The Making of a Man
Part 3

This woman boasted she would marry the President of the United States.
She toyed with two candidates, choosing one, but never forgetting the other, even naming her son after him.
They hadn’t been engaged long, before she nagged to change him.
He was crude. She was refined.
He was uneducated. She was sophisticated.
He only spoke when he must. She held nothing back.
He was content to listen. She must hold everyone’s attention.
They were opposites: in training, background, temperament, tastes, mental outlook.
They irritated each other constantly.
They were unfit for each other.
He avoided her.
She refused to listen.
But she would make him a president.

When he had wrote a letter to break off the engagement, his friend counselled him to “be a man and face his opposition.”
When he tried, she cried. He relented.
But he knew they shouldn’t marry. He mourned as if his life had already been determined.
At the wedding, family and friends waited.
He never showed.
A search found him incoherent and suicidal.
The more distant he became, the more determined she was to marry him.
Not out of any love for him, but out of pride.
And she would make him president.
His kindness and integrity impelled him to stay engaged.
He married her to save his honor. In so doing, he sacrificed his peace.

Someone once asked him why the Todds, his in-laws’ name, spelled their name as they did.
He reckoned one “d” was good enough for God, but the Todds had to have two.

When this newly married couple sat at breakfast with other boarders, she threw a hot cup of coffee in his face over some mild aggravation.
He sat, unable to move, humiliated while his hostess wipe his face and clothes.

If she acted like that in public, what did she do in private?
She berated him for everything.
He was stoop shouldered.
He walked awkwardly.
He had no grace.
She corrected his appearance.
His ears were too big and stood at right angles from his head.
His nose wasn’t straight.
His lower lip stuck out.
His feet and hands were too large.
His head too small.
He neglected to groom his hair.
His table manners were “large and free.”
His response? He didn’t to go home.
His law office became his sanctuary.
The office was rarely swept, never scrubbed.
Seeds on the top of a bookcase sprouted and grew from the dust that had accumulated.
He didn’t notice.

His absent mindedness and kindness carried over to his children.
While pulling a wagon with his children in it, he would be so internally engaged, when one fell out and cried, he didn’t notice.
He didn’t attend church. He felt unworthy. Instead, he often took his children for walks while his wife went to church.
One day, while he attending church with her. One son, missing his father, dashed screaming into the church to find him.
His wife, elegantly attired, was shocked and embarrassed.
But he stretched out his long arms, drew his son to him in a hug that held him against his breast in comfort.

He never forgot a favor.
Any small gesture, he remembered.
Often returning the kindness by not accepting payment for a legal need.
While his comrades' practices grew rich, he remained poor, helping those who couldn’t pay, although frustrating his wife by it.

His wife had trouble with everyone.
When she berated the ice man, neighbors half a block away could hear.
He swore he’d see her “sizzling in hell” before he would sell her another piece of ice.
But she'd had to have her ice.
And he was the only man in town to supply it.
She wouldn’t apologize but did send a neighbor to smooth the rift.

Her husband wanted to invite his stepmother for Christmas.
His wife refused.
He feared if his mother came, his wife wouldn’t allow her in.
For twenty-three years his stepmother lived seventy miles from Springfield but never saw the inside of his home.
Only one of his relatives ever visited.
A distant cousin lived with them as she attended school.
His wife treated her as a servant.
He rebelled at this mistreatment.
The scene became ugly.

While his wife made enemies with everyone, he made peace.
She had trouble with her “hired girls.”
One fiery explosion of hers and they’d leave, warning friends.
She boasted of living in the South, where people didn’t put up with impudent slaves. They'd be flogged.

When one man returned to collect his niece’s belongings, she abused him.
He went to Lincoln’s office, demanding an apology from her.
Lincoln listened, then replied, “I regret to hear this, but let me ask you in all candor, can’t you endure for a few moments what I have had as my daily portion for the last fifteen years?”
The man extended his sympathy and apologized for troubling him.

When she kept a maid for more than two years, the neighbors marveled.
Lincoln had made a secret bargain with the maid. If she could ignore the abuse and stay, he’d give her an extra dollar a week.
After being berated by the Mrs., he would catch her alone and encourage, “Keep up your courage. Stay with her.”
Later this maid’s husband fought under Grant.
Mary wouldn’t allow her to dinner, so after chatting at his office, Lincoln sent her home with fruit and money for clothes.

“And so Mrs. Lincoln stormed on through the years, leaving in her wake a train of heartaches and hatred.” P. 84
Her husband bore it with Christ-like patience.

His friends weren’t so kind.
“Wildcat,” “She-wolf,” “Hellion,” “She-devil” were only a few of the “printable” names given her by his friends.

