Abe Lincoln Grows Up Essay - Critical Essays

Carl Sandburg


The publication of Sandburg’s Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and Abraham Lincoln: The War Years enjoyed immense popularity. Realizing that Lincoln’s boyhood held more interest with young adults than did the later chapters on his political career, Sandburg created this volume from the first twenty-seven chapters of his earlier work.

Sandburg portrays Lincoln as being influenced by his environment. By starting with Lincoln’s paternal grandparents, Sandburg shows Lincoln as a reflection of his grandfather, who was also named Abraham Lincoln. Both were struck with wander-lust, one wanting “to be where he could look from his cabin to the horizons on all sides—and the land all his own” and the other wanting to escape from adversity. Lincoln’s grandparents were educated enough to write their own names, but his mother had to make her mark while his father signed his name.

Tom Lincoln was always respected in whatever community he lived. He is described as not “exactly lazy; he was sort of independent, and liked to be where he wasn’t interfered with.” One employer of Abraham Lincoln described him in a similar manner: “I say he was awful lazy. He would laugh and talk—crack his jokes and tell stories all the time; didn’t love work half as much as his pay.” Despite his dislike of work, Lincoln was constantly running errands and helping his father.

Lincoln is pictured as being curious and always in search of education. As a young boy, he is described as “hungry to understand the meanings of words.” Young Lincoln and his sister walked eighteen miles a day to school. As Lincoln frequently told his friends, “The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll git me a book I ain’t read.” Lincoln would read anything and everything he could...

(The entire section is 751 words.)