Sunday, February 12, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln

In observance of the 197th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, I am reproducing two earlier posts.

The Young Mr. Lincoln

Thanks to American Digest, I found an article by Claude N. Frechette, M.D., "A New Lincoln Image: A Forensic Study," in which Dr. Frechette documents his authentication of an early daguerreotype of Abraham Lincoln.

Believe it or not -- and I believe it after having read Dr. Frechette's article -- the following image is that of Abraham Lincoln in the early 1840s, when he was in his early 30s:

The next image, about which there was no controversy, is that of Lincoln in 1848 at the age of 39:

Finally, we see Lincoln in 1862 at the age of 53:

Lincoln, the Poet President

Abraham Lincoln ended his First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1861) with these words:
We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (November 19, 1863) is no less majestic:
...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.
Lincoln's poetry soared again in his Second Inaugural Address (March 4, 1865), weeks before Lee surrendered to Grant (April 9, 1865):
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Let us indeed strive on to finish the work we are in, and -- as is our custom -- make peace with former enemies who seek peace, while remaining vigilant against those who wish us harm.