Carl Sandburg’s Thoughts on Lincoln

If you are a reader of this Lincoln blog you know that I love Carl Sandburg. His monumental work on Abraham Lincoln was the first biography I read on Lincoln as a young man. I still read Sandburg every once and awhile just to enjoy the beauty of his writing. The other day I picked up Volume Four of his ‘War Years’ and found myself captivated once again. The following is taken from the volume mentioned and has to do with Lincoln after his death. Here it is:


“In thousands of commentaries Lincoln incarnated two results- Emancipation and Union. Two causes directed by Lincoln had won the war. Gone was the property status of the Negro, gone the doctrine of secession and states’ rights. Black men could now move from where they were miserable to where they were equally miserable-now it was lawful for them to move. Now too for the Negro no longer was it a crime for him to be found reading a book nor was it any longer a crime to teach a Negro to read.

Now, Too, as Lincoln had pledged, a whole mesh of trammels and clamps on Western migration were to be cut loose. The many hoomesteaders held back by political bickering could get along. And the Union Pacific railway could begin laying its rails; the jealousies suffocating it were out. With almost explosive force the industrial, financial and transportation systems of the North could be let loose, free to go. The war had done that. Now also, as a result flowing from the war, the United States was to take its place among nations counted World Powers. And as a World Power the expectation was it would be a voice of the teachings of Washington, Jefferson, Jackson-and Lincoln-speaking for republican government, for democracy.

Out of the smoke and stench, out of music and violet dreams of the war, Lincoln stood perhaps taller than any other of the many great heroes. This was in the mind of many. None threw a longer shadow than he. And to him the great heroe was The People.  He could not say too often that he was merely their instrument.”


Now just for fun. Here is a clip of Carl Sandburg as guest on the old television show ‘What’s My Line:’


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