tv The Civil War CSPAN March 21, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm EDT
the attack had been so sudden, so unexpected on the part of the virginians, that the thing was a complete success. we had losses, true, but they were minor compared to the great pride that we won. ♪ >> next, a symposium on abraham lincoln recorded earlier today at fort's theater in washington dc when you're the 150 years ago on april 14, 1865, president lincoln was assassinated. this is cohosted by ford's theater and the abraham lincoln is stupid topics including lincoln streams of dust -- and the abraham lincoln institute. includes lincoln's dreams of
death. [applause] >> good morning. let me see what it says here. my name is douglas wilson. [laughter] i'm the codirector of the lincoln study center at knox college. it is my privilege to introduce the first speaker in the 2015 abraham lincoln institute symposium. he is a young scholar who has already earned an array of honors. he was educated at penn state where he took his bachelors degree in 2001 and at the university of maryland where he earned a masters degree in 2003 and a phd in 2008. the department of history at maryland awarded him its eb an jean smith prize in political history. he won the prize in 2010.
he is already the author of several books including two lincoln titles. "abraham lincoln entries and in the -- and treason in the civil war," and most recently, "emancipation: the union army and abraham lincoln." more than two dozen articles have appeared under his name in scholarly journals and popular history magazines. in 2005, he won the john t. hubble price for the best article in civil war history. his current project is "midnight in america: night, sleep, and dreams in the civil war." this energetic young historian
is currently assistant professor of american studies at christopher newport university. he is here today to speak on lincoln and dreams of death. it is a pleasure to introduce professor jonathan w. white. [applause] dr. white: thanks so much. i'm thrilled to be here. i have sat in the audience here about a dozen times but this is my first time on the stage. i almost thought i should have waited until the introduction and made a dramatic entrance onto the stage. i'm hoping since i'm the first folks on the program, i was wondering if i might be able to recline on one of the couches in the box up there for the rest of the symposium. i have to say from the outset i have been coming to the symposium for more than 10 years and it just happens that my wife's birthday is tomorrow, which means i out of town for
her birthday almost every are. lauren if you're watching at home, happy birthday. i haven't gotten you a gift yet but i plan on going out to the book table when i'm done here. [laughter] i will see if there's anything you like. i had an idea to write the history of dreams in the civil war and i have chapters on soldiers and civilians, slaves and pows. i also have a chapter on lincoln and that is what i will focus my remarks on today. the civil war placed new strains on lincoln's generations and their nightly dreams reflected those hardships. sometimes the war intruded on people's slumbers. rivet the -- vividly bringing the horse of conflict to them in sleep. for others, nighttime was an escape from the harsh realities of wartime. the dreams of civil war era americans reveal that generation's deepest longings, is hope and fears, his desires and struggles. it's guilt and its shame.
when americans recorded their dreams in diaries, letters, then the moors, they sought to make sense of the change around them and do with the loneliness of life amid the turmoil of a gigantic civil war. in my research i found that both northerners and southerners dreamed about abraham lincoln through the war. union officer sometimes dropped they met with the president to discuss promotion. [laughter] it did not always work out the way they hoped. pow's dreamed about negotiating prisoner exchanges and some dreamed about having conversations with the president about the end of the war. my favorite happens to be a confederate civilian posturing. on july 7, 1864 richmond attorney george wooten dreamed he died and went to another war. he asked st. peter, are there any lawyers here in heaven? the apostle replied he could not
find any. [laughter] wooten said is the mayor of richmond appear in heaven? st. peter said, oh, you will find him and that other place. wooten turned around and made his way to what he described as a somber-looking castle and above the entrance was painted the word "hell" and he met sa tan and saw seats on the floor. some were vacant and some are occupied by lawyers. wooten went up to sit and when the seats and the devil said you can't sit there. that is reserved for the mayor of richmond. he went to sit on oc. the devil said that is reserved for union general benjamin butler. -- he went to see a another seat. the devil is reserved for union general benjamin butler. he went to see a third c. all the lawyers shouted don't
