The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln
Douglas L. Wilson
This chat took place in the Civil War Home Chatroom on 10/1/06 and covered The Introduction, and Chapters 1 & 210/1/2006 8:55 pm (et) ks: Tonight we begin the first discussion of ”Honor’s Choice: The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln” by Douglas L. Wilson. As in past book chats we’d ask that you confine comments to the relevant chapter or portion under discussion. Not only does that help with the pacing of our discussion here, it also helps the person reading the archived discussion in the log or on the page shotgun’s created for saving our book chats. BTW that archive can be found at: http://www.civilwarhome.com/bookchats.htm MORE…
10/1/2006 8:55 pm (et) ks: IMVHO some Introductions are hardly worth reading. Go ahead and disagree with me all you wish. ;) But I hope you’ll agree that Wilson’s Introduction was thought provoking and does well to set the stage with what a reader can expect to experience in his book.10/1/2006 8:57 pm (et) Widow: I thought he explained carefully and well the difficulties of a modern biographer in evaluating the reliability -- or absence -- of sources.
Here’s something to chew on (for the scrollers). In his thoughts about this book Wilson states that we must “forgo historical certainty and venture into the riskier realm of likelihood and possibility. This book is such an excursion.” Anyone care to elaborate on that thought or other things which came to mind while reading the Intro??
10/1/2006 8:57 pm (et) ks: Vickie's on the PHONE with me right now. Can't get online.... :(10/1/2006 8:57 pm (et) Widow: It's the same kind of problem faced by intelligence analysts (my field) and by detectives (not my field).
10/1/2006 8:58 pm (et) amhistoryguy: After Wilson's thoughts on likelihood and possibility, I found it interesting that he added a comment by Lincoln, that "History is not history, unless it is the truth."10/1/2006 8:59 pm (et) ks: Sounds like a lawyer, doesn't it, AHG?
10/1/2006 8:59 pm (et) Widow: Yes, AHG, that was thought-provoking. Lincoln himself was not a spin doctor, but he was a good lawyer and a master politician.10/1/2006 9:00 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Kind of, I got the impression that the Introduction was a giant disclaimer.
10/1/2006 9:01 pm (et) Widow: AHG, yes, that struck me too. Saying that Lincoln's early years weren't well documented, so don't expect to see the perfect truth in this biography.10/1/2006 9:01 pm (et) ks: I found it interesting that, when interviewed by a Chicago Press and Tribune reporter after being nominated in 1860, Lincoln thought it folly to try to make anything out of his early life. As if he thought that period couldn't be idealized and "didn't welcome a romantic verson of it." As Wilson states, his wishes were cooly ignored.
10/1/2006 9:02 pm (et) ks: But (not to jump ahead) I did think that the first two chapters very clearly illustrated what Wilson said in the intro. Sometimes illustrated ad nauseum. ;)10/1/2006 9:02 pm (et) Widow: I never felt that Lincoln was ashamed of his humble background, just thought it was irrelevant to the campaign.
10/1/2006 9:03 pm (et) Widow: My feeling was, after reading the intro, "OK, Wilson, let's get on with it."10/1/2006 9:03 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I think while we read, we need to keep in mind that often what we KNOW he did might be more important than what someone said he did, or said he said.
10/1/2006 9:04 pm (et) Widow: You all noticed that Wilson's title was taken from Thomas Gray's "Elegy written in a Country Churchyard."10/1/2006 9:04 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Lincoln had the opportunity to create his own bio after his national recognition, and he choose not to.
10/1/2006 9:04 pm (et) ks: Agreed on both of those points, Widow. :) Nineteenth century journalism had to make the most of his rough beginnings. And...sure wanted to GET ON WITH IT.10/1/2006 9:04 pm (et) mobile_96: KS, with all the illustration, we were also able to see some of the versions to the event being created for popular consumption
10/1/2006 9:05 pm (et) Widow: And the title of "Bloody Promenade" was taken from a quote of Walt Whitman, another poet. That should have been our first clue about tonight's book.10/1/2006 9:05 pm (et) ks: Popular consumption...well put.
10/1/2006 9:05 pm (et) Widow: Popular vote-getting.10/1/2006 9:06 pm (et) amhistoryguy: "He knows what not to tell you, which is more important than what he does tell you."
10/1/2006 9:06 pm (et) Widow: Yes, AHG, I thought we were going to have a bio of Lincoln's early years. But we did not.10/1/2006 9:07 pm (et) ks: Any thoughts on Wilson's writing about the double standard: one standard for favorable or unobjectionable testimony and another for its opposite? pg 12...
