blind_html [Fwd: about Abraham Lincoln]

  • From: Nimer <nimerjaber1@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: blind_html@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 13:14:51 -0700



-------- Original Message --------
Subject:        about Abraham Lincoln
Date:   Mon, 16 Feb 2009 12:07:18 -0800
From:   Edwin Cooney <edwincooney@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To:     <Undisclosed-Recipient:;>



Hi all,
I suppose there are some Americans who don't much admire or like Abraham Lincoln. If you're an unreconstructed southerner or if you were Harry Truman's mother, it's probable that you can stifle any enthusiasm someone else expects you to have for our sixteenth president. However, I haven't met nor particularly am I anxious to meet anyone who doesn't hold a reverence for "Father Abraham." Many years ago Carl Sanberg and Ed Murrow agreed that there was probably nothing new that could be said or written about Lincoln, but they were wrong. New medical technology has made it possible for doctors to examine Lincoln's physiognomy and conclude that he suffered from Marfan's Syndrome. Then too, primary materials still come to light which contain the recollections of those who knew him or were close to contemperaries or the children of Lincoln's contemperaries that are revealing. Since I rarely, if ever, come across primary materials, it's not easy to pass on to you anything really new about Abraham Lincoln. Thus, to write of Lincoln in a meaningful way is quite a task. His personality is better known than, say George Washington's, and because people have been exposed to the fact that Lincoln suffered from depression, was poor and self educated,they can more readily identify with Abe Lincoln than they can with the more aristocratic George Washington. Conveying something one doesn't usually think about having to do with Lincoln is indeed a challenge and I've tried to offer something with a bit of substance below. I hope you enjoy it.
I'm grateful, as always, for the time you'll take to read what's here.
Warm Regards,
E.C.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 16^TH , 2009

MAKE HONEST ABE AWESOME ABE

BY EDWIN COONEY

I don’t know what intimidates you, but writing about Abraham Lincoln sure intimidates me. It isn’t that Mr. Lincoln is so grandly noble; it’s more that he’s so awesomely the best of you and me. Adequately conveying that happy reality is the writer’s challenge.

Over the years, I’ve read so much about him. I’ve read of his humble beginning, his awkward appearance, his rough speaking manner, and his determination to become educated despite little schooling.

I’ve read that he was a small town lawyer but, by the late 1850’s, he served as the chief attorney for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. (That’s a pretty lofty place for a small town lawyer, if you ask me!) His capacity for storytelling and his humor were truly legendary.

I’ve read that he once got a client off a murder rap by demonstrating to the judge and jury that the prosecution’s chief witness was lying about the night in question. With the use of an almanac, Lincoln showed that, counter to the testimony, there was no full moon on the night of the murder.

Our libraries are full of Lincolnia. One can read about Lincoln as a storekeeper, a farmer and an inventor. (He’s the only president who possessed a U.S. Patent. The patent is for a device designed to raise ships above the water line thus enabling them to traverse shallow waters.) You can also read about him as a State Legislator, a U.S. Congressman, a husband and a father.

One day, Mr. Lincoln put baby Robert in a wagon to take him for a little ride. “Father Abraham” was so wrapped up in the book he was simultaneously reading that he pulled the wagon for half a block before discovering that the baby had fallen out of it!

If Lincoln’s political path to the presidency was unusually direct (the only federal experience he had before 1861 was a single term as a Whig Congressman from Illinois from1847 to 1849), the physical, environmental and even emotional obstacles he overcame were incredible.

Lincoln suffered the deprivations of economic poverty and clinical depression throughout his life. Born with the torso of an average man, Lincoln’s arms, middle fingers, and legs were long and all out of proportion. He suffered frequent headaches, fatigue, cold hands and cold feet. According to William A. Degregorio’s _Complete Book of Presidents,_ 4^th ed., at the time of his assassination, Lincoln was probably dying of heart disease brought on by Marfan Syndrome, a genetic condition that causes these abnormalities.

Two details about Abraham Lincoln’s life stand out for me.

One night in early November 1816, young Abraham, then just seven, his older sister Sarah, along with Tom and Nancy Hanks Lincoln, arrived in Indiana from their former Kentucky home. Dusk had fallen and the cold wind was sharp and laden with snow. The forest was deep and dark. Strange sounds punctuated the night. The woods contained bears, wolves, panthers and perhaps even hostile Indians. There were no books to read, there was no really warm bed to retire to. The little family’s nearest neighbor was miles away. This virgin land was their new home, but it was up to the Lincolns to transform what could have been a den of squalor into a secure haven. Young Abe would turn into such a strong and dependable lad, that Tom Lincoln actually hired him out to work for others.

The second incident took place on March 4^th , 1861. Although lawfully elected President, Lincoln returned to the Executive Mansion to face the reality that ten states (Virginia hadn’t yet voted to secede) had bolted the Union due to his election. Most presidents expect that nearly half of the voters are opponents. However, this situation was much worse. In order to avoid assassination, they had to literally slip President-Elect Lincoln into Washington by way of hostile Maryland. As he overcame the traumatic uncertainties of his frontier youth, however, Abraham Lincoln would begin reunifying America although the way would be long, bloody, and painfully uncertain.

So, as we ought to, we celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday. By so doing, we really celebrate our wholeness, which, I believe, is just the way President Lincoln would prefer it.

Yes, indeed, there’s much you can read about Abraham Lincoln. You can read about him as a great debater, as the Great Emancipator, as a “racist politician” according to today’s standards, and even as the reason why this vital union remains whole and free.

I insist that “Honest Abe” should be called “Awesome Abe.” What say you?

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED,

EDWIN COONEY

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