Remembering Abraham Lincoln—Reader, Writer, Poet

LincolnandSonReadingSubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

Abraham Lincoln was a self-educated man. He once said that he acquired his education “by littles.” The combined total of all the time he spent in school didn’t amount to a year. Still, he became one of our greatest presidents…and I believe some would agree an accomplished writer.

Lincoln gained much of his knowledge through books. He hungered for them when he was young. He read incessantly—beginning with the Bible and Shakespeare. His love of reading didn’t diminish as he grew older.

In his New York Times review of William Lee Miller’s book Lincoln’s Virtues, Eric Foner wrote the following:

During his single term in the House of Representatives, his colleagues considered it humorous that Lincoln spent his spare time poring over books in the Library of Congress. The result of this ”stunning work of self-education” was the ”intellectual power” revealed in Lincoln’s writings and speeches.

Ted Sorenson, a former advisor to John F. Kennedy, said he thought that Abraham Lincoln was not only the greatest American president…but also the best of all presidential speechwriters.

Sorenson:

Lincoln was a superb writer. Like Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt, but few if any other presidents, he could have been a successful writer wholly apart from his political career. He needed no White House speechwriter, as that post is understood today. He wrote his major speeches out by hand, as he did his eloquent letters and other documents. Sometimes he read his draft speeches aloud to others, including members of his cabinet and his two principal secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay, and he occasionally received suggestions, particularly at the start of his administration, from his onetime rival for the presidency, Secretary of State William Seward…

…Lincoln’s words, heard by comparatively few, by themselves carried power across time and around the world.

Sorenson added that the triumph of Lincoln’s greatest speech, the Gettysburg Address, didn’t come from rhetorical devices alone. He said Lincoln had “two great qualities infusing his use of those devices. First, he had a poetic literary sensibility. He was aware of the right rhythm and sound. An editor of the Gettysburg Address might say that ‘Eighty-seven years ago’ is shorter. Lincoln wrote instead, ‘Four score and seven years ago.’” In addition, Sorenson noted that Lincoln “had the root of the matter in him. The presidents greatest in speechcraft are almost all the greatest in statecraft also—because speeches are not just words. They present ideas, directions and values, and the best speeches are those that get those right. As Lincoln did.”

And how did Lincoln develop a “poetic literary sensibility?” Most likely from being an enthusiastic reader of poetry. According to the Library of Congress, Lincoln was an avid reader of poetry throughout his life—and as a teenager “began to cultivate an interest in writing poetry.” His oldest surviving poems were said to have been written “when he was between fifteen and seventeen years old, are brief squibs that appear in his arithmetic book.”

Here are two of his early poems:

Abraham Lincoln
his hand and pen
he will be good but
god knows When

 

Abraham Lincoln is my nam[e]
And with my pen I wrote the same
I wrote in both hast and speed
and left it here for fools to read

 From the Library of Congress:

Lincoln wrote his most serious poetry in 1846. The limited information that exists about their composition comes from Lincoln’s correspondence with Andrew Johnston, a fellow lawyer and Whig politician from Quincy, Illinois. In a letter to Johnston on February 24, 1846, Lincoln wrote:

“Feeling a little poetic this evening, I have concluded to redeem my promise this evening by sending you the piece you expressed the wish to have.[3] You find it enclosed. I wish I could think of something else to say; but I believe I can not. By the way, would you like to see a piece of poetry of my own making? I have a piece that is almost done, but I find a deal of trouble to finish it.”[4]

The poem Lincoln alluded to is “My Childhood-Home I See Again.” It was completed shortly after Lincoln’s message to Johnston.

In 2010, Robert Pinsky, a former Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (1997-2000), wrote an article for Slate titled Firmness in the Write: Why Abraham Lincoln’s poetry is the real thing. In the article, he discussed Lincoln’s poem My Childhood-Home I See Again.

Pinsky:

The United States has had a head of state who was also a great writer. Only Marcus Aurelius can compete with Abraham Lincoln. Like many prose masters, Lincoln was a reader and writer of poetry. His poem “My Childhood-Home I See Again” combines polished but conventional passages in ballad meter with another element, powerfully imagined and turbulent. The poem is worth thinking about in relation to Abraham Lincoln’s mind. It also raises interesting questions about poetry itself—the art’s ability to compound the meanings of words with the force of bodily gestures.

