‘Firelogs’ by Carl Sandburg

D. Nash by the 'Lincoln birth-cabin'

D. Nash by the 'Lincoln birth-cabin'

 Carl Sandburg wrote the following poem about Abraham Lincoln’s mother Nancy Hanks musing about her child:



“Nancy Hanks dreams by the fire; dreams, and the logs sputter,

And the yellow tongues climb. Red lines lick their way in flickers.

Oh, sputter logs, oh dream Nancy.

Time now for a beautiful child.

Time now for a tall man to come.”


When Nancy Hanks had her baby on February 12, 1809, cousin Dennis Hanks asked her what she was going to name him. She proudly stated that he was named ‘Abraham,’ after his grandfather (on his father’s side). I suppose Carl Sandburg was right to picture the young woman ‘dreaming’ about her child. Could she have known or sensed in some way that her baby boy would grow up to be President of the United States? Seems doubtful to me. Life on the frontier was harsh and life was often short. Even the very man she named her son after had has life cut short (from an Indian attack). Safer perhaps to assume that she was glad she had successfully given birth to a child who was healthy. She probably was also content to leave the rest to God as far as what the child would become. We’ll never know what she really dreamed.

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11 Responses to “‘Firelogs’ by Carl Sandburg”

  1. B. Nash says:

    Hi Tom, Thank you for visiting AbesBlogCabin again. Yes, I had a wonderful day. My SUV Camp participated in two Memorial Day observances-one in Birmingham and one at General Israel B. Richardson’s grave in Pontiac, Michigan. I have seen the movie The Conspirator. While I’m glad that it has sparked interest in the subject that it deals with-I am disappointed in the movie. That may be a discussion for another time. You pose several questions regarding Lincoln. None of your questions are new but that doesn’t disqualify them as questions worth consideration nonetheless.
    Your question “should the northern states have invaded the southern states to free the slaves?” Answer: The North didn’t engage in war to free the slaves. It engaged in war to keep the United States of America one country. I also take exception to your use of the word “invade.” Built into that word are assumptions that don’t apply.

    Second question: “why did Lincoln not free the slaves in the northern states before he decided to invade the south?
    Answer: Lincoln had no power as president to free slaves except in those states that were in rebellion against the United States of America. When the south attacked Ft. Sumpter, Lincoln had additional abilities act under “war powers” to act against slavery.

    Third question: “How about the emancipation proclamation that “freed” slaves only in the south but not in areas occupied by union troops. There were also exsemptions for slaves owned by Northerners in the southern states, mainly in the s.e. part of the Confederacy.”

    Answer: Sounds like you’ve been reading books written by the Kennedy brothers. I’m surprised you have not also mentioned that American Indians owned slaves and that even some blacks owned slaves. Even if those things you mentioned were true-so what? Slavery was EVIL. Lincoln hated slavery. The Confederacy was founded on it. One cannot ignore that fact. Whatever else anyone might say about the C.S.A. (so-called)-it was a house of cards built on the enslavement of other human beings-and therefore-besides whatever else might be said (states rights, etc)-it had no justification morally.

    Next question: “And why did Lincoln state that the reason for the war was not to free the slaves or to free them?”
    Answer: Because the reason for the war was to keep the country one nation.

    Next question: “Why did Lincoln want to ship all the blacks to other countries? Why did he say the 2 races could not live together in peace and that the white race was superior?”
    Answer: Lincoln, like some abolitionists by the way, had thought that it was a valid solution for the blacks. He explained his thinking to a group of black leaders-which idea they rejected. He told them, basically, that racisim was so deep in America that blacks might be better off making a new start somewhere else. He acknowledged that in the 1860’s world of America-whites were superior. Whites could vote, go to school, marry, etc-blacks could not do any of those things! They couldn’t even keep the money they earned by their sweat.

    Your statement: “Excuse me for all these questions but I have studied Lincoln and the war and VERY reluctantly have conclude that our history books are filled with myth.”

    My comment: If your questions are meant to reflect myths then I’m worried about you. Sounds like you’ve got some Thomas DiLorenzo thinking in your head. Or perhaps Lorone Bennett? LOL.

    Since we so obviously disagree on pretty much everything I want to say again that I do welcome your input.
    Such discussion is to be welcomed. I think you probably know that I have ancestors of both sides of the war. In fact, most of my Civil War ancestors were Confederate. I had to grapple with that fact for a long time. No, none of my ancestors owned slaves. They were joining the ranks for other reasons-and certainly not to defend slavery. However, I came to the conclusion, as stated above, that the Confederacy was wrong because it was a government set up with slavery as a platform for it’s very existance. All the other talk about “northern aggression” and other buzz phrases that are used to try and defend the south falls flat for me.

    Are we having fun yet?
    Take care.

