The Humility of Abraham Lincoln

On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered one of his most remembered speeches, the Gettysburg Address. Given in commemoration of the cemetery created to honor the soldiers who gave their lives on the Pennsylvania battlefield, Doris Kearns Goodwin notes that President Lincoln “translated the story of his country and the meaning of the war to words and ideas accessible to every American.” In fact, the main speaker of the day, Edward Everett, later wrote Lincoln to express that the president’s short speech accomplished what took him two hours to accomplish. While Goodwin’s passage aptly describes Lincoln’s speech, two key passages of the Gettysburg Address also embody the humility of the American president.

The Weight of George H.W. Bush’s War Decision

President Bush in Saudi Arabia

President Bush in Saudi Arabia

In most instances, the personal deliberations of presidents making the decision to send Americans to war are outside public knowledge. While there may be public speeches outlining the case for war, those public deliberations can differ widely from the president’s personal deliberations.

Through a series of diary entries and letters to family, however, the internal deliberations of President George H. W. Bush in the lead up to the first Gulf War can be explored. Not only do these documents illustrate the difficult decision Bush faced, they demonstrate a keen sense of humanity.

This Week in History 005

Our next episode of This Week in History is now live. This week’s episode touches on the Louisiana Purchase, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago, Lend-lease, Coca-Cola, the Miranda Warning, Pancho Villa, and Hitler’s renounciation of the Treaty of Versailles.

 

Friday Facts: Higgins Boats

A Higgins Boat was a shallow-draft boat used to land infantry troops during amphibious landings in World War II. Over 20,000 examples were constructed. Their creater, Andrew Higgins, was described by Dwight Eisenhower as “the man who wond the war.”

Lincoln’s Assassination From the Front Row

President Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln

History is full of emotion. From the anger present in American households after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor to the elation at hand when Apollo 11 touched down on the moon, emotion walks hand-in-hand with history.

The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theater is no different. Journeying through the diary of Horatio Nelson Taft provides a front row seat to the emotion experienced as a nation’s hero fell under an enemy’s gun.

Lewis and Clark’s Camp Dubois Detachment Orders

Meriwether Lewis

Meriwether Lewis

When Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set off up the Missouri River on May 14, 1804, they led an exploring party with sights set on the Pacific Ocean. However, while Lewis and Clark planned to enter territory unseen by American eyes, they did not allow the unknown to displace military order and the expectation that chains of command be followed. In other words, the Corps of Discovery was a military operation.

Multiple instances throughout the journey illustrate this point, including the Corps of Discovery’s time at their first winter camp, Camp Dubois. For example, five “Detachment Orders” were issued to govern daily life as Lewis and Clark readied the men for the journey west.

Churchill’s Unneeded Wartime Letter

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill

Throughout time, it has been common for soldiers deployed to war zones to write a letter to loved ones in the event they are killed in combat. Deployed to the Western Front in World War I, this practice was followed by Winston Churchill in the aftermath of his resignation from the Admiralty.