Harry Golden writes about Carl Sandburg’s early Lincoln pursuit

Harry Golden (photograph from (cmhpf.org)



Carl Sandburg’s six volume biography of Abraham Lincoln remains-even today- a monumental work in the field of Lincoln literature.  One wonders how Sandburg started his Lincoln pursuit that eventually led to the masterpiece.  Writer Harry Golden informs us in his 1961 book:  Carl Sandburg that he began very young.  Here’s an excerpt:


“The search for the Lincoln material began as a boy back in Galesburg. Later Carl’s newspaper work gave him an excellent opportunity to talk about Lincoln with many important people who came to Chicago. As a reporter out on the street he also had the time to rummage through bookstores, rare-book and secondhand book shops, and libraries. Vincent Starrett remembers Carl’s gaunt frame bent over the ten-cent bin of the Clark Street Book Store. The bin contained old bound magazines-Harper’s Century, Atlantic, etc.-with a lot of Civil War stuff. There were also twenty-five-cent volumes. The trough was a bit low so Carl used to sit himself cross-legged on the sidewalk while he hunted through the old magazine pages for reminiscences of his hero. When he found one he would rip out the relevant pages and take them inside, but of course he always paid for the whole book. There must be many people still living who remember the poet, sitting on the sidewalk in Clark Street, looking through these old magazines, looking for Lincoln material for the great book he was going to write. Sandburg could not have stayed with Lincoln so long unless he had acquired a deep affection and reverence for his work. You can feel that he had a “fellowship” with Lincoln.”


So as a boy Sandburg fell in love with Lincoln. A life-long interest and affection stayed with him until his death.  When we share Mr. Lincoln to others, especially children, we don’t know that maybe we are planting the seeds in someone’s heart that might grow into another person like Carl Sandburg. You never know, do you?


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