Lincoln's legal papers testify to a diverse and profitable practice. They reconciled the next year. Much has been made by poet and Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg and other historians over the notion that Lincoln was a serial pardoner. Sure - his son Willie died of fever in the White House in , while the president himself led a war that would take the lives of , other young men. Clinically depressed people often can't get out of bed, let alone command an army. Then again, proving that a man loves women isn't the same as proving that he doesn't love men. Had he not been "aroused," as he put it, to speak out in against the pro-slavery Kansas-Nebraska Act before seeking a Senate seat, he likely would have remained a full-time lawyer and earned fame and fortune at the bar. According to Herndon, Lincoln exhibited a "powerful" attraction to women and was a regular customer in prairie brothels before his marriage at age
According to Herndon, Lincoln exhibited a "powerful" attraction to women and was a regular customer in prairie brothels before his marriage at age Tripp - a colleague of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey - purported to prove that Lincoln was an active homosexual who married only to conform to 19th-century convention and continued flirting and sleeping with young men throughout his presidency. Genuine depression was untreatable in the 19th century, and its victims often descended into madness or took their own lives. Maybe it's best to throw up our hands - and remember that Lincoln's sexual orientation is but a small part of his historical legacy. Tripp went so far as to suggest that Lincoln's sexual indifference is what contributed to his wife's mental illness. Then again, proving that a man loves women isn't the same as proving that he doesn't love men. Herndon, looking to boost his own reputation, introduced the canard that Lincoln cared little about his legal practice, did scant research, joked around with juries and judges, and sometimes failed to collect fees. Lincoln was a simple country lawyer. But tall-tale-tellers have never hesitated to rewrite Lincoln's biography. Much has been made by poet and Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg and other historians over the notion that Lincoln was a serial pardoner. Though I co-edited a collection of Lincoln papers with Shenk , we disagree on this point. Lincoln's legal papers testify to a diverse and profitable practice. He died shortly after his greatest triumph at the hands of an assassin. Gay rights activist Larry Kramer has long speculated that Lincoln was gay, claiming in that he'd discovered Lincoln's love letters to onetime roommate Joshua Speed. And if it is, does it matter? Meanwhile, Lincoln conducted the bloodiest war in American history to preserve the Union, authorized the deployment of deadly new weaponry such as mines, ironclad warships and niter a 19th-century version of napalm , and accepted unprecedented casualties for his chosen cause. His first son was born just nine months after his marriage, which suggests enthusiasm if not experience. Lincoln was too compassionate. He endured venomous criticism to save the Union and end slavery. Four generations of biographers attest that Lincoln was often morose, but Washington College's Joshua Wolf Shenk made the case in his recent book, "Lincoln's Melancholy: The claim is reportedly featured in Kramer's forthcoming history of homosexuality, "The American People," but historian Gabor Boritt called Kramer's assertion "almost certainly. It would be far more remarkable had Lincoln remained perennially jolly. Lincoln did boast virtues that required little embellishment. By Harold Holzer Thursday, February 17, ; He rose from obscurity through hard work, self-education and honesty. Sure - his son Willie died of fever in the White House in , while the president himself led a war that would take the lives of , other young men.
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