Abraham Lincoln: From His Own Words and Contemporary Accounts

By Abraham Lincoln; Roy Edgar Appleman | Go to book overview

Seward, 'while I approve the measure, I suggest, sir, that you postpone its issue, until you can give it to the country supported by military success, instead of issuing it, as would be the case now, upon the greatest disasters of the war!'" Mr. Lincoln continued: "The wisdom of the view of the Secretary of State struck me with very great force. It was an aspect of the case that, in all my thought upon the subject, I had entirely overlooked. The result was that I put the draft of the proclamation aside, as you do your sketch for a picture, waiting for a victory. From time to time I added or changed a line, touching it up here and there, anxiously watching the progress of events. Well, the next news we had was of Pope's disaster, at Bull Run. Things looked darker than ever. Finally, came the week of the battle of Antietam. I determined to wait no longer. The news came, I think, on Wednesday, that the advantage was on our side. I was then staying at the Soldiers' Home, (three miles out of Washington.) Here I finished writing the second draft of the preliminary proclamation; came up on Saturday; called the Cabinet together to bear it, and it was published the following Monday."

CARPENTER, Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln.


26. ON SHAKESPEARE

The letter from Lincoln to the actor Hackett, given below, reflects Lincoln's deep interest in Shakespeare.

Some of Shakespeare's plays I have never read; while others I have gone over perhaps as frequently as any unprofessional reader. Among the latter are "Lear," "Richard III.," "Henry VIII.," "Hamlet," and especially "Macbeth." I think nothing equals "Macbeth." It is wonderful.

Unlike you gentlemen of the profession, I think the soliloquy in " Hamlet" commencing "Oh, my offense is rank," surpasses that commencing "To be or not to be." But pardon this small attempt at criticism. I should like to hear you pronounce the opening speech of Richard III. Will you not soon visit Washington again? If you do, please call and let me make your personal acquaintance.

LINCOLN TO HACKETT, AUGUST 17, 1863.


27. "BLESSINGS OF FRUITFUL FIELDS"

Thanksgiving was first celebrated by the settlers at Plymouth in the Massachusetts colony in 1621 under the leadership of Governor William Bradford. Washington and Madison each issued a Thanksgiving proclamation once during their Presidencies. It was not until 1863, however, when Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation that the holiday was established as a national annual event, occurring on the last

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