Learning Lincoln On-line
Learning Like Abe: M.L. Weems' Legends and Stories of George Washington, with Curious Anecdotes
Abraham Lincoln' boyhood and adult hero and life model
One of the first books that the young Abraham Lincoln would read was the Parson Wheems' Biography of George Washington.
One of the stories in this old book was the source of a great legend about George Washington: the Cherry Tree and honesty.
When George was about six years old, he was made the wealthy master of a hatchet of which, like most little boys, he was extremely fond. He went about chopping everything that came his way.
One day, as he wandered about the garden amusing himself by hacking his mother's pea sticks, he found a beautiful, young English cherry tree, of which his father was most proud. He tried the edge of his hatchet on the trunk of the tree and barked it so that it died.
Some time after this, his father discovered what had happened to his favorite tree. He came into the house in great anger, and demanded to know who the mischievous person was who had cut away the bark. Nobody could tell him anything about it.
Just then George, with his little hatchet, came into the room.
"George,'' said his father, "do you know who has killed my beautiful little cherry tree yonder in the garden? I would not have taken five guineas for it!''
This was a hard question to answer, and for a moment George was staggered by it, but quickly recovering himself he cried:
"I cannot tell a lie, father, you know I cannot tell a lie! I did cut it with my little hatchet.''
Abraham Lincoln and George Washington are two of the most famous presidents in United States history. They both served two terms in office during their own time and are memorialized in the present by statues, U.S. currency, and Mount Rushmore.