The Life of Abraham Lincoln: From His Birth to His Inauguration as President

Synopsis

Ward H. Lamon's biography, which first appeared in 1872, presented a rustic portrait of the young Lincoln as he would be depicted in numerous books and later in movies: "He wore flax and tow linen pantaloons-I thought about five inches too short in the legs-and frequently he had but one suspender, no vest or coat." Straightforward in tone, the book was the first challenge to the filiopietistic school of Abraham Lincoln biography. One of Lincoln's few close friends, Lamon based his book on materials gathered by Lincoln's law partner William Herndon. Lamon's was the first Lincoln biography to be based on this indispensable collection. Joining forces with a politically well-connected ghost writer, Chauncey F. Black, Lamon produced a book controversial for its treatment of Lincoln's paternity, his courtships and marriage, and its assertion of Lincoln's lack of Christian faith. The Life of Abraham Lincoln from His Birth to His Inauguration as President was initially rejected by reviewers and the reading public as too invasive of Lincoln's privacy. Today's readers can relish the vivid account of Lincoln's boyhood, his young manhood, and his years in the Illinois legislature. Full accounts of Lincoln's relationships with Ann Rutledge, Mary Owens, and Mary Todd are equally valuable.