  2. Tom jantz says:

    Bill. I happened upon your site again. Yes indeed the southern states, many or most I believe, had in their constitutions statements saying in so many words that slavery was the foundations of their states and survival. I would be the last person to give them a pass on that. The question should be this, “should the northern states have invaded the southern states to free the slaves?” Also, why did Lincoln not free the slaves in the northern states before he decided to invade the south? How about the emancipation proclamation that “freed” slaves only in the south but not in areas occupied by union troops. There were also exsemptions for slaves owned by Northerners in the southern states, mainly in the s.e. part of the Confederacy. And why did Lincoln state that the reason for the war was not to free the slaves or to free them? Why did Lincoln want to ship all the blacks to other countries? Why did he say the 2 races could not live together in peace and that the white race was superior? Excuse me for all these questions but I have studied Lincoln and the war and VERY reluctantly have conclude that our history books are filled with myth. For a long time the American people thought the USS Main was blown up by Spain. I am sure a lot still believe it but I am convinced it was not an attack and we should have thanked the Spanish sailors for immedietly coming to the aid of our wounded men. How about the Tonkin Gulf incident? I just think it is awfully odd that the people of the Northern States would invade the southern states to free the slaves. It is a fact that most or all of the slave ships came into Noerthern ports and the northern slave traders sold the slaves to southern slave plantations that were owned by southerners and notherners alike. There were more slaves in the southern states than the northern states for a big reason I believe, climate! For more of my writings on the subject type in “Thomas Jantz, Confederacy”. I hope you have got to see “The Conspiritor”. My wife and I really liked it. We saw it in Athens GA. while visiting my sister and her family. We also went to the Atlanta Cyclorama/Civil War museum, it was great! Went to Stone Mountan also, found it to be politically correct in that it did not emphasize that the men in the carving, lee, Davis and Jackson, were the leaders of the confederacy. The aquareum in Atlanta is a must also if you get that way! I have been displaying some of my Civil War collection at libraries as I have a large toy soldier collection as well as other military items. The latest USA magazine has a guide to Civil War battlefields with the cover having a cannon on it. I remember the 100 Anniv. of the war as a kid and now it is a half century later, WOW! Hope all is well with you, Bill and hope you have a great Memorial Day and Summer! Take care for now, Tom Jantz in Michigan.

  3. B. Nash says:

    Tom: Hello again!
    Your posts are well thought out and worthy of consideration. Thank you for contributing to the discussion. There is no question that both the North and the South shared in the evil of slavery. Lincoln came to that conclusion-as evdenced by his remarks in his second inaugural. One must also understand that, indeed, Lincoln’s views changed and evolved. He initially made statements and did things designed to prevent the “neutral” states from joing the rebellion. As far as the Confederacy-it was build on slavery as it’s foundation. I’m sure you’ve read some of it’s State Constitutions. Some of the founders of the United States, by the way, wanted to abolish slavery during the Constitutional Convention but the Southerners wanted no part of ending slavery. It was feared that there would be no founding at all unless slavery “got a pass” for overall unity.
    On another note, thanks for the updates on the upcoming movies-looking very much forward to them!
    Drop by anytime!

  4. Tom jantz says:

    Bill. Thanks for posting my comments and your reply! I want to be clear about the war and why I think it was fought. Slavery should have ended with the rev. war as Ron Paul stated. I do sincerely believe that the war was not needed to end slavery. If the northern states wanted to end slavery then why did they not refuse to purchase southern cotton and other crops if grown with slave labor? Many Northerners sold slaves to the south and their were many Northern slave owners who ran plantations in the south, just accross the Patomic. In the Northern factorys there were countless thousands of children being worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. I do not believe the southern states should have invaded the North to put an end to it if you get my drift. When Lincoln “freed the slaves” in the south he specifically said that a large section of Louisiana be exempt as there were slaves there owned by many northerners. I am sure you must agree that if the slaves could be freed without a war it would have been a lot better. During the war Lincoln told the South that if they agreed to come back into the Union they could keep their slaves,. The south refused as they knew that states rights, exsesive Tarriffs enacted on their states [1860] and an out of control wall street owned Fed. Government was ruining their economy. Many Northern newspapers knew this, printed it and had their papers closed down and the editors jailed [approx 3oo] I researched anti-slavery groups at the time of the war and one counts puts the number at about 120. Anyway, thanks again for letting me post. I think the important thing we both agree on very much is that slavery was wrong and a stain on our country. We do have now a currency with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson on them, two slave owners from Virginia. It seems many people seem to forget that. Also, the movie ” The Conspiritor” is coming out in March sometime about the Lincoln Assination centered around Mary Surrat, wanted to make sure you knew as you are obviosly a history/Civil war buff. The Spielburg Lincoln movie is slowly getting off the ground also. I suppose the Civil War wil be “fought” for a long time but this is good as we live in a country our founding Fathers created so long ago. Hope all is well with you, feel free to get your 2 cents in of course, I enjoy talking/emailing anything about the Civil War. Best Regards, Tom in Michigam pjantz@wowway.com

