US Civil War
Abraham Lincoln

When did Lincoln leave his parents and why?


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Lincoln never got along very well with his father. His mother died when he was about nine, and his father remarried. His step-mother was a good woman and was very good to her step-son. Lincoln's father was not very lucky as a hard-scrabble, subsistence farmer. They were always just barely scraping by, and moved several times during Lincoln's boyhood, seeking a better opportunity, or a better farm. But things never seemed to work out for Tom Lincoln.

When Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as an Illinois State Senator in Springfield, his father was still alive and living not too far away. But his father did not even bother to come see his son, a self-made man who had risen far above his impoverished origins, take his place among the state's leaders.

This next part here is controversial, and not accepted by any of the major biographers of Lincoln. The accepted story is that Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks, was from Virginia. But where I live, in western North Carolina, they used to tell a different story. There was a Nancy Hanks who was an orphan girl, from Rutherford County, North Carolina. In those days orphans were "bound out" by the county court to families who would take them in. Nancy was bound out to the family of a prosperous man who owned an inn and a tavern, named Abraham Enloe. Nancy grew up with the Enloes, and Mrs. Enloe noticed some funny business about the time Nancy turned up pregnant. At that time, Tom Lincoln stopped at the inn, on his way to east Tennessee, where his uncle lived, and then on to Kentucky. Its said Mrs. Enloe forced Abraham Enloe to pay Tom Lincoln to take Nancy with him. Some even say her baby was already born here, in western North Carolina, and not in Kentucky, before she ever left. The baby of course was Abraham Lincoln. Its also said that the Enloe's son, Wesley Enloe, was a dead ringer for Abraham Lincoln. There was a book written on this version of events one hundred years ago, but northern historians and Lincoln partisans all denounced it as southern sour grapes, an effort to smear Lincoln's memory. But there don't seem to be much if any records of a Nancy Hanks in Virginia. And Lincoln himself could never be persuaded to say much about his heritage while he was alive. And it would certainly explain his father's attitude toward him. Your teacher is not likely to be impressed by this story either. But it could very easily be the real truth.