10/1/2006 9:08 pm (et) Widow: It's good to add that as one consideration in evaluating the credibility of the sources. To remind us of the human tendency to be selective in our memories.10/1/2006 9:08 pm (et) ks: I'm not certain I understand you there, Widow. How is it not a bio of his earlier years? Or did you mean you didn't expect so much dissection?
10/1/2006 9:09 pm (et) Widow: I'll wait to answer when we get to chapters 1 and 2, KS, if you don't mind.10/1/2006 9:09 pm (et) ks: That's fine by me. :) Any other thoughts on the Intro?
10/1/2006 9:09 pm (et) Widow: KS: You're right, I didn't expect so much dissection.10/1/2006 9:10 pm (et) Widow: Simply that the intro seemed to me like Intelligence Analysis 101. Or the opening of a grad course in "How to be a historian."
10/1/2006 9:11 pm (et) amhistoryguy: To some extent isn't the author offering an "it's not my fault, it was Herndon's fault."10/1/2006 9:12 pm (et) amhistoryguy: To anyone who disagrees with his book ?
10/1/2006 9:12 pm (et) ks: LOL! Not only that, but it was becoming a snoozer for me, Widow. Interesting to me though was that, after I'd read 1 and 2, I went back and re-read the INtro. Made more sense to me. AHG, I see everything as Herndon's fault. Dirty dog! Mary Painter Randall made me dislike Herdon...a lot. ;)10/1/2006 9:13 pm (et) ks: Going to move along....
Okay, moving beyond the Introduction, we’re ready for *ding, ding!!* ROUND ONE, I mean….
Chapter One – “Wrestling with the Evidence”
Have you ever read so many varying accounts of an incident in your life?! Did well illustrate the author’s point about misty memories and time affecting the same. 10/1/2006 9:14 pm (et) Vickie: enters the chatroom.
10/1/2006 9:14 pm (et) Widow: I learned more about frontier-wrestling than I ever wanted to know. A scene in "Andersonville" illustrated that kind of wrestling quite well.10/1/2006 9:14 pm (et) Vickie: :-)
10/1/2006 9:14 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I thought Wilson was so into the wrestling match, that he may have lost the actual significance of the match.10/1/2006 9:15 pm (et) Widow: Talk about Much Ado about Nothing!!
10/1/2006 9:15 pm (et) ks: Vickie was on the phone with me for a while. We were in agreement that we tired of reading accounts of the Clary Grove boys. Felt like "we got the point, Douglas...can we move along".10/1/2006 9:15 pm (et) ks: Vickie! You made it. Glad to see you. Now I'll cease speaking for you. ;)
10/1/2006 9:16 pm (et) Widow: As a reader, I'm willing to accept a simple statement from the biographer that "sources vary but here's the gist."10/1/2006 9:16 pm (et) amhistoryguy: IMO, the match itself was less important than the recognition that Lincoln gained from it.
10/1/2006 9:16 pm (et) Widow: Chapter 1 struck me as an assignment for grad students in how to evaluate the sources.10/1/2006 9:17 pm (et) Vickie: so are we past the wrastling?
10/1/2006 9:17 pm (et) mobile_96: agree with you amhg10/1/2006 9:17 pm (et) ks: No, just started with it, Vickie.
10/1/2006 9:17 pm (et) Widow: AHG, exactly right. Not only recognition, but perhaps self-confidence.10/1/2006 9:18 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I'm not so sure that Wilson did all that great a job evaluating sources. At times he seemed to be arguing the evidence in front of the readers, something I've been told never to do.
10/1/2006 9:18 pm (et) Widow: The whole event must have taken, what, 30 minutes? In tiny little New Salem, with a buncha lunkheads.10/1/2006 9:18 pm (et) ks: AHG, not only the recognition that Lincoln gained from it...but the chapter clearly shows the notoriety others gained from stating that THEY had anything to do with it. Clearly after 65 anyone who had anything to do with LIncoln (or who would claim that they did) was a prime candidate for publishing something on "L".
10/1/2006 9:19 pm (et) Widow: AHG, exactly. That's for footnotes, if to be included at all.10/1/2006 9:19 pm (et) ks: Hey, the amazon reviews warned me about Chapter One. ;) I guess I was expecting wrassling ad nauseum.
10/1/2006 9:20 pm (et) amhistoryguy: People of the community could point to Lincoln and say, " Oh, there's the young man that wrastled Jack Armstrong." The event gave Lincoln a position as a member of that community, and, IMO, that's why it is important.10/1/2006 9:20 pm (et) Widow: KS: Good point. But that wasn't what I was expecting in this "biography."