take that c. that is reserved for old abe. wooten said you will cup shaking and shivering, wishing it was not it -- woke up shaking and shivering, wishing it was not a dream. one soldier wrote this in a letter about lincoln. he said, lincoln has become a vampire that gnaws into the bowels of the country. he is the nightmare of the horse of which the nation groans -- the horrsors of which the nation groans in despair. there you have it. before abraham lincoln became a vampire hunter, he was a vampire himself. the nation has been fascinated i lincoln's prophetic statements. in the 1861 he said he would rather be assassinated on the
spot than give up the principles of the declarations of independence. sometimes it's -- sometimes his sense of humor cannot. he dreamed he was in a party of plain people and as they begin to realize who he was, they began to comment on his appearance. one said he is a common-looking man. the president replied in his gym,,-looking people are the best in the world. that is why the lord make so many of them. many are secondhand accounts. there are rare secondhand -- there are rare glimpses from his own it. lincoln wrote a letter to marry about robert todd lincoln, their child. the medium concerned until he got a letter back that he was ok. 15 years later, lincoln sent a telegram to marry telling her to "put tab's pistol away because
he had an ugly dream about him. historian richard wightman fox argues that lincoln clearly believed that dreams had predictive capacity. they were not revelations into the future, but they gave one a sense, however murky, of what might come to pass. i think this is a very good assessment of what lincoln's view of dreams was. one of lincoln's most famous dreams was depicted in the recent spielberg movie. on april 14, 1865, lincoln said this to his cabinet -- i had this stream dream again last night. we shall have great news very soon. secretary of the navy gideon welles asked about the nature of the stream, to which lincoln replied that it had to do with welles' expertise, the water. he described the dream.
he was on a ship in the water some singular, indescribable vessel that was moving with great rapidity towards a sure. lincoln told the cabinet that he had the dream before the attack on fort sumter as well as preceding the battles of bull run, antietam, gettysburg, and the surrender at vicksburg. lincoln believed that the stream portended some great results. hopefully involving sherman's army. general ulysses s grant was present at the meeting that they and he pointed out that stone's river was not a victory and he knew of no great results that followed from it. however that might be, lincoln per side -- lincoln replied, the dream proceeded. secretary welles did not think much about the dream but remembered it after and wrote it down in his diary.
great events did follow, he wrote mournfully, for within a few hours, the truly great man who narrated that dream close for his earthly career. the provo nonce for the screen -- the providence of this dream is well recorded. edward stanton told the dream to charles dickens in 1968 and dickens wrote about it to a friend in england. frederick seward was at the meeting since his father had a carriage accident and seward recorded it in his memoirs in the early 20th century. finally, the new york herald reported the dream in april 1865 before any of lincoln's cap the members wrote it down. by may of 1865, the story had been repeated in newspapers as far west as san francisco.
the dream continues to fascinate modern readers and has been the subject of a recent children's book. another dream or vision took place around his election to the presidency. while on a couch lincoln looked across the room at a mirror and saw a double image of himself. it startled him because one of the images was lifelike and vibrant and the other was ghostly pale. the image disappeared and he looked back and the double image appeared again. he got up to look at it and could not see the double image again. this was curious to lincoln. there are several accounts that say why he was president in the white house, he tried to reproduce this phenomenon but was never able to make it happen. the people who heard the story from lincoln disagree about the meaning of this vision but some claim that lincoln
believed this meant he would live through his first term but diane is second. the third tree missed most startling. lincoln allegedly drink this a few weeks before his assassination. he kept it a seat -- dreamt this if you would for the session it. he kept it a secret. lincoln approached a small group of friends at the white house which included mary todd lincoln. the president was in a melancholy, meditative mood and had been silent for some time. mary aroused her husband to speak what was on his mind. it seems strange how much there is in the bible about dreams, lincoln said. there are, i think, 16 chapters in the old testament and four or five in the new in which dreams are mentioned and there are many other passages scattered throughout the book which refer
