tv Abraham Lincoln the Founding Fathers CSPAN March 3, 2018 2:00pm-2:58pm EST
are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history, every weekend on c-span3. forow us on twitter information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest history news. historian richard brookhiser talks about the founding fathers who influenced abraham lincoln, george washington, thomas payne and thomas jefferson. mr. brokaw is or is the author of "founder's son: the life of abraham lincoln." welcome to the second presentation in the series on the legacies of the founding fathers. of the as president society of the four arts. if you have a cell phone with you, make sure it is silenced.
thank you. gainst to thank mrs. gay for her help in this series at her help in recruiting the stellar group of speakers we have enjoyed this year and last. dr. joseph ellis has served as an advisor to the programs, for --ch we are most graceful most grateful. dr. robert watson has been a strong member of our planning committee, has served admirably as the discussion leader for the talks and has held does secure the presence of c-span in filming the talks. we are also most grateful to the done foundation and mrs. rebecca , for financial support that made the second year of the program possible. partner fromen our the beginning. you can find videos and films of the previous talks from both years at their online film archive. donna, donna marie, and
stefanie at the campus of the lakes, you've done wonderful work handling all the details required to make this series a success. join me in welcoming mrs. gay gains to the podium to introduce today's speaker. thank you. [applause] for my've been looking little stool, and it's not available. [laughter] rowsr those in the front who can't see me, i'm very sorry. good morning. i want you to know i'm happy you all chose to be with us this morning. and i'm especially excited that there are students here today from the palm beach day academy. thank you for coming. welcome. [applause] i'm sure many of you in this audience, because so many of you are historians, are very familiar with the work of richard brookhiser. he is a scholar, a journalist and a great historian.
only 15, listen up, kids, his very first article on the antiwar protest in his high school became a cover story in "national review" magazine. rick graduated from jail with a all of thankfully for us, instead of going to law school where he had been accepted at gail, there is enough lawyers, he chose to become a journalist and went to work for "national review" magazine. by the time he was 23, he was the youngest senior editor ever. me to recommend a book about george washington, okhiser's rick broka book. insight into the character and life of our first president.
i started it during a hurricane in palm beach and finished it with a flashlight. i also recommend one of his books, "what would the founders do? it, he grapples with many of the issues that we are grappling with today. he explores why what the founding fathers would think is still relevant in 2018. richard brookhiser said quote, now more than ever, we need the founders, the inspiring, argumentative, amusing know it all's, to help us through the issues that divide us. we should and can trust them more than today's politicians, , they wroter all our user manuals, the declaration of independence and the constitution. " int would the founders do?' my opinion, should be required reading for all presidential candidates. [applause]
"founder's son," published in 2016, was my favorite book of that year. and i am earnestly looking for a wealthy angel to help us make it into a sensational movie. int. the fathers lincoln took to heart and showed him how to be a great man were the founding fathers. ser's research shows abraham lincoln was the true 'nheritor of the founders mantle, bringing her vision to bear on the civil war in the question of slavery. drew onte, "lincoln them for inspiration and wrapped ir aura."n there ar two days before the popular "hamilton" -- two
decades before the popular musical "hamilton", richard brookhiser was writing about the little man from the west indies. "alexandertled hamilton: the man who made i hope some of you sought. i hope i never forget the life-size bronze statues of pointingand burr, their guns at each other. anniversary of hamilton's death, there was a ceremony at his resting place at trinity church in new york, brookhis receivede the hamilton legacy award in recognition of hisr two decades of work. -- ricke from cancer
suffered from cancer in the early 1990's, which thankfully he beat. he spoke at a national institute meeting in chicago that i was cheering, and i noticed he didn't look very well. he told me he was fighting ,ancer and with great sincerity he said marijuana helped rid him of the horrible nausea and pain. he was one of the very first people to testify before the house judiciary committee about how much it helped him. gethe was an ardent updates -- and ardent advocate for legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. i was worried about rick and ask if he would like to come in the summer and visit us in palm beach, and see the turtles on our beach in early june when they often laid their eggs. he and his wife jeannie, who is with us today come over blown away one night by a huge female terminal who -- huge female turtle who laboriously crawled up on the beach to lay her eggs ookhiser.ide rick br
it was an unforgettable moment in a really good omen. he has just finished his book about our fourth chief justice, john marshall, and says it will be out in october. marshall wants said, quote, judicial power does not include a right to change the constitution. i cannot wait to read it very late is an derailment we are so lucky to have richard brookhiser back in palm beach. please give him a warm welcome. thank you. [applause] richard: thank you, gay, for that warm introduction. did see the mother sea turtle laying her eggs. of course i didn't get to see the hatchlings because they only came out months later, but i suppose some of them are still swimming around their. maybe we can see one of them laying eggs at some later point. gay has been a good friend for many years.
