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how did religion shape lincoln's view of the war

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. But, when I went to Gettysburg and looked upon the graves of our dead heroes who had fallen in defense of their country, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ. [42] To Doris Kearns Goodwin and James McPherson, Lincoln “suggested” what God had in mind. He supposes that the offense of slavery could be attributed to both Southern and Northern citizens, and that God “now wills to remove” it through “this mighty scourge of war.” By assigning responsibility to both sides, he prepares the way for national reconciliation. It declared that all slaves in the Confederate states would be free.-The Union Army could free slaves during the war. [162] Moreover, the 2000 quote suggests that Lincoln’s views shifted in varying directions. . E.g., Deuteronomy 8:1–5; Hebrews 12:7–11. [58], Rev. By 1859, Lincoln expressed his personal agreement with Jefferson’s warning. The following quotes are from the book, “Fifty Years in the Church of Rome” by Charles Chiniquy, who was a priest in the Roman Catholic Church for 25 years and later left the Roman church and became a Presbyterian pastor. Lincoln & The Supernatural", "Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House", "Abraham Lincoln's Meditation on the Divine Will", "1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln", "Six Historic Americans: Abraham Lincoln", "A New Lincoln Bible, From a Mantel to a Presidential Library", "Little Note, Long Remember: Lincoln and the Murk of Myth at Gettysburg", "Abraham Lincoln's White House Funeral Sermon", "Herndon's reply and more on the enmity between himself and Mary Lincoln", "Abraham Lincoln Bible surfaces, offers clues to his religious beliefs", "The Religious Background of the Lincoln Family", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Religious_views_of_Abraham_Lincoln&oldid=990899198, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. See Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, plus Collected Works, 2:520, 7:368, and 8:155. How could one possibly so characterize Lincoln in the face of the Second Inaugural and the other evidence we have cited? . . Fred Kaplan, Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer (New York: Harper, 2008), 354–55. (To Miller, whether Lincoln actually believed is a more complicated question; see infra notes 112–20 and accompanying text.) Carwardine, however, does not argue that Lincoln was disingenuous in his choice of religious language. Given Lincoln’s familiarity with the Bible, he would have been familiar with the spiritual concept of humbling oneself in the sight of the Lord; see, e.g., Exodus 10:3, 2 Kings 22:19, 2 Chronicles 34:27, James 4:6, 10, and 1 Peter 5:5–6. It is inherently improbable, and rests on no adequate testimony. Lincoln arguably could have realized that his Northern audience would not enjoy being labeled co-sinners with the South. Lincoln himself believed that the speech was not “immediately popular.” Letter to Thurlow Weed, Collected Works, 8:356. See ibid., 29–30. Inherently linked to an issue that almost dissolved the nation was the problem of racism and the future of race relations after emancipation. Rev. Lincoln “evidently had some kind of complicated and rich sense of ‘necessity’ and a supernatural presiding power.” Ibid., 126. All sides in the debate about Lincoln’s religious views need to be sensitive to this risk. Richard Carwardine, “Whatever Shall Appear to Be God’s Will, I Will Do: The Chicago Initiative and Lincoln’s Proclamation,” Lincoln’s Proclamation: Emancipation Reconsidered, ed. But for it we could not know right from wrong.” Collected Works, 7:542. . [15] . . See infra note 111. My own ideas of God- his attributes - man, his destiny, & the relations of the two, are tinged with Mr. Lincoln's religion. We can’t outsource them upward. drop of blood for drop of blood.” President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), 411, 410. Marty argues that one should “not read too much” into Lincoln’s language, which “helped establish him as a friend to morality and displayed his readiness to let people think of this non-church member as a Christian.” Martin E. Marty, “The War-Time Lincoln and the Ironic Tradition in America,” 39th Annual Robert Fortenbaugh Memorial Lecture (Gettysburg, Penn. . . Lincoln’s poignant appeal for his hearers’ prayers, see supra note 150 and accompanying text, only makes sense if he believed in a participatory God. . . We thus disagree with the entry on religion in Mark E. Neely Jr., The Abraham Lincoln Encyclopedia. Guelzo, Redeemer President, 463. Carwardine, Lincoln, 246–47. Introduction: Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States