Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session.”
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/03/11/lincoln.photograph/art.lincoln2.cnn.jpg caption="President Abraham Lincoln"]
In Session Anchor
Abraham Lincoln died 144 years ago today. He’d been shot the day before, Good Friday, at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. The actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth, inflicted the mortal wound — a single shot to the head that would have killed most men instantly. Lincoln, however, held on for almost 10 hours, and died on April 15, 1865. He was 56 years old.
More than 14,000 books have been written about Lincoln. Why the fascination? Simply put, Lincoln was the greatest president of the world’s greatest democracy.
Here’s why: Lincoln freed the slaves, including my ancestors, which, of course, makes me a bit partial. Lincoln, however, went beyond the Emancipation; he helped pioneer modern race relations by welcoming black abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth to the White House at a time when African-Americans were still less than full people as a matter of law.
Lincoln also represents the best of the American dream. Talk about bootstraps: up from poverty all the way to the White House, a journey it would take most families generations to achieve, if ever they did, this extraordinary man managed it in a single lifetime.
Though Abe Lincoln received fewer than two years of formal education, he understood the power of the English language and used it change hearts and minds. He also knew when fewer words would serve better. The iconic Gettysburg address is just 10 sentences long. At Gettysburg, Lincoln brilliantly summarized the Civil War in two to three minutes.
Lincoln’s character was constant through America’s most difficult hour. Simply put, had the president been nearly any other than Lincoln at that moment in our history, the “United States” would likely not be.
Lincoln died just days after the Civil War ended. But our greatest president laid the groundwork for this to become the greatest of nations.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with