Study Guide

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Part 1, Chapter 4

By Seth Grahame-Smith

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Part 1, Chapter 4

A Truth Too Terrible

  • Back in the non-vampire world, Abe's sister Sarah dies in 1828 due to labor complications and a brother-in-law who doesn't get a doctor in time, the jerk. 
  • Luckily, brother-in-law Aaron Grigsby dies in 1831, so Abe doesn't have to live with lots of awkward family Thanksgivings.
  • But you're probably reading this book for vampires, so let's get back to that. 
  • Abe is killing a bunch of them. 
  • Henry sends him letters with names and places (like Silas Williams in Rising Sun) and Abe goes to cut their heads off. 
  • Between 1825 and 1828, Henry sends Abe 15 assassination letters.
  • Unfortunately, vampire-hunting doesn't pay well (also, until he's 21, everything Abe owns goes to his dad), so Abe looks for other work.
  • And that's how a dude named James Gentry hires his son Allen and Abe to build a flatboat and sail to New Orleans, selling Gentry's stuff all the way down the river. 
  • Abe and Allen go down the Mississippi River, doing all the classic Mississippi River things that we know all about thanks to Mark Twain. They see big steamboats and have nice calm moments and see black slaves running from a vampire. 
  • Then, when some escaping slaves try to hijack Abe's boat, he beats them back (which, by the way, bears a close resemblance to the true story).
  • After they reach New Orleans and sell all their stuff (including selling the boat for lumber), Allen and Abe go do all the touristy things people do in New Orleans. That means they get drunk.
  • But Abe does manage to appreciate how big and cultured New Orleans is.
  • The next day, wearing sunglasses for their hangovers, Abe and Allen see one rich vampire in a coach and one weird guy in sunglasses who looks like a vampire.
  • Abe chases the weird guy into a cemetery, and they confront each other in a pretty funny scene where each accuses the other of being a vampire.
  • And that's how Abe Lincoln meets Edgar Allan Poe. Which means you should get ready for a historical interlude.
  • Here we get all the background on Poe, which boils down to the following: he lost his mother, like Lincoln, and was raised by a wealthy foster father named John Allan (which is where the "Allan" part of Edgar Poe's name comes from); Allan gave Poe lots of luxuries, including an education in England; but Poe ran away from home to join the army in Boston and wrote poems and stories, including a self-published collection; this collection got him the attention of a vampire fan, so Poe knows about vampires; and then, bored with the army, Poe has gone AWOL to explore vampire central, New Orleans. Which brings us back to the present.
  • While Allen is off meeting with "ladies of a certain character" (because the word "prostitute" had not been invented yet), Poe and Abe talk about vampires and become friends, despite the fact that Poe is weird and seems to idolize vampires. 
  • The next day, wandering in New Orleans, Abe happens upon a slave auction. Naturally, he finds it all a little sad and alarming, what with people being sold and families being torn apart. He's soft like that.
  • Abe also notices that one guy is buying up all the slaves that no one else wants, which is certainly curious. 
  • Also, the guy is totally a vampire.
  • So Abe follows this vampire and his new slaves to a plantation, and he sees that these slaves have been bought so that a bunch of vampires can kill them and drink their blood. Yikes.
  • Abe can't do anything since he has no weapons (and is probably still hungover), so he buys a new journal in New Orleans and makes a note:
  • "So long as this country is cursed with slavery, so too will it be cursed with vampires" (114).
  • There you go, Shmoopers, the Civil War, boiled down to seventeen words.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Part 1, Chapter 4 Study Group

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