Tuesday, December 9, 2014

“Alle alle Ochsen frei” and the Kingston Trio

by Roger Franke
Retired high-school German teacher, rural LaGrange County, IN 

      The winter of 2013-2014, now somewhat of a distant memory, provided me with more than ample opportunity to take on several household projects that had been on the back burner far too long. It started with the culling out and reorganization of an LP record collection, moved on to a huge jumble of compact cassettes, and followed up with a foray into a highly disorganized and huge heap of CDs -- with a snow-blocked driveway and roadway, all the while, preventing any escape to more enjoyable pursuits away from home.

         In my first attack on the CD collection, I came across an almost forgotten title “The Kingston Trio -- Collector’s Series.” Hmm, I thought to myself, might as well make a tedious job at least tolerable by listening while sorting.

         The lead-in song was “Scarlet Ribbons for Her Hair.” Yep, I remembered that one. The second track launched into the ballad that made the Trio famous, “Tom Dooley,” which not only topped the pop music charts in 1958, but also credited the group with starting the so-called folk music boom in America.

         As the selections continued to play, sorting again captured my attention, that is, until the “needle” hit track 18. It was almost at the end of the song when my brain finally registered a question. Was that a German phrase I just heard in the refrain? I replayed it, this time paying more attention to the lyrics. Sure enough, they were singing something like “Alle Alle Oxen free,” a mixture of German and English which translates as “All All Oxen free.” -- But why?

         My thoughts took me back to my boyhood school days at Flatrock, a rural German-Lutheran elementary school in Madison Township, Allen County, Indiana. To be sure, German was no longer at that time in the latter 1940s and early 1950s the main language of communication. Several pupils sometimes spoke in Plattdeutsch with each other, particularly when they wanted the details of conversation to remain private -- a talent, by the way, that I envied. But for the most part English was the language of the day.

         At recess time, we pupils often played a game called hide-and-go-seek. The game involved the use of a catchphrase that went, as best as I can recall, either “Alle alle in free” or “Alle alle all free,” which was yelled by a player who was successful in reaching the home base ahead of the “it” player, thus setting any captured participants (or those still hiding) free again. It didn’t occur to me at the time, (nor to any of the other players, I suspect) that the phrase had any connection to the German language. It was just a game term (and one that I felt, until recently, was likely destined for obscurity, if not extinction.)

         I checked on the CD case insert for the spelling of the song title, and it read “Ally Ally Oxen Free,” the same words as in the refrain. With a little research, I found out that the song first appeared in 1963 in the Trio album “Time To Think.”  The song was written by Rod McKuen and Sammy Yates as a protest against air pollution (specifically by aluminum oxide). But -- protesting against air pollution is a far cry from a catchphrase in a children’s game. What’s the connection?

         A Wikipedia article under the heading “Olly Olly Oxen Free,” provided a little more background. The article started with an explanation of the use of the catchphrase and its variants in children’s games. Then it went on to state, “the phrase was reinvented [by the Kingston Trio] for the song ‘Ally Ally Oxen Free’.” With a bit of creative imagination, I suppose, its appropriateness to the new context can be established.

         In the next section, entitled “In Popular Culture,” the author goes on to detail numerous uses of the phrase or its variants in other songs (28 titles mentioned), in movies, on television, in computer games and in other areas. For the sake of brevity, only one specific example out of a long list will have to suffice: “Seinfeld,” Season 7, Episode 8, “The Pool Guy,” when Newman runs toward the pool to jump in, he yells “Ollie, ollie oxen free” -- and lands immediately afterwards on the pool boy.

         As to the origin of the phrase and its anglicized variations, I can only say, based on admittedly somewhat haphazard research, that it appears to be German, with the author George David Winius stating the case for the majority. In his book “The Brats of Briarcliff -- A World of Boys before TV and Video Games,” he states in a footnote on page 100, “This [Ollie, ollie oxen free] sounds Germanic to me and must hearken back to something much older which we did not comprehend. It must originally have been “Alle, alle Ochsen frei” or something like that.” One source, however, supports the notion, and rather vigorously, that the the phrase originates in old England, while another claims it goes back to Scandinavia . . .

. . . . .  