divisions. if we believe the bible -- refer to visions. if we believe the bible, we must believe that in the old days god and his angels made themselves known in dreams. mary todd lincoln was struck by her husband's statement and said, do you believe in dreams? he said i had one the other night that has haunted me. after the dream, he said he opened up his bible and it fell to the pages in genesis were jacob dreams of a ladder ascending to heaven and there are angels going up and down. lincoln said he turned to other passages, each of which dealt with dreams. as lincoln said this, he looked so serious and disturbed the mary exclaimed, you frighten me. what is the matter? >>lincoln said, you should not
have brought the subject up, but it has got possession of me. mary strongly urged to tell the dream. he was hesitant but lincoln decided he would describe the dream and he was said to do so with his brow overcast. this is what the gloomy president said. about 10 days ago, i retired very late. i had been waiting for important dispatches from the front. i could not have been long in bed when i fell into a slumber for i was weary. soon begin to dream. there seemed to be a deathlike stillness about me. i heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people weeping. i went downstairs. the silence was broken by the same solving, but the mourners were in -- same sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. no living person was in sight
but the same sounds of the stressed -- distress met me. where were all the people who were weeping? i was puzzled and alarm. what could be the meaning of this? determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, i kept on until i arrived at the east room. there i met with a sickening surprise. upon the was -- before me was a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. around it were soldiers acting as guards. around it there was a crowd. others were weeping pitifully. who is dead in the white house? i demanded of one of the soldiers. the president was his answer. he was killed by an assassin. then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd which awoke me
from my dream. i slept no more that night. although it was only a dream, i have been strangely annoyed with it ever since. mary lincoln responded that the story was horrid and she wished lincoln hadn't told it. i am glad i don't believe in dreams, she said it. lincoln responded that it was only a dream. let's say no more about it. he continued his telling of the story that the dream was so horrible and real and in keeping with other dreams that mr. lincoln was profoundly disturbed by it. he said lincoln looked grave and visibly pale as he described the vision. there was something about it that was so amazingly real, so true to the actual tragedy which occurred soon after that more
than moral strength and wisdom would have been required to let it pass without a shutter or -- a shudder or a pang. this is a remarkable story. the president dreamed of his own assassination a few days before it happened. it's no wonder that popular writers spanning the 20th and 21st century like carl sandburg , james swanson, and bill o'reilly have all included in their books. just last week, i was reading " destiny of the republic" for pleasure. it's a wonderful book about the assassination of james garfield. the author claims robert todd lincoln told the dream to president garfield during the final cabinet meeting in 1881, two days before he was assassinated. what irony. what drama.
you can't get more than that. a historian appropriated it for title of their own book, "lincoln dreamt jhhe died." but don't buy that book. wait for mine to come out. [laughter] is the story true? i think we should be hesitant to accept such a fantastical story. it should because for concern. the account was first published in 1887, 22 years after lincoln died. it later appeared in recollections of abraham lincoln, published in 1895. in "recollections," laman claimed that it came from notes made in 1865. scholars have treated the story with some reservation. harvard historian david herbert donald said he was highly
unreliable in some accounts while a stanford historian claims that more than a little of laman's quotation of lincoln was invented. he demolishes laman's credibility of the funeral dream. pointing out the timing doesn't make any sense. there are a few ways that he points this out. most importantly laman quotes lincoln as saying he was waiting for dispatches from the front in early april of 1965. in fact lincoln was at the front , from march 24 until april 9. the analysis should have been enough to discredit the story. he did not dig deeply enough into the origins of this dream. i found several versions of the white house funeral dream that predate laman's telling.
