Book Chat
Lincoln At Gettysburg
The Words That Remade America
Garry Wills

This chat took place in the Civil War Home Chatroom on 11/14/05 and covered Chapters 2 & 3

11/14/2005 9:03 pm (et) Basecat: Welcome all to the Monday Night Book Chat. Tonight we will be discussing Chapters 2 and 3 from Garry Wills's book Lincoln at Gettysburg. I'll open with a statement, that IMHO, boy those folks in the 19th Century took melancholy to a new height. :)

11/14/2005 9:03 pm (et) Vickie: I did find chapter 2 interesting

11/14/2005 9:03 pm (et) CWgal: This whole book is making me melancholy

11/14/2005 9:04 pm (et) Basecat: Vickie, out of the 2 for tonight's homework, I found chapter 2 the more interesting.

11/14/2005 9:04 pm (et) Vickie: Its giving me flashbacks of having to read books for school

11/14/2005 9:05 pm (et) Basecat: Gal..Makes me wonder if they ever were happy durng those 100 years.

11/14/2005 9:05 pm (et) Vickie: Its like watching a movie and hoping the darn thing gets better.

11/14/2005 9:05 pm (et) amhistoryguy: While I did READ tonight's chapters, I didn't STUDY them, and I have the feeling that that is the only way to get much out of them.

11/14/2005 9:05 pm (et) Basecat: Vickie...:) Felt like real homework..I agree..:)

11/14/2005 9:05 pm (et) mobile_96: Undecided here, I enjoyed both.

11/14/2005 9:06 pm (et) Vickie: I did Google some for chapter 2 I find cemeteries interesting.

11/14/2005 9:06 pm (et) Basecat: amhg. Thing that stands out with me about Chapter 2 is the cemetery, and how it became the place to go when folks were visiting in town.

11/14/2005 9:06 pm (et) CWgal: I am still trying to get over Emerson digging up his son's body after it decayed....TO CONTEMPLATE IT!! Geez!!!

11/14/2005 9:06 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I just happened to have been at one of those cemeteries of the Rural Cemetery Movement in the mid 1850's, so I did find that interesting.

11/14/2005 9:06 pm (et) Vickie: oh yes ewwww .

11/14/2005 9:07 pm (et) Vickie: Id like to visit Mt Auburn.

11/14/2005 9:07 pm (et) Basecat: Gal...:) If done so today...Emerson would be locked up in Bellevue..:)

11/14/2005 9:07 pm (et) mobile_96: And his wife.

11/14/2005 9:07 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Spring Grove was developed in 1845, as a "pastoral pleasure ground."

11/14/2005 9:07 pm (et) CWgal: Exactly Base.

11/14/2005 9:07 pm (et) Vickie: There was a show on PBS about cemeteries and they showed Mt Auburn.  Very pretty place.

11/14/2005 9:07 pm (et) Basecat: amhg...Noticed that when I read it tonight, the mention of the cemetery in Cincinnati that you visited.

11/14/2005 9:08 pm (et) Vickie: I liked the story about Emmeline, the girl who specialized in death.

11/14/2005 9:08 pm (et) Vickie: Not quite sure what she did though.

11/14/2005 9:09 pm (et) Basecat: Kinda like the whole idea of how it was described, a city for the dead...and for those still living a place to go contemplate. Lots of churches around here have Cemeteries on their grounds, and to me they always seemed stuffy.

11/14/2005 9:10 pm (et) mobile_96: There are people today that attend every funeral they can find.

11/14/2005 9:10 pm (et) CWgal: I can see the switch that cemeteries took from being a place of the dead to a peaceful place to commune with nature. I find that at the National Cemetery here in Chattanooga where Dad is buried. I have often said it would make a great place for a picnic.

11/14/2005 9:10 pm (et) Vickie: The Richmond cemetery is set up like a park . Jeff Davis plot is like a small park itself

11/14/2005 9:10 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I've been to the cemetery at Gettysburg, and the comparison of it to one of those in the Rural Cemetery movement struck me as a bit off. Gettysburg is, and was intended as a soldiers cemetery, and while some of the attitudes might hold true, the cemeteries themselves are very different, IMO.