10/1/2006 9:20 pm (et) Vickie: I didn't check with Amazon so I had no warning ;-)10/1/2006 9:21 pm (et) Widow: Yes, he became an accepted member of New Salem. Meaning he didn't have to fend off the Clary boys, but could get on with his work and reading.
10/1/2006 9:21 pm (et) Vickie: I kept thinking if hes trying to make a point with the wrestling just get to the point and get on with something else10/1/2006 9:22 pm (et) Vickie: the Clary boys must have been a gang of the times
10/1/2006 9:22 pm (et) Widow: I get the feeling the subtitle of the book should have been "The Transformation of Douglas Wilson from Historian to Complainer about How Hard it is to be a Historian."10/1/2006 9:22 pm (et) ks: Nor was I, Widow. It was a tough start to the book, although I did appreciate the author pointing out how some things (in the telling and RE-telling of the fight tale) just weren't acceptable in the later image of the hero. I'm thinking of the "choke hold" in some descriptions.
10/1/2006 9:24 pm (et) ks: Anything else on Chapter One? I tend to believe the MEAT of tonight's reading is coming up in Chapter Two. :)10/1/2006 9:24 pm (et) Widow: I figure the choke hold really happened. Abe was 22, he was thrown by a cheater, and his pals had bet money on him. Perfectly natural to lose your temper.
10/1/2006 9:24 pm (et) mobile_96: I think the chapter could have been half its present length10/1/2006 9:24 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I think there was also some importance to showing that Lincoln could survive in a pioneer New Salem.
10/1/2006 9:25 pm (et) Widow: Lincoln had lived on the hardscrabble frontier his whole life. I don't think HE doubted his ability to survive. He'd known toughs like them before.10/1/2006 9:26 pm (et) ks: Perfectly natural, but not the story people wanted to read after the assassination. I realize that the original interviews were for the 1860 Presidential Election propaganda...
10/1/2006 9:27 pm (et) ks: Ready to move on? Don't want to rush people.10/1/2006 9:27 pm (et) MAubrecht: enters the chatroom.
10/1/2006 9:27 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Wilson was showing US that Lincoln could survive.10/1/2006 9:27 pm (et) Widow: I've said my say about chapter 1, thanks.
10/1/2006 9:27 pm (et) ks: Showing us again and again and AGAIN.... :)10/1/2006 9:28 pm (et) ks: I loved what “L” had to say of himself in the statement “What he has in the way of education, he has picked up.” – Lincoln, of himself
The next chapter did a lot to expand upon the notion likely held by many of us of the young Lincoln studying by the fire. Time to move along to…
Chapter Two – “Self – Education”
Comments, thoughts, revelations?? :)
10/1/2006 9:28 pm (et) mobile_96: anyone want to wrastle about moving on?
10/1/2006 9:28 pm (et) ks: I'd give, mo-beel. ;)10/1/2006 9:29 pm (et) Widow: Thank goodness Sarah Bush Lincoln encouraged his curiosity.
10/1/2006 9:29 pm (et) Widow: That kid, living the hard life, with an IQ in the brilliant-to-genius range. What an excruciating feeling.10/1/2006 9:30 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I have to say that I have my doubts about the notion that Lincoln's thirst for "booklearning," was as unusual as some, perhaps Wilson, would have a person believe.
10/1/2006 9:30 pm (et) Vickie: do you think he would have been considered lazy if he had some hobby other than reading? I'm sure he's not the only kid to ever try to get out of work one way or another10/1/2006 9:30 pm (et) ks: This chapter became very exciting for me. I'd guess because, for me at least, there was so much new material. All of the information about Lincoln's study of grammar and his off color story telling. And I was further amazed by the number of acquaintances who published books on Lincoln. "Lincoln's early friends making the most of their associations with him..." Believe that's how Wilson phrased it.
10/1/2006 9:31 pm (et) Widow: Abe's method of reading aloud, reciting to fix it in his memory. That's the best way to learn, absorb, and reflect.10/1/2006 9:31 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Lincoln was certainly exceptional, but I've come across many documents in county courthouses where the local farmers, barely able to write, set up libraries for themselves.
10/1/2006 9:32 pm (et) ks: Good question, Vickie. My thought is that, in a community where it was stated so many had to work to simply survive and therefore reading was considered not the priority....10/1/2006 9:33 pm (et) Vickie: I'm thinking if he skipped out to fish or some other more "manly " hobby it might not have been looked upon as laziness
10/1/2006 9:33 pm (et) Widow: Sure, I might have thought that myself, if I had to tend the garden, milk the cows, spin the yarn, knit the socks, etc.10/1/2006 9:33 pm (et) amhistoryguy: While books and reading may not have been a priority, I think most communities still saw it as important.