Lincoln could bring an audience to roaring laughter, yet his own life was without a smile.
When he was distressed, his close friends would leave him alone.
He was often seen wandering late at night, alone.
He never had a confidant.
No soul heard his trials.

Once she attacked him so savagely, and kept at it so long, he “with malice toward none; with charity for all”—even he—lost his self control. Seizing her by the arm, he forced her across the kitchen and pushed her toward the door, saying, “You’re ruining my life. You’re making a hell of this home. Now, damn you, you get out of it.”

If he had married the woman he loved, he would have been happy, but not president.
She wouldn’t have driven him to achieve political achievement.
His wife, though, obsessed with living in the White House, no sooner married him than pushed him to run for the Whig nomination for Congress.
She dreamed of living in Washington—to bask in its social prestige.
When she finally arrived in Washington, she was disappointed.
The city didn’t collect trash.
Refuge was dumped in the alley for cows, pigs and geese to wallow through.
She listened from her boardinghouse room to the owner’s boy chasing a run-away hog from their garden.
Her dream of exclusive society was dashed.
She was ignored.

The country went to war with Mexico—by its victory, land was gained for more slavery.
Lincoln attacked the President for starting a war that robbed and dishonored, who forgot “to defend the weak and innocent, and permitted the strong band of murderers and demons from hell to kill men, women, and children and lay waste and pillage the land of the just.”
The capital didn’t notice this speech. But back home, in his home town of Springfield, his constituents who had sent six thousand men to fight for the “holy cause of liberty,” now heard their representative accusing them of murder. These ill feelings brewed for thirteen years. When Lincoln ran for Presidency, these accusations arose against him.
He returned home, the most dejected man of Illinois.

In 1854 Stephen Douglas secured a repeal of the Missouri Compromise, allowing the land west of the Mississippi to include slavery.
The nation responded. When Congress adjourned and Douglas started home, his way was lit from Boston to Illinois by the burning effigies of himself hanging. 
Stephen Douglas would defend himself in Chicago.
Men rushed to the hardware stores. By sundown, there wasn’t a gun for sale in all the city.
In the hottest night of the year, when horses died in the streets, sweat poured from men’s faces, they flocked to hear Douglas speak.
Douglas was doomed.

Mary Lincoln knew this was Lincoln’s chance.
The Missouri Compromise repeal aroused him. He could no longer remain quiet.
And so he prepared his speech.
On Oct 3, when the Springfield State Fair opened, thousands of farmers poured into town.
Douglas spoke for over three hours.
When he finished, Lincoln declared: “I’ll hang his hide on the fence tomorrow.”
The following day, every seat in the hall was taken.
Douglas sat on the platform, meticulously groomed.
Lincoln appeared, without coat, vest, collar or tie. His hair was disordered. His boots rusty and unkempt.
Mary Lincoln flushed with anger and embarrassment.

But that afternoon Lincoln gave his first great speech of his life.
Previous speeches didn’t compare to the depth and feeling this one held. He spoke of slavery's wrong, pleading for an oppressed race. He declared, “I have no prejudice against the Southern people. They are just what we would be in their situation. If slavery did not now exist among them, they would not introduce it. If it did now exist among us, we should not instantly give it up.” For over three hours, while sweat rolled down his face, he showed the fallacy of Douglas’s position.

Surely this would bring his victory. But another election brought failure.
He returned to his law office in Springfield, but his heart was no longer in law.
The thought of millions in bondage made him miserable.
His melancholy returned.
He was forty-nine.
His years of struggle had brought what?
In business, failure.
In marriage, unhappiness.
In law, he only grossed three thousand a year.
In politics and his heart’s desires, frustration and defeat.

When Bleeding Kansas brought the battle of slavery back into the realm of statehood, Douglas ran again for candidacy.
Douglas and Lincoln debates brought the obscure Lincoln to be noticed.
Lincoln formed ideas in his mind, carrying around these written thoughts in his hat, revising, recasting, improving. He asked close friends for criticism and comments.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
“I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.”
“I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become one thing or the other.”

His friends said it was too radical, it would drive voters away.

Lincoln’s response, “The time has come when this truth should be uttered, and I am determined neither to change nor modify my assertion. I am willing, if necessary, to perish with it. If it is decreed that I should go down because of this speech, then let me go down linked to the truth. Let me die in the advocacy of what is just and right.”