your this came from a pennsylvania. -- the earliest came from a pennsylvania newspaper. a more detailed version appears in an unsigned article in a literary magazine called "gleason's monthly companion." it was after the dream appeared in this literary magazine the newspapers around the country began circulating it. the details differ in several ways from laman's account and recollection. the 1880 version has no chronological clues as to when lincoln was supposed to have had this dream compared to laman who , said it was an early 1865 just before his death. second, lincoln was in conversation with mrs. lincoln and the children in the 1880 version. not as laman described it with only two or three people
present. in 1880, it was lincoln's son who implored his father to tell the dream and later called dreadful. robert todd lincoln makes an appearance in the 1880 version of the story. according to the 1880 version, mary lincoln's first exclamation after john wilkes booth shot her husband was this, his dream was prophetic. the author of the 1880 article wrote this remark has not been understood. it makes me think that laman could not have written the earlier version since he claimed to be present the telling of the story. clearly he would have known what , the dream meant and what mary meant by that statement. i should add that no other period source has mary saying his dream was prophetic when he was shot. in 1866, mary told herndon that
in lincoln's later years, he never dreamt of death. there are other discrepancies, i won't get into them here. i think the most important is that he is nowhere to be seen in the 1880 version of the story. that piece concludes subsequently, the circumstances of mr. lincoln's dream was told to many in washington. it formed one of the most impressive incidents connected with the tragedy which gave the nation its immortal mortar. i have done a digital search of newspapers in a number of different databases and i found that the ship on the water dream was reproduced in 1865 and got widespread attention in the months after lincoln's death. i found no mention of this more provocative funeral dream. if it was the talk around
washington, surely it would have found its way into the papers. two weeks ago, i traveled to the huntington library to look at ward hill laman's private collection of papers to see if i could find any evidence of the story. i searched to see if there were any notes that laman took. after all, he said he took notes after lincoln said it. i found no notes related to this story. i did find plenty of other notes that laman took for other articles he wrote later in his life. i also found no correspondence with the editor from "gleason's monthly companion." it was common for laman to communicate with editors. nothing from that editor. i did find a set of drafts of letters that laman wrote to editors all over the country in 1887 saying i have some great recollections of lincoln and i will sell them for $25 each. clearly he was trying to make a
, profit off his connection to lincoln. now the most interesting evidence. i found a letter in which a correspondent sent a letter to laman about lincoln. as part of this correspondence , he thanked laman for sending a counterfeit presentiment. we don't know what the counterfeit presentment was as the corresponding letter does not survive. the entire letter was about lincoln and it being dated 1882 after the story began circulating in newspapers, laman read the story in the newspaper and called it a counterfeit presentment. it was only later that he realized this was a great story that he can insert himself into. on april 27, laman wrote a
letter to the secretary of war saying he met with lincoln on april 13 had not spoken with him for three weeks before that. by his own testimony, he could not have heard the story from lincoln a few weeks before the assassination, which is how he rendered thanks 22 years later. did he give story from lincoln? i don't think so. i think this was a fictional piece written for a newspaper. it was embellished by a literary magazine. i think the dream was another fabrication. i found a newspaper article from the 1940's where some of the todd family claims that mary todd lincoln had the dream for the assassination.
somebody read it and as the story was told over generations, it was mary. a number of stories i found like this. i think they are forgeries. i would be happy to tell you about them during the q&a. the question is, why are dreams like this included in the most widely read books about lincoln? they are great stories. americans want to read stories about our greatest leaders. john adams and thomas jefferson both died on july 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the declaration of independence. that was true, by the way. [laughter] we are fascinated to know that one of our nation's most revered leaders envision his own assassination just days before it happened. the tragedy is gripping. he confirms america's providential place in history. as with any apocryphal story, it seems believable because it's in keeping with what we know about
lincoln's life and character. even more importantly, stories like these confirm the myths about lincoln that americans long to believe, that he was almost supernatural. in a sense, i think the fascination with biographers and their readers with lincoln's prophetic dreams may reveal more about lincoln's admirers than lincoln himself. during the war, he became a symbol of god's hand in the conflict. in may 1861, a rochester woman wrote to mary todd lincoln about a dream she had that she believed had significant meaning. she saw a great storm with terrible thunder and lightning and she said it was as if the heavens and earth were coming together. she saw lincoln standing above the clouds.
he was towering over the city of washington with a book in his hand. use crowned with laurels he looked very smiling. i thought i clapped my hand. i rose from my bed and tend this to paper. a voice from the north has proclaimed the glad morning and slavery has ended and freedom is born, the south is restored. secession has ended and slavery is over. think about that. may, 1861 prior to the first battle of the civil war. long before lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation this , woman envisions lincoln as a savior to the nation and liberator for the slaves. in these perilous times, she wrote to mary todd lincoln that she hoped the dream would be a comfort to mrs. lincoln. this woman was not alone. an illinois republican declared at his state's republican
convention in 1864 that the great man, old abe lincoln is a , special gift from god almighty and if we reject him at this convention, we reject god almighty. in his death lincoln almost , universally assumes the status of a martyr. the timing of his death could not be more prescient. shot by john wilkes booth on good friday, he died the following morning. from the moment of his death americans began the process of mythmaking about lincoln, making him the most exalted secular saint. when the secretary of war american stanton read the gettysburg address at a republican rally in 1968, he declared triumphantly that is the voice of god speaking through the lips of abraham lincoln. in 1890, shelby cullum praised the great hearted patriot.
