Lincoln's Life in Letters:
View the Transcription
"Ciphering Book" image courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.
"Abraham Lincoln is my nam[e]
And with my pen I wrote the same
I wrote in both hast and speed
and left it here for fools to read"
--Papers of Abraham Lincoln
The full transcriptions for Lincoln's "Ciphering Book" can be found in the Papers of Abraham Lincoln Digital Library.
Lincoln's Love of Learning
Lincoln’s quest for knowledge started early, though frontier life provided few opportunities for classroom instruction. Despite having less than a year of formal education, the future president read whatever books he could find. He explored Aesop’s Fables and famous works of literature but also used books to study grammar, math, and other core concepts. He never stopped educating himself—maintaining a lifelong love of learning and self-improvement.
His enthusiasm for education is wonderfully evident in these pages from a “ciphering book” used in his teenage years to teach himself mathematics. The methods Lincoln used are obscure to us, but it is evident how carefully he is following the instructions. However, like any student, he could sometimes lose focus, exemplified by the short joke poem and the earliest known Lincoln signature.
Life in New Salem
Lincoln the Lawyer
The Lincoln Family
The documents highlighted in this exhibit are all drawn from our own collection. The originals are in our vault and the images were created by our Papers of Abraham Lincoln project. To see more documents written to and by Lincoln from all over the world, please visit www.papersofabrahamlincoln.org. If you have a Lincoln document, or know someone who does, please reach out to us. We are always looking for new discoveries.
President Abraham Lincoln
with our online resources