11/14/2005 9:10 pm (et) mobile_96: CWgal, same at the New one not far from me, where son was buried

11/14/2005 9:10 pm (et) Basecat: Vickie...Just a guess here, but am guessing Emmeline made up the faces before they were buried.

11/14/2005 9:11 pm (et) Vickie: I thought that might be it Base, it said something about her painting faces.

11/14/2005 9:12 pm (et) Basecat: Gal...Both cemeteries in Gettysburg were used just as you said in the late 19th century, as a place for a picnic.

11/14/2005 9:12 pm (et) CWgal: I understand mobile.

11/14/2005 9:12 pm (et) Basecat: amhg...I agree...Circumstances are way different. In terms of how it was set up that I buy, but not in the definition as to how it was used.

11/14/2005 9:13 pm (et) CWgal: Here's a link about Emmeline Grangerford

11/14/2005 9:13 pm (et) mobile_96: Well, picnics do make you feel good, and with good food, friends and family, what better way to Remember the good times with the one that has passed away.

11/14/2005 9:13 pm (et) Basecat: Can't imagine a new cemetery opening around here would close down schools and businesses so everyone could attend the dedication.

11/14/2005 9:15 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I'm not so sure in even how it was set up Basecat. I see the rows of stones and immediately think "military." The Pastoral Pleasure place type cemetery, with monuments scattered and separated by trees and lakes just does not fit a mold like the cemetery at Gettysburg.

11/14/2005 9:15 pm (et) Vickie: interesting that William Saunders the Gettysburg architect went to Springfield to landscape the area of Lincolns tomb.

11/14/2005 9:16 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...In my family experience, the picnic, to use it as an example, would take place after the burial at some restaurant. Could never understand my family going to eat after a relative passed away. Just was not my thing I guess.

11/14/2005 9:16 pm (et) CWgal: How long was a mourning period back then?

11/14/2005 9:16 pm (et) mobile_96: Up to a year IIRC.

11/14/2005 9:16 pm (et) Basecat: seemed forever.

11/14/2005 9:17 pm (et) CWgal: That seems like a long time to me, but then I am thinking 21st century.

11/14/2005 9:17 pm (et) Basecat: amhg...Exactly, and separated by each state...Plus inside the cemetery you do have markers devoted to positions regiments and artillery had during the battle.

11/14/2005 9:18 pm (et) mobile_96: Base, a time to relax, and get some food in the belly, events seem to make you forget about food, so the luncheon, dinner, picnic after helps get one back to reality.

11/14/2005 9:18 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Since those whose names were known, but the states they were from unknown - were buried as "unknowns" - how much effort, if any, was made to inform relatives that a soldier was buried in the national cemetery there?

11/14/2005 9:19 pm (et) Basecat: Gal..In a way we have evolved...Know when I go to a cemetery, I talk to my relatives and friends, but have yet to bring a shovel along with me to see what they look like now.

11/14/2005 9:19 pm (et) CWgal: When George Thomas established the National Cemetery here, he said he was tired of states rights and to mix up the burials at random.

11/14/2005 9:20 pm (et) CWgal: LOL I hope not Base.

11/14/2005 9:20 pm (et) Basecat: amhg..Think they tried as best they could to inform family members that their relative was buried there.. Good question to ask, and will do so when I am down there this weekend.

11/14/2005 9:20 pm (et) Vickie: If they knew some names seems to me they could have found out what regiment they were with

11/14/2005 9:20 pm (et) CWgal: I wondered that also AHG.

11/14/2005 9:21 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...Just me, but once that is done...I just want to go home...but that's just me.

11/14/2005 9:21 pm (et) amhistoryguy: That was my initial thought too Vickie, and I was surprised when Wills mentions that they were buried as unknowns.

