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Carl Sandburg and Lincoln - Rob Wick - 07-07-2012 02:14 PM

From time to time, I've mentioned that I am working on a book about Carl Sandburg's lifetime of study regarding Lincoln. While I acknowledge that Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and Abraham Lincoln: The War Years are how most people know of Sandburg and Lincoln, not many people are aware that from 1904 to his death in 1967, Sandburg did many other things regarding Lincoln in various medias, i.e., poetry, film, audio recordings and others.

One of the things I am studying is popular reaction to Sandburg vs. those on the academic stage. I would like to know from the members here what they think of Sandburg and, more importantly, why they think it. Is he still relevant to the study of Lincoln? Would you recommend his work to others?

Just as an avatar is my favorite picture of Sandburg and Lincoln. As I told Roger, if I'm fortunate enough to get the book published, that is what I want to use for the cover.


RE: Carl Sandburg and Lincoln - HerbS - 07-07-2012 02:49 PM

Sure,Sandburg is a legend!My Mentor in 1966 [Albert Castel] worshiped Sandburg and Catton.Carl Sandburg and Ambrose Bierce were probably the best "writers" of thier time!

RE: Carl Sandburg and Lincoln - LincolnMan - 07-17-2012 01:16 PM

Sandburg is my "first love." His monumental work on Lincoln was my introduction to him as a 12 year old boy. My thirst for Lincoln has only grown since. I still recommend him to others-especially the one volume edition. Of course I'm aware of certain "problems" connected with the work. Don't all works have their problems? I also am very familiar with Sandburg's poetry concerning Lincoln. Love it all.

Rob: forgot to mention- love your avatar!

RE: Carl Sandburg and Lincoln - Rob Wick - 07-17-2012 06:46 PM

Thanks Bill.

Sandburg takes a very interesting picture, but having a world famous photographer for a brother-in-law probably made a bit of a difference.


RE: Carl Sandburg and Lincoln - LincolnMan - 07-19-2012 12:22 PM

Rob: And speaking of Sandburg and Lincoln-I purchased the DVD of Lincoln by Sandburg last year. Hal Holbrook as Lincoln. What did you think? Have you seen it?

RE: Carl Sandburg and Lincoln - Rob Wick - 07-19-2012 12:26 PM


I have. From a dramatic standpoint, it was good. Historically, I think it pretty well marks the nadir of Sandburg's public influence. Many people who saw it probably went out and bought the single-volume biography, but by then he was more a brand name then a historian/biographer. (Edit: of course, by that time he was dead, but I mean people didn't see him as a Lincoln biographer but more like a brand of soap. "Carl Sandburg's Abraham Lincoln")

I thought Sada Thompson was especially good as Mary Todd Lincoln. I think Hal Holbrook made a good Lincoln, although some times I felt his make-up made him look like Herman Munster.Smile


RE: Carl Sandburg and Lincoln - LincolnMan - 07-19-2012 12:46 PM

You made a particular point I have also made to others-that makeup on Mr. Lincoln- OMG! On the other hand-was Lincoln actually that ugly looking?

RE: Carl Sandburg and Lincoln - Craig Hipkins - 07-19-2012 06:15 PM

(07-19-2012 12:46 PM)LincolnMan Wrote:  You made a particular point I have also made to others-that makeup on Mr. Lincoln- OMG! On the other hand-was Lincoln actually that ugly looking?

I believe Stanton referred to Lincoln as looking like a "baboon."

Before the Lincoln-Douglas debates he had his photo taken by a photographer named Pearson. He asked Lincoln if he wanted "to fix up" before taking the photograph. Lincoln replied "It would not be much of a likeness if I fixed up any."


RE: Carl Sandburg and Lincoln - LincolnMan - 07-19-2012 06:45 PM

Craig: great story! Of course, Lincoln was well aware of his looks. Must have been a wonder to him that Mary Todd would fall in love with him.

RE: Carl Sandburg and Lincoln - J. Beckert - 07-19-2012 07:03 PM

Roger - Do you know Lincoln's penknife story? The one where I think he said he got his knife from a man who said he was given it by someone who thought he was ugly and told him if he ever met an uglier man to pass the knife onto him?

RE: Carl Sandburg and Lincoln - LincolnMan - 07-19-2012 08:20 PM

I don't know about the penknife connection. The story as I heard it was that a stranger approached Lincoln and informed him that he had vowed to himself to kill the first man uglier than himself. When he met Lincoln, he felt he had found that man. Poor Lincoln. Sad

And speaking of Hal Holbrook. I think I heard he has a role in the new Lincoln movie coming out this November. Of course, he is not playing Lincoln this time but Francis Blair.

RE: Carl Sandburg and Lincoln - RJNorton - 07-23-2012 11:01 AM

Joe, I do not think I have heard that one.

I have heard of this one:

Riding along a road, he was met by a woman. As she passed the woman looked at him intently and finally observed: "Well, you are the ugliest man I ever saw." "Perhaps so," admitted the unfortunate fellow, somewhat crestfallen, "but I can't help that, madam." "No, I suppose not," agreed the woman, "but you might stay at home."

RE: Carl Sandburg and Lincoln - LincolnMan - 07-23-2012 11:09 AM

Roger. I have told that story many times over the years-but always with the caution that it may not have actually happened.

RE: Carl Sandburg and Lincoln - RJNorton - 07-23-2012 01:00 PM

Bill, Rob Wick and I have talked in the past about the unreliability of Emanuel Hertz. But the story is in Hertz' Lincoln Talks on p. 89. The source given is "Told by Ezra M. Prince to James S. Ewing."

Do you have that book?

I do not know anything about Ezra M. Prince. I checked Herndon's Informants and drew a blank. Same with the Fehrenbachers' Recollected Words.

I also checked Zall's book, and it has the knife story mentioned above, but not this one.

Possibly if we could track Prince down we could get to the bottom of this regarding an actual source.

However, I did find where Ewing apparently told the story here.

RE: Carl Sandburg and Lincoln - Thomas Thorne - 07-25-2012 08:06 PM

I recently finished a 1927 complete edition of the Prairie Years which I got for $1 thru an Amazon.Com affiliate. I highly recommend it as literature to a general audience but I can comprehend the academic disdain and downright jealousy it has inspired.