Away with LiveJournal, and in with a new, sleeker-looking blog. A classier blog. A more mature blog. A blog where we’re not afraid to ask the big questions.
Questions like: did Abraham Lincoln sign a demonic pact with the ghost of Attila the Hun?
We turn to one of my favorite historical books of all time, the late 19th/early 20th century bestseller The Copperhead, or, The Secret Political History of our Civil War Unveiled, Showing The Falsity Of New England. Partizan History, How Abraham Lincoln Came To Be President, The Secret Working And Conspiring Of Those In Power. Motive And Purpose Of Prolonging The War For Four Years.
To Be Delivered And Published In A Series Of Four Illustrated Lectures.
You’d expect every line of that to be written in a different ridiculous font, and you’d be right.
The author of let’s-just-call-it-Copperhead was Dr. Fayette Hall (1825 – 1912), a Connecticut dentist, orator, amateur historian, and all-around colorful figure. He starts off by ticking off every box on the Crackpot Index, just in case the fonts didn’t get our attention:
“Here we have the desire and sentiment of the New York Press. That any person or speaker who exposes facts, or expresses an opinion at variance with their assumption, arrogance and dictation shall be suppressed by mob violence or any other means necessary to crush out free speech. None but the guilty or cowards fear the truth. Josh Billings said that he cared nothing for lies. It was only the truth that he feared, and we think it is the truth that is most feared by those sycophantic caterers for partisan and party power. I have the right to stand here to-night, alone, as did Bruno or Gallileo (sic) to demonstrate truth, and certainly as much right as the whole world has to perpetrate and perpetuate falsehood.“
And what is this truth he must speak?
“His admirers would have the world believe that every act of Abraham Lincoln was that emanating from the highest intelligence and honest motives, at which this course of lectures is widely at variance, and would demonstrate that [his] only incentive to any exertion was the superstitious phantasies of a freak, aroused to action by Negro voudooism and spirit mediums.”
Okay, back up. Let’s start at the beginning here.
“As I am about to describe the characteristics, acts and doings of one of the most prominent characters of the nineteenth century, I will start with a physiological and phrenological description of the man.”
[According to a description given by his friend W.H. Herndan in 1865], he was about six feet, four inches high. He was thin, wiry, sinewy, raw-boned; thin through the breast to the back and narrow across the shoulders, inclining to the consumptive in build. His structure was loose and leathery; his body was shrunk and shriveled, having dark skin, dark hair — looking woe struck. When he walked he moved cautiously but firmly, his long arms and hands swung down by his side. He walked with even tread, the inner side of his feet being parallel … undulatory, up and down. His legs and arms were abnormally, unnaturally long, and in undue proportion to the balance of his body.
Swinging, unnaturally long arms. Funny-looking walk. Does that remind you of anything? Oh yes, we’re going there.
“Here we have a correct description of Abraham Lincoln’s physical and phrenological organization. We read in the first chapter of Genesis : And God said let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after his kind; and it was so; And God said: Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness : So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created him.
Now, according to the description given by two of his most intimate friends and ardent admirers, which did Abraham Lincoln most nearly resemble, the higher and superior form of man, which we are told is the form of Deity, or according to the theory of Darwin and other celebrated scientists, the lower and inferior form of his great congener the ape?
We then get treated to this illustration, possibly my favorite in all of world literature:
As a later, wiser age would one day say – “Checkmate, liberals!”
“I know of no instance where phrenology is better verified than in the head of Abraham Lincoln, and which although but little more than the world’s representation of the ape-like man, he had enough brains located where, while it saved him from idiocy, left him a freak and gave him the qualification to obtain a position in which the dishonest fanaticism of the time aiding that of low cunning and secret intrigue which carried him to the White House and deluged the land in blood.”
Luckily, we as a nation have since moved beyond these sorts of superficial comparisons.
So if Lincoln was such a biological nincompoop, how was he so wildly successful at politics?
“I also assert and shall show that nearly every public act of Abraham Lincoln’s so-called statesmanship was but an imitation of some historical barbarian predecessor or by direction of those same barbarian spirits purporting to instruct him through the many mediums whom he employed and consulted the same as the oracles were consulted and obeyed in the days of pagan Greece and Rome.”
Are we finally going to get to hear his evidence for this remarkable assertion? No! We get on a tangent about Mary Todd Lincoln:
“When Lincoln first made advances to Miss Todd, who was very much his superior in every respect, position, education and culture she coolly snubbed him and said to an acquaintance. Who the devil do you think is after me now? It’s that old long shanks, Lincoln, which remark shows that she was not particularly enamored of him. Shortly after thus expressing herself she discovered that a [voodoo] fortune teller had predicted for Lincoln that he was to become President of the United States. Whereupon Miss Todd became the suitor, or at least encouraged him to renew the attempt, when after quite an unpleasant experience she succeeded in becoming his wife.”
Courting romance voodoo prophecy blah blah. Let’s get to the part where ghosts make Lincoln president. By page 37, Lincoln has connected with the Laurie family, a group of Washington socialites, and been invited to their seance:
“At a spiritual seance, the party workers, spiritualists and abolitionists, were met and Mr. Laurie purported to be entranced and controlled by the spirit of Robert Rantoul of Boston, and then and there under those circumstances Abraham Lincoln was announced and declared by those spiritualists and abolitionists to be the next President of the United States. At that time Horace Greeley was much interested in the spiritualistic theory and I was told had the Fox sisters at his house investigating the subject.
After the spiritualistic performance at the Laurie’s, Mr. Greeley was immediately informed of the result, when he became interested and went to Illinois to see Lincoln, where the arrangements were made, and Horace Greeley was the man who had Abraham Lincoln nominated as the dark horse of the Convention of 1860.”
All right, Lincoln. You’re President. What next?
“Lincoln had succeeded to the full promise of the voudoo prediction, when it would be supposed that under our form of government as established by our fathers and the Constitution that his ambition would have been sated. Not so. The President of the United States had established direct communication with the spirit world and his future was to be governed by that source. He had no further use for the Constitution, his inaugural oath, or his obligation to the government and the people. There were greater things yet in store for him. As he had succeeded in obtaining power, why should he not retain it, for a superstitious vain man’s ambition knows no limit. It was through the Lauries that he established communication with the spirits and through them that Attila King of the Huns assured him of regal power and a dictatorship for life.”
This is getting way too long for a first blog post. To be continued…
This entry has been kind of harsh on Lincoln. To make up for it, here is a picture of Abraham Lincoln hugging George Washington in Heaven.