ABRAHAM LINCOLN: THE ILLINOIS YEARS
ROBERT W. JOHANNSEN
WHEN THOMAS LINCOLN led his family into Illinois from their hard- scrabble farm in southern Indiana in the spring of 1830, the state was not yet twelve years old. The three lumbering wagons on which the family's worldly goods were loaded halted on the banks of the Sangamon River, west of the town of Decatur near the northern limit of settlement in one of the state's fastest-growing areas. A cabin was quickly erected, land cleared, and corn planted. Thomas's son Abraham, just turned twenty-one, assisted in the work. After enduring one of the worst winters in memory (the "Winter of the Deep Snow"), Thomas decided to move his family to a better location, eastward to Coles County, but this time Abraham did not accompany him. Restless, stirred by ambition, and eager to leave behind the hard life of the farm, Abraham Lincoln struck out on his own. While the physical distance between Lincoln and his father from that time on was never great, the spiritual distance grew ever wider. Lincoln never saw his father again.
For the next three decades, Lincoln's life was bound to the developing fortunes of his adopted state. He found his own fortune in a career that combined law and politics, achieving a success that placed him above and apart from his countrymen. When he left Illinois early in 1861, the aspiring young country boy had become President-elect of the United States. His words, as he bade farewell to his Springfield friends and neighbors from the rear platform of the train that would take him to his new duties, carried an ominous tone. The nation