Democrats, Republicans, and the Unemployment Rate Since ’48

To determine which party has done a better job managing the economy, I looked first at the evolution of the unemployment rate since 1948. In addition to according pride of place to unemployment over inflation, I assumed that presidential administrations are at least partly responsible for the business cycle. This is a simplistic and somewhat arbitrary assumption, but it allows me to use Goals and Policies to formulate an opinion about which party has done a better job managing the economy (control of Congress is not represented in our graphs). When we look at the graph of the unemployment rate on page 15 of Goals and Policies, we see that the rate was lower when the following presidents left office, compared to where it was when they began their terms: Truman (Democrat), Kennedy (Democrat), Johnson (Democrat), Carter (Democrat), Reagan (Republican), Clinton (Democrat). Excluded from this accounting is President Obama, whose term has not yet ended (though his inheritance of a recessionary 10% unemployment rate and the current rate of 5.9% suggest he, too, will net an increase in employment). That is to say that for 100% of Democratic presidents (5/5) the unemployment rate was lower when they left office than when they entered, compared to 20% (1/5) for the Republicans. Going from these numbers, the Democrats have a clear advantage when it comes to the unemployment rate.

One conceivable rebuttal to this argument is that the Republican administrations inherited the postponed inflation that resulted from their Democratic predecessors’ inflationary policies, with all that portended for interest rates, investment, and (subsequently) unemployment during their terms. When we return to the graph, however, we see this argument is invalid, or at the very least inconsistent. After rising during the first years of the Eisenhower administration, the unemployment rate fell, plateaued, and rose again on two separate occasions before he left office. Unless the inflationary effects of the Korean War were postponed for a decade, and came in waves, Truman cannot be held primarily responsible for these rises. Likewise, the unemployment rate began to climb during the first few years of the Nixon administration, as the American presence in Vietnam declined. But it fell and began to rise again before he resigned. The increase in unemployment under Ford was therefore inherited from a Republican predecessor. The same is true for the rise in unemployment under George H.W. Bush.

A more convincing argument from the Republican perspective is that the dramatic peaks under Republican presidents were caused by political and economic events that were beyond the president’s control. For instance, it is likely that the initial rise in unemployment under Nixon had to do with the OPEC embargo. Similarly, the spike toward the end of the Bush administration came at the beginning of the housing crisis in 2008, for which the policies of Clinton’s White House and Greenspan’s Fed had as much to do as Bush 43. But this can also be said of Democratic administrations. The Vee-curve under Carter probably had something to do with the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979 and the resulting oil shock. The degree to which Nixon and Carter had control over the crises of 1973 and 1979, respectively, is the only way to settle this dispute.

It is also important to note that Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson all fought wars. The dramatic increase in government purchases during wartime likely drove down the unemployment rate for these three Democrats. The same can be said for Reagan’s defense expenditures (recall that Reagan was the only Republican who netted a decline in unemployment). One might well ask if low unemployment is an appropriate price to pay for the social consequences of fighting wars (though I doubt anything can be done about it if one concludes it is not).

Taking all these things into account, I am inclined to say the Democrats have done a better job managing the economy since Truman came into office. It is important to remember that I have assumed presidents can affect the business cycle and that unemployment is more important than inflation. Challenges to my argument must contend with those two assumptions.

“Woe Unto the World Because of Offenses”: The Wartime Theology of Abraham Lincoln

My thesis argues that Lincoln’s use of religion to understand the Civil War differed from that of Northern Protestants of the period. It further claims that his emotional struggles in early adulthood played a role in his theological development.

The thesis will consist of three chapters. The first will examine the extent to which a militant brand of Protestantism reminiscent of New England’s Calvinist heritage permeated Northern literature during the Civil War. This chapter will rely heavily on essays from Religion and the Civil War and Edmund Wilson’s Patriotic Gore. It will analyze sermons from prominent Northern divines like Henry Ward Beecher and other manifestations of Northern religious feeling (most prominently, Julia Ward Howe’s Battle Hymn of the Republic). This part of the thesis will argue that most Northern Protestants saw the war as divine punishment of the South, exclusively, for its past sins. Northern religious leaders argued that God was exacting revenge on slaveholders through the mechanism of Union arms. Lincoln, on the other hand, came to argue publically that the war was intended as God’s punishment on the whole country for the national sin of slavery (though, as we will see, he seems to have sympathized much more with the prevailing Northern narrative than his Second Inaugural would suggest). As president, his theological vision was oriented toward the future. He was concerned with the nation’s suffering as a redemptive event through which the country had been purged of a moral sin. I will use Sacred Scripture, Sacred War (one Vanderbilt professor’s analysis of biblical usage during the American Revolution) and an analysis of Patrick Henry’s famous “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech to the Virginia legislature to demonstrate that in this respect Lincoln deviated not only from Northern Protestants of the nineteenth century but also from a broader American tradition of “putting God in a Union uniform.”

