Must Read Books by Abraham Lincoln | The Literary Legacy of a President


Abraham Lincoln, often celebrated for his leadership during the American Civil War and his role in abolishing slavery, possessed a lesser-known passion – his love for books. In this blog post, we will delve into the literary world of this iconic President, focusing on the “Books by Abraham Lincoln” that contributed to his intellectual and moral foundation.

Books by Abraham Lincoln An Unearthed Treasure

The phrase “Books by Abraham Lincoln” may sound intriguing, but it refers to the books that Lincoln himself read and cherished. These texts are a treasure trove of knowledge to help us better understand the man behind the legend.

Lincoln’s Early Love for Reading

Books by Abraham Lincoln A Journey Begins

Lincoln’s journey as a reader began at a young age. Growing up in a log cabin in Indiana, he had limited access to books but an insatiable appetite for knowledge. His mother, Nancy, is often credited with encouraging his love for reading. Books scarce in their frontier existence were a ticket to new worlds for young Lincoln.

The Bible Lincoln’s Moral Compass

One cannot discuss “Books by Abraham Lincoln” without mentioning the Bible. For Lincoln, the Bible was more than a religious text; it was a moral compass that guided his principles and actions. He once stated, “Regarding this great book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man.” The Bible’s influence is evident in Lincoln’s speeches and writings, emphasizing the significance of this timeless text.

Aesop’s Fables Stories with a Message

Aesop’s Fables, a collection of short stories with moral lessons, was another favorite among the “Books by Abraham Lincoln.” Lincoln often used these fables to convey complex ideas and ethical principles in a simple, relatable manner. His ability to distill profound wisdom into accessible stories made him a masterful communicator, a skill that proved invaluable during his presidency.

Euclid’s Elements of Geometry Logic in Leadership

Although not light reading, Euclid’s “Elements of Geometry” profoundly impacted Lincoln’s thinking. This mathematical treatise instilled in him a sense of logic and precision, qualities he applied to his political strategies. His study of Euclid greatly influenced his ability to solve intricate problems methodically.

The Collected Works of William Shakespeare

The “Books by Abraham Lincoln” were not limited to moral or mathematical texts; he had a profound appreciation for literature and the art of oratory. William Shakespeare’s works, collected in a volume, were a source of inspiration for Lincoln. He admired Shakespeare’s eloquent use of language, which left an indelible mark on his speeches and writings. His deep appreciation for the Bard undoubtedly shaped his ability to craft memorable, emotionally resonant speeches.

Early Life and Education

Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s greatest presidents, is known for his remarkable leadership during the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. However, many people don’t realize that Lincoln’s journey to greatness began in his early life, fueled by his love for books and self-education. This article will delve into Lincoln’s upbringing, book access, and how his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln, influenced him. We will also explore the books that shaped his intellect and ultimately contributed to his literary legacy.

Lincoln’s Upbringing and Access to Books by Abraham Lincoln

Humble Beginnings of a Future Leader

Abraham Lincoln’s life had humble beginnings. He was born in a log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky, on February 12, 1809. His family lived in poverty, and they didn’t have much material wealth. However, young Abe’s parents instilled in him the value of hard work and education. This early influence set him on the path to becoming an extraordinary individual.

A Glance into the Family Library

While the Lincolns may not have had grand libraries, they did have a small collection of books that would play a crucial role in shaping the young Lincoln’s mind. These books included the Bible, Aesop’s Fables, and other volumes. These early introductions to literature ignited a spark in Lincoln’s heart, inspiring a lifelong love for reading and learning.

From Zero to Hero Lincoln’s Literacy Journey

Young Abe had to work hard to educate himself at a time when formal education was limited, and paper was a precious commodity. He would practice writing and arithmetic on any surface he could find, including shovels and the back of a wooden fire shovel. His determination to learn was awe-inspiring, evident even at this early age.

Self-Education through Books by Abraham Lincoln

The Power of Borrowed Books

One of the critical turning points in Lincoln’s life was the access to borrowed books. His thirst for knowledge led him to read any book he could get his hands on. He would walk long distances to borrow a book from a neighbor or a friend. His determination to read and learn was the foundation for his legacy.

The Influence of Mentor Nancy Miller

Nancy Miller, a neighbor of the Lincolns, recognized young Abe’s enthusiasm for learning. She took him under her wing and allowed him to borrow books from her collection. This was a pivotal moment in Lincoln’s education, as he had access to a broader range of literature, from Shakespeare to John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress.”

