Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Honest Abe

"'With him truth is out of the question, and as for getting a good bright passable lie out of him, you might as well try to strike fire from a cake of tallow.'"

     Abraham Lincoln and maybe Mary Todd, in 1841 (27 August 1842, according to  pp. 291 ff. of vol. 1 of the 1953 Collected works of Abraham Lincoln), in "a series of scurrilous letters from a fictitious [!] 'Rebecca' that vilified James Shields, a rising candidate in the Democratic Party" (the "Rebecca" letter from the Lost Townships), as quoted by Garry Wills, in "How Lincoln played the press," a review of Lincoln and the power of the press:  the war for public opinion, by Harold Holzer, New York review of books 61, no. 17 (November 6, 2014):  25 (25-26).  "It was a dirty game by later standards, and no one played it better than Abraham Lincoln" (25).

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