Friday, December 28, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 2:45 PM
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Today's assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto at an opposition rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan brings to mind dictat....er, President Pervez Musharraf's recent claims that his crackdowns on freedom and on opposition parties were just what Lincoln did.
Dictator.....er, President Musharraf should read Doris Kearns Goodwin's excellent "Team Of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" to see exactly how Lincoln handled his rivals. He incorporated them into his cabinet in order to prevent their active opposition as well as to have the best political minds available in order to help the country.
There's a novel approach: let your rivals live so they can assist you in running your country instead of letting your supporters kill them. Dictato.....er, President Musharraf, you are still no Abraham Lincoln. Click here to see Musharraf's laughable claims to be just like Abe.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 10:35 AM
Monday, December 24, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 1:45 PM
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 12:16 PM
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 1:13 PM
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 8:25 PM
Monday, December 17, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
There has never been a shortage of books about Abraham Lincoln. There are one-volume and multi-volume biographies, books on his marriage, books about his physical and mental health, books questioning his sexuality, and books about his humor. More books have been written about Lincoln than any other U.S. President, with the possible exception of Washington.
And still the books come. From the Library Journal comes a list of new and upcoming books about Lincoln. The more intriguing ones to me, at least, will be "Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America" by Allen Guelzo (April 2008) and "Lincoln and the Court" by Brian McGinty (February 2008).
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 7:14 PM
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 9:44 PM
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 8:54 AM
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 7:27 PM
From today's Indianapolis Star comes the annual list of recommended books from the Indiana Superintendent of Public Education which people might want to consider when purchasing gifts. Dr. Suellen Reed this year has included a separate list of books about Abraham Lincoln since she wants Indiana students to learn as much as possible about him prior to the Lincoln Bicentennial in 2009.
Her list of recommended books may be found here. You'll need Adobe Acrobat to read the pdf file. The list seems to be fairly inclusive and is broken down by grades. I'd suggest that she add David Donald's superb "Lincoln" biography. Another book would be "Twenty Days," the wonderful book by Philip Kundhart and Dorothy Meserve Kundhart which details the Lincoln assassination and each of the funerals. This would seem to be especially important for Indiana students since one of Lincoln's funerals was held in Indianapolis.
Indiana is planning major activities and ceremonies for the Lincoln Bicentennial. Here is a link for the website.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 7:58 AM
Monday, December 10, 2007
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 3:27 PM
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 12:58 PM
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Here's a cool little story about a guy from the Boston, Massachusetts area who discovered a bunch of old newspapers stuck in the walls of his old house he's been renovating. At first, no one realized what the papers were, until someone noticed the date and headline. Dated April 15, 1865, the one paper contained the shocking headline that Abraham Lincoln had been shot and was not expected to survive. The other papers were from the days following the assassination.
A leading national dealer in antique and historic newspapers estimates that the paper from April 15 would be valued at approximately $700.00. Newsprint from that era was far more durable than that of today thanks to high rag print content. It's not uncommon for newspapers from the mid-1800's or even much earlier to appear nearly pristine. The papers in the photo appear to mostly intact, meaning that the finder might be able to sell them for a tidy amount of money in order to continue his home improvements.
Not only do I love American History, but I also love antiques. These stories are what motivates me to continue hunting for my treasures. I own a broadside (poster) from my hometown of Canton, Ohio, which announced the tragic news of the death of Lincoln. It's one of my more prized possessions.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Yesterday's speech by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in which he vowed to "serve no one religion" brought to mind that Abraham Lincoln faced his own religion litmus test while running for Congress in 1846.
Abraham Lincoln's faith, or lack thereof, has been debated by historians since his death and was a point of contention during his life. Countless books have been written about his religious beliefs, some stating that he was deeply spiritual, while others claim he was a non-believer, nearly an atheist. At the very least, it is true that he never became an official member of any church. However, he did attend services both prior to and after becoming president.
During the Congressional campaign of 1846, Lincoln's opponent was a popular evangelical Methodist preacher of the day, Peter Cartwright. Lincoln decided to attend one of Cartwright's revival meetings after having been accused as being an atheist or "infidel." The following text is taken from Carl Sandberg's "Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years":
In due time Cartwright said, "All who desire to lead a new life, to give their hearts to God, and go to heaven, will stand," and a sprinkling of men, women, and children stood up. Then the preacher exhorted, "All who do not wish to go to hell will stand." All stood up—except Lincoln. Then said Cartwright in his gravest voice, "I observe that many responded to the first invitation to give their hearts to God and go to heaven. And I further observe that all of you save one indicated that you did not desire to go to hell. The sole exception is Mr. Lincoln, who did not respond to either invitation. May I inquire of you, Mr. Lincoln, where are you going?"
And Lincoln slowly rose and slowly spoke. "I came here as a respectful listener. I did not know that I was to be singled out by Brother Cartwright. I believe in treating religious matters with due solemnity. I admit that the questions propounded by Brother Cartwright are of great importance. I did not feel called upon to answer as the rest did. Brother Cartwright asks me directly where I am going. I desire to reply with equal directness: I am going to Congress."