The second chapter will explore Lincoln’s struggles with what may have been manic depression as a young man in Springfield and New Salem and how he converted what some people would call a mental illness into a political and emotional asset. It will focus specifically on a crisis that occurred in the winter of 1840-41 and how he coped with the problems that presented themselves at that point in his life. Here I rely on Shenk’s study of Lincoln’s melancholy, Erik Eriskon’s psychoanalytic biographies of Martin Luther and Gandhi, and Lincoln’s correspondence during that time. I argue that the emergence of a movement concerned with the moral issue of preventing the extension of slavery met an emotional need for Lincoln, one that is quite easy to detect in his earliest correspondence and that manifested itself most vividly in the winter of 1840-1841. Notwithstanding his greater theological assertiveness during the second half of the war, the prevailing Northern religious sentiment of triumphalism jeopardized the antislavery narrative Lincoln had by 1865 articulated for himself, calling forth the spiritual magnanimity expressed in his Second Inaugural. This chapter will focus mostly on Lincoln’s response to the acute emotional pain he experienced in 1840, and how it merged his private and public selves for the remainder of his career. I argue that the role Lincoln created for himself within the antislavery movement was intimately related to his battle with depression.

The third chapter focuses on how Lincoln’s theological understanding of the Civil War changed during his presidency. I here use the last four volumes of Lincoln’s Collected Works to illustrate how the president’s attempts to discern God’s will became more assertive as the war progressed. Furthermore, I argue that at times Lincoln seems to have expressed sympathy for the vindictive narrative adopted by many Northern Protestants, creating a divergence between his public and private religious personae. However, I also show that Lincoln’s need to act as a redemptive figure in American history ultimately overcame this impulse to punish Southern slaveholders at the expense of national reconciliation. Attention will be paid to the private and public calamities Lincoln encountered between 1861 and 1865. Of the first category is the death of his son Willie; in this chapter I argue that the loss of his son forced Lincoln to reconsider his long standing opinions on the existence of an afterlife. Of the latter category are the Union defeats at Bull Run and the preliminary uncertainty surrounding the Union war effort that resulted. These setbacks and the tremendous responsibility that devolved upon Lincoln forced the president to appeal to a higher power, and to do so in humble terms.

My overarching goals is to combine the study of Lincoln’s depression with that of his religion. I think examining these two aspects of Lincoln’s personality at the same time contributes to a deeper understanding of the sixteenth president than has hitherto been presented.

Lincoln’s Wartime Theology VI

On October 20, 1864 the Reverend William Nast, editor of the Cincinnati organ of the Central German Methodist Conference, wrote to Lincoln after the conclusion of the Conference’s meeting, which occurred between August 24 and 30. Though Nast’s original letter is not included in the Lincoln Papers, the president’s response of October 31 is notable for the tone in which it condemns Southern slaveholders. Read alongside the Second Inaugural, it highlights the difference between Lincoln’s public and private religious personae during the second half of the Civil War.

On the one hand, the Second Inaugural did imply that the South was responsible for the outbreak of war. When he entered office, said Lincoln, “[b]oth parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish.” Furthermore, “[a]ll knew that this interest [viz., slavery] was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war.” On the other hand, Lincoln acknowledged Northern complicity in the underlying cause of the war, slavery, and insisted that the resulting carnage be understood as God’s punishment of the whole nation: “If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?” The use of “American” rather than “Southern” in describing slavery is significant. For the public Lincoln, slavery was a national rather than a regional sin, calling for national suffering and repentance.

In his private correspondence, however, Lincoln was more explicit about the degree to which he held the South responsible for the war’s consequences. In his letter to Nast of October 31the president wrote, “I trust it is not too early for us to rejoice together over the promise of the speedy removal of that blot upon our civilization, always heretofore a standing menace to our peace and liberties, whose destruction, so long desired by all friends of impartial freedom, has at last been rendered possible by the crimes of its own reckless friends” (Basler VIII, 83, emphasis mine). No effort is here made to nationalize slavery. “The crimes” and “that blot upon our civilization” are, like the “colored slaves” mentioned in the Second Inaugural, “not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it.”

