Targets Of Opportunity

MATTERS OF FACT

“ASSASSINATION IS NOT an American practice or habit,” wrote Secretary of State William H. Seward on July 15, 1864, “and one so vicious and so desperate cannot be engrafted into our political system. This conviction of mine has steadily gained strength. Read more »

Where Have All The Great Men Gone?

The early years of our republic produced dozens of great leaders. A historian explains how men like Adams and Jefferson were selected for public office, and tells why the machinery that raised them became obsolete.

THERE IS NO clear consensus on what constitutes greatness, nor are there any objective criteria for measuring it—but when we look at holders of high public offices and at the current field of candidates, we know it is missing. Some of our leaders are competent, articulate, engaging, and some are honest and honorable. But greatness is missing. Read more »

“If I Had Another Face, Do You Think I'd Wear This One?”

…so Lincoln joked. Actually he was eager to pose for portraits.

 

 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN was a paradoxical figure to the many artists who portrayed him. He felt ignorant about art, admitted to having an “unpracticed eye,” and he was given to publicly mocking his appearance. Once accused during a debate with Stephen Douglas of being two-faced, Lincoln is said to have replied, “If I had another face, do you think I’d wear this one?” Read more »

The Plot To Steal Lincoln’s Body

Jack Hughes was an outstanding passer of phony bills. A thoroughly honest-looking man, respectably bearded and always well dressed, he spent his working day going from store to store, making one small purchase at each, and paying for it with crisply persuasive counterfeit money.

If his currency ever was questioned and the police called, no case could be made; he never had more than one bad bill in his possession. Read more »

Lincoln’s Life Preserver

To stave off despair, the President relied on a sense of humor that was rich, self-deprecating—and surprisingly bawdy

A great “intensity of thought,” Abraham Lincoln once counseled his friend Joshua Speed, “will some times wear the sweetest idea thread-bare and turn it to the bitterness of death.” No aspect of Lincoln’s character has become more tangibly real in the literature than his melancholy.Read more »

Two Cheers For Optimism

One man measures his life-span against the length of recorded history and finds tidings of comfort and hope

At the risk of being sneered at as a NeoVictorian, I hereby admit to a nineteenth-century belief that, allowing for daily relapses Land hourly alarms, the world of man is improving. I am not by nature a Panglossian sort but, like the grandparent of a precocious child, I am overwhelmed by a sense of how far my still sprouting human species has come in so short a time. Read more »

Lincoln’s Lost Love Letters

A cache of letters, discovered in 1928 and published in the Atlantic Monthly, proved that Abraham Lincoln had really loved Ann Rutledge. Or did they?

Ann Rutledge, according to the full-blown legend, was Abraham Lincoln’s first and only true love, forever closest to his heart. Her death in 1835 filled him with youthful despair verging on madness and drove him into the political career that made him ready, when the time came, to save the American nation.Read more »

Five Minutes To Freedom

The Vigil That Put an End to Slavery

The crowded, torchlit, tension-filled scene above hangs today in the White House room in which Abraham Lincoln affixed his signature to the Emancipation Proclamation—using a gold nib and writing carefully so that no one, seeing a hesitant line, could ever say he had been anything but firm of purpose. “If my name ever goes into history,” he said, “it will be for this act.” Read more »

The Slaves Freed

PRESIDENT LINCOLN MOVES AT LAST
Influence of “Advanced Republicans” Seen as Crucial to the Outcome
THE UNION UNITED STILL
THE PRESIDENT’S TACT & COURAGE
HE WAITED ON THE PROPER HOUR
JUBILATION AMONG THE BLACKS
They Stand Ready to Defend With Arms the Rights Thus Gained
NEW LIGHT SHED ON THE PARTICULARS OF THE GREAT DRAMA

When the cold, fastidious Mississippian rose to speak, a hush fell over the crowded Senate chamber. It was January 21, 1861, and Jefferson Davis and four other senators from the Deep South were here this day to announce their resignations. Over the winter, five Southern states had seceded from the Union, contending that Abraham Lincoln’s election as President doomed the white man’s South, that Lincoln and his fellow Republicans were abolitionist fanatics out to eradicate slavery and plunge Dixie into racial chaos.Read more »

America: Experiment or Destiny?

Nearly two centuries after Crèvecoeur propounded his notorious question—“What then is the American, this new man?”—Vine Deloria, Jr., an American Indian writing in the Bicentennial year on the subject “The North Americans” for Crisis , a magazine directed to American blacks, concluded: “No one really knows at the present time what America really is.” Surely few observers were more entitled to wonder at the continuing mystery than those who could accurately claim the designation Original American.Read more »