Learning Lincoln On-line

Topic Sets to Study Abraham Lincoln His Life and Before the Civil War

CONTENTS SET A:

Topic Two:  Abraham Lincoln's Family

ABRAHAM LINCOLN ANCESTORS COME FROM VIRGINIA

ERA OF THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY AND ORDINANCE OF 1787

A cabin much like the one Abraham Lincoln was born in,

on February 12, 1809

THE TIME FOR BLACK BEARS, BUFFALO, DEER, AND PANTHERS--RIGHT IN OUR BACKYARDS (INDIANA AND ILLINOIS)

A cabin much like the one Abraham Lincoln was born in,

February 12, 1809

NOTE:  SPECIAL PEOPLE WHO SEEMED TO LOVE FRONTIER LIFE, DESIRED TO HAVE LOTS OF ELBOW ROOM, VERY LITTLE "CITY-PEOPLE" CONTACT, AND THE STYLE OF LIVING CALLED SUSTENANCE FARMER.

The Lifestyle Histories of Thomas, Sarah and Abraham Lincoln

         This story will describe the lives of Thomas Lincoln and his wife Nancy.  Their son, Abraham would not accept this life as his life-long desire and future.  Something different would happen to him in Illinois.  By the time Thomas and his second wife Sarah Bush (actually a city lady) would move to Illinois (1830), there would be a large extended family group living together in Indiana.     

          Sarah Bush would provide a progressive approach to the children being educated and learning to read.  Thomas seemed to go along with it and Abraham and Sarah would get a total of one year of formal education in Kentucky and Indiana. 

          The era of Thomas Lincoln as a child, himself, was set in the Territory of our own United States that would later become our state of Illinois and the other great states bordering us.

           Education was always considered important by our founding fathers and the writers of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, but would have trouble making any of their "intents" work.  Formal education was nearly non-existant in the frontier wilderness.  If not for wandering "wizzards," there wouldn't have been any schools.  Parents were normally illiterate, and work took up all of their time to simply EXIST.  There was competition in the wilderness with beasts, weather, and sickness.

Many of the families and individuals who moved west during the late 18th and early 19th centuries would start their new lives out without education.  School education was more common in the Eastern United States.  Organized public and private schools, and even universities were established in eastern states.  The rural areas of the original thirteen colonies would not have the educational benefits of the populated areas.

Not knowing why illiteracy was so rampant in the new western territories and new states, we can only look at the story of Thomas Lincoln to see possibly why he was illiterate and disinterested in “eddication,” as he called it.

Thomas Lincoln was born in 1778 in Virginia.  His Virginia ancestors, including Grandfather Samuel Lincoln, were land owners with some means.  In 1782, Thomas and the family were moved to Kentucky.  The Lincolns and the Daniel Boone family were acquaintances, and it seems that Daniel Boone had convinced a lot of Virginia families to move west to Kentucky. 

 

Daniel Boone, Frontier of the new west.  Founder of Boonesborough, Kentucky

In 1786 Thomas Lincoln’s father, Abraham, was killed by a stealth Native American.  Six year old Thomas stayed with his father’s body in the field, while his brothers went back to the cabin for their guns.  Thomas survived this terrible event, and from there we don’t know a lot about how he was brought up.

The United States was born in 1776, and until the late 1700’s she would be run as a Congress of the Confederation of states.  The Articles of Confederation were the law for the new nation.  The representatives of the Congress would write a guiding law for the future states of Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and a part of Minnesota.  This was the Northwest Territory.

In 1792 Kentucky became a state.  Kentucky would become a slave state, and the Thomas Lincoln hated slavery.  Part of the reason was the morality of people owning people, but another reason was the competition of slave workers with the single family sustenance farmer.

Thomas Lincoln surely had an intelligent business mind for buying and selling land.  His farms usually had two to five hundred acres.  The problem with him in operating his farms was that he needed more help.  A small family could not clear the land, plant and maintain the fields, build the cabins and other structures, and provide food and other requirements for survival.  The land did not help him to maintain a kind of poverty level in living. 

Eastern and Southern farms of similar size to Thomas’ farms would require a crew of slaves or farm hands.   

One other thing kind of interesting about Thomas Lincoln was that he had a deep mistrust and dislike of lawyers and surveyors.  His only living son became a lawyer, surveyor and later a politician.  More about Abraham Lincoln’s education and thinking will be covered later in this introduction.

Thomas Lincoln never learned how to read or write, and also developed an attitude that these skills were not necessary to survive in the wilderness.  Indiana would be a part of the Northwest Territory until 1816, while Illinois would become a state in 1818. 


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