Lincoln included “My Childhood-Home I See Again” in a letter, where he refers to it as “a little canto of what I call poetry.” The more ordinary part of the poem (published by newspapers after the assassination and omitting the more unsettling original passages) begins by describing a return to Lincoln’s childhood home in Indiana after 20 years away. These opening stanzas look back on the early years with an idealizing, though loss-conscious nostalgia, “as distant mountains please the eye.” Then, hearing about how many in the old place have died, he feels he is “living in the tombs.”

The shift from those relatively standard elegiac sentiments begins with “And here’s an object more of dread,” which introduces the story of Matthew Gentry, a childhood schoolmate (three years older) who was, like Lincoln, “a rather bright lad”—as Lincoln calls him in the letter—and, unlike Lincoln, “the son of the rich man of our very poor neighborhood.” At 19, Matthew went violently insane and spent the rest of his life locked up. In his confinement, the crazy man sang, and Lincoln describes himself as drawn to the singing: He “stole away” at night to hear it, “all silently and still.” The song, says the poem, seemed like “the funeral dirge … of reason dead and gone.” Yet it was “sweet” as well as “distant” and “lone”: adjectives that re-enforce the idea of fellow-feeling by Lincoln toward Matthew. The president describes that furtive pleasure in eloquent lines, indelibly simple and mysterious:

Air held his breath; the trees all still
….Seemed sorr’wing angels round,
Their swelling tears in dew-drops fell
….Upon the list’ning ground.

 

Here are the first four stanzas of Lincoln’s poem:

My childhood home I see again,

And sadden with the view;

And still, as memory crowds my brain,

There’s pleasure in it too.

 

O Memory! thou midway world

… ‘Twixt earth and paradise,

Where things decayed and loved ones lost

…In dreamy shadows rise,

 

And, freed from all that’s earthly vile,

…Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,

Like scenes in some enchanted isle

…All bathed in liquid light.

 

As dusky mountains please the eye

…When twilight chases day;

As bugle-notes that, passing by,

…In distance die away;

Click here to read the rest of Lincoln’s poem.

SOURCES

Lincoln as Poet (Library of Congress)

Abraham Lincoln (Poetry Foundation)

My Childhood Home I See Again (Poetry Foundation)

Why Abraham Lincoln’s poetry is the real thing. (Slate)

Reading 2: Learning By Littles (National Park Service)

A Real Education (Illinois Periodicals Online)

The Education of Abraham Lincoln (New York Times)

Ted Sorensen on Abraham Lincoln: A Man of His Words (Smithsonian)

46 thoughts on “Remembering Abraham Lincoln—Reader, Writer, Poet

  1. okay rafflaw;

    like out in CA, where one can work under a judge and/or law firm for 2 years and get a life time achievement equivalent right to take the BAR exam.

    Still is awesome that one so great came from such a background.

    WOW!

  2. “Reading law” was almost the only way to become a lawyer in those days. The last person I ever heard of who did it that way was a lawyer in Jackson, MS. He did not realize he had enough hours to take the bar exam, discovering it accidentally. He had every loophole in the licensing law covered, so took the bar exam and passed easily. A substantial portion of his training had been through mentoring rather than sitting in a classroom. I don’t remember exactly when he got his license, but seems like it was in the 1980s. He died about ten years ago. He was not an old guy when he passed away.

  3. I’m compelled to first apologize. It is not my intent to offend. Please respond to an assessment I heard of Lincoln that challenged his actions as unconstitutional in that he confiscated private property, effected illegal immigration, engaged in an undeclared war and circumvented the legislative branch while usurping its powers and exceeding those of the executive. For example, a proclamation cannot be found as a legislative device in the Constitution, related either to the legislative or executive branch. My personal concern would be the deaths, ultimately, of something approaching one million men from an illegalwar that was conducted to resolve a labor issue (in an era of indentured servants) and one of economics that might have been resolve by economic activity such as boycotts. It could hardly have been declared an issue of immediacy as it had gone on for 2 or 3 hundred years.

  4. John,
    Even with all you said, is not the result of his actions, squeezed and forced into the mechanisms available under the governing strictures, and somewhat chastised as by you, one of the most remarkable achievements in history?
    Lincoln’s actions are so remarkable that it is only academic to pick at them.
    Just as when a powerful sheriff had to be brought in to tame a wild town, then became too dangerous once the bad guys were quelled, perhaps it is best that Lincoln was assassinated for real before it could be done by pen alone.
    An intuitive learner such as Lincoln must have been, is never done learning and never thinks he knows it all.