he continued, never was a nobler man born of woman and never throb a pure heart in breast. no man has ever existed on the american continent superior to abraham lincoln. lincoln had won immortality when he died with a crown of glory upon his brow. in a senator from iowa 1905, proclaimed that lincoln had been transfigured since his death. an allusion to christ. he had become a mysterious personality with a higher power with a commission to help and bless the human race. idaho senator declared sacred writers, had he lived in those days would have placed him among
the seers and profits and invested him with hidden powers of the mystic world. antiquity would have closed a being with the attributes of deity. lincoln's prophetic dreams became integral part of this process. the white house funeral dream and ship on the water dream occurred in newspapers frequently in the 19th and 20th centuries. one union veteran said no intelligent man questions the vision that crossed the disk of abraham lincoln's slumbers. that wonderful, startling portent of tremendous events. over time, the mythology surrounding lincoln continued to grow. his lowly humble hardscrabble , beginnings, his self-education, his hard work, his steadfast adherence to principle in the face of great adversity. his moral triumphs in freeing the slaves and restoring the union. his premature death on easter weekend.
all of these attributes are true. somehow they have become larger-than-life. the whole has become bigger than the sum of its parts. lincoln the myth is an important -- lincoln has become the ideal national symbol, you might say the perfect embodiment of the american dream. i think that lincoln the myth is an important part of america's public memory. within this context it makes , sense that his prophetic dreams have such wide appeal. for all that modern science has given us, for as rational as we believe ourselves to be, americans in the 21st century still want to believe that dreams have significance and meaning, that something greater than themselves is superintending their lives, that fate israel, that ordinary human beings are capable of extraordinary gracio greatness, and that their nation is the best
hope on earth, which i think it is. americans who lived through the civil war recorded and communicated their dreams to one another as a coping mechanism. in a real way, this process helped the civil war generation sustain themselves through a bloody conflict. in the same way, the continued retelling of stories is an essential part of our national identity. the stories are part of who we are. it should come as no prize that the anonymous author of the article closed with a reflection 1880 that lincoln's dream was one of the most impressive incidents connected with the tragedy which gave our nation its immortal martyr. imagine that. a fictitious dream, being put forth as one of the most significant incidents of the civil war.
it was and it remains so today. a century and a half later. it affirms for us the greatness of our greatest leader. thank you. [applause] there are two mics up front. i am happy to answer any questions you might have. yes. >> something related to some ways to dreams are séances. i believe there is evidence that mary lincoln had séances in the white house. have you come across if he participated? if so, did he believe in them or was he just doing it to satisfy his wife? host: -- dr. white: it's true. there were séances at the white house. i believe that lincoln attended those as well.
i don't know the answer to the latter part of your question. this is something that is often debated about lincoln in terms of what his religious beliefs were or what his beliefs about a cultish things were. -- occultish-type things were. scholars often differ on those matters. i don't know that he wrote anything down about his views of those séances. i have not seen anything. i could not answer definitively. i do know that he did attend. >> you talk about the myth, to what extent has the myth influenced historians, do you think? dr. white: that is a big question. to what extent has the myth influenced historians? i think it's inevitable that the myth influences historians. why do they get interested in lincoln? you grow up hearing great
stories. i think he is our greatest president and our greatest leader. there is a reason why there is a myth. all of those things about him are true in terms of his rise to greatness. i think what good historians do is they look at the evidence and they try to hold themselves to the evidence that is before them. while the myth will influence us, we try to be diligent. i don't know if that answers your question. it's hard to be more precise. >> thank you. >> you mentioned other dreams? what were some of those? dr. white: i will talk about a few of the other dreams lincoln had or are attributed. these ones i don't think these are true, although this is just my view.
