Slate editor David Plotz revives interest Thursday in a great piece of Abraham Lincoln writing.
According to Plotz’s post, Lincoln reviewed death sentences by court martial during the Civil War, and in the case of Michael Delaney, a condemned soldier who deserted his Colorado regiment but was found while fighting for another regiment, Lincoln proved himself concise, rational, and probably pressed for time.
His note, scratched on the bottom of some yellowing legal paper, reads:
Let him fight instead of being shot. A Lincoln
Plotz got to see Lincoln’s writing on the document during a recent tour of the National Archives vaults (hence the post.) As Plotz writes:
I guess it’s not surprising that the author of the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address could manage to convey humanity, common sense, and a flash of dark wit in just seven words.
At 46 characters, let’s just assume that this quote would have dominated the Twittersphere of 1863. This isn’t a brand new finding, it’s been noted in modern Lincoln biographies. (Unsurprising, given the estimated 65,000 books written on the Civil War and the 15,000 about Lincoln, some of which are stacked to the ceiling at the Ford’s Theatre centre for Education and Leadership.) But it’s new to us and a refreshing reminder of Lincoln’s sober humanity as he’s lately been recast as a Vampire Hunter.
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