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Let Us Read
20. Learn to read these words, 65.
21. Read the text and say why of all the American presidents (and there are more than 40 presidents in American history) George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are especially remembered.
Two American Presidents
The first US President known to all Americans as “The Father of the Nation” was George Washington. George was born in Virginia into a planter’s1 family. When the boy was eleven his father died. The family had a lot of land but not enough money to send George to school in England as rich families used to do at that time.
The boy went to a private school and, later, two private teachers taught him to be a soldier and a Virginia gentleman. George learned to ride a horse, to hunt, shoot, sail and swim. Because he was good at arithmetic, he also learned to measure land. The young man went to faraway parts of the country to measure land for those who built their houses there. He spent hours on horseback in all kinds of weather. He learned to sleep out, cook his own meals, and work hard every day. Everyone liked and trusted young George.
George Washington began his career2 in the service of his country as a major in the Virginia militia and later became Commander in Chief of the Colonial Army during the Revolutionary War. He was among those who wrote the US Constitution in Philadelphia. People respected him for his courage, honesty and wisdom.
After the Revolutionary War Washington wanted to retire and live at Mount Vernon where he had a beautiful house and a big plantation. But he knew that his duty was to serve his country. He hurried off to New York City which was the capital then. On April 30, 1789, before a large crowd Washington promised to “preserve,3 protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States”. This is how George Washington became the first President of the country and served two terms. He refused a third term and in 1797 he retired to Mount Vernon where he died two years later.
66. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the USA. Like George Washington, he takes a special place in the list of American presidents.
Abe grew up in the Middle West. His first home was a small, one-room house in the woods. His family were pioneers who helped to fight Indians and push the borders of the United States farther west. The family lived in poverty. His parents moved from Kentucky to Indiana when Abe was 7, and this was his home for 14 years. Thomas Lincoln, Abe’s father, hoped to make a better living4 there. Soon the mother died. Abe and his sister were lonely until their father married again. Abe’s stepmother encouraged the boy to study. Although he had little chance to go to school, he liked to read. He taught himself by reading the books he could get, such as the Bible, Aesop’s “Fables” and “Robinson Crusoe”. He often walked miles to borrow a book.
Abe grew fast. He learned to do the hard work of the pioneer, such as cut trees, and take care of the crops.5 He usually won in tests of strength with other boys. Everyone liked him and everyone said he was a born storyteller. But no one could say that this shy young man with a quiet voice would become one of the greatest American presidents.
When Abe Lincoln was twenty-one, the family moved to Illinois. From then on,6 Abe called Illinois his home. For a while he worked in a store. Later he joined the militia and fought in an Indian War. After the war he walked home with an educated young lawyer. This new friend gave Abe advice to study law.
Abraham Lincoln became a lawyer and a politician. Many people brought their problems to him. They began to call him “honest Abe” and trusted him to do what was right and honest. He was also an excellent speaker. He was elected to the House of Representatives in US Congress. In 1861 he became the 16th American President. In the same year the Civil War began, so Lincoln had to lead the country through the four terrible years of war. He wanted the northern and southern states to stay together and he hated slavery. In 1863 he signed the Emancipation Proclamation7 — the document that made all the slaves free. This was a great event in the history of the United States. In 1865 the North won the Civil War. Five days after the war ended, President Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theatre, Washington.
22. Answer the questions on the text.
23. Consult the text (ex. 21) and complete the information about the two American presidents.
23. Compare the two presidents and say which of the two: