Abraham Lincoln "Learning by Littles"

8 old books  from the early 1800s like the ones Abraham Lincoln would have read
Books like the ones that Abraham Lincoln would have read as a boy growing up in Indiana.


“There were schools, so called, but little qualification was ever required of a teacher....If a straggler (stranger) supposed to understand Latin, happened to so-journ (stopover) in the neighborhood, he was looked upon as a wizard. There was absolutely nothing to excite ambition for education. Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still, somehow, I could read, write and cipher to the Rule of Three...”
--A. Lincoln

Opportunities for attending school were scarce on the frontier of the early 19th century, since few people were educated enough to teach. The demands of life on the frontier left little time for young Abraham to attend school. Education was, however, something that Thomas and Nancy Lincoln wanted for their children, so when it was possible; they sent Abraham and Sarah to attend whatever school was available. As a result, Abraham studied under five different schoolmasters during his childhood in Kentucky and Indiana. Each of these sessions lasted approximately two months. As he later recalled in a short account of his life, his education was acquired “by littles” and the total “...did not amount to one year.” Soon, his eyes were opened to the joy of books and the wonders of reading and he became an eager reader. At the age of 11 he read Parson Weems’ Life of Washington. He followed it with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Robinson Crusoe, and The Arabian Nights. He could often be seen carrying a book as well as his axe. For Abraham Lincoln, to get books and read them was “the main thing.”

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

Last updated: April 11, 2019