This Famous Person Game - March 2012
by Mike McLeod
It was not hard to recognize Honest Abe. Jason Beaman, Jeanne Waters, Brenda Patterson of Scavenger Resource Recovery in Greeleyville, S.C., Mitch Pettross of Harpeth Antique Mall in Franklin, Tenn., Martha Youngblood of Good K-9 Antiques of Dillard, Ga., Charles M. O'Brien of Mesa, Az., Debra Willis, Robert Bernier, and collector Teresa P. Bland of New York City, N.Y. all correctly identified him.
Since so much could be written about Abraham Lincoln and space is in short supply, I thought a little Q and A would be a better way to learn about him. I’ve listed the questions first so you can test your knowledge. Extra credit if you know the answer to #6.
1. Was Lincoln really born in a one-room log cabin?
2. How many years of formal education did Lincoln have: 1, 2, or 3 years?
3. How tall was he?
4. How many children did Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln have, and did any survive to adulthood?
5. What jobs did the President hold during his lifetime?
6. Who was Abraham Lincoln’s Vice President during his first term?
7. Was Abraham Lincoln the only president to ever hold a patent?
8. How long after Lincoln was sworn in as President was Fort Sumter fired upon, beginning the Civil
9. What is the most quoted speech of Lincoln’s and arguably, the most quoted speech of all time?
10. When did Abraham Lincoln die?
1. Yes, on Feb. 12, 1809 in Hardin County, Kentucky, to Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. When he was nine, Abraham’s mother died from milk sickness, or tremotol vomiting, caused by drinking milk from a cow that had eaten white snakeroot. His father remarried the next year to Sarah Bush Johnston, a widower with three children. Abraham was very fond of his stepmother.
2. Abraham Lincoln had about one year of education, but none of it was in a regular classroom. What little instruction he received from anyone other than his parents was from itinerant teachers. Almost all of Lincoln’s education was self-taught. He passed the bar exam by studying on his own.
3. He was an imposing 6 feet 4 inches, not counting his stovepipe hat.
4. Lincoln married Mary Todd on Nov. 4, 1842—they had ended their engagement the previous year and then gotten back together. They had four sons: Robert Todd, Edward Baker, William Wallace, and Thomas (Tad). Edward died at age four, and William died at 11, both probably from tuberculosis or complications therefrom. Tad died at 18, reportedly from heart failure. Robert was the only one to survive to adulthood. The Lincolns loved their children dearly, and they suffered greatly with each passing.
Mary Todd Lincoln
William Wallace Lincoln
5. In addition to working on his father’s farm and splitting rails, Lincoln worked as: co-owner of a general store; postmaster; county surveyor; captain in the Illinois militia during the Black Hawk War; lawyer; representative in the Illinois State Legislature in 1834 at the age of 25 (after losing his first attempt in 1832); member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1842-44, he vowed to serve only one term); and President. He lost a Senate bid in 1854 and then again in 1858 to Stephen A. Douglas (at that time, the Illinois State Legislature elected its U.S. Senators, not the citizens), but Douglas later lost the presidency to Lincoln.
6. Hannibal Hamlin from Maine, and they never met before they were elected. Hamlin did not know he was nominated until friends brought the news.
In the 1860 election, Lincoln won with just 39.8% of the popular vote, but with an overwhelming 180 electoral votes against three other contenders: John Breckinridge, Southern Democrat; John Bell, Constitutional Union Party; and Stephen A. Douglas, Democrat. Andrew Johnson was the Vice President during his second term; he assumed the presidency at Lincoln’s death. Johnson was from Tennessee, but he did not resign his Senate seat when his State seceded. During the Civil War, he was appointed by the President to be the military governor of Tennessee.
7. Yes. Having ridden on river craft that had run aground, Lincoln patented a flotation device to help boats over shoals by the use of a bellows and expandable air chambers. He never produced his invention.
8. Pres. Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861. Fort Sumter was fired upon on April 12, 1861, just over a month later. Seven southern states had already announced their secession from the Union before the inauguration, and passions were so heated at that time that many people expected Lincoln to be assassinated during the swearing in. Allan Pinkerton, Lincoln’s security chief, uncovered a plot to kill him on his way to Washington, and he had the President-elect disguise himself for the final leg of the journey.
9. On Nov. 19, 1863, Pres. Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in Gettysburg, Penn., the site of the turning point of the Civil War. He concluded his 272-word, historic oration with, “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
10. John Wilkes Booth shot the President from behind while he was watching the play Our American Cousin in Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865. Lincoln had no guards at the time; one bodyguard was left at home, and the other left during intermission to have a drink with a friend in a nearby saloon. President Abraham Lincoln succumbed to his wound the next day on April 15, 1865.
Consistently over the years, Abraham Lincoln has been rated by various educational and legal scholars as either the best president or the second-best after George Washington. He was a formidable lawyer during his legal career, and he was an orator of great renown. He dedicated himself to keeping the Union together at all costs, and he succeeded in doing so, despite major military setbacks during the Civil War and merciless attacks by the newspapers and political opponents.
These words, spoken in 1856, could have been his last: “Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.”
Address delivered at the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg.
The Gettsyburg Address
Given at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
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