Abraham Lincoln grew up in what we call today a blended family. His mother Nancy died when his sister Sarah was eleven and he was only nine. Lincoln's father Thomas then remarried to a widow named Sarah Bush Johnston who had her own children and the families merged together in on a small farm in southern Indiana. That was how Lincoln grew up until the extended clan relocated to Illinois in the early 1830s. In this letter, Abraham Lincoln explained to his step-brother John Johnston why he had not replied to earlier letters warning of his father's ill health and why he had decided not to come and visit. The content and tone of the letter suggests that there might have been serious strains in the relationship between father and son. Thomas Lincoln died a week after this letter was written. (By Matthew Pinsker)
Abraham Lincoln to John D. Johnston, Springfield, Illinois, January 12, 1851 in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (8 vols., New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 2: 97-98, http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/.
John D. Johnston
Transcription adapted from The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), edited by Roy P. Basler
Adapted by Matthew Pinsker, Dickinson College