Monday, March 4, 2013

March 4 1865

This postcard is a reproduction of a photo taken 148 years ago today. The photo is of US President Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address. If you look in the center top, there is an arrow, which points to John Wilkes Booth, who would kill Lincoln in March 1865, at Ford Theatre. The person standing in front of Booth is John Ford, owner of Ford Theatre. The circle in the lower center of the photo is around some of Booth's conspirators. The photo was taken by Alexander Gardener, and it amazes me that researchers are able to identify so many people in this photo.

The postage on this card features Lincoln debating Stephan Douglas. Erin writes that this debate, and the inauguration speech, showcase Lincoln's talent with words and American issues. She is quite fond of mid-19th century American history, literature and political ideas.

When Erin first moved to France, she was often irritated by books that used the words "translated from the American" rather than "translated from English" on the front. It was her study of Lincoln's writing that brought her to an understanding the logic of this distinction, though she wishes the wording would use "American English."

A few years ago I came upon an amazing website that chronicles Lincoln's life, day by day, as detailed in his own words, the media's and other documents. The Lincoln Log is an interesting read and valuable resource. When one of my friends, Juli, gave me a book of letters titled Letters From America's Wars (edited by David Lowenherz) I read the Civil War era letters. There is a letter dated 9 February, 1864, written by a Union soldier in the Civil War to a woman he met through a "lonely hearts" advertisement. The letter is rambling and sweet, but ends abruptly, as the rest is lost. We never know if the two meet. The very same day, as I learned from The Lincoln Log, Abraham Lincoln posed for the photo that became the image used on the $5 bill. The two events are not really connected, but with a little bit of imagination, one could make a story, and making stories is what I love to do.

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