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Leo Tolstoy asked:|
"why was Lincoln so great that he overshadows all other national heroes? his supremacy expresses itself altogether in his peculiar moral power and in the greatness of his character ... We are still too near to his greatness ... His genius is still too strong and too powerful for the common understanding, just as the sun is too hot when its light beams directly on us ... but after a few centuries more our posterity will [see] ... The greatness of Napoleon, Caesar or Washington is only moonlight by the sun of Lincoln. His example is universal and will last thousands of years . . . . He is bigger than his country -- bigger than all the Presidents together . . . and as a great character he will live as long as the world lasts."
The controversy of Lincoln
seems to revive every few years, and one never can predict from where the criticism will come, or who will be the latest to either adore Lincoln, or demonize him. Barack Obama was elected president from Illinois ("Land of Lincoln") and is a known (staunch) admirer of Lincoln. In response, old haters of Lincoln (such as militant red state partisans) have lumped together these two sons of Illinois. One white supremacist group, the storm fronters, would paint Obama as the worst president except Lincoln, virtually a modern anti-Christ. (Why oh why didn't Nathan Bedford Forrest and his KKK somehow defeat that "black" mulatto Lincoln?)
Doris Kearns Goodwin [Team of Rivals p 747-8]
"I have no doubt that Lincoln will be the conspicuous figure of the war," predicted Ulysses S. Grant. "He is incontestably the greatest man I ever knew."
The poet Walt Whitman felt much the same. "I have more than once fancied to myself," Whitman wrote in 1888, "the time when the present century has closed, and a new one open'd, and the men and deeds of that contest have become somewhat vague and mythical." He fancied that at some commemoration of those earlier days, an "ancient soldier" would sit surrounded by a group of young men whose eyes and "eager questions" would betray their sense of wonder. "What! have you seen Abraham Lincoln -- and heard him speak -- and touch'd his hand?" Though conceding that the future might decide differently, Whitman had no trouble speaking for his own generation: "Abraham Lincoln seems to be the grandest figure yet, on all the crowded canvas of the Nineteenth Century."
Even Whitman might have been amazed by the scope of Lincoln's legacy by the time the new century arrived. In 1908, in a wild and remote area of the North Caucasus, Leo Tolstoy, the greatest writer of the age, was the guest of a tribal chief "living far away from civilized life in the mountains." Gathering his family and friends, the chief asked Tolstoy to tell stories about the famous men of history. Tolstoy told how he entertained the eager crowd for hours with tales of Alexander, Caesar, Frederick the Great, Napoleon. When he was winding to a close, the chief stood and said, "But you have not told us a syllable about the greatest general and greatest ruler of the world. We want to know something about him. He was a hero. He spoke with the voice of thunder; he laughed like the sunrise and his deeds were strong as the rock .... His name was Lincoln and the country in which he lived is called America, which is so far away that if a youth should journey to reach it he would be an old man when he arrived. Tell us of that man."
"I looked at them," Tolstoy recalled, "and saw their faces all aglow, while their eyes were burning. I saw that those rude barbarians were really interested in a man whose name and deeds had already become a legend." He told them everything he knew about Lincoln's "home life and youth ... his habits, his influence upon the people and his physical strength." When he finished, they were so grateful for the story that they presented him with "a wonderful Arabian horse." The next morning, as Tolstoy prepared to leave, they asked if he could possibly acquire for them a picture of Lincoln. Thinking that he might find one at a friend's house in the neighboring town, Tolstoy asked one of the riders to accompany him. "I was successful in getting a large photograph from my friend," recalled Tolstoy. As he handed it to the rider, he noted the man's hands trembled as he took it. "He gazed for several minutes silently, like one in reverent prayer, his eyes filled with tears."
Tolstoy went on to observe, "This little incident proves how largely the name of Lincoln is worshipped throughout the world and how legendary his personality has become. Now, why was Lincoln so great that he overshadows all other national heroes? He really was not a great general like Napoleon or Washington; he was not a skilful statesman like Gladstone or Frederick the Great; but his supremacy expresses itself altogether in his peculiar moral power and in the greatness of his character.
"Washington was a typical American. Napoleon was a typical Frenchman, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his country -- bigger than all the Presidents together.
"We are still too near to his greatness," Tolstoy concluded, "but after a few centuries more our posterity will find him considerably bigger than we do. His genius is still too strong and too powerful for the common understanding, just as the sun is too hot when its light beams directly on us."
Leo Tolstoy, February 7, 1908 The World, NYC
|The greatness of Napoleon, Caesar or Washington is only moonlight by the sun of Lincoln. His example is universal and will last thousands of years . . . . He is bigger than his country -- bigger than all the Presidents together . . . and as a great character he will live as long as the world lasts.
Lincoln Poetry ~ after his death, the world was swept up in an outpouring of emotion, as well as (a still ongoing) re-assessment of the Lincoln contribution.