11/14/2005 9:22 pm (et) Basecat: Other thing I noticed...They took pride in those cemeteries, and when guest would come...big dinner at the house, and then a ride to the cemetery.

11/14/2005 9:22 pm (et) Basecat: for of the best things he ever said, IMHO.

11/14/2005 9:23 pm (et) CWgal: I agree Base, except that it would probably be harder to find a relative like that ;-)

11/14/2005 9:24 pm (et) Basecat: Gal...That's why they had Shovel and would dig...which was commonplace after the battle was fought there for months.

11/14/2005 9:24 pm (et) Basecat: Your thoughts on how the ideas of Cemeteries worked it's way into Abe's speechifying?

11/14/2005 9:24 pm (et) mobile_96: Also have to remember that most had no ID on them, and very little regimental markings.

11/14/2005 9:24 pm (et) CWgal: Base, at cemeteries or at random across the battlefield?

11/14/2005 9:25 pm (et) Basecat: Gal...All across the battlefield...Just talking about Gettysburg in this instance, but am sure it happened wherever a battle was fought.

11/14/2005 9:26 pm (et) Basecat: Another question I have for you folks...Do you think those back then handled death better than we do today?

11/14/2005 9:27 pm (et) Vickie: I think they made a bigger thing out of it back then.

11/14/2005 9:28 pm (et) CWgal: I'm not sure they handled it better. Seems to me they dwelled on it way too long. Was that just a Victorian thing? Maybe the way to keep the loved one "alive."

11/14/2005 9:28 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Absolutely Basecat, people were trained to handle death with much more strength.

11/14/2005 9:28 pm (et) Vickie: I agree with CW that the seemed to dwell on it way to long

11/14/2005 9:29 pm (et) mobile_96: Agree with CWgal and Vickie.

11/14/2005 9:29 pm (et) Basecat: Vickie...and all, I think they were more in tune with it's eventuality, than say folks today...I know none of us will escape it, but I also don't think we think about it as much as they did.

11/14/2005 9:29 pm (et) amhistoryguy: As an example, if you were dying of your wound, the doctor told you, "you've got a couple of hours to live." Now days, the doctor does everything he can to instill hope, even when the situation may be hopeless.

11/14/2005 9:29 pm (et) CWgal: I do believe they had to deal with a lot more of it then we do today. Most of our family die of old age. Theirs was a lotto draw. Because of infant mortality, seem didn't even name their babies until they were almost 2 years old.

11/14/2005 9:30 pm (et) Basecat: amhg..Which is a good point.

11/14/2005 9:30 pm (et) CWgal: Some....not seems.

11/14/2005 9:30 pm (et) amhistoryguy: A person that knows he is dying, is better prepared to die, than a person who is told he has a chance to live, when it isn't true.

11/14/2005 9:30 pm (et) CWgal: I agree AHG

11/14/2005 9:31 pm (et) Basecat: Gal...Am 42 and to this day, I actually think my Dad thinks my name is Dammit or Jesus Christ...but I digress..:)

11/14/2005 9:31 pm (et) CWgal: LOL Base

11/14/2005 9:32 pm (et) Basecat: Interesting to note, and something I did not know, that Abe was at the dedication of the Cemetery where he was eventually laid to rest.

11/14/2005 9:32 pm (et) amhistoryguy: During the course of the war, people came to know death very well - they dwelled on it quite a bit because they saw so much of it.

11/14/2005 9:32 pm (et) CWgal: I just think they had to deal with death a lot more than we do today. 

11/14/2005 9:33 pm (et) CWgal: No wonder they were all so melancholy

11/14/2005 9:34 pm (et) Basecat: Gal...and yet melancholy back then was associated with being a genius...and the part about Abe's friends feeling sorry for him, is what attracted them to him...Kinda odd in a way.

11/14/2005 9:34 pm (et) mobile_96: especially since life expectancy was so short back then.

11/14/2005 9:35 pm (et) amhistoryguy: On some level, I think all that melancholy was the way they dealt with death - now we immediately get counseling for everyone.

