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The Writings of Abraham Lincoln: “Not Much of Me” and “With a Task Before Me”

The Writings of Abraham Lincoln: “Not Much of Me” and “With a Task Before Me”

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The Writings of Abraham Lincoln: “Not Much of Me” and “With a Task Before Me”

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  1. The Writings of Abraham Lincoln:“Not Much of Me” and “With a Task Before Me” C. Edge ECHS—English I Literature: Non-fiction

  2. What I Know 1. 16th U.S. President 2. Signed the Emancipation Proclamation 3. Assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theater 4. Taught himself to read by candlelight New Information 1. 2. 3. 4. Using Prior Knowledge —All the things you have heard or read about Abraham Lincoln are prior knowledge. As a reader, you must use prior knowledge when reading new information.

  3. Tone—the attitude a writer takes toward an audience, a subject, or a character • In a speech, tone is expressed through voice, body language, and word choice. • In writing, tone is expressed primarily through the writer’s choice of words. • modest vs. boastful • satirical vs. generous • comical vs. serious • etc. • You must be sensitive to the writer’s tone. If you miss the tone, you’ve missed the whole point!

  4. Autobiography • Definition – the story of a writer’s life • Autobiographies tend to be very subjective: • they allow the writer to reveal personal experiences and their feelings about them.

  5. Biography • DEFINITION – an objective account a person’s life written or told by another person. • Biographies tend to be objective in nature: • Requiring the biographer to do a great deal of study and research in order to present a work based on facts.

  6. Words to Own • elated—v. used as adj.: very happy • Speak in a tone that expresses an elated feeling. • Assiduously—adv.: industriously; in a careful and hard-working manner • Work assiduously at your desks. • Give a short speech about yourself, a family member, or a friend, using the words elated and assiduously.

  7. “Not Much of Me” by Abraham Lincoln • Just five months before his nomination to the presidency in 1860, Lincoln wrote this sketch as background for newspaper writers in the eastern United States. • “There is not much of it, for the reason, I suppose, that there is not much of me,” said Lincoln.

  8. “Not Much of Me” by Abraham Lincoln I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families—second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks, some of whom now reside in Adams and others in Macon counties, Illinois. My paternal grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from Rockingham County, Virginia, to Kentucky, about 1781 or 2, where, a year or two later, he was killed by indians, not in battle, but by stealth, when he was laboring to open a farm in the forest. His ancestors, who were quakers, went to Virginia from Berks County, Pennsylvania. An effort to identify them with the New-England family of the same name ended in nothing more definite than a similarity of Christian names in both families, such as Enoch, Levi, Mordecai, Solomon, Abraham, and the like. 

  9. My father, at the death of his father, was but six years of age; and he grew up, litterally without education. He removed from Kentucky to what is now Spencer county, Indiana, in my eighth year. We reached our new home about the time the State came in the Union. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up. There were some schools, so called; but no qualification was ever required of a teacher, beyond “readin, writin, and cipherin,” to the Rule of Three. If a straggler supposed to understand latin, happened to sojourn in the neighborhood, he was looked upon as a wizzard. There was absolutely nothing to excite ambition for education. Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to the Rule of Three; but that was all. I have not been to school since. The little advance I now have upon this store of education, I have picked up from time to time under the pressure of necessity. 

  10. Using Prior Knowledge • Up to this point, what have you read that you already knew about Lincoln? • What new information have you learned?

  11. I was raised to farm work, which I continued till I was twenty-two. At twenty-one I came to Illinois, and passed the first year in Illinois—Macon county. Then I got to New-Salem, (at that time in Sangamon, now in Menard county), where I remained a year as a sort of Clerk in a store. Then came the Black-Hawk war; and I was elected a Captain of Volunteers—a success which gave me more pleasure than any I have had since. I went the campaign, was elated, ran for the Legislature the same year (1832) and was beaten—the only time I have been beaten by the people. The next, and three succeeding biennial elections, I was elected to the Legislature. I was not a candidate afterwards. During this Legislative period I had studied law, and removed to Springfield to practice it. In 1846 I was once elected to the lower House of Congress. Was not a candidate for re-election. From 1849 to 1854, both inclusive, practiced law more assiduously than ever before. Always a whig in politics, and generally on the whig electoral tickets, making active canvasses. I was losing interest in politics, when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused me again. What I have done since then is pretty well known. 

  12. The Missouri Compromise, also called the Compromise of 1820 • an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery for all new states north of the 36°30' line, or the border of the Arkansas territory (excluding Missouri).

