Study Guide

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Part 1, Chapter 2

By Seth Grahame-Smith

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Part 1, Chapter 2

Two Stories

  • This chapter starts with a Lincoln quote about moving forward without fear. 
  • Thomas Lincoln is not very good at being an only father now that Nancy Hanks has passed away. So he does the only thing he can do. 
  • And if you said "murder his family," you might want to see a therapist. No, Thomas Lincoln decides to get remarried. He needs a woman around, to help raise the kiddos.
  • In 1819, Thomas leaves to find a new mother for the kids. He has a plan involving a friendly woman whose husband recently died. (Hey, isn't this the beginning of the Brady Bunch?)
  • So Thomas leaves Abe (who is nine years old) and his older sister Sarah (who's eleven) home alone. (Do they foil some thieves? Sadly no. But that sounds like it would make a great movie. Oh wait.)
  • Thomas comes back with Sarah Bush Lincoln and all of her stuff, including her three kids: Elizabeth (thirteen); Matilda (ten); and John (also nine). You may or may not be quizzed on those names and ages later.
  • Abe isn't so thrilled with the idea of a replacement mother, but Sarah Bush turns out to be all right. Great, even. She can't read, but she has more books and she encourages Abe to read.
  • And Abe gets along well with his stepbrother, John, and they play rough, which is a useful skill to have in Indiana.
  • Sarah is so encouraging that she gives Abe a journal, which is crazy luxurious for a frontier kid in 1820. By the way, since Abe has had very little schooling, his spelling is… unique.
  • Writing in his shiny new journal helps Abe work out his feelings when his dad gets drunk and tells Abe the truth about how his grandfather died. (Before therapy, these were the two ways to deal with your feelings: getting drunk and writing in your journal.)
  • See, Thomas's usual story was that Shawnee Indians killed his father, Abraham (after whom he must have named his son).
  • But the real story is… very similar to the old story, except that it's not the Shawnee, but a vampire that kills Thomas's dad. And Thomas had to lie about it because people would think he's crazy if he told the truth.
  • Of course, Abe is one of those people. He totally thinks his dad is crazy at first. 
  • But Thomas wanted to tell him the truth because Abe's mom was also killed by a vampire: Jack Barts.
  • When this bomb gets dropped, we rewind to 1818, where we learn that Thomas Lincoln took a loan from one-armed vampire named—you guessed it—Jack Barts. Thomas needed the loan for a plow, a draft horse, seeds, and someone to make him a website advertising the best corn in Indiana.
  • But that summer was dry, so Thomas couldn't repay Jack Barts. And that brings us to the scene that Abe saw from the outhouse in Chapter One. Remember that, Abe?
  • Boom. Abe is totally convinced. Vampires are real. Conveniently, this also gives him his life's purpose: "I hereby resolve to kill every vampire in America" (2.86). Tall order. (But Lincoln was a tall man.)
  • In a footnote here (91), we get the info on how Barts killed his mom and the Sparrows. He gave them just a few drops of his own blood—a "fool's dose," which is just enough to kill without transforming the person into a vampire.
  • With his new goal, Abe trains to kill vampires and dedicates his blog—we mean secret journal—to discussing that issue. He walks miles to town in order to read books on vampires and the occult. He sharpens his ax and surrounds himself with garlic. Yum.
  • Still, Abe always blames his dad for losing his mother. Family suppers must have been awkward.
  • Next year, in 1821, Abe invites Jack Barts to come get his money, but when he comes, Abe stakes him instead. (This is how we picture that.)
  • This freaks Thomas out, who is afraid of more vampires. But Abe's all, that's cool, I'll just need more stakes. Um, action hero, much?

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