The Paternity of Abraham Lincoln: Was He the Son of Thomas Lincoln? An Essay on the Chastity of Nancy Hanksby William E. Barton
A large portion of this volume was written before the author realized that it had begun. In the preparation of his former book, The Soul of Abraham Lincoln, the author undertook a painstaking study of Lincoln's successive environments, which involved, incidentally, inquiry into his heredity. This latter aspect was of secondary interest, nor was the
From the PREFACE.
A large portion of this volume was written before the author realized that it had begun. In the preparation of his former book, The Soul of Abraham Lincoln, the author undertook a painstaking study of Lincoln's successive environments, which involved, incidentally, inquiry into his heredity. This latter aspect was of secondary interest, nor was the author greatly interested at the beginning in the various theories which he encountered as to Lincoln's paternity. While he made careful notes of all material which came to him in his researches, he had no occasion to utilize any of the subject matter in his preparation of the other volume, nor did he expect to write this one.
As he proceeded, however, he was surprised to find a number of intelligent collectors of Lincoln books and students of his history who believed that Abraham Lincoln was not the son of Thomas Lincoln. He also found that while Mrs. Hitchcock had done enthusiastic work with reference to the paternity of Nancy Hanks, and several people had entered the lists as champions of her chastity, no one so far as he could learn had compiled the various theories adverse to Thomas Lincoln's paternity of Abraham and subjected them to a critical examination.
Moreover, the author found himself at length compelled to ask of himself the question, What if these reports are true? And he pursued his investigations with an open mind, and, as he hopes and believes, in accordance with the true spirit of historical inquiry.
The author had frequent occasion to visit the county of Lincoln's birth and other portions of Kentucky in quest of material for his previous book, and he made careful inquiry on the ground, by personal interview, supplemented by extended correspondence with all persons there and elsewhere who seemed at all likely to be able to give him any information favorable or unfavorable to the view which he personally was disposed to accept.
All this material was reduced to writing as it accumulated, and carefully preserved with the large quantity of Lincoln matter which was assembled in the course of an industrious study of the whole life of Lincoln; for, in addition to the book already published entitled The Soul of Abraham Lincoln, and the present monograph, the author hopes and expects to issue a work more strictly biographical and containing a character study of America's great commoner and liberator.
By the time the author had arrived at a definite, and as it appears to him, a final, opinion regarding the paternity of Lincoln, it became evident that he had in his possession material for a book, and that no such book was already in existence.
The author has endeavored to trace every rumor and report relating to the birth of Abraham Lincoln, to assemble all the available evidence in favor of it and against it, to judge each one of these reports upon its own merits, and to render what, he believes, is a judgment from which there can be no successful appeal....
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