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OF

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

EDITED BY

WILLIAM C. STODDARD,
One of his Private Secretaries 1861-4.

THE history of the world presents

us with innumerable instances of men, holding positions of power over current affairs, whose verbal or written utterances were among the apparent forces of the time to which they belonged. With the passing away of the circumstances, the peculiar features of their field of action, a winnowing process becomes at once observable, and much which was at first deemed worthy of preservation is seen to have lost its importance ; it has no

enduring relation to history or to any probable action to be taken by other men, in later times and under other circumstances. It is not always well to say that the greatness of these men from whose utterances, all life departs in this manner, was altogether attached to the greatness of the occasions in which they acted. It may be more nearly true to say that their personalities, however large, were absorbed by the greatness of their circumstances, so that nothing was left for human memory of them when their surroundings passed away.

The list is very short, of men whose words remain in the minds of men for any length of time after the tomb has closed upon their public services, but very prominent in this short list is the name of Abraham Lincoln. He not only did things but said and wrote things which cannot be forgotten. It is entirely probable that, in future crises of the national life which owes so much to him, thoughtful patriots will find themselves going back to the record of his counsels, for wisdom and for strength, as to some well of unselfish patriotism, digged by a patriarch of the Republic in a time of unsurpassed trial and drouth.)

In other times, not of trial at all, but of the ordinary life of each successive generation, moreover, there is a certain education, of no small value, to be gained by familiarity with the process of thought and feeling of the man who was enabled to endure so much and to act so well. All smaller and especially all younger patriotisms have much to learn or to acquire from his own, like watches which should

enduring relation to history or to any probable action to be taken by other men, in later times and under other circumstances. It is not always well to say that the greatness of these men from whose utterances, all life departs in this manner, was altogether attached to the greatness of the occasions in which they acted. It may be more nearly true to say that their personalities, however large, were absorbed by the greatness of their circumstances, so that nothing was left for human memory of them when their surroundings passed away.

The list is very short, of men whose words remain in the minds of men for any length of time after the tomb has closed upon their public services, but very prominent in this short list is the name of Abraham Lincoln. He not only

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did things but said and wrote things which cannot be forgotten. It is entirely probable that, in future crises of the national life which

so much to him, thoughtful patriots will find themselves going back to the record of his counsels, for wisdom and for strength, as to some well of unselfish patriotism, digged by a patriarch of the Republic in a time of unsurpassed trial and drouth.)

In other times, not of trial at all, but of the ordinary life of each successive generation, moreover, there is a certain education, of no small value, to be gained by familiarity with the process of thought and feeling of the man who was enabled to endure so much and to act so well. All smaller and especially all younger patriotisms have much to learn or to acquire from his own, like watches which should

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