en-fr  The Story of Abraham Lincoln by James Baldwin
Cet ouvrage est dans le domaine public aux États-Unis puisqu'il a été publié avant le 1er janvier 1923.
L'auteur est décédé en 1925, donc cet ouvrage est également dans le domaine public dans les pays et régions où les règles de copyright s'appliquent aussi aux auteurs dont le décès doit remonter à plus ou moins 80 ans. Cette œuvre peut également être dans le domaine public dans les pays et les régions avec des conditions de droits d'auteur d'origine plus longues qui appliquent la règle des conditions plus courtes aux œuvres étrangères.

1. LA MAISON DU KENTUCKY.

Pas loin de Hodgensville, dans le Kentucky, vivait jadis un homme qui s'appelait Thomas Lincoln. L'homme avait construit une petite cabane en rondins le long d'un ruisseau et de sa source permanente.

Cette cabane n'avait qu'une pièce. Du côté du ruisseau, il y avait une porte basse, et à l'autre extrémité, une cheminée construite en pierres brutes et en argile.

Le cheminée était très large à sa base et étroite au sommet. Elle était construite en argile avec des pierres plates et de minces morceaux de bois disposés sur le pourtour afin d'empêcher qu'elle ne s'écroule.

D'un côté de la cheminée, une ouverture dans la paroi servait de fenêtre. Mais il n'y avait pas de vitre à cette fenêtre. En été, elle était ouverte tout le temps. Par temps froid, une peau de daim, ou un morceau de tissu grossier était accroché pour empêcher le vent et la neige d'entrer.

La nuit ou les jours de tempête, la peau d'un ours était suspendue à la porte, car il n'y avait pas de porte sur charnières à ouvrir et à fermer.

La pièce n'avait pas de plafond. Mais les habitants de la cabane, en levant les yeux, pouvaient apercevoir les chevrons à decouvert et les planches de toit brutes, que M. Lincoln avait fendues et taillées lui-même.

Il n'y avait pas de plancher, mais seulement le sol nu qui avait été lissé et battu jusqu'à ce qu'il soit aussi plat et dur qu'un revêtement.

Pour les sièges, il n'y avait que des souches de bois et un banc dur sur l'un des côtés de la cheminée. Le lit était un petit cadre de rondins, sur lequel étaient étalées des fourrures d'animaux sauvages, et un couvre-lit en patchwork fait main.

Dans cette misérable cabane, un petit garçon est né, le 12 février 1809. Il y avait déjà un enfant dans la famille... une petite fille de deux ans qui se prénommait Sarah.

Le petit garçon grandit et devint fort comme tous les autres bébés, et ses parents l'appelèrent Abraham, comme son grand-père qui avait été tué par les indiens plusieurs années auparavant.

Quand il fut en âge de gambader, il aimait jouer sous les arbres près de l'entrée de la cabane. Parfois il allait dans la forêt avec sa petite sœur pour observer les oiseaux et les écureuils.

Il n'avait pas de camarades de jeu. Il ignorait l'existence des jeux et des jouets. Mais c'était un enfant heureux et avait beaucoup de moyens de s'amuser.

Thomas Lincoln, le père, était un homme généreux, très fort et courageux. Parfois, il prenait son enfant sur les genoux et lui racontait d'étranges et authentiques histoires de la forêt avec des Indiens et des bêtes féroces qui rôdaient dans les bois et les collines.

Parce que Thomas Lincoln avait toujours vécu comme un trappeur, il préférait, à tout autre chose, chasser la cerf ou le gibier. C'est sans doute la raison pour laquelle il était si pauvre. C'est sans doute la raison pour laquelle il se contentait de vivre dans la petite cabane en rondins avec si peu de confort.

Mais Nancy Lincoln, la jeune mère, ne se plaignait pas. Elle aussi avait grandi dans le monde hostile de la forêt profonde. Elle n'avait jamais rien connu d'autres.

Et pourtant elle était naturellement raffinée et douce, et les gens qui la connaissaient disaient qu'elle était très belle. C'était aussi une ménagère hors pair, et sa pauvre cabane en rondins était la plus pimpante et la mieux tenue de tout le voisinage.

Aucune femme n’était aussi occupée qu'elle. Elle savait filer la laine et tisser et elle confectionnait tous les vêtements pour la famille.

