The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

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Abraham Lincoln’s Boyhood Home Preserved As a Site of Memory

Lincoln’s Formative Years

The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial is the frontier farmland where the 16th president of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, lived between the ages of seven and twenty one. The Lincoln family moved from Kentucky to the harsh frontier conditions in Little Pigeon Creek, Indiana. During this time, Lincoln was challenged physically by the harsh frontier conditions as he helped work on his family farm, and mentally, as he was a self-motivated learner who challenged himself intellectually, despite being given proper education as a child. These years on the frontier profoundly influenced the man he became as he climbed his way to become president later in his life. Currently, this memorial site humanizes Lincoln through the narrativization and preservation of his childhood home in Indiana. People have the opportunity to retrace Lincoln’s footsteps around his house, the trails that he spent much of his time, as well as the farm house where he helped his father extensively. The family was able to use the new frontier land to make it into their own much life how Lincoln redefined what it means to be president in the later years of his life. Visitors are able to see the humble beginnings that make of the background of a beloved president of the United States.

(1) National Park Service. “Abraham Lincoln’s Boyhood Home–Presidents: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary.” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/presidents/lincoln_boyhood.html>.

Image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/48/Lincoln-Boyhood-NMem-farm.jpg/250px-Lincoln-Boyhood-NMem-farm.jpg


The Development of Lincoln’s Character

During his time on the frontier, he developed a love for socialization and oratory. He enjoyed communicating with people and help out whenever necessary. Because of this great skill, he became a handyman of sorts for the community. He also operated a ferry across the river where he enjoyed connecting with the people who came from all around the country. On one of these journeys he developed his position on the slavery issue because of his witness of a slave auction. Because he grew up in the slave-holding south, Abraham Lincoln was able to understand the perspectives of southerners on the issue as well as develop his own stance from the diverse perspective he heard on the river. This context is later credited with Lincoln’s ability to handle the Civil War in a way that took great intelligence and critical thinking skills.

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Burlingame, Michael. “Abraham Lincoln: A Life.” Ebrary: Server Message. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1 Dec. 2008. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. <http://site.ebrary.com/lib/uncch/reader.action?docID=10363251>.

United States. National Park Service. “Abraham Lincoln’s Boyhood Home–Presidents: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary.” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/presidents/lincoln_boyhood.html>.

Image: http://publications.newberry.org/lincoln/exhibits/show/nowhebelongs/grewupwith/boyhoodhome


Preserving the Essence of the Land

This pioneer community that the Lincoln family lived in between the years 1816-1830 had a profound effect on Lincoln. Currently, this pioneer lifestyle is perfectly preserved in its original form with the main visitor attraction. The 1820s wooden home along with two memorial halls and a museum stand attempt to cognitivize the life of Lincoln and put his daily activities and thoughts into the preservation site. In addition, there is a bookstore where Lincoln’s books and hats are sold. Visitors also have the opportunity to physically walk in the footsteps of Lincoln and his family as there are historical trails and walks available to be taken around the site. In addition, current workers of the site narrative and memorialize the memory of Lincoln by hosting daily demonstration of pioneer life. These men and women wear period appropriate clothes, make quilts, make cows and cook on an open fire in order to properly depict the experiences that Lincoln would have been a part of many years ago.

United States. National Park Service. “Abraham Lincoln’s Boyhood Home–Presidents: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary.” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/presidents/lincoln_boyhood.html>.

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Reenacting Lincoln’s Childhood Adventures

The time that Lincoln spent on this site were vital years for adapting to new environments, adapting different perspectives from the people around, as well developing vital life skills and building character. On site, there si also a recreated farm with a barn, chicken coop and other outbuildings sit near the tiny cabin. To further accentuate the authenticity of a Lincoln’s experience, the memorial staff hosts demonstration wearing clothes from the time period to characterize pioneer life.

Lincoln’s life is narativized in an amphitheater where a live-action production entitled “A. Lincoln: A Pioneer Tale” outlines Lincoln’s life in Illinois. This production is a unique part of characterization of Lincoln. I the production, Lincoln is humanized and seen growing up as a normal boy. This point further capitalizes on the American Dream as a way of looking at Lincolns past. A great leader was born out of his harsh and humble past on the frontier. Because of this common man image, Lincoln is further regarded as a leader because of the hardships he overcome in order to become a great leader for America at large. Many people believe that his past strengthened him and allowed his to get America remain united under him during tough national divisions during his reign.

In conclusion, this place is an extremely vital part of Lincoln’s childhood as well as his upbringing into a great leader for America. In 1846, Abraham Lincoln wrote a poem reminiscing his childhood in Indiana. He remembers it fondly in a poem entitled “My Childhood Home I See Again.” A couple of the lines are stated as followed:

Near twenty years have passed away

Since here I bid farewell

To woods and fields, and scenes of play,

And playmates loved so well….

Because Abraham’s birthplace is essentially untouched, some historians’ prophesize that Lincoln would be happy because he cherished his home so dearly.

United States. National Park Service. “Abraham Lincoln’s Boyhood Home–Presidents: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary.” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/presidents/lincoln_boyhood.html>.

Abraham, Lincoln. “My Childhood Home I See Again.” Poets.org. Academy of American Poets. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/my-childhood-home-i-see-again>.

