Abraham Lincoln is often said to be a man with little happiness in his life. This is a very true statement when looking at the tragedy that Lincoln experienced throughout his life. Looking at Lincoln’s life there are three main areas where death plays a significant role in how Lincoln views life. The three significant times where death impacted Lincoln’s life are during his childhood, during his young adulthood, and during his presidency.
Abraham Lincoln was born in Hardin County, Kentucky on February 12, 1809 and was named after his grandfather who had been killed by Indians. His father was an uneducated man but tried to provide for his family. Lincoln did not live in a specific place for his childhood, as his father moved around to find work. Education was not an important role in Lincoln’s early childhood. This unsettled life was difficult. Lincoln’s first exposure to death was in 1812, with the death of his younger brother, Thomas, who died while an infant. Abraham was only three years old. Life had been a bit better for Abraham with the addition of family members to the household. His great aunt and uncle, the Sparrows joined the family. However, this was but a brief time as the Sparrows and his mother died from milk sickness. His life was increasingly difficult after the death of his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, when Abraham was only nine years old. Abraham became very close to his sister.
Sarah and Abraham grew up and were protective of one another. Sarah married Aaron Gribsy in August 1826, became pregnant in 1827 and died during childbirth in 1828. Abraham was very distraught with the death of his sister. He was nineteen at the time of her death. Lincoln was awkward around women, until he met Ann Rutledge. He had an...
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... had made. Abraham never said much about this loss, but it must have been a harsh blow to the nine-year-old boy and probably strengthened the melancholy streak in his personality.” (Loc 279, Kindle edition).
With this being one of the first exposures to death, Lincoln was never taught how to cope with loss and therefore, was unable to overcome the depression that accompanied the deathblows in his life. With each death that he experienced, the more he was unable to overcome his depression. By the time he experienced the death of his son Willie, he was unable to console his wife, or allow himself to grieve at all for his son.
Andrew Delbanco, (2009). The Portable Abraham Lincoln (Penguin Classics). New York: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Gienapp, W. E., (202). Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America: A Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.
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