham Lincoln
learned by "Littles," maybe that is the best way for a person to learn.
It means he only went to school a total of one year. All of the other
things he learned were also by littles: a little bit at a time over his
"Keep Reading and Learning"
An excerpt from
Abraham Lincoln, Dean of Lifelong Learning by
Everyone knows the story of Lincoln doing his schoolwork by
candlelight in his boyhood home, taking his schoolwork into his own
hands. Yet many may not know that Lincoln was an avid reader  and
took time out his stressful day to read Shakespeare and other classic
literature. During the summer of the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates, Abe
could be found with the Iliad in
his hand. He knew that staying sharp meant learning about things
unrelated to politics.
Lifelong learners must be persistent, robust, confident and
open-minded if they hope to achieve their personal and professional
goals in life. But reaching that success can have a positive impact not
just on those around you, but on the whole world. Just look at Abe.
Learning What Lincoln Learned
in One Year as a Young Person
Can we learn as much as well "By
the Light of the Fire?"
A Learning Activity
to Study Lincoln's One Year in
Including the Reading, Writing,
and Ciphering that our 16th
President learned in his
A young Abe doing his homework
using the "Light of the Fire"
We are going to do some of the
same things young Abe did to
Click Abe's Book to get your
STUDENTS: START YOUR JOURNEY
STUDY BY CLICKING
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Additional Resources on Learning On-Line:
Learning Lincoln Topics Index