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from Photographers' Blog:

Reflecting on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

By Gary Cameron

He arrived on the evening train from Washington, accompanied by two secretaries, three members of his Cabinet, and several foreign officials. During the train trip, he commented that he felt weak and dizzy. During the speech, it was noted that he face had ‘a ghastly color.’ After the speech, he boarded a train back to the nation’s capital and was feverish and had a bad headache. An extended illness continued, and the President appeared to be in the throes of smallpox when he delivered the Gettysburg Address at the Gettysburg National Cemetery dedication.

Throw in the fact that Abraham Lincoln, in November of 1863, was attempting to save and re-unite a nation in the middle of a Civil War, free a people who came to the U.S. shores in chains and committed to a life of servitude and bondage, dealing with the loss of his young son Willie in 1862, (of the three Lincoln children, only one survived in adulthood), and married to a woman who possessed incredible mood swings, a fierce temper, and depression.

If you look at an actual photograph of Abraham Lincoln in 1863 at age 54, the physical effects of the mental weight and strains he carried are quite evident. Deep set lines and creases, fatigue, and sadness cover his expression even with an attempt to look pleasant. The man easily looks fifteen years older than his actual age.

Only one confirmed photograph of Abraham Lincoln during ceremonies for the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19, 1863 exists. Taken by David Bachrach, the President is centered in a crowd, hatless, and by all accounts, Bachrach made the image after Lincoln’s “brief remarks” that only contained a few paragraphs and took two minutes to deliver. More than likely, Bachrach was expecting a speech similar to Edward Everett’s that preceded Lincoln’s, and lasted two hours.

from The Great Debate:

For Obama’s second Inaugural, skip the poetry

President Barack Obama should hope that old adage, “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” isn’t true. In his second Inaugural Address Monday, he has a chance to sharpen his arguments and move the nation in a way that eluded him the first time around.

Instead of a soggy sermon about political maturity, Obama should offer a ripping defense of his vision of government and its role in the economy. He has nothing to fear but controversy itself.

from Tales from the Trail:

Just what is a “Lincoln-Douglas” debate?

Republican frontrunner Newt Gingrich and long-shot Jon Huntsman say they’ll hold a “Lincoln-Douglas” debate in New Hampshire on Monday. So how will it be different from the usual debates?

During the 1858 race for U.S. Senate in Illinois, incumbent Democrat Stephen Douglas and upstart Republican lawyer Abraham Lincoln held a series of seven three-hour debates in towns throughout the state on the day’s hottest topic: slavery.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Afghanistan, still the new Vietnam ?

Try hard as you can, there doesn't seem to be any escaping from comparing America's eight-year war in Afghanistan to the one it fought in Vietnam.

Every now and then, either when there is a fresh setback or a key moment in Afghanistan's turbulent history, like last week when it went to the polls to choose a president, the debate flares anew.

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama already getting gray hair

OBAMA/ECONOMYWell, that didn't take long. President Barack Obama is already showing signs that the White House is aging him six weeks after he took office. He is getting gray around the temples.

The New York Times and the Washington Post seem to have discovered this at the same time. The Times had a front-page story about it. The Post ran a story on the front of its Style section.

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama comparing himself to Lincoln? Perish the thought

Springfield, Ill. - President Barack Obama may have ridden a train to Washington for his inauguration, just like Abraham Lincoln.And he may be assembling a “Team of Rivals” for his Cabinet, just like the president who fought the Civil War to keep the United States unified nearly 150 years ago.USA-OBAMA/But Obama is not trying to draw associations between himself and the 16th U.S. president, who by the way also was from Illinois.So said his spokesman as the president marked the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth with speeches at the U.S. Capitol and in Springfield, Illinois.“This president isn’t seeking to compare himself with … what many believe is one of the two or three greatest presidents that this country has ever had,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters on Air Force One en route to Illinois.But then again …“There are parallels, I think, that make it hard for some to ignore,” Gibbs said, enumerating a few: “the Illinois factor, the spending roughly the same amount of time in Springfield and the same amount of time in Congress.”“I think the parallels don’t go a whole lot beyond that,” he added.Obama managed to draw a few more.Speaking at the Lincoln bicentennial he noted it was good to be back in Springfield, "where I launched my candidacy for president two years ago this week –- on the steps of the Old State Capitol where Abraham Lincoln served and prepared for his presidency.”The president had just gotten word that Republican Senator Judd Gregg had withdrawn as commerce secretary nominee, and it was on his mind as he reflected on Lincoln, the simple lawyer who became a mythic American figure.Obama said he thought of Lincoln sitting in his law office, feet up on his desk, sons playing around him, clothes a bit too small for his oversized frame and “maybe wondering if someone might call him up and ask him to be commerce secretary.”This drawing of parallels between Democrat Obama and the first Republican U.S. president was a bit much for the Republican Party and it’s new leader, Michael Steele.Trying to hang onto at least a shred of Lincoln's legacy for the Republicans, Steele issued his own statement on the bicentennial.“As the leader of the party of Lincoln, I realize that we bear a special responsibility to build on the great work of President Lincoln, and all those Americans who have devoted their lives to the cause of liberty,” he said.For more Reuters political news, click here.Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama at Lincoln bicentennial celebration in Springfield)

from Tales from the Trail:

First draft: Obama celebrates Lincoln

OBAMA/

President Barack Obama takes a little break today in his roadshow to sell his economic stimulus package to honor one of his heroes: Abraham Lincoln.

It's Lincoln's 200th birthday and Obama will mark it by giving speeches at the U.S. Capitol and at the Abraham Lincoln Association banquet in Springfield, Illinois.

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