Abraham Lincoln’s Frontier Childhood Was Filled With Hardship


Abraham Lincoln summed up his early years on the frontier in Kentucky and Indiana as “the short and simple annals of the poor.” But the hardships he endured there as a youth weren’t unique. Life was harsh for most frontier families in the early 1800s.

“Life on the frontier was little better than the life of an ox,” says Lincoln historian Michael Burlingame. But the Lincolns, he says, were especially poor.

Lincoln’s earliest recollections were of the Kentucky farm where he moved in 1811 with his parents, Thomas and Nancy, and sister, Sarah. She was 4. Abraham was 2. His parents had been married five years.


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