I am currently reading, “1861, The Civil War Awakening”, by Adam Goodheart. In the process I am learning things about American history that I either didn’t know or had long forgotten. It is especially interesting to read the book in the midst of the 2012 presidential campaign. Whereas today our presidential contenders travel almost everywhere to make their pitch for election, in 1860, the year Abraham Lincoln was running for president, he never left Springfield, Illinois! Writes Goodheart, “Following the precedent set by nearly every presidential nominee since Washington, Lincoln did not go out on the stump himself, which would have been unseemly. The man who would become known as the nation’s greatest communicator did not even offer a single public statement to the press.” In August, when thirty thousand of his supporters gathered at the fairgrounds in Springfield for a rally, Lincoln, against his wishes, was persuaded to at least drive his carriage over to the rally. “When he arrived,” writes Goodheart, “the mob hauled him out of the carriage and carried him on their shoulders across the fairgrounds, landing him with a thump on the speakers’ platform. The candidate spoke only a few awkward words of appreciation to the vast assembly before he managed to wriggle off the dais, squeeze his way through the crowd, jump onto the back of a horse and gallop off homeward as fast as the beast could carry him.”
Jeffrey Kolbo is Senior Pastor of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.