Abraham Lincoln, in my opinion, is one of our bravest Presidents.  Initially a resistant “abolitionist”, his intent only to save the Union, irregardless of slavery, he soon came to realize, it was not only the Union that was at risk, but the very soul of a nation, birthed on the premise of equality for all men.  Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave, was integral in Lincoln’s understanding that slavery was not only an evil circumstance for the slave, but for the slave owner also.

Lincoln, in a mere 10 sentences, delivered the most profound speech on the deeper meaning of the civil war.  With a little more than 200 words, he seared into the soul of our collective moral compass, the foundation of our Nation, freedom and equality for all.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government : of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth

33 Thoughts to “Remembering one of our greatest Presidents, Lincoln”

  1. IVAN

    Lincoln along with Churchill could say more with fewer words than any one else in history.

  2. Lincoln a great president? Pardon me for a moment as I gag . . .

    [ gagging . . . gagging . . . ]

    Okay, now that my gagging is done . . .

    Abraham Lincoln did more to erode Constitutional guarantees and trample on natural rights than any other President in American history (Bush 43 comes in at a close second). Two of the many vile things he did was (1) illegally suspend habeas corpus, and (2) used monumentally bogus “legal” precedent to justify going to war with the southern states which had seceded (which, by the way, was something they had every right to do).

    I’ll write more later, but at present I must run an errand.

  3. Elena

    Lincoln had his many flaws, but maintaining the United States as one entity was not one of them. He DID free the slaves, he DID hold the Union together, he DID realize that the fight to create equality for all men was paramount. He DID invite Frederick Douglas,an escaped free slave into the White House, an act that horrified many a man and woman.

  4. Rick Bentley

    Lincoln was an eloquent guy. Great leader? Maybe, I don’t know. Undeniably the real heros are all the dead soldiers who fought for the North.

    But what I find more interesting to talk about is the fact that Lincoln was FLAMINGLY homosexual, and that if that could be proven to all then the reaction from our homophobic society would be interesting.

  5. Rick Bentley

    I’m sure Elena didn’t open this thread to discuss Lincoln’s sexuality but perhaps she’ll humor me if anyone wants to discuss this.

  6. Rick Bentley

    February 13, 1842 letter from Lincoln to Joshua Speed, with whom he shared a room and bed for 4 years, on the subject of Speed’s impending marriage – this is some Brokeback Mountain-type stuff :

    Dear Speed:
    Yours of the 1st. inst. came to hand three or four days ago. When this shall reach you, you will have been Fanny’s husband several days. You know my desire to befriend you is everlasting – that I will never cease, while I know how to do anything.

    But you will always hereafter, be on ground that I have never occupied, and consequently, if advice were needed, I might advise wrong.

    I do fondly hope, however, that you will never again need any comfort from abroad. But should I be mistaken in this – should excessive pleasure still be accompanied with a painful counterpart at times, still let me urge you, as I have ever done, to remember in the depth and even the agony of despondency, that very shortly you are to feel well again. I am now fully convinced, that you love her as ardently as you are capable of loving. Your ever being happy in her presence, and your intense anxiety about her health, if there were nothing else, would place this beyond all dispute in my mind. I incline to think it probable, that your nerves will fail you occasionally for awhile; but once you get them fairly graded now, that trouble is over forever.

    I think if I were you, in case my mind were not exactly right, I would avoid being idle; I would immediately engage in some business, or go to making preparations for it, which would be the same thing.

    If you went through the ceremony calmly, or even with sufficient composure not to excite alarm in any present, you are safe, beyond question, and in two or three months, to say the most, will be the happiest of men.

    I hope with tolerable confidence, that this letter is a plaster for a place that is no longer sore. God grant it may be so.

    I would desire you to give my particular respects to Fanny, but perhaps you will not wish her to know you have received this, lest she should desire to see it. Make her write me an answer to my last letter to her at any rate. I would set great value upon another letter from her.

    Write me whenever you have leisure. Yours forever.

    P.S. I have been quite a man ever since you left.

    A. Lincoln

  7. Rick Bentley

    SPRINGFIELD, February 25,1842.

    DEAR SPEED:–I received yours of the 12th written the day you went down to William’s place, some days since, but delayed answering it till I should receive the promised one of the 16th, which came last night. I opened the letter with intense anxiety and trepidation; so much so, that, although it turned out better than I expected, I have hardly yet, at a distance of ten hours, become calm.

