Daily Archives: November 6, 2008

Lincoln speech headed for the auction block

Looking for a unique Valentine’s Day gift for next year?  A recent news item might be of interest.  On Feb. 12, 2009 Christie’s will auction a handwritten manuscript of a speech Lincoln delivered on the occasion of his re-election.

For those of us who aren’t obscenely wealthy, the speech is available in Basler’s Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln and is well worth reading.  It’s a fine expression of Lincoln’s belief that the Civil War was fundamentally a test of representative government:

It has long been a grave question whether any government, not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its own existence, in great emergencies.…[The election] has demonstrated that a people’s government can sustain a national election, in the midst of a great civil war.  Until now it has not been known to the world that this was a possibility.¹

The Collected Works also includes a footnote with Lincoln’s own assessment of his speech, as recorded by his secretary: “‘Not very graceful,’ he said, ‘but I am growing old enough not to care much for the manner of doing things.’”²  He was being a bit too modest; the manuscript of his “ungraceful” remarks will likely go for several million dollars.

¹Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 8:100-01.

²Ibid., 102.

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Filed under Abraham Lincoln, Civil War

Michael Crichton, 1942-2008

“I am certain there is too much certainty in the world.” — Crichton, State of Fear

Someday we’re going to find that modern mankind’s most pressing problem has been our failure to appreciate the limits of human understanding.  When that happens, we’ll appreciate Michael Crichton for what he was: the indispensable writer of the last half-century.

(The image is from this news story.)

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