Big girl looking for a Lincoln happiness

Added: Beverley Zarate - Date: 11.09.2021 15:38 - Views: 23924 - Clicks: 5516

When Abraham Lincoln came to the stage of the state Republican convention in Decatur, Illinois, the crowd roared in approval. Men threw hats and canes into the air, shaking the hall so much that the awning over the stage collapsed; according to an early"the roof was literally cheered off the building.

Yet to the convention audience Lincoln didn't seem euphoric, or triumphant, or even pleased. On the contrary, said a man named Johnson, observing from the convention floor, "I then thought him one of the most diffident and worst plagued men I ever saw. The next day the convention closed. The crowds dispersed, leaving behind cigar stubs and handbills and the smells of sweat and whiskey. Later the lieutenant governor of Illinois, William J. Bross, walked the floor. He saw Lincoln sitting alone at the end of the hall, his head bowed, his gangly arms bent at the elbows, his hands pressed to his face.

As Bross approached, Lincoln noticed him and said, "I'm not very well. Lincoln's look at that moment—the classic image of gloom—was familiar to everyone who knew him well. Such spells were just one thread in a curious fabric of behavior and thought that his friends called his "melancholy. He told jokes and stories at odd times—he needed the laughs, he said, for his survival. As a young man he talked more than once of suicide, and as he grew older he said he saw the world as hard and grim, full of misery, made that way by fate and the forces of God.

Lincoln's character," declared his colleague Henry Whitney, "was so marked, obvious and ingrained as his mysterious and profound melancholy. In I chanced upon a reference to Lincoln's melancholy in a sociologist's essay on suicide. I was intrigued enough to investigate the subject and discovered an exciting movement in the field of Lincoln studies. Actually, it was a rediscovery of very old terrain.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Lincoln's melancholy was widely accepted by students of his life, based as the subject was on countless reminiscences by people who knew him. But in the s professional historians—taking what they regarded as a "scientific" approach to the study of the past—began to reject personal memories in favor of "hard" evidence. Their wildly inconsistent application of the rule suggests that they really wanted to toss out evidence they found distasteful. Still, the effect was profound and long-lasting. Then, in the late s and the s, an emerging group of scholars began, independent of one another, to look anew at original s of Lincoln by the men and women who knew Big girl looking for a Lincoln happiness.

These historians, including Douglas Wilson, Rodney Davis, Michael Burlingame, and Allen Guelzo, had come of age in an era when the major oral histories of Lincoln were treated, as Davis has described it, "like nuclear waste. They reassessed some s, dug up others that had been long forgotten, and began to publish these findings, many for the first time, in lavishly annotated volumes. This work felicitously coincided—post—Richard Nixon—with popular demand for frank portraits of public figures' private lives.

Today the combination of basic materials and cultural mood allows us a surprising, and bracing, new view of Abraham Lincoln—one that has a great deal in common with the view of him held by his closest friends and colleagues. Lincoln did suffer from what we now call depression, as modern clinicians, using the standard diagnostic criteria, uniformly agree. But this diagnosis is only the beginning of a story about how Lincoln wrestled with mental demons, and where it led him.

Diagnosis, after all, seeks to assess a patient at just a moment in time, with the aim of treatment. But Lincoln's melancholy is part of a whole life story; exploring it can help us see that life more clearly, and discern its lessons. In a sense, what needs "treatment" is our own narrow ideas—of depression as an exclusively medical ailment that must be, and will be, squashed; of therapy as a thing dispensed only by professionals and measured only by a reduction of pain; and finally, of mental trials as a flaw in character and a disqualification for leadership.

Throughout its three major stages—which I call fear, engagement, and transcendence—Lincoln's melancholy upends such views. With Lincoln we have a man whose depression spurred him, painfully, to examine the core of his soul; whose hard work to stay alive helped him develop crucial skills and capacities, even as his depression lingered hauntingly; and whose inimitable character took great strength from the piercing insights of depression, the creative responses to it, and a spirit of humble determination forged over decades of deep suffering and earnest longing.

The word appears in an age-old definition of melancholia: "fear and sadness without cause. With Lincoln it's instructive to see how he collapsed, but even more so to see how his collapses led him to a al moment of self-understanding. By Lincoln had lived for four years in New Salem, a village in central Illinois that backed up to a bluff over the Sangamon River. Twenty-six years old, he had made many friends there.

That summer an epidemic of what doctors called "bilious fever"—typhoid, probably—spread through the area. Among those severely afflicted were Lincoln's friends the Rutledges. One of New Salem's founding families, they had run a tavern and boardinghouse where Lincoln stayed and took meals when he first arrived. He became friendly with Ann Rutledge, a bright, pretty young woman with golden hair and large blue eyes. In August of she took sick. Visiting her at her family's farm, Lincoln seemed deeply distressed, which made people wonder whether the two had a romantic, and not just a friendly, bond.

After Lincoln's death such speculation would froth over into a messy controversy—one that cannot be, and need not be, resolved. Regardless of how he felt about Rutledge while she was alive, her sickness and death drew Lincoln to his emotional edge. Around the time of her burial a rainstorm, accompanied by unseasonable cold, shoved him over. Indeed, the villagers' anxiety was intense, both for Lincoln's immediate safety and for his long-term mental health. Lincoln "told Me that he felt like Committing Suicide often," remembered Mentor Graham, a schoolteacher, and his neighbors mobilized to keep him safe.

