Chapter V. Life in the Backwoods
Abraham Lincoln now set to work with a
will to educate himself. His
father thought that he did not need to learn anything more.
He did not
see that there was any good in book-learning. If a man could
write and cipher, what more was needed?
But the good step-mother thought differently - and when another
term of school began in the little log school-house, all six
children from the Lincoln cabin were among the scholars.
In a few weeks, however, the school had closed - and the three
again hard at work, chopping and grubbing in Mr. Lincoln's
They were good-natured, jolly young fellows, and they lightened
labor with many a joke and playful prank.
Many were the droll stories with which Abraham amused his
companions. Many were the puzzling questions that he asked.
the evening, with the other five children around him, he would
some piece that he had learned - or he would deliver a speech
of his own
on some subject of common interest.
If you could see him as he then appeared, you would hardly
such a boy would ever become one of the most famous men of
his head he wore a cap made from the skin of a squirrel or
Instead of trousers of cloth, he wore buckskin breeches, the
which were many inches too short. His shirt was of deerskin
winter, and of homespun tow in the summer. Stockings he had
shoes were of heavy cowhide, and were worn only on Sundays
or in very
The family lived in such a way as to need very little money.
was made of corn meal. Their meat was chiefly the flesh of
found in the forest.
Pewter plates and wooden trenchers were used on the table.
The tea and
coffee cups were of painted tin. There was no stove, and all
was done on the hearth of the big fireplace.
But poverty was no hindrance to Abraham Lincoln. He kept on
reading and his studies as best he could. Sometimes he would
go to the
little village of Gentryville, near by, to spend an evening.
tell so many jokes and so many funny stories, that all the
gather round him to listen.
When he was sixteen years old he went one day to Booneville,
miles away, to attend a trial in court. He had never been in
before. He listened with great attention to all that was said.
lawyer for the defense made his speech, the youth was so full
that he could not contain himself.
He arose from his seat, walked across the courtroom, and shook
with the lawyer. "That was the best speech I ever heard," he
He was tall and very slim - he was dressed in a jeans coat
trousers - his feet were bare. It must have been a strange sight
him thus complimenting an old and practiced lawyer.
From that time, one ambition seemed to fill his mind. He wanted
to be a
lawyer and make great speeches in court. He walked twelve miles
barefooted, to borrow a copy of the laws of Indiana. Day and
read and studied.
"Some day I shall be President of the United States," he
said to some of
his young friends. And this he said not as a joke, but in the
belief that it would prove to be true.