The Life of Abraham Lincoln
By Henry Ketcham

Presented by

Public Domain Books

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
16th President of the United States


The question will naturally be raised, Why should there be another Life of Lincoln? This may be met by a counter question, Will there ever be a time in the near future when there will not be another Life of Lincoln? There is always a new class of students and a new enrolment of citizens. Every year many thousands of young people pass from the Grammar to the High School grade of our public schools. Other thousands are growing up into manhood and womanhood. These are of a different constituency from their fathers and grandfathers who remember the civil war and were perhaps in it.

“To the younger generation,” writes Carl Schurz, “Abraham Lincoln has already become a half mythical figure, which, in the haze of historic distance, grows to more and more heroic proportions, but also loses in distinctness of outline and figure.” The last clause of this remark is painfully true. To the majority of people now living, his outline and figure are dim and vague. There are to-day professors and presidents of colleges, legislators of prominence, lawyers and judges, literary men, and successful business men, to whom Lincoln is a tradition. It cannot be expected that a person born after the year (say) 1855, could remember Lincoln more than as a name. Such an one’s ideas are made up not from his remembrance and appreciation of events as they occurred, but from what he has read and heard about them in subsequent years.

The great mine of information concerning the facts of Lincoln’s life is, and probably will always be, the History by his secretaries, Nicolay and Hay. This is worthily supplemented by the splendid volumes of Miss Tarbell. There are other biographies of great value. Special mention should be made of the essay by Carl Schurz, which is classic.

The author has consulted freely all the books on the subject he could lay his hands on. In this volume there is no attempt to write a history of the times in which Lincoln lived and worked. Such historical events as have been narrated were selected solely because they illustrated some phase of the character of Lincoln. In this biography the single purpose has been to present the living man with such distinctness of outline that the reader may have a sort of feeling of being acquainted with him. If the reader, finishing this volume, has a vivid realization of Lincoln as a man, the author will be fully repaid.

To achieve this purpose in brief compass, much has been omitted. Some of the material omitted has probably been of a value fully equal to some that has been inserted. This could not well be avoided. But if the reader shall here acquire interest enough in the subject to continue the study of this great, good man, this little book will have served its purpose.

H. K.
WESTFIELD, NEW JERSEY, February, 1901.


Dedication  •  Preface  •  Chapter I. The Wild West  •  Chapter II. The Lincoln Family  •  Chapter III. Early Years  •  Chapter IV. In Indiana  •  Chapter V. Second Journey to New Orleans  •  Chapter VI. Desultory Employments  •  Chapter VII. Entering Politics  •  Chapter VIII. Entering the Law  •  Chapter IX. On the Circuit  •  Chapter X. Social Life and Marriage  •  Chapter XI. The Encroachments of Slavery  •  Chapter XII. The Awakening of the Lion  •  Chapter XIII. Two Things That Lincoln Missed  •  Chapter XIV. The Birth of the Republican Party  •  Chapter XV. The Battle of the Giants  •  Chapter XVI. Growing Audacity of the Slave Power  •  Chapter XVII. The Backwoodsman at the Center of Eastern Culture  •  Chapter XVIII. The Nomination of 1860  •  Chapter XIX. The Election  •  Chapter XX. Four Long Months  •  Chapter XXI. Journey to Washington  •  Chapter XXII. The Inauguration  •  Chapter XXIII. Lincoln His Own President  •  Chapter XXIV. Fort Sumter  •  Chapter XXV. The Outburst of Patriotism  •  Chapter XXVI. The War Here to Stay  •  Chapter XXVII. The Darkest Hour of the War  •  Chapter XXVIII. Lincoln and Fremont  •  Chapter XXIX. Lincoln and McClellan  •  Chapter XXX. Lincoln and Greeley  •  Chapter XXXI. Emancipation  •  Chapter XXXII. Discouragements  •  Chapter XXXIII. New Hopes  •  Chapter XXXIV. Lincoln and Grant  •  Chapter XXXV. Literary Characteristics  •  Chapter XXXVI. Second Election  •  Chapter XXXVII. Close of the War  •  Chapter XXXVIII. Assassination  •  Chapter XXXIX. A Nation’s Sorrow  •  Chapter XL. The Measure of a Man  •  Chapter XLI. Testimonies