Carl Sandburg.

Essay by CFuenUniversity, Bachelor'sA, January 2004

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Carl August Sandburg born Jan. 6, 1878 was a poet, writer, and folk musician. He was born in Galesburg, Illinois. He had six siblings, and his father August Sandburg, was a railroad blacksmith's helper. His parents were hardworking Swedish immigrants. Carl's father used to work on the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy railroads in Galesburg. Carl's mother Clara Mathilda Anderson was employed as a hotel maid in Bushnell, Illinois. The prudent couple taught and instilled in their seven children the necessity of hard work and education, as well as a respect for the American dream. Carl Sandburg Americanized his Swedish name when he entered the first grade, thereafter signing his school papers and his early work as "Charles A. Sandburg."

He ended his public school education after eighth grade and worked in his hometown shining shoes, delivering milk and newspapers, and performing other odd jobs. His thirst for travel and adventure, along with a railroad pass borrowed to him from his father, led to his first significant journey in 1896, a trip to Chicago; the city he later covered as a reporter and celebrated as a poet.

During 1897 Sandburg stowed away atop and inside railroad boxcars, working his way west by train through Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado in search of jobs. After a few months Sandburg returned to Galesburg for a brief, restless stint as a housepainter before enlisting in Company C of the Sixth Infantry Regiment of the Illinois Volunteers for service in the Spanish-American War. He was assigned to duty in Puerto Rico from July until late August 1898. In October 1898, although he lacked a high school diploma, Sandburg's status as a war veteran qualified him for admission with free tuition to Lombard College in his hometown. He also received a conditional appointment to the...