  5. Education as we know today was only for the wealthy…..laser….. Used to be you studied as an apprentice….. And then tried cases….. There was not a unified bar….. But you had to serve as an apprentice….. Texas was still this way until the 60s……

    Lincoln was well educated…. He was a spiritualist as well…..Mary Todd…. Got him into other forms of mysticism…. More later on that…. But he was quite the extraordinaire….. Followed his heart….. Then again…. It was because of the association with Pinkerton….. That got them in security business….

  6. Try reading the Collected Works of Lincoln for the true story in his own words. Why so many educated people will believe the revisionist goody goody two shoes lies about Lincoln doesn’t say much for their education.

    LINCOLN WAS AN OBSESSIVE WHITE SUPREMACIST

    “Free them [blacks] and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this . . . . We can not then make them equals.” (CW, Vol. II, p. 256).

    “There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white people, to the idea of an indiscriminate amalgamation of the white and black races” (CW, Vol. II, p. 405).

    “What I would most desire would be the separation of the white and black races” (CW, Vol. II, p. 521).

    “I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races . . . . I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong, having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary.” (CW, Vol. III, p. 16).

    “I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races . . . . I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people . . .” (CW, Vol, III, pp. 145-146).

    “I will to the very last stand by the law of this state, which forbids the marrying of white people with negroes.” (CW, Vol. III, p. 146).

    “Senator Douglas remarked . . that . . . this government was made for the white people and not for negroes. Why, in point of mere fact, I think so too.” (CW, Vol. II, p. 281).

    Until His Dying Day, Lincoln Plotted to Deport all the Black People Out of America

    “I have said that the separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation . . . . Such separation . . . must be effected by colonization” [to Liberia, Central America, anywhere]. (CW, Vol. II, p. 409).

    “Let us be brought to believe it is morally right , and . . . favorable to . . . our interest, to transfer the African to his native clime . . .” (CW, Vol. II, p. 409).

    “The place I am thinking about having for a colony [for the deportation of all American blacks] is in Central America. It is nearer to us than Liberia.” (CW, Vol. V, pp. 373, 374).

    LINCOLN ONLY RHETORICALLY OPPOSED SOUTHERN SLAVERY. IN PRACTICE, HE STRENGTHENED IT

    ” I think no wise man has perceived, how it [slavery] could be at once eradicated, without producing a greater evil, even to the cause of human liberty himself.” (CW, Vol. II, p. 130).

    “I meant not to ask for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.” (CW, Vol., II, p. 260).

    “I believe there is no right, and ought to be no inclination I the people of the free states to enter into the slave states and interfere with the question of slavery at all.” (CW, Vol. II, p. 492).

    “I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists.” (CW, Vol. III, p. 16).

    “I say that we must not interfere with the institution of slavery . . . because the constitution forbids it, and the general welfare does not require us to do so.” (CW, Vol. III, p. 460).

    LINCOLN CHAMPIONED THE FUGITIVE SLAVE ACT

    “I do not now, nor ever did, stand in favor of the unconditional repeal of the fugitive slave law.” (CW, Vol., III., p. 40).

    “[T]he people of the Southern states are entitled to a Congressional Fugitive Slave Law.” (CW, Vol. III, p. 41).

    Lincoln Advocated Secession When it Could Advance His Political Career

    “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better.” (CW, Vol. 1, p. 438).

    LINCOLN VIEWED FORT SUMTER AS AN IMPORTANT TAX COLLECTION POINT AND WENT TO WAR OVER IT

    “I think we should hold the forts, or retake them, as the case may be, and collect the revenue.” (CW, Vol. IV, p. 164).

    LINCOLN BELIEVED THE CONSTITUTION WAS WHATEVER HE ALONE SAID IT WAS

    “The dogmas of the quite past [referring to the U.S. Constitution], are inadequate to the stormy present . . . so we must think anew and act anew.” (CW, Vol. V, p. 537).

    “The resolutions quote from the constitution, the definition of treason; and also the . . . safeguards and guarantees therein provided for the citizen . . . against the pretensions of arbitrary power . . . . But these provisions of the constitution have no application to the case we have in hand.” (CW, Vol. VI, p. 262.

