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The last months of my father's long, useful life were spent in the writing of this book. It marks the culmination of a plan which had occupied his mind during his years of retirement from active business in which he had exhaustively studied the best biogrcphies of his subject and gleaned many incidents in the upbringing and character development of Lincoln which, in his judgment, had a direct and important bearing upon and paved the way for the noble service rendered by Lincoln as President.
My father often pointed out to me the perseverance of Lincoln, from early boyhood, which resulted in the slow but sure development of characteristics drawn from an average lineage and lowly surroundings into that strength, patience, wisdom and vision which made possible the glorious closing years of the Great Emancipator's life. Whatever success my father attained was due, I believe, to a perseverance strengthened and kept alive in the development of his own average endowments, by the example which his ideal furnished. He advised young men to follow the incentive found in a careful study of the life of Lincoln and he remained consistent by following that incentive as the beacon light of his own life. He has tried, in this book, to bring to the front, more briefly and connectedly than could be done in a biography of so great a life, those attributes, illustrated by incidents in the life of his subject, upon which he based his good counsel to me and to other young men. He hoped his book might aid all to realize that success is not so much a matter of lineage, surroundings or exceptional endowment, as it is a problem of patient, arduous and perseverant development of fundamentals inherent in all normal boys and girls.
For the authenticity of the facts surrounding the incidents considered up to the first inauguration of Lincoln as President, my father has relied on his biographical study, but his comments and conclusions are his own. From the first inauguration to the death of Lincoln in martyrdom, what my father has here written springs from his personal recollection of that strenuous and epoch-making period. During ny father's military service he met President Lincoln, was charmed in the presence of that great and noble man, and, imbued with the spirit of the times and filled with loyalty to his flag and to the man whose wisdom, patience and vision had so successfully guided the destinies of that flag from the abyss of secession and rebellion to the heights of victory, he then, and ever after, held "Honest Abe Lincoln” as his ideal man and public servant, and this book is his tribute to that ideal. He loved the memory of Lincoln
as a dutiful son loves his father, even as I loved mine, and into this final work of his life is poured all that love, and all the Americanism which was his creed in life.
My father wrote in a mental and physical vigor quite unusual in one of his years, and his death on July 19, 1925, after a very brief illness, at the age of eighty-four years, was a surprise and shock. He passed away in the midst of negotiations for the publication of this work. In completing these negotiations and offering this little volume to the public under the plan which was in father's mind, I feel I am providing a memorial to him, who was very dear to me, and passing on to future generations the clean, honorable, patriotic sentiments by which his public and private life was governed and directed.
His patriotism, at the age of nineteen, prompted him to answer one of the early calls of President Lincoln. He served over three years in the field with Co. 1, First Vermont Volunteer Cavalry, participated in seventeen engagements, and closed his service with that organization with the rank of Captain after the severity of a wound at Broad Run, April 1, 1863, had compelled his discharge from active duty. A few months later, however, he volunteered for frontier service following the St. Albans raid, and served as Major in the 26th New York Cavalry. He was a lawyer by profession and successfuily practiced in Vermont and Illinois in the late sixties and in the seventies. For nearly forty years he owned and conducted a large farm in Derby, Vermont, and frequently wrote articles on agricultural and political topics which appeared in various newspapers and magazines. He represented his town in the Vermont legislature five times, was three times speaker of the House of Representatives, and once a member of the State Senate. He was governor of Vermont from 1896 to 1898 by a record republican majority. He was analytical, studious, thoughtful and serious. His interest in public affairs remained as keen to the end of his life as it was during his public service.
My father's life and thought qualified him to write this book and prompted him to publish a newly dressed conception of his ideal American. My hope is that this last work of his life, into which he put his heart and soul in tribute form, may find a niche in these busy times from which it may help in keeping alive the memory of that Americanism and patriotism which preserved the Union and crowned the Great Commander-in-Chief and the Brave Boys of sixty-one to sixty-five with undying glory.
AARON H. GROUT