she is a friend of history, not only here at the society of the four arts but also for her many years of service at mount vernon. great pleasure, always, to see her and to honor her work for american history. [applause] lincoln was interested --the founding founders founding fathers all his adult life. the most famous expression of that is the gettysburg address, where he said our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation conceived in liberty. two was in november 1863, and half years into his administration, two and a half years into the civil war. at in february of 1860,
cooper union in new york city he gave a major speech which was the kickoff of his presidential campaign. itwas his east coast debut, was a 90 minute speech and half of it was devoted to the specificallyers, the men who had signed the constitution. and lincoln went through their opinions on the federal government's power to restrict and control slavery in the territories. speech, of in that as they marked it so let it be again marked as an evil not to be extended. -- let us be as they spoke, and act upon it. six years before that, october -- peoria,a illinois
illinois. link and give a three-hour speech, the longest speech of his life, which was really the beginning of his mature political career. the p or you speech has all the peoria-- the po speech at all the things that he would cling to the rest of his life. -- so the founding fathers were preoccupied -- were a preoccupation of lincoln for the last dozen years of his life. and this morning i want to talk about the three who were most important to him, george washington, thomas payne and thomas jefferson. when a man is so interested in the founding fathers, in symbolic fathers, we also have to be curious about his actual father, so i'm going to talk
about thomas lincoln. and there is a fifth father who became important to abraham lincoln is the war ground on, and that is god the father. so thomas lincoln was born in virginia, moved as a boy to kentucky, that is where he married and started his family. 1807, --was born in in 18er sarah was born seven, abraham was born in 18 nine, a second son named thomas died. his familyoln took across the river to indiana, a brand-new state, and in 1830 he and lived there for the rest of his life. in the middle of the last century it was typical to write of thomas as if he were in there do well, white
trash if you were being rude. but we don't write that way anymore. we realize thomas lincoln was a responsible manner. farmer andbsistence a carpenter all his life and he never aspired to be anything else. but he never went broke. he never left bad debt. debt. he served on a couple of juries, which was a sign of respectability, if not his prosperity. in 1809 his first wife died. then he waited a year, went to -- heky, and he lookups looked up sarah johnston, a woman he had known years ago. she was now a widow, as he was a widower, and he said to her, my wife has died, your husband has died, i want to marry you and bring you to indiana with your family so you can help raise mine.
agree.d, i i have some debts i have to pay off first. he said give me the list. he paid them off that day and they left the next day, moving to indiana. had this lincoln but heible character, and his son never got along. -- saw eyesaw i to i to eye. one of the issues dividing them was work, because when a reached his full adult height in his early teens, thomas would rent him out to neighbors to clear their fields and split their rails. earned went to his father's pocket to support their family. this was a common practice at the time, but common practices strike different people different ways and abraham hated
this. he was an adult, my father learned me to work but he never learned middle of it. and that was because all the money he was earning was not going to him, but was going to thomas lincoln. i don't think it is fanciful to see the origins of some of his opposition to slavery in this arrangement. slave the for a condition was lifelong, unless r unless you were freed by her master. when abraham, when he turned 21, then he would be on his own. all his earnings would be his. but until then, they went to his father. the second issue that divided them was education. thomas lincoln made sure that his daughter and his son were educated. he sent them to schools which
were one-room schoolhouses. fly-by-nightmost enterprises, dependent on some young man being in the neighborhood who had a little education and who was big enough to keep the big boys in line. and he would teach his charges reading and writing and simple arithmetic. lincoln went to two sub schools when he was a little boy in kentucky, three and indiana. if you add up all the time he spent in these schools, it was about a year. that was the extent of his formal education. wanted sarahncoln and abraham to have this suiting, because it would them in the sphere of life in which he lived. if you are a subsistence farmer, if you maybe were a carpenter, you want to know how to read, how to write, how to do simple arithmetic.
