Honest: Abe! | Newberry

Honest: Abe!

To me, our sixteenth president was always the ultimate Man of the People. The fact that he came from back-country, rural folk was part of it, and the fact that he liked to tell jokes, and…and…well, really, it was because he was on the penny.  All those other presidents were on such high, elite denominations–nickels, dimes, and quarters–that I had very little business with. But Abraham Lincoln…to me he will always be copper-colored (with wheat on his back.)

Anyway, it’s Abraham Lincoln’s bicentennial this year, if you’ve missed the hype and hoophooraw. In recognition of this, the Book Fair has added its first new category in a couple of years by putting all the Lincoln books together. (This could become permanent. Next year, after all, is the 150th anniversary of his election to the Presidency, and we have five years of the Civil War Sesquicentennial to follow.)

We do not, so far, have a copy of Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog, the title suggested by a columnist as a surefire path to Bestsellerdom. But we have plenty of others. You can have Lincoln as Man of the People or Lincoln as ignorant lawyer who just got lucky. You can take home enough Carl Sandburg to break the axle of your Continental, or you can carry home a little green volume done for the George Washington Bicentennial in which every remark Abe ever made about George has been collected.

And you can cover all the great unsolved mysteries. We have books to argue whether he had a mad passion for Anne Rutledge or whether that’s a myth (current thinking is “myth”, but this goes back and forth), whether he and his wife had a good marriage or a bad one (he complained about her spending and she once shied a frying pan at him because he was reading while she was telling him about her day: sounds normal by modern sitcom standards), whether his mother was illegitimate (he wondered about this himself), whether he was himself illegitimate (an illegitimate grandson of John C. Calhoun, no less, according to one book which has NOT won the Pulitzer for History), and even whether or not Stephen A. Douglas held his hat for him at his First Inaugural.

So empty those jars of pennies and come buy something about the man on them. Or use five dollar bills, if you insist on being efficient. I don’t really need your pennies to feel nostalgic. Just writing this has taken me back decades and shown me how little things REALLY change. Once I sat on the floor and played with Lincoln Logs.

Today it’s Lincoln blogs.

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