And yes, you can get this picture on a t-shirt.
Category Archives: Abraham Lincoln
Steve Dougherty shook hands with Larry Howe, who shook hands with Civil War veteran James A. Hard, who shook hands with Abraham Lincoln. Not bad.
According to an article in the Democrat’s neighborhoods edition last week, Hard shook hands with Mary Lincoln and son Robert as well as with the President in the Blue Room of the White House. “He had a wonderful smile,” Hard said.
Hard once described Lincoln as a “comical looking fellow on horseback” who he saw on two other occasions during troop reviews. Stovepipe hat or no, Abe was Hard’s hero; he cast his first vote for Lincoln in 1864 and his last for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.
Lincoln Memorial University’s Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum is one of 2,000 institutions across the country participating in the Blue Star Museums program. Admission for active duty military personnel (including National Guard and Reserve, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and NOAA Commissioned Corps) and up to five family members is free until September 2, 2013. Just bring your Geneva Convention common access card or Uniformed Services ID Card (1173 or 1173-1) when you visit.
For more information about the museum, call (423) 869-6235 or visit www.lmunet.edu/museum.
In case you haven’t heard, Jurassic Park 4 will be here in 2015 instead of 2014. I hate having to wait another year, but oh well.
Hey, speaking of Hollywood, my mom didn’t know World War Z is a zombie movie until yesterday. I asked her if she assumed, based on the trailers, that it was a movie about Brad Pitt running from crowds of normal people.
Okay, on to business.
- A woman who claims to have a photograph of Lincoln on his deathbed is suing the Surratt House Museum for $100,000 because of a statement on the museum’s website about the photo’s authenticity.
- BBC America listed ten connections between Lincoln and Britain, but they left out the most obvious one: Lincoln’s ancestors came from England.
- If you want to take in the anniversary festivities at Gettysburg but can’t make the trip, C-SPAN3 has got you covered. They’ll be airing the festivities in both live and taped form during the anniversary weekend, and July 4th will feature 24 hours of non-stop Gettysburg programming. For those of you in the Gettysburg area, the C-SPAN bus will be in town starting June 25th, and the Lincoln Diner will even have C-SPAN coffee mugs for the occasion. (That’s the one across the street from the train station, right? I’ve eaten there a couple of times. Neat place.)
- Sorry about the short notice on this one, but Dr. Earl Hess will discuss the Battle of Campbell Station at the Farragut Folklife Museum on June 23rd (that’s tomorrow) at 2:00.
- Finally, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park has obtained an original Civil War document.
In his new book and recent National Review piece, Rich Lowry argues that the American Right has a friend in Lincoln. I haven’t read the book, but based on the NR article I’d say he makes some valid points, overstates some things, and understates some others. None of that is surprising, since it’s generally the pattern when people try to shoehorn nineteenth-century political figures into modern categories.
Lowry’s NR piece prompted this response from Thomas DiLorenzo. While he never really refutes any of Lowry’s points, DiLorenzo does manage to mock Lowry’s physical appearance, criticize his writing style, and label the late William F. Buckley a fascist. All that in about 350 words.
This is why we can’t have nice things.
I asked the students in my introductory Lincoln course to write an essay on Lincoln’s use of presidential power. I told them to decide whether Lincoln abused his authority and overstepped the Constitution, whether he was too timid, or whether he used his power judiciously, and to defend their answer in a short paper.
Although I assured the class that there was no “right” answer to the question, and that they were free to excoriate Lincoln as harshly as they wanted, the results came back overwhelmingly in his favor. Of some two dozen students, only three found his use of power excessive. The rest of the class generally agreed that Lincoln acted properly, given the circumstances he faced.
Interestingly, though, the two groups defended their positions quite differently. The students who argued that Lincoln assumed too much presidential power cited specific passages of the Constitution to make their case. Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, in particular, came in for criticism. As these students noted, the Constitution permits such an act “when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it,” but this passage is found in the article dealing with powers of Congress. The legality of a presidential suspension of habeas corpus while the legislature was out of session was therefore a matter of controversy during the Civil War, and it remains so today.
The students who defended Lincoln, by and large, did not try to cite law and precedent to demonstrate that his actions were legal. Instead, they argued from necessity. Rebellion on the scale of the Civil War was something no other president had faced, and most students felt he had no choice but to act as he did in order to preserve the Union.
A few of the students who defended Lincoln did find him a bit too hesitant in one respect; they wished he had issued his emancipation decree sooner. But they also noted that their preferences in timing weren’t necessarily practical, and agreed that Lincoln had good reasons for waiting as long as he did.
I found it interesting that the two groups of students differed in their approaches, because Lincoln himself used both law and necessity in defending his more controversial policies. Referring to his suspension of habeas corpus in a message to Congress in 1861, he noted that “the attention of the country has been called to the proposition that one who is sworn to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed,’ should not himself violate them.” At the same time, however, he observed that all the Constitution’s provisions were essentially going unenforced “in nearly one-third of the States.” Was it acceptable for “all the laws, but one, to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated? Even in such a case, would not the official oath be broken, if the government should be overthrown, when it was believed that disregarding the single law, would tend to preserve it?”
In any case, Lincoln continued, his suspension of habeas corpus was not a case of “disregarding the law.” He believed he had acted within the limits established by the Constitution. After all, that document permits habeas corpus to be suspended in a case of rebellion, and while it does not explicitly permit the executive branch to exercise this power, neither does it explicitly forbid it. Besides, since “the provision was plainly made for a dangerous emergency, it cannot be believed the framers of the instrument intended, that in every case, the danger should run its course, until Congress could be called together; the very assembling of which might be prevented, as was intended in this case, by the rebellion.”
Lincoln thus hedged his rhetorical bets in his message to Congress. He made a case for the constitutionality of his actions, and if that failed to convince his critics, he asked whether they preferred to see one law stretched and the Constitution saved or watch the whole Constitution tossed aside by the rebellion while the Union’s hands remained tied.
If my students’ essays are any indication, many modern Americans will support leaders who use extraordinary means so long as they believe the ends are worthwhile.
The Old Dominion has embraced Honest Abe, at least according to this article.
The writer claims that Tredegar’s sculpture of Lincoln and Tad is “the only statue of Lincoln in the South, where many people still refer to the Civil War as the War of Northern Aggression.” I must beg to differ. In fact, if you visit my alma mater here in East Tennessee, you’ll find three of them: a standing Lincoln at the main entrance, a copy of Paul Manship’s larger-than-life “Hoosier Youth” in the museum atrium, and a depiction of Lincoln as a lawyer in front of the library.
There’s also a Lincoln statue at the state capitol in West Virginia, and Kentucky has more Honest Abes than you can shake a stick at.
One more quibble. I’ve lived in the South for more than thirty years, and I’ve only heard one person refer to the Civil War as “the War of Northern Aggression.” The guy who said it was a reenactor; ironically, I was at an event in a state that never joined the Confederacy. Most of my fellow southerners aren’t nursing a grudge over a war that ended before their great-grandparents were born.