Passionate in Lincoln

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Many thought of Lincoln as a martyr.

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Some of them saw more than mere chance in the fact that assassination day was also crucifixion day. That one was his former law partner William Herndon. When Lincoln died, Herndon began a new career as Lincoln authority, collecting reminiscences wherever he could find them and adding his own store of memories. Although admiring Lincoln, he objected to the trend toward sanctifying him. Lincoln loved no one but Rutledge and, after her death, never ceased to grieve for her. His memory of her both saddened and inspired him.

As for his wife, Mary Todd Lincolnshe married him out of spite, then devoted herself to making him miserable. So Herndon would have it, and after him countless biographers, novelists, and playwrights elaborated upon his views, which persist as accepted knowledge about Lincoln despite their refutation by historical scholarship.

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Lincoln has become a myth as well as a man. The Lincoln of legend has grown into a protean god who can assume a shape to please almost anyone. He is Old Abe and at the same time a natural gentleman. He is Honest Abe and yet a being of superhuman shrewdness and cunning.

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He is also Father Abraham, the wielder of authority, the support of the weak; and he is an equal, a neighbour, and a friend. His long arms and legs, his grotesque figure, made him too easy to caricature and ridicule.

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Some resulted from a slow gestation of thought and phrase through many years. One of his recurring themes—probably his central theme—was the promise and the problem of self-government. Their ambition aspired to display before an admiring world, a practical demonstration of the truth of a proposition, which had hitherto been considered, at best no better, than problematical; namely, the capability of a people to govern themselves.

Again and again he returned to this idea, especially after the coming of the Civil War, and he steadily improved his phrasing. In his first message to Congress after the fall of Fort Sumter, he declared that the issue between North and South involved more than the future of the United States. It presents to the whole family of man, the question, whether a constitutional republic, or a democracy—a government of the people, by the same people—can, or cannot, maintain its territorial integrityagainst its own domestic foes.

And finally at GettysburgPennsylvaniahe made the culminating, supreme statement, concluding with the words:. The table provides a list of cabinet members in the administration of President Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln. Fast Facts. Passionate in Lincoln Images. Additional Info. Load. Examine the historical context and meaning of U. Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. People attending the dedication ceremony of the national cemetery at Gettysburg Battlefield, outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in November Abraham Lincoln, hatless, is seated left of centre.

Autographed manuscript of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. People Are Talking About. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Lincoln himself had a flexible and pragmatic approach to Reconstruction, insisting only that the Southerners, when defeated, pledge future loyalty to the Union and emancipate their enslaved persons. As the Southern states were subdued, he appointed military governors to supervise their restoration.

History at your fingertips. up here to see what happened On This Dayevery day in your inbox! address. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. William Henry Seward. Salmon P. William Pitt Fessenden from July 5, Simon Cameron. Edwin McMasters Stanton from June 20, Gideon Welles.

Edward Bates. Hugh McCulloch. Edwin McMasters Stanton.

Passionate in Lincoln

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“Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence.”