One friend recalled, "Mr Lincolns friends … were Compelled to keep watch and ward over Mr Lincoln, he being from Big girl looking for a Lincoln happiness sudden shock somewhat temporarily deranged. We watched during storms—fogs—damp gloomy weather … for fear of an accident.

Big girl looking for a Lincoln happiness

After several weeks an older couple in the area took him into their home. Bowling Green, the large, merry justice of the peace, and his wife, Nancy, took care of Lincoln for a week or two. When he had improved somewhat, they let him go, but he was, Mrs. Green said, "quite melancholy for months. Was Lincoln's melancholy a "clinical depression"? Yes—as far as that concept goes. Certainly his condition in the summer of matches what the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders labels a major depressive episode. Such an episode is characterized by depressed mood, a marked decrease in pleasure, or both, for at least two weeks, and symptoms such as agitation, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, and thoughts of death or suicide.

Five and a half years later, in the winter of —, Lincoln broke down again, and together these episodes suffice for modern clinicians to make an assessment of recurrent major depression. Such labels can help us begin to reckon with Lincoln. Most basically, "clinical depression" means it was serious, no mere case of the blues.

Someone who has had two episodes of major depression has a 70 percent chance of experiencing a third. And someone who's had three episodes has a 90 percent chance of having a fourth. Indeed, it became clear in Lincoln's late twenties that he had more than a passing condition.

Robert L. Wilson, who was elected to the Illinois state legislature with Lincoln infound him amiable and fun-loving.

Big girl looking for a Lincoln happiness

But one day Lincoln told him something surprising. Lincoln said "that although he appeared to enjoy life rapturously, Still he was the victim of terrible melancholly," Wilson recalled. Yet as we learn about Lincoln, a fixation on modern should not distract us from the actual events of his life and the frameworks that he and his contemporaries applied to his condition. In his late twenties Lincoln was developing a distinct reputation as a depressive. At the same time, he was scrambling up the ladder of success, emerging as a leader of the Illinois Whig Party and a savvy, self-educated young lawyer.

Today this juxtaposition may seem surprising, but in the nineteenth-century conception of melancholy, genius and gloom were often part of the same overall picture. True, a person with a melancholy temperament had been fated with an awful burden—but also, in Lord Byron's phrase, with a "fearful gift. But the gift was a capacity for depth and wisdom. Both sides of melancholy are evident in a poem on suicide that Lincoln apparently wrote in his twenties. Discussed by his contemporaries but long undiscovered, the poem, uned, recently came to light through the efforts of the scholar Richard Lawrence Miller, who was aided by old records that have been made newly available.

Without an original manuscript or a letter in which ownership is claimed, no uned piece can be attributed definitively to an author. But the evidence points strongly to Lincoln. The poem was published in the year cited by Lincoln's closest friend, Joshua Speed, and its syntax, tone, meter, and other qualities are characteristic of Lincoln. The conceit, in other words, is that this is a suicide note.

Big girl looking for a Lincoln happiness

As the poem begins, the anguished narrator announces his intention. Often understood as an emotional condition, depression is to those who experience it characterized largely by its cognitive patterns. The novelist William Styron has likened his depression to a storm in his brain, punctuated by thunderclaps of thought—self-critical, fearful, despairing. Lincoln clearly knew these mental strains he wrote once of "that intensity of thought, which will some times wear the sweetest idea thread-bare and turn it to the bitterness of death" ; he knew how, oppressed by the clamor, people often become hopeless, and seek the most drastic solution.

Big girl looking for a Lincoln happiness

This poem illustrates the complex quality of Lincoln's melancholy in his late twenties. He articulated a sense of himself as degraded and humiliated but also, somehow, as special and grand. And though the character in the poem in the end chooses death by the dagger, the author—using his tool, the pen—showed an impulse toward an artful life.

Lincoln's poem expressed both his connection with a morbid state of mind and, to some extent, a mastery over it. But the mastery would be short-lived. Like the first, Lincoln's second breakdown came after a long period of intense work. In he had been studying law; in the winter of — he was trying to keep the debt-ridden State of Illinois from collapsing and his political career with it. On top of this came a profound personal stress. The precipitating causes are hard to identify precisely, in part because cause and effect in depressive episodes can be hard to separate.

Ordinarily we insist on a narrative line: factor x led to reaction y. But in a depressive crisis we might feel bad because something has gone awry. Or we might make things go awry because we feel so bad.

Big girl looking for a Lincoln happiness

Or both. For Lincoln in this winter many things were awry. Even as he faced the possibility that his political career was sunk, it seemed likely that he was inextricably bound to a woman he didn't love Mary Todd and that Joshua Speed was going to either move away to Kentucky or stay in Illinois and marry Matilda Edwards, the young woman whom Lincoln said he really wanted but could not even approach, because of his bond with Todd. Then came a stretch of intensely cold weather, which, Lincoln later wrote, "my experience clearly proves to be verry severe on defective nerves.

In January of Lincoln submitted himself to the care of a medical doctor, spending several hours a day with Dr. Anson Henry, whom he called "necessary to my existence. On January 23 Lincoln wrote to his law partner in Washington: "I am now the most miserable man living.

Big girl looking for a Lincoln happiness

If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me.

Big girl looking for a Lincoln happiness

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Big girl looking for a lincoln happiness