10/1/2006 9:34 pm (et) Widow: Vickie, they all knew what was "work" and what wasn't. "Work" produced tangible results needed to live.10/1/2006 9:34 pm (et) ks: By some of his contemporaries, that may have been the conclusion, Vickie. But then Wilson does relate quite a bit about those debate/polemic societies. THOSE people saw the value in reading.
10/1/2006 9:36 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I was a bit bothered by Wilson's statement that there was "difficulty between Lincoln and his father."10/1/2006 9:37 pm (et) Widow: AHG, what was it that bothered you? The word "difficulty" as a euphemism?
10/1/2006 9:37 pm (et) ks: Checking the log got me booted. AHG, I was checking to see if you'd answered a question I asked (which didn't appear in the log btw). I didn't know what you meant about your having checked county documents that illustrate people having set up personal libraries. ??10/1/2006 9:37 pm (et) mobile_96: did Lincoln really have any more book learning that the people of New Salem when he arrived, or were people Surprised at his 'learning' because of the way he looked?
10/1/2006 9:37 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Today, would we consider a father irritated by the amount of time a son plays video games as a "difficulty" between the father and son?10/1/2006 9:38 pm (et) Widow: The son might have seen it as a "difficulty" if Daddy stopped him.
10/1/2006 9:38 pm (et) mobile_96: probably not as much, since every son doesn't have the chores today as back then10/1/2006 9:39 pm (et) Widow: Mobile, good thought. My guess is, probably he had read more than most, less than a few others. And he looked like an oaf.
10/1/2006 9:39 pm (et) amhistoryguy: While doing some research in Northern Indiana, I've come across several documents where farmers agree to pay 3 or 4 cents a month to establish libraries. Some of these farmers "signed" with an X10/1/2006 9:39 pm (et) Widow: AHG, remember, Abe hated manual labor, and ol' Tom rented him out.
10/1/2006 9:39 pm (et) ks: And some were "judging the book by its cover". :)10/1/2006 9:41 pm (et) ks: Huh. And these farmers agreeing to establish libraries....agreeing with whom? One another? I really am not understanding although I find the fact that you found this documentation quite interesting.
10/1/2006 9:41 pm (et) Widow: AHG, that's fascinating. The yearning for knowledge must be universal.10/1/2006 9:41 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I think "difficulty" may have been too strong a judgment, based solely on the fact that Lincoln liked to read, and his father wanted him to work.
10/1/2006 9:42 pm (et) Widow: AHG, I think "difficulty" was too weak. I figure Tom beat him, common practice, to make him work. And to stamp out Abe's attitude.10/1/2006 9:42 pm (et) amhistoryguy: They were forming county libraries, registering their intent at the courthouse, where they kept the books for those members of the library to use.
10/1/2006 9:43 pm (et) Widow: You know, "Who do you think you are? Better than me? I'll show you who's better than who!"10/1/2006 9:43 pm (et) ks: Okay, got it. I understand. Thanks....
10/1/2006 9:45 pm (et) Widow: I was impressed not only by the fact that Lincoln was self-educated, but by his choice of books. He read what he could find, and re-read his favorites.10/1/2006 9:46 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I've not seen evidence that Lincoln's father actually said that, or that Lincoln was beaten, as upposed to gettin a whuppin.
10/1/2006 9:46 pm (et) ks: Those book being the Bible, Shakespeare, Robert Burns (to mention those Wilson stated)10/1/2006 9:47 pm (et) Widow: AHG, gettin' a whuppin' means what? Spanking? Using a belt, a switch, a board?
10/1/2006 9:47 pm (et) amhistoryguy: The recollections of Lincoln walking everywhere with a book were very interesting.10/1/2006 9:48 pm (et) Widow: I figure Abe was taller than Tom at an early age. So Tom had to use some means to force his son to his own standards ...
10/1/2006 9:48 pm (et) ks: BTW I'm not familiar with the work of Robert Burns, and after so much discussion of Tam O'Shanter and Holy Willie's Prayer, I had to google. Good website to find these writings is: http://www.robertburns.org/works/308.shtml10/1/2006 9:50 pm (et) ks: ahg, and interesting the comparisons Wilson drew about Lincoln's love of Burns who....walked everywhere with a book. Of course he also shared his religious skepticism, was the son of a poor farmer, rebelling against a life of physical labor, prone to depression, loved to perform for friends, etc.