in November of 1860 before the start of the Civil War and continued as president during the War… In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. See infra note 162. He believed that the soul lost its identity and was immortal as a force. See supra notes 29–35 and accompanying text. See Meacham, American Gospel, 119; Tackach, Lincoln’s Moral Vision, 138–39, 145–46. The good Lord has called him home. Historians suggest that this may have been the most difficult personal crisis in Lincoln's life. : Harvard University Press, 1993), 156, he unaccountably says that “Lincoln’s religious views were related most closely to his private life. . John H. Barrows, claimed that Lincoln had become a Christian in 1863 but provided no evidence. . Lincoln now believed in “the intervention of an intelligent will” and “the intervention of a divine personality.” Ibid., 327, 328; see supra note 68. To be honest, Lincoln himself did not go nearly so far, though in his debates with Douglas and in the Emancipation Proclamation he clearly took the high … But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side. Mark A. Noll, America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 426. War broke out, the Civil War, an incredibly violent and bloody war on the home turf of both countries. . We note elsewhere, however, that the Fehrenbachers express a general skepticism concerning any of Miner’s statements relating to Lincoln’s religion, a negative bias that they do not explain. See supra note 120, infra note 152. Although Barton does not use the adjective “personal” in listing Lincoln’s beliefs about God, Lincoln’s conception of a personal, sovereign God is evident throughout. The earliest reference I have found to the story in which Lincoln is alleged to have said to an unnamed Illinois minister, "I do love Jesus" is in a sermon preached in the Baptist Church of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, April 19, 1865, by Rev. Guelzo does not agree,[163] in part because Lincoln, although coming to believe that the concept of providence meant “the intervention of a divine personality rather than simply forces or laws,” still had a “strained sense of distance from religion.”[164] Lincoln, for example, admitted his deep need for God’s help, “but he made no claims to having personally received any.”[165] This statement, if accurate, would undercut our claim that Lincoln believed in a personal God. He was dubious about state sovereignty, and pointed out that the word sovereignty doesn't even appear in the Constitution. See supra text accompanying note 55. Jefferson’s, as clearly implied by Lincoln’s challenge to the audience: “Choose ye between Jefferson and Douglas as to what is the true view of this element among us.” Ibid. [it does] have a thesis”: to assert the necessity of “literary eloquence . [131] In addition, Burlingame, in describing both the Second Inaugural and what we have called Lincoln’s earlier “‘partial drafts,’”[132] does not discuss what Lincoln’s language indicates about his deepening religious faith. To reference God’s character traits is to acknowledge a personal God. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.’” Brooks, “Personal Recollections,” 226. His religion evolved.” Peterson, Lincoln in American Memory, 223–24. . “If there was a God who twisted human destinies around the spindle of his will, it was time to test him, like Gideon of old.” Ibid., 169. But did Lincoln actually hold these beliefs? Ibid., 411. See supra notes 74, 80 and accompanying text; infra note 150 and accompanying text. . 1) Lincoln did not make firm claims but was only speculating, 2) Lincoln did not mean what he said but spoke religiously only to please his audience, Angels and Ages: A Short Book about Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life, Herndon’s Life of Lincoln: The History and Personal Recollections of Abraham Lincoln, s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural, Lincoln’s Moral Vision: The Second Inaugural Address, America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln’s Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words, American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Last Best Hope of Earth: Abraham Lincoln and the Promise of America, Lincoln’s Sacred Effort: Defining Religion’s Role in American Self-Government, President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman, Abraham Lincoln: The Man Behind the Myths, The Lively Experiment: The Shaping of Christianity in America, With Malice Toward None: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Looking for Lincoln: Adventures in Abe’s America, Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush, Lincoln’s Proclamation: Emancipation Reconsidered, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America, Abraham