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“I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near
to the central idea of the momentous occasion, in two hours,
as you did in two minutes.”--Edward Everett.
Damn, I seem to be taking forever
to get over this protracted illness.
Leave it to me to come down with
a mild case of smallpox.
Being feverish & weak as a lame dog
with a constant raging headache is bad
enough, but it’s the hellish shingles that
really chaps my butt--literally; what do the
doctors call it--yes, a vesicular rash. I swear,
it’s more like a mild case of leprocy.
Lying abed, I have a lot of time to think about
this quagmire of bloody conflict, of sons versus
fathers that our beloved America has become
in 1864. I’m still reeling with emotion
over Gettysburg last year. Dear God, over 50,000 men killed,
wounded or missing in a three day battle; but I do have to chuckle
over the political rumor that I scribbled my speech on a scrap of
paper while on the train to Pennsylvania. For Christ’s sake, I pride
myself on carefully crafting all my speeches, & that address was
no exception. It was fully conceived & written out before I set foot
on that smoking brute of motion sickness.
I knew I was becoming ill on the way up there that morning of
November 18th. I recall telling John Hay that I felt fatigued
& weak. Lord, the next day at the ceremony I thought
that windbag Eddie Everett would never finish
his bilious oratory; reminded me a lot of
Steven Douglas; quite the stark con-
trast to my two-minute commentary, deliver-
ed rapidly to keep from passing out. Bill Seward
told me later that I was pale as a ghost. that I looked
sad & haggard, but hell’s bells, who wouldn’t be? But surely
this illness exacerbated my natural melancholia. Everett wrote me
that my little speech was a grand success, so
I suppose It wasn’t a total failure. It did surprise
me that presently it is being lauded as a grand
& significant speech, & I’ve had to make five
copies of it for posterity--yet we can count on
the Democrats to belittle it. In the Chicago Times
it was published: The cheek of every American
must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat & dishwatery utterances
of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the
President of the United States.
I will tell you one thing, with me being laid up like this,
it’s glaringly evident to me that Hamlin is too much of
a milk-toast VP to ever be President. The country needs
a stronger man. When I get back on my feet, I think I’ll
approach Andy Johnson about the job--he’s got fortitude
& intelligence in spades.
When I was swept into the White House in 1860, who would have
expected those 7 Southern states to form the Confederacy & then
fire on Ft. Sumter; complete hubris & madness. It was like pulling
molars to get the Emancipation proclamation through Congress,
& it was a minor miracle to add the 13th Amendment to the Consti-
tution outlawing slavery. I am only 55 years of age, but that is on
the outside; on the inside I feel like 100. God in Heaven, when will
this cursed war ever end?
Brother against brother,
civil war is ever bloodydisaster; no winners.
Posted over at dVerse Poets Pub Poetics