ON February 12, 1809, a boy was born in a simple log cabin, near Nolin Creek, Kentucky. His name was Abraham Lincoln. The family was poor, of pioneer, migratory stock; they were accustomed to privations. Little Abe had to work hard from early childhood helping with the farm chores and gradually learning how to wield the axe. He was growing big and strong and liked to use his muscles. When he was only seven years of age, he walked four miles a day to school, regardless of weather, to learn how to read and write. It was a "blab-school," where all the studying was done aloud. The school terms were very short, about two months each, and he had altogether only five of them. This was all the formal education he ever had; everything else was learned by reading good books borrowed wherever he could or by listening to well-informed persons. And he had to depend largely on himself, because his mother had died before he was ten.
As a young man, Lincoln found an opportunity to travel down the Ohio River and Mississippi to New Orleans, working of course (in 1828 and, once more, in 1831). It was then that he actually saw men and women sold as slaves; in general, the life of negroes in the Southern states made a profound impression upon him.
In 1830 the family moved to Illinois. Lincoln by that time was a grown man, good-humored, patient and kind, but also serious and ambitious. He was thinking a great deal, eager to make important things clear to himself. To improve his mind he bought books on geometry and logic, and studied them hard. But he also wanted to do things, to be somebody. He liked to talk on the main issues of the day, even to make speeches. He attended court trials trying to learn oratory from others. And he was becoming quite popular among his neighbors.
In 1834, after one unsuccessful attempt, he was elected to the Illinois Legislature, and enjoyed his new work. What was even more important, fellow-citizens liked and trusted "honest Abe." He was re-elected three times in a row. In the meantime he was ad