    “[T]he theory of the general government being only an agency, whose principles are the states [i.e. the true history of the American founding] was new to me and, as I think, is one of the best arguments for the national supremacy.” (CW, Vol. VII, p. 24.

    “I felt that measures, otherwise unconstitutional, might become lawful . . .” (CW, Vol. VII, p. 281).

    “You [General John Dix] are therefore hereby commanded forth with to arrest and imprison in any fort or military prison in your command the editors, proprietors and publishers of the aforesaid newspapers [New York World and New York Journal of Commerce].” CW, Vol. VII, p. 348.

    “It was decided [by Lincoln alone] that we have a case of rebellion, and that the public safety does require the qualified suspension of the writ [of Habeas Corpus].” CW, Vol. IV, pp. 430-431.

    LINCOLN WAS ECONOMICALLY IGNORANT OF THE BIG ECONOMIC ISSUE OF HIS DAY: PROTECTIONIST TARIFFS

    “[A] tariff of duties on imported goods . . . is indispensably necessary to the prosperity of the American people.” (CW, Vol. I, p. 307.

    “[B]y the tariff system . . . the man who contents himself to live upon the products of his own country , pays nothing at all.” (CW, Vol. I, p. 311).

    “All carrying . . . of articles from the place of their production to a distant place for their consumption . . . is useless labor.” (CW, Vol. I, p. 409).

    “I was an old Henry Clay tariff whig. In old times I made more speeches on that subject, than on any other. I have not changed my views.” (CW, Vol, III, p. 487).

    “The tariff is to the government what a meal is to a family . . .” (CW, Vol., IV, p. 211).

    “I must confess that I do not understand the subject [the economics of tariffs].” (CW, Vol. IV, p. 211).

    “The power confided to me, will be used . . . to collect the duties and imposes; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion . . .” (CW, Vol. IV, p. 266).

    “Accumulations of the public revenue, lying within [Fort Sumter] had been seized [and denied to the U.S. government] . . . . [The administration] sought only to hold the public places and property [i.e., the forts] . . . to collect the revenue.” (CW, Vol. IV, pp. 422-423).

    ALTHOUGH HE NEVER BECAME A CHRISTIAN, LINCOLN CLAIMED TO KNOW WHAT WAS IN THE MIND OF GOD AND BLAMED THE WAR ON HIM, ABSOLVING HIMSELF OF ALL RESPONSIBILITY FOR IT, IN ORDER TO BAMBOOZLE THE RELIGIOUS POPULATION OF THE NORTH

    “[I]t is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation [i.e. the war].” CW, Vol. IV, p. 482.

    “You all may recollect that in taking up the sword thus forced into my hands this Government . . . placed its whole dependence upon the favor of God.” (CW, Vol. V., p. 212).

    “God wills this contest [the war].” CW, Vol. V, p. 404.

    “If I had my way, this war would never have been commenced . . . but . . . we must believe that He permits it for some wise purpose of his own, mysterious and unknown to us . . .” (CW, Vol. V, p. 478).

    “[I]t has not pleased the Almighty to bless us with a return to peace . . .” (CW, Vol. V, p. 518).

    “[R]ender the homage due to the Divine Majesty . . . to lead the whole nation, through the paths of repentance and submission to the Divine Will, back to the perfect enjoyment of Union . . .” (CW, Vol. VI, p. 332).

    “It has pleased Almighty God . . . to vouchsafe to the army and the navy of the United States victories on land and sea.” (CW, Vol. VI, p. 332).

    “I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me . . . . God alone can claim it.” (CW, Vol. VII, p. 282).

    “He intends some great good to follow this mighty convulsion, which no mortal could make . . .” (CW, Vol. VII, p. 535).

  7. Lincoln may have many faults…. One was he wanted to send the slaves off to Liberia …if you’ll look at Liberia you’ll see many similarities between the US and them…. The Capitol is Monrovia…. Named after James Monroe if I recall….repatriation…..

  8. Randy:
    Your post is like plucking all the vowels from our alphabet and claiming you can’t make any sensible words with what is left over. Your “sociopath” also said this in the famous Coopers Union speech:

    “Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.”

  9. Mespo, it is extremely likely that Jeffery Dalmer and Adolf Hitler said some nice things during their life, but no matter how many nice things they could be shown to have said, we would never remove them from the category of sociopaths.

    I wish it were only words that could be referred to in regards to Lincoln’s sociopathy. If you aren’t afraid of the truth check out the articles at http://gunnyg.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/lew-rockwell-com-king-lincoln-archive-thomas-dilorenzo-etc/

    Truth just might set you free!

