Young Lincoln of New Salem – Abraham Lincoln’s spiritual journey during his time at New Salem and beyond- a book review

Lately it seems like I have been on a Lincoln kick so when I had the chance receive Sam Rawlins book Young Lincoln of New Salem, Abraham Lincoln’s spiritual journey during his time at New Salem and beyond, the timing seemed right. In exchange for receiving the book, I agreed to read and review it.

Young Lincoln of New Salem
New book by Sam Rawlins

Since I have been to New Salem many times and it is just up the road, I was already an interested party for Rawlins book.

The reason for the book

Rawlins visited New Salem in April of 2015 and states, “I had a strange sensation in that haunting moment. A stirring of ghosts of those who lived in those times rose up and around me. Who were they? I could shut my eyes and almost see them in my minds eye.”

The setting – New Salem

Rawlins goes on to introduce Lincoln at his first arrival at New Salem in April of 1861. The story then portrays Lincoln’s life and spiritual awakening much through his interaction with Ann Rutledge, her family and others that he connects with in this frontier town.

Not ghosts, but God.

At first I was a bit worried that this was going to be a supernatural type of book about ghosts and hauntings. Happily, I was wrong. It turns out to be a book about how God moves through Lincoln’s life and how New Salem and those that lived there help round out a young man into the man he would become.

The characters.

I learned a lot about the people Lincoln connected with in his early life through Rawlins book. Rawlins did extensive research using over 150 sources and he outlines what appears to be a true love affair between Lincoln and Ann Rutledge.

Taking us through the Blackhawk War, Lincoln’s days as a store clerk and as an avid student we see his day to day life at New Salem during the six years he lived there. Rawlins brings in the love affair with Ann Rutledge and other people in his life like Jack Armstrong, Judge Green, Doctor Allen, the Clary Boys and much more. They are flushed out and come to life in living color.

New Facts come to light.

Lincoln was a tortured soul in many ways seeing a lot of death and having a terrible childhood that I was not really privy too before reading this book. However, through Rawlin’s eyes you can see where his faith and the friends that helped him find that faith lend him the strength he needs to get through the dark days. This faith provided the firm core he would need in the days ahead to steer the nation through turbulent times.

A Docudrama

An easy read, I like history and fiction. Rawlins calls this a docudrama and I think that is a fair assessment. If you like Lincoln, this is a great book. I recommend reading it, then visiting New Salem, you will enjoy the visit and see the sites through new eyes. My next stop is Petersburg to see Ann Rutledge’s grave, then to try to find her “real” grave on a nice sunny day.

To know what I mean by that, you will have to read the book! Published by Yorkshire Publishing, the book is available in hardcover and paperback and ebook through and

Note – this book was provided to me to review. Although I received it without cost, all opinions are my own.

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