    I tell you, Speed, our forebodings (for which you and I are peculiar) are all the worst sort of nonsense. I fancied, from the time I received your letter of Saturday, that the one of Wednesday was never to come, and yet it did come, and what is more, it is perfectly clear, both from its tone and handwriting, that you were much happier, or, if you think the term preferable, less miserable, when you wrote it than when you wrote the last one before. You had so obviously improved at the very time I so much fancied you would have grown worse. You say that something indescribably horrible and alarming still haunts you. You will not say that three months from now, I will venture. When your nerves once get steady now, the whole trouble will be over forever. Nor should you become impatient at their being even very slow in becoming steady. Again you say, you much fear that that Elysium of which you have dreamed so much is never to be realized. Well, if it shall not, I dare swear it will not be the fault of her who is now your wife. I now have no doubt that it is the peculiar misfortune of both you and me to dream dreams of Elysium far exceeding all that anything earthly can realize. Far short of your dreams as you may be, no woman could do more to realize them than that same black-eyed Fanny. If you could but contemplate her through my imagination, it would appear ridiculous to you that any one should for a moment think of being unhappy with her. My old father used to have a saying that “If you make a bad bargain, hug it all the tighter”; and it occurs to me that if the bargain you have just closed can possibly be called a bad one, it is certainly the most pleasant one for applying that maxim to which my fancy can by any effort picture.

    I write another letter, enclosing this, which you can show her, if she desires it. I do this because she would think strangely, perhaps, should you tell her that you received no letters from me, or, telling her you do, refuse to let her see them. I close this, entertaining the confident hope that every successive letter I shall have from you (which I here pray may not be few, nor far between) may show you possessing a more steady hand and cheerful heart than the last preceding it. As ever, your friend,

  8. Rick Bentley


    Captain David Derickson was Lincoln’s bodyguard and companion between September 1862 and April 1863. They shared a bed during the absences of Lincoln’s wife, until Derickson was promoted in 1863.[36] Derickson was twice married and fathered ten children, but whatever the exact level of intimacy of the relationship, it was the subject of gossip. Elizabeth Woodbury Fox, the wife of Lincoln’s naval aide, wrote in her diary for November 16, 1862, “Tish says, ‘Oh, there is a Bucktail soldier here devoted to the president, drives with him, and when Mrs. L is not home, sleeps with him. What stuff!’

  9. Moon-howler

    Rick, I think people back in those days were not as skittish about doing things that appeared to be gay as they are now. Men slept in the same bed for practical rather than romantic reasons. On the other hand, it would make no difference to me to find out Lincoln was gay. Do you suppose all the Washingtonians tittered about it?

    I don’t think he was a great president (most of the time). Each and every time I go to a battlefield, I am overcome with sadness for our nation. Nothing, absolutely nothing was worth that kind of carnage. Nothing was worth what Americans did to other Americans. Somehow it would have all worked out. I am one of those who believes also that the southern soldiers were just as great heroes as northern soldiers. The entire war was tragic and shameful.

  10. Lincoln could have cared less about the slaves. Read his first inaugural address. Also take a look at the Confiscation Act of 1862.

    And contrary to popular opinion Lincoln did not free the slaves. Constitutionally speaking he did not have the power to do so. Only by altering the Constitution — which the states must agree to — could the slaves be legally recognized and affirmed as free people. That was eventually effected via the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, each ratified respectively in 1865, 1868, and 1870.

    The United States is a union of states which was formed by each state’s independent legislative action. They therefore, in accordance with Constitutional principles, had every right to withdraw from the Union if they so chose. Lincoln ignored this fundamental right of freedom of association (which by extension includes the right of disassociation) and started a vastly unnecessary war.

    In Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address he stated the following:

    “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

    Jefferson later, as President, wrote a letter to John Breckinridge on August 12, 1803 where he discussed his position on the issue of whether or not one territory or state has a right to secede from (or choose not to become a part of) the Union. He stated:

    “We think we see their happiness in their union, and we wish it. Events may prove it otherwise; and if they see their interest in separation, why should we take side with our Atlantic rather than our Missipi descendants? It is the elder and the younger son differing. God bless them both, and keep them in union, if it be for their good, but separate them, if it be better.

    Let’s not forget what Lincoln said in his debate with Stephen Douglas in 1858:

    “I will say then that 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 — that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes.”

    But his words being what they were (even the good words, such as in his Gettysburg Address), it is his actions that write his legacy. And his legacy is akin to a knife having been thrust through the heart of the very principles upon which the American nation was founded.

