mounted bust

Top Three Most Petty Things Jefferson Did to Hamilton:

1. Called him a hypochondriac when he caught yellow fever

2. Approved of him getting stoned by a mob while defending the Jay Treaty

3. Literally mounted a bust of his head on his wall at Monticello like a hunting trophy

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Got some cool birch slices to use as mounts for these Arbori busts! These four will be available at my booth at Designer Con next weekend! Come visit me at booth 600!!!

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Why Abraham Lincoln Is Important

“Graphic art was powerless before a face that moved through a thousand delicate gradations of line and contour, light and shade, sparkle of the eye and curve of the lip, in the long gamut of expression from grave to gay, and back again from the rollicking jollity of laughter to that far-away look.” — John G. Nicolay, Lincoln’s private secretary

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To borrow one of his most famous oratorical devices, it was ten score and six years ago that Abraham Lincoln entered life and began one of America’s most unlikely and extraordinary journeys.  To us, Lincoln will always be a statue; a painting; a bust on Mount Rushmore; a monument on the Washington Mall; a solid, stoic, staid symbol staring back at us from a dull, green five-dollar bill, a rusty-looking penny, or a black-and-white photograph.  Yet, he was one of us — a human just as colorful of any American that has ever existed, and through his rise and his triumph, he told us a story that Republicans claim as the standard for their party, that Democrats claim as the inspiration for their party, and that Independents of all backgrounds do not dare to turn away from.

Lincoln’s story is so extraordinary that we don’t even think of him as a member of our species.  He’s on a higher level.  He’s almost mythological.  A legend.  We see his face like we see the face of God.  The halo surrounding him almost downplays the fact that he lived the same way we did.  He needed oxygen and water and food.  We all have sensitivities about how we are perceived by others, and Lincoln was no different.  To many, he was a freakishly tall, gangly, ugly man.  During his life, people called him a “baboon”.  They made fun of his high-pitched, nasally voice.  They made fun of his country accent — the way that he pronounced “chair” as “cheer” and said “hain’t” instead of “haven’t”.  They laughed at his careless clothing choices, and snickered at the fact that he never combed his hair. 

In Lincoln’s lifetime, more people probably rolled their eyes instead of listened intently when he launched into yet another backwoods joke or a funny anecdote that he couldn’t stop repeating.  He had family problems.  His mother died when he was very young, and he had lifelong daddy issues.  His crazy wife was domineering and a pain in his ass, and his young children ran roughshod over the White House.  He had no real close friends.  He was simultaneously considered inexperienced and weak, heavy-handed and harsh. 

Honest Abe was the cleverest, sharpest, and most vicious politician of his time.  The gentle and joking country politician destroyed his enemies, threatened his opponents, and steamrolled his rivals.  This beacon of liberty and protector of freedom bypassed the Constitution and suspended Habeas Corpus.  No matter what, Abraham Lincoln was going to save the Union in whichever way possible — even if it meant allowing slavery to continue.  The “peculiar institution” was abhorrent to his beliefs, but an acceptable sacrifice if the result was the Union’s survival.

Like many, if not all, of our greatest leaders, Abraham Lincoln was a man full of paradoxes.  Beneath the solemn visage that was Lincoln’s complex face was a cheerful, jovial, informal man who loved nothing more than a good joke or a witty story.  Yet, beneath that genial layer was also a dark, depressed man who lost the love of his life when he was young, seriously considered suicide on numerous occasions, felt unsatisfied with his accomplishments and about his qualifications, and faced the death of his favorite child while he wrestled with the nation’s biggest crisis.

Lincoln may have been our nation’s greatest orator, perhaps even America’s greatest pure writer.  His writing — and not just his speeches, but his private letters and messages to Congress — is memorable and poetic.  If the Civil War was a symphony, his words were the lyrics to its beautifully terrible music.  When the war was going badly, he used his words to simultaneously challenge his generals, assuage the public, and exert his control over the many crises his country faced.  When the war was going well, his words were soothing, inspirational, and a bridge to the South that invited capitulation without humiliation.  Lincoln’s words were the words of a writer who spent all of his life studying the English language, yet Lincoln was largely self-educated by the light of a candle in a dark, damp log cabin.

We will never know why it was Abraham Lincoln — a virtually unknown frontier lawyer who had served just one term in Congress a decade before he even ran for the Presidency — who was destined to lead the United States through the Civil War, but can we even imagine another person equipped to do so?  Like a shooting star, Abraham Lincoln appeared and against all odds, he saved the Union.  Then, when the war ended, he disappeared again.  Not a day earlier or a day later, either — on literally the first day that he truly felt that the Civil War had ended, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, perhaps the last casualty of the Civil War.

The next time you think that all hope is lost or that you’ve failed at something or that you are “only human”, think of Abraham Lincoln, who overcame a lifetime of obstacles and challenges and failures to save the Union that he loved and believed in and became a legend and hero to the world today.  Remember that we are “only human”, but so was Abraham Lincoln.  You could be a lot worse off than being only human.