Title Reviewed:
A. Lincoln

Author Reviewed:
Ross F. Lockridge

Louis A. Warren.


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 168-170

Article Type:
Book Review

Download Source:

A. Lincoln. By ROSS F. LOCKRIDGE. World Book Company, Yonkers-On-Hudson, 1930, Pp. vi+320. Illustrated.

The very first Lincoln biography which appeared a few days after his nomination for the Presidency referred to him as "the future Hoosier President." Most of the standard works on Abraham Lincoln have paid little or no attention to the fourteen years which Abraham Lincoln spent in the Hoosier state. There is now available a book which gives serious consideration to Lincoln's activities between the ages of seven and twenty-one, at which time he was living in Indiana. A. Lincoln by Ross F. Lockridge is a biographical study, simply told, serving as a supplemental text book in American history. It also makes an excellent introduction to Lincoln for those who may have but little knowledge of his transcendent career.

One can detect three specific atmospheres in this argument which are harmonized into an accurate historical study assuring one that a faithful presentation of the subject matter is before him. There is the atmosphere of the schoolroom created by the author's long experience in educational fields. The incidents related reveal that in the selection of the ma-trial he has had in mind the interest of an adolescent group. The first eight of the fifteen chapters in the book deal with the infancy, childhood, youth, and young manhood of Lincoln, and are climaxed with his courtship and marriage. At this point, the new romance of his life achievements begins with chapters representing him as a pioneer politician, struggling lawyer, champion debater, presidential candidate, emancipator, director of military movements and mystic. The last chapter serves as an appropriate benediction to his romantic life without contributing to that large collection of literature known as the Lincoln legend. The Lincoln introduced here is the Lincoln that every intelligent parent should like to have his child know intimately.

There is also the atmosphere of orientation throughout this entire book. The author need not have explained in his introduction that he had visited again and again the places of historical interest mentioned in the text. The familiarity with which he writes about each shrine and wayside stile gives evidence that he has not merely followed the trail of the Lincolns from the Kentucky cabin to the White House but has found time to linger along the way. This is especially true when it comes to that section in southern Indiana which has been so badly neglected by many who have told the Lincoln story.

One finds, too, in this Lincoln book by Lockridge the atmosphere of constructive criticism. It is refreshing to follow a Lincoln biographer who is willing to sacrifice color, contrasts, and incidents of questionable authenticity for the more commonplace known facts about the President.

The reader is not obliged to review at the very beginning of the book the unsavory stories which have been circulated about the maternal ancestry of the President and which have depended largely upon utenable traditions for their support. The parents of the President are not protrayed as poverty-stricken poor whites who were unwilling emigrants pushed into the Western country by necessity. The cabin in which Abraham Lincoln was born is not pictured as a tumble-down shanty, smaller and inferior to the average pioneer dwelling, nor his Indiana home as a squalid and vermin-ridden shelter.

One feels after reading the chapters on Lincoln's early life that his people were very much like the other pioneer families in Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois who became the very life and sinew of the great Northwest. The activities of Lincoln as a youth are set forth in an interesting way with special emphasis placed on the educational facilities of that day. A good picture of pioneer social life at the time when Indiana was emerging from a territory into a State, is also revealed.

Some readers may feel that too much space is used in discussing the early years and the apprentice days when Lincoln was developing as a lawyer-politician. The purpose of the book, however, relieves the writer from any criticism for the emphasis thus given.

The chapter on the Lincoln and Douglas debates, which one expects to find in every biographical study of Lincoln will not be passed over because of long recorded speeches. While the famous utterances of both debaters are given in an abbreviated form, much space is used in creating the proper setting for the debates. The illustration at the close of the chapter presenting Leonard Crunnelle's statue of Abraham Lincoln at Freeport, Illinois, dedicated in August 1929, helps to link up these historic, forensic battles with the present.

The chapters dedicated to Lincoln's administration discuss the political problems, the status of slavery, and the military activities of the President. In these chapters also the flow of the story is not checked by long questions. The final chapter, as we have already suggested, serves as a benediction to the story of a clean, strong, intelligent personality whose life will certainly influence the youth of each succeeding generation.

It appears to the reviewer that Mr. Lockridge has accomplished what he set out to do. He has written a readable and reliable story of Abraham Lincoln especially adapted for use in schools and groups where a short concise biography of the President is desired.


Published by theĀ Indiana University Department of History.