Make us homepage
Add to Favorites
FAIL (the browser should render some flash content, not this).

Main page » Audiobooks » The Essential Abraham Lincoln: Biography∑Speeches∑Letters

The Essential Abraham Lincoln: Biography∑Speeches∑Letters


The momentous events of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency coupled with the advent of photography meant that Lincoln’s was one of the best-documented lives of 19th-century American presidents. He wrote letters throughout his life to people of differing backgrounds and ages, even during the intensely busy years of the Civil War; thus we see that he was humane and considerate as well as a decisive and visionary leader.

The existing letters, written in his clear and steady hand, contain nearly a million words penned over three decades, from the early 1830s to his death in 1865. His speeches, too, are well documented: they were given in an age when people flocked to meetings to hear talks of all kinds, though of course notes were also taken of his presentations as a lawyer and a politician. It is clear that Lincoln was aware of the importance of the written word and took care to prepare his talks; occasionally he would slightly rewrite a speech (as with the Gettysburg Address) after having given it, in order to improve it for print.

Despite the growth of photography, there is no pictorial record of Lincoln giving his key speeches. The photographic archive that does exist shows the effect that the responsibility of presidency had on his face, and this, in addition to accounts from friends and observers, gives us a good idea of what the public face of Lincoln was like.
In a talk given shortly after the assassination, William Herndon—friend, law partner and Lincoln’s biographer—said:

   Mr. Lincoln thought his speeches out on his feet walking in the streets: he penned them in small scraps—sentences, & paragraphs, depositing them in his hat for safety. When fully finished, he would recopy, and could always repeat easily by heart—so well thoughted, shotted, and matured were they.

We don’t know exactly what Lincoln sounded like, though he evidently had a high voice, accentuated by nervousness in the early part of his career. Herndon, remembering Lincoln in a letter 20 years after the president’s death, said:

   Lincoln’s voice was, when he first began speaking, shrill, squeaking, piping, unpleasant; his general look, his form, his pose, the color of his flesh, wrinkled and dry, his sensitiveness, and his momentary diffidence, everything seemed to be against him, but he soon recovered.

Herndon continues:

   On rising to address the jury or the crowd he quite generally placed his hands behind him, the back part of his left hand resting in the palm of his right hand. As he proceeded and grew warmer, he moved his hands to the front of his person, generally interlocking his fingers and running one thumb around the other. Sometimes his hands, for a short while, would hang by his side. In still growing warmer, as he proceeded in his address, he used his hands—especially and generally his right hand—in his gestures; he used his head a great deal in speaking, throwing or jerking or moving it now here and now there, now in this position and now in that, in order to be more emphatic, to drive the idea home. Mr. Lincoln never beat the air, never sawed space with his hands, never acted for stage effect: was cool, careful, earnest, sincere, truthful, fair, self-possessed, not insulting, not dictatorial; was pleasing, good-natured; had great strong naturalness of look, pose, and act; was clear in his ideas, simple in his words, strong, terse,  and demonstrative; he spoke and acted to convince individuals and masses; he used in his gestures his right hand, sometimes shooting out that long bony forefinger of his to dot an idea or to express a thought, resting his thumb on his middle finger. Bear in mind that he did not gesticulate much and yet it is true that every organ of his body was in motion and acted with ease, elegance, and grace, so it all looked to me.

Lincoln certainly possessed a natural eloquence, a clear logical mind for progressive argument, and an unmistakable charisma, helped by his imposing 6’4” form. His speeches regularly lasted for two hours or more. As one report of such a presentation in 1860 points out: ‘Mr. Lincoln spoke nearly two hours and we believe he would have held his audience had he spoken all night.’ (The Inquirer, 8 March 1860)

His close friends saw him more intimately, and revealed the human yet highly principled aspects of Lincoln’s personality. Joshua Speed, a friend of long standing, from the Kentucky days, recalled:

Mr. Lincoln’s person was ungainly. He was six feet four inches in height; a little stooped in the shoulders; his legs and arms were long; his feet and hands large; his forehead was high. His head was over the average size. His eyes were gray. His face and forehead were wrinkled even in his youth. They deepened with age, ‘as streams their channels deeper wear.’ Generally he was a very sad man, and his countenance indicated it. But when he warmed up all sadness vanished, his face was radiant and glowing, and almost gave expression to his thoughts before his tongue would utter them.

Certainly, the campaigning pressure and the presidential years exacted a toll. Here are some of the key photographs from his career.
The Essential Abraham Lincoln: Biography∑Speeches∑Letters
This daguerreotype, thought to have been taken in 1846/47 by Nicholas Shepherd, is the earliest photograph of Abraham Lincoln.

