Rise of the Rail Splitter


Eastman Johnson. The boyhood of Lincoln. (An evening in the log hut.) Boston: Louis Prang, 1868. Chromolithograph.

Having attended less than one year of formal schooling, Lincoln was largely self-educated. Lincoln’s efforts to overcome his humble beginnings and lack of education have engaged writers and artists to this day. The boyhood of Lincoln (1868) depicts how the American artist Eastman Johnson (1824-1906) imagined the future president, an exemplar of the self-made man, reading by hearth fire in the family log cabin. This version of Eastman’s popular artistic rendering of Lincoln’s youthful attempt at self-improvement was included in "Prang’s American Chromos," a series of chromolithographs issued in 1868 by the Boston firm of Louis Prang and Company. Immigrating to Boston from Prussia in 1850, Prang (1824-1909), was a printer, lithographer, and publisher who became known as the "father of the American Christmas card."

Lincoln Collection The William Whiting Nolen Collection of Lincolniana.