What Would Lincoln Think?
By Scott Ackerman
Since the election, several visitors to President Lincoln’s Cottage have asked me, in some fashion, what Lincoln would have thought about Barack Obama’s election to the presidency. This is no simple question to answer, since it deals with the hypothetical and conjecture rather than historical fact and the interpretation of those facts. While we want to avoid conjecture, naturally we want to encourage our visitors to think about Lincoln and his relevancy to modern U.S. issues and politics. Thus, I went in search of an answer, and went straight to Lincoln’s own words. I looked to his Second Inaugural Address, which rang eerily and unsurprisingly prescient:
Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wound, to care for him who shall have borne the brunt of the battle and for his widow and orphans; to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
-Abraham Lincoln, March 4th, 1865.
Lincoln’s words sounded from the steps of the capitol that dreary March afternoon, and echoed through the ages. They characterize some of the finest writing in American political history, and I believe they reflect what his reaction to the recent election would have been.