  13. Notes from Wikipedia.comhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_Compromise • The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30' north except within the boundaries of the proposed state of Missouri.

  14. The United States in 1820. The Missouri Compromise prohibited slavery in the Unorganized territory of the Great Plains (dark green) and permitted it in Missouri (yellow) and the Arkansas Territory (lower blue area).

  15. The Repeal of the Missouri Compromise • The question of the final admission of Missouri came up during the session of 1820-1821, and revived the struggle over a clause in the new constitution (1820) requiring the exclusion of "free negroes and mulattoes" from the state. Through the influence of Henry Clay, an act of admission was finally passed, upon the condition that the exclusionary clause of the Missouri constitution should "never be construed to authorize the passage of any law" impairing the privileges and immunities of any U.S. citizen. Although not explicitly intended to do so, it could be interpreted to mean that blacks and mulattos did not qualify as citizens of the United States; and indeed it was in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case. • The provisions of the Missouri Compromise forbidding slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30' north were effectively repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Provisions relating to forbidding slavery in territories were made unconstitutional in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case in 1857.

  16. If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it may be said, I am, in height, six feet, four inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing, on an average, one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and grey eyes—no other marks or brands recollected. Yours very truly, A. Lincoln

  17. Tone • Definition – attitude a writer takes toward the audience, a subject, or a character • What is Lincoln comparing himself to with his choice of words “marks or brands”? • Livestock. • What tone does his choice or words reveal? • A humorous tone; a playful tone.

  18. “With a Task Before Me” by Abraham Lincoln • Elected president in 1860, Lincoln had the sad task of bidding farewell to his home—Springfield, Illinois. • This speech was delivered from the back of the train he boarded for the long trip to his new life in Washington. • There is a particular sadness to this speech that is quite prophetic when confronted with his assassination four years later. • He was brought back to Springfield for burial.

  19. “With a Task Before Me” by Abraham Lincoln My friends—No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe every thing. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being, who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and be every where for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell. 

  20. Tone • How would you describe Lincoln’s tone in this address? What words and phrases reveal his tone? • His tone is serious, sad, nostalgic.

  21. Evidence of a serious, sad, and nostalgic tone. • My friends—No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe every thing. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being, who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and be every where for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell. 

  22. Question 1, p. 352 • Did these two pieces tell you anything new about Abraham Lincoln? Did they affect the way you feel about him? Be sure to complete the chart you filled in before you read. • Possible new information: Lincoln had a good sense of humor; at times, he felt uncertain. Some students may feel closer to him now that you know more about him from his own words.

  23. Question 2, p. 352 • People reveal a great deal about themselves when they look back on their lives. Which of the following words would you use to describe Lincoln’s tone as he writes about himself in “Not Much of Me”? Find details in the selection to support your answers. • humble—”My parents were both born…of undistinguished families” • serious—”From 1849 to 1854, both inclusive, practiced law more assiduously than ever before” • playful—”No other marks or brands recollected”

  24. Question 3, p. 352 • How does Lincoln describe his education? • Lincoln states that he could read, write, and do basic mathematics. Other knowledge he picked up was “under the pressure of necessity.” • What do you think enabled him to achieve so much? • Lincoln’s determination or his ambition or his love of learning led to his success.

  25. Question 4, p. 352 • Someone once said that Lincoln omitted from this thumbnail autobiography all that gave his life direction. What do you think this means—what would you like to ask Lincoln about his life that he failed to tell you? • It means that Lincoln left out what motivated him. You might wonder why he went into law and politics or how he formed his opinions on slavery.

  26. Question 5, p. 352 • If someone asked any of the recent presidents to sum up their lives, what might they focus on? • They might focus on their family life, public or military service, education, aspirations, and achievements. • What tone do you think these modern presidents might take? • The may take a humorous, solemn, defensive, regretful, or nostalgic tone.

  27. Question 6, p. 352 • In 1860, when Lincoln ran for president, television was not available. Most of his speeches were delivered to local crowds and then published, sometimes days later; in newspapers or on posters. Suppose Abraham Lincoln were alive today and planned to run for president of the United States. What do you think his chances would be? • Lincoln’s humor and humility might have voter appeal.

  28. Question 6, p. 352 • What kind of platform do you think he would run on? • He might run on a platform of honesty in government. • How would the media treat him? • The media would be won over by him. • How would he do in television campaigning? • His “handlers” might keep him from speaking his mind.