    Lincoln was by no means a friend to liberty.

  11. Poor Richard

    The MYTH of Lincoln is a friend to liberty.

  12. Rick Bentley

    “Nothing, absolutely nothing was worth that kind of carnage.” Well, I don’t agree. If you want to see something else sad, go to Mount Vernon and have the historical interpreter show you and tell you about the slave quarters. When you see it up close and personal and reflect on the torturous life of a slave, it’s quite moving in itself.

    “Nothing was worth what Americans did to other Americans. Somehow it would have all worked out.” I don’t know about that. There is still slavery in the world.

  13. Elena

    I have to respectfully disagree with you Robb. The very principals upon which our nation was founded included the compromise to allow slavery. It was a pragmatic decision, either allow slavery in certain states or never reach a concensus on the constitution. There is no doubt that Lincoln was flawed, but he came to recognize that slavery was a blight on this country, we are all due the opportunity to right our wrongs or change our ideas to a more enlightened ideology. Like I said, he was a reluctant “abolishonist”.

    You need to do some more expansive research on the time of Abraham Lincoln. To develop close ties with one of the same sex was not homosexual, get you mind out of the gutter 🙂

    Have you read Doris Kearns Goodwin autobiograhpy on Lincoln? it is wonderful, you may want to pick up a copy. Might help broaden your perspective, historically, to the times of Lincoln.

  14. Rick Bentley

    Robb, your position would only start to make sense if you also feel we have no business in Iraq, had no business meddling around with Europe in the Cold War, should leave Castro and Chavez alone, should let Iraq do as they will, etc. etc.

  15. Elena

    The emancipation proclamation was THE first step to freedom for slaves, that cannot be disputed.

  16. Rick Bentley

    I haven’t read Goodwin’s book. Who did she plagiarize that one from?

    No seriously, I like Kearns Goodwin. Saw her speak at a friend’s graduation. No I haven’t read that.

    But if I can recommend something for you that’s relevant, I recommend “Brokeback Mountain”. Either homosexuality has somehow been spreading like wildfire in the last few decades, or there were one heck of a lot of closeted gay people in past eras.

  17. Rick Bentley

    The world is waiting for this theory to be explored, it’ll have the Bill O’Reillys in fits. Can you imagine a Gus Van Sant or Oliver Stone directed movie about a gay Lincoln, with a star on the order of Sean Penn or Jake Gyllenhall as Lincoln? It would cause more consternation than the gay marriage issue, i’d bet.

    I’ll never forget the abject panic in my church in the mid-70’s when some rumor started that some foreign director was going to direct a film showing Christ as gay.

  18. Poor Richard

    Barely a year into the Civil War, President Lincoln suggested buying slaves for
    $400 apiece under a “gradual emancipation” plan that would bring peace at less
    cost than a year of hostilities. (The proposal is outlined in one of 72 Lincoln
    letters at the University of Rochester). He also suggested sending slaves back
    to Africa if possible.

    The point is he wanted to avoid war if at all possible – his first and major
    goal was to preserve the Union, the end of slavery eventually came as a part of that
    goal. Lincoln didn’t start out to be the Great Emancipator.

  19. Moon-howler

    Rick, I guess it all depends on your perspective. Yes, there is still slavery in the world. I want to think Americans have outgrown that bad habit, though.

    600,000 Americans dead. The waste of human life and property has been unequaled in this country. That doesn’t even include the wounded.

    Many of the causes of the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery and everything to do with money and industry, bullcrap and bluster– Let’s not leave out supreme greed and lust for power.

  20. “I want to think Americans have outgrown that bad habit, though.”

    You think so, Moon-howler? Just Google “Human Trafficking in America” and check out some of the hits, like this one:


    Slavery In The Suburbs
    “(CBS) Most people think slavery ended in America back in the 19th century. But thousands of people are sold in this country each year. Some are made to work for no pay. Others are forced into prostitution.”

  21. Opinion

    I believe Moon-howler “got it right” (Rick, I guess it all depends…)

    A. Lincoln’s words during one of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, 18 Sep 1858,

    “I will say then that 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 – that 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; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

    Lincoln actually favored creating colonies of freed slaves in Panama, Haiti, and Liberia.