this the historian trying to look through the evidence. the one i can't say i figured out is not true, but in 1944 there was an auction catalog that had a manuscript of lincoln writing that he dreamt he was being buried alive. it was sold at auction in 1944. when lincoln papers were published in 1919, he put that forward as a forgery. there was another one where, this one is an invert forgery. this may address the last question. i was reading a book by a man named charles royster. it is called "the destructive war or co- it was published in 1991. there is a section on dreams. he describes lincoln. he said this -- on the last night of 1862 after news of the fighting murphysboro, lincoln
dreamed of corpses on the battlefield in tennessee gunfire in the night and sources soldiers in the rain. this is a remarkable dream. there is a battle going on in tennessee hundreds of miles away and lincoln is dreaming about it. the problem is royster did not provide a footnote for that story. later, i was going through stephen oates' biography. he had written this. "that night, lincoln tossed in fitful sleep. he dreamed of corpses on a battlefield in tennessee, guns flashing in the night. of silent troops lying exhausted in the rain of crowds reading , casualty returns at willard's hotel."
royster did not cite anyone, but i think he took this story from stephen oates. the language is almost identical. oates cited benjamin thomas's biography. this is what thomas had to say. aberrations of dead and mutilated soldiers lying on the cold ground soaked in winter rain tortured the president's sleep. the problem iran into here is benjamin thomas did not have a footnote. i could not trace where he got the story from. started doing reading on thomas and i found that he had a tendency to try to put himself into lincoln's mind and figure out what was going on. try to capture a scene with some artistic license. he admitted to doing this on four occasions. i think this is one of those. what happens on january 1, 1863? lincoln issues the emancipation proclamation.
thomas was trying to figure out what must have been causing lincoln toulouse street -- lincoln to lose sleep before that. he must've been thinking about the death on the battlefield. he took some license and wrote this story. stephen oates took it as a dream and the story evolves over time he even went so far as to say lincoln had a dream about dead soldiers. royster went so far as to say this dream allowed lincoln to experience combat in a way that the soldiers did. you can see how the the myths grow over time. maybe through carelessness of citations. there are several other dreams. i will just point to one. lincoln had another bodyguard. william crook wrote two memoirs. one in 1910, and another in liking 11 -- and another in 1911. i will go in reverse chronology. in the 1911 memoir, he claimed lincoln told him of an
assassination dream on the three nights leading up to his assassination. he had this dream three recurring nights. on april 14, as he was getting ready to come here to ford's theatre, he tells crook about these dreams. crook is so terrified that he pleads with lincoln to let him come to ford's with him. lincoln says you need rest. go home and go to sleep. lincoln turns to crook and says, goodbye, crook. every other night they had departed, crook said that lincoln said good night, crook and on april 14, lincoln said goodbye. it is compelling. we don't know what the dream was. crook did not write it down. how reliable is this remembrance? we can't know definitively.
i went back to crook's 1910 memoir. in that memoir, crook does not mention this scary assassination dream that lincoln had three days before his assassination. he only mentions the ship on the water dream. he did not mention that he had heard it from lincoln. he described it as a matter of record. i think that crushed published his first memoir and he had a good story in there about the ship on the water. he thought, i can make this an even better story. [laughter] i think that's what he did. i can't disprove it. my theory is he wanted to tell a better story. >> this may be a trivial point my understanding is that while lincoln did bring up at the cabinet meeting the story of the ship on the water, he did not mention that he had the dream the night before. i got the impression that you said he had. dr. white: he had.
according to welles'diary he , had had that dream the night before his final cabinet meeting. yeah. >> i discovered the writings of brigadier general thomas harris. in 1897, he wrote a book. he served on the tribunal that prosecuted the conspiracy. beyond dreams, i am wondering can you comment on his actual conversations with the former roman catholic priest lincoln defended as a client, his concern after the pope of rome having corresponded and recognized jefferson davis as the honorable and illustrious confederate state of america. lincoln felt a mark of a heretic had been placed on him with rome recognizing the union. dr. white: sorry.
