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MAYNARD'S ENGLISH CLASSIC SERIES.–No. 131
C. W. FRENCH
Principal Hyde Park High School, Chicago
29, 31, AND 33 East NINETEENTH STREET.
New Series, No. 67. June 11, 1898. Published Semi-weekly. Subscription Price, $10.
Entered at Post Office, New York, 48 Second-class Matter.
HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
A COMPLETE COURSE IN THE STUDY OF ENGLISH,
Spelling, Language, Grammar, Composition, Literature.
Reed's Word Lessons-A Complete Speller.
Kellogg's Text-Book on English Literature.
In the preparation of this series the authors have had one object
Teachers are earnestly invited to examine these books.
MAYNARD, MERRILL, & Co., PUBLISHERS,
Copyright, 1894, by MAYNARD, Merrill, & Co.
The object of this little collection of the “Words of Abraham Lincoln” is twofold—to lead to a better appreciation of the strength and beauty of his character and to inspire a deeper and more abiding love for the country for whose preservation he gave his life.
No man has ever lived in America whose life has been more closely identified with the common people, and who yet has been more grandly influential in shaping the affairs of the nation. In the most critical period of her existence he saved her from calamity and ruin. His hand removed the foul stain of slavery, and made the Stars and Stripes in very truth the flag of the free.
It seems a marvel, even here in America, that a poor, ignorant boy could aspire to the highest honor within the gift of the people ; but more marvelous still, that a country lawyer could grapple with the tremendous problems which had baffled the wisdom and skill of America's greatest statesmen for almost half a century, and solve them successfully. Wholly unskilled in war, he conducted the greatest war of modern times and brought it to a successful issue. With unerring judgment he found the correct solution of the most involved problems of law, finance, and diplomacy.
It is inconceivable that a man's life could suddenly expand from the narrow round of private life to comprehend all the varied and tremendous responsibilities of this high position without previous preparation. Daniel Webster, on the night before his “Reply to Hayne,” when asked why he was not making preparation for this the greatest event of his life, replied, that for twenty years he had been preparing for it;
that all the thought and activity of a lifetime had been so directed as to fit him for this supreme moment. And the same is true in regard to Lincoln. A mere glance at his life will show that every line of development, as if directed by a master hand, led straight on to the Presidential chair. Unquestionably his whole previous life was a preparation for · his last four years, and when the crisis came he needed no further preparation : he was ready.
It will be a mistake to attempt to teach the following selections as literature. They are not all masterpieces ; and some of them can hardly be called contributions to literature. But they have a deeper significance and a higher mission, They are the exponents of a character and the mirror of a life. They should be studied to reveal the soul of the man who wrote them, and to teach lessons of purity, simplicity, devotion to duty, and high fidelity. In them, too, should be read a chapter of the nation's history, the culmination of its former life, the foundation of its future and grander activities. And, above, all they should conduce to form a higher and purer type of patriotism, of which their author was a shining example.
The life of Abraham Lincoln covers the most important period in American history. From the foundation of the Republic for. eign critics had been wont to predict its downfall, and even its friends feared that it might not stand the test of internal dissensions. The violent passions and bitter hostility which arose out of the conflict over the slavery issue finally brought on the great War of the Rebellion, which was destined to test to the uttermost the stability of American institutions. To Abraham Lincoln, more than to any other man in this crisis, is due the preservation of the Government and the establishment of the American Commonwealth upon a firmer basis than ever before.
He was emphatically a man of the people. He was born in poverty and ignorance, and his early life was spent in the cabin of the pioneer. An ordinary man could scarce have raised him. self, in such circumstances, above the dead level of ignorance and poverty into which he had been born. But Lincoln was possessed of a burning thirst for knowledge, and the education which his circumstances denied him he obtained by his own unaided efforts. He was determined to rise above the intellectual level of his associates, and how well he succeeded his whole life shows. His earnest and self-denying efforts finally gained him admission to the bar. He practiced as a lawyer for a number of years, early gaining a reputation for incorruptible honesty and wise judgment. Wherever he was known he was trusted and loved.
His tastes, however, led him to seek political preferment, and he was several times elected to the State Legislature, and once to Congress.
Upon the organization of the Republican party he became one of its leaders, and in 1860 was its nominee for the Presidency.