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Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
06-25-2014, 12:51 AM (This post was last modified: 06-25-2014 12:54 AM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #211
RE: Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
Sorry, Toia, if I didn't write that clearly enough - intimacy with MARY, not with Herndon!
The last time he saw Herndon was when the latter came to the WH in January 1862 to seek a job for the husband of the sister of his future second wife Anna Miles (eighteen years younger) whom (Anna!) he was wooing. Lincoln found that funny and appointed Charles Chatterton (Anna's sister's husband) agent for the Cherokee Indians. Herndon found Washington unexpectedly expensive and additionally had to borrow $25 from Lincoln.
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06-25-2014, 12:59 AM
Post: #212
RE: Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
I see, hmmm...interesting that David Donald takes that view. Even most pro-MTL historians feel that the Lincoln marriage suffered in it's final phase due to the pressures of life in the White House and Mary's emotional illness increasingly manifesting itself.

According to Daniel Mark Epstein, their unique bond endured until the presidency, then began to slowly unravel.

I really must read the Donald book....thanks!Wink
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06-25-2014, 01:17 AM
Post: #213
RE: Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
(06-24-2014 10:30 PM)LincolnToddFan Wrote:  Hi Lewis,

To your question of what kind of sex life AL led up to his marriage? I have no idea. I will be the first to admit that I don't have enough knowledge about that period of his life. I agree with you that he probably was not celibate. And yes...his humor definitely had a strongly sexual bent. He loved talking about sex. In one of his letters to Mary during the period he served in Congress in the late 1840's(she had returned to Lexington) he gleefully regales her with gossip about the prostitutes in the Capitol ("our girls") and which of his colleagues were visiting them and coming away with "altered" parts.(The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage, pgs#142-143 Daniel Mark Epstein)

The seeming ease and lack of embarrassment with which this Victorian couple discussed sex and intimate body functions was unusual for their time. During their WH years, Mary wrote to him from NYC where she was vacationing with Tad and Lizzie Keckley to complain about a difficult menstrual cycle she'd had. (MTL: Her Life and Letters, pgs #139-140 Justin Turner and Linda Leavitt Turner)

A book allegedly comprised of oral testimony of a Black domestic of the Lincolns named Mariah Vance has been largely discredited as unreliable by historians. (Lincolns Unknown Private Life, Lloyd Ostendorfer) This is the book that claims that AL was secretly baptized after he was elected President. I read the book years ago and dismissed most of what I read..it just didn't sound like AL at all.

But there was one anecdote that stood out in my mind. AL hurried home from his law office to be with Mary during a thunderstorm. At the time she was pregnant with Tad. She was in a back bedroom of their Springfield home with her head under the covers. He(according to the maid) told her to get her head from underneath the blankets unless she was going to make herself useful while she was under there. The crude remark was designed to shock her and make her so angry that she would forget her terror...which is precisely what happened. She flew shrieking and pounding at him with her fists, while he laughed uproariously, lifting her into his arms and kissing her.Exclamation

Not sure if this story is true, but it's a perfect example of the type of humor he was known for. As far as sex, he sounds far from a novice and was apparently refreshingly open minded for his time. But just like so much of this man's life, the issue of whether or not he was at least bi-sexual will remain a mystery unless something new and unexpected pops up.

I think the Lincolns probably had a better marriage than they're often given credit for, especially by Burlingame, who clearly despises MTL, unreasonably I'd say. They had 4 children, lost two before Lincoln was murdered. And they held it together as best they could despite the unimaginable pressures of that wartime presidency. I like your comments about L.'s earthy sense of humor, his & Mary's unVictorian candor with each other. With regard to what we think we know and what will remain a mystery unless new evidence turns up. You say that the bisexuality theory lacks sufficient proof to be credible. What about the Rutledge story--is the proof credible? How do we decide what's credible? This is what I love about history. Coming to conclusions is a lot murkier than one might at first think.
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06-25-2014, 01:39 AM (This post was last modified: 06-25-2014 02:04 PM by LincolnToddFan.)
Post: #214
RE: Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
I was persuaded about the veracity of the Rutledge affair after reading "The Shadows Rise" by John Evangelist Walsh. It's pretty convincing. Have you read it, btw? What did you think?

