Carl Sandburg

On this date in 1878, poet and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Ill., to Swedish, Lutheran immigrants. Second of seven children, he quit school after 8th grade and worked a variety of jobs, such as delivering milk, for the next decade. In 1897 he lived as a hobo. He would later perform the folk songs he learned on the road, and compile them into two folk song books. Sandburg enlisted in the Spanish-American War. When he returned, he attended the Universalist-founded college in Galesburg, Lombard College. Attracted to labor concerns, he became an organizer for the Wisconsin Social Democratic Party. He met his wife-to-be, Lilian Steichen, at party headquarters in Milwaukee. They were wed in 1908. Sandburg became a reporter for the Chicago Daily News. Sandburg's poetry began winning him acclaim by 1914, and he soon became a successful, published author. He completed his 6-volume biography on Abraham Lincoln in 1940, for which he won a Pulitzer. His Complete Poems garnered him a 1951 Pulitzer. He was a lifelong Unitarian. D. 1967.

“To work hard, to live hard, to die hard, and then to go to Hell after all would be too damned hard.”

—Carl Sandburg, The People, Yes (1933), cited by Warren Allen Smith in Who's Who in Hell.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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