Saturday, December 31, 2016

How others saw Lincoln 7

A member of the White House guard, a sentry, as he walked the second-story corridor, to and fro, past the door of the President’s bedroom, would recall, ‘Sometimes, after a day of unusual anxiety, I have heard him moan in his sleep. It gave me a curious sensation. While the expression of Mr. Lincoln’s face was always sad when he was quiet, it gave one the assurance of calm. He never seemed to doubt the wisdom of an action when he had once decided on it. And so when he was in a way defenseless in his sleep, it made me feel the pity that would almost have been impertinence when he was awake. I would stand there and listen until a sort of panic stole over me. If he felt the weight of things so heavily, how much worse the situation of the country must be than any of us realized! At last I would walk softly away, feeling as if I had been listening at a keyhole.’

Thursday, December 29, 2016

How others saw Lincoln 6

'...I only wish to thank you for being so good - and to say how sorry we all are that you must have four years more of this terrible toil. But remember what a triumph it is for the right, what a blessing to the country - and then your rest shall be glorious when it does come! You can't tell anything about it in Washington where they make a noise on the slightest provocation. But if you had been in this little speck of a village this morning and heard the soft, sweet music of unseen bells rippling through the morning silence from every quarter of the far-off horizon, you would have better known what your name is in this nation. May God help you in the future as he has helped you in the past and a people's love and gratitude will be but a small portion of your exceeding great reward.'
- Mary Abigail Dodge, from her village of Hamilton, Massachusetts, written on the day of Lincoln's second inauguration, March 4, 1865.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

How others saw Lincoln 5

In the late summer of 1864 a veteran on furlough was asked whether the soldiers wanted Lincoln re-elected. 'Why of course they do. We all re-enlisted to see this thing through and Old Abe must re-enlist too. He mustered us in and we'll be damned if he shan't stay where he is until he has mustered us out.'

Sunday, December 25, 2016

How others saw Lincoln 4

'The world has seen and wondered at the greatest sign and marvel of our day, to-wit, a plain working man of the people, with no more culture, instruction or education than any such working man may obtain for himself, called on to conduct the passage of a great people through a crisis involving the destinies of the whole world... '
- Harriet Beecher Stowe

Friday, December 23, 2016

How others saw Lincoln 3

In January 1864 James Russell Lowell sketched Lincoln as 'so gently guiding public sentiment that he seems to follow it, by so yielding doubtful points that he can be firm without seeming obstinate in essential ones.'

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

How others saw Lincoln 2

'Washington was a typical American. Napoleon was a typical Frenchman, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his country — bigger than all the Presidents together.'
- Leo Tolstoy

Monday, December 19, 2016

How others saw Lincoln 1

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 Swet, lawyer colleague

Saturday, December 17, 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.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Lincoln and Words 18

'...that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Lincoln and Words 17

'The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who'll get me a book I haven't read.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Lincoln and Words 16

'We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Friday, December 9, 2016

Lincoln and Words 15

When one of his generals grumbled and complained after being placed in charge of a mere 3,000 men, Lincoln wired him: 'Act well your part; therein all the honor lies. He who does something at the head of one regiment will eclipse him who does nothing at the head of a hundred.'

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Lincoln and Words 14

‘Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. On the contrary if you falter and give up you will lose the power of keeping any resolution and will regret it all your life.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Monday, December 5, 2016

Lincoln and Words 13

'Both [the North and the South] read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any man should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully.
 - Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Lincoln and Words 12

'Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Lincoln and Words 11

'I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.'
- Abraham Lincoln