What young Lincoln dreamed of….

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What did the young Abraham Lincoln dream of? What captured his imagination? Who captured his imagination? I’m speculating here, but my guess is that one of Lincoln’s early heroes was Daniel Boone. Is it inconceivable that his father Thomas Lincoln did not share the story of Boone with his curious son? Would not his father have told young Abe that his father (Lincoln’s grandfather) was well acquainted with the Boone family-and Daniel Boone, in particular? The tales of Boone must have thrilled Lincoln. I do not think I’m far off the mark on this. Isaac N. Arnold wrote in his book The Life of Abraham Lincoln the following:

Lincoln began to dream of being himself a doer of great deeds.”

What influenced Lincoln in such a way? His reading of books. As we all know, he read everything he could get his hands on. Most people know that Lincoln admired George Washington.  They know he read a book on Washington.  Actually, he devoured the book. That alone could account for his longing to do great things-for Washington was (and is) a tower among individuals.  Arnold informs his readers of another book that Lincoln read over and over. Here’s what Arnold says:

“…and no boy ever turned over the pages of Cooper’s “Leather Stocking Tales” with more intense delight than that with which Lincoln read of the exploits and adventures and virtues of this American hero.” 

Arnold is referred to the book (actually books) by James Fenimore Cooper known as the Leatherstocking Tales. One of the main characters (if not the main character) of the Tales is Nathaniel “Natty” Bumppo- often referred to as Hawk-eye. Bumppo is a hunter, patriot, friend of the Indians, and one who doesn’t like/trust civilization. Most agree that the Bumppo character in the stories is really patterned after-you guessed it-Daniel Boone. The Tales were published between the years 1823 and 1841. Lincoln was a young man during those years. He was impressionable, ambitious, and eager. He knew of Daniel Boone (I think)-and when the Cooper books came his way-his admiration for the frontiersman of Kentucky grew and grew. And so he dreamed…. He was not to become the great pioneer that Boone had been. But Lincoln made his mark. He didn’t carve his name on trees like Boone did- but he carved the love of freedom in the hearts of people in a way that had not been done before. Boone opened new vistas of land and country. Lincoln created new inroads for the rights of Americans. Boone helped form a new state-Kentucky. Lincoln helped keep the United States one.  Boone died- and his remains were eventually returned to Kentucky. Lincoln was born in Kentucky and his remains were also returned there.  Today, they are both legendary. What did young Lincoln dream of? Being another Daniel Boone. In a way, he succeeded.

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