Herndon Reminisces amongst the Lincoln Relics

G. M. B., “Characteristics of One Life: A Brief Study of Lincoln.” Religio-Philosophical Journal (Chicago), April 23, 1887: 3

[. . .]

There is on exhibition in Chicago an extensive collection of relics of Lincoln, and to the visitor who knows nothing of him these relics may seem uninteresting, even contemptible.  But this is not the case with all.  Fortunately for the young people of to-day, there are yet living some of his personal friends, and especially his law partner and life-long friend, Herndon.  A visit under the guidance of such a man, is a very different thing.  A quiet hour spent in this room with one who knew him as no other man ever did, gives us a more vivid conception of one whom we have always been taught to reverence, than could be attained from months of study.  The otherwise commonplace furniture seems imbued with Lincoln’s personality; and it is next to having known personally the great man.

We almost felt for the time as though the tall, ungainly form of Lincoln sat there in the old hickory chair, in which he was seated when first informed of his nomination for the presidency, his kindly gaze encouraging us in the quest for knowledge of his life and character.  As we listened to the story of his honest, plain-spoken old companion, and heard him tell with faltering voice and moist eye some of the unwritten history of Lincoln’s greatness in small things, his wonderful fortitude, his simplicity, magnanimity and nobleness, as well as his weaknesses, we were filled with love and admiration for the man who was the true representative of all that is best in American democracy.

[. . .]

Ann Arbor, Mich.


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