When Abraham was six years old he and his sister Sarah walked two miles to a log cabin schoolhouse where he learned to read, write, and do arithmetic. Abe liked writing best of all and practiced it wherever he went. He wrote with charcoal on the back of a wooden shovel and even in dust and snow. There was little time for play, but between chores Abe liked to climb the rocky cliffs at Knob Creek Farm. There were no close neighbors so he was used to being alone and played by himself.
In December 1816 the Lincoln family moved to the backwoods of Indiana. The Lincolns settled near Pigeon Creek in Spencer County, which was about sixteen miles from the Ohio River.
In 1818 and epidemic of the milk sickness broke out. Drinking poisoned milk from cows that had eaten the wild snakeroot plant caused this sickness. Abe's mother Nancy was one of the first victims she died October 5, 1818. The next year Thomas Lincoln married Sarah Bush Johnston, a widow with three children. Abe was very attached to his kind stepmother and he referred to her as "my angel mother."
Abe's stepmother always encouraged his quest for knowledge. Whenever Abe's father could spare him form chores he attended school where he learned to read, write and to cipher. Though Abe had less than one full year of formal education in his life. Abe made up for his lack of schooling by reading, he always had a book by him. His first books were the Bible and Aesop's Fables.
Abe always kept teaching himself new things. He soon became interested in law reading all the books he could on law. Abe even walked miles to the nearest courthouse to hear lawyers try cases. He even crossed into Kentucky to listen in court.
When Abe was nineteen James Gentry, the local country storeowner, hired him to take a flatboat of cargo to New Orleans. Abe and Mr. Gentry's son built a flatboat and sailed down the Mississippi river to New Orleans. In New Orleans Abe saw his first slave auction and stated "Slavery is a constant torment to me."
After his trip to New Orleans Abe clerked at the country store and helped his father prepare to move to Illinois. In March 1830 the family set out on the 200-mile trip. The family settled on the Sangamon River. After a cold winter Thomas Lincoln moved 100 miles southeast into Coles County. This time Abe did not follow, instead he chose to live his own life.
Abe made a second trip to New Orleans and on his return was hired as a clerk in the village store of New Salem. Abe became a popular citizen of New Salem he won the respect and fellowship of the ruffians by wrestling their strongest men. Abe won the respect of the more peaceable citizens of the community with his good humor, intelligence, and his integrity.
When the Black Hawk War broke out in April 1832 Lincoln and the Clary's Grove men enlisted. Though Lincoln knew nothing of military life, the Clary's Grove men elected Lincoln as the captain of their rifle company. When his term expired he reenlisted as a private. His military career lasted three months, but he saw no actual fighting.
At the age of twenty-three Abraham Lincoln ran for the Illinois legislature. During his speech for the legislature a fight broke out, Abe strode up to the man who had started the fight, picked him up, and threw him out of the crowd Abraham then continued his speech. Abraham was defeated, there were thirteen county candidates running for four seats and he finished eighth.
In May 1833 Abraham was appointed postmaster of New Salem. The job gave him time to read all incoming newspapers and took little of his time. In the autumn of 1833 Abraham took appointment as deputy county surveyor. To learn the work Abe plunged into books studying all day and sometimes night. He learned...