Elle savait manier la hache et la binette, et elle pouvait travailler à la ferme ou au jardin quand c'était nécessaire.

Elle avait appris à tirer à la carabine, et elle pouvait abattre un cerf ou n'importe quel autre gibier aussi aisément que son mari. Et lorsque le gibier était ramené à la maison, elle savait le dépecer, cuisiner la viande, et avec la peau confectionner des vêtements pour son mari et ses enfants.

Il y avait encore autre chose qu'elle savait faire... elle savait lire, et elle lisait tous les livres qui lui tombaient sous la main. Elle apprit à son mari les lettres de l'alphabet, et lui montra comment écrire son nom. Car Thomas Lincoln n'avait jamais été à l'école et n'avait jamais appris à lire.

Dès que le petit Abraham Lincoln fut en âge de comprendre, sa mère lui lut des passages de la Bible. Puis, alors qu'il était encore très jeune, elle lui a appris à se lire des histoires à lui-même.

Les voisins considéraient que c'était une excellente chose qu'un si petit garçon sache lire. Très peu d'entre eux savaient en faire autant. Peu d'entre eux pensaient qu'il était très utile d'apprendre à le faire.

Il n'y avait aucune maison scolaire dans cette partie du Kentucky à cette époque et, bien sûr, il n'y avait pas d'écoles publiques.

Un hiver, un instituteur itinérant est passé par là. Il obtint l'autorisation d'utiliser une cabane non loin de celle de M. Lincoln et fit savoir qu'il allait faire la classe pendant deux ou trois semaines. Les gens étaient trop pauvres pour le payer pour enseigner plus longtemps.

Le nom de ce maître d'école était Zachariah Riney.

Les jeunes des environs affluèrent à l'école. La plupart d'entre eux étaient grands, et quelques-uns étaient de jeunes hommes. Le seul jeune enfant était Abraham Lincoln, et il n'avait pas encore cinq ans.

Il n'y avait qu'un seul livre d'étude dans cette école, et c'était un livre d'orthographe. À la fin, il y avait quelques leçons faciles à lire, mais celles-ci ne devaient pas être lues avant que chaque mot du livre ait été expliqué.

Vous pouvez imaginer comment les grands se sont sentis quand il s'est avéré qu'Abraham Lincoln pouvait épeler et lire mieux que n'importe lequel d'entre eux.
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1.
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The Kentucky Home.
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Not far from Hodgensville, in Kentucky, there once lived a man whose name was Thomas Lincoln.
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There was but one room in this cabin.
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The chimney was very broad at the bottom and narrow at the top.
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In the wall, on one side of the fireplace, there was a square hole for a window.
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But there was no glass in this window.
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In the summer it was left open all the time.
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There was no ceiling to the room.
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For chairs there were only blocks of wood and a rude bench on one side of the fireplace.
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In this poor cabin, on the 12th of February, 1809, a baby boy was born.
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There was already one child in the family—a girl, two years old, whose name was Sarah.
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When he was old enough to run about, he liked to play under the trees by the cabin door.
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Sometimes he would go with his little sister into the woods and watch the birds and the squirrels.
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He had no playmates.
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He did not know the meaning of toys or playthings.
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But he was a happy child and had many pleasant ways.
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Thomas Lincoln, the father, was a kind-hearted man, very strong and brave.
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Perhaps this is why he was so poor.
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But Nancy Lincoln, the young mother, did not complain.
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She, too, had grown up among the rude scenes of the backwoods.
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She had never known better things.
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No woman could be busier than she.
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She knew how to spin and weave, and she made all the clothing for her family.
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She taught her husband the letters of the alphabet; and she showed him how to write his name.
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For Thomas Lincoln had never gone to school, and he had never learned how to read.
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Then, while he was still very young, she taught him to read the stories for himself.
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The neighbors thought it a wonderful thing that so small a boy could read.
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There were very few of them who could do as much.
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Few of them thought it of any great use to learn how to read.
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One winter a traveling schoolmaster came that way.
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The people were too poor to pay him for teaching longer.
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The name of this schoolmaster was Zachariah Riney.
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The young people for miles around flocked to the school.
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Most of them were big boys and girls, and a few were grown up young men.
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The only little child was Abraham Lincoln, and he was not yet five years old.
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There was only one book studied at that school, and it was a spelling-book.
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Gabrielle • 13947  commented on  unit 43  8 months, 2 weeks ago
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This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.
The author died in 1925, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

1. The Kentucky Home.

Not far from Hodgensville, in Kentucky, there once lived a man whose name was Thomas Lincoln. This man had built for himself a little log cabin by the side of a brook, where there was an ever-flowing spring of water.