          . . . The words, accompanied by guitar, flow melodically from the speakers:

Time to let the rain fall -- without the help of man
Time to let the trees grow tall -- now if they only can . . .
. . . Ally ally ally ally ally oxen free . . .
         But I take little notice, my mind preoccupied again with the process of sorting.                          

P.S. -- In response to my query, Ruth Reichmann, editor of the “Indiana German Heritage Society Newsletter, replied with some additional information about the use of the catchphrase discussed above. One of the variants of the German version of the game includes the phrase “Alle alle sind auch frei,” (All all are also free) which, she states, was corrupted over time by children of non-ethnic German-Americans, becoming eventually “Ollie, ollie oxen free.” Thus the word “oxen” replaced the word “auch” in anglicized versions.    

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Read All About It!

by Carmen Doyle

It’s only 23 days until Christmas! Time to get shopping! There are few better presents than a book, and the History Center has several options for the readers on your list.

The ACPL recently had an author fair, with several local authors. One author was Carol Butler, who wrote Genois Wilson, firefighter: she dared to be first about the career of Fort Wayne’s first female firefighter.  The book tells of what inspired Wilson to become a firefighter- her three year old sister had been badly burned when the firefighters were not able to make it to her house on time. The illustrations by Teresa Yarbrough are wonderful, detailed and colorful. As a bonus, the books available at the History Center are signed by both author and illustrator! If you have a budding firefighter on your Christmas list, this book is great, (and you could also pair it with some of the firefighting toys available at the History Center) 

You can also check out our blog for more information on firefighters in Fort Wayne: http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2013/04/as-good-fire-laddie-as-many-of-boys.html

Another author at the fair was Margaret Hobson, who wrote The Iron Men of Indiana’s 44th Regiment, Part I: Biographies and Regimental Statistics, and Part 2: Formation and photos. These books are chock-full of details about the regiment and the soldiers in it. There are so many details it can be overwhelming, but if you have Civil War buffs on your Christmas list, these books have the most in-depth information on a regiment there is.

If you are going to buy someone a book, there’s no better holiday book than Wolf & Dessauer: Where Fort Wayne Shopped. As every Fort Wayne resident is aware, W&D was the most magical Christmas place EVER. The Santa and Wreath that are the biggest part of Lighting Night were originally from W&D. The book has interviews with many of the people involved in setting up the window displays and the Christmas displays. A great interview is the one with Phil Steirgwald, known as the Santa of Fort Wayne. (You can see his Santa suit on display during the Festival of Gingerbread.) 

Also on display are the elves and animatronic dolls from the W&D windows. You can also go online to the History Center and see the virtual exhibit on Wolf & Dessauer, which includes photos of Wee Willie WanD.

It’s not too early to start thinking about the Mather lectures coming up in 2015. In January, Marsha Wright will be here to talk about her mother, Margaret Ringenberg. Marsha wrote a book on her mother’s experiences as one of the WASP (Women Air Service Pilots) during WWII, called Maggie Ray: World War II Air Force Pilot. There is also a DVD based on the book, Wings for Maggie Ray. You can find more information about Maggie Ray and the WASPs on our blog: http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2013/10/maggie-ray-wasp.html

And don’t forget the previous Mather lectures- in October Robert Matzen spoke about his book Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3. This book is full of wonderful details and quotes from Carole, a lot of which seem like they would be endlessly copied in People and other celebrity magazines. The History Center has a few copies left- and all are signed! You can also see a few photos on Facebook of items that belonged to Carole: https://www.facebook.com/medi/set/?set=a.10152670381740935.1073741931.281783120934&type=1.   

Watching Carole’s movies might seem like more fun, but when your TV is being dominated by football, this book is better. Because who doesn’t love celebrities?

And if you’re a sports fan, but not necessarily wanting to watch them on TV, check out Fort Wayne Sports History by Blake Sebring. It’s set up like a calendar- every day has a different memorable local sports event. For example, on November 28,"1890 an indoor baseball doubleheader is held at the Princess Rink.” Sebring then tells what the Princess Rink was and how an indoor baseball game was different than an outdoor one. (Less than 90 feet between the bases, for one.)

