Today is the 200th birthday
of Abraham Lincoln. I loved Lincoln's birthday when I was growing up. It was a day off school. Sometimes I visited the Chicago Historical Society to see the Lincoln exhibit, sometimes I bought and addressed valentines, or sometimes it was a day playing in the snow. For days before, boring school routine vanished in favor of a flurry of Lincoln projects, a common experience among the school children of Illinois. A couple of years ago--with President's Day crowding out the memory of Honest Abe--I re-discovered exploring Lincoln around the time of his birthday, as every February I felt something was missing.
While I am not a tremendous Lincoln fan, there is much to admire about this self-taught frontiersman. He loved books, and went to great lengths to obtain them during his youth. Sometimes I think about how much Lincoln would have enjoyed the Internet; Lincoln would love the concept of free books online. I can't think of a more fitting Lincoln project this year than to page through some outstanding books on him. The ones I've chosen for you are very old, and present a portrait of Lincoln far less filtered by history than modern accounts.
My first pick is Abraham Lincoln
, a biography, written by Lincoln's law partner, William Henry Herndon
, and Jesse W. Weik.
My second pick is Life of Abraham Lincoln
, a biography written by J. G. Holland in 1865 , shortly after Lincoln's assassination, and dedicated to President Andrew Johnson.
My third pick is full of excerpts from Lincoln's speeches, letters and saying , as well as memoirs by Lincoln's contemporaries. The Lincoln Memorial
by Osborne Hamiline Oldroyd, et. al., was dedicated to "The American People" in 1882
My final pick is The Political Debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas
, published in 1912, which features the complete record from the Lincoln Douglas Debates, as well as additional speeches in the Illinois Senatorial Campaign in 1858.
You can read these books online, or download them (they are in Pdf format) to print out or read later. I hope you enjoy them!