For the record I never had any problem with the Ann Rutledge romance. Where I draw the line is that this relationship changed the course of Lincoln's life and that he was never truly able to love again.
One writer-was it Vachel Lindsay? went so far as to insinuate that AR was Lincoln's inspiration for the Gettysburg Address, that her spirit sort of entered his body and guided the pen. Laughable? Yes..I think so too!

Human sexuality can be so mysterious, so complicated. Didn't AL describe intercourse as a "harp with a thousand strings" or something? If he did have occasional physical encounters with other men during his frontier youth I would not be surprised. As you have already explained, those were "masculine" times so to speak. I am just not able to be convinced that he was primarily homosexual on the basis of what we know about his friendships with Joshua Speed and David Derickson.

Here is the confusing part-I think despite his earthy humor he was not truly all that highly sexed(even though MTL was a very satisfied customer if her private letters are any indication)

Fascinating subject for sure. I love Lincoln, can never get enough of him. He and his life are the gift that keeps on giving.Wink

ETA: I don't think Burlingame is able to be rational on the subject on the Lincoln marriage.
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06-25-2014, 01:55 AM (This post was last modified: 06-25-2014 02:01 AM by Lewis Gannett.)
Post: #215
RE: Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
Walsh did a lot of homework, collected some useful information, but in the end struck me as way too misty-eyed about "the legend." I have the book. LTF, if I may so address you: Google my name with Anne Rutledge. It will take you two articles I published in Journal of the A. L. Association. The second article, Summer 2010, provides a wide-angle critique of the Rutledge revival. I have to warn you: it's long (takes up half the issue). Maybe the first six pages or so are fun to read and then it gets very wonky. I'd guess that John Evangelist Walsh and a number of other authors who've published on A. Rutledge do not find it amusing.

And how on earth did you read about "heart of a thousand strings"? Henry Whitney quoted Lincoln saying that about "sexual contact." A striking thing to say for all kinds of reasons. Actually, it's quite an important quote. Where did you see it?

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06-25-2014, 02:22 AM
Post: #216
RE: Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
LOL!! Lewis, it's after midnight here in L.A. I've got a glass of wine and Antonio Carlos Jobim on my MP player. I've read so much about Lincoln I can't possibly remember where I read that quote...and my mind is too fuzzy to think hard about it. It not only struck me as a very elegant way to describe "the deed" but there are just so many ways to interpret the remark, right?

I agree about Walsh's misty eyed banging on about the "legend" but he made his point.

I MUST go to bed now.

I have made a note to myself to Google the info you asked me first thing in the morning, and then I will PM you asap, deal?

Please call me "Toia"...it's my real name!Wink
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06-25-2014, 04:16 AM
Post: #217
RE: Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
(06-24-2014 09:29 PM)Lewis Gannett Wrote:  William Hanchett, one of the foremost scholars of the assassination, discusses the issue in a series of articles in the Lincoln Herald, "Abraham Lincoln and the Tripp Thesis." To my mind Hanchett doesn't fully solve it (he's extremely astute on other issues, however, very much worth reading). I have a hunch.

I am curious about your hunch. Although I am most definitely in the Lincoln was straight camp, I read those articles with great interest. I love Dr. Hanchett's book entitled The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies. But I came away from those Lincoln Herald articles with the strong impression Dr. Hanchett personally feels Lincoln was indeed gay. Is that your hunch?
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06-25-2014, 05:04 AM (This post was last modified: 06-25-2014 05:08 AM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #218
RE: Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
(06-25-2014 01:55 AM)Lewis Gannett Wrote:  And how on earth did you read about "heart of a thousand strings"?
Maybe Toia knows a contemporary source, but M. Burlingame in "A. L.- A Life" (chapt.6) claims A. L. repeatedly said this, but without giving a source.
However, the line is originally from "Creation", a hymn the words of which are by Isaac Watts (1674 -1748):