After his reelection in early November of 1864, Lincoln addressed a crowd of serenaders. At the conclusion of his brief address he said, “[i]t is no pleasure of mine to triumph over any one; but I give thanks to the Almighty for this evidence of the people’s resolution to stand by free government and the rights of humanity” (Basler VIII, 96). The first clause would have been more credible had it been inserted in the Second Inaugural. The second clause is more consistent with Lincoln’s implicit association during the second half of the Civil War of Northern successes with God’s plan for the United States. The tone of theological uncertainty that had sustained Lincoln during the first two years of his administration became muted as Union advantages on the battlefield became more pronounced.

In a more well crafted address two days later, Lincoln moderated his tone. In his “Response to a Serenade” on November 10 the president said, “In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak, and as strong; as silly and as wise; as bad and good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this, as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged” (Basler VIII, 101). It can hardly be surprising that the animosities growing out of the war did not subside as quickly as Lincoln anticipated in this speech. He seems not entirely to have overcome them himself. Placing this address alongside the more ad hoc production of November 8, we see that Lincoln’s theological magnanimity seems to have grown in direct proportion to the amount of time he was given to consider whom he was speaking to.

An exception to this rule is Lincoln’s “Annual Address to Congress” of December 6, 1864. Therein Lincoln compared secession to satanic disobedience, an analogy he had made several times before. Said the president, “The genius of rebellion will no more claim Maryland. Like another foul spirit, being driven out, it may seek to tear her, but it will woo her no more” (Basler VIII, 148-149). Significantly, Lincoln’s autographed copy of the address substituted “unclean” for “foul,” a poetic change more reminiscent of the English of the Authorized Version from which Lincoln was wont to quote.

The president was never reluctant to quash Southern theology when it affected political behavior. On April 11, 1865 Godfrey Weitzel, the Union general in charge of the conquered Confederate capital of Richmond received a telegram from his colleague James A. Hardie. Weitzel had granted Richmond Episcopalians the right to continue to pray for Jefferson Davis in lieu of Abraham Lincoln, regarding which order Hardie cabled: “The Secretary of War directs me to say that your explanation…is not satisfactory…The Secretary also directs me to instruct you that officers commanding in Richmond are expected to require from all religious denominations in that city, in regard to their rituals and prayers, no less respect for the President…than they practiced toward the rebel chief…before he was driven from the capital” (Basler VIII, 406).

Interestingly, in his Annual Message Lincoln also engaged in what may have been a defense of the tremendous loss of life that took place during his tenure. He said, “[w]hile it is melancholy to reflect that the war has filled so many graves, and carried mourning to so many hearts, it is some relief to know that, compared with the surviving, the fallen have been so few. While corps, and divisions, and brigades, and regiments have formed, and fought, and dwindled, and gone out of existence, a great majority of the men who composed them are still living” (Basler VIII, 150). By 1864 Lincoln seems not to have expurgated the sense of guilt that Professor George Forgie once speculated may have driven him to discern God’s controlling hand, rather than his own, as the source of conflict.

By early December Lincoln had returned to anathematizing Southern theology in his private correspondence. In a “Story Written for Noah Brooks,” Lincoln recounted his conversation (whether real or apocryphal) with a Tennessee woman who had petitioned to have her husband released from the Union prison at Johnson’s Island. Lincoln reportedly said, “You say your husband is a religious man; tell him when you meet him, that I say I am not much of a judge of religion, but that, in my opinion, the religion that sets men to rebel and fight against their government, because, as they think, that government does not sufficiently help some men to eat their bread on the sweat of other men’s faces, is not the sort of religion upon which people get to heaven” (Basler VIII, 155, emphasis in the original).

The language of this passage puts an unorthodox gloss on a particular part of the Second Inaugural, one that cannot be fully understood without some knowledge of the development of Lincoln’s rhetoric. He had used the language of “wringing sweat out of other men’s faces” during the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. Likewise in the Second Inaugural he said, “[i]t may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces.” This statement, coming after Lincoln’s observation that both North and South “read the same Bible and pray to the same God,” can be taken as a criticism of those Northern theologians who conformed to the vindictive tone of Julia Ward Howe’s Battle Hymn of the Republic. However, placed alongside Lincoln’s other references to sweat being wrung from faces, it reads as a more assertive statement regarding the hypocrisy of Southern theology. Read closely and within the context of his Collected Works, the Second Inaugural contains several passages that present a Lincoln whose bitterness towards the South was more pronounced than has been traditionally thought.

