On February 12, 1959, at a Joint Session of Congress in the House of Representatives, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, Carl Sandburg gave the keynote address. Mr. Sandburg was introduced by Sam Rayburn, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. His introductory remarks included the following (about Carl Sandburg):
“…I deem it a high priviledge, to be able to present to you the man who in all probability knows more about the life, the times, the hopes, and the aspirations of Abraham Lincoln than any other human being.”
Carl Sandburg had been sitting at the Clerk’s desk. He had been escorted to his seat by the committee of Senators and Representatives. Upon taking his seat, Mr. Sandburg was given applause by the Members rising.
The following is an excerpt of Mr. Sandburg’s address regarding Abraham Lincoln:
“…Not often in the story of mankind does a man arrive on earth who is both steel and velvet, who is as hard as rock and as soft as drifting log, who holds in his heart and mind the paradox of terrible storm and peace unspeakable and perfect. Here and there across centuries come reports of men alleged to have these contrasts. And the incomparable Abraham Lincoln, born 150 years ago this day, is an approach if not a perfect realization of this character. ”
And further on Sandburg stated:
“The people of many other countries take Lincoln now for their own. He belongs to them. He stands for decency, honest dealing, plain talk, and funny stories. ‘Look where he came from-don’t he know all us strugglers and wasn’t he a kind of tough struggler all his life right up to the finish?’ Something like that you can hear in any nearby neighborhood and across the seas. Millions there are who take him as a personal treasure.”
In closing, Sandburg remarked: “Today we may say, perhaps, that the well-assured and most enduring memorial to Lincoln is invisibly there, today, tomorrow, and for a long time yet to come. It is there in the hearts of lovers of liberty, men and women-this country has always had them in crisis-men and women who understand that wherever there is freedom there have been those who fought, toiled, and sacrificed for it.”Mail this post