DL Fowler's Blog

Gettysburg Address – the rest of the story

Gettysburg Address

We shortchange ourselves when we study history as discreet events, dislodged from the context of what happens around them. That’s especially true when we divorce those incidents from the personal circumstances of those who put historical events in motion. (more…)

Lincoln’s Cottage (Lincoln’s Footsteps #2)

Posted in Uncategorized by DLFowler on January 27, 2016

Discovering Lincoln’s Cottage at the edge of Washington DC was one of the highlights of last fall’s roadtrip. The cottage served as a summer refuge for the Lincoln family during the tribulations of the Civil War and little Willie’s death. There is probably no other place where you can connect so intimately with the Lincoln family. For us, that connection was in no small measure enhanced by our terrific tour guide, Robert Gotffredi.

Here’s his smiling face.

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And here he is on the back porch of the cottage, giving us the low-down.

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During the summers of 1862-1864, Lincoln rode by horseback between the cottage (where he slept) and the White House (where he worked). A prominent feature on the cottage grounds is the statue of Lincoln and his mount.

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On most days, those round trips included three rituals. An exchange of nods with the poet Walt Whitman who lived along the route, a stop at the “contraband camps” where Lincoln joined escaped slaves in singing spirituals, and solitary walks among the graves of fallen Union soldiers.  We can only imagine the thoughts that consumed him on such occasions.

Inside the cottage (where photography isn’t allowed) Robert shared stories about late night visitors who woke the nightgown and slipper clad, bed-headed President from naps. They usually came for business, sometimes out of curiosity, and often were entertained with stories and jokes until late into the night.

The cottage is not only a repository of unique information about the Lincolns’ year in Washington, it is also available as a venue for a variety of educational, business and social events. Needless to say, the Lincoln Cottage was one of the great discoveries of our adventure.

Lincoln’s Footsteps Part One

My research assistant and I recently set out to trace some of Lincoln’s footsteps during his years in the White House. This post covers highlights of our visits to Richmond VA and Washington DC.

Here’s a pic of the spot on the James River where Lincoln’s boat landed when he arrived in Richmond (accompanied by his son Tad) for his triumphant visit to the Confederacy’s abandoned capital.
  

Here’s the entrance to the Confederate Whitehouse (Jefferson Davis’ home). When young Tad Lincoln stepped across the threshold, it’s likely he sneered at the relatively compact size of the Davis home compared to the spacious Executive Mansion in the nation’s capital.

  

The picture I really wanted was Davis’ desk where Lincoln’s son Tad sat during Lincoln’s triumphant visit, but “no photography please.”
Speaking of pictures, I noticed a portrait of George Washington hanging over Jeff Davis’ mantel and asked if he would have hung it there. The guide replied that both sides of the war revered Washington.
Next we braved a rain storm to make our way to the American Civil War Center. This museum adds an interesting twist. Not only does it give equal treatment to the Northern and Southern perspectives, it gives the same weight to the African point of view (again photography was not allowed). 
Sunday morning we drove down to City Point at the confluence of the Appomattox and James Rivers. Gen. US Grant set up his headquarters here during the final weeks of the war. 

Here’s a photo of the cabin Grant stayed in out on the grounds of the Epps’ plantation so he could be close to his troops, 
  
Instead of staying in the ‘big house’.

  

This is the spot where Lincoln’s boat, the River Queen, docked when the president stayed at the front for two of the war’s three final weeks. One night while sleeping aboard the boat, he dreamt that he had been fatally shot.

  

The massive Union Army presence at City Point must have greatly bolstered Lincoln’s optimism that the war’s end was at hand. 
   
 
On Monday morning we headed to Washington DC for a visit to Lincoln’s Cottage at the Old Soldiers Home where the Lincoln family stayed during the summer months while he was President.

I’m standing outside the gate.
  
Here we met our tour guide Rob. He’s one on the best guides we’ve encountered, and were treated to a treasure trove of insights into Lincoln’s personality. (We also opened the possibility of selling copies of Lincoln Raw in the bookstore there, and Rob agreed to consult with me on scenes in my sequel to Lincoln Raw).
  

The ‘cottage’ was bigger than the Davis residence in Richmond.

  

Unfortunately, inside photos were not allowed, but here are some outside shots.
   
 

A statue reminds us that during summer months, Lincoln often made daily round trips (3 miles each way) on horseback without military escorts. Sometimes he stopped at camps of runaway slaves and joined them in singing spirituals, he always gave poet Walt Whitman a nod as he rode past his home, often he stopped at a military cemetery and wandered alone among the graves.
  

Here are some pictures of the veranda from which he could gaze out over the grounds and at the Capitol.
   
   
  

The cobblestone drainage ditch along the carriage turnaround in front of the cottage. 
  

I suppose it’s only fitting that we should pay a visit to the home where Lincoln died (across the street from Ford Theater).

  

Hating Teresa Armato

Posted in Abuse, Psychology, Psychopaths, PTSD, Victimization by DLFowler on July 2, 2015

Why do women prefer to hate Teresa Armato, rather than face the fact that she needs help?

Is it that they don’t want to admit that women like Armato exist? Is it that she doesn’t fit a stereotype? Are they afraid of her?

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Take a close look at Abraham Lincoln’s eyes …

What’s unusual about Abraham Lincoln’s eyes?

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If you think you know, leave a comment below.

More than a figure in history books

Posted in Uncategorized by DLFowler on April 15, 2015

Today, April 15, 2015, marks one of the most significant and saddest days in American history. One hundred and fifty years ago today executive power in our government was transferred by an act of violence for the first time. It was also the day we lost a great poet who continues to inspire and mesmerize us with his words. He was our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln. Pause a moment to reflect on his legacy.

What Is History?

History is a collection of stories designed to teach and motivate societies toward common goals and values. These historical narratives can be different from the contemporary narratives that society’s leaders employ to call people to action. Nonetheless, by narrowing or broadening the perspective from which historical events are viewed a dominant group within society can create the perception that their current agenda is rooted in treasured traditions.
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Lincoln’s Shame

Posted in Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln Raw, Lincoln's personality, Lincoln's Psychology by DLFowler on February 18, 2015

Last night I was talking with a small group of folks at Gig Harbor Public Library about my biographical novel, Lincoln Raw, and the Building Blocks of Abraham Lincoln’s Personality. Most of our focus was on his innate personality, beginning with his boyhood as a highly sensitive child. A couple of questions arose that prompted me to think about additional points I need to bring into future conversations about Lincoln. One of them is the role shame might have played in forging his personality, his world view, and ultimately his impact on history.

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Building Blocks of Abraham Lincoln’s Personality

 During a decade of research into the life of Abraham Lincoln, I’ve become convinced that history is not about events. It’s about people. People cause the events that we call history. They are its roots. As such, we must study people to understand our past and learn the lessons they can teach.

I’ve captured my understanding of Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln Raw—a biographical novel. It’s a journey into his heart and mind, beginning with his boyhood, based on stories told by his contemporaries as well as stories he told about himself.

Following is an outline of my discoveries about Abraham Lincoln and how his personality emerged and the force of his character impacted history. It addresses four areas of inquiry that are essential to understanding one of the most pivotal personalities to set foot on the world stage:

  • What was Lincoln like out of the womb?
  • What preferences grew out of Lincoln’s innate personality?
  • How did Lincoln’s early life influence to his personality development?
  • How did Lincoln’s personality influence his values?

I hope you find the information enlightening, and welcome any contributions or questions you might want to add.

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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.