538. James K. Rardin to Jesse W. Weik.
Chicago, March 9, 1888.
Dear Sir —
I really have no time at present to enter upon the merits or generalities of this Lincoln affair. I do not know anything about Thomas Lincoln's loss of manhood if such was the case — I studied the Lincoln history from a calm cynical view, regarding Abraham Lincoln as rather a sharp politician and rather a "smart" jury lawyer, who was elected president and the war coming on he performed his part honestly enough, but in rather a weak dilly-dallying manner — You perhaps regard him as a saint; I do not — His mind was rather of the low order — reveling in vulgar, smutty anecdotes etc., and yet when we remember that his father, or reputed father was an ignorant and improvident ass, who traded his farm for some whisky, We ought to accord Abraham praise for pulling away from home and going into Secretary of State Field's office where he learnt his cunning in politics and changed with Field from a Jackson Democrat to a Whig — As to his mother, she was a bastard; so was Dennis Hanks' mother. The mother of Dennis and the mother of Nancy (Lincoln) Hanks were sisters. Mrs Lincoln's mother was the Elder — Her name was Hanks — her daughter's name was Hanks — Dennis' mother was a younger girl; brought forth Dennis without marriage — His name is Hanks — The more you dig into the Lincoln or Hanks families the more disgusting immorality you find — The Lincoln and Hanks families Know this and they discourage all efforts to get at it — But I got at it — I have a long article written on the Lincolns, which your letter reminds me to trim up and publish — The Century article is mostly bosh — Dennis Hanks is not only old but he is also noted for years as being a pretty big liar even in his pristine days. Now, write to me Exactly what you want to know and why and I will inform you and much quicker if you want to write a historical article — Many people do not believe Thomas Lincoln was Abraham's father — If he isn't, that honor belongs to a dutchman who owned the farm that the worthless Thomas Lincoln dwelt upon at the proper moment — I rather incline that way if it was so — but I guess he was Thomas Lincoln's
son — Mrs Lincoln was not of dark complexion as the Century has it — She was very fair — almost sandy blue eyes freckled face and had two very large "butter teeth", She could not read or write or sing — She was a Missionary Baptist although she died a hard-shell because there were no missionaries in Indiana — I have Thomas Lincolns signature; my recollection is that it runs like this
Very truly Yours
J. K. Rardin
Editor Chicago Democrat
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 4626 — 28
1. Headed: Confidential.
2. Alexander P. Field (1800 — 1876), Illinois secretary of state from 1829 to 1840. AL is not known to have worked in his office.
3. Presumably the account of AL's early history by John G. Nicolay and John Hay, whose biography first ran serially in Century magazine, beginning in 1886.
4. Signature traced.
5. On the verso: I had intended to have this copied on the type writer and corrected but as my time is precious just now I am obliged to send now or delay 2 wks — Write me again. / JKR.