The Sensitive Abraham Lincoln

There is a side of Mr. Lincoln that is well known-that he was “sensitive.” I believe that it is probably true. Certainly, as a young man he displayed that sensitivity at various times. I’m thinking of his scolding of a group of his peers for exacting cruelty on a helpless turtle. Then there are the stories (whether factual or not) of his going out of his way to rescue other animals- even at a certain peril to his safety. Maybe one could argue that he was being sensitive in his reluctance to break off his engagement to Mary Owens. There were many other occasions to demonstrate this quality in his life. I don’t mean to imply at all, by the way, that his sensitivity was a bad thing-not at all. My heart breaks, for instance, when I think about the weight he must have carried during the war. It is written that he felt very personally responsible for all the blood spilt. That’s more than any one mortal could possibly bear! And Mr. Lincoln being sensitive would only make the emotion more intensified. Maybe, too, he was sensitive because of his lack of handsome physical features-as some would claim. He certainly thought he was not handsome. By virtue of the fact that he viewed himself that way might lend itself to an increased sensitivity to others. I think so.  As I examined the caracticured figure of Lincoln (see picture below), I am somewhat taken aback by it’s ugliness. Yet, to me, the face is beautiful. Time has a way of changing our perceptions. I’ve been looking over some of the writings of Lincoln’s friend and law partner William Herdon. In Herndon’s book Life of Lincoln, he had this to say about Lincoln’s sensitivity:

“Mr. Lincoln himself was a very sensitive man, and hence, in dealing with others, he avioded wounding their hearts or puncturing their sensibility. He was unusually considerate of the feelings of other men, regardless of their rank, condition, or station. At first sight he struck one with his plainess, simplicity of manner, sincerity, candor, and truthfulness. He had no double interests and no overwhelming dignity with which to chill the air around his visitor. He was always easy to approach and thoroughly democratic. He seemed to throw a charm around every man who ever met him. To be in his presence was a pleasure, and no man ever left his company with injured feeling unless most richly deserved.”

That is one of the best decriptions I have heard about Abraham Lincoln. It is a manner and way that I would like to have said about me. May my inner Lincoln thrive.

B. Nash with "Abe."

B. Nash with “Abe.”

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One Response to “The Sensitive Abraham Lincoln”

  1. Mattias says:

    Absolutely beautiful and heartfelt article. God bless you.

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