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Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
12-09-2015, 11:42 AM (This post was last modified: 12-09-2015 11:45 AM by Gene C.)
Post: #76
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
(12-09-2015 11:22 AM)maharba Wrote:  "Lincoln saw the value of weaving in Bible platitudes into his speeches, but not into his actual worldview."

I cannot see Seward advising Lincoln to add this or that Bible phrase to his speeches nor that Lincoln needed any advise in this matter >

Didn't Chase write the last paragraph of the Emancipation Proclamation and to fittingly include GOD, over the objections of Lincoln? Didn't William Seward himself compose the entirety of the Thanksgiving Proclamation? Didn't Abraham Lincoln mock God and Christianity to 'sophisticated folks'?

"Oh, this is some of Seward's nonsense and it pleases the fools!"
--President Abraham Lincoln

To not accept that Lincoln believed what he wrote and said, at the time he wrote and said them, is to characterize him as a fraud and liar. Is this your point?

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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12-09-2015, 01:26 PM (This post was last modified: 12-09-2015 01:26 PM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #77
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
(12-09-2015 11:22 AM)maharba Wrote:  "Oh, this is some of Seward's nonsense and it pleases the fools!"
--President Abraham Lincoln
Did he reliably say this? I can only find one 1924 source. Roger, do you know? Do the Fehrenbachers comment on this one?
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12-09-2015, 01:57 PM
Post: #78
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
Eva, I think the source is supposed to be Judge James N. Nelson, but I do not see him included in the Fehrenbachers' book. Offhand I do not recall seeing this quote in any of my Lincoln books. My best guess is that it is apocryphal, but I don't know for certain.
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12-09-2015, 02:08 PM (This post was last modified: 12-09-2015 02:48 PM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #79
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
Thanks, Roger! I cannot find anything specific about this judged and his relationship with Abraham Lincoln.
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12-09-2015, 02:15 PM
Post: #80
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
(12-09-2015 02:08 PM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  Thanks, Roger! I cannot find anything specific about this judged and his relationship with Abraham Lincoln.

Same here, Eva. The claim is made that Nelson was an intimate acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln during his Presidency, but so far I cannot find evidence of this.
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12-09-2015, 02:17 PM (This post was last modified: 12-09-2015 02:55 PM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #81
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
Thanks, Roger. It's probably like with all the many who claimed to have assisted carrying the President to Peterson House and been present at his deathbed.
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12-10-2015, 01:06 PM
Post: #82
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
In 1906, a man by the name of John E. Remsburg wrote a book titled Six Historic Americans in which he attempted to show that Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant were either deists or freethinkers. In his 365-page book, Remsburg focused 317 pages on Lincoln, methodically going through Lincoln's life and giving quotes from those who claimed to witness events or conversations that proved Lincoln was a freethinker. In the chapter on the Washington years, Remsburg mentioned Judge James M. Nelson. Here, in its entirety, is what he wrote:

The last, and in some respects the most important, of our Washington witnesses is Judge James M. Nelson. Judge Nelson for many years has been a resident of New York, but he formerly lived in Kentucky and Illinois, Lincoln's native and adopted states. He is a son of Thomas Pope Nelson, a distinguished member of Congress from Kentucky, and the first United States Minister to Turkey. His great grandfather was Thomas Nelson, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence from Virginia. He was long and intimately acquainted with Lincoln both in Illinois and Washington. About the close of 1886, or early in 1887, Judge Nelson published his "Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln" in the Louisville, Ky., Times. In reference to Lincoln's religious opinions he says: "In religion, Mr. Lincoln was about of the same belief as Bob Ingersoll, and there is no account of his ever having changed. He went to church a few times with his family while he was President, but so far as I have been able to find out he remained an unbeliever."

"Mr. Lincoln in his younger days wrote a book," says Judge Nelson, ''in which he endeavored to prove tlie fallacy of the plan of salvation and the divinity of Christ."

I have yet another passage from Judge Nelson's "Reminiscences" to present, a passage which, more than anything else in this volume, perhaps, is calculated to provoke the wrath of Christian claimants. To lend an air of plausibility to their claims these claimants are continually citing expressions of a seemingly semi-pious character occasionally to be met with in his speeches and state papers. These expressions, in a measure accounted for by Mr. Herndon, Colonel Lamon, and others, are still further explained by a revelation from his own lips. Judge Nelson says: "I asked him once about his fervent Thanksgiving Message and twitted him with being an unbeliever in what was published. ' Oh,' said he, ' that is some of Seward's nonsense, and it pleases the fools.'"

Source: Six Historic Americans: Paine, Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Lincoln, Grant. The Fathers and Saviors of Our Republic, Freethinkers (New York: The Truth Seeker Company, 1906) pgs. 261-262.

