Monday, November 3, 2008

Goodbye, Lincoln!

Me: Man, I was almost brought to tears reading about the last moments of Lincoln's life.
My wife: I wish you would cry about me sometimes [note: she has never seen me cry - though I did cry once when she wasn't around.]
Me: You haven't died.
My wife: Is that what it takes?

And thus ends my long interaction with Abraham Lincoln. After 757 pages, I finally completed Doris Kearns Goodwin's book Team of Rivals - and I can definitely say that I am a better man for having read it. What an inspiration Abraham Lincoln was! I would definitely have to say that he is, bar none, my biggest hero (outside the Bible, of course). He is such a towering figure and there is so much that I learned from reading about his life.

I don't have time to go through all of the things I learned about his life, but here are a few reflections on the latter days of his existence (here on earth, I'm hoping and praying):
  1. His assasination was one of three attempted assasinations that were taking place at the same time. His secretary of state, William Seward (another inspiring man) was almost murdered at the exact same moment. He was slashed nearly to death as he rested in bed in his Washington home. The only thing that saved him was a metal plate that was holding his broken jaw in place - which was the result of a carriage accident 9 days before that nearly took his life. He was literally saved by that carriage accident - testimony that one never knows how providence can work things out.
  2. The other assisination that was to take place at the same time was against Lincoln's vice president - Andrews Johnson. The man who was supposed to assisinate him had second thoughts, and instead of entering his hotel room, went to the bar, pondered it for 15 minutes, and decided better of it. Thus, of the three, Lincoln was the only one who didn't make it through the night.
  3. John Wilkes Booth was an actor, as many probably already know. His brother, Edwin Booth, was the pre-eminent Shakespearien actor of the day. While Edwin was a Union supporter, John Wilkes was a Confederate sympathizer, having spent quite a bit of time in the South. All this goes to show that we should be very skeptical of actors - especially in relation to politics (see Matt Damon as exhibit B).
  4. Obviously, Lincoln was one of the greatest figures in world history. But a question naturally arises in my mind about him: I wonder how history would look at him had he lived out his three score and ten years and never been assisinated. Our admiration for people inherently increases when they give their lives for a cause, and Lincoln is no exception. Had he continued his second term and lived to be an old man, who knows what our thoughts would be about him today. I'm sure very positive, but perhaps not nearly as much as has resulted from his "martyrdom."


greenchickadee said...

I'm thinking I'll have my husband read this book just so I can see him cry too! :) He didn't even tear up at the births of our children. Crazy stoic! :)

Sometimes I read the story of Salvation and I am very emotionally moved, and others times there isn't such a heart connection. I wish that I could get that overwhelming feeling every time my mind even passes the idea of the cross and His death for me.

Alison said...

I love history and also love Lincoln. I don't think I could get through 757 pages, though! I loved the banter between you and Camille - that was priceless. I have often wondered the same sentiment about Lincoln, JFK, and Lennon regarding their assassinations and their place in history. But I don't think we can help putting them up on a pedestal.

Corey said...

Thanks for the mini history lesson. I had no idea about those other assissination attempts. How fascinating. I think Duncan would love this book although I think the length is intimidating!

Shawn Brace said...

Notice I said that I almost cried. I did not, in fact, cry. So I cannot guarantee that it would cause any man to cry.

This is not to say that I am unemotional, either. There are many times that I'd like to cry but the tears just don't come!

Yes, Alison, getting through 757 pages is a chore! Now I'm on to Albert Einstein, which is another 600 or so pages. I'm worried that this book will not be as easily conquered, though, because it will be talking about a lot of things (ie., quantum physics and relativity) that will be over my head!

Corey, I know that Duncan expressed interest in the book in Nova Scotia, but he shared the sentiments that you have anticipated. I really think it would be worth his time, though.

steve said...

Hi Shawn,

You must be a marathon reader to get through 757 pages. I don't read nearly as much as I should, but I enjoy it when not occupied with the distractions of modern technology.

Before you get too far into Einstein, you might want to look at a different perspective on Lincoln's assassination in a book called "Fifty Years in the Church of Rome" by Charles Chiniquy. Lincoln defended him (a Catholic priest) in court against false charges of theft, among other things. The real issue was Chiniquy was confronting his Bishop about the corruption and false doctrines of the Catholic church.

Chapter's 56-67 are about his relationship with Lincoln and the assassination plot carried out by a team of Jesuits who were determined to get revenge for Lincoln's successful defense of Chiniquy. I have not read the entire book but what I have read was fascinating.

You read it online here:

God bless,

Don and Sue said...

Well, I can't let this one go by...being an Illinois girl and having visited Springfield and all the tourist trappings Lincoln brings to that area...I will have to say that Lincoln is and has always been my favorite historical person on this earth.

Having said that, I had forgotten about the other assasination attempts until you reminded us. Thus, I think it's time for me to read that book, too. It would be a milestone if I finish over 700 pages, tho, so we'll see how thoroughly I will get through it!

Shawn Brace said...

Thanks, Sue! Lincoln is an inspiring figure. He is one of my favorites as well. Aren't you glad that we have another president from Illinois now? He, he. . .

Thanks, also, Steve, for your suggestion. I will - hopefully - take a look at that book that you mentioned.