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habit. He asserted that his prayer to the God of Battles brought help in the conflict. He was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church. Lincoln was a profoundly religious man. He did not join any charch, but he attended church services regularly and was a firm believer in the Bible and the Christian faith. Lincoln once told Bishop Simpson, whose lectures on the state of the country during the Civil War were said by the President to be worth 100,000 men to the Union army, and who delivered Lincoln's funeral address, that he felt that God had called him to lead the nation in its tragical time, and had given him wisdom, courage, strength and victory in the conflict.
Everybody knows that Theodore Roosevelt was intensely religious; that he did not hesitate, on all proper occasions, to announce publicly his faith in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. He was a devoted member of the Dutch Reformed Church and attended its services regularly. He told me that his firm faith in God, and his actual knowledge of Him had been the chief motive in his individual character and his public service. Some think it smart and big to doubt. But the people of America believe. They want the human element in their heroes and the superhuman elements as well. They want them earthborn and born from above too. It will take a nation a long time to die, which has as its heroes Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt, the crown of whose greatness was their goodness.
The similarity of these heroes, in those moral ele ments without which there can be no real manhood in any calling or position, was increased by the law of imitation. Lincoln tried his best to become like Washington. When a boy he came across a life of Washington at a neighbor's home and borrowed it.
Reading it one night, tired out, he tucked the book in a crack between the logs. That night a rain storm pelted in and spoiled it. In distress he hurried over to the neighbors and said, “See what has happened. I have not a cent in the world, and if I had there are no books for sale around here. What shall I do? Now take the price of it out of my hide.
The man replied, “Abe, you pull fodder for me for three days and you may have it, and we will call it square." And he did. He fairly devoured the volume, and from that day his thoughts and conduct were influenced by those of Washington.
Roosevelt copied Washington and Lincoln, especially the latter. Lincoln appealed to every faculty of his soul. He studied his character, read his speeches, examined his administration, marvelled at his statesmanship and tried to become like him. He had in him, by nature, many of the qualities of Lincoln, and he gained others by a lifelong admiration and imitation of him. He insisted that any man or party which had strayed away from the principles advocated by Lincoln was on the wrong track.
In 1909 the centenary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln was observed. On the first day of that year President Roosevelt addressed from the White House to Dr. Shaw, editor of the Review of Reviews, a characteristic letter in which he commented on the famous Bixby letter of the martyr President. This letter of President Roosevelt was as follows:
THE WHITE HOUSE,
WASHINGTON, JANUARY 1, 1909. TO THE DDITOR OF THE Review of Reviews :
The deeds and words of the great men of the nation, and above all the character of each of the foremost men of the nation, are one and all assets of inestimable value to the
Republic. Lincoln's work and Lincoln's words should be, and I think more and more are, part of those formative influences which tend to become living forces for good citizenship among our people. There is one of his letters which has always appealed to me particularly. It is the one run. ning as follows:
WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 21, 1864. TO MRS. BIXBY,
Boston, Mass. Dear Madam: I have been shown, in the files of the War Department, a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice on the altar of freedom. Yours very sincerely and respectfully,
A. LINCOLN. Any man who has occupied the office of President realizes the incredible amount of administrative work with which the President has to deal even in time of peace. He is of necessity a very busy man, a much-driven man, from whose mind there can never be absent, for many minutes at a time, the consideration of some problem of importance, or of some matter of less importance which yet causes worry and strain. Under such circumstances, it is not easy for a President, even in times of peace, to turn from the affairs that are of moment to all the people and consider affairs that are of moment to but one person.
While this is true of times of peace, it is, of course, infinitely more true of times of war, No President who has ever sat in the White House has borne the burden that Lincoln bore, or been under the ceaseless strain which he endured. It did not let up by day or by night. Ever he bad to consider problems of the widest importance, ever
to run risks of greatest magnitude; and ever, through and across his plans to meet these great dangers and responsibilities, was shot the woof of an infinite number of small annoyances. He worked out his great task while unceasingly beset by the need of attending as best he could to a multitude of small tasks.
It is a touching thing that the great leader, while thus driven and absorbed, could yet so often turn aside for the moment to do some deed of personal kindness; and it is a fortunate thing for the nation that in addition to doing so well each deed, great or small, he possessed that marvelous gift of expression which enabled him, quite unconsciously, to choose the very words best fit to commemorate each deed. His Gettysburg speech and his second inaugural are two of the half-dozen greatest speeches ever made-I am tempted to call them the two greatest ever made. They are great in their wisdom, and dignity, and earnestness, and in a lofti. ness of thought and expression which makes them akin to the utterances of the prophets of the Old Testament.
In a totally different way, but in strongest and most human fashion, such utterances as his answer the serenaders immediately after his second election, and his letter, which I have quoted above, appeal to us and make our hearts thrill. The mother of whom he wrote stood in our sense on a loftier plane of patriotism than the mighty President himself. Her memory, and the memory of her sons whom she bore for the Union, should be kept green in our minds; for she and they, in life and death, typified all that is best and highest in our national existence. The deed itself, and the words of the great man which commemorate that deed, should form one of those heritages for all Americans which it is of inestimable consequence that America should possess.
In this letter Mr. Roosevelt thinks Lincoln's Address at Gettysburg and his Second Inaugural Address are the greatest ones ever delivered. He himself has some addresses whose periods are in the class of Lincoln's masterpieces. One of these is this description of Lincoln:
"After long years of iron effort, and of failure that came more often than victory, he at last rose to the leadership of the Republic, at the moment when that leadership had become the stupendous world-task of the time. He grew to know greatness, but never ease. Success came to him, but never happiness, save that which springs from doing well a painful and vital task. Power was his, but not pleasure. The furrows deepened on his brow, but his eyes were un. dimmed by either hate or fear. His gaunt shoulders were bowed, but his steel thews never faltered as he bore for a burden the destinies of his people. His great and tender heart shrank from giving pain; and the task allotted him was to pour out like water the life-blood of the young men, and to feel in his every fiber the sorrow of the women. Disaster saddened but never dismayed him. As the red years of war went by they found him ever doing his duty in the present, ever facing the future with fearless front, high of heart, and dauntless of soul. Unbroken by hatred, unshaken by scorn, he worked and suffered for the people. Triumph was his at the last; and barely bad he tasted it before murder found him, and the kindly, patient, fearless eyes were closed forever.”
Roosevelt's comparison of Washington and Lincoln will make a fitting close for this chapter. It is this:
"As a people we are indeed beyond measure fortunate in the characters of the two greatest of our public men, Washington and Lincoln. Widely though they differed in ex. ternals, the Virginia-landed gentleman and the Kentucky backwoodsman, they
alike in essentials, they were alike in the great qualities which made each able to render service to his nation, and to all mankind, such
other man of his generation could or did render. Each had lofty ideals, but each in striving to attain these lofty ideals was guided by the soundest common sense. Each possessed inflexible courage in adversity, and a soul wholly unspoiled by prosperity. Each possessed all the gentler virtues commonly exhibited by good men who lack rugged strength of character. Each possessed, also, all the strong qualities commonly exhibited by those towering masters of mankind who have, too often, shown themselves devoid of so much as the understanding of the words