Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On May 5, 1864

Its a little hard to imagine in this day and age. Its hard to imagine that anyone would send - to the president - a pair of hand-knitted socks; even harder to imagine an era when the president, this particular president anyway, would likely wear them. Harder still to imagine that this president would sit down in the midst of a Civil War and write a personal note of gratitude. Oh for the days when the country was less crowded.

It still amazes and impresses me that Mr. Lincoln always took time to converse with the 'regular people;' the aged, the poor, the ordinary citizens. Of course that is one of the peculiar traits that Mr. Lincoln brought with him to the White House -- he thought of himself as one of the regular people, and never lost that self-image. From all accounts (by his personal secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay,) he never even referred to himself directly as the president. The humility was real: and undoubtedly the source of his great patience.

On this day in 1865, Mr. Lincoln wrote to an octogenarian Massachusetts woman who had sent him a pair of hand-knitted socks. In the midst of war, sleepless hours at the telegraph office, lines of petitioners, meetings with his cabinet, and growing anxiety over daily fighting in the Wilderness, Lincoln apparently found time to write her an appreciative reply:

Executive Mansion,
Washington, May 5, 1864.

Mrs. Abner Bartlett

My dear Madam.

I have received the very excellent pair of socks of your own knitting, which you did me the honor to send. I accept them as a very comfortable article to wear; but more gratefully as an evidence, of the patriotic devotion which, at your advanced age, you bear to our great and just cause.

May God give you yet many happy days. Yours truly


I wonder what Mr. Obama would do if he were to receive a pair of hand-knitted socks from a little old lady in Massachusetts?

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