Lincoln

Lincoln

Lincoln

Lincoln

Excerpt

For a foreigner to attempt to write the biography of a country's national hero is at best a difficult and dangerous task. The historian is sure to be reproached with the charge that no stranger, no outsider, can possibly understand the peculiar local atmosphere and background of the subject.

In dealing with Lincoln this is especially true, and the task consequently is doubly difficult, yet, in spite of this -- and likewise in spite of the brilliant biographies that have recently been written around Lincoln by Beveridge, Sandburg, Tarbell, and a distinguished Englishman, Lord Charnwood -- a number of my American friends urged me sincerely to essay this work.

Twenty years ago, an old friend and teacher who had played a part in the musical world of Chicago, gave me a volume about Lincoln, whom he had learned to admire from conversations with Carl Schurz. This old man tried to induce me to write the life of the Great American. In those days, however, I wrote poetry and no biographies, but in my way, I studied Lincoln's life portrait as one of the most human heads ever created. When I began work, his figure was familiar to me, without my knowing much of the external history of his life.

After studying the many contrary documents and sources, I have tried to write his life by the same method which, in 1919, I was the first to use in my "Goethe", and later in my life of Napoleon.

The art of portraying human characters cannot be achieved by merely studying historical documents: it is practiced and learned in a never-ending study of living men and women. But we want the inspiring light of a great character to make documents breathe with the vividness and veracity of to-day.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.