Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Nancy Hanks Lincoln

Nancy Hanks--the mother of Abraham Lincoln--is referenced by Team of Rivals author Doris Kearns Goodwin as a woman of "uncertain ancestry".

The circumstances of the birth of Nancy Hanks has been debated over the years with Lincoln himself suggesting his mother's father was a well-bred Virginia farmer or planter.

While searching for information on Nancy this past weekend, I happened upon a book gone public domain and made available for a free online read via Internet Archive.

Nancy Hanks: The Story of Abraham Lincoln's Mother  (Doubleday & McClure Co., 1899) was written by Caroline Hanks Hitchcock, an author and descendant intent on clearing not only the name of Nancy, but also her son, Abraham.

As Lincoln became a  leader in his party, much like the campaigns of today, political rivals spread rumor that both he and his mother were fatherless.


"... he himself knew 
little of his family : he did not even 
possess records to show when and 
where his father and mother were 
married. His opponents saw the 
opportunity to belittle him, and 
they spread the story that he not 
only was of humble origin, as he 

Preface xi 

himself publicly, acknowledged, 
but was a nameless child — that 
Thomas Lincoln was not his father. 
Later they deepened the stain 
on his mother's name by hinting 
that she herself was a waif — 
fatherless like her boy. There 
was never any proof produced in 
support of the stories ..."
Hanks Hitchcock makes her case citing documentation uncovered through study of the Hanks' family line.

It's a precious read and I pass the link to you during this month of February of the Lincoln's birth.

Read more here. 

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At 7/29/13, 7:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hitchcock is wrong. Nancy Hanks was the illegitimate child of Lucey Hanks, and her father was a rich plantation owner in Virginia. Abe said so himself. Abe was not illegitimate. His parents were married and there is a marriage bond and record. Abe even looks like his father.

At 8/5/13, 3:46 PM , Anonymous Sheree said...

Hitchcock (a descendant of Nancy Hanks did not state that Lincoln was fatherless, but stated that (much like today's times) ..." ...political rivals spread rumor that both he and his mother were fatherless."

As you so stated, Abe absolutely spoke of his mother's Virginia father.

Hitchcock wanted to make certain the public was aware that political rivals were lying about Abe's background.

Thanks for reading.


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