Ted Widmer is director of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. He is the editor of American Speeches: Lincoln to Clinton: Political Oratory from Abraham Lincoln to Bill Clinton published by Library of America.

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Lincoln’s War of Words

Lincoln writing the Proclamation of Freedom; lithograph based on a painting by David Gilmour Blythe, circa 1863

As It is clear that writing was a form of self-therapy for Abraham Lincoln, and before he could save the nation, he needed to find the right words, to save himself. The exhibition Lincoln Speaks opens with Lincoln as a young child scrawling some mischievous doggerel: “Abraham Lincoln, his hand and pen, he will be good, but God knows when.”