Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Last Days of Thomas Lincoln


Mr. Lincoln did not allow his name to be used as a candidate for re-election, as there were other men in the congressional district who deserved the honor of going to Washington as much as he. On his way home from Washington, after the last session of the Thirtieth Congress
 he visited New England, where he made a few speeches, and stopped at Niagara Falls, which impressed him so strongly that he wrote a lecture on the subject.
After returning home he made a flying visit to Washington to enter his patent steamboat, equipped so that it would navigate shallow western rivers. This boat, he told a friend, "would go where the ground is a little damp." The model of Lincoln's steamboat is one of the sights of the Patent Office to this day.
After Mr. Lincoln had settled down to his law business, permanently, as he hoped, his former fellow-clerk, William G. Greene, having business in Coles County, went to "Goosenest Prairie" to call on Abe's father and stepmother, who still lived in a log cabin. Thomas Lincoln received his son's friend very hospitably. During the young man's visit, the father reverted to the old subject, his disapproval of his son's wasting his time in study. He said:
"I s'pose Abe's still a-foolin' hisself with eddication. I tried to stop it, but he's got that fool idee in his head an' it can't be got out. Now I haint got no eddication, but I git along better than if I had."[206]
Not long after this, in 1851, Abraham learned that his father was very ill. As he could not leave Springfield then, he wrote to his stepbrother (for Thomas Lincoln could not read) the following comforting letter to be read to his father:
"I sincerely hope father may recover his health; but at all events, tell him to remember to call upon and confide in our great and merciful Maker, who will not turn away from him in any extremity. He notes the fall of the sparrow, and numbers the hairs of our heads, and He will not forget the dying man who puts his trust in Him. Say to him that, if we could meet now, it is doubtful whether it would be more painful than pleasant, but if it is his lot to go now, he will soon have a joyful meeting with the loved ones gone before, and where the rest of us, through the mercy of God, hope ere long to join them."
Thomas Lincoln died that year, at the age of seventy-three.

After his father's death Abraham Lincoln had, on several occasions, to protect his stepmother
 against the schemes of her own lazy, good-for-nothing son. Here is one of the letters written, at this time, to his stepbrother, John Johnston:
"Dear Brother: I hear that you were anxious to sell the land where you live, and move to Missouri. What can you do in Missouri better than here? Is the land any richer? Can you there, any more than here, raise corn and wheat and oats without work? Will anybody there, any more than here, do your work for you? If you intend to go to work, there is no better place than right where you are; if you do not intend to go to work, you cannot get along anywhere. Squirming and crawling about from place to place can do no good. You have raised no crop this year, and what you really want is to sell the land, get the money and spend it. Part with the land you have and, my life upon it, you will never own a spot big enough to bury you in. Half you will get for the land you will spend in moving to Missouri, and the other half you will eat and drink and wear out, and no foot of land will be bought.
"Now, I feel that it is my duty to have no hand in such a piece of foolery. I feel it is so even on] your own account, and particularly on mother's account.
"Now do not misunderstand this letter. I do not write it in any unkindness. I write it in order, if possible, to get you to face the truth, which truth is, you are destitute because you have idled away your time. Your thousand pretenses deceive nobody but yourself. Go to work is the only cure for your case."