Indeed, quite in contrast to his reliance upon Psalm 19 in the Second Inaugural, Lincoln used a biblical allusion in a letter to William T. Sherman after the latter’s capture of Savannah in late December of 1864 to make a stark division between North and South. Said Lincoln, “it [viz., Sherman’s “March to the Sea” from Atlanta to Savannah] brings those who sat in darkness, to see a great light” (Basler VIII, 183). The reference is to Matthew 4:16: “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” Here we have the image of a crusading Union army that brought Christianity and freedom in its wake, an image that emerged in the Battle Hymn. Lincoln reacted against this millennialism in his “Meditation.” By early 1865, he was prepared to make his own contribution to its propagation.

Henry Ward Beecher’s letter to Lincoln of February 4, 1865 articulated the widespread conviction amongst Northern theologians that the Union was favored by God, a conviction that was only strengthened after emancipation became an irrevocable Union war aim. Beecher insisted, “[s]o that the inside of the hand is solid bone, I am willing to have the outside flesh soft as velvet” (Basler VIII, 318). He continued, “The north is renovated. Heresy is purged out. Treason is wounded to the death. Our Constitution has felt the hand of God laid upon it, as He said, ‘Be thou clean’ & the leprosy [sic] is departed.” By the time he came to deliver his Second Inaugural, Lincoln felt the same way. His genius was to emphasize his own conviction that the Union’s suffering was regenerative rather than gratuitous, and to do so in moving prose. Though he eventually came to the belief that God favored the Union, or at least Union war aims, over the Confederacy, Lincoln also modified how that belief was articulated. Indeed, Writing to New York political broker Thurlow Weed two weeks after the Second Inaugural was delivered he said, “I believe it is not immediately popular. Men are not flattered by being shown there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God governing the world” (Basler VIII, 356). Northern theologians could not be trusted to see that his reference to the hypocrisy of petitioning a “just God” for the destruction of an enemy was oriented toward the South. His speech, as Lincoln surely knew, was notable for its lack of Northern triumphalism. In this sense, the Second Inaugural was Lincoln’s attempt to moderate his conclusion that the North was theologically right and the South was theologically wrong.

Lincoln’s Wartime Theology V

The Second Inaugural had many antecedents. Investigating those antecedents provides a more nuanced understanding of Lincoln’s theological development during the Civil War than if the Second Inaugural were read on its own.

Lincoln articulated his belief that God had a special purpose in mind for the United States in a Proclamation of Thanksgiving dated October 3, 1863, three months after the Union victory at Gettysburg. After lauding the social and economic resilience of the Union Lincoln wrote, “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things” (Basler VI, 496). On September 4, 1864 Lincoln wrote again to Eliza P. Gurney, insisting that “[t]he purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive them in advance” (Basler VII, 535). “Erring mortals” notwithstanding, he continued, “[s]urely He intends some great good to follow this mighty convulsion, which no mortal could make, and no mortal could stay.” This belief that God had brought on and then directed the Civil War for a specific purpose appears (almost verbatim) more than once in Lincoln’s correspondence and state papers. As it became increasingly apparent that the Union had the upper hand, Lincoln began to speak more assertively about what God’s purposes were for the United States after the war. In his October 3 Proclamation Lincoln continued, “the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy” (Basler VI, 496-497).

Lincoln’s “Meditation,” composed after the Confederate victory at Second Bull Run in December of 1862, was more agnostic. Then Lincoln had written, “In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party.” By late 1863 he became less reluctant to speak on God’s behalf. “[W]ith humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience,” he wrote in his Proclamation, Union supporters “fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purpose to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.” The implication was that God intended the suffering of the Civil War to lead to a peaceful, harmonious, and tranquil Union, which was impossible as long as slavery set the North and the South against each other. According to this narrative, the Civil War was a redemptive event for the United States, oriented towards future greatness as well as the past wrongs. A “Proclamation of a Day of Prayer” issued June 7, 1864 demanded that Union supporters forego “obstinate adhesion to our own counsels, which may be in conflict with His eternal purposes” while also “humbly believing that it is in accordance with His will that our place should be maintained as a united people among the family of nations” (Basler VII, 431). Unlike the “Meditation,” the first clause, in its context, rings hollow.

For Lincoln, however, repentance was a major feature of Christianity, one that had value for the Union as it moved toward Reconstruction, for it pertained to future rather than past behavior. In a letter to War Secretary Edwin M. Stanton dated February 5, 1864 Lincoln wrote, “[o]n principle I dislike an oath which requires a man to swear he has not done wrong. It rejects the Christian principle of forgiveness on terms of repentance. I think it is enough if the man does no wrong hereafter” (Basler VII, 169, emphasis in the original). Lincoln felt that suffering had to have meaning. He was not interested in theological explanations for the Civil War that provided no basis for moving forward after its conclusion. Lincoln said as much in a letter to Stanton regarding the release of repentant Confederate prisoners of war. Referring to the government he wrote, “[i]t can properly have no motive of revenge, no purpose to punish merely for punishment’s sake” (Basler VII, 255). Lincoln’s primary concern in regards to Reconstruction was to “avoid planting and cultivating too many thorns in the bosom of society.” His theological instincts supported this goal.

