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"Lincoln in Springfield" | Reviewed by Bill Schwab

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

It is not unusual for a reader to know more about Lincoln's death than his life. Jan Jacobi’s mission is to correct that paucity in knowledge by writing a series of young adult novels depicting Lincoln’s pre-presidential years. The second book in the series, “Lincoln in Springfield,” spans Abe's early years in Springfield, Illinois, and includes the beginning of his law practice, his fledgling political career, his courtship with Mary Todd and his term as a Whig Congressman in Washington D.C.

This history is told in the first person. Lincoln presents himself as a down-to-earth person who mourns the death of his first love, Ann Rutledge, when she is only 22. This loss sends him into a deep depression and makes him hesitant to enter into another relationship with a woman. He courts Mary Todd, and even asks her to marry him, but then breaks the engagement when he discovers he has feelings for a young woman who shares a room with Todd.

Lincoln tells heartbreaking stories such as the time he was so poor he had to borrow a horse in order to leave the declining town of New Salem for Springfield to establish a law practice. He depicts the many odd jobs he worked to provide food and shelter for another day. He recalls the mentors who shaped and motivated him to become a thoughtful and accomplished young man.

The book is fiction but is based on Jacobi’s extensive research. It includes a list of primary and secondary sources which underpin the historical details of the novel. It is an intelligent, easy read that will appeal to middle and high school students as well as adults.

The Friends of the Washington Public Library have invited Jacobi to speak at the library about “Lincoln in Springfield” on President’s Day Weekend, Saturday, February 19, 2022, at 11 A.M. All are invited to attend this event.

About the Author: “Lincoln in Springfield” follows Jacobi’s “Young Lincoln,” winner of a Best of Illinois History Award and a Nautilus Award for middle school fiction. He has taught English and humanities to 7th and 8th graders for 49 years. In 2014, “St. Louis Magazine” named him Middle School Teacher of the Year.

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