February 12, 2011
Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday
When I read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s A Team of Rivals, I was utterly astonished by how little formal education Abraham Lincoln had received. He admitted his schooling “did not amount to a year.” Yet, being “a Boy of uncommon Natural talents,” as his stepmother described him, young Lincoln formulated a program for disciplined self improvement. Wherever he went, he carried a book. “When he came across a passage that struck him, he would write it down on boards if he had no paper, and when the board would get too black he would shave it off with a drawing knife and go on again” (Sarah Bush Lincoln). Once he obtained paper, he would rewrite the passage and keep it in a scrapbook so it could be memorized. Words were precious to him, not to be taken lightly (p.52)….
Another writing reference I recall had to do with Lincoln preparing “The Gettysburg Address.” Working on the train, a young man observed Lincoln used “the top of his high hat serving as a makeshift desk.”(p.583).
Reference: Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals-The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Simon & Schuster, 2005