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Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
12-26-2017, 08:57 PM (This post was last modified: 12-26-2017 11:23 PM by David Lockmiller.)
Post: #31
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
(12-19-2017 08:32 PM)STS Lincolnite Wrote:  Douglas Wilson, in his book Lincoln’s Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words makes mention of these punctuation habits and how John Defrees at the Government printing office had the unenviable task of trying to edit the state papers that Lincoln sent to be printed.

In the July following Mr. Lincoln's inauguration, an extra session of Congress was called. In the message then sent in, speaking of secession, and the measures taken by the Southern leaders to bring it about, there occurs the following sentence: "With rebellion thus sugar-coated, they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than thirty years; until, at length, they have brought many good men to a willingness to take up arms against the Government," etc. Mr. Defrees, the government printer, told me that, when the message was being printed, he was a good deal disturbed by the use use of the term "sugar-coated," and finally went to the President about it. Their relations to each other being of the most intimate character, he told Mr. Lincoln frankly, that he ought to remember that a message to Congress was a different affair from a speech at a mass-meeting in Illinois; that the messages became a part of history, and should be written accordingly.

"What is the matter now?" inquired the President.

"Why," said Mr. Defrees, "you have used an undignified expression in the message;" and then, reading the paragraph aloud, he added, "I would alter the structure of that if I were you."

"Defrees," replied Mr. Lincoln, "that word expresses precisely my idea, and I am not going to change it. The time will never come in this country when the people won't know exactly what sugar-coated means!"

(Francis Carpenter, "Six Months at the White House," pages 126-27)

Mr. Douglas Wilson was wrong in writing: "[Mr. Defrees] had the unenviable task of trying to edit the state papers that Lincoln sent to be printed." Mr. Defrees did, in fact, make necessary and successful contribution in his work with President Lincoln.

On a subsequent occasion, Mr. Defrees told me, a certain sentence of another message was very awkwardly constructed. Calling the President's attention to it in the proof-copy, the latter acknowledged the force of the objection raised, and said, "Go home, Defrees, and see if you can better it." The next day Mr. Defrees took in to him his amendment. Mr. Lincoln met him by saying: "Seward found the same fault that you did, and he has been rewriting the paragraph also." Then, reading Mr. Dufrrees's version, he said, "I believe you have beaten Seward; but, 'I jings,' I think I can beat you both." Then, taking up his pen, he wrote the sentence as it was finally printed."

(Francis Carpenter, "Six Months at the White House," page 127.)

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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01-04-2018, 11:32 AM (This post was last modified: 01-04-2018 11:38 AM by David Lockmiller.)
Post: #32
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
(12-26-2017 08:57 PM)David Lockmiller Wrote:  Mr. Defrees, the government printer, told me that, when the message was being printed, he was a good deal disturbed by the use use of the term "sugar-coated," and finally went to the President about it.

"Defrees," replied Mr. Lincoln, "that word expresses precisely my idea, and I am not going to change it. The time will never come in this country when the people won't know exactly what sugar-coated means!"

(Francis Carpenter, "Six Months at the White House," pages 126-27)

Last night, I was watching the local news here in San Francisco. The news reporter began the reporting of the first story (which is usually the most important story to the local community) with these words: "There's no "sugar-coating" it . . . ."

This morning I read online the coverage of the same story in a different publication which I copy here:

"Each winter, California officials trudge up the Sierra Nevada to measure the snowpack, with news cameras watching closely. Last year, there was a thick blanket of white. This year, the blanket had turned to a crunchy brown.

Roughly one-third of California’s water supply comes from runoff in the Sierras — snowpack measurements are critical to help plan how much water cities and agricultural areas will receive."

So, a century and a half later, President Lincoln was proven right once again. As usual, Abraham Lincoln was "right as rain," or, in this case, "snow." (Sorry about that!)

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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03-13-2018, 11:16 AM
Post: #33
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
(12-14-2017 10:26 PM)ELCore Wrote:  In Recollected Words, the Fehrenbachers note that Gen. Sickle's recall of Lincoln's words (supposedly on July 5, 1863) was published in a newspaper on February 12, 1911 — almost 46 years after the fact. And that one James Rusling of Gen. Sickles staff published a very different account of Lincoln's words, in 1895. That is, there is more than a little doubt about what Lincoln may or may not have said to Sickles about Gettysburg.

