In the 1800s there were no rolodex files, Google calendars, electronic reminders. For President Lincoln, the only receptacle for important documents, speeches, notes or memorandum, was his tall, stovepipe hat. He isn’t often photographed in this hat, but it was part of his wardrobe as well as serving as a walking file cabinet. The two minute Gettysburg address was written while on his train trip to the destination and tucked into that hat. He was not the featured speaker of the day, but that speech has gone down in history as one of the most effective and remembered.
This sixteenth president of the United States was a tall, lanky fellow of 6’4″. The hat added to his height and set him apart from most of the shorter men of this time. He walked with a long stride and had a high pitched, backwoods twang of a voice.
He spent his childhood on the frontier of Kentucky and Indiana. Mostly self-taught, due to the lack of established schools in the area, he showed a great interest in reading and a hunger for learning. He became a lawyer in Illinois and entered the political arena in 1843 when he ran for the Whig party’s nomination to the House of Representatives from Illinois. He lost that election, but won a seat in 1846.
In 1860 he became the Republican candidate for president. Before his inauguration day in March 1861, seven southern states had seceded from the union over issues of slavery. By April, the Civil War was underway and would prove to be the costliest, most deadly war in America.
He was only 56 when an assassin’s bullet struck his head and he died shortly thereafter. A young man, by today’s standards, yet a man who accomplished more in his lifetime than most who live much longer.
One of his quotes:
“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.”
Words that still pack a punch and hold true today. The beauty of our government is that it was created by the people and for the people. Men like Abraham Lincoln knew that and lived it.