Coffin: Lincoln & Vermont

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(Host) As a new wave of interest in Abraham Lincoln sweeps across the
country, author, historian and commentator Howard Coffin notes that
Abraham Lincoln almost paid a visit to Vermont, almost…

Abraham Lincoln never came to Vermont , but he was booked into
Manchester’s Equinox House for a summer vacation in 1865. The war would
have been over. How he would have enjoyed himself in the kind of rural
countryside he grew up in. And what a welcome Manchester would have
given him, a town that proudly paid as dear a human price to win the
Civil War as any in Vermont.

But John Wilkes Booth intervened.

when a Confederate army threatened Washington in 1864, the president
hastened to the Potomac River docks to welcome the city’s saviors, the
Army of the Potomac’s Sixth Corps. Vermonters were disembarking when as
office apologized to the president because no generals were present. A
Vermont doctor heard the president’s reply, "I did not come here to see
any generals, I came to see the Vermont Brigade.

When Lincoln
died, scores of Vermont towns held what they called funerals. Many
eulogies likened the assassinated president to Jesus Christ.

when just beginning his presidency, Lincoln wrote about his belief that
for the nation to succeed, the Declaration of Independence and the
Constitution must always be considered together. They are, he said,
"like apples of gold in pictures of silver."

He meant that the
Declaration, stating that all men are created equal, should guide
interpretation of the Constitution. Of course, such a reading from the
nation’s founding would have outlawed slavery, making the Civil War

Dedicating the Gettysburg National Cemetery 149
years ago, Lincoln began by emphasizing that four score and seven years
previous, in 1776, the founding fathers brought forth on the American
continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal.

He concluded by
proclaiming that the ongoing war should bring forth a new birth of
freedom for the nation that he once called the last best hope of earth.

years after the Civil War, Vermont Civil War officers held a reunion in
the House of Representatives at the State House. The keynote speaker
was Stephen Thomas, former Eighth Vermont Regiment commander, a hero on
several battlefields, including Winchester and Cedar Creek. Thomas spoke
that day about fellow soldiers who had died in the great war.

doubtful that Thomas was aware of what Lincoln had written years before
about the Declaration and Constitution. But in describing his memories
of fallen comrades, Thomas said, "To me, they are like apples of gold in
pictures of silver."

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