it was a practical training. but for abraham lincoln, education was very different. him, reading was a portal into different worlds. it talked about things he had never seen, he had never experienced. it was also a portal into himself. the person who understood this stepmother,s his sarah johnston lincoln. she was interviewed when she was an old lady, after her husband has died, after her son had died, and she remembered how abraham read when he was a boy, that if you read something he didn't understand, he would write it down, copy it. then he would try to rewrite it in his own words. if you didn't have paper he would write it on a board with a when he charcoal, and filled up the board he was great
but often start writing over. when adults came to the house and talked about something he didn't understand, he wouldn't say anything, but after they were gone he would say, what was that? what did that mean? what were they talking about? and so this was the spirit that abraham lincoln took education, to learning. very different from his father, and they never got along. but there were three things that abraham got from his father nevertheless. i don't think he ever them, but they were inheritances all the same. the first was the thomas lincoln were strong, and so was his -- thomas lincoln was strong and so was his son. they were differently built. 5'10" andferson was stocky, abraham lincoln was 6'4" and stocky. this was important on the frontier in which they lived, especially when you moved into a new place.
there would be a ritual of communal hazing, where you would your manhood with the local tough guy, and a wrestling match, a boxing match, some test of strength. and both thomas lincoln and abraham lincoln had such tests as young men and they passed the. so that was an important inheritance from father to son. the second inheritance was temperance. -- thomas lincoln didn't drink. neither did abraham. this was important and early 19th century america because we were a nation of alcoholics. , a mantor in new york named stephen mitchell, who eventually became a u.s. senator, he said workingmen drank a quart of hard liquor week. part of this was because the water was simply not to be trusted, not in cities, not in rural communities. or otherank applejack
distilled liquors, if you could get them. but people also drank because they liked it, and they drank much too much and it led to a lot of rowdiness, a lead to fighting, it led to casual violence. and this was something neither thomas nor abraham lincoln participated in. that was the second important inheritance. the most important though, was the thomas lincoln was a great storyteller. and we know this from the testimony of two cousins of abraham on his mother's side area digger up with the lincoln family, john hanks and dennis hanks. and one of them said, years after abraham lincoln was famous, one of them said thomas lincoln was as good a story as abraham, and the other said he was an even better storyteller. abraham lincoln used stories throughout his life to warm-up
audiences, he used them as a lawyer in courtrooms, with witnesses, judges, juries, to put them at ease and on his side. he used them as a politician, when he was speaking. he also used them in private to entertain people and to keep them away, to keep them off his back. cronies remembered the moment after he was elected president but before he was inaugurated, so he had four months in springfield illinois and the world was descending upon him. and this man, his name was allard sweat, he said to his visitors, he heard them all, he told them all a story and he sent them all away. smarter ones,he as they were leaving the room said, i didn't get to touch on the point that i wanted to say. but that the purpose of telling a story, you keep them entertained and get them out of there. and abraham lincoln learned this from his father.
thomas lincoln died in 1851. abraham named one of his sons after him. also a horse, old tom. [laughter] after he was elected president he was planning his trip to washington and he visited his father's grave, and he saw there was no stone on it. and he said, i will have to fix that, i will have to have a stone put up. and he never did. so that was the end of his relationship with thomas lincoln. but if we don't get from our parents everything we need or we have to never do look for it from surrogates. we have to look for substitute parents. and for a boy in early 19th century america, handiest surrogate fathers were the founding fathers.
still alive were and lincoln's early lifetime. he was born in february of 1809, when thomas jefferson still had one month to serve in the white house. jefferson was followed by eight years of james madison, who was followed by eight years of james munro, the last founder president. so they were in the white house and to lincoln's teenage years. is in the time lincoln his 20's, the very last of this generation has died off. and they never came to kentucky, indiana or illinois, and lincoln never went to the east coast where they lived until later in his life. .o he wanted to meet these men it could never be in person, it had to be in books.
and the first important book on a founding father he read was about the most important of the founding fathers, george washington. weems'was nathan locke "life of george washington." it came out in 1800 and there was a second edition in 1808, the year before lincoln was born and this was the book he read as a child, perhaps as early as kentucky but certainly by the time he moved to indiana. clergymanan episcopal and he calls himself on the thetispiece of this book, director of the mount vernon parish. there is no such thing as mount vernon parish and he is not the rector of it, but he had met george washington once. he had one visit to mount vernon and had one exchange of letters with him, and this was the basis of his connection on which he claimed authority to write.