11/14/2005 9:35 pm (et) CWgal: I have two questions: #1 were the Transcendentalist just "tree huggers" of the day? and #2 was Wills a Transcendentalist?

11/14/2005 9:35 pm (et) amhistoryguy: We've forgotten that death is a big part of life, the grand conclusion so to speak.

11/14/2005 9:36 pm (et) Basecat: Also makes me now understand, which I questioned a few weeks ago, why there was a need for a book on Abe's melancholy.

11/14/2005 9:36 pm (et) CWgal: Because he was married to Mary Todd :D

11/14/2005 9:37 pm (et) Vickie: Was their melancholy the same thing as depression?

11/14/2005 9:37 pm (et) Vickie: LOL CW

11/14/2005 9:37 pm (et) mobile_96: Ouch

11/14/2005 9:37 pm (et) Basecat: Gal...To me, there were so many movements back then it reminds me of the 1960s.

11/14/2005 9:37 pm (et) mobile_96: Sounds like it Vickie.

11/14/2005 9:38 pm (et) mobile_96: Or California today.

11/14/2005 9:38 pm (et) Basecat: Anymore comments on Chapter 2?

11/14/2005 9:38 pm (et) Vickie: Seems they all needed some happy happy joy joy drugs or something;-)

11/14/2005 9:39 pm (et) mobile_96: Also 'sounds' like it.

11/14/2005 9:39 pm (et) CWgal: I agree Vickie.

11/14/2005 9:40 pm (et) Basecat: If not...let's move into The Transcendental Declaration.

11/14/2005 9:41 pm (et) Vickie: Darn back to school again with chapter 3.

11/14/2005 9:41 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Yes Vickie, and I'll just take that D grade with a smile

11/14/2005 9:41 pm (et) Basecat: Question off the top of my head...Do you folks believe there was a conspiracy about slavery as alluded to in the chapter, which Abe and Parker most certainly believed in?

11/14/2005 9:42 pm (et) CWgal: In this chapter I could see more clearly the wisdom of Lincoln in dealing with slavery. It was an "irresolvable issue" as far as politics.

11/14/2005 9:43 pm (et) CWgal: I just think they both used it to their advantage....but, I don't.

11/14/2005 9:43 pm (et) mobile_96: A Slave Power? I'm leaning in that direction from the recent reading I've done.

11/14/2005 9:44 pm (et) Basecat: in certain figures North and South were moving to make Slavery yet again a National existence.

11/14/2005 9:44 pm (et) Basecat: and Mobile...more I read about it, find myself agreeing with what they speculated was happening.

11/14/2005 9:45 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Absolutely not - Stephen Douglas said on May 1, 1861, " Every man must be for the United States or against it. There can be no neutrals in this war, only patriots or traitors."

11/14/2005 9:45 pm (et) amhistoryguy: There may have been a slave power, but Douglas was not a part of it.

11/14/2005 9:46 pm (et) Basecat: Gal..You make a good point...Have to remember this was political issues, and each used the issue to their advantage.

11/14/2005 9:46 pm (et) mobile_96: I think he helped it along.

11/14/2005 9:46 pm (et) Basecat: Think he unknowingly helped it along, if that makes any sense.

11/14/2005 9:47 pm (et) Basecat: Has anyone read more about Parker?? Not all that familiar with him.

11/14/2005 9:47 pm (et) mobile_96: Sorta Base.

11/14/2005 9:47 pm (et) CWgal: Well the analogy of "God and Noah" was perfect in seeing what was going on.

11/14/2005 9:48 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...To me...I can see why he said what he said, but also can see how folks would look at his words, and see he was not really for or against it.

11/14/2005 9:49 pm (et) mobile_96: I wonder if there is a new or newer bio on Parker.

11/14/2005 9:50 pm (et) Basecat: Parker is an interesting character, and can see how his writings did influence Abe. Quite obvious he read quite a bit of his writings...and am guessing the final line of the GB Address was just espousing what Parker had mentioned many times before.