The next time I saw Mr. Lincoln was on Sunday, July 5, 1863 – the Sunday after the battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg – and it happened on this wise: Gettysburg was fought on July 1, 2, and 3, 1863. In the great conflict of Thursday, July 2 – (held by many to have been the real battle of Gettysburg, because of the heavy fighting and tremendous Confederate losses, which sapped the life of Lee’s army) – General Daniel E. Sickles, of N. Y. commanding the Third Corps, had lost his right leg, and on the Sunday following (July 5) arrived in Washington, D.C., with his leg amputated above the knee. He was taken to a private dwelling on F Street, nearly opposite the Ebbitt House; and here I found him in a front room on the first floor, resting on a hospital stretcher, when I called to see him, about 3 P.M. I was then a Lieutenant Colonel on his staff, and naturally anxious to see my chief.

We had not been talking long, when his orderly announced his Excellency the President; and immediately afterward Mr. Lincoln walked into the room, accompanied by his son “Tad,” then a lad of perhaps ten or twelve years. He was staying out at the Soldier’s Home; but, having learned of General Sickles’s arrival in Washington, rode in on horseback to call on him, with a squad of cavalry as escort. They shook hands cordially, but pathetically; and it was easy to see that they both held each other in high esteem. They were both born politicians. They both loved the Union sincerely and heartily. And Sickles had already shown such high qualities, both as statesman and soldier, that Lincoln had been quick to perceive his weight and value in the great struggle then shaking the nation. Besides Sickles was a War Democrat, astute and able; and Mr. Lincoln was too shrewd a Republican to pass any of these by in those perilous war days.

Greetings over, Mr. Lincoln dropped into a chair, and, crossing his prodigious arms and legs, soon fell to questioning Sickles, as to all the phases of the combat at Gettysburg. He asked first, of course, as to General Sickles’s own ghastly wound; when and how it happened, and how he was getting on, and encouraged him; then passed next to our great casualties there, and how the wounded were being cared for; and finally came to the magnitude and significance of the victory there, and what General Meade proposed to do with it.

Sickles, recumbent on his stretcher, with a cigar between his fingers, puffing it leisurely, answered Mr. Lincoln in detail, but warily, as became so astute a man and soldier; and discussed the great battle and its probable consequences with a lucidity and ability remarkable in his condition then – enfeebled and exhausted as he was by the shock and danger of such a wound and amputation. Occasionally he would wince with pain, and call sharply to his orderly to wet his fevered stump with water. But he never dropped his cigar, nor lost the thread of narrative, nor missed the point of their discussion. His intellect certainly seemed as strong and astute as ever; and in an acquaintance with him of now over thirty-five years I never saw it work more accurately and keenly. He certainly got his side of the story of Gettysburg well into the President’s mind and heart that Sunday afternoon; and this doubtless stood him in good stead afterward, when Meade proposed to court-martial him for fighting so magnificently, if unskillfully ( which remains to be proved), on that bloody and historic July 2d.

“No,” replied Honest Old Abe: “no, we can’t do that. General Sickles may have erred; we are all liable to! But at any rate he fought superbly! He gave his leg – his life almost – for the Union! And now there is glory enough to go around for all.”

When Mr. Lincoln’s inquiries seemed ended General Sickles, after a puff or two of his cigar in silence, resumed the conversation substantially as follows:

“Well, Mr. President, I beg pardon, but what did you think about Gettysburg? What was your opinion of things while we were campaigning and fighting up there?”

“Oh,” replied Mr. Lincoln, I didn’t think much about it. I was not much concerned about you!”

“You were not?” rejoined Sickles, as if amazed. “Why, we heard that you Washington folds were a good deal excited, and you certainly had good cause to be. For it was ‘nip and tuck’ with us a good deal of the time!”

“Yes, I know that. And I suppose some of us were a little ‘rattled.’ Indeed, some of the Cabinet talked of Washington’s being captured, and ordered a gunboat or two here, and even went so far as to send some government archives abroad, and wanted me to go, too, but I refused. Stanton and Welles, I believe, were both ‘stampeded’ somewhat, and Seward, I reckon, too. But I said: ‘No, gentlemen, we are all right and we are going to win at Gettysburg;’ and we did, right handsomely. No, General Sickles, I had no fears of Gettysburg!”

“Why not, Mr. President? How was that? Pretty much everybody down here, we hear, was more or less panicky.”

“Yes, I expect, and a good many more than will own up now. But actually General Sickles, I had no fears of Gettysburg and if you really want to know I will tell you why. Of course, I don’t want you and Colonel Rusling here to say anything about this – at least not now. People might laugh if it got out, you know. But the fact is, in the very pinch of the campaign there, I went to my room one day and got down on my knees, and prayed Almighty God for victory at Gettysburg. I told Him that this was His country, and the war was His war, but that we really couldn’t stand another Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville. And then and there I made a solemn vow with my Maker, that if He would stand by you boys at Gettysburg, I would stand by Him.

