Home #Hwoodtimes “Young Lincoln of New Salem” by author Sam Rawlins

“Young Lincoln of New Salem” by author Sam Rawlins

Learn how our 16th President works his way towards becoming a lawyer. The love that all who knew him felt for him ultimately gets him elected to run our country. The decency of this man shines through making it no wonder he’s been considered a favorite for more than 150 years.

By: Judy Shields


Hollywood, California (The Hollywood Times) 10/8/2019 “Get the reader and audience involved in a riveting story that you can become emotionally involved in. I wanted history to come alive when I wrote the book.” Sam Rawlins author of Young Lincoln of New Salem told The Hollywood Times during a phone Interview.

For a writer to make history come alive for the reader takes great passion and dedication to the subject. Sam Rawlins demonstrates an abundance of both in his new book. Young Lincoln of New Salem. The result of three years of writing and 50 years of research come together to produce an eloquent picture of young Ave Lincoln that allows us to get into his very heart and soul. Young Lincoln is both a historical account and a great love story that gives readers an opportunity to get to know and understand this remarkable man as his contemporaries knew him.


Young Lincoln of New Salem give readers an opportunity to know Abe Lincoln as his closest friends knew him.


While most of us know of the life and death of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, we know very little about his younger years. In Young Lincoln of New Salem, Sam Rawlins paints a powerful picture of what life was like for young Lincoln – a man who could barely read or write when he arrived in New Salem at age 21, yet went on to become a lawyer, and later president. Rawlins shares little-known facts about the love and sadness that consumed Lincoln in his early years and motivated the rest of his life.

Released earlier this year, the inspiring story follows the future president through six pivotal years on the rugged Illinois frontier, where Lincoln went from store clerk to postmaster to caption of militia in the Black Hawk War.


And along the way, he entered into a life-altering romance with Ann Rutledge, and that heartbreaking relationship is explored in-depth in the book.

Rawlins’ quest to share an accurate depiction of a young Abe Lincoln took him to New Salem and the surrounding area. During decades of research, he pored over more than 150 written sources, including countless letters, interviews with firs-party individuals and other first-party eyewitness accounts.


The immersive story makes history come alive, giving readers a glimpse of Lincoln as his contemporaries saw him, providing a fresh understanding of this man and his remarkable life.

Sam Rawlins was raised in Oklahoma and Arkansas in the late 1940s and early 1950s. An immediate interest in history became as essential part of how he was, and from the age of 12, Rawlins became inspired by the life of Abraham Lincoln.


In the 1960s, after graduating from the Army Medical Training Center in San Antonio, Texas, Rawlins served as a medic in Southeast Asia. He was able to observe the destructive effects of PTSD in patients, in friends and in himself. These life-changing experiences inspired his first book A Return to Meadow Wood, which tells the story of a Vietnam veteran who seeks healing form PTSD and closure to painful memories.

During the last 10 years, Rawlins experienced a near-death event and a subsequent faith-inspired episode, both of which not only matures him as a human being, but also strengthened him as a writer, leading to the inspirational quality that often threads its way through his work.

THT: What inspired you to write this book?

Sam Rawlins: “I wrote it so that it would appeal to actually three audiences, you might say there are three elements in the book, for history buffs, they will get a lot out of the story of the six years in New Salem, which proved to be a pivotal part of his life changing experience and then there is the love story revealing his relationship with Ann Rutledge and how it changed the rest of his life and them thirdly, overall I believe it is a compelling story that will emotionally involve readers throughout.”

THT: Let’s talk about the length of time you spent on the research for this book.

Sam Rawlins: “It started when I was about 12 years old. I was raised by my grandparents, who were history buffs you see and they were Lincoln buffs as well. They had quite a collection of out of print books and so on and they introduced me to that. Over the years, my fascination turned into an obsession you might say. My grandfather had contacts through the Library of Congress and was able to get me photocopies of old interviews and copies of portions of diaries and so on. Some of these participants in the book, there are no fictional characters in the book and all of the incidents were real. I must say, that over the years, there has been a lot of inaccuracies, myths and legends but into a lot of books about Lincoln that only a prolong amount of research brings out the truth. I was amazing by a lot of the information that I found out about over the years.”