 “Also, in 2003, Harding loses a wild shootout for the Class 2A state title to Tri-West 41-36.”- football.   
In November, the Mather lecture was on Clarence Cornish, one of the earliest Fort Wayne pilots. “Cap” Cornish, Indiana Pilot: Navigating the Century of Flight” details not only the early history of commercial aviation, it tells how a local pilot from Fort Wayne – “Cap” Cornish affected aviation policy across the nation. For more information, check out our blog: http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2014/10/cap-cornish.html 

And if you have an aviation fan on your Christmas list, you could also get them Art Smith: Pioneer Aviator or Fort Wayne Aviation: Baer Field and Beyond. Fort Wayne Aviation is from the Images of America series, so it’s full of wonderful pictures related to early flight. 
 For something really unique, get them Spinning through Clouds: Tales from an early Hoosier Aviator. Of course, you can always visit the History Center and look at the aviation display on the second floor- and see Art Smith’s goggles and medals for yourself.

If you have a quilter on your list, get them A Communion of the Spirits, which has interviews from quilters, telling about what quilting means to them. There are not a lot of detailed photos of the quilts in the book, so check out our online exhibit on quilts: http://www.fwhistorycenter.com/vex8/index.htm

Of course the best book in the gift shop is the History of Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana 1700-2005. This two volume set has answers (or at least a good start) on everything in Fort Wayne. If the answer to your Fort Wayne question is not in the set, then either it didn’t happen or it’s happened since 2005.

And the BEST gift to give (or get) for Christmas? Membership at the History Center! (Or the Museum Dream Membership, which is membership not only in the History Center, but the Botanical Conservatory and Science Central.) As a bonus, when you buy a new membership to the History Center, you can get a FREE copy of Frontier Faith: The Story of the Pioneer Congregations of Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1820-1860.  This book covers every religion and church, and explains why Fort Wayne really is “The City of Churches”

The Festival of Gingerbread runs through December 14. When you visit, why not by a few gifts....for others PLUS yourself!

Monday, November 17, 2014

What the Election of 1864 Can Teach Us about 2014

by Thomas E. Schneider
University of St. Francis Political Science Professor 
originally presented at the ACPL on November 9, 2014

As a political scientist I’m interested both in the particular election that took place 150 years ago this week—the election that returned Abraham Lincoln to the White House—and in elections in general. I think that one election can teach us something important about other elections. The most remarkable thing about the election of 1864 is not that Lincoln won it, but that he almost didn’t win it. If the election had taken place in early September instead of early November, there’s a good chance Lincoln would not have been the winner. That was Lincoln’s own view and, as we’ll see, there’s a lot of evidence that his view was accurate. In the middle of the great crisis of the Civil War—the greatest crisis this country has ever faced—Americans came close to rejecting Lincoln in favor of his opponent, General George B. McClellan. This ought to be deeply shocking to us, whatever we might think about McClellan’s merits as a leader. In fact, the evidence suggests the election was not really about the merits of the candidates. Rather, it reflected the state of mind of the electorate. The lesson it teaches is as relevant in 2014 as it was in 1864: Don’t make the election about you.

My consideration of the election of 1864 has a history component and a political science component. I’m going to begin by looking briefly at the results of the election, then consider the evidence that Lincoln was right in thinking his re-election was very doubtful. That’s the history component. After that I’ll turn to political science for help in understanding what all of this means for us today.

An Impressive Victory

I’ve said Americans came close to choosing McClellan as their president. But the actual election wasn’t close at all. It was an impressive victory for Lincoln and his co-nominee Andrew Johnson. Twenty-five states participated in the election and Lincoln carried all but three. He won a solid majority of the popular vote—55%—and a majority of over 90% in the electoral college. The states he lost were probably states he expected to lose. One was New Jersey, the home state of his opponent. The other two were border states, Delaware and Kentucky, neither of which had gone for Lincoln in 1860. (Lincoln was never very popular in his native state, but we should take note that he was only seven when he left it.) More impressive than his losses in those states is the fact that Lincoln did win in two other border states, Missouri and Maryland. Those were states that had been carried by Democrats in 1860 and, what’s more, had been in danger for a time of joining the Confederacy. There were riots in the streets of Baltimore in 1861, and Lincoln had had to travel through the city in secret because of the danger of assassination. Four years later Marylanders voted 55% for Lincoln, very close to the national percentage, and Missourians actually gave almost 70% of their votes to Lincoln in 1864. For comparison, President Obama got about 53% of the popular vote in 2008. So Lincoln in 1864 won by a considerably wider margin than Obama did, even in 2008.