Whether this is the first reference to Nelson's work outside of his Louisville Times article, I don't know. The paper has not been digitized therefore I could not find the article in which he made the claim. Before I could pass judgement on it, I would have to see in its entirety what Nelson says and how what he says in respect to other topics matches the historical record. For instance, in what part of Illinois did the two know each other? Given that Nelson was a lawyer, it wouldn't be beyond reason to believe the two knew each other on the Eighth Judicial Circuit, yet there is no mention of him in Guy Fraker's history of Lincoln's time there. There are no letters in the Collected Works between the two and nothing in the Lincoln Legal Papers Project.

In addition, before the Civil War there is some evidence that Nelson was a Democrat. Elizabeth Leonard, writing in the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society about Joseph Holt, notes that in the 1850s Holt received encouragement from several in the Democratic party both inside and outside of Kentucky to run for national office. "Indeed by the end of the 1850s, some in the party considered Holt a serious contender to become the Democratic nominee for the 1860 presidential election," Leonard writes. One source used for this is "James M. Nelson to Joseph Holt, September 26, 1859, container 21."

(Source: "One Kentuckian's Hard Choice: Joseph Holt and Abraham Lincoln", Register of the Kentucky Historical Society Summer/Autumn 2008, pg. 387)

This assumes that Leonard is talking about our James M. Nelson. That Nelson was a Democrat, would not, of course, make it impossible for him to be a friend of Lincoln, but the differences in political views would be a red flag for the two having an "long" and intimate friendship without more evidence. Plus, there is a cunningness in the "fools" quote that simply doesn't sound like Lincoln. It appears that Nelson's reminisces were never published outside of the Louisville paper. At least I found no book in the usual sources.

I have to believe that, without more evidence (and using the Fehrenbacher's grading scale) I would give this quote an "E" and say it is likely inauthentic.

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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12-10-2015, 02:42 PM
Post: #83
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
To not accept that Lincoln believed what he wrote and said, at the time he wrote and said them, is to characterize him as a fraud and liar. Is this your point? >

I'll re-ask my questions,

Didn't Chase write the last paragraph of the Emancipation Proclamation and to fittingly include GOD, over the objections of Lincoln? Didn't William Seward himself compose the entirety of the Thanksgiving Proclamation? Didn't Abraham Lincoln mock God and Christianity to 'sophisticated folks'?

And I'll add to them:
Why was Lincoln even in his final years so resistant to God in his edicts and addresses? DID the original, spoken Gettysburg Address say "under God" or was that added in later, for printed glosses? My guess is that Seward and others told Lincoln to be sure to include that, and he couldn't stomach to saying it out loud.

NO 'politician' is a fraud and a liar. But it put the fly in the ointment when William Herndon set out on his project of documenting the actual Abraham Lincoln, and then he and others starkly laying out Lincoln true beliefs: Atheism. I don't think Lincoln would have been happy to see all the homilies and hoaxes and fabrications extolling his stainless Christian virtues. Instead, I think he would have been proud to rightfully claim his Atheism.
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12-10-2015, 04:54 PM (This post was last modified: 12-10-2015 05:55 PM by Gene C.)
Post: #84
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
Maharba, we are miles apart on our views of Lincoln, but I appreciate your answering my question.

(12-10-2015 02:42 PM)maharba Wrote:  Didn't Chase write the last paragraph of the Emancipation Proclamation and to fittingly include GOD, over the objections of Lincoln? Didn't William Seward himself compose the entirety of the Thanksgiving Proclamation? Didn't Abraham Lincoln mock God and Christianity to 'sophisticated folks'?

And I'll add to them:
Why was Lincoln even in his final years so resistant to God in his edicts and addresses?

I was wondering what your source is that would have you ask those questions? I've never heard such comments from a reliable source.
HuhHuh

As for Herndon, he's not always the most reliable source on these aspects of Lincoln's life per Lincoln's Hendon by David Herbert Donald.

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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12-10-2015, 06:15 PM
Post: #85
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
(12-10-2015 01:06 PM)Rob Wick Wrote:  In 1906, a man by the name of John E. Remsburg wrote a book titled Six Historic Americans in which he attempted to show that Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant were either deists or freethinkers. In his 365-page book, Remsburg focused 317 pages on Lincoln, methodically going through Lincoln's life and giving quotes from those who claimed to witness events or conversations that proved Lincoln was a freethinker. In the chapter on the Washington years, Remsburg mentioned Judge James M. Nelson. Here, in its entirety, is what he wrote:

The last, and in some respects the most important, of our Washington witnesses is Judge James M. Nelson. Judge Nelson for many years has been a resident of New York, but he formerly lived in Kentucky and Illinois, Lincoln's native and adopted states. He is a son of Thomas Pope Nelson, a distinguished member of Congress from Kentucky, and the first United States Minister to Turkey. His great grandfather was Thomas Nelson, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence from Virginia. He was long and intimately acquainted with Lincoln both in Illinois and Washington. About the close of 1886, or early in 1887, Judge Nelson published his "Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln" in the Louisville, Ky., Times. In reference to Lincoln's religious opinions he says: "In religion, Mr. Lincoln was about of the same belief as Bob Ingersoll, and there is no account of his ever having changed. He went to church a few times with his family while he was President, but so far as I have been able to find out he remained an unbeliever."