There was but one room in this cabin. On the side next to the brook there was a low doorway; and at one end there was a large fireplace, built of rough stones and clay.

The chimney was very broad at the bottom and narrow at the top. It was made of clay, with flat stones and slender sticks laid around the outside to keep it from falling apart.

In the wall, on one side of the fireplace, there was a square hole for a window. But there was no glass in this window. In the summer it was left open all the time. In cold weather a deerskin, or a piece of coarse cloth, was hung over it to keep out the wind and the snow.

At night, or on stormy days, the skin of a bear was hung across the doorway; for there was no door on hinges to be opened and shut.

There was no ceiling to the room. But the inmates of the cabin, by looking up, could see the bare rafters and the rough roof-boards, which Mr. Lincoln himself had split and hewn.

There was no floor, but only the bare ground that had been smoothed and beaten until it was as level and hard as pavement.

For chairs there were only blocks of wood and a rude bench on one side of the fireplace. The bed was a little platform of poles, on which were spread the furry skins of wild animals, and a patchwork quilt of homespun goods.

In this poor cabin, on the 12th of February, 1809, a baby boy was born. There was already one child in the family—a girl, two years old, whose name was Sarah.

The little boy grew and became strong like other babies, and his parents named him Abraham, after his grandfather, who had been killed by the Indians many years before.

When he was old enough to run about, he liked to play under the trees by the cabin door. Sometimes he would go with his little sister into the woods and watch the birds and the squirrels.

He had no playmates. He did not know the meaning of toys or playthings. But he was a happy child and had many pleasant ways.

Thomas Lincoln, the father, was a kind-hearted man, very strong and brave. Sometimes he would take the child on his knee and tell him strange, true stories of the great forest, and of the Indians and the fierce beasts that roamed among the woods and hills.

For Thomas Lincoln had always lived on the wild frontier; and he would rather hunt deer and other game in the forest than do anything else. Perhaps this is why he was so poor. Perhaps this is why he was content to live in the little log cabin with so few of the comforts of life.

But Nancy Lincoln, the young mother, did not complain. She, too, had grown up among the rude scenes of the backwoods. She had never known better things.

And yet she was by nature refined and gentle; and people who knew her said that she was very handsome. She was a model housekeeper, too; and her poor log cabin was the neatest and best-kept house in all that neighborhood.

No woman could be busier than she. She knew how to spin and weave, and she made all the clothing for her family.

She knew how to wield the ax and the hoe; and she could work on the farm or in the garden when her help was needed.

She had also learned how to shoot with a rifle; and she could bring down a deer or other wild game with as much ease as could her husband. And when the game was brought home, she could dress it, she could cook the flesh for food, and of the skins she could make clothing for her husband and children.

There was still another thing that she could do—she could read; and she read all the books that she could get hold of. She taught her husband the letters of the alphabet; and she showed him how to write his name. For Thomas Lincoln had never gone to school, and he had never learned how to read.

As soon as little Abraham Lincoln was old enough to understand, his mother read stories to him from the Bible. Then, while he was still very young, she taught him to read the stories for himself.

The neighbors thought it a wonderful thing that so small a boy could read. There were very few of them who could do as much. Few of them thought it of any great use to learn how to read.

There were no school-houses in that part of Kentucky in those days, and of course there were no public schools.

One winter a traveling schoolmaster came that way. He got leave to use a cabin not far from Mr. Lincoln's, and gave notice that he would teach school for two or three weeks. The people were too poor to pay him for teaching longer.

The name of this schoolmaster was Zachariah Riney.

The young people for miles around flocked to the school. Most of them were big boys and girls, and a few were grown up young men. The only little child was Abraham Lincoln, and he was not yet five years old.

There was only one book studied at that school, and it was a spelling-book. It had some easy reading lessons at the end, but these were not to be read until after every word in the book had been spelled.

You can imagine how the big boys and girls felt when Abraham Lincoln proved that he could spell and read better than any of them.