“I hadn’t originally intended to write a book about Lincoln, but about three years ago I took a trip to New Salem itself in Illinois and that was the turning point right there, that encouraged me and the people that I met there, provided me with lots of information and copies of documents that really helped me to get into it. I saw that those six years, from the ages of 22 to 28 are the turning point to Lincoln’s life, where he went from a person who had little of 30 days of formal education before he arrived in New Salem to the time that he left. When he got there he could barely sign his own name and had to sign it as A Lincoln but the time he left, he had become quite well educated. He was mentored by several people there in New Salem. Judge Green was the justice of people of Sangamon County and in those days the justice of the peach was actually the law there. He had mentored other young people that later became attorneys and Lincoln’s curiosity with the law and law books in the Judge’s collection kind of nudged him in that direction and the school teach also tutored him and brought his education up to where it should be, by the time he left New Salem in April 15, 1837 he was a full-fledged attorney recognized all over the state of Illinois.”

THT: This is a book that should be put in every high school library and it is about history.

Sam Rawlins: “I hope readers will be touched by the personal story and be encouraged to learn more themselves. I have included 21 reference sources in bibliography in the back of the book. There were more, but those 21 were the principal ones I used.”

THT: So with the research you did and the knowledge you discovered, was this the reason for writing this novel?

Sam Rawlins: “There are no fictional characters in the book and all the incidents actually happened. I was able to verify that. Some little known facts, about his father, his father Thomas Lincoln joined the Baptist church in 1823 in a little place called Pigeon Creek, Indiana. They had among their beliefs that you shouldn’t drink, so a lot of people weren’t aware of this. I went back and found the records were he had actually started to work for the Boone Distillery in 1814 in Kentucky and over the years he had become somewhat of an alcoholic. During those five years from the time that Abe lost his birth Mother in 1818 until 1823, in those five years he was rather abusive both physically and mentally towards Abe. Somewhere during that time his Father had married his second wife, Sarah Bush Lincoln, she tried to get him to stop drinking and he did not believe in slavery but treated his own children like slaves. There was a permanent break between him and Abe and when he passed on, Abe didn’t go to the funeral and he did not visit him on his death bed and he only saw his grave when he went to visit stepmother 10 years after his father’s death. Whenever he did go to visit his stepmother he always stayed with his cousin, who lived a short distance down the road in Coals County. Dennis Hanks, was great ancestor second or third cousin removed, not sure exactly, I would have to look it up, of Tom Hanks the actor. Dennis Hanks, had wrote stories of this and did interviews and kept a diary of Lincoln’s mistreatment by his father. When Lincoln stayed with Hanks family, Dennis’ children also listened to Abe talk about it. Then Abe had his own children, four boys, and he never allowed them to be their paternal grandfather. That is quite a bit of story in itself.”

Abraham Lincoln elected President November 6, 1860

“I supposed I could say something that isn’t in the book: When he because president, he became the first Republican ever elected president and he was also not the favorite in the Republican party when he got the nomination. The favorite was the governor of New York who late began, Lincoln believed in keeping his political revivals close to the vest and so he made him his secretary to the state. Lincoln only won the nomination on the fourth ballot in Chicago, where the Republican primary was held.”

THT: Can you talk about the relationship between Abe and Ann Rutledge.

Drawing of Abe Lincoln and Ann Rutledge

Sam Rawlins: “Both Judge Green and Doctor Allen kept records, Mentor Graham all kept records of what was going on. The word went around that Abe had a complete nervous breakdown. Lincoln told the stories to those important to him about Ann’s death. One can take it the way they want to. I point out in my opinion, from the time that he was nine years old and pulled off a horse and kicked in the head by the horse above the left eye, some doctors have said that in some cases that could cause a person to believe they are having visions or can speak to the dead. Rather that is true or not is merely theory. I lay it out there for the reader to decide for themselves.”

