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Biography of Abraham Lincoln: 6 Disputed Facts About Civil War President's Life

By    |   Tuesday, 03 Feb 2015 06:29 PM

While we can learn much about the 16th president of the United States from reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln, there are things that are unclear and disputes that remain about reported facts about him.

Here are six disputed facts about the Civil War president's life:

1. Betrothed to another

Before Mary Todd, there are stories that Lincoln was engaged to Ann Rutledge in New Salem. Lincoln's longtime law partner, William Herndon, is linked to many of these stories, but there is no evidence Lincoln had any romantic relationship with Rutledge, Historynet.com said. However, there are reports Lincoln took her death extremely hard.

2. Limited legal knowledge

Lincoln may not have been as good a trial lawyer as history tells us. Herndon said Lincoln was a good lawyer, but not a scholarly one. “I never knew him to read through a law book of any kind,” Herndon wrote in the biography "Life of Lincoln." The future president may have lost some cases due to limited technical expertise.

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3.
Not the great orator

Contrary to movie depictions of a baritone-voiced speaker, Lincoln may not have had such a great speaking voice. Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer contended in the Smithsonian magazine that the orator of the Gettysburg Address did so in a “shrill and high” voice. “People said that his voice carried into crowds beautifully. Just because the tone was high doesn’t mean it wasn’t far-reaching,” he said.

4. First black president

Many Lincoln scholars believe that the 16th president's mother, Nancy Hanks, was a member of the Melungeon community of Appalachian Tennessee and Kentucky. A “tri-racial isolate,” the Melungeons were a mix of European, African, and possibly American Indian ancestry, Salon reported. There are also claims Lincoln was the child of black plantation owner with whom his mother had an affair.

5. No hurry to end slavery

Some scholars contend Lincoln sought gradual emancipation, freeing blacks over a 37-year period, and with that emancipation linked to deportations and compensation to slave owners, according to the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association.

6. Honestly, a long walk

Lincoln’s nickname “Honest Abe” may be based on his walking three miles to return 6 cents to a woman who overpaid her bill at a New Salem grocery. Other theories are that it came from his work judging horse races or that it was because he charged little or no fee to poor legal clients, according to the Abraham Lincoln Research Site.

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While we can learn much about the 16th president of the United States from reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln, there are things that are unclear and disputes that remain about reported facts about him.
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2015-29-03
Tuesday, 03 Feb 2015 06:29 PM
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