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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Armstrong, Hannah. 'Hannah Armstrong (William H. Herndon Interview)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: letter]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon525b.html


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415. Hannah Armstrong (William H. Herndon Interview).

[1866]

Mrs. Jack Armstrong

Am the wife of Jack Armstrong — was so — Knew Abrm Lincoln in July or August 1831 — Know this by the birth of one of my children. Lincoln was clerking for Offutt at that time. I was living 4 M. from New Salem — Our acquaintance began then. Abe would Come out to our house — drink milk & mush — Corn bred — butter — bring the Children Candy — would rock the Cradle of my baby — the boy that was put on trial and the one Abe cleared [1] — while I got him Abe something to eat. Abe is one year older than I am — am now 55 years — My husband Jack Armstrong died — about 1857 — I foxed his pants — made his shirts — didn't made any buckskin pants — only foxed his surveyors pants [2]

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— He has gone with us to parties with us — he would tell stories — joke people — girls & boys at the parties — He would nurse babies — do any thing to accommodate any body — I never Saw him drink a drop of liquor. Jack Armstrong and Lincoln never had a word: they did wrestle — no foul play — all in a good humor — commenced in fun and ended in sport. I had no books about my house — loaned him none — we didn't think about books — papers — We worked — had to to live. Lincoln has staid at our house 2 or 3 weeks at a time.

In reference to the trial of my son I wrote to Lincoln first — he then wrote to me — have lost the letter — went to see Lincoln at Springfied — Saw him in his office: he promised to come down to defend my Son — did so — cleared him — told the stories about our first acquaintance — what I did for him and how I did it &c — was truly eloquent. After the trial was over L. came down to where I was, in Beardstown. I asked him what he charged me — told him I was poor — : he Said — "Why — Hannah I shant charge you a cent — never. Any thing I can do for you I will do for you willingly & freely. without charge." He wrote to me about some land which some men were trying to get frm me. Mr. Lincoln said — "Hannah they Cant get your land — let them try it in the Circuit Court and then you appeal it — bring it to Supm Court and I and Herndon will attend to it for nothing.

In 1863.: I wanted to get one of my Sons — Wm — the boy whom Lincoln cleared in Beardstown out of the Army — needed him — all I had — wrote to Lincoln at Washington: he telegraphed to me as follows —

Sept. 1863

"Mrs. Hannah Armstrong — I have just ordered the discharge of your boy, William — as you say now at Louisville Ky

A. Lincoln. [3]

As to the trial — Lincoln said to me "Hannah Your son will be cleared before sun down". He and the other lawyers addressed the Jury, and closed the case. I went down at Thompsons pasture. Staton [4] Came and told me soon that my Son was cleared — and a free man. I went up to the Court house — the Jury shook hands with me — so did the Court — so did Lincoln. We were all affected and tears streamed down Lincoln's Eyes. He then remarked to me — "Hannah — What did I tell you." I pray to God that Wm may be a good boy hereafter — that this lesson may prove in the End a good lesson to him and to all.

Mr Lincoln lectured in the Evening after the trial on discoveries and inventions: [5] it was a funny production and if I can judge a very good — that is a solid & good one.

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A few days before Mr Lincoln left for Washington I went to see him — was a widow — the boys got up a story on me that I went to get to sleep with Abe &c — . I replied to the Joke that it was not every woman who had the good fortune & high honor of sleeping with a President. This stopt the sport — cut it short. — Well I talked to him some time and was about to bid him good by — had told him that it was the last time that I should ever see him — something told me that I should never see him — that they would kill him — He smiled and said — jokingly — "Hannah — if they Kill me I shall never die an other death. I then bade him goodby.

I never was in Springfield till 1859. — The stories going the rounds about jumping. I was in Springfield after my Son was cleared — saw him — shook hands with him — Saw his wife. Abe never spoke to me about his wife — never introduced me to her — thought something was the matter with him & her — The first time I went to his house knocked at the door — heard no answer — went to the back door — roused the girl — Saw Lincoln Come up Stairs

Jno. T. Stuart &c — tell it. [6]

You understand the customs & habits of the People of Menard in 1831 to 1837 as well and better than I do and Can write them out — am sick — want to go home — will see you in Springfield sometime — will then tell you more — Goodby &c —

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3830 — 34; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:377 — 81

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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Armstrong, Hannah. 'Hannah Armstrong (William H. Herndon Interview)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: letter]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon525b.html
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