  10. TROLL SITING — Feb. 16, 2014 @ 10:47 p.m. & 10:51

    Urban Dictionary definitions:

    Troll: One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.

    Trolling: Being a prick on the internet because you can. Typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent by-stander, because it’s the internet and, hey, you can.

    A article on the polarizing effects of trolling –
    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/climate_desk/2014/02/internet_troll_personality_study_machiavellianism_narcissism_psychopathy.html

    A report on the nature of the troll —
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886914000324

    PLEASE DO NOT FEED

  11. Concerning Lincoln’s speaking abilities, I recall a story (probably apochryphal) about an old man approaching a teenager who had just recited the Gettysburg Address at a Forth of July rally. “Lincoln emphasized the word “people” and not the word “of” in that last sentence,” said the old man. “I know, I was there. It makes a difference.”

  12. Vincent:

    We’ll I guess Booth was pretty shocked when got shot dead by the authorities for doing the country a “favor.” Lincoln got a monument and his face on Mt. Rushmore.

  13. Oro Lee , I dont seek disruption or uncivil argument. I enjoy civil converation that can operate to enlighten others to truth by revealing events of history.

    Now real trolls always appear with their ad hominem insults. So i do hope you are not implying that I am a “prick”, as that would make you fit the definition you espouse.

  14. mespo, we would have given you a free ticket on the underground rairoad to yankee country. There, you could have basked in the freedom of the North.

  15. Mespo, do the “[]southern beliefs” that you dislike include the right of free nations to join a confederacy and later secede if they so choose?

  16. Yes, Randy, the ranting and ramblings of a sociopath indeed. Oh,wait a minute. Were you referring to Lincoln? Sorry, I thought you were describing your post. Indeed

  17. Neighbor Dave,

    That is to presume that Lincoln was the solution and not the cause. Cooler heads may have prevailed. History might determine why they failed.

    I am a musician. I play the music at the direction of the conductor as written by the composer. Some disdain the minor keys. Some disdain the majors. Some delight in the presto, others the requiem. I am a musician. I play the music at the direction of the conductor as written by the composer. There is but the music.

    There is but the Constitution. It provided for ownership of private property including slaves. I appreciate the contextual conflict but ownership of slaves, which were private property, was legal and guaranteed by the Constitution. The executive branch had no power to affect that in the least and Lincoln should have paid heed to that; he should have paid heed to the Constitution. He should have read the music.

    There is the power to legislate provided to the Congress in the Constitution, as there is the power to declare war. There is no power for Congress to act without a quorum, correct me where I’m wrong. There is nothing in the Constitution that provided for Lincoln’s tyranny. It is factual that Lincoln’s obsession led to his impossible plan to compassionately repatriate. You’ll find no legal basis for Lincoln’s Proclamation to have any force. The executive branch shall not legislate. I should think that an elected official that usurps the power of another, ultimately, all other branches of government, and one who nullifies the Constitution commits the highest of crimes and no misdemeanors, higher even than legal ownership of private property with attendant bills of sale and receipts.

    There were many economic solutions to what boiled down to an economic problem. The nation, likely, wanted cotton growers out of business in the mid 19th. The nation likely wants tobacco growers out of business today. Looks like the later is on a rational path to that very end. I can’t imagine us taking a million lives to drive tobacco growers out of business. The President smokes cigarettes and maybe marijuana now. The Founders owned slaves. OK. Deal with it. Boycott it. If every person in the world wanted to end smoking, enough of them would quit and put the tobacco growers out of business. In 1860, if enough people in the world had wanted to put cotton growers out of business, they would have stopped buying cotton. This was not a success of Lincoln it was a failure of America, a failure to persist in its law and find a solution to a overwhelming economic problem and a failure to stop a madman from usurping power, imposing his tyranny, causing the death of nearly a million countrymen and destroying a nation.

    One might have expected poignant and heartrending writing and oratory from an obsessive mystic prosecuting the disintegration of a nation and massive, bloody war. It didn’t make him a hero.

  18. Though the typewriter was invented in the 1860s, most still wrote in longhand and without the assistance of an assistant. In fact, President Warren G. Harding inaugurated the use of a speechwriter. Lincoln’s education was also typical as autodidactism was the standard.