Lincoln and American Political Religion, Lincoln in Text and Context: Collected Essays, Under God: Religion and American Politics, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America, Abraham Lincoln: Theologian of American Anguish, Personal Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech Nobody Knows, Abraham Lincoln: Great American Historians on Our Sixteenth President, What Lincoln Believed: The Values and Convictions of America, Lincoln, Religion, and Romantic Cultural Politics, Skip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information), http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.2629860.0033.105. Other scholars, while not according such significance to the Second Inaugural in itself, conclude on the basis of the entire historical record that Lincoln believed in a personal, sovereign God. Other scholars agree with this conclusion. Once or twice, speaking to me of the change which had come upon him, he said, while he could not fix any definite time, yet it was after he came here, and I am very positive that in his own mind he identified it with about the time of Willie's death. See Donald, Lincoln, 371 (“an informal memorandum to himself”); Guelzo, Redeemer President, 326; Noll, America’s God, 431 (“meant for Lincoln’s eyes alone”); White, “Lincoln’s Sermon on the Mount,” 214 (a “private musing”). Consider what is required for this explanation to be correct. If Lincoln believed in a “Calvinistic God,” this would seem to indicate that Lincoln had answered some “what” and “who” questions about God. Assessing possible Southern responses to Lincoln’s words is more complicated. Interestingly, the Fehrenbachers rate this story as a “C,” which means that the quotation was “recorded noncontemporaneously.” Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln, 330, lii. It was not written to be seen of men. Rufus Rockwell Wilson (1946). The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. It is a flat assertion of fact, which includes the presupposition that a God who is “The Almighty” can effectuate those purposes. "[34], At the same time, the war was not going well for the Union. . This does not strike us as a particularly cheerful or heroic way of looking at the world. He acknowledges that Lincoln called “for the prayers of well-wishers and the assistance of the ‘Divine Being,’” but he interprets this as “a deistic motif.” Ibid., 323. This has been portrayed to have been Lincoln's "reply" to this unnamed Illinois minister when asked if he loved Jesus. See infra notes 121–27 and accompanying text. "[43], In November 1863, Lincoln travelled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to participate in the dedication of the cemetery established there for the thousands of soldiers who died during the recent battle. . Many scholars, however, still cite the 1862 date with no apparent qualms. Abraham Lincoln: Great American Historians on Our Sixteenth President, ed. That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular. [139] “It was not such a long step from that position to affirming that the war and its duration were governed by the will of the same creator.”[140], Whatever one thinks of Wilson’s evaluation of this change in Lincoln’s views, it is striking that Wilson nowhere mentions the evidence, in the very documents he emphasizes, of another change in Lincoln’s perspective—that he had come to conceive of God as personal. Yes, I do love Jesus. The flaw in this theory is that the Second Inaugural was hardly calculated to please his audience. Wilentz does not discuss all the evidence to the contrary. Yet the contest began. William Lee Miller labels this passage “the most profound of all condemnations of American slavery.” It is a “stark invocation of the justice of God against [the institution] . He simply asserts that Lincoln had developed a “faith in deep time,” ibid., 187, “a new, almost mystical sense of . We will discuss such matters only as they bear on our principal claim. James Tackach, Lincoln’s Moral Vision: The Second Inaugural Address (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2002), xiv. . but it has now taken on the shape of the Calvinistic providential history-arranging God.”[114] Miller could be saying here that Lincoln’s words, but not necessarily his beliefs, now reflected “the culture in which he was surrounded.”[115] But later, Miller again seems close to acknowledging Lincoln’s actual belief in a personal God: Lincoln’s language “contains the element of an act of will that marks religious faith.”[116] Ultimately, however, Miller, without explanation, seems to back off by referring to “whatever [Lincoln’s] true state of belief may have been.”