Lincoln's Battle with God: A President's Struggle with Faith and What It Meant for America
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Abraham Lincoln is the most beloved of all U.S. presidents. He freed the slaves, gave the world some of its most beautiful phrases, and redefined the meaning of America. He did all of this with wisdom, compassion, and wit.
Yet, throughout his life, Lincoln fought with God. In his early years in Illinois, he rejected even the existence of God and became the village atheist. In time, this changed but still he wrestled with the truth of the Bible, preachers, doctrines, the will of God, the providence of God, and then, finally, God’s purposes in the Civil War. Still, on the day he was shot, Lincoln said he longed to go to Jerusalem to walk in the Savior’s steps.
What had happened? What was the journey that took Abraham Lincoln from outspoken atheist to a man who yearned to walk in the footsteps of Christ?
In this thrilling journey through a largely unknown part of American history, New York Times best-selling author Stephen Mansfield tells the richly textured story of Abraham Lincoln’s spiritual life and draws from it a meaning sure to inspire Americans today.
to think, That through my bosom raves, I’ll headlong leap from hell’s high brink And wallow in the waves. Though devils yell, and burning chains May waken long regret; Their frightful screams, and piercing pains, Will help me to forget. Yes! I’m prepared, through endless night, To take this fiery berth! Think not with tales of hell to fright Me, who am damn’d on earth! Sweet steel! Come forth from out of your sheath, And glist’ning, speak your powers; Rip up the organs of my breath,
Room” in a double-image stereograph, around 1875 “whether, in the providence of the Great Spirit, who is the great Father of us all, it is best for you to maintain the habits and customs of your race, or adopt a new mode of life.”55 Yet he also thought nothing of employing the moral judgments of Scripture to rebuke supporters of slavery. Two Confederate wives so angered him once that he described the experience in an article which he then had distributed to the nation’s newspapers. It was
the property and places belonging to the Government and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere. Where hostility to the United States in any interior locality shall be so great and universal as to prevent competent resident citizens from holding the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people for that object. While the strict
(New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1954), 195. 2. Ibid., 195–96. 3. Charles L. C. Minor, The Real Lincoln (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1992), 27. 4. Ibid., 26. 5. Emanuel Hertz, ed., The Hidden Lincoln: From the Letters and Papers of William H. Herndon (Garden City, NY: Blue Ribbon Books, 1938), 418. 6. Justin G. Turner and Linda Levitt Turner, Mary Todd Lincoln: Her Life and Letters (New York: Fromm International Publishing Corporation, 1987), 180. 7. William C. Temple,
P. Townsend of the National Park Service. I have often thought that if I had another life to live, I would love to be a member of the Park Service stationed at some beloved historical site. Mr. Townsend set this dream aflame. He spoke with an obvious mastery about Lincoln sources, took me on a tour of the Lincoln Home, and encouraged my work with grace. We need more like him. In Springfield I also had the privilege of meeting Dr. Wayne C. Temple. I thought at first he was merely an Illinois