Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Life of Abraham Lincoln For Young Folks

Here are two color illustrations from "The Life of Abraham Lincoln for Young Folks, Told in Words of One Syllable" by Harriet Putnam. The book was published in 1906 by McLoughlin Brothers.

You might be wondering how Putnam wrote an entire biography of Lincoln -- it's 144 pages -- using only "words of one syllable"? After all, the word "Abraham" is three syllables and the word "Lincoln" is two syllables.

The answer: she cheated.

Every multiple-syllable word has its syllables separated by hyphens. So you get paragraphs like this excerpt from Chapter V:
When A-bra-ham Lin-coln was a score and five years old, a great chance to step up came to him. His friends sent him to the Il-li-nois Leg-is-la-ture. He had then not one dol-lar with which he could buy clothes to wear to that place.
And here's an excerpt from the description of Lincoln's death and assassin:
When dawn came and lamps grew dim, A-bra-ham Lin-coln's pulse be-gan to fail. Soon a calm look of peace came up-on his worn face and he was gone.

The bad man who shot Lin-coln was one of that knot of folks who had sworn to do him, and some of his Cab-i-net, harm. They said that by so do-ing they would "a-venge the South." Oth-er good men be-sides the Pres-i-dent were struck that night, but the Pres-i-dent, a-lone, met his death wound.

Those who had made the plot to do that foul deed were soon caught and put to death.
There is no mention of John Wilkes Booth by name.

Or vampires.1

1. OK, so who has read "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" by Seth Grahame-Smith? It's on my list of of books I want to read, but it's a long shot that I'll get around to it before the movie version is released in 2012.


  1. Hi --

    Out of the blue, I know . . . but I have one of the only few Lincoln life masks in captivity -- it's a Clark Mills mask -- done just 56 days before Lincoln's assassination -- given to my Grandfather, Ellis Mills Frost, M.D. by the sculptor's son. I'm trying to sell the mask (circa $35K). If anyone has an interest, we have a web page up with pictures and provenance --
    at http://www.storyofmylife.cc/lincolnmask

    Thanks -- Rik Peirson, Santa Barbara, CA --
    Rik@dayone.com . . . or 805/965-7841

  2. The book seems like a good idea to help children learning to read learn to break words down to figure out pronunciation. Better idea might be to have the words whole and pronunciation guide next to it in parenthesis. I was confused by leg-is-la-ture for half a second because the way it was broken down I was reading the word with a "hard g" and a "short a" and a kid who's not familiar with that word might have similar problems with that section.