The author of this volume wrote the first Life of Abraham Lincoln—The Pioneer Boy, and how he became President—which, after a very large sale, passed out of print in consequence of the destruction of the plates by fire. A Campaign Life of only thirty-two pages, relating chiefly to his public career, was issued at the West, after his nomination for the Presidency in 1860; but "The Pioneer Boy" was the first complete biography of the man. Dr. Holland said of it, several years later, in his Life of Lincoln: "A singularly faithful statement of the early experience of Abraham Lincoln." The materials for the Campaign Life spoken of were furnished by Mr. Lincoln, and he very kindly directed that pamphlet, with a quantity of unused matter, to be passed into our hands, together with the names and addresses of several of his early associates reared with him in the wilderness, and of intimate friends in later life, from whom the most valuable information, never before given to the public, was received. From these sources of knowledge "The Pioneer Boy" was prepared.
In the preparation of this new, larger, and more elaborate Life of Lincoln, we have had, in addition to the above sources of information, others of even greater value, at least so far as his character and public services relate.
Subsequent to the issue of the former volume, the author, having in view the preparation of a more thorough biography at a future day, gathered much valuable information from public men, who were on the most intimate terms with President Lincoln at Washington, as Sumner, Wilson, Buckingham, and Ames, who are dead, and others who are still living. Also, periodical literature has furnished many facts and anecdotes from time to time, which have been carefully laid aside. Last, though by no means least, access to the numerous lives of Lincoln published since his death—Dr. Holland's, Lamon's, Barrett's, Leland's, Forney's, and Raymond's—has been especially serviceable in the preparation of this volume. That very interesting work of Carpenter—Six Months in the White House—has furnished a fund of incident, illustrative of Mr. Lincoln's character and ability.
From these ample sources of material, the author has endeavoured to make a biography for popular reading such as the times demand. The very large sale of his recent life of President Garfield—"From Log-Cabin to the White House"—created an active demand for "The Pioneer Boy," which fact seemed to mark the present time as appropriate for the issue of this new life of the martyr President.
The perusal of this work will satisfy the reader that the author's claim, in the Preface to the "Log-Cabin," that Garfield and Lincoln were remarkably alike in the circumstances of birth, early struggles, and later experience, was fully justified. The fact is without a parallel in the history of public men—such marvellous coincidences from their birth in log-cabins to their assassination in the White House. Apart from this likeness, however, the life of Lincoln as an example of industry, tact, perseverance, application, energy, economy, honesty, purity, devotion to principle, and triumph over obstacles in a successful career, presents a profitable study to the youth and young men of this and other lands. The only parallel to it is that of President Garfield, with which we aim to connect this later volume. The names of these two illustrious statesmen are for ever associated in the history of the American Republic. It is well-nigh impossible to separate them in the thoughts of men. Statesmen of such power and influence, beginning their lives in want and obscurity and ending them in the White House, cut off at last by the shot of the assassin, must find their niche together in the temple of fame. One other name only of the great and good men of the past naturally affiliates with these two—that of George Washington, the life of whom will follow this as soon as it can be prepared. These three—Washington, Lincoln, and Garfield—remarkably alike in their early precocity and the wisdom and influence of manhood—furnish stimulating examples to American and English readers.
Incidents are brought to the front in this life of Lincoln, as they were in that of Garfield, and they are made to portray the life of the man. Facts are better than logic to exhibit the elements of personal character; therefore we let incidents tell the story of his life.
When Abraham Lincoln was consulted respecting his biography, after his nomination for the Presidency in 1860, he replied: "You can find the whole of my early life in a single line of Gray's Elegy: