He was born in Kentucky and lived most of his adult life in Illinois. But from ages 7 to 21 - the formative years - Abraham Lincoln lived in Indiana. Those Hoosier years are documented in Young Lincoln, which premieres at 9 p.m. Monday on WFYI (Channel 20), with repeats at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 12 and 10:30 p.m. Feb. 20.
Produced by Todd Gould, whose documentary For Gold and Glory, on the black auto-racing circuit in the 1920s won six regional Emmys last year, Young Lincoln is an affectionate look at the boy who would grow up to be the 16th president.
"The Indiana Lincoln is the essence of Lincoln," says historian Timothy Crumrin, and that pretty well sums up the message of this 26-minute program. Lincoln scholars aren't likely to learn anything, but the rest of us who want a sense of Lincoln as a young man will find the program worthwhile. Young Lincoln's story is told mostly through the words of historians and narration by former WISH (Channel 8) anchorman Mike Ahern.
They tell us that Lincoln's family moved to Indiana in 1816 to have a place where they could have clear title to land and live among people who opposed slavery. By all accounts, their hard life only became harder when Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, and his sister, Sarah, both died. That undoubtedly fueled the depressive part of Lincoln's personality. His scholarly nature emerged when his father, Thomas, went back to Kentucky and returned to Indiana with a new wife, Sarah Bush Johnston. She encouraged him to write and read as much as he could. By the time Lincoln moved to Illinois in 1830, he had developed into an intelligent, inquisitive man with an appreciation for hard work and a sense of justice for all.
"Indiana gave Lincoln the tools that built his life," says Joan Flinspach of the Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne. "The Indiana experience gave him morality, it taught him history and the fundamentals of our founding fathers. It taught him an appreciation for a life outside of what he knew, and it exposed him to the law and the opportunities that came from that. I think Indiana gave Abraham Lincoln his future."