he also did a lot of interviewing. he did look up people who had known washington as a boy. of the stories he tells about washington may even have been true. [applause] and weems is one of those writers, like james fenimore cooper or h.p. lovecraft, their sentences are terrible but their stories are terrific. and the proof of that is that we all know one of weems' stories. this is the story of the cherry tree. of course you know it. washington's father imports a special cherry tree. he also gives his young son a hatchet. and then shortly thereafter he notices that the bark of the cherry tree has been cut, and he suspects what has happened but he asks his son anyway, george, do you know damaged my cherry tree?
and young george says, i cannot tell a lie, father i cannot tell a lie. i did it with my hatchet. but weems goes on to say that washington's father welcomed his confession, and said this is more precious to me than gold or silver, the fact that you have told the truth. fromeems draws a moral this. he tells parents, if you want your children to be honest, don't punish them, don't beat them for every little offense. what if they you the truth, respect that and welcome that. so his book is both addressed to what we now call young adults and is also addressed to their parents, who are maybe reading it to them or over their shoulders. but it was not this story that impressed abraham lincoln. weems'not interested in tale of washington as a good boy. he was interested in weems' account of washington is a great
man. and we know this because lincoln himself sets up -- himself said so, in february 1861, when he was on his way to his first inauguration. he left springfield illinois early that month and took a train through the northeast to get to washington, d.c. the country was falling apart. six states had left the union. , would leaveventh the day he arrived in washington. so he is going through loyal states, making brief appearances, simply to show people that the country was going on, the government was going on. and in february he passes through trenton, new jersey, and he gives a speech to the state legislature. and there he says that when he was a boy, he read weems' life
of washington, and of all the battles that weems recounts the one that made the greatest impression on him was the battle of trenton. now this was at the end of 1776, after it disastrous half-year for the united states. washington had been beaten out of new york city. he had lost a battle in white plains in upstate new york. he had retreated across the state of new jersey and across the delaware river. the british had reconquered southern new york and new jersey, and they expected in the spring they would cross the delaware, take philadelphia and wrap this revolution up. but at the end of the year, washington and his troops turned, recrossed the delaware and attacked the hessian these were hired
soldiers from germany who were fighting on the british side. they attacked the hessian outpost in the city of trenton, captured 900 soldiers and went on to win the battle of princeton. this wasn't the beginning of the end of the revolutionary war but it was the end of the beginning. it meant the cause would not be itsled in his cradle -- in cradle, that meant the americans could fight and fight back and win and the struggle could go on. speech to the's new jersey legislature, he mentions the crossing of the river, the hessians and the cold and suffering of the soldiers. and if you read weems' account thehe battle, those were very things weems spent pages describing, which tells me that lincoln is recovering a memory of his childhood reading. and he goes on to say, boy though i was, i realized that
these men were struggling for something more than independence, for something that would be of value to all men and all times. and he explains to his audience that that something was liberty. and again come into go back to weems' account, those of the very lessons that weems draws from the battle of trenton, because after he describes the american crossing of the delaware, washington's army still hostile marja my eligible for the get to trenton. an allegoricals figure hovering over the american troops. it's a woman, the spirit of liberty. says, she has been driven out of europe, she has come to the new world as her last refuge, but her enemies have followed her. who will defend her?
