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He Knew Lincoln
12-08-2017, 08:40 AM
Post: #1
He Knew Lincoln
Full title - "He Knew Lincoln and Other Billy Brown Stories" by Ida Tarbell
Published in the early 1900's, with 179 pages.

A fun, easy to read book with emphasis on the personal side of Lincoln, using examples of what he said and did that has people cherish his memory.

The book consist of four stories or interviews the author has with Billy Brown. Billy Brown wasn't a single person. From the introduction -
"Particularly was Lincoln at home with men like the Billy Brown of these pages, men whose native grain had not been
obscured by polish and oil. There were many of them in his time in Illinois, plying their trades or professions more or less
busily, but never allowing industry to interfere with opportunities for companionship. They were men of shrewdness, humor,
usually modest, not over-weighted with ambition. Their appetite for talk, for politics, for reports on human exhibits of all sorts,
never dulled. Their love of companionship outstripped even their naturally intolerant partisanship.

The original of Billy Brown was such a man, He was still keeping his drug store in Springfield in the 90 s when the
writer made studies there for a "Life of Lincoln" ; She passed many an hour in Lincoln s chair, while Billy, tipped back
in something less precious, talked. There were Billy Browns in other towns Bloomington, Princeton, Quincy, Chicago.
Their memory of Mr. Lincoln was among the most precious and satisfying things in their lives. When business was dull
or the day rainy and consequently there were few or no interruptions, the talk you started by questions soon be came a soliloqey.
Head against the wall, feet on desk, eyes far away, voice soft ened, they re-lived the old friendship.
Their memories were tender, reverent but singularly devoid of the thing that we call hero-worship."

The book consists of four parts, each one showing a different aspect of Lincoln's personality and character that made his friends and companions treasure his memory.

It's available on Internet Archives
https://archive.org/details/heknewlincoln00tarbrich

I can highly recommend this book. This one is worth purchasing, be sure to get one with the full title.
As there are several editions and reprints, prices vary.

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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10-31-2021, 11:21 AM
Post: #2
RE: He Knew Lincoln
(12-08-2017 08:40 AM)Gene C Wrote:  The book consists of four parts, each one showing a different aspect of Lincoln's personality and character that made his friends and companions treasure his memory.

It's available on Internet Archives
https://archive.org/details/heknewlincoln00tarbrich

At page 77, there is following story reported:

“Don’t worry, Billy, about that,” he says, “that don’t make no difference. I ain’t saying I don’t want to go to the United States Senate – I do. Always have. When I quit politics in ’49, and made up my mind I wa’n’t goin’ to have another chance to go to Congress or be anybody, I was miserable. But that’s all over. What’s important now in this country is makin’ people feel that slavery is wrong, that the South is bent on spreadin’ it and that we have got to stop ‘em. Slavery is wrong, Billy, if it ain’t wrong nuthin’ is. We have to fight against its spreadin’, and its goin’ to be a durable struggle. It don’t make no difference who gits office or who don’t. All that’s important is keepin’ on fightn’. Don’t worry if I ain’t elected. The fight’s goin’ on.”

I do not believe that Lincoln would have made the italicized statement above. Lincoln had just run for the Senate in order to have a voice in government affairs. And, four years later, Lincoln sought the office of President.

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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11-01-2021, 02:28 PM
Post: #3
RE: He Knew Lincoln
David,

As long as I have studied Tarbell, I have come to the conclusion that she pretty much nailed Lincoln's thoughts. The italicized passage you quote is certainly within Lincoln's thought process. The issue of slavery far outweighed the political fortunes of one man. Of course Lincoln was an ambitious politician, but he also realized that no one man is indispensable and it's the cause that matters.

Besides, whether Lincoln ever said it is irrelevant. What's relevant is whether or not be believed it. I think he did.

Best
Rib

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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