February 12: Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 in a log cabin in the bluegrass state of Kentucky. Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln had no idea that their second child was destined to become President of the United States.
For Thomas, Abraham was the son he hoped would carry on his legacy. His firstborn Sarah would create her own legacy or so he believed.
Unfortunately, cruel fate would rob Sarah of her legacy when she died giving birth to her stillborn son. Sarah’s death, and his mother’s death several years before, had a profound effect on the young Lincoln.
Great men and women, it seems, are born out of adversity and hardship. Life on the frontier had heaping helpings of both.
So it was for the young man who found solace in reading. Reading became his light in the darkness of life when the dark shadows encompass the soul and extinguish the candle on the nightstand.
His step-mother, Sarah Bush Johnston, continued the work that Nancy had begun—encouraging and fostering a deep love of reading. The two of them became close and remained so until his death. His step-mother died in 1869.
Abraham Lincoln was a man shaped by many heartaches, failures and defeats. Through it all he remained steadfast to the striving of being the best that he could be and holding on to the dream that tomorrow would be a better day when the clouds of adversity and hardship would vanish in the bright light of a new day.
Mister Lincoln is remembered as a great writer, but he was a poet as well. The poem below was written by him after visiting the graves of his mother and sister in the Fall of 1844. It had been fifteen years since he had visited this holy ground.
There is something sacred where family, friends and fellow villagers are buried. Those “mystic chords of memory” hover over these places, and if one listens very carefully, there is a whispering hymn which connects to that vast cosmic ocean in which this planet traverses.
My childhood’s home I see again,
And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There’s pleasure in it too.
O Memory! thou midway world
‘Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise,
And, freed from all that’s earthly vile,
Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle
All bathed in liquid light.
As dusky mountains please the eye
When twilight chases day;
As bugle tones that, passing by,
In distance die away;
As leaving some grand waterfall,
We, lingering, list its roar—
So memory will hallow all
We’ve known, but know no more.
Near twenty years have passed away
Since here I bid farewell
To woods and fields, and scenes of play,
And playmates loved so well.
Where many were, but few remain
Of old familiar things;
But seeing them, to mind again
The lost and absent brings.
The friends I left that parting day,
How changed, as time has sped!
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray,
And half of all are dead.
I hear the loved survivors tell
How nought from death could save,
Till every sound appears a knell,
And every spot a grave.
I range the fields with pensive tread,
And pace the hollow rooms,
And feel (companion of the dead)
I’m living in the tombs.
G. D. Williams © 2017
Monday, March 4, 1861
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Saturday, March 4, 1865
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Gettysburg Address: November 19, 1863
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.
“We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
“But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.
“The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
April 11 1865 Speech At The White House
Letters From Mothers To Abraham Lincoln
Lochgarry Posts on Mister Lincoln