Abraham Lincoln: From His Own Words and Contemporary Accounts

By Roy Edgar Appleman; Abraham Lincoln | Go to book overview

Abe got his mind and fixed morals from his good mother. Mrs. Lincoln was a very smart, intelligent, and intellectual woman; she was naturally strong-minded; was a gentle, kind, and tender woman, a Christian of the Baptist persuasion, she was a remarkable woman truly and indeed. I do not think she absolutely died of the milk sickness entirely. Probably this helped to seal her fate.

WILLIAM WOOD'S STATEMENT TO HERNDON, SEPTEMBER 15, 1865.


3. His PHYSICAL STRENGTH

Abraham Lincoln's physical strength has become legendary. One of his fellow townsmen at New Salem, R. B. Rutledge, a brother of the storied "Ann," recalls this quality of the young Lincoln.

Trials of strength were very common among the pioneers. Lifting weights, as heavy timbers piled one upon another, was a favorite pastime, and no workman in the neighborhood could at all cope with Mr. Lincoln in this direction. I have seen him frequently take a barrel of whisky by the chimes and lift it up to his face as if to drink out of the bunghole. This feat he could accomplish with the greatest ease. I never saw him taste or drink a drop of any kind of spirituous liquors.

R. B. RUTLEDGE TO HERNDON, OCTOBER 1866.


4. ANN RUTLEDGE

Perhaps the most reliable statement extant concerning the relationship of Ann Rutledge and Abraham Lincoln to each other is to be found in the words of her younger brother. One of the most interesting speculations regarding Lincoln's life concerns the effect upon his personality and career of his remembrance of the lovely Ann Rutledge and of her tragic and untimely death. Apparently, Lincoln almost never referred in after years to this episode of his life. The two selections that follow are from letters written to William Herndon by R. B. Rutledge, Ann's brother.

You make some pertinent inquiries concerning my sister and the relations which existed between herself and Mr. Lincoln. My sister Ann was born January 7, 1813, and died August 25, 1835. She was born in Kentucky and died in Menard County, Illinois. In 1830, my sister being then but seventeen years of age, a stranger calling himself John McNeil came to New Salem. He boarded with Mr. Cameron and was keeping a store with a Samuel Hill. A friendship grew up between McNeil and Ann which ripened apace and resulted in an engagement to marry. McNeil's real name was McNamar. It seems that his father had failed in business, and his son, a very young man, had determined to make a fortune, pay off his father's debts and restore him to his former social and financial standing. With this view he left his home clandestinely, and in order to avoid pursuit by his parents changed his name. His conduct was strictly hightoned, honest, and

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