DL Fowler's Blog

Lincoln Trivia Question #19

Posted in Assassination, Lincoln Trivia, Lincoln's Diary, Lincoln's Psychology, Plots, PTSD, Research by DLFowler on April 14, 2011

Yes, I know I’m skipping around. If you’re keeping score this is the third trivia question I’ve posted.  The complete list of 20 is on my website.  Okay, here it is:

Q: What deadly act did Lincoln offer to perform for his cabinet?

A: He offered to hang himself.

A pretty fitting question for the 146th anniversary of his assassination, don’t you think?

Well, there are a variety of explanations, but who knows what was actually going on in Lincoln’s head.  It’s true that he suffered from acute bouts of depression during most of his adult life. It’s also possible he was being melodramatic; it wouldn’t have been the first time.

Something else is worth considering. Have you ever dealt with someone suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Lincoln probably suffered from that, possibly a variation called Acute Traumatic Stress. He suffered sympthoms common to both disorders, including catalepsy. In those episodes, he would slip into a kind of catatonic state. His law partner William Herndon witnessed more than one such episode.

When PTSD sufferers commit suicide, it’s rarely out of despondency. More often it’s an attempt on their part to take control of a situation that seems out of hand. In that vein, Lincoln might have seriously consided martyring himself to turn public and political opinion in favor of his Reconstruction Plan which was on the cusp of failure. 

Of course that’s something we’ll never know. Not unless he confessed it in a diary that’s not turned up in the last 140+ years.

Just sayin.

I Feel Like Being a Tease

Posted in Lincoln, Lincoln's Diary, Prologues by DLFowler on February 4, 2011

Below is the prologue to Lincoln’s Diary – a novel.  Tomorrow another excerpt.

Prologue

 “As God is my judge, I believe if I had been in the city, it would not have happened…” US Marshall – District of Columbia, Col. Ward Hill Lamon.

 Martinsburg, West Virginia, May 7, 1893

 Col. Lamon drew shallow, raspy breaths as he lay near death. He clutched President Lincoln’s private diary to his chest. He had not opened it, even once, since the President delivered it to him just before the assassination. Only Lincoln knew what it contained, and he never intended for its entries to live on after he was gone.

With the taste of death filling his nostrils, Lamon arched his back and wheezed as he fought to expel his final instruction — to keep the diary safe.

“You need to rest now, Father.”  Dolly wanted him to be comfortable in his final moments.

Lamon reached for her arm. His eyes bulged as if his words would force their escape by any conceivable means.

President Lincoln’s friend and bodyguard carried two measures of guilt to the precipice of eternity. He had disobeyed Lincoln’s order to destroy the diary, a failure he tried to excuse by complaining it was all he had left of his friend. On the other hand he lamented obeying Lincoln’s directive to travel to Richmond despite numerous threats against the president’s life.  By doing so he was absent from the Capitol on the fatal night of April 14. And Lamon berated himself for the remainder of his days. “As God is my judge, I believe if I had been in the city, it would not have happened.”

When Col. Ward Hill Lamon’s last breath slipped away, his final instructions dissolved behind his lips.

After kissing her father on his forehead, Dolly pried the diary from his grip and whispered, “I love you.”

Did Lincoln Plan His Own Assassination?

The better question is what would possess him to do so?  

Now this is not my question. Joshua Shenk prompted me to think about this possibility through his book, Lincoln’s Melancholy.  But everything that followed is a product of my fertile (some would call it compost pile) imagination.

In Lincoln’s Diary – a novel, Sarah Sue Morgan wants the truth. But when the truth includes an unpublished Lincoln diary that may prove the sixteenth President arranged his own assassination, the truth could kill.

Lincoln had motivation, opportunity and means.  Means you ask – consider that Booth was his favorite actor (Lincoln loved the theater). Lincoln would have welcomed him into the presidential box – he didn’t have to jimmy the lock. Booth was at the White House days before the assassination.  Lincoln’s bodyguard was in the vicinity of the Surrat boarding house while Booth met with co-conspirators. Conspiracy theorists have long argued that Booth had inside help.  Could Lincoln have been his co-conspirator?

Well, he knew he was losing his battle for a conciliatory plan of Reconstruction.  Would it have crossed his mind that martyrdom might push his plan forward?  I mean, after he threatened to hang himself during a cabinet meeting. Twice he was on suicide watch during his early adult life.

Okay, so at this point you’re still thinking – no way.  But then again, you haven’t seen everything that’s in Lincoln’s Diary – a novel. Oh yes, it’s fiction. But isn’t life supposed to be stranger than fiction?