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Lessons from Lincoln’s life: marriage and education

March 4th, 2004 · 2 Comments

A friend loaned us Frances Cavanaugh’s Abe Lincoln Gets His Chance, historical fiction for children, and we had fun reading it together. The girls learned a lot and I did too.

Two observations:

1) According to the book, Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd was a woman who declared she would marry “a man who will be President of the United States”. She had many suitors. One of them was Stephen Douglas, who would later run against Lincoln in the 1860 presidential election. But, at least in this book, Mary is quoted as saying “Abe Lincoln has the better chance to succeed.” She chose Lincoln and he was the one who became president.

Remember those jokes about a certain former first lady and how her husband had ended up as president? I think I remember one version that featured a gas station attendant as a suitor she had rejected.

Maybe there is some truth to that humor. Maybe in some way, a woman does make a man. Or a marriage helps make a man. (what impact am I having?!) Gives me another aspect to consider when considering Presidential candidates.

2) I was impressed to learn how Abe Lincoln educated himself. He ran a store and studied law in the morning and at night. He borrowed books and read them with a passion. From the story, it seems, at that time, he could educate himself mostly by his own motivation, taking a law exam and getting a license when he was ready.

His education, by self-motivation and flexibility, seems different from education today. To get a law degree, or any formal education, requires being in a certain place at a certain time and with certain finances to afford it. It is restricted to those who can satisfy all three, unlike Lincoln’s era, where he could study on his own time. All he had to find were books.

While reading the book, I wondered if the Internet could somehow allow education to return to a more flexible system, like the way Lincoln learned, where those who run businesses could also earn degrees, where motivation and the mind had more freedom, rather than being enslaved by time, place and cost of the classroom.

I know there are some programs like this now, such as Internet courses and M.B.A. programs at night, but I think it would be ideal for as many courses as possible to become more accessible on-line. I’d love to study some more. In the meantime I can give myself a proper education with my own motivation: I can read.

Tags: homeschool

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kris Hasson-Jones // Mar 4, 2004 at 11:25 am

    As far as I know there are a least a couple of states where you can still become a lawyer by “reading the law” rather than going to law school. You are taken on as an apprentice by a practicing lawyer and you literally read through the books of law in that state, then you can take the bar exam.

  • 2 Julie // Mar 4, 2004 at 10:30 pm

    Cool. I wasn’t aware of that possibility. I wish other professions had similiar options: maybe they do?!