10/1/2006 9:50 pm (et) Widow: KS, good idea. I had no notion of Burns' satirical streak. Guess I didn't like ANY poetry enough to grasp it.10/1/2006 9:51 pm (et) ks: Did it stir your imaginations to see mention of Lincoln doing Burns with a Scottish brogue? ;) Not my picture of L.
10/1/2006 9:51 pm (et) Vickie: I must have missed something because I didn't get the impression that Lincolns father beat him10/1/2006 9:51 pm (et) Widow: If "Classic Comics" had been available, I think Abe would have ignored them and gone for the real books.
10/1/2006 9:52 pm (et) ks: Believe that's Widow's interpretation and not something stated in the reading, Vickie.10/1/2006 9:52 pm (et) amhistoryguy: The only story Wilson relates is one the Lincoln's cousin tells, of Lincoln being "slashed" for neglecting work by reading. It would seem that his father did not object to the reading, but rather the neglect of work. "Slash" to me probably means a switch or belt.
10/1/2006 9:53 pm (et) Widow: AHG, I don't have any facts, just my impressions of an ignorant father who resents his bright kid showing him up. I've seen that type.10/1/2006 9:53 pm (et) Widow: AHG, also, again, the selective memories of Wilson's sources.
10/1/2006 9:55 pm (et) mobile_96: I don't agree Widow, more like a father than what chores are done when needed, rest of the time was Lincoln's.10/1/2006 9:55 pm (et) Widow: What I mean is, the sources may have suppressed some ugly aspect in Abe's youth. Of course, the absence of info about an event does not necessarily prove the event occurred.
10/1/2006 9:55 pm (et) ks: It's 9 PM here...want to cover all areas YOU all wish to cover in this chapter TWO. ;) That said...10/1/2006 9:56 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Yet, as I mentioned before, sometimes looking at what was done, has great importance. Later, Lincoln helped his parents move, and spent a year helping them in their new place. IMO, not the actions someone might do if beaten by his father.
I'd like to discuss Lincoln's experience with the Debate/Polemic Societies. First, I found the Constitution and Bylaws of the one related by Wilson fascinating. 1) No member could use the name of the Supreme Being in debate. and 2) Failure to give attention to the speeches resulted in fines? 3 - 6.75 cents for not paying attention and a fine of 6 candles if guilty of disorderly conduct. Any thoughts on how these societies affected Lincoln?
10/1/2006 9:57 pm (et) ks: Not that those rules were important. :) Just tickled me. Interesting to see what rules governed the debates/speeches.10/1/2006 9:57 pm (et) mobile_96: helped re-enforce the idea of careful listening?
10/1/2006 9:57 pm (et) Widow: AHG, you're right.10/1/2006 9:58 pm (et) Widow: Mobile, and also the art of careful answering.
10/1/2006 9:59 pm (et) Widow: Say, wait a minute. This book chat is a descendant of those societies!10/1/2006 9:59 pm (et) amhistoryguy: These societies greatly affected Lincoln's ability to use language. A skill Lincoln would find very important to his future.
10/1/2006 9:59 pm (et) mobile_96: You catch on fast Widow10/1/2006 9:59 pm (et) Widow: If I'm rude, I have to pay 6 candles. Or get booted out of here. Seems reasonable.
10/1/2006 10:00 pm (et) mobile_96: Or 6 Meg, for bandwidth?10/1/2006 10:00 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Wouldn't it be great to read the minutes of those meetings !!?
10/1/2006 10:00 pm (et) ks: Thought the listing of topics covered in some of the sessions was interesting (overusing the word, I know). To see that they debated slavery, straightening and clearing of the Sangamon river, building of a canal from Petersburg to Beardstown, etc. All topics a "budding politician" would speak about in months and years to come.10/1/2006 10:01 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Another opportunity for Lincoln to gain confidence.
10/1/2006 10:01 pm (et) Widow: KHG, and all of those topics were of immediate interest to the members. Not some high-falutin' concept of no practical value.10/1/2006 10:02 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Verbal wrastlin, if you will.
10/1/2006 10:02 pm (et) ks: AHG, his use of language as well as his body with gestures... :) Found myself tickled (that's a positive with me btw) with the notion of L with his hands in his pockets as he started and then learning what to do with those hands and voice intonation as he progressed....10/1/2006 10:02 pm (et) mobile_96: Agree Widow, and the lessons learned there was to pay attention to the 'little' folk
10/1/2006 10:02 pm (et) ks: KHG...We're become a duo, ahg. ;) ;)10/1/2006 10:03 pm (et) Widow: Mobile, good point. Abe was one of the little folk, so he knew instinctively what they would listen to.
10/1/2006 10:03 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Now I'll have to study Kansas history10/1/2006 10:04 pm (et) Widow: AHG, just follow the yellow...