I think everybody would now say that Americans’ choice of Lincoln in 1864 was the right one. It was a crucial election that year, and everybody knew it. The fate of the country might depend on the result. Americans looked at both candidates for president and chose the better man. That’s how it looks from the vantage point of 2014. But in August 1864, a little more than two months out, Lincoln wrote in a private memorandum, “This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected.” And Lincoln’s fears were well grounded. Now, there is no polling data from the summer of 1864, but we can reasonably assume that leading Republicans had a good sense of public opinion. And we know they were worried about the election—desperately worried, in fact. This is clear not only from what they said but also from what they did. Three pieces of evidence are particularly striking: first, the nomination of Andrew Johnson as vice president; second, the unofficial but well-known candidacy of Salmon Chase, Lincoln’s treasury secretary; and finally the abortive candidacy of ex-general John C. Fremont.

A Democrat for Running Mate

To begin with Andrew Johnson. Johnson was chosen by the Republican convention, which met in June 1864, to “balance the ticket,” as political commentators say. Now the practice of balancing a presidential ticket with a vice-presidential nominee who brings different strengths to the ticket or who has a different base of support is a familiar one in American politics, going all the way back to the beginning. Usually this balancing has been done on a regional basis. So, for example, in 1976 Jimmy Carter, from the southern state of Georgia, was nominated along with Walter Mondale from the northern state of Minnesota. When Mondale himself ran in 1984, he chose a Congress member from the East Coast, Geraldine Ferraro, to be his running mate. But Johnson was chosen for a different reason—he was chosen because he was a Democrat. To choose a vice-presidential candidate from the other party is certainly an extreme form of balancing. But the convention chose Johnson, and Lincoln accepted the choice. The Republican ticket was re-branded the National Union ticket to reflect the inclusion of a Democrat.

Why did they do it? The delegates must have reasoned that they could pick up some Democratic votes by nominating a Democrat for vice president. By choosing Johnson they risked the anger of Republicans in New England, which was the home region of Lincoln’s first vice president, Hannibal Hamlin. But they were evidently prepared to take this risk in the hope of stealing some votes from McClellan, who had not yet been formally nominated but who was almost certain to be the Democratic candidate. Whatever else one might say about the choice of Johnson, it clearly did not indicate confidence in the Republican brand.

Challenges from Within the Party

One might assume that Lincoln’s own place on the ticket was assured. After all, as a sitting president he would have been the de facto leader of his party. But in fact Lincoln’s nomination was not assured. Some Republicans clearly wanted a different candidate. Among the names most frequently mentioned in the months leading up to the election was Salmon Chase. In some ways this was not very surprising. Chase was known to be ambitious, and he had been a candidate in 1860. Still, 1864 was different from 1860. Now Chase was in Lincoln’s cabinet. He was, in effect, running against his own boss. He positioned himself as a candidate in the same way other candidates do—by criticizing the frontrunner. But he couldn’t do this publicly, so he did it behind Lincoln’s back. Now you might think that this kind of thing would not go down well with Republicans. You might think it would create a bad impression—that it would raise questions about the character of a man who would undermine the administration that he himself was part of, for the sake of his personal ambition. It’s true that Chase was eventually forced to repudiate his candidacy. Still, it’s a measure of Lincoln’s unpopularity with some members of his own party that Chase could even think of mounting a challenge to him.

A few words, finally, about another challenge to Lincoln. This one came from disaffected Republicans who met in their own convention in May 1864 and nominated John C. Fremont for president. Fremont had been the Republicans’ first presidential nominee, in 1856, and Lincoln of course had campaigned for him. When the war began he was appointed to a command in Missouri and actually issued an emancipation proclamation there in the summer of 1861, more than a year before Lincoln’s proclamation. Lincoln cancelled the proclamation, but the episode made Fremont a hero to many in the North. There was never any real danger that Fremont would win the election, but there was a danger that he would draw enough votes away from Lincoln to cause McClellan to win. (This is what actually happened in 1856—a third candidate in the race, former president Millard Fillmore, drew enough votes away from the Republican nominee to ensure the election of the Democrat, James Buchanan.) Lincoln took the threat from Fremont seriously enough that he did something very uncharacteristic of him. He apparently agreed to make a change in his cabinet if Fremont would withdraw from the race. Montgomery Blair, Lincoln’s postmaster-general, was especially unpopular with Radical Republicans, who were the people most likely to support Fremont. You might wonder why they should care who the postmaster-general was. Part of the reason is that the cabinet was smaller in Lincoln’s day, and he often used it as a council of advisors. (The whole cabinet can be seen in Francis Carpenter’s famous painting, The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.) The more important reason is that Blair came from a famous political family. The whole Blair family was intensely unpopular with the Radicals in Congress, but Montgomery was the only member they could get at. Lincoln, for his part, was grateful for the support of the Blair family and hated to give in to pressure from the Radicals. Montgomery Blair understood the president’s position and had offered to resign. Lincoln finally accepted his resignation on September 22, 1864, and the next day Fremont withdrew from the presidential race.

