Lincoln's starved and straitened boyhood stretched out into a manhood that seemed to hold little but poverty and toil. As he grew large enough he began to work out as a farmhand and afterward as a flatboatsman. Every yard of the brown jeans dyed with walnut juice which he wore was earned by splitting rails. A day's work lasted from sunrise to sunset and brought him in twenty-five cents.
Listen to the story of Lincoln's first dollar:
I was about eighteen years of age and belonged, as you know, to what they call down South the "scrubs." I was very glad to have the chance of earning something, and supposed each of the men would give me a couple of bits. I sculled them out to the steamer. They got on board, and I lifted the trunks and put them on the deck. The steamer was about to put on steam again, when I called out, "You have forgotten to pay me." Each of them took from his pocket a silver half-dollar and threw it on the bottom of my boat. You may think it was a very little thing, and in these days it seems to me like a trifle, but it was a most important incident in my life. I could scarcely credit that I, a poor boy, had earned a dollar in less than a day; that by honest work I had earned a dollar. I was a more hopeful and thoughtful boy from that time.
It was on a trip to New Orleans on a flatboat with John Hanks that he saw, for the first time, men and women put up on a block and sold as