10/1/2006 10:06 pm (et) ks: Widow, I'm glad you made that comment about what people of that time and place would listen to. Leads me to thought about contrasting my image of this great national hero. Wilson called him "national hero and moral exemplar"...contrast that with calling LIncoln a "notorious fountain of tasteless stories"!! Lincoln speaking on flatulence?? lol10/1/2006 10:06 pm (et) Widow: Another point made by Wilson was the intensity of Abe's self-study. Gave me the impression that Abe wanted to catch up as fast as he could.
10/1/2006 10:07 pm (et) Vickie: I find it amusing that L like to tell "vulgar" stories :-)10/1/2006 10:07 pm (et) ks: Catch up or make the most of grasping and mastering the information as quickly and as thoroughly as possible before finding NEW information to digest.
10/1/2006 10:07 pm (et) Widow: I thought all guys told, or at least smiled at, such stories, whether ethnic humor, bathroom, or bedroom. Junior high locker room stuff.10/1/2006 10:09 pm (et) ks: Not my picture of the man, Vickie. And, although I probably have read something of it previously, it didn't really make an impression with me until this read. Widow, your comment really leads me to think of Basecat. ;) God bless the "fountain" wherever he be at this moment. ;)
10/1/2006 10:09 pm (et) Widow: "Tasteless" stories may have been, sniff sniff, anything not morally uplifting and instructive.10/1/2006 10:09 pm (et) Widow: Ks, Basecat the fast study, or Basecat the teller of
10/1/2006 10:10 pm (et) ks: LOL...the teller of. ;) And he often refers to himself as "the fountain of misinformation". Words were too close for the comparison to not leap into my mind. ;)10/1/2006 10:11 pm (et) ks: Other thoughts on this chapter? Lots of good stuff to cover....RELIGION comes to mind. :)
10/1/2006 10:11 pm (et) Widow: Mm-hm. He's also a very fast study.10/1/2006 10:11 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Abe Lincoln wrote, when he was 15 or 16 years old - "Abraham Lincoln, his hand and pen, he will be good, but God knows when."
10/1/2006 10:11 pm (et) Widow: AHG, surely that wasn't his own original couplet.10/1/2006 10:12 pm (et) ks: Haven't read that before, AHG. :) very good
10/1/2006 10:12 pm (et) amhistoryguy: It was written in his handwriting, in his copy book, along with some arithmetic exercises.10/1/2006 10:13 pm (et) Widow: Yes, but not necessarily made up by him. Just amusing himself.
10/1/2006 10:14 pm (et) amhistoryguy: He also wrote, "Abraham Lincoln is my name, and with my pen I wrote the same, I wrote both in haste and speed, and left it here for fools to read. "10/1/2006 10:15 pm (et) Widow: Yes, I see it, he's just playing while practicing his penmanship.
10/1/2006 10:15 pm (et) ks: :) Not so important to me whether the couplets were original to L. Amused that he wrote them in his copy book. ;) And were any of you going to jump on the opportunity to speak of Paine, Volney, L's developing views on religion during this period?10/1/2006 10:16 pm (et) Widow: Abe's religious instruction was not systematic, just sort of, Here, kid, read the Bible.
10/1/2006 10:17 pm (et) amhistoryguy: "Time, what an empty vapor, tis and days and how swift are swift as an Indian arrow fly on like a shooting star, the present moment just is here, then slides away in haste that we can never say, the're ours , but only say they are past." - Abraham Lincoln.10/1/2006 10:17 pm (et) Widow: So, as I see it from Wilson, Abe developed his own views, first as a youth, then they changed as he changed.
10/1/2006 10:18 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Lincoln's melencholy was present early on.10/1/2006 10:18 pm (et) ks: Certainly affected by his reading of Thomas Paine and whatshisface Volney.
10/1/2006 10:20 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I think it is important to see Lincoln as a work in progress.10/1/2006 10:20 pm (et) ks: Or even (especially?) Burns. Someone quoted in tonight's reading stated that Burns helped Lincoln to be an "infidel".
10/1/2006 10:20 pm (et) amhistoryguy: How he thought or felt at one point, might not be the same at another, even on the same subject10/1/2006 10:21 pm (et) Widow: AHG, very good point. We all tend to see his 1865 persona as if he had always been that way.
10/1/2006 10:21 pm (et) ks: Ahg, most definitely agree with you there on L being a work in progress. Aren't we all? But so many people seem to want to judge upon one action at a particular point in time without considering the evolution of the man.10/1/2006 10:23 pm (et) amhistoryguy: That's one reason why I see Wilson's work as valuable. It helps us to understand Lincoln's development.
