Kirkham’s Grammar book used by Lincoln (1832)

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The Kirkham’s Grammar used by Lincoln at New Salem

The copy of Kirkham’s Grammar studied by Lincoln belonged to a man named Vaner. Some of the biographers say Lincoln borrowed [it,] but it appears that he became the owner of the book, either by purchase or through the generosity of Vaner, for it was never returned to the latter.

It is said that Lincoln learned this grammar practically by heart. “Sometimes,” says Herndon, “he would stretch out at full length on the counter, his head propped up on a stack of calico prints, studying it; or he would steal away to the shade of some inviting tree, and there spend hours at a time in a determined effort to fix in his mind the arbitrary rule that ‘adverbs qualify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs.'”

He presented the book to Ann Rutledge [the story of Ann Rutledge will appear in a future number of the Magazine], and it has since been one of the treasures of the Rutledge family. After the death of Ann it was studied by her brother, Robert, and is now owned by his widow, who resides at Casselton, North Dakota.

The title page of the book appears above. The words, “Ann M. Rutledge is now learning grammar,” were written by Lincoln. The order on James Rutledge to pay David P. Nelson thirty dollars and signed “A. Lincoln, for D. Offutt,” which is shown above, was pasted upon the front cover of the book by Robert Rutledge.

From a photograph made especially for MCCLURE’S MAGAZINE. — J. McCan Davis

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