Books by Abraham Lincoln That Shaped His Character

One book that stood out among all the books Lincoln read was “Aesop’s Fables.” These simple yet profound tales of morality and wisdom left a lasting impact on his character. Lincoln’s ability to tell stories, often in the form of parables, can be traced back to the influence of Aesop’s timeless fables.
Influence of His Stepmother Sara Bush Lincoln

The Role of Sarah Bush Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln’s life took a significant turn when his father, Thomas Lincoln, remarried after his mother’s passing. His stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln, played a crucial role in young Abe’s development. She supported his love for reading and encouraged him to pursue his passion.

A Motherly Influence

Sarah Bush Lincoln, also known as “Sally,” recognized Lincoln’s potential. She ensured that he had enough time to read and study, even during the busiest times on the farm. Her unwavering support and belief in his abilities were instrumental in his growth.

Books by Abraham Lincoln The Gift of Time

Sarah Bush Lincoln understood the importance of time for a growing mind. She would often allocate household chores to her children, giving Abe extra time to read and educate himself.

A Bond Beyond Blood

The bond between Abraham Lincoln and Sarah Bush Lincoln was not just that of a stepmother and stepson. A deep, nurturing relationship allowed Lincoln to flourish as a reader and thinker.

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Books by Abraham Lincoln His Literary Legacy

The Books That Shaped a President

Abraham Lincoln’s love for reading was not limited to just a few books. He devoured a wide range of literature, each contributing to his growth as a person and a leader. Here are some of the must-read Books by Abraham Lincoln that had a profound impact on his life:

The Bible and Books by Abraham Lincoln

The Bible was a spiritual guide for Lincoln and a source of wisdom and inspiration. He often turned to the Bible for solace and guidance, and his speeches and writings were peppered with biblical references and principles.

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Nancy Miller’s collection included this classic allegorical novel, which had a profound impact on Lincoln’s moral and ethical values. The journey of Christian, the protagonist, in search of salvation, resonated with Lincoln’s journey toward personal growth and self-improvement.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

“Robinson Crusoe” is a story of survival and self-reliance, and it left an indelible mark on Lincoln. The character’s ability to overcome challenges and thrive in isolation was a source of inspiration for the young Lincoln, who would face his own set of daunting challenges in life.

Aesop’s Fables and Books by Abraham Lincoln

As mentioned earlier, “Aesop’s Fables” played a significant role in shaping Lincoln’s character. He often used fables in his speeches and conversations, employing them as powerful tools to convey moral lessons and principles.

The Life of George Washington by Parson Weems

This biography of the first President of the United States provided Lincoln with historical knowledge and instilled in him a deep sense of patriotism. It fueled his admiration for Washington and the principles on which the nation was founded.

The Poems of Robert Burns and Books by Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln was a fan of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. He found solace and inspiration in Burns’ poetry, which often touched on themes of love, nature, and the human condition. Lincoln’s love for this poet’s work was a testament to his appreciation for the arts.

Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England

His reading of legal texts influenced Lincoln’s interest in law and his eventual career as a lawyer. “Blackstone’s Commentaries” provided him with the foundational knowledge that would eventually lead him to become one of America’s most celebrated legal minds.


In conclusion, Abraham Lincoln’s early life and education are marked by a relentless pursuit of knowledge through books. His humble beginnings, access to borrowed books, and the support of his stepmother all played pivotal roles in shaping the man who would become one of the most influential figures in American history. The books he read during his formative years left an indelible mark on his character, principles, and leadership style. From the Bible, he drew spiritual guidance and wisdom. “The Pilgrim’s Progress” instilled a moral purpose in him. “Robinson Crusoe” taught him the values of resilience and self-reliance. “Aesop’s Fables” equipped him with the power of storytelling and moral lessons.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What books did Abraham Lincoln have access to in his early life?

Abraham Lincoln had access to a small collection of books, including the Bible, Aesop’s Fables, and a few other volumes.

How did Lincoln’s upbringing influence his love for reading and education?

Lincoln’s parents instilled in him the value of hard work and education, and the books in his family’s possession ignited his passion for reading and learning.

Who played a crucial role in providing Lincoln with access to books?

Nancy Miller, a neighbor, played a significant role by allowing Lincoln to borrow books from her collection.

Which book had a profound impact on Lincoln’s character?

“Aesop’s Fables” significantly influenced Lincoln’s character, shaping his ability to tell stories and convey moral lessons.

How did Lincoln’s stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln, support his education?

Sarah Bush Lincoln gave him the gift of time by allocating household chores to her children, allowing Lincoln more time to read and study.

Tags: Historical Significance of Lincoln's Books, Leadership Insights from Lincoln's Writings, Must-Read Books by Abraham Lincoln

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