Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lincoln and Words 10

Lincoln lost his first campaign for elected office – the Illinois state legislature - in 1832. But there was one consolation: the 23-year-old Lincoln polled 277 out of the 300 votes cast in his little village. The lesson was crystal clear: to know Lincoln was to trust Lincoln.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Lincoln and Words 9

People underestimated Lincoln at their peril. ‘He was as wise as a serpent in the trial of a case. I have got too many scars from his blows to certify that he was harmless as a dove.’
- Leonard Swett

Friday, November 25, 2016

Lincoln and Words 8

'Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man's nature -- opposition to it is in his love of justice. These principles are in eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so fiercely, as slavery’s extension brings them, shocks, and throes, and convulsions must ceaselessly follow. Repeal the Missouri Compromise -- repeal all compromises -- repeal the Declaration of Independence -- repeal all past history, you still cannot repeal human nature. It still will be the abundance of man's heart that slavery's extension is wrong; and out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth will continue to speak.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lincoln and Words 7

'The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to have the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We - even we here - hold the power, and bear the responsibility.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Monday, November 21, 2016

Lincoln and Words 6

The following editorial appeared in The Atlanta Confederacy just before the election of 1860, just before what looked like the formation of a thing called the Confederate States of America; 'let the consequences be what they may - whether the Potomac is crimsoned in human gore, and Pennsylvania Avenue is paved ten fathoms deep with mangled bodies, or whether the last vestige of liberty is swept from the face of the American continent, the South will never submit to such humiliation and degradation as the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln'

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lincoln and Words 5

'This is essentially a People's contest. On the side of the Union it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men -- to lift artificial weights from all shoulders -- to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all -- to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Lincoln and Words 4

'Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lincoln and Words 3

'What I did [the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation] I did after very full deliberation, and under a heavy and solemn sense of responsibility. I can only trust in God that I have made no mistake.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Lincoln and Words 2

'When southern people tell us they are no more responsible for the origin of slavery than we, I acknowledge the fact. When it is said that the institution exists and that it is very difficult to get rid of it in any satisfactory way, I can understand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them for not doing what I should not know how to do myself.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Friday, November 11, 2016

Lincoln and Words 1

'You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Public Opinion Baths 3

Lincoln’s rationale for what he called ‘Public Opinion  Baths:’ ‘I feel – though the tax on my time is heave – that no hours of my day are better employed than those which thus bring me again within the direct contact and atmosphere of the average  of our whole people. Men moving only in an official circle are apt to become merely official – not to say arbitrary – in their ideas, and are apter and apter with each passing day to forget that they only hold power in a representative capacity.
‘Now this is all wrong. I go into these receptions of all who claim to have business with me, and every applicant for audience has to take his turn, as if waiting to be shaved in the barber’s shop. Many of the matters brought to my notice are utterly frivolous, but others are of more or less importance, and all serve to renew in me a cleaner and more vivid image of that great popular assemblage out of which I sprang, and to which at the end of a few short years I must return. I tell you that I call these receptions my “public opinion baths;” for have but little time to read the papers, and gather public opinion that way; and though they may not be pleasant in all their particulars, the effect as a whole, is renovating and invigorating to my perceptions of responsibility and duty.’

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Lincoln and Words 19

Lincoln had a voracious curiosity. Since he had virtually no formal schooling he learned early in life that satisfying his curiosity was going to be his job and his job alone. Consequently, as a child he taught himself to read and write; he also taught himself Euclidean geometry, then surveying, then the law. He was a lifelong student of literature having memorized long passages from both Shakespeare and the Bible. As if all that were not enough, in 1849 he applied for a patent on his design for ‘a new and improved manner of combining adjustable buoyant chambers with steam boats’ [these chambers were designed to lift steam boats above sand bars]. He is the only president in American history to have been granted a patent. Then as President he taught himself how to be a Commander in Chief.
- Arnold Kunst

Monday, November 7, 2016

Public Opinion Baths 2

Public Opinion baths took place from 10 - 2 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 10 - 12 on Tuesday and Thursday. For the public it was a fairly simple arrangement: first come, first served. Usually Lincoln would greet each individual with “what can I do for you?” Then he would listen and would promise to do what he could if the request were reasonable. If he was in a hurry to get rid of someone, he would crack a joke and with both of them laughing would ease the caller out the door. Among other things, since these meetings happened so regularly Lincoln had a consistently firm grasp on the concerns of ordinary people. In addition, the meetings served as a tonic in a city like Washington where overweening ambition and hypocrisy had – and, according to some people, still has - a way of warping facts beyond recognition.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Public Opinion Baths 1

Those around Lincoln strove from beginning to end to erect barriers to defend him against constant interruption, but the President himself was always the first to break them down. He disliked anything that kept people from him who wanted to see him. 'You will wear yourself out,' they pleaded with him. Lincoln of course agreed, but, he contended, they wanted so little - how could he refuse to see them? Thus were born what Lincoln himself was to call “Public Opinion Baths.”

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Civil War Lives On 7

I’d like to suggest that the Civil War still with us into the 21st century. A few months ago I took a booth at what was billed as the largest Civil War reenactment west of the Mississippi: over 1,000 men and women dressed in period costume complete with homespun trousers, some with flintlock muskets, others with the then-cutting-edge Springfield rifles – all reliving something that obviously seemed of great emotional importance to them.
Frankly, that wasn’t what went through my mind first. No, instead there was a part of me that thought, “These people should all go home and get a life!” It was a weekend in early November – why weren’t they watching a football game or three like normal people?
It wasn’t until the afternoon of the last day that I got my answer. It came in the form of a rousing rendition of “Dixie!” – by a Yankee band! That was astonishing enough [can you imagine such a thing happening during the Civil War itself?] but as I gazed around at the 50 or so people that comprised that ad-hoc audience I saw an equal sprinkling of Yankees and Rebs, some standing, some on horseback, all somehow mesmerized.
And the answer? “every person in this crowd is being healed!”

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Civil War Lives On 6

During the 40 years from 1880 to 1920 roughly 4,000 former slaves or children of former slaves were lynched in the United States, most of them in the South.