One hundred and forty four years ago, the log-cabin man lived in a manner humble before God but a warrior before men. Today, his memory is in marble.
Abraham Lincoln was an enigma. Today, he is called a great man. But that is today. After his Emancipation speech in 1864, the Times of London called him “A brutal stooge.” Perhaps the top hat conjured that image.
Common to his wrestling days, his lawyering days, and his political days is that they were winning days, sort of. Although he lost more elections than he won, and he was elected to the presidency of the United States of America with only 40 percent of the vote, he did as he said. His word was his bond.
Did he change his mind about matters, even slavery? He did, and why on earth does anyone hold that against him? Smart people change.
Lincoln was at the helm of America when our country was at a turning point, maybe even a tipping point, being as unbalanced as we were. But Lincoln thought with spiritual aspirations. He saw beyond the human to the divine. He beheld the Civil War as an atonement for the sin of slavery and that “The judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” — Psalms 19:9.
Lincoln was demeaned as a gorilla and baboon by George McClellan, one of his generals. Marcus M. Pomeroy, the editor of the La Crosse Daily Democrat, called Lincoln a fungus and a butcher. What did those critics know? With aplomb, Lincoln bore the weight of our country, and in a sense the world.
Rather than a fungus, he was a healing agent.
Lincoln spoke with human coarseness at times. His jokes were sometimes vulgar and his language sometimes salty, but he had a way with ideas and words. Lincoln honed his ideas by the flint of three literatures: The King James Bible; The Plays of Shakespeare; The Illinois Criminal Code. These publications of many pages held deep ideas — facts, fiction, and law.
Lincoln’s face is portrayed as sad. Would we have it any other way?
Today, some of us are sad too. Lincoln had reason. We do too. Lincoln had goals. We do too.
Our present president, Barack Obama is perhaps, today, like Lincoln was in his time, at the helm of America when our country is at a turning point, maybe even a tipping point, being as unbalanced as we are. President Obama may look sad.
Well, better that than a Pollyanna smile. Like Lincoln, Obama has goals, and with hope, they are our goals.
Lincoln eventually fought to have black men of America free of slavery. Now a black man is fighting to have all men and women of America free of financial despotism. President Lincoln was up to the task then and let us pray that President Obama is up to the task now.
Why should we expect such a performance from Obama? Because of allegiance to a power greater than both Lincoln and Obama. “One nation, under God.” God did not and will not let us drift.
Leo Crocker Rogers is a resident of Mesa.