Authoring, Researching, Reporting and Other Work

Learning On-Line by Howard Taylor

How Abraham was Educated
A Workshop

Abraham Lincoln:  To the People of Sangamo County

[What the Future President Thought of Education and Learning]

March 9, 1832

“Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. That every man may receive at least, a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance, even on this account alone, to say nothing  of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being able to read the scriptures and other works, both of a religious  and moral nature, for themselves. For my part, I desire to see the time when education, and by its means, morality, sobriety, enterprise and industry, shall become much more general than at present, and should be gratified to have it in my power to contribute something to the advancement of any measure which might have a tendency to accelerate the happy period.”

From Lincoln Speeches and Writings, 1832-1858, P. 9
The Library of America edited by Roy P. Basler,
Penguin Putnam Inc.  1984
I. To understand the education of Abraham Lincoln, one should know of the Lincoln family historical timeline:


II.  Abraham's Education:
From the John L. Scripp's Interview of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 (in the Chicago Tribune)
. . . While here (Indiana farm), Abraham went to A B C schools by littles, kept successively by Andrew Crawford,--Sweeney, and Azel W. Dorsey. He does not remember any other. The family of Mr. Dorsey now resides in Schuyler County, Illinois. Abraham now thinks that the aggregate of all his schooling did not amount to one year. He was never in a college or academy as a student, and never inside of a college or academy building till since he had a law license. What he has in the way of education he has picked up. After he was twenty-three and had separated from his father, he studied English grammar--imperfectly, of course, but so as to speak and write as well as he now does. He studied and nearly mastered the six books of Euclid since he was a member of Congress. He regrets his want of education, and does what he can to supply the want.
  • When his father could spare him from chores, Lincoln attended an ABC school. Such schools were held in log cabins, and often the teachers were barely more educated than their pupils.
  • According to Lincoln, “no qualification was ever required of a teacher beyond readin', writin', and cipherin', to the Rule of Three.” Including a few weeks at a similar school in Kentucky,
  • Lincoln had less than one full year of formal education in his entire life-- all in short winter-time periods to not interfere with farm work during the important seasons.
  • Abe's stepmother encouraged his quest for knowledge.
  • At an early age he could read, write, and do simple arithmetic.
  • Books were scarce on the Indiana frontier, but besides the family Bible, which Lincoln knew well, he was able to read the classical authors Aesop, John Bunyan, and Daniel Defoe, as well as William Grimshaw's History of the United States (1820) and Mason Locke Weems's Life and Memorable Actions of George Washington (about 1800). This biography of George Washington made a lasting impression on Lincoln, and he made the ideals of Washington and the founding fathers of the United States his own.
  • By the time Lincoln was 19 years old, he had reached his full height of 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in). He was lean and muscular, with long arms and big hands that gave him an awkward appearance. Although he had remarkable strength, he never liked farm work. He preferred instead the easy congeniality that he found at the general store in nearby Gentryville. A neighbor recalled “Abe was awful lazy, he would laugh and talk and crack jokes and tell stories all the time.”
  • Abe's childhood schools were in small log cabins with holes for windows.  There were few, if any books.  The Bible was used as the reading source in the later schools. 
  • Teachers were called "wizzards" if they could read, write, cipher to the rule of three, and knew Latin.  One of his teachers spent their school time learning manners of the time.  He only lasted a year. 
  • Sarah Bush Lincoln, Abraham's step mother was illiterate like Thomas, but encouraged Abraham's unusual ways in desiring to learn and read.

III. Abraham Lincoln the adult and lastly, President

  • After turning 21 years of age, Abraham was free of his father's control.  He was an emancipated adult.  After helping his father and step-mother for a year at Macon County, Illinois, he would move to New Salem-- his first real town residence.
  • There he would read more, learn the job of surveying, involving much geometry, and also would read law books to then get qualified as a lawyer through what was then the Illinois bar exam.  His exam mostly included his reputation and references as being of high level in honesty and morals.
  • Abraham Lincoln constantly read from newspapers (at New Salem and later Springfield), Shakespeare, the books of Euclid, and many we don't even know of. 
  • When becoming President, Abraham Lincoln  would check out a pile of books from the Library of Congress and would learn the art of warfare and commanding of troops in battles.
  • Lincoln's writing was described as long sweeping style.  As President, he learned to compose messages in short form for the new T-mails or telegraphing.  He would use this throughout the last years of the Civil War.

IV.  A bit of technology:  How I make my pages, having a personal website.

V.  New Lincoln web-based information-- The upcoming Lincoln Birthday Bicentennial & Lincoln-Douglas Debates Sesquicentennial (October, 1858)
VI.  Designing technology-based lessons for all grade levels.