Saturday, February 12, 2011

In Memoriam: Abraham Lincoln

For his opposition to slavery - which drew the United States into a Civil War and was thus the cause of much suffering throughout its duration - Abraham Lincoln was almost one of history's least popular American Presidents; an assassin's bullet (not to mention Lincoln's having been on the right side of history regarding the issue) have since rendered him one of the greatest persons - let alone politicians or statesmen and regardless of nationality - to have ever lived...

PhotobucketBorn on this day in 1809 in a log cabin in Kentucky, as a child Lincoln and his family decamped to Indiana, which the future President would later relate was 'partly on account of slavery'. Before he was ten Lincoln's mother died of milk sickness; his father quickly remarried, and the younger Lincoln was always thereafter fonder of his stepmother than he was of his father. By the age of 21 Lincoln was living in Illinois, the state with which he would be most closely associated, and where his family had settled on public land.

Although Lincoln's formal education lasted about 18 months in total, this gifted orator and compassionate observer of the human condition was always a voracious reader, and had even managed to teach himself law prior to his admission to the bar in 1837. Shortly thereafter he set himself up in practice - first with John T. Stuart then later with William Herndon - before embarking upon his political career.

Never considered a serious candidate for the Presidency before May 1860, he had nevertheless impressed enough people during the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 that he won the Republican endorsement; during the election of 1860 he won 18 states outright and garnered 40% of the popular vote in a four way race that set the stage for the withdrawal of the Confederacy and the subsequent battle to win them back which not only defined but also ended Lincoln's life.

A grateful nation has eagerly sought to repay its 16th President's martyrdom with immortality; his image appears on the US $5 bill (not to mention the penny), as well as on Mount Rushmore, and of course within the majestic structure of the Lincoln Memorial itself. There, an interior scuplture by Daniel Chester French has become a place of pilgrimage where those disaffected by the craven greed and short-sightedness of their contemporary leadership go to reconnect with the spirit of greatness with which the United States was forged.
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Seumas Gagne said...

"a place of pilgrimage *snip* to reconnect with the spirit of greatness with which the United States was forged."

No fair making me cry on a Wednesday.

michael sean morris said...

To be fair, I did sneak up on you. No writing for a week and then all of a sudden that.