For a Vast Future Also: Essays from the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association

By Thomas F. Schwartz | Go to book overview

14
The Use and Misuse of the
Lincoln Legacy

John Hope Franklin

I CANNOT USE the hallowed phrase, “Here I have lived,” but I can say that I am happy to be back in the Land of Lincoln, where I spent sixteen of the best years of my life. My ties to this state continue to be strong, and it is a source of great pleasure to be back among friends of many years. It is a great tionor to be present on this occasion sponsored jointly by the Abraham Lincoln Association. It is a hallowed occasion, made so not only because of the giant whose birthday we celebrate, but also because of the manner in which, through the years, it has been celebrated here.

Almost all of you, if indeed not all of you, have heard speeches on the sixteenth president of the United States covering every conceivable aspect of his life and related, in one way or another, to every conceivable problem in the community, the nation, and the world. I was particularly sensitive to what the members of the Abraham Lincoln Association might have heard through the years on this occasion that would surely accord them the tide of the world’s leading authorities on the misuse as well as the use of the Lincoln legacy. Before taking too much for granted, I decided to look at the addresses that had been delivered before this allgust body to make certain that I would not embarrass myself, as well as previous speakers, by choosing the announced subject for this evening’s talk. If the members of the association had, indeed, been subjected to the misuse of the Lincoln legacy, I promised myself that I would notify Judge [Harlington] Wood that I had decided to speak on another topic.

When I had gone through the speeches, I reproached myself for having entertained such an apprehension. The talks were, almost without exception, admirable examples of the kind of remarks that

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