When I was in third grade we were learning about the difference between auto-biographies and biographies. Our assignment was to pick a person and read either a biography or an auto-biography about them and write a report that would also serve as a presentation to the class.
I couldn’t think of anybody interesting that I already knew about because everything that I read was fiction. So, in true form, the date came where we had to pick our person and I ran into the school library before class began to just pick someone already. I strolled to the other side of the library that no one ever seemed to go to and began perusing the shelves. I came across a book with a man on the cover. The book was a picture biography (score!) and the man on the front seemed interesting. It was Abraham Lincoln and I figured that reading about a President would only help me get a good grade. Thus began a life-long fascination with all things Abraham Lincoln. If you weren’t aware, today is his 210th birthday so I thought we could celebrate with learning a few fun facts about my historical hero.
- Three states (Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois) claim the title of “the land of Lincoln”. He was born in Kentucky, moved to Indiana as a boy, and lived his adult life in Illinois before being elected President.
- Abraham Lincoln is the tallest president to date at 6’4″.
- He is the only president to have a U.S. patent; Lincoln invented a device that would help free steamboats that had run aground.
- He was a big animal lover–there are stories of stray cats regularly following him home from his law office in Springfield, Illinois. He had a dog named Fido, multiple cats, horses, turkeys, rabbits and goats.
- Do you like Thanksgiving? You can thank President Lincoln—he established the day as a National Holiday and pardoned the first turkey at the behest of his youngest son, Tad.
- Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd had more formal education (attending school for 12 years) than he (less than 1 year total). However, her family was a source of many political connections for Lincoln, even initiating a face-to-face meeting with his hero, Henry Clay, a personal friend of the Todd family.
- He was the first president born outside of the 13 original colonies (Kentucky)
- Thomas Jefferson was President of the United States when Abraham Lincoln was born. (James Madison was sworn in as President a month later).
- Abraham and Mary Lincoln had four sons, Robert, Eddie, Willie, and Tad. Robert was the only son that lived into full adulthood.
- There are no living descendants of Abraham Lincoln.
- Abraham Lincoln was named after his grandfather. While working the land, grandfather Lincoln was shot and killed by a Native American. His oldest son, Mordecai ran inside the cabin to fetch a gun, his middle son Josiah ran to get help and the youngest, Thomas, stood in shock beside his father’s body. As the shooter came close, he appeared to reach out for Thomas (whether to kill him or to take him), however, Mordecai shot the assassin from inside the house.
- Edwin Booth, the brother of Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, saved Lincoln’s son from an oncoming train in New Jersey just a few months prior to Lincoln’s assassination.
I hope you learned a tidbit that you didn’t know before. Do you have any historical heroes? Who are they? When did you first encounter them? Why do you consider them a hero?