that is beyond the purview of my research. [laughter] >> could you say more about dreams by john wilkes booth? dr. white: i wish i could. i have not looked into that. we will have to look into other speakers on john wilkes booth's dreams. i don't know. >> in god we trust on the coins is there any relation between lincoln's outlook and all of those things? dr. white: you know, i don't -- when i was in high school i had a two cent piece that said in god we trust in it. it was from 1864. it was the first going to bear that model. i used to collect coins back then. i remember taking that to school and show it to my classmates. it did not come home with me
that day. [laughter] i think i blog for my memory ever since 1995, that i don't remember. it would've been passed by congress to get that put onto coin, but i don't know the motivation. i imagine the motivation is fairly obvious but are you asking if it had a connection to his dreams? >> inclination towards the dream and religion and all of these things. and the year, 1864, that connection. dr. white: i could not say definitively, but i would imagine in part that it would be to motivate northerners. i could not imagine that it's connected to lincoln's dreams at all. as you are alluding to you see a , development in lincoln's views of religion over his life. particularly during the civil war years.
when he runs for congress in the he is accused of being an 1840's, infidel and an atheist. by 1865, you get this inaugural address filled with biblical allusions. i honestly don't know. he may have been a prime mover behind getting that on the coinage. is that a question coming up? sure. i thought it was off the hot seat very [laughter] >> you talk about how the nation in trauma disorder to dreams for solace. our nation after 9/11 seemed to resort to conspiracy theories. can you talk about the psychology of the nation during the civil war and why they were more likely to turn to dreams? dr. white: sure. i should say, i'm not a licensed psychologist.
i am just a historian. i will approach it from that perspective. i am looking at sleep and dreams during the civil war. no one has written about sleep during the war. i worry that it's because it might make for a sonnooze of a read. [laughter] i hope that my first chapter one -- first chapter will not put people to sleep. soldiers wrote about sleep all the time in their letters. i think they did that because that was a way for them to connect with people at home. a soldier who might be hundreds of miles away and weeks from having communicated with a spouse or parent or child, they know they were going to bed at the same time and that was a shared experience. i found several experiences where soldiers write to their loved ones and say it's january 1 and i'm going to read two chapters from the bible every night. if you want to read along with me, you can do that.
i think that sleep became a powerful way for soldiers and their loved ones to communicate with one another and feel like they were closer than they were. i think the discussion of dreams grew out of that. what i found is soldiers and civilians loved to communicate their dreams with one another. that was a way for them to encourage one another. soldiers would write home and say that i dreamt i was with you. we were hugging and kissing and having a great time and i was so upset when i woke up. psychologically, i think that provided a firm connection between people who were hundreds of miles apart. that was the only way they could communicate. i can't speak to today. i have not thought about the post-9/11 in that much detail. that is what i see going on during the civil war. >> thank you. dr. white: sure. you have been waiting. >> just a comment on the
previous question. i am a park ranger. we are presently at james a. garfield historic site but i worked at fort mchenry. i believe in god we trust comes from the fourth verse of "the star-spangled banner." dr. white: let this be our motto . in god will we trust. he wrote that a generation or two before. they must have picked up on it. thank you. that jogged my memory. >> did mary todd lincoln have dreams? were they recorded in any way? how common were séances back then? i gather they were pretty common. dr. white: yeah, there was a rise of belief in occultish things in the 19th century. i don't know how common it would've been to have a séance
in the white house. they did have them. in terms of mary's dreams, i feel like i should turn to joan on that. or others in the audience. i know that mary was concerned about lincoln's dreams. i can't speak to her dreams in themselves. in april 1865, lincoln was traveling in virginia at the , front. he had a dream that the white house was on fire. lincoln may have had reason to be concerned. the white house stable had caught on fire in february of 1864. mary got very involved in terms of making sure everything was ok. sending a telegram back to someone at the white house to make sure everything was ok and she went back to the white house to telegraph lincoln and say everything is ok. i can't speak to her dreams. i know she was involved in listening to his dreams and participating in some way. >> thank you. dr. white: i can tell you that
if you want the other first lady, farina howell davis had a number of dreams about the jefferson davis. the she dreamt that she kissed 1840's, him as he was leaving and in 1862 she had a dream where she was giving him a kiss, but this time everybody was watching and laughing at them. you can see there might be something psychological going on where she is more self-conscious about her role as first lady. see also dreamt that jefferson davis had his arm cut off. one more question? last question. >> i'm the digital projects manager at ford's theater and have been live tweeting the talk and got a question via twitter. this is not as much about dreams, but a man named mark lockhart asks, dr. white what is , the most commonly overlooked part of the assassination? the accomplices?
