Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words

Written by Donna Janell Bowman
Illustrated by S.D. Schindler

In a little-known but somewhat amusing incident in his youth, Abraham Lincoln participated in a duel. The reason it’s not widely known is that Lincoln was so embarrassed by the episode, he swore to never insult anyone again and did not talk about the duel.

James Shields was a Springfield attorney in 1842, just like Abraham Lincoln. He was also state auditor, and Lincoln disagreed with his solution to a banking issue. Just to poke fun at Shields, Lincoln wrote a letter to the local publication of the Whig party and signed it Aunt Rebecca. Folks enjoyed Lincoln’s letter so much, they continued writing letters as Aunt Rebecca and making fun of Shields. Shields was livid and demanded to know who insulted him. Lincoln’s name came up as one of the letter writers. Shields challenged Lincoln to a duel. As the object of the challenge, Lincoln could make up his own rules. He devised impossible rules with swords as the weapons. Lincoln ended up apologizing, with Shields accepting.

Anecdotes such as this are priceless ways to get acquainted with historical figures who are otherwise larger than life. The author weaves an entertaining and humorous tale. The illustrator follows right along by helping the figures come alive. This would be fun as independent reading but more fun as a read aloud with plenty of room for discussion.

  • Lincolns DuelTitle: Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words
  • Author: Donna Janell Bowman
  • Illustrator: S.D. Schindler
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2018
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 36 pages
  • Grade Level: 2 to 5
  • Genre: Picture Book, Nonfiction, History, Biography
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-852-3
  • Extras: Author’s notes and bibliography

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