When the time came to present his speech, Douglas arrived on a carriage pulled by six white horses.
Lincoln arrived on a decrepit old hay-rack drawn by a team of white mules.
Douglas was 5’4.” Lincoln 6’4”.
Douglas spoke in a rich baritone voice. Lincoln had a thin tenor voice.
Douglas was graceful and suave. Lincoln was ungainly and awkward.
Douglas’s charm mesmerized the crowds. Lincoln’s face was sad, depressing, lacking physical magnetism.
Douglas dressed like a rich Southern planter. Lincoln’s appearance was uncouth, grotesque, dingy and rumbled.
Douglas lacked humor. Lincoln was one of the greatest story tellers that ever lived.
Douglas repeated his speeches. Lincoln wrote a new one every time.
Douglas was vain, craved attention, arriving by a special train draped in flags. Lincoln detested attention, traveling in freight trains and day-coaches.
Douglas had no fixed morals except win at all cost. Lincoln fought for a principle. It mattered little if he won, if only justice and mercy triumphed in the end.
Douglas proposed slavery as a right for states to choose; Lincoln showed slavery as a moral wrong.
Douglas accused Lincoln of wanting Negroes to be socially equal.
Lincoln retorted. “All I ask for the Negro is that, if you do not like him, you let him alone. If God gave him but little, let him enjoy that little. He is not my equal in many respects, but in his right to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, in his right to put into his mouth the bread that his hands have earned, he is my equal … and the equal of every living man.”

Douglas charged Lincoln of wanting the whites to “hug and marry the blacks.”
Lincoln denied it. “I object to the alternative which says that because I do not want a Negro woman for a slave, I must want her for a wife….”
Douglas intentionally lied. Lincoln presented truth.

At the Republican Party convention, in the spring 1860, they met to nominate a Presidential candidate.
William H. Seward of New York expected to win. He already had his celebrations ready.
But that Thursday night the printer didn’t deliver the paper for the tally.
They adjourned until morning.

Those hours allowed Horace Greeley time to settle a score with William H. Seward. After helping Seward become Governor of NY, then US Senator, Greeley had received nothing.

On this night, waiting the nomination of president for the Republican party, Greeley wrote his revenge. He delivered his letter to all the delegations. Because his paper, New York Tribune was read all over the North, he stirred the masses and got their attention.

Lincoln’s friends rushed behind him to all the delegations promising Lincoln, the Kentuckian, could win the border State votes.

When the votes were counted, Greeley received his revenge.

Back in Springfield, Lincoln heard the news. “Mr. Lincoln, you're nominated!”
After nineteen years of desolating defeats, he had victory.
His response?
“Excuse me, boys,” he pleaded. “There’s a little woman down on Eighth Street who will want to hear this.”
He thought first of his wife's happiness.

Douglas split his party three ways.

Lincoln feared he couldn’t carry his home town. When a survey showed all 23 ministers and students in town except three were against him, Lincoln lamented, “They pretend to believe in the Bible and be God-fearing Christians; yet by their ballots they are demonstrating that they don’t care whether slavery is voted up or down. But I know God cares and humanity cares, and if they don’t surely they have not read their Bibles aright.”
All of Lincoln’s relatives except one voted against him.
Why? They were Democrates.
Of his 2 million votes only 24,000 came from the South.
In Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas not one man voted for Abraham Lincoln.

The American Anit-Slavery Society published pamphlets showing life of a slave. Many of the mulattoes resulted from slave owners forcing slaves into prostitution. Uncle Tom’s Cabin stirred millions of readers.
When introduced to the author Harriet Beecher Stowe, Lincoln called her, “the little woman that started the big war.”
Hatred propounded in these pamphlets didn’t convince Southerners to change. Instead, they wanted separation from their critics.
Truth seldom flourishes in politics or emotion.

Before Lincoln left Springfield to take office, the South began to succeed. (The previous presidency did nothing.)
The Confederacy was buying guns, building forts, drilling soldiers.
The Union was dissolving.
He must lead the nation into war.
He couldn’t sleep.
He lost forty pounds.
He saw a vision in a mirror. He had two faces—one very pale.

Mrs. Lincoln said it was sign—he’d be elected two terms of office but wouldn’t live through the second term.
Lincoln believed he was going to Washington to die.
He received death threats every day.

He wrote his inaugural address, pleading to the Southern States:
“We are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies….”

Before leaving home, he said goodbye to his stepmother.
She clung to him. “I didn’t want you to run for President, Abe, and I didn’t want to see you elected. My heart tells me that something will happen to you, and that I’ll never see you again till we meet in heaven.”
He spoke from the caboose of the train taking him away from his home and to Washington.
Only two times he wept when speaking. This morning was one of them.
“I now leave, not knowing when or whether I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.”

The making of a man—from his lowly birth, training in truth and executing kindness with Nancy Hanks Lincoln, his motherless condition, his second mother’s protection for his thirst for knowledge with Sarah Bush Lincoln, and Mary Todd, his wife’s push for prominence. Could anything adequately prepare him for what he would endure as president?

Next week’s article, we will look at the man, Abraham Lincoln.

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under the Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
Or here:
under the Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
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under Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
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