The Life of Abraham Lincoln: From His Birth to His Inauguration as President, Volume 2
J.R. Osgood, 1872 - 547 pages
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This book was written shortly after Lincoln's death by his Law Partner. At the time, Lincoln was recognized for his greatness. The goal of the book was to capture people's memories of Lincoln shortly after his death, so that the effect of time would be minimized. The book can be difficult to read at times, as the vernacular of the time differs from the present. However, in honor of Lincoln's 200th birthday, I'll share a couple poorly known facts about Lincoln.
One of the qualities that Barak Obama and Lincoln shared was their political realism. The harshness of their critics never struck them at a personal level. They were always able to see the politics clearly, and were thus able to maintain a distinct and robust view of the topic over which they were attacked. They also had some similarities in their stature. Both were tall (see drawing of Lincoln on page 83), and as we know Barak Obama is quite athletic. However, how about Lincoln? Due to his large size, and due to the times, when Lincoln was a young man and took up residence in a town, he was often challenged to a wrestling match. Lincoln never lost such a match, suggesting Lincoln also possessed such athleticsim.
The place where Obama and Lincoln differ most is their mood. It is hard to believe that Barak Obama could have had a major depressive episode in his life without that information becoming public during his Presidential campaign. However, Lincoln clearly was affected by a major depressive disorder. This is best evidenced in 1841 when he was so depsondent, his life long friend, Joshua Speed, took him to Kentucky for a year, where he remained isolated in a cabin, with no access to a razor, due to fears he might harm himself. From page 241 of the book: "In the language of Mr Edwards, 'Lincoln went as crazy as a loon,' and was taken to Kentucky by Speed, who 'kept him until he recovered.' He 'did not attend in 1841-2 for this reason.'"...."During this period, at times he was very melancholy,' and by his own admission, 'almost contemplated self destruction'.
The other interesting observation in this regard was a comment made by Lincoln to Robert L Wilson, a colleague of his in the Illinois Legislature, "although 'he appeared to enjoy life rapturously,' it was a mistake; that, 'when alone, he was so overcome by mental depression, that he never dared to carry a pocket knife.'".