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Posts Tagged ‘lincoln’

I took a trip down through corn and big sky to the Illinois state capitol, Springfield.

Springfield was originally named Calhoun after Secretory of War, John C. Calhoun from South Carolina.  About 10 years later, when Calhoun became the 7th Vice President under John Quincy Adams, and then again under Andrew Jackson, and maybe around the time that Calhoun became a staunch advocate of secession, the fact that he called slavery a “positive good” instead of a “necessary evil,” and that he spoke outright in favor of nullification, a state’s ability to void any federal law they found not to their liking, the citizens of Calhoun found their town’s namesake to be not to their liking, and renamed their town Springfield.

That was about the time this guy got here, where he would stay for almost two decades.

It was here he practiced law after having taught it to himself.  It was here he put his feet up on November 6th, 1860, his kids spilling ink on his law office walls, that he learned that he was elected President of the United States.

Lincoln freed the slaves, set a new direction for the country approaching its centennial, and kept these United States united, all while being under constant attack from his wealth of enemies, watching his sons die, as well as nearly 600,000 Americans, about 4% of the population at the time, yet he had the drive and vision to see a higher cause.

I’m totally in the bag for good ol’ Abe… But more on that later.

But check this out…

(Not my picture...)

I didn't take this one...

A face divided…

Cover up the right side of his face (his right) and you see happy Lincoln.  That man knew how to laugh, how to tell stories.

Now cover up the left side of his face (his left) and see sad Lincoln.  That men felt each one of those 600,000 deaths…

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“What do you think you’d call that?” I ask my nephew.

“I don’t know, a horn?” he says putting together a Lincoln log cabin.  

There is a train far off that you can hear every evening when dusk sweeps in, the time before dinner is cooked, after you have the lake water showered off and the canoe is put away, the time that everyone is ten pages into the next chapter or five moves in each to the chess game, another log just got tossed onto the fire and the crickets have just started singing.  It’s then that you hear the train.

“No,” I say.  “Horn is too harsh.  It’s softer than that, more nostalgic, like a remembrance of something lost.”

He stares at me blankly through his thick kid glasses, his hair sticking straight toward the ceiling, lake water and sand still there.  “You’re right.  It’s not a horn,” he says.

“Not a horn,” I say.

“It’s a choo-choo.”

“Yeah, a choo-choo.”

And he’s back to his log cabin as the train is far off and fading.

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Abraham Lincoln once said that a good story for him was better than a drop of whisky.

For those of you have not yet joined the Doris Kearns Goodwin fan club, I wanted to share a story of Lincoln’s that she often recounts. Lincoln, of course, was known for his unparalleled story telling ability. He would sit by the fireplace and regale his listeners with jokes and winding tales for hours. This was how he won the hearts that won him the presidency.

Lincoln told a story of Ethan Allen, an American Revolution war hero who went to Britain after the war. (And who oddly enough has a furniture company named after him.) After he arrived, the British, still upset about having lost the war, put their measly Brit minds together and came up with a plot to try to embarrass Allen by putting a large portrait of George Washington in the only outhouse where he might encounter it. They had hoped Allen would be upset about the indignity of George Washington being in an outhouse.  That night, after dinner and conversation, Allen made his way out, candle in hand, and did his business. He came back in as high of spirits as ever. 

“Didn’t you see George Washington in there?!” they said.

“Oh yes,” said Allen. “Perfectly appropriate place for him”

“What do you mean?” They said.

“Well,” he said, “there is nothing to make an Englishman shit faster than the sight of General George Washington.

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