“And after thus wrestling with the Almighty in prayer, I don’t know how it was, and it is not for me to explain, but, somehow or other, a sweet comfort crept into my soul, that God Almighty had taken the whole business there into His own hands, and we were bound to win at Gettysburg! And He did stand by you boys at Gettysburg, and now I will stand by Him. No, General Sickles, I had no fears of Gettysburg, and that is the why!”

Mr. Lincoln said all this with great solemnity and impressiveness, almost as Moses might have spoken when he came down from Sinai. When he had concluded there was a pause in the conversation, that nobody seemed disposed to break. Mr. Lincoln especially seemed to be communing the Infinite One again. The first to speak was General Sickles, who, between the puffs of his cigar, presently resumed, as follows:

“Well, Mr. President, what are you thinking about Vicksburg, nowadays? How are things getting along down there?”

“Oh,” answered Mr. Lincoln, very gravely, “I don’t quite know. Grant is still pegging away down there. As we used to say out in Illinois, I think he ‘will make a spoon or spoil a horn’ he gets through. Some of our folks think him slow and want me to remove him. But, to tell the truth, I kind of like U. S. Grant. He doesn’t worry and bother me. He isn’t shrieking for reinforcements all the time. He takes what troops we can safely give him, considering our big job all around – and we have a pretty big job in this war – and does the best he can with what he has got, and doesn’t grumble and scold all the while. Yes, I confess, I like General Grant – U. S. Grant – ‘Uncle Sam Grant!’ [dwelling humorously on this last name.] There is a great deal to him, first and last. And, Heaven helping me, unless something happens more than I see now. I mean to stand by Grant a good while yet.

“So, then, you have no fears about Vicksburg either, Mr. President?” added General Sickles.

“Well, no; I can’t say that I have,” replied Mr. Lincoln, very soberly: “the fact is – I have been praying to Almighty God for Vicksburg also. I have wrestled with Him, and told Him how much we need the Mississippi, and how it ought to flow unvexed to the sea, and how that great valley ought to be forever free, and I reckon He understands the whole business down there, ‘from A to Izzard.’ I have done the very best I could to help General Grant along, and all the rest of our generals, though some of them don’t think so, and now it is kind of borne in on me that somehow or other we are going to win at Vicksburg too. I can’t tell how soon. But I believe we will. For this will save the Mississippi and bisect the Confederacy; and be in line with God’s laws besides. And if Grant only does this thing down there – I don’t care much how, so he does it right – why, Grant is my man and I am his the rest of this war!”

Of course, Mr. Lincoln did not then know that Vicksburg had already fallen, on July 4, and that a United States gunboat was then speeding its way up the Mississippi to Cairo with the glorious news that was soon to thrill the country and the civilized world through and through. Gettysburg and Vicksburg! Our great twin Union victories! What were they not to us in that fateful summer of 1863? And what would have happened to the American Republic had both gone the other way? Of course, I do not pretend to say that Abraham Lincoln’s faith and prayers saved Gettysburg and Vicksburg. But they certainly did not do the Union any harm. And to him his serene confidence in victory there, because of these was a comfort and joy most beautiful to behold, on that memorable July 5, 1863.

I never saw Mr. Lincoln again. In November, 1863, while serving at General Meade’s headquarters (Army of the Potomac), I was suddenly ordered West to Tennessee (Department of the Cumberland) by Secretary Stanton; and I was still there in 1865, when Mr. Lincoln was assassinated.

[Laurie, I added the following for you regarding how well we can depend on people’s accounts of what has actually been said by Lincoln.]

But this conversation made a deep impression upon me, and seems worthy to be recorded here. Clearly it settles the questio vexata of his religious faith forever. Perhaps it should be added that I made notes of it shortly afterward, and have often told it since, and now give it here as literally as possible – much of it ipsissima verba (meaning “the precise words”).

-- James F. Rusling, “Men and Things I Saw in Civil War Days” (New York: Eaton & Mains, 1899), pages 12 - 17.

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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03-13-2018, 11:29 AM
Post: #34
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
David, thank you for one compelling post!
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03-13-2018, 12:03 PM
Post: #35
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
Thanks, David. I will never be a Lincoln scholar like some of you, but the questioning of Lincoln's religious beliefs has truly been a "question vexata" to me for years. From the little bit that I have read, there seems to be so many instances of Lincoln calling on God that I cannot fathom how Lincoln scholars have called his faith into question.

