Not long before his tragic death, Mr. Lincoln said: "All that I am, and all that I hope to be, I owe to my mother." That mother died when little Abe was nine years of age. But she had already woven the texture of her deepest character into the habits and purposes of her boy. Her own origin had been humble. But there were certain elements in her character that prepared her for grand motherhood. When Nancy Hanks, at age of twenty-three gave her heart and hand to Thomas Lincoln, she was a young woman of large trustfulness, of loving, unselfish disposition of profound faith in Divine Providence, of unswerving Christian profession.
On the day of their marriage Thomas Lincoln took his young wife to his unfinished cabin, which had as yet neither door, floor, nor window. The young man was a shiftless Kentucky hunter, who could not read a word. He was handy with his few carpenter tools, but had received no encouragement to keep at work. His happy, trusting wife assisted him to finish the cabin. He mortared the chinks with mud which they together had mixed. Her hope and song made the work of the day his happy employ. In the evening she taught him to read, spelling the words out of her Bible as the text book, which served her double purpose.
From that day Thomas Lincoln was a new man. It was this conscientious wife that inspired him to move across the Ohio into the free State of Indiana. Here Lincoln soon became a justice of the peace. When his wife died, only twelve years after their marriage, Thomas Lincoln had been transformed from the shiftless hunter, who could not read, to an intelligent farmer of the largest influence of any man in his township. Little Abe had been taught to read out of that same Bible, and had read out of that mother’s eyes and voice her large trust in the overshadowing Providence and her unswerving honesty in doing the right. It was this woman that put into his hands the fine books—the Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress, Aesop’s Fables, Robinson Crusoe, and Weems’s Life of Washington.
Such was the mother that started Abraham Lincoln. "Widow Johnston," who became his stepmother, was a good woman, with whom he always maintained the kindest relations. She deserved the honorable mention she received.