58. Mentor Graham to William H. Herndon.
Petersburg July 15th 1865
In reply to your inquiries in regard to our much lamented Lincoln, he was good, and great as he was good, as he was good, Great not like Caesar staind in blood But only great as he was good.
I said to you in your first inquiries the first time I saw him was at the election in New Salem in 1830 I saw him frequently when a lad about 12 years of age though was not personally acquainted with him this was at his residence at his place of birth in the winter of 1819 & 20
76often past by old Mr. Lincoln's house & often saw his son Abraham out about the premises with his father, this was near No Linn river on the little stream Barren run, it was then a barren though picturesque country. the house was a rude cabin I never had any conversation with either of them during my stay in that section I remember thinking as I would pass by the place and see them out that they had the appearance of a dignified man & boy as they truly were. In regard to what he read & studied in Ky & Indiana it was principally the bible, he has spoken to me often of his employment in Indiania after his Father moved over the Ohio river he devoted his time principally in assisting to clear a little farm and make a subsistence for the family and that every leisure moment was employed in writing for some of the neighbors back to Ky or in reading such books as he could obtain but they were limited except the bible In New Salem he devoted more time to reading the scripture, books on science and comments on law and to the acquisition of Knowledge of men & things than any man I ever knew and it has been my task to teach in the primary school Forty five years and I must say that Abraham Lincoln was the most studious, diligent strait forward young man in the pursuit of a knowledge of literature than any among the five thousand I have taught in the scho The time I allude to in his studies was in Salem from 1830 to 36
He was regular in his habits punctual in doing anything that he promised or agreed to do his method of doing any thing was very systematic he discharged all his obligations and duties to his God his fellow men himself and his country with more fidelity than is common to humanity
You ask what gave him the title of honest Abe, That is answered in these few words, he was strictly honest truthful & industrious & in addition to this he was one of the most companionable persons you will ever see in this world.
He was well calculated to be President of such a nation as ours and it may be a long, long time before we have another to be his equal I have no idea that this or any other country has ever had his superior, he is now and always will be first in the hearts of his countrymen, how much, how deep how feelingly we have grieved his loss.
I have been harvesting two weeks & it is difficult for me to write
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2236 — 37; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:549 — 52