    Lincoln freed the slaves for pragmatic reasons. Slavery was really just a positive side effect of what was really a war over the Constitution and the power of the Federal Government (that “pesky” 10th Amendment). Lincoln is a product of his times (which I do not hold against him). A. Lincoln held the union together and did, in fact, “free the slaves” (for whatever his reasons, it changed the course of history for the better); however, revisionist history has cleaned up some of the less appealing details about his beliefs. That’s probably a good thing.

  22. Elena:

    Our Constitution was created grossly imperfect, and remains grossly imperfect (a fact of which I hope is remedied in my lifetime). Slavery was indeed a central issue to the frictions that brought about secession and resulting conflict. But the issue did not revolve around notions of morality, but around facts of economics. Overall, though, the foundational issue was State’s rights.

    This isn’t to condone slavery by any means. Slavery as an institution could not have been sustained for much longer, as a result of the industrial revolution which had already taken hold in the North, but which the South needed to catch up to. It is also likely that the Confederacy and the Union would have reunited without a war.

    It is vitally important to remember that the federal Union was created by the sovereign acts of independent State legislatures, and the Constitution did not and could not nullify State sovereignty. This means that, conversely, States by virtue of their independent sovereignty could proclaim new acts to withdraw from the Union by repealing their former acts of ratification of the Constitution that engaged them to the Union to begin with. And that is exactly what several southern states did in 1860 and 1861, peacefully and without threat of attack against other non-seceding states.


    The American military invasion of Iraq was absolutely wrong. We can deplore the evils perpetrated by the Saddam Hussein regime, but that does not justify the grossly unwarranted military invasion of a nation which, neither per threat nor imminent preparation, was in a position to attack the American homeland. One set of crimes against humanity does not justify another.

    Furthermore, the American military presence in Iraq, under the euphemistic guise of “liberation”, has caused the utterly needless maimings and deaths of many thousands of Iraqis and the displacement of millions more, to say nothing of the needless maimings and deaths of thousands of American military servicepeople.

    An armed force is necessary only for the preparation of defending against imminent harm. As for preventing those things which would put us into a position of defense, that is the purview of diplomacy. (Which should answer your question about the Cold War, Cuba, Venezuela, etc.)

  23. Elena

    Lincoln did indeed redefine the state vs federal power structure, of that there is not doubt. I for one, believe it was a postive change. Although a believer in states rights, the idea that there is not a common law of the land that we all must heed is quite unsettling to me. As human beings were are all flawed, Lincoln was, just like the rest of us. In his endeavor to hold the union togethere, he did ineed, become a reluctant abolitionist, of that I firmly believe. But in the end, his pragmatism, although not borne of complete moral compulsion, in the end, changed the course of our nation. We will never know if the Southern states would have reunited, I have my doubts, there are still plenty of confederate flags that fly in the state of Virginia.

  24. Moon-howler

    And I have a picture of Robert E. Lee in my living room. It’s small, I’ll grant you.

    Flying a confederate flag can mean many things to many people. I know there are bubbas out there who (yuk yuk hee haw) have a larger than life size ‘rebel flag’ hangin’ off thar porch. It matches the smaller flag in the back window of their pick up truck. That isn’t what it is all about though.

    In my life time many states have flown various confederate states. Only PC made most of those flags come down. I don’t think we can brush our past under the rug. It is what you do with that past. Do you revere your dead and your culture or do you use those artifacts to advance hate?

    If we try to extinguish everything to do with that war, then you will continue to have the bubbas acting out and waving their rebel flags. What’s next, exhuming all those dead southern soldiers and throwing them in a pile? shudder!

    Half my gene pool at some point was very impacted by that war. For me to attempt to eradicate it would be like eradicating those people from the face of the earth.

    PS. I am totally serious about Robert E. Lee in my living room.

  25. Rick Bentley

    “Many of the causes of the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery ”

    It’s in vogue to say that but I think it’s obvious the tension between North and South was actually primarily about slavery and the immorality of it.

  26. Opinion


    Actually, it was not (principally about slavery). Revisionist history prefers to make it so; however, Lincoln actually recognized the constitutional issues and was prepared to live with Slavery to save the Union. He assumed that Slavery, as an issue and as a fact, would go away eventually driven by economic changes in the South. Most Southerners were small Farmers who couldn’t even afford slaves. It was a rather minor issue compared to Federalism vs. States rights (principally, the right of a State to succeed form the Union), the industrialization of the North vs. the Agrarian South, vast cultural differences between the North and South dating back a couple of hundred years, etc, etc, etc.

    History is not served well by the over-simplification of complex issues.