two like to express -- would you like to express opinion? dr. white: that is a good tweet. that's the first tweet i've ever received. [laughter] i tell you what, i will leave that to the next speaker. thank you so much. >> sounds good. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] dr. meant for -- dr medford: good afternoon. we have had a wonderful afternoon so far. they give for returning. i think we will be delighted with what we have in store for you.
it is my happy task -- excuse me -- to introduce our next speaker, martha hoades the author of "the sea captain's wife. it was a 2006 finalist in the lincoln book prize. white women, black men, and illicit sex in the 19th century south. the 1997 winner of the allan nevins prize for literary distinction in the writing of history awarded by the society of american historians. her most recent work, morning lincoln, which was published this year, is our regard praise. reviewers have described it as original and important and in ingenious approach and graceful execution. a lyric oh and important study.
a -- a lyric oh and important study. "morning lincoln" is called a masterful piece of research. when she is not winning award-winning books professor hodes's teaching. despite her research commitments and teaching obligations, she gives lectures around the world and engages diverse audiences through public media. you can hear on tuesday, this coming tuesday, march 24, on npr where she will be discussing her new book. professor hodes'talk this afternoon is called "morning lincoln: assassination and the meaning of the civil war. please welcome professor martha hodes. [applause]
dr. hodes: good afternoon. hello, everybody. i am so happy to be part of this wonderful event. i have been teaching the civil war for nearly 25 years. i call my course race, civil war, and reconstruction because i want to draw students who care not only about battlefield tactics which matter, but also about larger goal historical questions. i was had a few lines of my lecture about the assassination heard several years -- assassination. several years ago, i found myself taking a greater interest in this momentous event. i trace that interest to september 11, 2001. that tuesday was the first fall semester at new york university. the first plane hit the tower as i left my apartment and the second as i was walking to
class. 9/11 made me think about how people respond to transformative events on the skill of everyday life, which conjured my faded memories of kennedy's assassination. i was five years old in 1963. as a scholar of the civil war, i began to wonder -- what did people do at home, on the street, with their families, by themselves, when they heard the news of lincoln's assassination? i wanted to understand a catastrophic event on a human scale. i wanted to explore how responses in the spring and summer of 1865 eliminated larger national concern. lack freedom and equality in the problem of national union and ultimately the meaning of the civil war. i decided to write the book because books about the assassination have often drawn on public sources.
i also found that historians often gathered personal information after reading memoirs long after the events had passed. all of these are fine sources unknown had thought to read exclusively to the diaries people cap and the letters they wrote in the pivotal hours and weeks in the wake of lincoln's murder. the tweet that came in during jonathan white's talk, i believe asked what has been the most overlooked part of the assassination? well, read my book. [laughter] in researching and writing "mourning lincoln," it became clear that personal responses to the assassination of illuminated the irreconcilable visions of the nation's future after the civil war and of the war's meaning.
curiously, i found that many personal accounts, including those written at the time, portrayed a monolithic nation in mourning. 9/11 again. in the days that followed the attack, it felt like the whole world was mourning and in grief and that is however remembered it when i thought back years later. when i was writing it, i dug out photographs i had taken on september 12, 2001. photographs of the makeshift memorial mourners had created in new york city. in those photos, i found evidence of someone else -- something else. i saw evidence of tension and convention. one sign called for peace. one for peace after payback. messages for harmony defaced by cries for war. in turn, answered for justice without revenge. others warned mourneres to just
trust -- distrust the media. i had to ask, who exactly comprised "the nation" at the end of the civil war? after four and of course, not even north and south as sections were of one mind. supporters encompassed black northerners and black southerners and the majority of white northerners. lincoln's antagonist encompassed the vast majority of white southerners and white northerners. it was this multifocal din of voices that interest me. in dozens of archives, i read hundreds of personal accounts from the spring and summer of 1865. i read union and confederate lack and white, soldier and civilian.