The Democratic Response

The nomination of Johnson, the candidacies of Chase and Fremont—all of these were signs that Lincoln was right to worry. Members of Lincoln’s own party doubted that he could win a second term, and some of them even doubted that he deserved a second term. But the picture of Lincoln’s re-election prospects would not be complete without a consideration of the Democratic response. The Democrats could read public opinion just as well as the Republicans could. As Republicans grew more worried, Democrats grew more hopeful. They saw an opportunity and moved to take advantage of it.

The Democrats knew that, at bottom, it was Northern dissatisfaction with the progress of the war that gave them their best chance to beat Lincoln. In retrospect it seems obvious that the resources of the South were almost exhausted and that the Confederacy would soon have to give up the fight. But it didn’t seem that way in the summer of 1864. The Confederates had shown amazing resiliency. It was bad enough that Grant made little progress against Richmond, despite terrible causalities. For a brief time it appeared that the Confederates might reach Washington first. In July 1864 forces under Confederate general Jubal Early came so near to the city that Lincoln could see the fighting and actually came under fire himself. Early was soon driven off, and the strictly military effects of his raid on Washington were small. But the psychological effects were considerable. Early’s raid reinforced the growing impression that the South could not be beaten, or that beating the South was not worth the cost in lives that it would require.

The Democrats responded to Northern war-weariness in two important ways. First, they inserting language in their platform declaring the war effort a failure. Second, they nominated a Peace Democrat for vice president, a congressman from Ohio named George Pendleton. Both of these decisions were awkward for McClellan, the presumptive nominee, because he, of course, was a War Democrat. McClellan had taken a big part in the war effort that his party’s platform now declared to be a failure. Though he and Pendleton were from the same party, putting them on the same ticket was, if possible, an even more extreme form of balancing than putting Lincoln and Johnson together. At least Lincoln and Johnson agreed on war policy, and the election was all about the war. Beyond the obvious political-strategic advantages of putting a Republican and a Democrat on the same ticket, there was a more serious justification. The war was not a Republican war or a Democratic war but a war for everybody who loved the Union. But McClellan and Pendleton disagreed about whether the war for the Union was worth fighting; and the platform reflected Pendleton’s view rather than McClellan’s.

A Bad Choice, Avoided

Americans almost made a bad choice in 1864—they almost elected McClellan. But my point is not that McClellan was a bad man or even a bad commander. I’ll leave that question for others to decide. The choice of McClellan would have been a bad choice because it was a kind of non-choice. Democrats were offering a War candidate on a Peace platform. Americans could vote for McClellan because he alone was capable of winning the war, or they could vote for him because the war was unwinnable and he would make peace.

Lincoln put his finger on this contradiction when he wrote the private memorandum that I mentioned earlier.

This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards.

This was written on August 23, before the Democratic convention, but it was already clear who the nominee would be and what kind of platform the Democrats would adopt. The writing is very terse, but I think the meaning is sufficiently clear. McClellan believes the Union is worth fighting for, but he’s going to be elected by the votes of people who don’t believe that. He’s going to come into office under tremendous pressure to make peace with the South. The South will accept a peace agreement on one condition—namely, recognition of southern independence. McClellan will be forced, then, against his own belief, to accept a partition of the Union. The only hope for saving the Union is to win the war in the four months between the election in November and McClellan’s inauguration in March.

