DL Fowler's Blog

Lincoln Trivia #20

Posted in Lincoln, Lincoln Trivia, Lincoln's Diary, My Books, PTSD, Research by DLFowler on March 7, 2011

As I travel the country in coming months, promoting my new book, Lincoln’s Diary – a novel, I’ll be engaging readers with some tidbits about the real Abraham Lincoln. Focusing on some thngs they never told us in school. There will even be prizes for people who invest in some research to answer the trivia questions on my website.

So here’s some help on your research, one of the questions – and the answer:

Which former US Presidents did Lincoln most dislike? (Dislike is putting it mildly.)

It’s ironic that Lincoln placed such high value on the Declaration of Independence (he believed it supersedes the Constitution in authority) and he despised the political views of its author, Thomas Jefferson. On top of that, even though Lincoln was very much a man of the people, he also opposed most everything Andrew Jackson (America’s first populist president) stood for.  Steering the country off of the course those two had set drove most of Lincoln’s political career.

Lincoln believed that both Jefferson and Jackson were responsible for the life of subsistence farming that trapped the Lincoln family and many like it in a form of slavery.  The first time he saw slaves being mistreated by their overseers, Lincoln remarked, “I am a slave and the son of a slave.” (This was only one of several potential triggers that might have produced Lincoln’s PTSD symptoms. Search my blog for other discussions about Linclon and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There’ll be more on Lincoln and PTSD in future trivia questions as well.) 

When Abe was a teenager, Tom Lincoln often beat him for shirking his duties around the farm. Abe preferred reading poetry to working with his hands and back. His son’s laziness infuriated Tom who constantly struggled against the elements to feed his family.  In the younger Lincoln’s mind, Jefferson’s vision of small self-sufficient farms dotting the countryside from coast to coast had led to the Lincoln family’s miserable state. Life could be better if the government’s policies would encourage advancement, instead of fostering subsistence.

In his adult life, much of Abraham Lincoln’s energy was devoted to promoting a radical political agenda of supporting education, technology, access to capital, workers’ rights, universal suffrage and human dignity.  All things he accused the Jeffersonian/Jacksonian political movement of obstructing.

Nonetheless, Lincoln had blind-spots. Not until very late in his life did he embrace voting rights for former slaves.  And the notion that Native Americans should enjoy the same rights, dignity and fair treatment as the rest of mankind almost eluded him completely.

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