Was Lincoln’s family dirt-poor, or were they on a par with most of the families in that region? And what was Thomas Lincoln’s work ethic? This article, featuring comments from Lincoln scholar Michael Burlingame, made me question facts I didn’t know I had to question about Lincoln’s youth.
Another mystery is Lincoln’s father. The question is “whether his father was an industrious and responsible fellow or rather shiftless,” Burlingame says. “I fall into the latter category in interpretation because there’s so much testimony from his neighbors and relatives (that) he was basically a good-natured fellow, but he was not ambitious, and he discouraged his son from acquiring an education, really wasn’t very close to his son and didn’t treat him very well.”