men.this ragged band of weems presented the battle of trenton as a fight for the faith of liberty in the world, men. and that's the lesson young abraham lincoln drew from it and that is what he tells the new jersey legislature we are about to be engaged in now, a struggle for the fate of liberty in the world. so washington was the man who told him about that struggle, whose life epitomized that struggle, and the first founding father effected him. the second was in his 20's and this was thomas payne. thomas payne was an english immigrant. he came to this country when he was in his 30's. he never held any important political office. he was briefly a secretary of a congressional committee, but he
joins the ranks of the founding fathers because of his greatness as a journalist. i'm a journalist myself, but i would say that the first paine'sh of thomas first essay, called "the american crisis." is the greatest lead paragraph that has ever been written or ever will be written. that's the paragraph that begins "these are the times that try man's souls." and paine wrote that as a witness to the retreat of washington's army across new jersey. he wrote it on a drum had, at night, at a camp fire, and went to philadelphia to have it printed up. and the copies were read aloud to washington's troops before the battle of trenton, to encourage them to reenlist and to fight. -- this made pain' s may thomas payne's reputation as a patriot. after the war, thomas payne
continued to write and one of his postwar books was called "the age of reason." and this almost destroyed his reputation in america because was a fierce attack on organized religion. now, and a 20th century theodore roosevelt would call thomas payne a filthy little atheist. he was not an atheist. he was a deist. as he put it, i believe in one god and no more. but he said that all religions were created to terrify and enslave mankind. -- he the age of reason -- a few cracks at ms. long at islam, he makes a few more of judaism, but his main target is the religion in which he was raised and that of most of his readers, which was christianity. his father was an anglican. his mother was a quaker. he had some sympathies with quakers all his life, but he thought christianity was one of these systems devised to terrify
and enslave mankind. "the age of reason" he goes through the bible and highlights every contradiction that he can find. insightthat he had his into the nature of religion when he was a little boy, seven years and his familye was reading a sermon to the family on substitutionary atonement. that was the christian doctrine that christ died for our sins, and that he took upon himself through his crucifixion the burden of our sins. righ -- payne writes that he goes down owing to his garden and revolted with the recollection, because it was
making god almighty act like a passionate man when he kills his son when he could not avenge himself any other way. and as i wish her a man would be hanged that did such a thing, i could not see for what purpose they preached such sermons. now of course, there has been centuries of writing about the crucifixion of christ and substitutionary atonement. the theological explanations of it, theological attacks on it. thomas payne isn't interested in any of that. andakes the bible literally he tried to understand it literally and undermine it literally. read payeems to have his 20's, was in maybe during his time in indiana but certainly by the time he most illinois. and this is a time when he has left his family, he has moved
away from his father and stepfather, he's no longer working for thomas lincoln, he's on his own. and like a lot of twentysomethings, he thinks it is time to think for himself. and here is this author, thomas payne, who tells him everything he has believed, everything you were raised in doesn't make any sense. you don't have to believe it. and lincoln thought this was just great. givingre accounts of him readings of thomas payne to people his own age. he also said that he had written ayne-liket, a p the virgintacking birth. he did this while he was a postmaster in illinois. now in those days there were no post offices. post masters would have a table in a store and people would bring in their letters to him,
they would come there to pick up their letters, at mostly what you did as a postmaster is you set around reading everybody's newspapers and gossiping with your friends. this was one of the jobs link and had his young man. he had many others. he was a blacksmith. but now he's a postmaster and he's telling his young cronies how much he thinks of thomas payne. so the owner of the store was an older man named samuel hill. he asked to see lincoln's pamphlet and lincoln gave it to mr. hill. and hill threw it in the stove. the reason he did that is that abraham lincoln was already interested in politics, and samuel hill new you are not going to get rural politics in if yous in the 1830's for its saying that the virgin birth is a lot of nonsense. so he did the budding young politician a great favor.
lincoln's religious opinions but ichange as he aged, think what he took from thomas was, heat was permanent learned how to use humor to make serious argument. and he didn't have to learn from how to be funny. he already knew that from thomas lincoln. he already was a storyteller. showed him how to use humor to make serious point. .- serious points ar wrote virgin birth, payne that if any young woman of today she was madeid pregnant by a ghost and was told so by a bird, nobody would believe her. he was talking about the holy spirit and again he was making it very literal and making a
joke about it. and this was a technique lincoln would use when he is an adult politician. say, for instance of slavery, and responding to democratic party attacks, a typical line of attack on lincoln and other republicans was, well the only reason you could be for freeing slaves is because you want to sleep with black women. that must be your motivation. and you see this in cartoons, he see this in speeches, you see this in newspaper editorials. so lincoln's reaction would be, just because i don't want a black woman for a slave doesn't mean i have to have her as a wife. i can just leave her alone. so he is making it very concrete. he is raising a little laugh. but he is also planting a thought, because if you leave the black woman alone you are leaving her free.
