The problem with history is that it is so far away. Reading about a noble figure such as Abraham Lincoln so often leaves one feeling oddly detached from the very figure that we are trying to get to know. Reading about his leadership during the Civil War, his great speeches and ideas, these are rightly awe inspiring, but they are so far beyond what most of us can releate to that they have the perverse effect of making a man such as Lincoln seem to be more then human. This is indeed an odd situation for a President who was renowned in his own time for being approchable and friendly. It has been said that any randon person could knock on the White House door and he or she had a fair chance of meeting with him. It is tragic that his proximity to the people lead to the circumstances that resulted in his assination.
So it is worth examining Mr. Lincoln in a light that you may not have before. I highly recommend looking at “The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln” online from The Abraham Lincoln Association. But I recommend that you do so in a particular way. Head right for the “Browse Titles” option, select one of the later volumes as these tend to involve subjects that the average person will be more familure with. Pick a figure that you might know from his life, General Grant perhaps, and do a search in your browser for that person. (This will usually be done via “command-F” or “Control-F” depending on your browser and operating system.) Then simply read the results. These “documents” are often letters or telegraphs that mix business and personal life in a way that the modern reader might be shocked to encounter. Accounts of bloody battles are mixed with snippets of information about President Lincoln’s son in a telegragh to the Headquaters of the Army meant for both his wife and the Secrtery of War.
It is items like these that remind us the great people and ideas of our past are perhaps not so different then then the world we live in today.
As a bonus, compare these Hillery Clinton e-mails released by the State dept.