Reared in an impoverished family on the western frontier, the self-reliant Abraham Lincoln is the leading example of the “anyone can make it” ethos. He was self-educated by candlelight in a one-room log cabin. He was an avid reader and he read and reread “Aesop’s Fables” and Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe.”
His mother died when he was 9. As he grew into his teens, he willingly took responsibility for all chores expected of him in the household and became an adept axe-man in his work building rail fences. He attained a reputation for brawn and audacity after a very competitive wrestling match to which he was challenged by the renowned leader of local ruffians. Lincoln also gave his father all earnings from work done outside the home.