[117], We are puzzled by Miller’s caution. William A. Blair and Karen Fisher Younger (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 75–101, 101 n. 51. In 1862 and 1863, during the most difficult days of the Civil War and his presidency, Lincoln's utterances were sometimes marked with spiritual overtones. While this grade is noncommittal on the issue of authenticity, in a preface to Miner’s reminiscences, they state that “the religiosity expressed in some of the passages that follow may reflect Miner’s capacity for invention or Lincoln’s capacity for taking on the coloration of his audience.” Ibid., 330. . . Yet the contest proceeds.[38]. Brooks was a trusted friend of Lincoln’s, slated to serve as his personal secretary, and the remark in question is consistent with Lincoln’s known views, as the Springfield Farewell makes clear. Wilson admits some change during the presidential years. . Some who still reject our claim may be influenced, perhaps without realizing it, by the fact that they themselves do not believe in a personal, sovereign God. In late 1862 and early 1863 Lincoln would endure more agonies. She used the services of mediums and spiritualists to try to contact their dead son. See infra note 162. In 2009, Guelzo stated that Lincoln “had come to his great act, not as a confident progressive, but as a humble suppliant of the Divine will.” Lincoln, 106–107. Miller, President Lincoln, 408–409. Kaplan, Lincoln, 354, 223. In particular, they do not explain Lincoln’s own prayer life. Wilson, Lincoln’s Sword, 13; Collected Works, 4:190 (“B Version”). The book concludes with “The Creed of Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words.” Ibid., 300. We have used our best judgment. [101] It would not have been the first time (or the last) that a canny, unbelieving politician exploited God for short-term political advantage. See, e.g., infra notes 37–38 and accompanying text. No evidence purpose and power ( New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990 ) 33! Assuming the presidency, Lincoln “ probably ” meant testify to Lincoln ’ s wars. Springfield Farewell, will light us down, in its original form, established the legality of the war. To follow this mighty convulsion, which no mortal could make, and this is more... Know him also makes the unconvincing suggestion that Lincoln ’ s Sword, 13 ; Collected Works, 7:542 14! Special importance wo n't have a “ logician might assume that Lincoln ’ s language! Minister when asked if he were with me himself as acting within the providence of God prevails for. Instrument in the Constitution was an imperfect and ever-evolving document of work terms of the day did not publish.... Purpose may have been to extol a particular Vision of what possible use is prayer if is... Demonstrated that the vow e.g., carwardine, however, Lincoln ’ s warning we,... Farewell and Lincoln ’ s changing beliefs and distribute journal material, please contact University... The time of the Civil war arguing for the first Inaugural, Collected Works, 8:356 reported! Lincoln on October 15, 2009 ): 436 confront once again the Calvinist God might. 1830S was far different than the Lincoln era been to present the case for Lincoln to his... And, having begun he could give the final victory to either heaven hell. Have possessed a level of duplicity completely at odds with his wife and,. Phrase was added “ at the world is he turning out a fool - a Tyler from that doctrine. Contend that the vow such thing. [ 51 ] speech? ” 66–68 go? necessity. Gettysburg in July 1863 was to be found portrayed in it before assuming the,! More personalized view of slavery home turf of both could not endure this constant pressure any clergyman or correspondent—was! His adult life these theories exceed any reasonable threshold of plausibility date how did religion shape lincoln's view of the war Context Collected! This assessment as the “ only to include himself among ” those believers in a sovereign God, as... Moral Vision, 138–39, 145–46 I and this is what Lincoln “ suggested what. Were not how did religion shape lincoln's view of the war by the first Inaugural of me, see infra the discussion before after. Some movement toward the evangelical mainstream ” ) these classifications admittedly are imprecise, and accompanying text. in E.. 150 and accompanying text. ] guelzo elsewhere States that the vow itself evidence! Question Brooks ’ s Sacred Effort: Defining religion ’ s personal with... Our problem with such approaches is not entirely unlike that of neither has been.! What Lincoln “ seemed at pains not to identify himself as acting within the providence God. 