The Essential Abraham Lincoln: Biography∑Speeches∑Letters
Perhaps the most dramatic shot of Abraham Lincoln. It was taken on 3 October 1862 – several days after the Battle of Antietam. With Lincoln is Detective Allen Pinkerton (left) and General McClernand (right).

The Essential Abraham Lincoln: Biography∑Speeches∑Letters
This is the last known picture of Lincoln, taken on 10 April 1865, four days before his assassination.

The Essential Abraham Lincoln: Biography∑Speeches∑Letters
In April 2008, one of Lincoln’s letters sold for a record $3.4m (£1.7m) at auction in New York. This letter, dated 5 April 1864 and sent from the Executive Mansion, Washington, was an answer to a document entitled: ‘Children’s petition to the president asking him to free all the little slave children in this country’. Lincoln replied:

‘Please tell these little people, I am very glad their young hearts are so full of just and generous sympathy, and that while I have not the power to grant all they ask, I trust that they will remember that God has, and that, as it seems, He wills to do it.’

101  Abraham Lincoln  A Life  Lincoln is honoured as perhaps the greatest leader
102  Abraham Lincoln  A Life  In 1830 the Lincoln family were once again on the move
103  Abraham Lincoln  A Life  We know a great deal about Lincoln the man
104  Abraham Lincoln  A Life  He was propelled back into politics in 1854
105  Abraham Lincoln  A Life  It was this ill-judged and disastrous measure
106  Abraham Lincoln  A Life  Lincoln was appalled by the judgement
107  Abraham Lincoln  A Life  The South watched this result
108  Abraham Lincoln  A Life  Lincoln's first acts as war president
109  Abraham Lincoln  A Life  But better news was coming from the western theatre
110  Abraham Lincoln  A Life  During those years
111  Abraham Lincoln  A Life  Standing among the crowd that evening
112  Abraham Lincoln  A Life  Abraham Lincoln's influence on American history
201  Speech  27 January 1838  The Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois
203  Speech  16 October 1854  Peoria, Illinois
206  Speech  16 June 1858  Springfield, Illinois
207  Speech  February 1861  Springfield, Illinois railroad station
208  Speech  22 February 1861  Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
209  Speech  4 March 1861  Springfield, Illinois
212  Speech  19 November 1863  Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
213  Speech  4 March 1865  Washington, D.C.
214  Speech  9 April 1865  The White House, Washington, D.C.
301  Letter  13 June 1836  To the Editor of the Sangamo Journal
302  Letter  23 January 1841  To John T. Stuart
303  Letter  25 February 1842  To Joshua F. Speed
304  Letter  11 November 1842  To Samuel D. Marshall
305  Letter  11 August 1846  To Allen N. Ford
306  Letter  6 September 1846  To Andrew Johnson
307  Letter  5 November 1855  To Isham Reavis
308  Letter  2 December 1858  To James T. Thornton
309  Letter  15 August 1855  To the Hon. George Robertson
310  Letter  24 August 1855  To Joshua F. Speed
311  Letter  13 February 1856  To R.P. Morgan
312  Letter  15 May 1858  To J.F. Alexander, Esq.
313  Letter  6 April 1859  To Henry L. Pierce and others
314  Letter  April 1860  To Lyman Trumbul
315  Letter  22 July 1860  To George Latham
316  Letter  15 October 1860  From Grace Bedell
317  Letter  19 October 1860  To Grace Bedell
318  Letter  19 October 1860  To Mr. and Mrs. Ellsworth
319  Letter  22 September 1861  To the Hon. O.H. Browning
320  Letter  4 December 1861  To Mrs. Susannah Weathers
321  Letter  28 June 1862 Telegram  To General G.B. McClellan
322  Letter  August 1862  To the Hon. Horace Greeley
323  Letter  12 June 1863  To the Hon. Erastus Corning and others
324  Letter  26 August 1863  To the Hon. James C. Conkling
325  Letter  13 July 1863  To Major General Ulysses S. Grant
326  Letter  20 November 1863  To the Hon. Edward Everett
327  Letter  4 April 1864  To Albert G. Hodges
328  Letter  27 December 1864  To President of Princeton, Dr. John Maclean
329  Letter  15 March 1865  To Thurlow Weed
330  Letter  21 November 1864  To Mrs. Bixby

ISBN: 978-9626349434

Duration : 3:54:58
Sample Rate : 44100 Hz
Channels : 2
Avg. Bitrate : 80 kbps
Codec Profile : MP3 VBR V5
Tool : LAME3.97

Not registered yet? We'll like you more if you do!

Purchase The Essential Abraham Lincoln: Biography∑Speeches∑Letters from
Dear user! You need to be registered and logged in to fully enjoy We recommend registering or logging in.
Tags: lincoln, biography, history, speech, america, Lincoln, Abraham, Essential, Garrick, Hagon