10/1/2006 10:24 pm (et) amhistoryguy: He was not always the Lincoln of the Gettysburg Address.10/1/2006 10:24 pm (et) Widow: Well, AHG, Wilson has NOT helped me to understand Lincoln's development. It has shown me that Wilson doesn't know when to stop.
10/1/2006 10:24 pm (et) ks: Found it fascinating that there was so much mentioned about the religious skepticism and the debate and critique of scriptures (all of that on the Garden of Eden for instance). And for Herndon to reply in 65 when questioned about Abe's religious beliefs "The less said, the better." Would be hard for some (many) to fit into the evolving image of this great man who'd successfully prosecuted THE WAR and had become a martyr with assassination.10/1/2006 10:26 pm (et) ks: Widow, I'd disagree with you there. Of course YOU know best how Wilson's writings are affecting you. But for myself, I do feel I'm coming away with further understanding of Lincoln's development. And I so appreciated the timing of this read before some of us head to Springfield in a few weeks. :)
10/1/2006 10:27 pm (et) Widow: KS, hm, I didn't say that well. I'm more interested in the development of Lincoln than in Wilson's analysis of the sources - or lack thereof - of info about Lincoln.10/1/2006 10:28 pm (et) ks: I'll add that it's not so much any revelation made by Wilson as his allowing me to consider information I've not previously encountered or given much thought. His focus for me, the reader, is helpful.
10/1/2006 10:29 pm (et) Widow: KS, is New Salem part of your trip? Would be neat to walk around and look for Jack Armstrong's rassling match.10/1/2006 10:29 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Recognition of the society that Lincoln came out of, and Lincoln's own strengths and weaknesses are sure to make him "more "real," whatever that is, at least IMO.
10/1/2006 10:29 pm (et) ks: Nobody is commenting upon the religious skepticism topic. That surprises me. I'll try again. :) Your reactions to those passages are....?10/1/2006 10:30 pm (et) ks: For anyone who sticks around on Sunday, New Salem is proposed as a destination. Yes, we'll be going there.
10/1/2006 10:31 pm (et) Widow: KS, Lincoln's skepticism wasn't entirely new to me (think Goodwin mentioned it in Team of Rivals), but the fine details in Wilson added to my knowledge.10/1/2006 10:32 pm (et) mobile_96: Widow, she did mention it
10/1/2006 10:32 pm (et) Widow: Nor, KS, had I known that Paine contributed to Lincoln's thinking on the subj. Ahem, I haven't read Paine.10/1/2006 10:32 pm (et) ks: mo-beel, perhaps you, Marie and I can stage some reenactment. I propose you and Marie arm wrestle on the spot. ;) Marie (when you read the log), feel free to comment. It's not a RULE, mind you. ;)
10/1/2006 10:32 pm (et) Vickie: We will be around sunday:-)10/1/2006 10:32 pm (et) ks: Haven't read "Team of Rivals" either.
10/1/2006 10:33 pm (et) amhistoryguy: IMO, Lincoln, as did those debating societies, saw religion as a hot topic, to be avoided.10/1/2006 10:33 pm (et) mobile_96: Great book KS
10/1/2006 10:33 pm (et) Widow: Yes, mobile, much more readable than Wilson here.10/1/2006 10:33 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Hope to be around on Sunday too, but I'm not wraslin'
10/1/2006 10:33 pm (et) mobile_96: have to determine the exact 'Hold" they were doing10/1/2006 10:34 pm (et) Widow: Mobile, the side holt. Have no idea what that means, but it's gotta be pronounced keereckly.
10/1/2006 10:34 pm (et) ks: Avoided, ahg? But the book relates that "they were on all occasions, when opportunity offered, debating the various questons of Christianity among themselves..." All of those New Salem "freethinking scoffers and skeptics".10/1/2006 10:35 pm (et) ks: Then AHG and I can be judges or place bets on the wrasslin'. ;)
10/1/2006 10:35 pm (et) Widow: The circuit preacher had probably seen that in every village.10/1/2006 10:36 pm (et) Vickie: sorry I need to be going,I will have access to a computer at next sundays BBQ
10/1/2006 10:36 pm (et) mobile_96: hmmm, think I feel my back going out.......again10/1/2006 10:37 pm (et) Vickie: logs off.
10/1/2006 10:37 pm (et) mobile_96: night Vickie10/1/2006 10:37 pm (et) Widow: Bye, Vickie.
10/1/2006 10:37 pm (et) Widow: I meant the circuit preacher had seen the scoffers, not the arm rasslers.10/1/2006 10:38 pm (et) Widow: Who may have been the same guys.
