Lincoln’s Premontions of Death

According to Ward Lamon, Marshal of Washington and a former law partner of Abraham Lincoln, three days before his assassination, Lincoln spoke about a strange dream that he had:

“About ten days ago, I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. I saw light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. ‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers, ‘The President,’ was his answer; ‘he was killed by an assassin.’ Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since.”
It is a striking account if true, and appropriate for a Halloween Day.  However, there are problems with it.  First, there was no contemporary mention of it in the aftermath of the assassination.  Surely Lamon would have mentioned such a prophetic statement by Lincoln at the time.  Second, during the time period in question when the dream purportedly occurred, the latter part of March, Lincoln was not at the White House but with the Army of the Potomac.  Third, the story didn’t appear in print until 1895, two years after Lamon’s death, in a book of reminiscences compiled by Lamon’s daughter.
However, I am inclined to believe it based upon this incident involving a Lincoln dream which is well authenticated.  Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, made this notation in his diary regarding the cabinet meeting that occurred at noon on the day of  the assassination of Lincoln: (more…)
Published in: on October 31, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Lincoln’s Premontions of Death  
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Werewolves in Congress

 

Something for the weekend.  Appropriate both for Halloween and the political season:  Werewolves in Congress.  A political parody song by Paul Shanklin in the nineties.

Published in: on October 29, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Werewolves in Congress  
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October 28, 1886: Dedication of the Statue of Liberty

 

We are not here today to bow before the representation of a fierce warlike god, filled with wrath and vengeance, but we joyously contemplate instead our own deity keeping watch and ward before the open gates of America and greater than all that have been celebrated in ancient song. Instead of grasping in her hand thunderbolts of terror and of death, she holds aloft the light which illumines the way to man’s enfranchisement. We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home, nor shall her chosen altar be neglected. Willing votaries will constantly keep alive its fires and these shall gleam upon the shores of our sister Republic thence, and joined with answering rays a stream of light shall pierce the darkness of ignorance and man’s oppression, until Liberty enlightens the world.

President Grover Cleveland, October 28, 1886

Published in: on October 28, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on October 28, 1886: Dedication of the Statue of Liberty  
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Theodore Roosevelt Official Portrait

 

The official portrait in the White House by John Singer Sargent is actually the second official portrait.  The first portrait was done by French painter Theobald Chartran.  Roosevelt despised it and hid it in a dark recess of the White House.  When his kids began to call the portrait “Mewing Cat” because their father appeared so harmless in it, he had the portrait destroyed.  John Singer Sargent had difficulty in getting Roosevelt to stay still long enough to pose.  Sargent discussed the portrait when Roosevelt was going up a staircase.  Irritated Roosevelt immediately struck a pose.  Sargent saw the potential immediately, and was able to get the peripatetic president to stand still for half an hour a day in the same pose, although the half hour was often interrupted by aides and secretaries.

Published in: on October 27, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Theodore Roosevelt Official Portrait  
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Why World War II Matters

 

A lecture by my favorite living historian, Victor Davis Hanson.  We are at an interesting point in regard to World War II.  The youngest veterans of that conflict are now approaching 90.  Soon that conflict will slip from living memory.  When it does, how it is perceived in hindsight will probably shift as has happened with other conflicts.  It is one thing to have Uncle Bob, or great Uncle Bob, tell you what the Battle of the Bulge was like.  It will be another to depend upon historical records only to form our perceptions, especially as generations arise that have had no direct contact with World War II veterans.

Published in: on October 26, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Why World War II Matters  
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Agincourt the Battle

 

October 25, 1415 was an amazing day for the English.  The English longbow had long proved during the Hundred Years War to be a devastating weapon in the hands of skilled archers, but rarely had the English faced such long odds as they did at Agincourt.  Approximately 6,000 English, exhausted and worn from their march, faced approximately 30,000 French.  About five out of six of the English were archers with the remainder men-at-arms, knights and nobility.  The French had about 10,000 men-at-arms, knights and nobility, and 20,000 archers, crossbowmen and miscellaneous infantry.

The English established their battle line between the woods of Agincourt and Tramecourt, which offered excellent protection to both of their flanks.  The English archers made up the front line with stakes set in the ground before them to impale charging horses.  Archers were also placed in the woods to provide flanking fire against advancing French.  The men at arms and knights and nobility, were divided into three forces behind the archers.  They fought on foot.

The terrain between the woods that the French would have to cross in their attack of the English consisted of newly ploughed, and very muddy, fields.  Having walked through muddy fields on several occasions in rural Illinois, I can attest that simply getting from point A to point B in such terrain can be exhausting, let alone fighting at the end of the tramp through the morass. (more…)

Published in: on October 25, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Agincourt the Battle  
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My Blood Boils

our-debt-to-the-heroic-men-and-valiant-women-in-the-service-of-our-country-can-never-be-repaid-war-quote

(I posted this at The American Catholic.  I nomally shy away from expressing my views on current events on Almost Chosen People since this is a blog focused on history, but I am going to make an exception this time.)

 

An example of how fouled up our priorities are:

The Pentagon is seeking to recover decade-old reenlistment bonuses paid to thousands of California Army National Guard soldiers to go fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

The paper reported that nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom risked their lives during multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay the cash bonuses after audits revealed widespread overpayments by California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets at the height of the wars 10 years ago.

But soldiers say the military is reneging on old agreements and imposing severe financial hardship on those whose only mistake was to accept the bonuses, which amounted to $15,000 or more.

The Army asked wounded Iraq veteran and former Army captain Christopher Van Meter, 42, to repay a $25,000 reenlistment bonus it said he was ineligible to receive. He was also asked to repay $21,000 in student loan repayments.

Van Meter told the paper that rather than fight the Army he paid back the money after refinancing his home.

“These bonuses were used to keep people in,” Van Meter said. “People like me just got screwed.” (more…)

Published in: on October 24, 2016 at 3:30 am  Comments (2)  
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The Dream of Flight

 

Something for the weekend. Sogno di Volare, The Dream of Flight, the theme song of the game Civilization VI that was released yesterday.  (Be still my geek heart!)  I know what will be occupying my weekend!

 

 

Published in: on October 22, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Dream of Flight  
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Quotes Suitable for Framing: Theodore Roosevelt

 

 

Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood—the virtues that made America. The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.

Theodore Roosevelt, January 10, 1917

Published in: on October 20, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Quotes Suitable for Framing: Theodore Roosevelt  
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CS Lewis Explains Why He Was Not a Pacifist

 

(I posted this at The American Catholic and I thought the history mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)

 

 

It is, of course, true that wars never do half the good which the leaders of the belligerents say they are going to do. Nothing ever does half the good — perhaps nothing ever does half the evil — which is expected of it. And that may be a sound argument for not pitching one’s propaganda too high. But it is no argument against war. If a Germanised Europe in 1914 would have been an evil, then the war which would have prevented that evil would have been, so far, justified. To call it useless because it did not also cure slums and unemployment is like coming up to a man who has just succeeded in defending himself from a man-eating tiger and saying, “It’s no good, old chap. This hasn’t really cured your rheumatism!”

CS Lewis

Published in: on October 19, 2016 at 4:05 am  Comments Off on CS Lewis Explains Why He Was Not a Pacifist  
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