I’m sure I am way behind the curve here and that most of you knew of this, but I came across an interesting article dealing with A. Lincoln.
I have the “Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln” and have spent time, even recently, reading various selections. I was always struck by Lincoln’s control of his prose. Emotional responses of fear, anger or loathing were not things that are found easily; frankly rarely if ever. He was almost always reflective, somber, and articulate. These attributes should not be a surprise when we consider that he was a trained attorney and a superb politician; not to mention he was very intelligent.
So when I learned of a letter that reflected a different side of Lincoln I was intrigued.
We know that Lincoln probably battled depression throughout his life, that he suffered from various ailments, for example, he had a bad case of smallpox when he delivered the Gettysburg Address, and he had to deal with a lopsided face.
Also, according to James Cornelius, curator of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, “Abraham Lincoln was one of the four most hated presidents in U.S. history [when he was serving] … other three are Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman and George W. Bush.” Not sure I agree.
Anyway, back to the letter written on February 13, 1864 to a Mr. and Mrs. Vch (sic) Neagle, where Lincoln gives a fairly harshly worded tongue lashing to a couple for disloyalty, and according to some even suggests that the couple was insane. However, what I like most is that Lincoln was very clear on the issue of loyalty and what it meant to him.
The section of interest reads: “As I understand it your husband … knowingly and willingly helped a rebel to get out of our lines to the enemy to join in fighting and killing our people … You protest, nevertheless, that you and he are loyal, and you may really think so, but this is a view of loyalty which it is difficult to conceive that any sane person could take, and on which the government cannot tolerate and hope to live …”