From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
At one point during the war Lincoln was forced by his cabinet to confront the realization that many people who were thought to be Unionists were actually spies providing key information to the Confederacy. After presenting the evidence, Secretary of War Stanton asked for direction. Lincoln, who had been silent and visibly disturbed, expressed his feelings with a story about the dilemma of an old farmer who had a very large shade tree towering over his house. 'It was a majestic-looking tree and apparently perfect in every part – tall, straight and of immense size - the grand old sentinel of his forest home. One morning while at work in his garden he saw a squirrel run up the tree into a hole and thought the tree might be hollow. He proceeded to examine it carefully and - much to his surprise - he found that the stately tree that he had valued for its beauty and grandeur to be the pride and protection of his little farm was hollow from top to bottom. Only a rim of sound wood remained barely sufficient to support its weight. What was he to do? If he cut it down it would do immense damage with its great length and spreading branches. If he let it remain his family was in constant danger; in a storm it might fall or the wind might blow it down and his house and children be crushed by it. What should he do? As he turned away he said sadly, “I wish I had never seen that squirrel.”’
- Abraham Lincoln
'The great thing in this world is not so much where we are but in what direction we are moving.'
- Oliver Wendell Holmes