A Textbook and a Love Token

Lincoln was essentially self-taught. His appetite for reading was voracious, but, because few books were available to him in his youth, he was a careful rather than an extensive reader. He was determined to learn how to write and speak effectively and, to achieve those goals, read and memorized Kirkham’s Grammar, which he is said to have walked six miles to purchase from a farmer. Herein Lincoln read: “Grammar instructs us how to express our thoughts correctly. Rhetorick teaches us to express them with force and elegance.” After mastering the content of this book, he gave it to his first love, Ann Rutledge, to whom he inscribed it: Ann M. Rutledge is now learning grammer [sic]. Lincoln was distraught when Ann died suddenly of typhoid fever shortly after he gave her this book.