Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 1.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

Annotation

[1]   AD, DLC-HW; AD, ORB; AD, owned by Justin Turner, Los Angeles, California. The original text of these verses appears on pages of Lincoln's self-made arithmetic book, which was given to William H. Herndon by Lincoln's step-mother Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln. The sheets have been dispersed, and some of the original sheets have not been accounted for. Those which are known are reproduced in facsimile on the preceding pages.

Whether any of the verses were original with the boy Lincoln, has been questioned. His propensity for verse-making at this period is attested, however, by the tradition among the Spencer County, Indiana, citizens from whom Herndon gathered information. Mrs. Josiah Crawford provided from memory the so-called ``Chronicles of Reuben,'' composed in parody of Biblical narrative and satirizing a neighborhood wedding, and a few satirical verses which were purported to have been made and circulated by Lincoln as a youth. Although Herndon speaks of the ``Chronicles of Reuben'' as having come to light in a manuscript in ``Lincoln's handwriting,'' the only version Herndon seems to have had was the one written down by S. A. Crawford, as recited from memory by his mother, forty years after Lincoln was said to have composed them. Such a text has not seemed to thePage  2 editors to afford sufficient authenticity for inclusion in the writings of Lincoln. The pages of the arithmetic book seem to be the only extant manuscripts of this early period.

[2]   Albert J. Beveridge notes that this ``same inscription is in the Mordecai Lincoln copy of Bailey's Dictionary, `Mordecai' being in place of `Abraham' and `you' in place of `God''' (Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1858, I, 64, n.3). The suggestion is that the verse was traditional among the older generation of Lincoln's family.

[3]   Bracketed words are supplied from Herndon's text of the verse, taken down before the original manuscript became badly frayed and foxed.