The point Lincoln was trying to make to Cartwright was that one's personal beliefs or non-beliefs are just that: personal.
It is disturbing that in the 21st Century, in a country founded on the guiding principle of freedom of religion, that a major presidential candidate has to give a speech defending his religious beliefs in order to cater to a group of people who are intolerant of beliefs which differ from theirs. It is time that candidates for the presidential office remind those citizens that Freedom of Religion means that we Americans are free to choose how we worship, when we worship, or even whether we worship at all.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 2:30 PM
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Today marks the 168th anniversary of the birth of George Armstrong Custer, the legendary army officer best known for his final battle and death at Little Bighorn.
I realize, of course, that the ties between Custer and Abraham Lincoln are tenuous at best. It is known that Lincoln met Custer's wife, Elizabeth (or Libby), at a reception and exclaimed "So this is the young woman whose husband goes into a charge with a whoop and a shout!" Therefore, Lincoln was obviously aware of the meteoric rise in rank (a temporary Major General at only 23) that Custer experienced in the Civil War. The only other link to Lincoln I can find is that Custer was stationed at Fort Abraham Lincoln as his last post prior to his death. I have my reasons for writing today about Custer, if you will indulge me.
Custer was born on December 5, 1839 in the small village of New Rumley, Ohio. The village is in Harrison County, which was also the home of three men who were highly influential in Lincoln's life. My post of November 13, 2007 tells the story of Matthew Simpson, Edwin Stanton, and John Bingham. What's amazing to me is how four important Civil War era figures could hail from the same rural county.
Custer spent his entire youth living in Harrison County and attended college in the nearby village of Hopedale, Ohio. After a stint as a teacher, he enrolled at West Point, where he finished last in his class.
His career is well-known and his final battle and death are legendary. This link is a good place to read much more about the man. He remains a highly controversial figure of American history to this day.
I mentioned earlier why I wanted to write about Custer today. My departed father was born exactly 100 years later to the day on December 5, 1939 just four miles away from where Custer was born. And he is buried just a couple of miles from the Custer birthplace. My dad was forever fascinated by George Armstrong Custer and was proud to have shared a birthday with him, especially having been born in the same area.
Happy Birthday, Colonel Custer. Happy Birthday, dad. I miss you.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 6:17 PM
Monday, December 3, 2007
From a small town Illinois newspaper website comes this interesting story about the cemetery where Abraham Lincoln's father, Thomas, and his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln, lie in eternal rest. The Thomas Lincoln Cemetery is located in Coles County, Illinois in the village of Janesville.
The article quotes a gentleman who claims that his ancestor showed President-elect Lincoln the location of his father's grave just before Lincoln departed for Washington, D.C. to take the oath of office. While this story is probably a family legend with no basis in fact, it is indeed known that Lincoln did not attend the funeral of his father Thomas.
Although Abraham Lincoln absolutely treasured his step-mother Sarah, his relationship with his father was never good to begin with and the two grew far apart as Abraham attained adulthood. David Herbert Donald in his masterpiece biography "Lincoln" details the estrangement between father and son, which seemed primarily to stem from the younger Lincoln's ambition and drive for learning, concepts which were alien to Thomas. Additionally, Thomas was a member of a Baptist church and seemed to fault Abe for never joining. It's also known that Lincoln did visit his father and stepmother from time to time while riding the law circuit, but he had very little contact with Thomas most of the time.
The article in question is of interest but it does contain some inaccuracies. It claims that Sarah Bush Lincoln was deceased by the time Lincoln left for Washington, but she of course outlived him, stating "I know'd they'd kill him" when she received news of his assassination. The article also quotes a gentleman who claims that Lincoln and Thomas got on a lot better than historians claim. This contradicts what the facts seem to support.
Nonetheless, I found the article to be informative and it further added to my Lincoln knowledge. I hope it added to yours as well.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
With the possible exception of George Washington, no other American president has so many popular legends and myths associated with him than Abraham Lincoln. In his latest book on Lincoln, Edward Steers Jr. aims to debunk some of the most lingering Lincoln legends. Titled "Lincoln Legends: Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated With Our Greatest President," Steers addresses fourteen stubborn myths about Lincoln and sets out to prove them incorrect once and for all. Beginning with the so-called Lincoln Birth Cabin , the book continues investigating myths about Lincoln throughout his life, including whether or not he had a love affair with Ann Rutledge, if Mary Todd Lincoln was a confederate spy, if Dr. Mudd was or was not guilty, etc.
The noted Lincoln scholar, Harold Holzer, wrote the introduction for this book and touches briefly on how the myth of "Lincoln The Railsplitter" first started.
Steers, of course, is the author of the best-selling "Blood On The Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln". Here is a book review describing his latest book more fully. Looks like Steers might have another winner on his hands.