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Friday, December 17, 2010

Whitman’s first thoughts on Lincoln

Today on The New York Times’s Disunion blog, which tracks the day-by-day events of the Civil War, writer Adam Goodheart describes his recent visit to the Library of Congress. There he perused Walt Whitman’s notebooks and found, in the entries dating from 1860–61, Whitman’s first thoughts on Abraham Lincoln.

In one entry, Whitman conjures a mythic Lincoln to mirror his hopes for the perfect President: “I would be much pleased to see some heroic, shrewd, fully-informed, healthy-bodied, middle-aged, beard-faced American blacksmith or boatman come down from the West across the Alleghanies [sic], and walk into the Presidency, dressed in a clean suit of working attire, and with the tan all over his face, breast, and arms; I would certainly vote for that sort of man, possessing the due requirements, before any other candidate.” (Last week on Reader’s Almanac, we explored the significance of Lincoln’s new beard for American letters). The Disunion blog has posted some remarkable scanned images from the inside of Whitman’s notebook.

Also of interest:
  • For more Civil War multimedia, visit the Library of Congress’s Flickr page to see a collection of recently scanned “Civil War Faces,” ambrotype and tin type portraits of Civil War soldiers.
  • The Library of America is getting ready to publish The Civil War: The First Year Told By Those Who Lived It, the first of a four-volume set collecting letters and diaries from the heat of battle, along with speeches, articles, poems, songs, military reports, legal opinions, and memoirs. The contents of the volume were posted  yesterday on our website, the books will arrive from the printer in early January and will be available in bookstores on February 3.

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