Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lincoln at 200

Robert Root. Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas—Debate at Charleston, Illinois, September 18, 1858. 1918. Springfield, Ill.

This is the picture on the cover* of the medical journal, JAMA. Root painted this after studying the portraits of the politicians of the day; the painting was for the state’s centennial celebration. Lincoln and Douglas debated each other seven times, campaigning for senator, Charleston was the middlemost. Lincoln did not become senator, but did gain national exposure in the press. The senators were then elected by the state legislature. The original hangs in the north corridor on the second floor of the State House (or did a few years ago).

Two hundred years ago, this very day, Abraham Lincoln was born. He was the second candidate nominated by the Republican party for president. He was not a likely nominee. He had very, little, political success, and was not highly thought of. Lincoln had one successful speech, at the Cooper Union, in New York City. It is a wonder that he was in the running. He was not, even, on the ballot on several southern states. He was very much a minority candidate.

He won. Four years later, in a smaller number of remaining states, he ran as the National Union Party candidate. So, in a minor way, he too left the Republican party. It is extremely hard to find another Republican candidate, ever, worthy to vote for. Some people would suggest, Teddy Roosevelt or Bob La Follette; they both left the party as different sorts of progressives; there is no one near such a personage in that rather, uniform club of reprobates to-day, even a moderate is an exaggeration.

To-day, the stronghold of the Republican party in popular votes, and members of Congress is in the south. How many Lincoln Day parties and dinners are held there? The only good, and he was a great president, nominee the Republican party has had is Lincoln. He won no southern states in 1860 or 1864. He is not liked in the south now.

On the same day Lincoln was born, Charles Darwin was born. Darwin came from a family of ministers, Lincoln was never baptised. Of those core Republicans in existence, to whom would they hold favorable? Which people would they curse and damn?

There are six states that have to-day as a legal, public holiday. They are: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York .
*Vol. 301 No. 6, February 11, 2009

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