Lemmon, Kathryn. “Traveling to Explore Lincoln’s Indiana Boyhood.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 7 Feb. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-lincoln-20140209-story.html>.

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http://mediaassets.courierpress.com/photo/2014/07/17/837540_6885022_ver1.0_640_480.JPG


Tragedy Strikes a Young Lincoln

Nancy Hanks Lincoln gravesite stands atop Cemetery Hill on the National Boyhood Memorial Site. Because this death occurred when Lincoln was such a young age, the site evokes emotions of admiration for Lincoln to have become such a prominent figure in American History when he had a traumatic and challenging childhood.

This is a significant site in Indiana because it is his birthplace as well as the resting place of his mother and sister. Nancy Lincoln’s gravestone, a memorial building, as well as a farm allow visitors to properly commemorate Lincoln’s beginnings as well as highlight the strong character that Lincoln develop as he bettered himself in conditions that were not conducive for a successful beginning.

Lemmon, Kathryn. “Traveling to Explore Lincoln’s Indiana Boyhood.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 7 Feb. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-lincoln-20140209-story.html>.

Horner, Harlan. “LITTLE KNOWN BOYHOOD ADVENTURES OF ABRAHAM.” UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS LIBRARY. UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS LIBRARY. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <http://libsysdigi.library.illinois.edu/OCA/Books2012-05/littleknownboyho00ilwarr/littleknownboyho00ilwarr_djvu.txt>.

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Image: http://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/126libo/126images/126cover1.jpg


The Beloved Trees that Shaded a Young Lincoln

The National Parks Service thoroughly maintains the variety of trees on this site of memory. The Black Walnut trees that are in close proximity to the log cabin are especially beloved and preserved because one site claims that the “Black Walnut, White Oak and Sweet Gum trees are direct descendants of the trees that sheltered the Lincoln cabin while young Abe was learning to read and write” The authors of this site continue on this tangent by claiming that reading and writing is something that Lincoln “may have done better than any other American that ever lived.” As a site of memory, this is an example of Retrospective nominalization. The trees were significant to the Lincoln family during the time, yet today, these trees are revered for even being present on the memory site.

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“Nursery.” Nursery. American Historical Tress. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <http://historicaltrees.homestead.com/Nursery.html>.


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Preserving Lincoln’s Penmanship

Handwriting acts as a site of memorialization to Lincoln at this site of memory. One of the most anticipated and unique exhibitions is the handwriting experience. At the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial museum, visitors have the opportunity to transform messages into Lincoln’s handwriting and mail it out. Handwriting as a site of memory. It is a way of preserving the essence of preserving the visual representation method of how Lincoln put his thought into tangible writing. Although it is recorded that Lincoln sparilngly paid homage to his humble beginnings in the Indiana log cabin by once writing “there I grew up,” the preservation of Lincoln’s handwriting as a site of memory is held dear to this day on the site.

Lemmon, Kathryn. “Traveling to Explore Lincoln’s Indiana Boyhood.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 7 Feb. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-lincoln-20140209-story.html>.


 

Abraham Lincoln’s Exposure to Slavery As a Child

Although I’m sure that Lincoln’s family did not have slaves because of their humble background, it is interesting that slavery is not a part of the Boyhood National Memorial. Because Lincoln was active in his community, he would have had to have come across slavery. Many of the articles do not mention how this profoundly affected Lincoln and shaped his future actions to free the slaves of America.

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Image: https://weeklyworldnews.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/lincoln_slavesb.jpg


The Connections Between Lincoln and Future Leaders

Lincoln serves as a model of the American Dream and an inspiration to future presidents like Reagan. His humble beginnings often allow presidents to draw parallels between themselves and him. He also serves as an inspiration because he had the drive to shape himself into a successful individual. In a speech from Ronald Reagan entitled “Late a President of the United States” it is stated that Lincoln was an effective leader because he strengthened “our best hopes”. President’s like Ronald Reagan looked to Lincoln’s life and legacy for advice and styles of governance. The Boyhood National Memorial focuses on Lincoln’s childhood and how it shaped him into an effective leader as well as specific parallels that could be drawn upon between his youth and his presidency.

The speech also addresses the significance of Lincoln being the first president buried in the capitol dome, as well as the comradery felt between Lincoln and Reagan because both Presidents were from Illinois. They both come from humble beginnings. It is interesting that the Boyhood National Memorial also never alludes to Lincoln’s later years and his love for the capital as a place of thought but more so his upbringing and characteristics that were developed on the site. There are not many references to specific future successes that parallel these successes, just general outcomes.

In conclusion, Lincoln embodies what it means to be an American. This ideal is embodied in the Boyhood Memorial site as well as the doctrines of future presidents of the United States. He was able to unite and strengthen a divided nation in many ways. There are still many factions within society where a tactics of unity are seeked by leaders to gain perspective on the kind of character and persona that must be embodied in order to truly be an effective leader.

Horowitz, Rick. “UPDATING LINCOLN, A POOR MAN’S SON.” ProQuest. 15 Mar. 1987. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <http://search.proquest.com/docview/277031591?pq-origsite=summon>.

Ney, Robert. “MEMORIAL TRIBUTES: DELIVERED IN CONGRESS.” House Documents Online via GPO Access. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1 Dec. 2004. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CDOC-108hdoc227/html/CDOC-108hdoc227.htm>.

 

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