When I with pleasing wonder stand
And all my frame survey
Lord, 'tis thy work, I own thy hand
Thus built my humble clay
Our life contains a thousand springs,
And dies if one be gone.
Strange that a harp of thousand strings
Should keep in tune so long.
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06-25-2014, 06:23 AM (This post was last modified: 06-25-2014 07:18 AM by Gene C.)
Post: #219
RE: Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
(06-25-2014 01:55 AM)Lewis Gannett Wrote:  And how on earth did you read about "heart of a thousand strings"? Henry Whitney quoted Lincoln saying that about "sexual contact." A striking thing to say for all kinds of reasons. Actually, it's quite an important quote. Where did you see it?


I am unfamiliar with that quote. Can someone post it (in it's context) along with the circumstances it was said - if known, and keeping in mind we want to keep this discussion suitable for young students.

Since Lincoln might have been familiar with that hymn, that would be quite a shift from it's original use.

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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06-25-2014, 06:51 AM
Post: #220
RE: Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
Hello Lewis.

We put far too much emphasis (thanks to Herndon) on whether Ann Rutledge was Lincoln's "greatest" love. She was A love, but I doubt she was his greatest. I wonder whether Lincoln ever had a "greatest" love other than the love he felt for his biological mother. Your attempts to conflate the Rutledge story with whether or not Lincoln's primary erotic response was same-sex are well-laid out in your articles and your decision to work with C.A. Tripp, so I don't want to rehash them here. However, as I've constantly said, you never prove it. There were witnesses in New Salem who were just as credible, although you dismiss them by showing those who never saw evidence of a romance. I would hazard a guess that there were a number of people even in the small hamlet of New Salem who didn't know anything about what their neighbors did behind closed doors. James Randall--actually Ruth, since it was she who wrote "Sifting the Ann Rutledge Evidence" in his biography--constantly had it out for Herndon because he didn't practice what Randall termed "historianship." Randall had a lot of influence in the mid 20th century but John Simon and Douglas Wilson did much to restore Herndon's work, which has been savagely and unfairly criticized here (among other places).

As for Lincoln's sexual orientation, I will leave you with just one question. What does it matter? I don't discount Tripp's thesis because I find homosexuality repugnant (as I've told you in the past). I discount it because it's irrelevant and because there's no direct physical evidence; only a lot of innuendo from a determined advocate for a cause, which is what Tripp was. I would be interested to see where Sandburg and Roy Basler talk about "the sexual problem" given that it could mean what you think, or it could mean the sexual encounters Lincoln had with frontier prostitutes. And I have thoroughly combed Ida Tarbell's papers (which I suggested you or someone else do) and there is no references to her candidly or discretely talking about anything relating to Lincoln's sexual life.

Can you or anyone else show that but for Lincoln's sexual orientation, he would have issued or retracted the Emancipation Proclamation? No. Would he have directed the Civil War differently? No. Whether or not Lincoln's primary erotic response was same-sex is as irrelevant as to whether Lincoln was attracted to flaxen-haired daughters of frontier shopkeepers. It tells us something about who he was, but in the end it tells us very little about who he really was.

Best
Rob

Abraham Lincoln in the only man, dead or alive, with whom I could have spent five years without one hour of boredom.
--Ida M. Tarbell

I want the respect of intelligent men, but I will choose for myself the intelligent.
--Carl Sandburg
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06-25-2014, 07:23 AM (This post was last modified: 06-25-2014 07:27 AM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #221
RE: Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
(06-25-2014 06:23 AM)Gene C Wrote:  
(06-25-2014 01:55 AM)Lewis Gannett Wrote:  And how on earth did you read about "heart of a thousand strings"? Henry Whitney quoted Lincoln saying that about "sexual contact." A striking thing to say for all kinds of reasons. Actually, it's quite an important quote. Where did you see it?


I am unfamiliar with that quote. Can someone post it (in it's context) along with the circumstances it was said - if known, and keeping in mind we want to keep this discussion suitable for young students.