Does anyone know exactly when this belief in his non-belief really got started? Was it questioned during his political life, after his death, not until 20th-century liberalism? Who is the guilty party for getting it started?
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03-13-2018, 01:28 PM (This post was last modified: 03-13-2018 01:39 PM by Gene C.)
Post: #36
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
Herndon's view on Lincoln's religious beliefs has been a source of much of the misunderstanding of Lincoln.

From what I can recall, the talk about his non-belief goes back to his New Salem days, a young man away from home and the influence of his parents and family.
He makes his own friends, some highly intelligent people who have different religious views than what he may have been accustom to. Supposedly influenced by his new acquaintances, his faith and understanding of God is challenged and changes away from what he had previously accepted.

For most of us, our knowledge and faith in God changes some over time as we have more life experiences. The difficulties and challenges of life can draw your closer, or push you further away, in your relationship with God. Lincoln was no different. The death of his mother, sister and her baby, and Ann Rutledge, certainly caused him to have questions not easily answered.

He seems to have been very frustrated with the moral issue of slavery (as he saw it) and the justification of a different viewpoint of the moral view of slavery taken by many of the religious leaders and preachers of his day. Many of them found what the felt were scriptural reasons to not interfere and to accept slavery as part of God's plan. This is given as one reason he was not known to have "officially" joined a specific church. That, and at an early age, he is known to have mocked the overly expressive and overly zealous presentations of many of the traveling preachers sermons, who he may have viewed as being hypocritical.

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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03-13-2018, 01:55 PM
Post: #37
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
(03-13-2018 01:28 PM)Gene C Wrote:  From what I can recall, the talk about his non-belief goes back to his New Salem days, a young man away from home and the influence of his parents and family.

I have read that in 1834 Lincoln wrote his own pamphlet about religion in which he expressed his personal religious skepticism. Samuel Hill, a New Salem friend and miller to whom Lincoln showed the small book, was totally shocked by what Lincoln had to say and tried to persuade Lincoln to destroy it. But Lincoln wanted to publish it. Thinking it would destroy Lincoln's future, Hill is said to have snatched it from Lincoln's hands and to have thrown it into the fire.
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03-13-2018, 02:30 PM
Post: #38
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
Lincoln's antipathy toward organized religion had its genesis in the forests of Indiana when Lincoln would mimic the various itinerant preachers he heard come through the region. He took that with him to New Salem where by that point he had pretty much become an atheist. I also have to think that some of it came about as his rejection of his father continued to gel. By this point his mother was long dead and his sister had died, and he saw no evidence that God played a role in the day-to-day activities of man, hence the claim by many biographers that he was at least a deist.

There are two Lincolns as far as his religious life is concerned. The first came about as a young man who rejected religion and then that started to chip away as he grew older and Eddie died. The second part came when the Civil War started. After suffering the loss of Willie and seeing the suffering that soldiers experienced, his faith grew, more as a salve for his own pain.

My own belief is that had Lincoln not been president and Willie not died, he would have died with the combination of a form of faith along with skepticism of organized religion.

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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03-13-2018, 05:46 PM
Post: #39
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
"My own belief is that had Lincoln not been president and Willie not died, he would have died with the combination of a form of faith along with skepticism of organized religion."

I think you are probably right, Rob, but I would add that had he not been President during a bloody civil war. The thought of the thousands who were dying each day had to give him pause or at least some hope of a divine being who would take these souls to a better life.

Personally, I can also relate to his skepticism of organized religion... Do we know if he ever met Henry Ward Beecher?
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03-14-2018, 02:00 AM (This post was last modified: 03-14-2018 02:04 AM by AussieMick.)
Post: #40
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
They met on 1st Feb 1865 and discussed the peace negotiations with the South.

Page 318 of Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln
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03-14-2018, 08:32 AM
Post: #41
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
(03-14-2018 02:00 AM)AussieMick Wrote:  They met on 1st Feb 1865 and discussed the peace negotiations with the South.

Page 318 of Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln

Thank you. I suspect that the meeting was more political than religious, but I wonder if Rev. Beecher brought back early memories of Lincoln's then-Bible Belt?
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03-14-2018, 10:46 AM
Post: #42
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
(03-13-2018 12:03 PM)L Verge Wrote:  Thanks, David. I will never be a Lincoln scholar like some of you, but the questioning of Lincoln's religious beliefs has truly been a "question vexata" to me for years. From the little bit that I have read, there seems to be so many instances of Lincoln calling on God that I cannot fathom how Lincoln scholars have called his faith into question.

