Abraham Lincoln

1865 and Beyond

Nevertheless, for a brief moment then, and increasingly today, a spirit of reform moved the United States closer to its founding principle that "all men are created equal." No single man was more responsible for such progress in the nineteenth century than Abraham Lincoln. This fact has been well-remembered in the many encomiums that have been produced for Lincoln in the 135 years since his death.

One of the most famous songs of praise to Lincoln was written by Walt Whitman, who served as a clerk and nurse in Washington during the Civil War and later came to be a close friend and adviser to the president. In his memorial poem to Lincoln titled "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed," Whitman called him 'the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands." While Lincoln surely would have been flattered by such praise, he might have found more pleasure in the insightful words of fellow Illinois hero Vachel Lindsay. In his poem "Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight (Springfield, Illinois)," Lindsay aptly memorialized the freedom-loving strongman with a wink and a nod as 'the quaint great figure that men love,/ the prairie lawyer, master of us all."