Since Lincoln might have been familiar with that hymn, that would be quite a shift from it's original use.
M. Burlingame writes:
"Lincoln said repeatedly 'about sexual contact, ‘It is the harp of a thousand strings.'’”
No further context as for this, just that the next sentence goes on within the same topic:
"A colleague at the bar, Oliver L. Davis, thought that Lincoln’s 'mind run on sexual [matters?].'” (This has a source, Herndon, of course. Wouldn't be surprised if he was the source for the "thousand strings", too.)
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06-25-2014, 08:38 AM (This post was last modified: 06-25-2014 08:39 AM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #222
RE: Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
Gene, as for keeping in mind we want to keep this discussion suitable for young students - just as I don't know what you consider suitable, but I think any context of the quote will deal with the topic "sexuality", and most likely all (like Burlingame's book) are available without any limitation in age rating.
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06-25-2014, 09:03 AM (This post was last modified: 06-25-2014 09:20 AM by Lewis Gannett.)
Post: #223
RE: Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
(06-25-2014 04:16 AM)RJNorton Wrote:  
(06-24-2014 09:29 PM)Lewis Gannett Wrote:  William Hanchett, one of the foremost scholars of the assassination, discusses the issue in a series of articles in the Lincoln Herald, "Abraham Lincoln and the Tripp Thesis." To my mind Hanchett doesn't fully solve it (he's extremely astute on other issues, however, very much worth reading). I have a hunch.

I am curious about your hunch. Although I am most definitely in the Lincoln was straight camp, I read those articles with great interest. I love Dr. Hanchett's book entitled The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies. But I came away from those Lincoln Herald articles with the strong impression Dr. Hanchett personally feels Lincoln was indeed gay. Is that your hunch?

RJ Norton: It's more than a hunch. William Hanchett makes it clear that he thinks that the Tripp thesis--that Lincoln found his primary emotional and sexual fulfillment with men--is correct. By the way, Tripp didn't use the term "gay." That's a 20th-century construct, although, truth be told, so is "homosexual" (in American usage, at least), and the term "same sex" is awkward. I've corresponded with Prof. Hanchett. He's a most impressive scholar. It's a shame that Dr. Tripp, who died in 2003, two years before his book was published, never got to know Hanchett. He would have found Hanchett's analysis of Herndon's outlook and motivations extremely interesting. Hanchett's four-part Lincoln Herald piece is must-read for anyone trying to make sense of Lincoln's early love life. In time I'm sure he'll be seen as a voice of clarity amid a much scholarly murk. The scenario he sketches about Herndon's cover-up of Lincoln's sexuality--via the Rutledge story, in part--is astounding. By the way, Hanchett's peers in Lincoln Studies have been at a total loss as to how to reply to a challenge he issued, which he put like this: I'm quoting from memory: "Either rebut Tripp or get started with rewriting Lincoln history." Strong words, wouldn't you say? The fact of the matter is that no one of stature in the Lincoln scholarly world has rebutted either Tripp or Hanchett, or for that matter my work in JALA on the Rutledge issue. There's a reason for that, I think: they can't rebut. Maybe you'd like to try? I mean that in a friendly way. It's been frustrating that no one in the Lincoln world has seen fit to take up Hanchett's challenge.

(06-25-2014 06:51 AM)Rob Wick Wrote:  Hello Lewis.

We put far too much emphasis (thanks to Herndon) on whether Ann Rutledge was Lincoln's "greatest" love. She was A love, but I doubt she was his greatest. I wonder whether Lincoln ever had a "greatest" love other than the love he felt for his biological mother. Your attempts to conflate the Rutledge story with whether or not Lincoln's primary erotic response was same-sex are well-laid out in your articles and your decision to work with C.A. Tripp, so I don't want to rehash them here. However, as I've constantly said, you never prove it. There were witnesses in New Salem who were just as credible, although you dismiss them by showing those who never saw evidence of a romance. I would hazard a guess that there were a number of people even in the small hamlet of New Salem who didn't know anything about what their neighbors did behind closed doors. James Randall--actually Ruth, since it was she who wrote "Sifting the Ann Rutledge Evidence" in his biography--constantly had it out for Herndon because he didn't practice what Randall termed "historianship." Randall had a lot of influence in the mid 20th century but John Simon and Douglas Wilson did much to restore Herndon's work, which has been savagely and unfairly criticized here (among other places).

