For the past five years I have been writing “The Secret War Diaries of Abraham Lincoln – Including His Recurring Dreams.” The fourth volume will be published next month. It is what some call “faction” — part fact, part fiction. Lincoln’s remarkable legacy deserves to be studied in schools and his admirable character emulated by American presidents.

In 1810, soon after Lincoln was born, the third U.S. Census was conducted in 27 states and the District of Columbia. It showed 7,239,881 people in the United States, of which 1,191,362 were slaves. By the eighth Census of 1860, the population reached 31,443,322 in 33 states, District of Columbia and 10 territories. Of that total, 3,953,762 were slaves.

When Lincoln was born, slaves were 16.4 percent of the population. When president, the percentage was 12.5 percent, and slavery was the burning issue of the day. A traditional Whig, he became the first Republican elected president. He personally abhorred slavery but was never an abolitionist. His first official act was to swear in John G. Nicolay as private secretary. He conducted the Civil War with just Nicolay and two other overworked assistants, John Hay and William Stoddard. Hay would go on to become minister to Great Britain and secretary of state.

Lincoln never took a day off. Cabinet meetings were held almost daily, even on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. He rarely left Washington until just before his assassination, when he spent 16 days outside of Richmond meeting with generals and admirals anticipating Robert E. Lee’s surrender.

Physically, Lincoln was a powerful man. He had been wrestling champion of his county. Intellectually, he was a gifted writer yet only attended school for about one year. He wrote passable poetry and recited Burns and Shakespeare from memory. He volunteered for the Black Hawk War and was elected captain. He strongly opposed the Mexican War when in Congress.

Lincoln was morally straight. The appellation “Honest Abe” was well-earned. As a political leader he respected the views of all, including African Americans, whose leaders he invited to the White House. The Emancipation Proclamation was his crowning glory. He welcomed all citizens who came to visit him. A strong believer in separation of church and state, he worshiped from a rented pew at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.

He was particularly respectful of women all his life and welcomed their visits to the White House. As an attorney he often took their cases without fee. In 1836, as an Illinois legislator, he urged women’s suffrage 84 years before women got the vote. Internationally, he maintained cordial relationships with all nations. His sound policies helped keep Britain and France neutral. Foreign leaders knew his word was his bond.

Lincoln did not have a close relationship with his father, an illiterate man who rented him out to neighbors to perform manual labor. He did not attend his father’s funeral. As a father, he was never strict with his own children. As a busy lawyer who spent much of his time riding the legal circuit, he was often away from home and later regretted not having spent more time with his son, Robert. He adored his natural mother and stepmother. He was loyal and loving to his wife Mary, who was well-educated and came from a slave-owning family. She was brilliant but difficult. Their son Edward died at age four, Willie at eleven and Tad at eighteen.

Lincoln was melancholy all his life and relied upon a keen sense of humor to cope with it. He was instinctively a kind and considerate person. When he wrote “with malice toward none and charity for all,” he meant every word.

He maintained a close working relationship with his generals and admirals. The telegraph allowed him to communicate with them with great frequency. He typically reviewed hundreds of court-martial cases every month and tended to find excuses to commute soldiers’ and sailors’ death sentences. He respected his Cabinet members’ views and welcomed dissenting opinions.

Communications with Southern leaders were handled with strict decorum and courtesy. He and Confederate President Jefferson Davis corresponded throughout the Civil War, each trying to find a way to peace but failing. He never wanted Davis or other Southern leaders punished for treason. He hoped they might just “fade away” when hostilities ended.

Lincoln never divided for the sake of hatred and division but sought only to unite the nation.


(9) comments

Peyton Cook

Lincoln’s one goal to preserve the Union. Nothing else mattered. Slavery was an important issue. But it was more than that. Southerners worried that their way of life and economy would suffer. Their major export was cotton both to England and Northern mills. It was also the largest export of the US.

Kent Misegades

There are two sides to every story. Read ‘The Real Lincoln’ by Thomas DiLorenzo if you are interested in facts. Check his many references and a wealth of information that paints a different picture of Lincoln but also of the true cause of the War to Prevent Southern Secession. Clearly the left fears the truth, otherwise they would not be tearing down - in Taliban fashion - memorials to the Confederate fallen and erasing the names of Southern leaders from history books and high school auditoriums. The truth will set you free though, even if it is counter to the nonsense we were taught in government schools.

Jim Tomashoff

DiLorenzo is the "scholar" I was referring to. Now Kent tells us it's the "War to Prevent Southern Secession." Kent's other assertions in his comment are utterly false.

Jim Tomashoff

Oh Mr. Dunn, you will soon hear from Kent Misgades that Lincoln was a monster. That he purposely started and waged a "war of northern aggression," against the South and that he, Lincoln, was a racist who never really wanted to free the slaves. You'll soon be informed that the South had every right to secede and that Lincoln started the war solely to keep the South economically dependent on the North's industries. He may even cite one "scholar" who has even written books saying the above. That this scholar's scholarship has been repudiated publicly and in writing by the other scholars in his own Department in the school where he teaches, Kent will not tell you. You know what Mr. Dunn, it is quite possible that Kent won't respond to you in this case, now.

Peyton Cook

My fraternal greatg

Jim Tomashoff

Don't leave us hanging. Your fraternal greatg..... Finish your sentence.

Peyton Cook

Sorry about that. Both my fraternal and maternal great grandfather’s served in the Civil War. The first in the 73rd Volunteer Indiana Regiment. He was in General Sherman’s Army. He was discharged in Greenville, NC according to his discharge paper. The other served in two different Texas cavalry units and apparently did not leave the State.

Conrad Meyer

greatg Covfefe. You are ex- CIA, you can figure it out!

Mark Hayes

Even in the early AM hours, you have Kent Misegades on your mind, you got it bad Lamb Chop

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