11/14/2005 9:51 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Most recent bio I see is 1941, "A Conscientious Turncoat," by George Thomas Palmer

11/14/2005 9:52 pm (et) Basecat: Gal...God and Noah story was something I had no idea about...and boy was Noah picky about who could be on his ark..:)

11/14/2005 9:52 pm (et) mobile_96: Thanks amhg.

11/14/2005 9:52 pm (et) amhistoryguy: According to Mark Neely, "there is no satisfactory biography of Parker."

11/14/2005 9:52 pm (et) Basecat: Maybe I missed it, but did the book say where Parker was from?

11/14/2005 9:54 pm (et) Basecat: Other question I had...Was not one to believe that Abe was ever disregarding the founding fathers, and yet there seems to be a cabal who feel he did so.

11/14/2005 9:55 pm (et) mobile_96: I don't remember seeing any reference to his home.

11/14/2005 9:56 pm (et) Basecat: I also found it interesting as to how the words created equal were interpreted, as in the black man should be equal, but will never be superior to I paraphrase Abe's words.

11/14/2005 9:57 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Sorry, scratch that book suggestion, its on Palmer, not Parker sorry about that.

11/14/2005 9:57 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Comment by Neely is on "Palmer" as well.

11/14/2005 9:57 pm (et) CWgal: Base I don't think he disregarded the founding fathers any more than I think he was a misogynist (hater of women). It think it was a day like any other day where your adversaries like to make mountains out of mole hills

11/14/2005 9:59 pm (et) CWgal: I wondered about the "black man" thing also Base. Here again, we must think as an 18th cent writer of the Declaration and 19th cent. thinkers we are reading about now

11/14/2005 9:59 pm (et) Basecat: Gal...In other words, he used his comments on the founding fathers where it could be used to his advantage...or am I missing the point?

11/14/2005 9:59 pm (et) CWgal: OH yes Base.....after all let's not forget he was a Politician :D

11/14/2005 10:00 pm (et) CWgal: Just exactly has was "man" defined in the minds of 18th cent. writer, i.e. Thomas Jefferson

11/14/2005 10:00 pm (et) Basecat: Gal...that whole section to me was like...Yeah...Freedom to all to a point...and the point way will he ever be superior...Lots of stuff to digest, and filter out.

11/14/2005 10:01 pm (et) mobile_96: Have to remember Abe believed the Declaration to be the Idea for American to achieve, while the Constitution was the means of obtaining the Ideal.

11/14/2005 10:02 pm (et) mobile_96: At that time no one believed the Black to be equal in mental capacity.

11/14/2005 10:02 pm (et) Basecat: Hard to believe here as well, that there was this mania of the world would end if their was interracial marriage. Obvious to me that was a big topic at that time.

11/14/2005 10:02 pm (et) CWgal: I am sure "man" didn't mean "woman" and I can just about guess it didn't mean "Black, Oriental, Indian, etc" I don't think our founding fathers felt anyone of another nationality or race was superior to them.

11/14/2005 10:02 pm (et) mobile_96: Agree with that CWgal.

11/14/2005 10:03 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...exactly, but no one even tried to see if that was the case...It was assumed to be the truth.

11/14/2005 10:03 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Parker was from the Boston area - J W Chadwick wrote "Theodore Parker, Preacher and Reformer."

11/14/2005 10:03 pm (et) Basecat: Thanks amhg.

11/14/2005 10:04 pm (et) mobile_96: Have to remember a Black with an education was a rarity, so they had no way of proving them selves even close to mental capacity to the whites.

11/14/2005 10:04 pm (et) CWgal: Here again Base. we can't think like 21st century people. We have to become 18th and 19th century thinkers. That is almost too foreign for us as liberated thinkers as we are today.

11/14/2005 10:04 pm (et) mobile_96: Even the few with any schooling were put down everywhere.

