Reignite Your Faith Through Lincoln’s

This past week a letter surfaced written by William Herndon in 1866, which tells us nothing new about Abraham Lincoln’s faith.  You can purchase it for $35,000.

“Mr. Lincoln’s religion is too well known to me to allow of even a shadow of a doubt; he is or was a Theist & a Rationalist, denying all extraordinary — supernatural inspiration or revelation,” Herndon wrote in the letter, signed Feb. 4, 1866, a year after Lincoln’s assassination.  “At one time in his life, to say the least, he was an elevated Pantheist, doubting the immortality of the soul as the Christian world understands that term,” continued the letter, addressed to Edward McPherson, Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. “I love Mr. Lincoln dearly, almost worship him, but that can’t blind me. He’s the purest politician I ever saw, and the justest man.”

Note: Civil War Memory is not an affiliate of this company. I just think it’s a hilarious video.

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12 comments… add one

  • Andy Hall Apr 23, 2011

    Are you sure that video isn’t an old spoof commercial from MadTV?

    The Herndon letter is interesting and valuable because it provides additional detail and nuance, from one of the people who knew Lincoln best. It doesn’t fundamentally change out understanding of the man, though, who had a tenuous relationship with organized religion, and held unconventional views on the nature of the deity. (As did many of this country’s most famous leaders, something widely ignored or denied by many in the political arena today.) Inevitably, though, documents like this get cherry-picked for whatever word or phrase best suits an ideology. I’ve already seen the Herndon letter cited by some of the Southron persuasion as “proof” that Lincoln was “godless.”

    Why bother with complexity when a cartoon will do, right? ;-)

    • Kevin Levin Apr 23, 2011

      Hi Andy,

      The video links to a website, but I didn’t see anything that pointed to MadTV. However, it would find a nice home on that show.

  • Gretchen Adams Apr 23, 2011

    I actually thought that it had all the atmosphere of a SNL skit. I kept expecting some outrageous statement or joke—just something about the production values. Oh, and that actor! Too young, too round faced, and too badly made up. SNL or a Junior high play with Lincoln. It was hilarious, Kevin. I especially like the indoor speech at the podium with the hat on and the gloves. I could not decide if he looked like a ringmaster or part of a minstrel show in that scene. I’m using this in my senior seminar on “memory and commemoration” alongside all the other colorful portrayals of Lincoln for fun, memorialization, and profit!

    Thanks for the pointer and the Saturday morning laugh with coffee.
    Gretchen

    • Kevin Levin Apr 23, 2011

      Good luck using it in class, Gretchen.

  • Larry Cebula Apr 23, 2011

    So what else are you using, Gretchen? Off the top of my head there is Hard Drinkin’ Lincoln, two skits about the assassination from The Whitest Kids You Know, the Electric Six music video “Gay Bar,” the two Lincoln Vampire Hunter pieces, and what else?

  • Gretchen Adams Apr 23, 2011

    Larry,
    Lincoln is a favorite of everyone’s! I have all sorts of print ads, songs, what have you. In the tv/video realm I love the “time machine” skit, the various “vampire hunter” videos, a very creepy automatronic Disney Lincoln from an old tv show promo, South Park and other random tv show clips, and some local news segments for Lincoln anniversaries and exhibits.

    In print ads he’s told children to brush their teeth (Ipana), sold cars, and generally hectored children to be honest.

    But the best are always his use in commercials for the following which are all on Youtube or were at one time (I download them myself for classroom use):
    Mountain Dew, Geico, Rozerem (with a talking beaver), Toyota repair (Dallas dealership), McDonald’s (Lincoln french fry from 2005 superbowl), etc.

    Then there are the parody gems like this one “paid for by Friends of Stephen Douglas”—-

    “Abraham Lincoln: Wrong on Slavery, Wrong for Us”
    http://www.adgabber.com/video/video/show?id=546804%3AVideo%3A128153

  • Billy Bearden Apr 23, 2011

    And what? Nobody has mentioned Lincoln in Star Trek and Lincoln in Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure. My favorite Lincoln/non Lincoln was the reboot of Planet of the Apes last scene.

  • Allen Apr 24, 2011

    You haven’t seen anything til you’ve seen this one…..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipV2u-MxlFc

    • Kevin Levin Apr 24, 2011

      I’ve seen it. :)

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