  5. B. Nash says:

    Good to hear from you! I don’t agree with any of your conclusions but your honest opinion is welcome here. Your arguments are not new or original. You voice much of the “Lost Cause” material along with the “Banker Conspiracy” stuff. I’ve heard it all before, but perhaps there are some who have not. I don’t have time to offer you any counter viewpoints but anyone wishing to read them can find them if they do their homework.
    Thanks, Bill

  6. Tom jantz says:

    Greetings. I too have studied Lincoln. I have gone to Springfield Ill to his home, Lincoln Museum, etc. What I have to conclude reluctantly was that Lincoln did some things that I cannot rest with very well. He closed about 300 newspapers for exposing and printing the true reasons for the war and put the editors in jail along with countless others. He arrested many Government officials and put them in prison. He failed to free any slaves in the North when he could have. He let the Union troops burn down cities, towns, homes and farms. He abused the southern people in a terrible way. Gen McClellan wrote Lincoln more than once complaining of the treatment of the southerners. Most southerners had nothing to do with slavery, they were just defending their homes againsed a government that turned its back on the Founding Fathers. The tarriffs of 1860 would have ruined the south. The slave trade went on illegally after it was made illegal but the slave traders usually got off scott free in Northern courts. Dr. Clyde Wilson at the Univ. of South Carolina is very knowledgable about the causes of the war, I think the country would be well off seeking his expertise. I think Lincoln did a good thing by refusing to borow money from the banking elite who wanted to print money out of thin air and loan it to the government for roughly 25 percent interest. Sound familiar? Lincoln did print up greenbacks {real USA money] and the banks did not like it. The Rothschilds were livid as they promoted the war and sold it as a war to free the slaves so they could make money on the war. Lincoln was killed soon after he stood up to the people who really run the world. Same basic story today! , Banks financing both sides for maximum profits, ww2 was no different. Anyway, watch for the new Redford film “The Conspiritor” about the Lincoln Assasination coming in March. Thanks for reading my letter, all the best in 2011! Tom Jantz in Mich.

  7. Nate says:

    Love the poem. You can really picture Nancy Lincoln..

  8. B. Nash says:

    Dave, tomorrow I plan on driving an hhour to Ypsilanti, Michigan to view and take photos of the 13 foot limestone Lincoln statue there. It was done by Samuel Cashwan. Are you familiar with that work? I will make a posting tomorrow night with some pictures.

  9. Dave Wiegers says:

    Yes and the sculptor of the original statue, Fred Torrey, was a West Virginian. It is an interesting story. The sculptor did a small version of this statue and donated it to the State of WV. The State hired a local sculptor who enlarged it for placement in Charleston. It is one of my favorite Lincoln pieces.

  10. B. Nash says:

    Very coincidental that you supplied this poem in your comment. I had just copied it today out of a book and do plan on posting it in the poetry section of this blog. I would assume that the State of WV has a special regard for Lincoln as it was created as a State during his term of office.

  11. Dave Wiegers says:

    There is a famous poem by Vachel Lindsay titled “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight. There is a statue in front of the state capital in Charleston, WV based on the poem.

    It is portentous, and a thing of state
    That here at midnight, in our little town
    A mourning figure walks, and will not rest,
    Near the old court-house pacing up and down,

    Or by his homestead, or in shadowed yards
    He lingers where his children used to play,
    Or through the market, on the well-worn stones
    He stalks until the dawn-stars burn away.

    A bronzed, lank man! His suit of ancient black,
    A famous high top-hat and plain worn shawl 10
    Make him the quaint great figure that men love,
    The prairie-lawyer, master of us all.

    He cannot sleep upon his hillside now.
    He is among us:—as in times before!
    And we who toss and lie awake for long,
    Breathe deep, and start, to see him pass the door.

    His head is bowed. He thinks of men and kings.
    Yea, when the sick world cries, how can he sleep?
    Too many peasants fight, they know not why;
    Too many homesteads in black terror weep.

    The sins of all the war-lords burn his heart.
    He sees the dreadnaughts scouring every main.
    He carries on his shawl-wrapped shoulders now
    The bitterness, the folly and the pain.

    He cannot rest until a spirit-dawn
    Shall come;—the shining hope of Europe free:
    A league of sober folk, the Workers’ Earth,
    Bringing long peace to Cornland, Alp and Sea.

    It breaks his heart that things must murder still,
    That all his hours of travail here for men
    Seem yet in vain. And who will bring white peace
    That he may sleep upon his hill again?

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