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Frequently Asked Lincoln Questions

Did Abraham Lincoln have a middle name?

No. He was named for his paternal grandfather who was born in Virginia.

How tall was Lincoln and what did he look like?

You can read a description in Lincoln's own words in his autobiography of 1859.

Who was in Lincoln's immediate family?

There are birth and death dates in the Lincoln Family Timeline. You also can see a list of books about the family on the Lincoln Bookshelf. For a description of family members, visit the Lincoln Home (National Park Service) website.

Was Lincoln the son of Thomas Lincoln or someone else?

Take a look at comments by Ed Steers, Jr., who refutes the stories that Lincoln was the son of Abraham Enloe of North Carolina.

How do I get a description of Lincoln's life?

There are some options on the biographical links page. You also can see a list of books on the Lincoln Bookshelf. Plus, take a look at the Brief Profile of Lincoln's life which covers many issues in summary.

Where do I find out about the failures Lincoln had in life?

You will see a list in the Education Links section, plus a much larger, contrasting list of successes.

How can I see the letter Lincoln wrote to a widow who lost sons in the Civil War?

This the so-called "Bixby Letter," and you can read the text on this website.

There's something I think Lincoln said. How do I find out about it?

This can be difficult to determine. If the quote was from conversation, you have to weigh the reliability of the source, and even historians don't agree on sources. The safest ground is Lincoln's own speeches and writings, found in the The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy Basler and published by the Abraham Lincoln Association (a multi-volume set of books), or short one-volume versions also by Basler. A small selection of speeches and writings are on this website; use our internal search engine to check them. We've added a quotations page to help you out.

Did Lincoln own slaves?

Regardless of what you have heard, there is no truth to this assertion. Lincoln is sometimes confused with other presidents who did own slaves, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Is is true that Lincoln supported colonization and compensated emancipation?

Yes. To read more about these policies, see this presentation by Edward Steers, Jr.

Did Lincoln write the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope?

No. Lincoln prepared his speeches with great care. There are five original copies of the speech in Lincoln's handwriting, none of which appear on envelopes. To read the Gettysburg Address and see helpful links, click here.

How do I find out about Lincoln's assassination?

For the most complete list of web sites, use your favorite search engine. A short list is available on our Assassination links section. Check our book page for book titles. And by the way, the play he was attending when he was shot was entitled Our American Cousin.

How can I see or obtain a photograph of Lincoln?

We are unable to provide you with either print or digital photos of Lincoln. Some belong to private collectors or institutions which don't permit their use on the Internet. For sources and ownership of individual photos, consult Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose by Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1963), Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography by Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III, and Peter W. Kunhardt (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992), Abraham Lincoln in Print and Photograph: A Picture History from the Lilly Library, edited by Cecil K. Byrd and Ward W. Moore (New York: Dover Publications, 1997), or Lincoln: A Picture Story of His Life by Stefan Lorant (New York: W.W. Norton, 1969). You can view photos at the Library of Congress Website.

Where can I find out about a Lincoln valuable or collectible?

If you have Lincoln document, book, picture or other item you want appraised or sold, contact a dealer in rare/used books or Lincolniana. You can visit an online buy-and-sell service at The Railsplitter. Also see the dealers listed under Lincoln Bookstores. Or, you can email Kent Tucker of Illinois, an appraiser of Lincolniana. To look up all sorts of Lincoln collectibles, consult Collecting Lincoln With Values by Stuart Schneider (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Co., Ltd, 1997). This book is available in public libraries and through Inter-Library Loan. For some guidance about the value of a Lincoln book, see Dan Pearson's remarks. We also have a page on evaluating assassination-era newspapers. If you are wondering how to care for an old document, book, or collectible, click here for detailed information from the National Park Service.

Is it true that Lincoln had a patent on an invention?

Yes. He was the only American president to hold a patent, and you can click here to read about it.

What kind of will did Lincoln have?

Strangely enough for a lawyer, Lincoln died without drawing up a will. When he was killed, his son Robert called upon family friend and Supreme Court Justice David Davis to take charge of the estate.

What was Lincoln's favorite poem?

It was a piece by William Knox called Mortality, which you may read here.

Where can I see the text of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates online?

You can read the complete speeches in the The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. There are also debate titles on our book page.

Was there a death mask made of Lincoln?

No, but there were two life masks made, one in 1860 and one in 1865.

Did Lincoln have Marfan Syndrome?

This is a matter of dispute, and the doctors we have consulted do not believe he had this condition. The subject resurfaced in July 2000 through a news story from the Chicago Sun-Times called "Scientists Ready to Test Lincoln DNA". You can read discussion about the topic in previous months of the Friends of Lincoln Mailbag, which is searchable.

Can you help me with my school assignment about Lincoln?

We are unable to offer personalized homework assistance through Abraham Lincoln Online. This website is a hobby, not a business, and we do not have time to handle the hundreds of requests we receive for help. However, you can contact the Abraham Lincoln Research Site for help like this.

Did Lincoln leave a diary?

There is no evidence that Lincoln kept a diary. He did, however, keep correspondence and scraps of speeches in the lining of his hat.

Was Lincoln Gay?

Historian Allen Guelzo is not the only one who considers this a preposterous claim. Click here for his comments and that of other Lincoln historians.

Where can I find the poem "The Lonesome Train"?

The words can be found on the Assassination Links page

Where can I learn about the Civil War?

We don't cover the war, but there are many excellent Web sites which do. For a small sampling of links, click here.

Related Link
Frequently Asked Questions about Lincoln's Speeches and Writings


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