i think this was a technique, using a joke to make a serious point, that he learned in his 20's from the master of it, thomas payne. the third founding father who is important to lincoln's thomas jefferson, the third president. i sometimes thought that jefferson's mind was like a house with many rooms, and they don't all have connecting doors. [laughter] jefferson is a very complicated man. brilliant, not always aware of what is going on in every part of his life, he is the great populist who lives in the elegant, aristocratic ivory at monticello. he's the great proponent of freedom who owns dozens of
slaves whom he never free. but jefferson, the jefferson that was important to lincoln was the young jefferson, who wrote the declaration of independence when he was only 33 years old. hislincoln would say, after oria speech in 1854 that the declaration of independence was his ideal, the ideal for the republican party, the ideal for the united states. to a59, he is invited celebration of jefferson's birthday in boston, by a republican group. he can't go, he has legal business. but he sends them a statement, and clearly he worked hard on this statement. he wanted it to be published in northern newspapers. to he wrote this paean jefferson and said, all honor to jefferson for having the coolness and the forecast to insert into a merely
revolutionary document, an abstract principle which would be applicable to all men at all times. so here he is equating jefferson with washington. washington was the man who took the struggle for independence but also saw it as a struggle for liberty. and jefferson is doing the same thing with his words. he is taking a statement of our independence, severing our connection with great britain, and he puts it in a statement on the internal value of liberty. lincoln said the declaration had the axioms and the statements of liberty. he said this in 1859. but his most famous peon to to jeffersonpay on is in the gettysburg address, because it begins "four score
and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent. and four score is 1776. so lincoln is identifying the declaration of independence is the beginning of the united states, and the statement of american principle. the gettysburg address was given at the dedication of the there had been a lot of dying in lincoln's life. his little brother died after three days. sarah, died when he was in his 20's. his mother had died when he was nine. lincoln served in one war called the black hawk war, it was an indian war in northwestern illinois. he served in it for a couple of months. he didn't see any combat but he had seen a group of men who had just been scalped. and he said, on the top of every head was a little circle the size of a silver dollar, and the
blood seemed to be everywhere. his own first sweetheart had died when he was in his early 20's, and he was described as being devastated by the thought of rain falling on her grave. son who died in the 1850's, before he was elected president, one of his four sons. this was the normal experience of death in early 19th century america. there was lot of disease, there were small wars, indian wars, the war of 1812, the mexican war. but the civil war was not normal. the civil war turned out to be something else. combat in thest civil war happened in alexandria, virginia, just a few miles down from washington dc
the owner of the largest hotel in alexandria raised a huge confederate banner over the building, which could be seen from the white house with a spyglass. so a small party of union soldiers went to alexandria, to retake the city and to tear down this flag. it was led by a man named elmer ellsworth who was from illinois. he had studied law in lincoln's law office. he had come along with lincoln on his train trip from springfield to washington for his inauguration, and as ellsworth let his men up the stairs to the hotel, he was shot and killed by the hotel owner, who was killed in turn by his second-in-command. at the end of 1861 there was a much larger battle at all bluff. ball bluff.
and one of the officers in that battle was another of lincoln's illinois, edward baker. lincoln named one of his sons after edward baker, and lincoln introduced him to the crowd at his first inaugural. baker moved to oregon and became a senator and then he was in washington dc. and he is the senator who introduces lincoln to give his first inaugural. baker was killed at the battle of balls bluff and that his funeral lincoln was described as weeping like a child. anothermcculloch, acquaintance of lincoln from illinois, he had been the clerk in bloomington county, on lincoln's old legal circuit. and at the beginning of the war he asked for lincoln's help to get them into an illinois registered -- illinois regiment. the reason william mcculloch needed lincoln's help was that and only' years old
had one arm. he lost his arm in a farming accident but he still wanted to fight for liberty. they can put in a good word for many became a colonel and a cavalry regiment and he was killed in 1862 in northern mississippi, in the run-up to the vicksburg campaign. it was to mcculloch's daughter fanny that lincoln wrote one of his most eloquent letters, telling her that only time can lessen her grief for her dead father. sometimes it wasn't death that he encountered, it was injury. he and his wife often went to military hospitals, where soldiers were being treated. and he was accompanied on one visit by another illinois and, noah brooks, the young man who got aved to california, job with the "sacramento union" and was sent back to washington to cover the lincoln administration and the war. he had excellent access to the president. so he was accompanying mr. lincoln on this hospital visit.