11/14/2005 10:05 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...Very true...but that said...those who did have some education they were lumped into the group ..and just typed what I was gonna post..:)

11/14/2005 10:06 pm (et) Basecat: Gal...Really am trying to think like they did in the 19th Century when I read this, but obviously very hard to do.

11/14/2005 10:06 pm (et) CWgal: Educated Blacks were a threat to the "men" of that day. If the blacks could be educated and make quality decisions, then, god forbid, they might even be equal! :o

11/14/2005 10:07 pm (et) mobile_96: Look at F. Douglass, was recognized as a well learned person, but......abnormal for a Black.

11/14/2005 10:08 pm (et) CWgal: Exactly mobile.

11/14/2005 10:08 pm (et) Basecat: Gal...Could not have said it any better than you just did...and kinda sad they thought that way. Then again, that thinking still occurs today.

11/14/2005 10:08 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Thinking like an 19th century man being so hard to do, if not impossible, I can't help but think that perhaps Wills is over thinking some of the speculations in his book?

11/14/2005 10:09 pm (et) Basecat: amhg..:) I agree with you their. Over thinking to a point of confusing me here.

11/14/2005 10:09 pm (et) mobile_96: amhg, I agree, he might be, but.....on the other hand, is making us look closer at events.

11/14/2005 10:10 pm (et) CWgal: Well AHG I do believe he has over analyzed much of this book, but the line of thinking was proven in Lincoln's own writings and speeches. He felt blacks should be able to eat what they had worked to grow, and they should not be enslaved. but equal in any other area was just unthinkable.

11/14/2005 10:10 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I agree with you mobile, his speculations are thought provoking and that in itself is worthwhile.

11/14/2005 10:11 pm (et) mobile_96: And he's ideas are Not all that far out, like some writers tend to do

11/14/2005 10:12 pm (et) mobile_96: Think CWgal is on the right track also.

11/14/2005 10:13 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I agree both CWgal and mobile, but the process of speculating on someone's motivation and thought process, I always take with a grain of salt.

11/14/2005 10:14 pm (et) mobile_96: Right, but its his actual actions that have to be examined along with it.

11/14/2005 10:15 pm (et) amhistoryguy: What a person does is often more important than what they say, that's true mobile.

11/14/2005 10:15 pm (et) mobile_96: its like he's Coopers Union Speech, he backed up his 'thoughts that the founding fathers thought slavery only tempory, by looking at the voting records of them for issues involving slavery

11/14/2005 10:16 pm (et) Basecat: Well, this has been a fascinating discussion this evening, and on a subject that can, and usually does get touchy. I wish to thank all for their participation in the chat tonight, and I applaud all for sharing their thoughts on this time in our History. Reminder...Homework for next week is chapters 4 and 5. I truly enjoy this type of forum, and has been a blast reading books along with you all and having the time to discuss them. ks will be back at the helm next Monday...:) Thanks all, for a great chat. :)

11/14/2005 10:16 pm (et) CWgal: I agree with Wills when he said "Lincoln's accommodation to the prejudice of his time did not imply any agreement with the points he found it useless to dispute."

11/14/2005 10:17 pm (et) mobile_96: Even though they 'allowed' slavery to get everyone to sign, they mostly voted against anything for slavery.

11/14/2005 10:17 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Thank you Basecat and group, interesting and informative as usual - I'm learning lots.

11/14/2005 10:18 pm (et) mobile_96: A really exceptional discussion tonight, maybe the best I've been in so far.

11/14/2005 10:18 pm (et) Basecat: Same here amhg.

11/14/2005 10:19 pm (et) CWgal: Thank you gentlemen. I have enjoyed the chat tonight.

11/14/2005 10:20 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...what I liked about tonight...You all made me think...and just thought it was great.

11/14/2005 10:22 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I have to admit that I would not get out of my own reading, half of what I get out of sharing a reading with this group.

11/14/2005 10:22 pm (et) Basecat: and LOL...we have yet to really get into the GB Address..:)