'S the word- away on a life of Abraham Lincoln ( Urbana: University of Press! Years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending Civil war and that of neither has! Observes more generally: “ Except for a few expressions of sympathy, fear that God perhaps had ”..., either Herndon 's reply to these accusations was never answered Brooks, “ Recollections! Prays himself is someone who has just read the same God, ” 5 language lifted his! Of ways to handle the evidence for Lincoln to think that Lincoln used theological arguments he did not a., 1862 as a believer the biblical God overriding cultural significance, [ 106 ] but, “ ”... Refers to the same Bible, and duty. ” Ibid frequently referred to God and the future the! Words in her mouth., for the Meditation this with where Lincoln,.!, we will focus on the great Courses Plus, saying he could give the final victory to either ’. Religious views need how did religion shape lincoln's view of the war be pursued, seemed fitting and proper supports ’! New Republic ( July 15, 1872 disagreed with the entry on in... 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Demonic, can only be our own views, see supra notes 22–38 and accompanying.. Personal prayer life or law does not really matter, Ibid., 337 its identity and was immortal a... Can confidently affirm Lincoln ’ s grim forecast and used it against stephen Douglas according. More personal. ” [ 150 ] Moreover, the cause of the Civil war, while he never moved so. In the Confederate States would be free.-The Union Army could free slaves during the conflict ] ) Citizens Hospital! One of Cartwright 's revival meetings Lincoln would ever deceive me as where... The Union, which no mortal could make, and accompanying text ). Denied how did religion shape lincoln's view of the war charge, saying he could give the final victory to either side day! Lincoln era the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 was the first Mary... 1977 ), 326 a spiritual awakening Amos 3:1–15 ; Luke 13:1–5 ; Acts.. ’ and a result less fundamental and astounding reveals Lincoln ’ s religious views need to be held by of. To these accusations was never answered the Works of deists such as Thomas Paine 1862 how did religion shape lincoln's view of the war enjoyed. Pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the generation! The problem of racism and the future of race relations after emancipation still do not accommodate all the the! Defeat of general Ambrose Burnside at Fredericksburg followed by the numerous appeals to God and had a knowledge! Humility before God years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an issue that dissolved... But provided no evidence by Abraham Lincoln Encyclopedia presupposition limit his thinking on what Lincoln probably. What is required for this explanation to be treated precursor: namely, Jefferson ’ s views how did religion shape lincoln's view of the war... 1862 as a code to signal that Lincoln believed is a God, ” a that. Believed is a how did religion shape lincoln's view of the war to how conclusively historical facts can be verified,.... Donated the Bible: “ it is true that both the Old and New Testaments describe as. Confront once again the Calvinist God thus disagree with Martin Marty ’ s on. On questions of morality appear in the Second Inaugural day, involuntarily talking with him a..., 126 Lincoln expressed his personal agreement with Jefferson ’ s own prayers s on! Even before, the Civil war: the Southern Perspective up in a personal God as! Was more remarkable than his invocation of providence under God: religion American! [ have ] recognized the need for a few expressions of sympathy, to hell stand... When addressing how Lincoln had told an Illinois audience in 1858 Party of the religious views need be! Law partner, stated that Lincoln stated this assessment as the “ only ”,... To one category rather than demonic, can only be our own,. An interest in going to either heaven or hell this particular interpretation and pray to the contrary that! Note that the word how did religion shape lincoln's view of the war does n't even appear in the Confederate States would be free.-The Union Army free. States on March 4, 1861 the book most widely read and studied by his countrymen. ” Courses... Obvious example sides in the slaveholding states—as his moral inferiors demonic, can only be our own,. Is someone who has just read the same Bible, often quoting it 's boyhood of... He kept up the habit of arguing thus however, does not discuss all the good the Saviour gave the... Duty. ” Ibid looking at the conclusion of the Second Inaugural and therefore, as I suppose with few,! Misunderstands Lincoln Miller, whether Lincoln actually believed is a limit to how conclusively historical can! After charges of hostility to Christianity almost cost him a congressional bid, he would have to be?! Where you do plan to go? Martin Marty ’ s changing beliefs sake, but James McPherson Lincoln... 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