10/1/2006 10:38 pm (et) ks: LOL. Okay, mo-beel. We can DISCUSS the wrasslin'. I'm sympathetic to possible back injury. BIG TIME, sympathetic.10/1/2006 10:38 pm (et) ks: Probably time for a wrap-up. Other thoughts on the reading for tonight? Bye Vickie. :)
10/1/2006 10:39 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I would think "those questions of Christianity," were very carefully crafted, and were questions within Christianity, and not about the existence of God.10/1/2006 10:40 pm (et) Widow: KS, yes, I picked up a few new thoughts from Wilson's research. But, in plain words, I'll be glad when we're done with Wilson.
10/1/2006 10:41 pm (et) ks: Not having (yet) read Goodwin, I'm appreciating the thoughts put forth by Wilson...with Chapter One being a notable exception. ;)10/1/2006 10:41 pm (et) mobile_96: agree with you amhg, seeing as the mention of the Supreme Being was forbidden
10/1/2006 10:41 pm (et) ks: Good point, mobile. Hadn't considered that. It obviously was discussed outside of those societies with the RULES.10/1/2006 10:42 pm (et) mobile_96: most likely KS
10/1/2006 10:43 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Gonna run here, BIG storm hittin, poor cat is clinging to me ( hard to type) with each crack of lightning.10/1/2006 10:43 pm (et) ks: While there may be a few more thoughts, it is time to draw this to a close. First, I'd like to direct you all to YODB. Next week's reading is posted there and will be chapters 3 - 5. Second, thank you so much for participating in this discussion. It's been good and such a pleasure to share the read with others from the room.
10/1/2006 10:43 pm (et) Widow: Night, AHG.10/1/2006 10:43 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Thanks for the chat everyone !! see ya later. Great to be back book chattin'
10/1/2006 10:44 pm (et) Widow: KS, thanks very much. This was my first to participate. As always, I learn so much from the chatters.10/1/2006 10:44 pm (et) mobile_96: will we finish this when we come back from Springfield?
10/1/2006 10:44 pm (et) amhistoryguy: logs off.10/1/2006 10:45 pm (et) mobile_96: KS I hurt my back about 30 years ago, chipped a piece off my spine, where a muscle is attached, Doc said get used to the Pain, which picks up from time to time
10/1/2006 10:45 pm (et) mobile_96: good to have you10/1/2006 10:45 pm (et) Widow: KS, I found YODB once. So, please, when will chapters 3-5 be?
10/1/2006 10:46 pm (et) ks: mobile, I expect that'll be right for the timing. And given that some of us won't have returned from the Land of Lincoln on the evening of October 22nd, I was hoping we'd consider having that discussion on Monday the 23rd. Give me (and others) a chance to get home and regroup. Might have to be later in the week depending upon others schedules.10/1/2006 10:46 pm (et) mobile_96: Actually, glad to have you, raised some interesting comments
10/1/2006 10:46 pm (et) mobile_96: Ok, sounds good to me,10/1/2006 10:47 pm (et) mobile_96: Next Sunday evening, same bat time, same bat station
10/1/2006 10:47 pm (et) ks: Chapter 3 - 5 will be next Sunday, October 8th, starting 8 PM, Central.
YODG = http://www.civilwarinteractive.com/forums/view_topic.php?id=32&forum_id=6 Might bookmark that site, Widow.
Basecat arrived late for the bookchat but made the following comments in a later posting
10/1/2006 12:12 pm (et) Basecat: Greetings all from the Garden State. My apologies to all for missing the book chat, but had to take my older sister back to NYC, and left later than I had planned. She and my Mom were visiting Mary K., and did not get back here until 8 PM. I just got back from NYC about 45 minutes ago. I did read the scroll, and could see you all had a fine discussion. Am with you all about chapter one. To spend that much time on the so called life changing moment, and then in the last couple of pages of that chapter, Wilson points out it could not have been, could have been summarized in half the pages it took for his final opinion on the subject. To me, the life changing event in Abe's life were the debates with Douglas.
10/1/2006 12:19 pm (et) Basecat: As for his religious indifference, I tend to believe that stems from the death of his Mom. Her death scarred him in terms of religion, and faith. Most every book I have read about Abe, he always had special relationships with mother figures throughout his life. IMHO, he loved and needed the feeling that he was being looked out for. He most definitely did not get that from his Dad, which I don't think he ever got over either. And yet he loved reading the Bible, and found solace there as his life went on.
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GO TO CHAT FOR CHAPTERS 3, 4, & 5