and as they go down the row of beds, there is a charitable tracts to theting injured soldiers. and one soldier looks at the him,let she has left laughs and tosses it back down on his bed. so brooks reports that when lincoln got up to this man he said, she was just trying to be helpful. toprobably wasn't right laugh at her pamphlet. in the soldier says, you don't understand, mr. president. it's a pamphlet on the sin of death and both of my legs have been blown off. joke bute shape of a of course the joke is on lincoln -- not the legless soldier and the legless soldier. lincoln was commander-in-chief so every statistic, every report on a casualty is coming to his desk. all the union dead and injured,
all the rebel dead and injured, who were also americans, because lincoln never acknowledges the right of the confederacy to secede. from his point of view, all the contestants in this war are americans, and he is getting word of all their fates. it is funneling into him. and the problem for him is, why has this happened? of course he understands the politics of it, but what is the cause? all his life, lincoln was a fatalist. baptists,s had been and the particular baptist church belonged to believed in predestination. lincoln left that church but he never left the doctrine of predestination. he thought that every action we by an earlier action which itself was caused by an earlier action, and back
and back the causes go. he had a little phrase that he said often. it was recorded by his young law partner, william herndon. lincoln would say, the moment was born before the man. so before you were even born, the causes of everything you do and ifen set in place, you follow these chains of causation back, they lead to god, who created the universe and everything in it. remember the thomas payne was not an atheist, nor was lincoln never an atheist. payne believed in one god and no more. so for lincoln, as the civil war was grinding on, he can only conclude that god wants it to for some that god reason wants these men to be injured and killed. and the result of those thoughts, the final result is in
his second inaugural. it is one of the shortest inaugural addresses ever given. secondwashington's inaugural was shorter, but this is pretty short. it's for paragraphs. and the first paragraph says that he has no news to report, everyone knows the news, their reading the newspapers. second paragraph speaks briefly of the causes of the war. but in the third paragraph is devoted to lincoln's struggle to find out why god has permitted it to go on so long. says, if we shall suppose that american slavery is one of those offenses which in the butidence of god must come, which, having continued through his appointed time he now wheels to remove, and that he gives to
both north and south this terrible war as a war due to ,hose by whom the results came and any defined -- any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in the believers and living god always subscribed to him, if god wills that this work continues until all the wealth piled up by the ions men's 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn of the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword. said 3000 years ago, so still it must be said, the judgments of the lord are true and righteous altogether. that is from the 91st psalm. that alln is saying these deaths are in payment for the sin of slavery.
and it hasional sin, caused all this injury and all the staff, -- all this death, and it doesn't matter if you owned slaves, it doesn't matter if you were the neighbor of a slave owner, or it doesn't matter if you came from a state where you never saw a black man, free or slave, in your life. you partake in this natural sin , 50 euros man,en some of you, have to pay for it. and the first thing i noticed when i came to write about this is how far lincoln has moved from payne. thomas paine said he would have revolted at the substitutionary atonement, because was making got up to be a passionate man who took revenge on his own son by killing them -- killing him.
and now here, lincoln's god is willing to deaths of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of young men to satiate the american sin of slavery. the second thing i noticed about this passage that is striking about it is the math. gettysburg the address was fourscore and seven from 1863. that took you 21776. but here, he says 250 years of unrequited toil. is 1615. that's jamestown. that's the first american colony, the first colony to except slaves from africa. so in the second inaugural, the founding fathers have disappeared. the only major speech lincoln gives, except for the house divided speech, where the
founding fathers are not mentioned. they are a dimensionless point in 250 years of unrequited toil, which has to be paid for by the civil war. the second inaugural at a fourth paragraph, a short paragraph ends and sit -- which it. none, withe toward charity to all, with firmness in the right as god gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and for his orphan. to do all which may achieve and and chair isst -- a just and lasting peace among ourselves and all nations."
write aboutcame to that, i noticed how so many of those words are two syllables. they are either two syllable words or two syllable phrases. strive on. finish. bind up. care for. do all. achieve. cherish. and it struck me this paragraph is like walking, it is as simple as walking, and it is as hard as walking when you have walked so far, and you have so far still yet to go. thank you. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
>> we continue with a sit-down conversation with "national review" senior editor richard brookhiser. he discusses his career, his favorite founding fathers, and his inspiration for the book of "founder's son: the life of abraham lincoln." this is about 50 minutes. [applause] remarkable. we will have a 45 minute q and a. afterwards there are copies of ookhiser's books in the lobby. you have one of the best dinner conversation icebreakers in history.