  19. Abraham Lincoln was a self-educated man.” – Elaine M

    Yikes, that does not look good to these Americans who should be following his example:

    If you ask an American if the sun orbits Earth, there’s a 1 in 4 chance he’ll say yes.

    According to a new National Science Foundation study, 74% of Americans believe that Earth revolves around the sun. The other 26% believe that the opposite is true.

    (The Sun Orbits The Earth, According To 1 In 4 Americans: Survey).

  20. Lincoln admitted in a letter to Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase: “The original emancipation proclamation has no legal justification, except as a military measure.” Secretary of State William Seward acknowledged that the Emancipation Proclamation applied only to slaves in states in rebellion against the United States and not to slaves in states not in rebellion.
    During the Lincoln administration we experienced the advent of the utilization of executive orders afecting the daily lives of the citizens of the individual states.. Today most Americans are unaware that their lives are governed by executive measures at every turn. Presently Americans unwittingly accept to a large degree the terms of an executive dictatorship in lieu of a Constitutional democracy. What dupes Americans are to allow such control to be wielded by others while at the same time.praising our constitutional forms of government.

  21. Mespo, it’s surprising that you would suggest that oaths made under duress and coercion and recieved during a military siege would be legally acceptable when it comes to validating the forfeiture of the right to freely associate, or not to associate, i.e. secession. I thought this was a site frequented by legal minds.

  22. For those who still think you are free and that your vote is evidence of your participatory authority over the policies of the nation, enlighten yourselves as to how the right of free suffrage was abolished and replaced by suffrage at the point of the gun and bayonette under a continueing military occupation til this very day.

    Read this Utah Supreme Ct case.
    .
    http://www.freedomformula.us/articles/dyett-v-turner-utah-supreme-court-1968/

    And also the 1967 Congressional record discussing the rejectioin of the lawful passage of the 14th Ammendment.
    http://www.14th-amendment.com/Miscellaneous/Articles/Congressional_Record_(14th_Amendment)/Congressional_Record_(14th_Amendment).pdf

  23. Randy Lee:
    Mespo, it’s surprising that you would suggest that oaths made under duress and coercion and recieved during a military siege would be legally acceptable ”

    ********************
    They had plenty of choices. They could have fought on like they claimed they would until the last man. They could have refused and gone to prison. Or they could be men of their words as they always claimed they were and do exactly what they swore they would do. Under your analysis, Japan should re-institute hostilities against the allies since they signed that peace treaty aboard the “Big Mo” under duress.

  24. A. Lincoln was the best lawyer to ever reach the White House. He argued many cases in the Illinois Supreme Court. He did not go to law school. He “read for the law” as they called it before law schools were the norm and that means he read the law books in the law office and worked as an apprentice. One jerk did not appreciate the fine work that A. Lincoln did for the Illinois Central Railroad in an appellate argument. A. and his partner had billed the RR a small fee of fifteen hundred dollars after they had saved the RR forever from a state tax. Hernden said to A. to charge them $2500 and think about suing them. The President of the RR was later a certain poor general for the nation. McClellan. Yep. Small world.

  25. For a summation, the lawyer Lincoln merely told the jury that his “opponents had their facts absolutely right but were drawing the wrong conclusion.” The jury laughed and gave him their votes for mentioning the punch line of a popular story: “Pa, Pa, the hired man and sis are in the haymow and she’s lifting up her skirts and he’s letting down his pants and thy’re afixin’ to pee on the hay.” “Son, you got your facts absolutely right, but you’re drawing the wrong conclusion.”

  26. Mesmo, you must be a lawyer, your attempt to demur to the issue of the legal validity, i.e. legal acceptablity, will not go unnoticed by me, and I would hope by none of the other readers here.

    Mesmo, many of them did continue fighting till their death and refused to take the oaths. The KKK was originally instituted to keep the cause of freedom alive, yet sadly through the years it became a racist control group.

    Your anology with Japan is inapposite. President Johnson had declared that the hostilities between the peoples of the South and North had ended in 1865. Southern legislators were invited back to resume their seats in Congress. A state of civil government had resumed. As first items of business the North offered the 13th Amendment for a vote and it was ratified with concurrence of the majority of the Southern States. But when the Southern legislators refused to accept the provisions of the 14th Amendment many of them were threatened at the point of bayonette and gun to ratify the same and those who refuse to accept those conditions were ultimately driven out of the halls of Congress and threatened not to return until such time as they would be willing to ratify the 14th. Free suffrage had come to an end in America.