"Mr. Lincoln in his younger days wrote a book," says Judge Nelson, ''in which he endeavored to prove tlie fallacy of the plan of salvation and the divinity of Christ."

I have yet another passage from Judge Nelson's "Reminiscences" to present, a passage which, more than anything else in this volume, perhaps, is calculated to provoke the wrath of Christian claimants. To lend an air of plausibility to their claims these claimants are continually citing expressions of a seemingly semi-pious character occasionally to be met with in his speeches and state papers. These expressions, in a measure accounted for by Mr. Herndon, Colonel Lamon, and others, are still further explained by a revelation from his own lips. Judge Nelson says: "I asked him once about his fervent Thanksgiving Message and twitted him with being an unbeliever in what was published. ' Oh,' said he, ' that is some of Seward's nonsense, and it pleases the fools.'"

Source: Six Historic Americans: Paine, Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Lincoln, Grant. The Fathers and Saviors of Our Republic, Freethinkers (New York: The Truth Seeker Company, 1906) pgs. 261-262.

Whether this is the first reference to Nelson's work outside of his Louisville Times article, I don't know. The paper has not been digitized therefore I could not find the article in which he made the claim. Before I could pass judgement on it, I would have to see in its entirety what Nelson says and how what he says in respect to other topics matches the historical record. For instance, in what part of Illinois did the two know each other? Given that Nelson was a lawyer, it wouldn't be beyond reason to believe the two knew each other on the Eighth Judicial Circuit, yet there is no mention of him in Guy Fraker's history of Lincoln's time there. There are no letters in the Collected Works between the two and nothing in the Lincoln Legal Papers Project.

In addition, before the Civil War there is some evidence that Nelson was a Democrat. Elizabeth Leonard, writing in the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society about Joseph Holt, notes that in the 1850s Holt received encouragement from several in the Democratic party both inside and outside of Kentucky to run for national office. "Indeed by the end of the 1850s, some in the party considered Holt a serious contender to become the Democratic nominee for the 1860 presidential election," Leonard writes. One source used for this is "James M. Nelson to Joseph Holt, September 26, 1859, container 21."

(Source: "One Kentuckian's Hard Choice: Joseph Holt and Abraham Lincoln", Register of the Kentucky Historical Society Summer/Autumn 2008, pg. 387)

This assumes that Leonard is talking about our James M. Nelson. That Nelson was a Democrat, would not, of course, make it impossible for him to be a friend of Lincoln, but the differences in political views would be a red flag for the two having an "long" and intimate friendship without more evidence. Plus, there is a cunningness in the "fools" quote that simply doesn't sound like Lincoln. It appears that Nelson's reminisces were never published outside of the Louisville paper. At least I found no book in the usual sources.

I have to believe that, without more evidence (and using the Fehrenbacher's grading scale) I would give this quote an "E" and say it is likely inauthentic.

Best
Rob
Thanks, Rob, for sharing this research and conclusion - well reasoned IMO.
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12-11-2015, 12:13 AM
Post: #86
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
Didn't Chase write the last paragraph of the Emancipation Proclamation and to fittingly include GOD, over the objections of Lincoln? Didn't William Seward himself compose the entirety of the Thanksgiving Proclamation?>

Did you fact check any of those? I clicked over to a site called
Abraham Lincoln online it plainly listed this,

"According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln's secretaries, this document (the Thanksgiving Proclamation) was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary how he complimented Seward on his work."

I didn't think any of this was a secret, except to the general public of that day, I suppose. Several other sites online mention this. And that fits very well with Lincoln scorning it as "just some of Seward's nonsense"
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12-11-2015, 08:03 AM
Post: #87
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
(12-10-2015 02:42 PM)maharba Wrote:  Instead, I think he would have been proud to rightfully claim his Atheism.

I am not yet convinced. I continue to feel Lincoln was a deist, not an atheist. I looked for some earlier references to God in Lincoln's writings and speeches. Here are a few examples.

On February 8, 1842, Lincoln gave a eulogy after the death of Benjamin Ferguson, a prominent Springfield businessman. Lincoln referenced God several times:

"Would to God, he had been longer spared to the humane work upon which he had so disinterestedly entered."

"In very truth he was, the noblest work of God---an honest man."

"To Almighty God we commend him; and, in his name, implore the aid and protection, of his omnipotent right arm, for his bereaved and disconsolate family."


