DL Fowler's Blog

Who is Right?

A recent post in this blog celebrated Abraham Lincoln’s declaration “Right Makes Might.” When I looked at who ‘liked’ that post on Facebook, I was fascinated by the contrasting political and religious opinions of those who gave it a thumbs up. I wondered, how can opposites claim to occupy the same moral high ground?

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Right Makes Might

On February 27, 1860, Abraham Lincoln closed his address at New York City’s Cooper Union with the following words that turned an age old phrase on its head.

Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.

His speech at Cooper Union set him on track to win the Republican nomination for president. The world view he capsulized in this quote is what fueled his greatness.

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Character in Characters

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Those words define what we mean by character. They are words that remind us of  the difference between a leader and a con-man. For writers like me, these words are a guide to crafting characters who inspire readers through stories. Characters with character are more important today, than ever before.

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Why Write Another Book About Lincoln?

I’m often asked that question. With more than 20,000 books written about him, I suppose the question shouldn’t surprise anyone. But my answer might shock you.

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Lincoln’s Blackouts

Lincoln’s law partner, Herndon, described episodes when he’d find Lincoln sitting in a catatonic state from which he couldn’t be aroused. Often there’d be a book of poetry in his lap.

No one has any idea of what went on in Lincoln’s head during those episodes. He never talked about them.

One possibility is that were flashbacks of an earlier trauma that his body was defending himself against. That happens to people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Lincoln suffered several traumatic moments early on. At 7 he almost drowned, at 9 he suffered a life-threatening head injury, and months later helped bury his mother, at 10 his father left him and his sister to weather a brutal winter unattended and on the brink of starvation, as a teenager his father beat him often and when he was just past 20 his first love died. Lincoln’s emotional responses to these and other events are explored in Lincoln Raw-a biographical novel.

Maybe his psyche just went into overload from processing flashbacks of too many traumas at once.

Would we let someone with that much emotional baggage be President today?

Lincoln suffered from PTSD?

Abe Lincoln was anything but normal in many ways, including behavior that demonstrated hyper-vigilance, suicidal thoughts, exposing himself to mortal dangers, extreme emotional swings, unexpected eruptions, etc.

After almost drowning in a creek at 7 years old, his mother died when he was 9. He sat on her grave during a storm to be sure her body didn’t float up out of the ground. He had a similar reaction a dozen years later when Ann Hathaway, his first (maybe only) true love died.

During the Civil War he sometimes ventured to the front lines and was nearly wounded. Once he stood on the ramparts of a fort, wearing a top hat, giving Rebel soldiers a 7 foot target to shoot at. He even talked about suicide during Cabinet meetings.

Twice as a young man he was on suicide watch. Once he subjected himself to torturous medical treatments that were the equivalent of self mutilation.

All of these behaviors could be symptomatic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Lincoln Raw-a biographical novel explores the possibility. Read it and decide for yourself.

Exploring Lincoln’s Psychology

Posted in Lincoln, Lincoln Raw, Lincoln's Diary, Lincoln's Psychology, Psychopaths, PTSD, Themes by DLFowler on July 23, 2014

Was Lincoln the most successful white-collar psychopath in American history? His psychology suggests he suffered from personality “disorders” that are common to red-collar psychopaths (violent criminals.) But in his case, those same traits likely enabled his greatest contributions to American society.
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Fact or Factoid

Posted in Lincoln, Lincoln Raw, Manifesto, Research, Themes by DLFowler on July 21, 2014

A factoid is a little piece of truth, or a false statement that gets repeated often enough it becomes accepted as the whole truth.

I saw this on Twitter –

We the people are the rightful masters, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution. Abraham Lincoln.

It got me thinking: what did Lincoln think was perversion? Did the person posting it have a clue what was going on in Lincoln’s head when he said it?

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Abraham Lincoln’s Faith

Posted in Faith, faith, Lincoln, Lincoln Raw, Religion, religion, Research, Themes by DLFowler on April 14, 2014

Abraham Lincoln’s faith is best summarized by his response Connecticut Congressman H.C. Deming during the Civil War, just a few years before his death. The congressman asked Lincoln why he had never joined a church. Lincoln answered, “When any church will inscribe over its altar as its sole qualification for membership the Savior’s condensed statement of both the Law and the Gospel, ‘Thou shall love the Lord with all thy heart, with all thy souls and with all they mind, and thy neighbor as thyself,’ that church will I join with all my heart and all my soul.”

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Abraham Lincoln’s Core Principle

Posted in Inspiration, Lincoln, Lincoln Raw, Lincoln's Psychology, Research, Themes, Writing by DLFowler on December 12, 2013

This will be short.

I grew up thinking Abraham Lincoln had a moral compass that always pointed North and made him superior to the rest of us. That he was passionate about Liberty and Justice for All, while we are mostly focused on liberty and justice for us. As I sit here doing one more pre-publication round of edits on Lincoln Raw—the human side of history I came across a much ignored excerpt from a speech he gave during his one term in Congress. It pretty well sums up the guiding principle that was his North Star for most of his life. 

In the early days of the world, the Almighty said to the first of our race, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” Since then, no good thing has been enjoyed by us without the necessity of labor. But it has so happened in all ages of the world that some have labored and others have, without labor, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. This is wrong. To secure to each laborer the whole product of his labor is a most worthy object of any good government.

When I say “most of his life” I don’t  suggest that he ever abandoned this principle. What I mean is that this principle led him to a new, higher law in his later years. It was this new understanding that led the world in, and still leads us in the unfinished business of, re-defining Liberty and Justice for All.

What are your thoughts? Go ahead and leave a comment.