The Sugar Palace in Darrow, Louisiana, once home to 753 slaves, is the last place I expected to see Abraham Lincoln. This magnificent sculpture in Houmas House (formerly the Sugar Palace) is remarkable. According to the docent leading the tour, four of these sculptures were made. Three are accounted for with collectors. One is missing (a tantalizing mystery for a future novel). And just to put Houmas House in historical context, it was the largest sugar plantation in the country at the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
While American marketing campaigns focus on George Washington as a backdrop for selling cars and winter closeouts, it is Presidents' Day plural, meaning it does include Abraham Lincoln. On this day of honoring Lincoln, his voice, captured in the two quotes selected for this post, is as powerful today as it is prescient.
"Writing, the art of communicating thoughts to the mind through the eye, is the great invention of the world...enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances of time and space."
In his speeches and letters, Lincoln possessed an indelible fearlessness, which we are so hungry for in this world. This quote about writing is from Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 3.
More the 15,000 books have been written about Lincoln, (only Jesus Christ is the subject of more books).
Have you read a biography of Lincoln? Please share in the comment section.
"If the great American people will only keep their temper, on both sides of the line, the troubles will come to an end, and the question which now distracts the country will be settled just as surely as all other difficulties of like character which have originated in this government have been adjusted."
In last week's New York Times Book Review, Colson Whitehead reviewed George Saunders's first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Bardo is the intermediate state between death and rebirth.
Lincoln is, literally, in the Bardo right now. We know from his writing that he believes time and space are fluid states. What question would you ask him?
Now, more than ever, we need his answers.
Please post your questions in the comment section.
Quote above from Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 4.