    Almost 2 years later over Johnson’s veto, Congress ordered Grant to establish voting precincts throughout the South for the purpose of electing new legislators sympathetic to the ideals of the North. Carpetbaggers came from the North by the thousands and it was at these forced elections that they were elected by peoples who were distrained to take loyalty oaths to the US government as a condition of voting. In this backdrop of violence the KKK was formed in hopes of preventing the total overthrow of freedom. I don’t point this out because I favor any violence committed by the KKK, but ony to help you understand that the sentiments of many at the time were that the unlawful actions of the North must be met with unlawful resistence.

    So no legislator that was elected during this sort of mockery of free suffage could be said to be legitimate, and the fact that they went on to ratify the 14th doesn’t make it legitimate either. Even as much as you may want it to be. The fact that it was passed by legislators who were elected by people, many of whom were not even yet citizens (many slaves were allowed the vote), and all of whom were required to take oaths before voting, evidences the greatest voting sham in history. If such unconscionable voting requirements were applied today, where would you stand?

    Maybe you would stand in favor of such practices as so many attorneys do by the fact they swear to uphold the provisions of the 14th Amentment. It is doubtful that most of them know the true history of the ratification of the 14th, But in todays world they are now without excuse.

  27. If Lincoln were alive today public education would have turned him into a good DMV clerk. That’s why so many parents are home schooling their kids. In that environment, we may see another Lincoln. Someone who is taught how to think, not what to think. We sure the hell could use a Lincoln now!

  28. Nick wrote ” Someone who is taught how to think, not what to think. We sure the hell could use a Lincoln now!”

    Now not so fast sonny. We gots nuf of dem two headed lawyer snakes in Washington already. Don’t needs no mo o dem hypocrits here!

    Think about it Nick. As McPherson points out in Second American Revolution, @ 126 ole Abe is reported to have considered the Declaration of Independence to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and often argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.

    Yet once in the reigns of power he seemed to have quickly forgotten the universal principle of free association. But then, all tyrants ultimately forget one or two rights in their zeal to control. And when you consider that at their core such men (or women) are mere hypocritical sociopathic control freaks what more should we expect? We sure don’t need any more Lincolns. Hell, the freaks on City Council are controlling enough.

  29. Nick I suppose the thing that eats at me the most are the worship cults that praise politicians from by gone years, never historically aware that those scoundrels were no different than the scoundrels of today. This is the religion of the state. Its myths are not much different than those of pre-civilized religions. Without the myths, the perpetuation of the indoctrination of the dogma would soon cease. Myths are required to stifle the sensibilities.

    I grew up singing an old hymn, Give that old time religion”. I am no longer religious. When it comes to politics people want to believe in the “good ole days” back when supposely politicians were honest. Ole Honest Abe. The truth is that honest politicians generally left politics soon after entering as their conscience was pricked. The ones that didn’t leave were soon discovered to be thieving scoundrels at one level or another.

  30. Perhaps we can conclude with the lowest common denominator – death. Understanding that the originators of the problem of slavery were not the slaves and they were not the slaveowners, but the Chiefs who sold their tribal members to the traders. And no matter what else happened, the plantation and slave owners did not kill one million people, they were just growing cotton. Abraham Lincoln killed one million people out of religious belief. No one was holding a gun to his head to, so to speak.

  31. Randy, I do agree the good people in government, be they elected, appointed, or civil service, usually leave in disgust. Some good ones stay. I also agree politicians have been corrupt for as long as they’ve been around. But, it was Lincoln who said, “If you really want to test a man’s integrity, give him power.” He was not a saint. But IMO he was a good leader. Reasonable people can disagree.

  32. Nick writes, “He was not a saint. But IMO he was a good leader. Reasonable people can disagree.”

    Two persons exercising reason can disagree. One could be right or they both could be wrong. But both cannot be right.

    When it comes to assessing whether some leader is morally “good”, killing “one million people out of religious belief” as John puts it, violating the laws of nations, and denying peoples right to freely dissasociate as nation states after taking an oath to be faithful to the principles of the Constitution leaves me with the opinion that he is a proven liar and murderer.

    Now that just doesn’t equate to “good” in my assessment. I suppose however, if you are interested in certain Machiavellian pursuits then Lincoln might be considered good in the sense that he was successful. Is that what you mean by “good”?

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