The first seven years of Lincoln’s life were spent in the wilds of Kentucky. In 1816 his father left that state and moved northward to Indiana, but here the surroundings were not much better. A rude blockhouse, with a single large room below and a low garret above, was the home of our young hero. Every hardship and privation of the pioneer’s life was here the lot of our growing youth. But he loved the tangled woods, and hunting and fishing were his delight.
There were no schools there, and Abraham learned a little reading and writing from a man who shared the poor blockhouse with the Lincoln family. For writing, a slate was used, and now and then a pine board, or even some flat stone upon which the figures were traced with charcoal. His books were few, but he read them over and over again, and the impressions they made on him were so much the deeper. In this way Lincoln acquired the rudiments of education. When Abraham was scarcely nine years old, his excellent mother died. His father married again, and fortunately for young Lincoln, his stepmother was a lady of refinement, who took the greatest interest in her rugged but talented step-son. She sent him to a private school for a while, and Abraham learned many useful things and easily kept at the head of his class. His stepmother also procured more books for him, for Abraham was a most ardent reader, and he spent all his leisure time in reading and self-culture. Being tall of stature and well built, young Lincoln had to help his father on the farm a great deal, and the only time left for study was late at night or in the early morning.
Thus our future president grew up to manhood; a sturdy, awkward, but honest backwoodsman, with a sound mind in a healthy body.
When Lincoln was about eighteen years old, his father again moved northward, this time to Illinois. Here Abraham continued to work and to improve his mind as best he might. Borrowing books from some law office, he studied them at night and returned them in the morning. His honesty and true merit were soon recognized by the rest of the community where he lived, and he was elected to represent the people in the legislature.
Lincoln became a lawyer of more than ordinary ability, and although his appearance remained somewhat ungainly, he easily won his lawsuits by the clear and logical conclusions which he advanced over those of his opponents. He had thus secured a splendid law-practice and had settled in Springfield, Illinois, when he became the republican candidate for president of the United States in 1860, and was elected the same year.