“Those that have strong spiritual believes will find this extremely interesting.”

THT: Is this your second novel?

Sam Rawlins: “This is the second book. I have written some short stories over the years, they are out of print right now and maybe one day they will be back in print. When I was a caregiver for my late first wife, I wrote my first book. I was combat medic during the Vietnam War and I interviewed as many as two dozen veterans and composited them and their experiences into that book. I spent about five years on that first book and three years on this book. I really believe in writing an immersive story that really gets you into what is going on in the story.”

THT: What are your currently working on?

Sam Rawlins: “I have been researching off and on for some time, I’m also a Civil War buff too. I am interested in the Civil War and I am working on an epic story about the Civil War. In this, I am in the process of doing a lot of research, the characters, like a docu-drama. All the characters really lived during that time and I feel people will be interested in that. I have read a lot of Shelby Foots books over the year. He wrote brilliant historical fiction.”

THT: Are looking to make your book into a movie?

Sam Rawlins: “I think I write somewhat in visual terms and I think it has the elements that would lend itself to a film. There are several classic films about Lincoln, most of them have been inaccurate except for the Spielberg film that he made in the past few years, I thought that was an excellent movie and accurate. I don’t think there has been a film in depth about his life in New Salem during those six years, and I believe my book would lend to such a thing.”

Sam went on to talk about the background of where a film is made can become the character of a film.

THT: I bet Abe Lincoln would have been a man you would have loved to have met.

Sam Rawlins: “Absolutely correct. Yes. I feel like over the years researching his life it was peeling back the layers of an onion to get to his heart and soul and that is what I strove to do in this book. You are not reading the traditional Lincoln speeches, to really get into who he was and what other people thought about him that were eyewitnesses to the events in my book and taking from their diaries and letters and interviews. Lincoln’s law partner, after his death, interviewed over 250 people that knew about Lincoln and those documents are housed in the Library of Congress. They were put on microfilm and a lot of them are lose and some deteriorated. My grandfather was able to get ahold of a lot of information found in the late 40s early 50s. Lincoln law partner had a lot of those documents stored at his farm, it was a tragedy that mice got into them, destroyed a lot of them and then later he had an office fire when he moved to his law office in Springfield. Copies were made and saved.”

THT: How often do you write?

Sam Rawlins: “I am at that point in my life that if something inspires me and something comes to me right then and there or I come across some historical reference, I just drop everything a go right to it. Ordinarily I am the type of person who likes to write late at night in my office. When I don’t get a lot of phone calls and the TV is off and nobody is visiting and my wife is asleep I can sit down and write about these things and even put on some music. I am a country music fan and easy music from John Denver to classic 50 country singers. I like to listen to Neal Diamond and I have seen him 3 or 4 times in concert.”

Sam’s Rawlins writing to me in the book he gave to me

This story shares what a horrible youth Abraham Lincoln lived with a neglectful father. One who did not care about his son. He lived through the death of his mother at a young age and then the death of his sister.

Young Abe Lincoln lived through more heartbreak than most of us could dream of.  To have lost his Mother and sister at such a young age, he also goes through losing the love of his life within months of their planned wedding.

Abe Lincoln learns, through the loss of losing the most important women in his life, what real friendship is and what is truly means to have real friendship in ones life. He becomes like a son to the man who will educate him and everyone in New Salem learns that he is a kind and decent man and proves it many times over.

Those of you that like to read about history, should definitely get this book. It is truly a great read and you will be eager to turn the pages until the book’s end.

Those of you that like to read a great love story, you definitely need to get this book. After reading this book you will know why Abe Lincoln had the sad look upon his face. We all should be lucky enough to have found a love like Abe did. What a hard and sad life he had those early years of his life.

This is one of those books that you just get for that history buff in your life and if you are in a book club, then this one should be your next book to be read. Order a copy for your high school son, daughter or grandson or granddaughter. Buy a copy for your local library.

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