As for Lincoln's sexual orientation, I will leave you with just one question. What does it matter? I don't discount Tripp's thesis because I find homosexuality repugnant (as I've told you in the past). I discount it because it's irrelevant and because there's no direct physical evidence; only a lot of innuendo from a determined advocate for a cause, which is what Tripp was. I would be interested to see where Sandburg and Roy Basler talk about "the sexual problem" given that it could mean what you think, or it could mean the sexual encounters Lincoln had with frontier prostitutes. And I have thoroughly combed Ida Tarbell's papers (which I suggested you or someone else do) and there is no references to her candidly or discretely talking about anything relating to Lincoln's sexual life.

Can you or anyone else show that but for Lincoln's sexual orientation, he would have issued or retracted the Emancipation Proclamation? No. Would he have directed the Civil War differently? No. Whether or not Lincoln's primary erotic response was same-sex is as irrelevant as to whether Lincoln was attracted to flaxen-haired daughters of frontier shopkeepers. It tells us something about who he was, but in the end it tells us very little about who he really was.

Best
Rob

Hi Rob. Good to hear from you. I have several things to say in reply & will get back to you later. In the meantime here's a comment on the "Does it matter?" question, which I myself have already raised in this thread. I'll put it bluntly: Does accurate history matter? Well of course it does, and that includes being frank about private lives. Lest you think that the private lives of significant historical figures are out of bounds, please tell me why John Y. Simon, Douglas L. Wilson, Michael Burlingame, and a host of other estimable Lincoln scholars have devoted copious quantities of print to the Ann Rutledge story. Why bother with Mary Todd if the private sphere doesn't matter? Rob, we've been over this before. Answer the question: If Lincoln's sexuality "doesn't matter," why does any element of private life matter?
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06-25-2014, 09:32 AM
Post: #224
RE: Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
"L Verge, I'm curious. Why the remark about Burlingame bubbles? For myself, I find him puzzling. He's a meticulous scholar in many ways but seems to have blind spots a mile wide."

I can only answer that I feel the same way as you. Dr. Burlingame is a wonderful researcher, but I think he stretches a bit in writing the outcome of that research. I also have a personal "grudge" against him for his Herndon-like hatred of Mrs. Lincoln!
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06-25-2014, 09:41 AM (This post was last modified: 06-25-2014 09:47 AM by Lewis Gannett.)
Post: #225
RE: Lincoln and Ann Rutledge
(06-25-2014 06:23 AM)Gene C Wrote:  
(06-25-2014 01:55 AM)Lewis Gannett Wrote:  And how on earth did you read about "heart of a thousand strings"? Henry Whitney quoted Lincoln saying that about "sexual contact." A striking thing to say for all kinds of reasons. Actually, it's quite an important quote. Where did you see it?


I am unfamiliar with that quote. Can someone post it (in it's context) along with the circumstances it was said - if known, and keeping in mind we want to keep this discussion suitable for young students.

Since Lincoln might have been familiar with that hymn, that would be quite a shift from it's original use.

Gene C, about "heart of a thousand strings":

The source is a letter from Henry C. Whitney to Herndon dated June 23, 1887 (late in Hendon's investigation, which is interesting). You'll find it in Herndon's Informants, p. 617. About "context": I leave it up to you to establish your own sense of context. Go to HI, read Whitney's letter, form your own conclusions. Here's a partial quote. By the way, Whitney crossed it out, but it remained legible. What might that mean? Take a stab at figuring it out, Gene C!

"My opinion is (somewhat unlike yours) that Lincoln would have greatly enjoyed married life if he had go [sic] either Ann Rutledge or Miss Edwards. I think he would have been very fond of a wife had he had one to suit. But I also doubt if he would have been as great a man as he was. I have heard him say over & over again about sexual contact. 'It is the harp of a thousand strings.' Oliver Davis thought his mind run on sexual [matters] [unintelligible]."
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