I really enjoyed Henry Fonda in director John Ford’sYoung Mr. Lincoln. The film is fictionalized but based on an actual murder trial Abraham Lincoln worked on. Honest Abe leaves Indiana for Springfield, Illinois. Once there he does a poor country family a good turn and they pay him by giving him a barrel full of law books, which prompts him to learn law.
Later one summer he meets the lovely, Mary Todd, but he’s shy and awkward. At a summer festival two brothers from the country get into a fight with a town jerk and the jerk winds up dead. The locals are ready to lynch the outsiders but Abe steps in and turns them around with his wit.
It looks like the brothers have no chance for justice, but Abe takes the case.
Fonda does look like a young Abe. The cadence of his voice sounds small town. The film was enjoyable and would make good family viewing.
S. D. Nelson’s children’s book Digging a Hole to Heaven: Coal Miner Boys will teach readers about the hardships of the children who had to work deep in the mines during the 19th century. The illustrations are well done and show a sharp contrast between the dark mines and the sunny lives lived above ground. Throughout the story of 12 year old Conall, his brother and miners, Nelson has inserted sidebars with facts about child labor, and mining in particular.
I enjoyed the book, but wish the characters had more depth and personality. Each one was standard cookie cutter. Yet I still recommend the book as an introduction to this aspect of history, that’s usually forgotten.