As it turned out, the platform adopted by the Democrats was very much as Lincoln had predicted. It suggested that peace was somehow possible without giving up the Union, which McClellan must have known was a delusion. It was a non-choice, as I’ve said. The real choice before Americans was this: either continue the war, because the Union is worth fighting for; or stop the war, because the Union is not worth fighting for. But a vote for McClellan was not exactly a vote for war, and it was not exactly a vote for peace either. The only thing clear about a vote for McClellan is that it was not a vote for Lincoln. And all the signs pointed to a defeat for Lincoln.

But something changed between the end of August and the beginning of November. What was that? Lincoln didn’t change; McClellan didn’t change; their parties’ positions on the war didn’t change. What changed is, the Northern public began to feel better about the war. And the cause for their new optimism isn’t hard to identify. The principal cause was Sherman’s successful capture of the city of Atlanta. It pains me to say so, but the man most responsible for the re-election of Abraham Lincoln was not Abraham Lincoln but William Tecumseh Sherman. Sherman’s victory raised the spirits of the northern people and put them in a favorable state of mind to re-elect the president. They had been ready to vote for a new president and a new party; but after Atlanta they decided that they liked the old president and the old party after all.

Explaining the Vote

So much for the history component of my presentation; now for the political science component. There’s a theory in political science that explains the kind of voting I’ve just described. In the 1960s a political scientist named V. O. Key Jr. wrote a book called The Responsible Electorate: Rationality in Presidential Voting, 1936-1960. In this book Key defended the idea that American voters are rational, against other political scientists who claimed that voters are not rational. Key said, Let’s take regular voters, those who vote regularly in every presidential election—we can divide these voters into two categories. In any given election, there are those who vote the same way they had voted in the previous election, and there are those who vote differently. Key called the first group standpatters and the second group switchers. Though he didn’t go back as far as 1864, you can see the relevance of his theory. It was the switchers that Lincoln had to worry about. If there were too many of these, he would lose the election. But how do voters decide whether they’re going to stand pat or to switch? According to Key, they do this by comparing their circumstances going into a new election with their circumstances four years before. Accordingly, a voter might explain his or her vote in either of two ways. A standpatter might say, “The last time I voted for a president I was doing well; I felt good about the direction the country was moving. I still feel that way, so I’m going to vote the same way I voted before.” A switcher would give the opposite explanation.

Now I agree with Key that there’s a kind of rationality in these explanations. I have to admit, however, that I find Key’s theory somewhat troubling. The voter’s explanation is only really rational if he or she has made an accurate judgment about cause and effect. It’s not sufficient for a switcher to say, for example, “I feel bad because I lost my job.” It must be possible for him or her to say, “I lost my job because of the policies of the party that I voted for last time.” This is an explanation grounded in arguments about policies, and not solely in the voter’s state of mind. It might be a good or a bad explanation, but at least there’s an effort to trace the voter’s dissatisfaction back to the result of the last vote.

Voting really ought to be about the candidates and issues, and not about the feelings of the voters. And this brings me to an uncomfortable truth about human nature. When people feel bad, for whatever reason, they’re likely to look around for somebody to blame. In doing this they may not be especially concerned about establishing cause and effect. In 1864 Americans in the North felt bad about the war, and they blamed the Republicans. The Democrats knew this, and they offered voters two reasons to switch their votes. They could vote Democratic because McClellan would beat the South, or they could vote Democratic because McClellan would make peace with the South. In other words, Americans could vote for a change without really making a choice about what direction the country would take. The evidence suggests that Americans would in fact have voted Democratic if the election had been held in August. This result was possible because voters could not put their fears aside and look calmly at the alternatives in front of them. In other words, the voters had made the election about themselves.

I don’t want to judge the Northern public too harshly. We do well to remember that a large proportion of Northern households had a son (or a father or a husband) in the Union army, or had already suffered the loss of one. I’m not sure that I would have done differently in their place. Still, at this distance of time, I do believe we can learn a lesson from the election of 1864. The lesson is, Give credit where credit is due and blame where blame is due, but don’t look to your personal circumstances solely in deciding how to cast your vote.

I’d like to close with a quotation from Lincoln from the immediate aftermath of the election. Given all that had happened, you might expect the president to be a little bitter. The country had almost abandoned his administration, for reasons that had more to do with them than with him. But Lincoln was remarkably philosophical about his near-defeat. “Let us,” he said, “study the incidents of this [election], as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged.” We can hardly do better than to follow Lincoln’s example.