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Thomas and Nancy Lincoln set up housekeeping in Elizabethtown, Ky., where their first child, Sarah, was born on Feb. 10, 1807. In December 1808, Thomas bought a hard-scrabble farm on the South Fork of Nolin Creek, where Abraham was born. Soon after Abe's second birthday the family moved to a more productive farm along Knob Creek, a branch of the Rolling Fork, in a region of fertile bottomland surrounded by crags and bluffs. The old Cumberland Trail from Louisville to Nashville passed close by, and the boy could see a vigorous civilization on the march--settlers, peddlers, circuit-riding preachers, now and then a coffle of slaves. This was probably his first view of human bondage, for the small landholdings of the region were not suited to slaveowning, and local sentiment, especially among the Baptists, with whom the Lincolns had affiliated, was hostile to slavery.

Like most frontier children, Abraham performed chores at an early age, but occasionally he and his sister Sarah attended classes in a log schoolhouse some two miles (3 km) from home. Nancy bore a third child, Thomas, but he died in infancy.

Faulty land titles, which were a constant problem to Kentucky settlers, were especially troublesome to Thomas Lincoln. Because of a flaw in title, he lost part of a farm he had bought before his marriage, and both his other Kentucky farms became involved in litigation. For this reason, and because of his roving disposition, he resolved to move to Indiana, where land could be bought directly from the government.

Abraham was seven years old when, in December 1816, the Lincolns struck out northwestward. They crossed the Ohio River on a ferry near the village of Troy, made their way 16 miles (26 km) farther north through thick woods and tangled underbrush, and settled near Pigeon Creek, in present Spencer county, Ind. Thomas hastily threw up a half-faced camp, a rude shelter of logs and boughs, closed on three sides and warmed only by a fire at the open front. Here the family lived while Thomas built a cabin. The region was gloomy, with few settlers, and wild animals prowled in the forest.

By spring Thomas had cleared a few acres for a crop. In an autobiography that Abraham Lincoln composed in 1860, he said of himself: "Abraham, though very young, was large of his age, and had an axe put into his hands at once; and from that till within his twenty-third year, he was almost constantly handling that most useful instrument--less, of course, in plowing and harvesting seasons." So, year by year the clearing grew, and the family's diet became more varied as farm products supplemented game and fowl. At first, Thomas was a mere squatter on the land, but on Oct. 15, 1817, he applied for 160 acres (65 hectares) at the government land office in Vincennes. Unable to complete payment on so large a tract, he later gave up half, but paid for the rest.

The Lincolns had not been long in Indiana when they were joined by Thomas and Elizabeth Sparrow, the relatives by whom Nancy had been reared. They arrived from Kentucky with Dennis Hanks, the illegitimate son of another of Nancy's aunts. An energetic youth of 19, he became Abraham's companion. Within a year, however, the Sparrows became victims of the "milk-sick" (milk sickness), a disease dreaded by Indiana settlers, and soon afterward, on Oct. 5, 1818, Nancy Lincoln, too, died of this malady. Without a woman to keep the household functioning, the Lincolns lived almost in squalor.

To remedy this intolerable condition, Thomas Lincoln returned to Elizabethtown, where, on Dec. 2, 1819, he married Sarah Bush Johnston, a widow with three children. A kindly, hard-working woman, she brought order to the Lincolns' Indiana homestead. She also saw to it that at intervals over the next two years Abraham received enough additional schooling to be able, as he said later, "to read, write and cipher to the Rule of Three." All told, however, he attended school less than a year.

Реферат опубликован: 9/09/2007