Thanks to generous donations from our supporters, we created “Q & Abe” – a podcast that investigates real questions from visitors to the Cottage. This bonus episode accompanies the first episode of Season 2, Who did Lincoln trust the most?
As we work on answering the questions for the show, we run into all kinds of things that might not quite fit within the main episode, but we didn’t think that should keep you all from hearing them. Sidney Blumenthal shared with us a gem of a story about Lincoln’s first encounter with what would become the Republican Party, and Sandy Goldberg gave us his recommendations for which novels and shows best explore the nature of trust.
In addition to the embedded media player below, you can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Stitcher / Google Podcasts or wherever you get podcasts. You also can read below for a transcript of the episode (transcript coming soon).
TRANSCRIPT OF EPISODE 2.1 BONUS CONTENT
Callie Hawkins: Hi everyone – This is Callie and Joan from Q&Abe, a podcast by President Lincoln’s Cottage.
Joan Cummins: As we work on answering the questions for the show, we run into all kinds of things that might not quite fit within the main episode. But we didn’t think that should keep you all from hearing them.
CH: This bonus episode accompanies episode 2.1, “Who did Lincoln trust the most?,” so if you’ve not yet listened to that episode, that might be a good place to start.
JC: As we were talking to Sidney Blumenthal about Lincoln’s early life, he had another gem of a story about Lincoln’s first encounter with what would become the Republican Party.
Sidney Blumenthal: Someone who trusted in him – learned to trust in him, was the radical abolitionist Owen Lovejoy. In 1854 when Lincoln, uh, or re-emerges in politics after his wilderness years, he comes forward against the Kansas-Nebraska Act, sponsored by his perennial rival Stephen A. Douglas. Kansas-Nebraska Act potentially opens up the territories to the expansion of slavery. Lincoln delivers a speech in the hall of representatives of the Illinois legislature in the state capital. He had worked out, um, his political, constitutional, and historical reasons for opposing the extension of slavery. After that speech, he was approached by a small gaggle of radical abolitionists who called themselves the Republican Party, and Lincoln spurned them. They were radicals. They were isolated. The Whig party was disintegrated – uh, Lincoln still clung to it. Democratic Party under Stephen A. Douglas was still the reigning party in Illinois, but Lincoln was not ready to be a Republican. And the person who was a leader of that little group of people was Owen Lovejoy. He was the brother of the martyred anti-slavery editor, Elijah P. Lovejoy – the first martyr of the abolitionist movement, murdered by a mob in Alton, Illinois. Lincoln had delivered a speech, his first formal speech, at the Springfield Lyceum, in which he, in which he denounced the killing of anti-slavery editors and the destruction of free press. But he was not ready. And Lovejoy keeps on! Lovejoy had trust in Lincoln. So now, it’s two years later and a group of anti-slavery editors come to Lincoln and say, “will you join us in the coordinating committee for the new Republican Party?” and Lincoln says yes. After that party’s organized, Lovejoy runs for the Congress in northern Illinois, and he defeats a member of Lincoln’s inner circle. The most powerful person in their group, Judge David Davis, is outraged, wants to destroy Lovejoy. But Lincoln says, you know, I’m a little angry myself, but you know, we have to keep this party together now. And from there grows a great friendship. He campaigns that year in front of large crowds in northern Illinois with Lovejoy, and when Lincoln, as president, is often criticized by north-eastern abolitionists, Lovejoy always rises to defend him and says, he is as radical as any abolitionist, but he is taking his time. Lovejoy underst- he-he, he never wavers in his trust in Lincoln to the end. So that’s a very important friendship.
CH: We also got some great recommendations from Sandy Goldberg about which novels and shows he thinks best explore the nature of trust.
Sandy Goldberg: Since I love her as a writer and I’ve recently finished another of her books, I can’t help but mention the novelist Marilynne Robinson. She, she is absolutely marvelous. The two books that come quickest to mind are, are her, her novel Gilead and her novel Home. The one that that occurs to me with respect to trust is, is Home. Home is the story of a family whose, who, one of whose sons is the so-called prodigal son who, um, who left under difficult circumstances, stayed away for, for two decades and returns after two decades at the point at which his father, his father is, is nearing the end of his life, and it’s really a case study in how to try to recover after one has shown oneself untrustworthy. And it- she, because she’s such a talented novelist, she is spectacular in describing the effects that it has not only on, on Jack – on the son – but on Jack’s sister, on Jack’s father, and on Jack’s community. It’s really, it is a lovely, lovely case study in, in how to recover from, from this sort of situation. The other thing that I was gonna mention is not a novel, the series was Rectify, I don’t know if either of the two of you saw Rectify, but again it’s, it’s a very very beautiful series about a man who is returning from – he was in a maximum security prison, actually on death row, for, for rape and murder. And it turns out – this isn’t really a spoiler because it, it, the show isn’t like that – turns out, he was wrongly convicted, but he spent twenty years on death row. He returns to his small town in Georgia, and basically the, the, the four or five seasons of Rectify all address both how he comes to trust himself, and how others come to trust him and how sometimes they fall short. Uh, and sometimes the individuals in, in the story are, are so broken that they can’t trust one another, despite the fact that they’re in, in circumstances in which trust might be appropriate. It’s really a beautiful case study in, in what happens when one, where one loses – I would call it self-trust – and how that affects one’s relationship with others.
JC: Let us know if you take Sandy up on his recommendations! We’ll see you in a week with our next full episode. This episode was produced by me, Joan Cummins, and Callie Hawkins. Music for Q&Abe was written, performed, and is copyrighted by Clancy Newman.
CH: Q&Abe is possible thanks to generous supporters of President Lincoln’s Cottage. To find out how you can support this podcast and other programming, visit www.lincolncottage.org. You can also write to us at [email protected].
JC: President Lincoln’s Cottage is a home for brave ideas. Stay curious!