I thought it a relevant observation that in using the President's "exact" (ipsissima verba) words, James F. Rusling quoted Lincoln regarding his prayer before Gettysburg with these words:

"[T]he fact is, in the very pinch of the campaign there, I went to my room one day and got down on my knees, and prayed Almighty God for victory at Gettysburg. I told Him that this was His country, and the war was His war, but that we really couldn’t stand another Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville. . . . And after thus wrestling with the Almighty in prayer, I don’t know how it was, and it is not for me to explain, but, somehow or other, a sweet comfort crept into my soul, that God Almighty had taken the whole business there into His own hands, and we were bound to win at Gettysburg!"

Who but President Abraham Lincoln would "wrestle" with Almighty God in prayer?

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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03-14-2018, 02:58 PM
Post: #43
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
(03-14-2018 10:46 AM)David Lockmiller Wrote:  
(03-13-2018 12:03 PM)L Verge Wrote:  Thanks, David. I will never be a Lincoln scholar like some of you, but the questioning of Lincoln's religious beliefs has truly been a "question vexata" to me for years. From the little bit that I have read, there seems to be so many instances of Lincoln calling on God that I cannot fathom how Lincoln scholars have called his faith into question.

I thought it a relevant observation that in using the President's "exact" (ipsissima verba) words, James F. Rusling quoted Lincoln regarding his prayer before Gettysburg with these words:

"[T]he fact is, in the very pinch of the campaign there, I went to my room one day and got down on my knees, and prayed Almighty God for victory at Gettysburg. I told Him that this was His country, and the war was His war, but that we really couldn’t stand another Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville. . . . And after thus wrestling with the Almighty in prayer, I don’t know how it was, and it is not for me to explain, but, somehow or other, a sweet comfort crept into my soul, that God Almighty had taken the whole business there into His own hands, and we were bound to win at Gettysburg!"

Who but President Abraham Lincoln would "wrestle" with Almighty God in prayer?

Jacob (Genesis 32)
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03-15-2018, 10:20 AM
Post: #44
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
Most of what we know of Lincoln’s early life is from Herndon, who was adamant about Lincoln’s religious state: Lincoln, at New Salem, had acquired a reputation as an infidel, a label for a non-Christian. Lincoln had written a small book attacking Christianity on a rational basis. Espousing such a non-belief in Christianity in central Illinois in the 1830’s was political suicide, and his friend Samuel Hill burned the book. Lincoln's beliefs no doubt evolved, but there is no written evidence that he rejected his position. But certainly he became more discreet.

In 1846, Lincoln ran for Congress against the formidable Reverend Peter Cartwright, who was accusing Lincoln of infidelity and had referred to Lincoln as a “religious scoffer.” Lincoln published a pamphlet to answer the charge. In this pamphlet Lincoln admits to having believed “in early life” in the Doctrine of Necessity, which is also known as necessitarianism, an extreme form of determinism that holds that all phenomena, including the will, are subject to immutable rules of cause and effect. The Doctrine of Necessity might appear to contradict Christianity’s belief in Jesus as the messiah. But Lincoln did say in the pamphlet that although he “was not a member of any Christian Church,” he had “never denied the truth of the Scriptures and [had] never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or any denomination of Christians in particular.” However one chooses to interpret this statement, it is not a ringing denial of Cartwright’s charge.

Did Lincoln ever become a “conventional” Christian, as a nineteenth century person might understand the term? I don’t think so, and I really can’t see him on his knees praying to God for victory at Gettysburg. I don’t think Lincoln’s rational mind would admit to “wrestling” with God—no human could win such a contest. However, I also think that he never lost belief in the existence of an omniscient and omnipotent God, the being he refers to in the Second Inaugural Address.
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03-15-2018, 11:57 AM
Post: #45
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
(03-14-2018 02:58 PM)Leon Greene Wrote:  
(03-14-2018 10:46 AM)David Lockmiller Wrote:  Who but President Abraham Lincoln would "wrestle" with Almighty God in prayer?

Jacob (Genesis 32)

I thought that you might be interested in a brief excerpt from F. B. Carpenter's book, "The Inner Life of Abraham Lincoln, Six Months at the White House," (1879) pages 261-62:

Captain Mix, (the commander, at one period, of the President's body-guard), was frequently invited to breakfast with the family at the "Home" residence. "Many times," said he, "have I listened to our most eloquent preachers, but never with the same feeling of awe and reverence, as when our Christian President, his arm around his son, with his deep, earnest tone, each morning read a chapter from the Bible."

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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