In letters to his friend, Joshua Speed, he referenced God. Here are a few examples:

"I hope with tolerable confidence, that this letter is a plaster for a place that is no longer sore. God grant it may be so."

"She accompanied a large party on the Rail Road cars, to Jack-sonville last monday; and on her return, spoke, so that I heard of it, of having enjoyed the trip exceedingly. God be praised for that."

"...I believe God made me one of the instruments of bringing your Fanny and you together, which union, I have no doubt He had fore-ordained. Whatever he designs, he will do for me yet. "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord'' is my text just now."
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12-11-2015, 08:10 AM (This post was last modified: 12-11-2015 09:50 AM by Gene C.)
Post: #88
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
Seward wrote the Thanksgiving Proclamation,
"The original draft of this proclamation has not been located, but a letter from John G. Nicolay to John Hay from New York, April 1, 1864, relates that ``the Mss. of the President's Thanksgiving Proclamation, which was written by Seward and is in his handwriting'' had been sent by the State Department to Leavitt Hunt ``to be sold at the Fair.'' (DLC-Nicolay Papers)."
Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln - search Thanksgiving Proclamation
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/

but Maharba, what about your other comments

"And that fits very well with Lincoln scorning it as "just some of Seward's nonsense"
"Didn't Chase write the last paragraph of the Emancipation Proclamation and to fittingly include GOD, over the objections of Lincoln?"
"Didn't Abraham Lincoln mock God and Christianity to 'sophisticated folks'?"
"And I'll add to them:
Why was Lincoln even in his final years so resistant to God in his edicts and addresses?"

Since Maharba mentioned Abraham Lincoln Online, from the same web site -- Religious Quotations By Abraham Lincoln
http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/linc...quotes.htm

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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12-11-2015, 11:02 AM
Post: #89
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
I continue to feel Lincoln was a deist, not an atheist.>

Both Darwin and Lincoln are often compared, both born the same day Feb 12, 1809. In a sense Charles Darwin is 'more of an industry' than Abraham Lincoln is. And the atheist-spilling-over-into-the science community is very heavily invested in Darwin, and very intrenched with doctrinaire positions about what Charles Darwin believed. But the modern atheist/scientist has never read Darwin, and merely parrots one-liners, now from the internet easily found, to bolster their claims for Darwin. Those atheists (like now deceased Steven Gould) who cleverly wished to pose Darwin as a friend of Christians would spin out one-liners, and would conclude with a vague "Darwin was really more of an agnostic". During his life, Darwin was expert at networking worldwide. His staunch supporter, and a Northern 'Christian' of sorts was Professor Asa Gray. For decades, Darwin allowed Gray to delude himself that Darwin still believed...at some level in Design, teleology, even God? In fact, Darwin was an atheist.

These quotes here from Lincoln mentioning God. When I see excessively flowery usage as here, it looks to me like it was either written for Lincoln to recite as a matter of expected form, or that the entire quote is yet another invention. How many countless Lincoln narratives are there with Lincoln ending in making some golden reference to 'the majesty of the Lord's handiwork', etc.
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12-11-2015, 12:11 PM (This post was last modified: 12-11-2015 12:20 PM by Gene C.)
Post: #90
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
(12-11-2015 11:02 AM)maharba Wrote:  I continue to feel Lincoln was a deist, not an atherist

Both Darwin and Lincoln are often compared, both born the same day Feb 12, 1809.
Charles Darwin ... Darwin, ... Darwin ... Darwin ... Darwin... Darwin .... "Darwin .... Darwin ... Darwin ....Darwin ...In fact, Darwin was an atheist.

I continue to feel you have not made a connection between Darwin and Lincoln, and the two have nothing to do with each other, other than a shared birthday.
Do you know of of any letters between the two, record they ever met, or record where they even mention each other?

You seem to avoid answering questions about earlier comments by coming up with new questionable statements.

but Maharba, what about your other comments

"And that fits very well with Lincoln scorning it as "just some of Seward's nonsense"
"Didn't Chase write the last paragraph of the Emancipation Proclamation and to fittingly include GOD, over the objections of Lincoln?"
"Didn't Abraham Lincoln mock God and Christianity to 'sophisticated folks'?"
"And I'll add to them:
Why was Lincoln even in his final years so resistant to God in his edicts and addresses?"


I must confess there are times I have found that some of my pre conceived beliefs were not correct when given credible information that I was not aware of or had not considered seriously. I try to acknowledge this when it happens. If I have mistaken beliefs, I want to be corrected (just not all at once)

In spite of the occasional light hearted posts, most of us are serious about the study of Abraham Lincoln, and don't go chasing after myths and legends trying to present them as fact,
but rather try to share valid, credible and verifiable information.


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So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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