Humbling Ourselves Before Almighty God ~ Lincoln "the unbeliever" (socalled) officially here proclaims a day of National Prayer and Humiliation (& fasting).
Thomas J. DiLorenzo is only the latest among many who have debunked the legend, and exposed the real Lincoln. After all, Lincoln has long been vilified, and DiLorenzo is merely following a well marked trail. Lincoln's 1860 campaign for the presidency resulted in every manner of smear, expose, attack-sheet. His enemies among the conservative Democrats dredged up everything from his atheism to his racial heritage, from his abolitionism (and John Brown) to his "obscure" (dark) origins, as he himself rather vaguely admitted to. Was he illegitimate? Was he a mulatto? Was he actually descended from a man named Enloe (and of mixed blood)?
He was eerily silent on the matter, scarcely more than mentioning, obliquely, his obscure heritage. He went on record merely to allude, circumspectly, to this dark page in the family tree. He mentioned his Quaker heritage, but pointedly stated that what mattered more to him was not who his grandfather had been, but what kind of man his grandfather's grandson would be. To Lincoln's supporters, the scurrilous smears alleging African taint in Lincoln's heritage was seen for what it was, politically inspired.
Even the more respectable (Democratic Party) organs were asking questions, demanding answers, and they, too, referred to Lincoln as a black Republican, a gorilla, an ape, a monkey, and other "polite" names alluding to his putative African heritage. Lincoln admitted to his Quaker heritage, (many Quakers had mixed blood, many assisted the Underground Railroad, many supported abolitionism), but Lincoln denied he supported John Brown.
On the atheism issue, Lincoln as a young man had attained renown as a store-front raconteur and impromptu entertainer in the oral tradition of the frontier. His impresssions of local preachers were so outrageous, and uncannily precise, that his fame reached epic proportions in the local lore. But was he an atheist? Billy Herndon, who loved Lincoln, asserted that he was. But Lincoln's enemies were also adamant on the score. For example, Peter Cartwright, legendary circuit-riding preacher.
Lincoln and Obama
SWP - a common theme of either neo-nazis, skinheads, or storm-front types is their total shock and discomfiture at the ongoing (broad-based) popularity of Barack Obama, both in the United States, and in fact on a global scale. "Worst President Since Lincoln." There is no one more hated in American history than Abraham Lincoln. No one more reviled by white supremacists. Now, it appears, the "devil" Lincoln has company. Obama wins the prize as most evil SINCE Lincoln!!
[comment by Bob Shepherd]See Whither Republicanism : a GOP redeemed by KKK ideals from Lincoln's and his Lliberalism
Kahlil Gibran said of Lincoln
I believe that you can say to Abraham Lincoln, the blessed:
"Jesus of Nazareth touched your lips when you spoke, and guided your hand when
you wrote; and I shall uphold all that you have said and all that you have written."
He gave his life that we might live
Lincoln's Dark Complexion
Ward Lamon said of Lincoln that "his complexion was very dark, his skin yellow, shrivelled and 'leathery.'
His Dark-Brown Complexion
Lincoln's "look and gait" captivated Whitman -- "his dark-brown complexion, seam'd and wrinkled yet canny-looking face, his black, bushy head of hair."
His color was like the earth
Edwin Markham's elegy says "The color of the ground was in him, the red earth."
The Bronze Lincoln
Vachel Lindsay (Abraham Lincoln walks at midnight) calls him "A bronzed, lank man! His suit of ancient black."
Lincoln detractors have long noted the long-standing unpopularity that dogged Lincoln the politician. He was without doubt the most reviled President in our history. He did not win a majority of the popular vote; in fact, he was not even on the ballot in almost all the southern states (red states). Unlike handsome or charismatic presidents like Obama or Reagan, Lincoln was ungainly, awkward, and quite frankly ugly. To borrow from Isaiah, "he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not."|
Yet those who came to love him saw in Lincoln an inner stature, a beauty of soul, transcending many his contemporaries.
Jaffa : Crisis of the House DividedLincoln's mongrel bloodline
At a time when our great leaders were expected to have illustrious (even blue-blood) ancestry, Lincoln came from notoriously humble roots, and his accusers even claimed he was mulatto. Lincoln said of his heritage, "I care less about who my grandfather was -- and more about the kind of man my grandfather's grandson will be."
Lincoln Believed Deeply in the Founders
Jefferson was the Greatest - A core tenet of Lincoln's philosophy was the integrity of the founding sages on the slavery question. Time and again he proved, with lawyerly thoroughness, the absolute intent of the Patriarchs of 1776 that their vision was to eliminate slavery. The Declaration of July 4 laid it out. The sin of that generation was the people themselves, not just black but white as well, not yet ready to fulfill the divine blueprint. But Lincoln pulled back the veil of vulgar ignorance, and held up the gospel mirror we could but barely see. "This is your destiny." Well might the ringing words of Langston Hughes have come from Linooln himself
Let America Be America Again.
Jaffa : A New Birth of Freedom
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