Book Review: Reminisces About Abraham Lincoln

Reminisces About Abraham Lincoln, by Ira Haworth

This book is a strange beast as far as one of the 14,000 or so books are that deal with Abraham Lincoln.  For one, this book is very short (at only 36 pages or so) and was published by the Kansas City Sun in or after 1907.  As is frequently the case with such discussions, the author tries to make much of her connection and intimacy with Lincoln, by discussing her Quaker background and her service as a volunteer with Lincoln’s presidential campaign in 1860, where Lincoln’s generally enlightened view about the involvement of women in politics certainly gave him an edge when it came to having women who were motivated to hector their menfolk into voting Republican.  That said, although the author makes much of her closeness with the campaign of 1860 the reminisces themselves are extremely short and this book would be scarce worth printing as even a pamphlet had it only included the scanty materials of her memory of Lincoln as an honest man–while also making the claim that Lincoln’s family were Quakers as well as an attractive figure, something which few people have ever said of the homely and awkward man.  This book, then, does not necessarily have the sort of reliability one would hope from a first-person account and gives a flavor of the difficulties that people have in knowing more about Lincoln.

The contents of this book are highly strange.  The reminisces of the author only take up about a quarter or so of the book’s materials, ending with a discussion of his martyrdom and honor, filled with all kinds of pious cliches about his rise from poverty to the pinnacle of success.  After that there is a short account of the author’s biography as well as an account of his time as a postmaster in New Salem.  A substantial part of the book is taken up by a text of Lincoln’s forceful temperance address in 1842 without commentary, something that is tackled far more ably by Jaffa in his Crisis Of A House Divided through his Straussian approach.  The last ten pages or so of the book are then taken up with a tribute to Abraham Lincoln provided by a less skilled politician, William Jennings Bryan, who sought to use the reputation of Lincoln to burnish his own political career as he sought to win the election of 1908, something that did not quite go as planned for him.  And with that, the book ends with a discussion of a society devoted to Lincoln’s ideals set up by the author and a few others.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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