  27. Rick Bentley

    “The right of a state to succeed from the Union” is an academic issue. The real-world issue that men died for in huge numbers was whether slavery, a basis of the South’s economy, was to be tolerated. The issue had been coming to a head over the previous decades.

    Do you REALLY think that men fought and died over an abstract issue?

  28. Rick Bentley:

    The right of political self-determination, independence, and sovereignty (which includes the right to dissolve political bonds with another entity) is hardly academic. If that were the case, then your viewpoint would require that you define the Revolutionary War as academic.

    If the Colonies had the sovereign right to secede (yes, secede, i.e., withdraw) from their union with Great Britain, then states who are members of the United States likewise have a sovereign right to withdraw from that union if they so desire.

    In which case Lincoln was nothing more than a reincarnation of King George III.

    It isn’t abstract at all.

  29. Opinion


    History “is what it is”. This isn’t “secret” stuff. Pick up any history book (beyond the grade school level) for details.

    I was a soldier for a long time. You would be surprised what people fight and die for. Sixteen virgins in heaven, anyone?

  30. Rick Bentley

    Well, everyone has the right to believe what they want to believe I suppose. I agree Opinion, it’s certainly no secret. It’s well-documented.

  31. Moon-howler

    5% of the population owned 95% of the slaves in the south. How are you going to get those poor white farmers and cracker boys out there to die and become maimed over some rich dude’s right to own slaves? Give me a break.

    There was also conscription in both the north and south. Irish immigration also provided a bunch of cannon fodder. Well-to-do northerners also hired someone to go fight for them.

    People in those days didn’t think of themselves as Americans. They considered themselves Virginians, or New Yorkers, etc. Most didn’t go far from home and there was no CNN. From all I have read and heard passed down through the oral tradition, there was a great deal of pride and self determination. The abolitionist movement really didn’t involve that many people. Folks who were rabid abolitionists from areas like West Virginia hopped the lines and fought for the south because of states rights and those types of concepts.

    I am not so sure those people didn’t fight and die more for astractions that we do nowadays. Taxation without repesentation? Live Free or Die? Don’t Tread on me? Those very thoughts forged an independence nation.

    Bottom line, I agree with Opinion and Robb.

  32. Rick Bentley


    In the presidential election of 1860, the Republican Party, led by Abraham Lincoln, had campaigned against the expansion of slavery beyond the states in which it already existed. The Republican victory in that election resulted in seven Southern states declaring their secession from the Union even before Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861

    The coexistence of a slave-owning South with an increasingly anti-slavery North made conflict likely. Lincoln did not propose federal laws against slavery where it already existed, but he had, in his 1858 House Divided Speech, expressed a desire to “arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction”.[1] Much of the political battle in the 1850s focused on the expansion of slavery into the newly created territories.[2][3][4] All of the organized territories were likely to become free-soil states, which increased the Southern movement toward secession. Both North and South assumed that if slavery could not expand it would wither and die.[5][6][7]

    Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens said[12][13] that slavery was the chief cause of secession[14] in his Cornerstone Speech shortly before the war. After Confederate defeat, Stephens became one of the most ardent defenders of the Lost Cause.[15] There was a striking contrast [14][16] between Stephens’ post-war states’ rights assertion that slavery did not cause secession[15] and his pre-war Cornerstone Speech. Confederate President Jefferson Davis also switched from saying the war was caused by slavery to saying that states’ rights was the cause. While Southerners often used states’ rights arguments to defend slavery, sometimes roles were reversed, as when Southerners demanded national laws to defend their interests with the Gag Rule and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. On these issues, it was Northerners who wanted to defend the rights of their states.[17]

    South Carolina did more to advance nullification and secession than any other Southern state. South Carolina adopted the “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union” on December 24, 1860. It argued for states’ rights for slave owners in the South, but contained a complaint about states’ rights in the North in the form of opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act, claiming that Northern states were not fulfilling their federal obligations under the Constitution. All of the alleged violations of the rights of Southern states were related to slavery.

  33. Moon-howler

    I don’t consider Wikipedia a definitive work on causes of the Civil War. It was a complex issue. I expect that Wikipedia is going with the modern, revisionist explanation taught to so many kids today.

    It gets more interesting when you start following the money and who had it for what reasons. Rick, I certainly am not saying that slavery had nothing to do with the Civil War, but it was just far more complex than that. There were balance of powers, industrialization, westward expansion issues that also came into play. Like most wars, the rich profitted and the poor died.

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