EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 18, 2009

Inaugural moments seemed pedestrian at the time


"It's very eloquent but it's fruitless," said Leo Ribuffo, a history professor at George Washington University. "Lincoln always exaggerated the degree to which the white South felt these bonds to stay in the union."

Fruitless then, exalted now.

When Lincoln gave his second inaugural at the close of the war, he appealed for healing "with malice toward none, with charity for all," in rhetoric that again became iconic.

But elements of the partisan press in the North were hardly blown away, never mind the South.

The Utica (N.Y.) Telegraph said Lincoln "labors and stumbles and soon flounders into a sea of twaddle, in which he is lost not only to sight but to every one of the senses (common sense not excepted)."

And that claimed to be a politically allied publication.

The Syracuse (N.Y.) Daily Courier and Union chimed in that Lincoln was a "small-potato politician," "an obscure village lawyer, elevated from the dregs of society to a position far beyond his just deserts."

The future sees what they could not. Now Obama, a student of Lincoln, speaks today from the memorial to the 16th president. Two days later he makes his own history — as the first black president, and perhaps in ways the present can't comprehend.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News

NDN Video
Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US
Photos of the Week