On October 22 of 1863 the Washington National Republican provided an account of an interview between Lincoln and a delegation from the New School Presbyterian Synod. The president reportedly considered it a “heavy responsibility” that “liberty and religion…be maintained” (Basler VI, 531). Addressing wounded soldiers in May of 1863, Lincoln had compared secession to Satan’s disobedience of God, thereby making the Southern cause a threat against religious as well as civic harmony (Basler VI, 226-227). The dissonance between these statements and the Lincoln of the “Meditation” may be partly attributable to the audience for whom they were intended. The first two were meant for northern Protestants and Union veterans, respectively, whereas the third was kept in Lincoln’s desk until his personal secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay published it after the assassination. Nevertheless, it is clear that Lincoln grew more theologically confident as the war progressed. He was, at the very least, capable of speaking with two different theological voices.

Lincoln returned to the theme of his own powerlessness in remarks to the Baltimore Presbyterian Synod on October 24. According to the National Republican, after being presented to the delegates by Reverend Phineas Gurley (whose New York Avenue Presbyterian Church the Lincolns frequented during the war and who delivered the eulogy at Willie Lincoln’s funeral), Lincoln said, “I was early brought to a living reflection that nothing in my power whatever…would succeed without the direct assistance of the Almighty, but all must fail” (Basler VI, 535). This claim was not necessarily a humble one. As previously stated, it absolved Lincoln of blame for early Union defeats. Now, with the tide turning in the North’s favor after Lee’s expulsion from Pennsylvania, it vindicated the controversial decisions that Lincoln had taken. “I have often wished that I was a more devout man than I am,” he said. “Nevertheless,” he continued, “amid the great difficulties of my Administration, when I could not see any other resort, I would place my whole reliance in God, knowing all would go well, and that He would decide for the right” (Basler VI, 535-536). According to Gideon Welles’s diary, Lincoln insisted that McClellan’s victory at Antietam signified to the president that “God had decided this issue [emancipation] in favor of the slaves.” By declaring that battlefield successes proved that God favored the Union cause, Lincoln implied that God also favored his administration.

An April 4, 1864 letter to Albert G. Hodges, editor of the Frankfurt Commonwealth, also suggests that a yearning for vindication as well as magnanimity informed Lincoln’s search for theological meaning. In language more or less identical to the Second Inaugural Lincoln declared: I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years struggle the nation’s condition is not what either party, or any man devised, or expected. God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God (Basler VII, 282). The differences between this passage and the Second Inaugural are mostly stylistic. By March of 1865 Lincoln would reformat the last sentence into biblical language borrowed from Psalm 19 (“The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether”). The message, however, is identical: God ordained both the course and the result of the Civil War. That Lincoln was to some extent responsible for the result entailed that God could “claim” him as an instrument of His will.

Indeed, responding to a “Petition of the Children of the United States” on April 5, 1864, Lincoln wrote to Mrs. Horace Mann, “Please tell these little people I am very glad their young hearts are so full of just and generous sympathy, and that, while I have not the power to grant all they ask [viz. the emancipation and arming of slaves], I trust they will remember that God has” (Basler VII, 287). Significantly, however, he added, “as it seems, He wills to do it.” Again echoing themes and cadences he would use in the Second Inaugural, Lincoln said to the Sanitary Fair at Baltimore on April 18: When the war began, three years ago, neither party, nor any man, expected it would last till now. Each looked for the end, in some way, long ere to-day. Neither did any anticipate that domestic slavery would be much affected by the war. But here we are; the war has not ended, and slavery has been much affected-how much needs not now to be recounted (Basler VII, 301). “So true it is,” he continued, “that man proposes, and God disposes.” It is possible that such subtleties were meant to draw the president’s audience to the fact that he had played a roll in “disposing” of the South’s peculiar institution. In the same address he said, “Upon a clear conviction of duty I resolved to turn that element of strength [viz. freed slaves] to account; and I am responsible for it to the American people, to the christian world, to history, and on my final account to God” (Basler VII, 302). If Union arms had fared less well, this statement may have been considered a modest avowal of responsibility. In retrospect and in context, though, it reads as a bold claim. The nation had proposed and Lincoln had disposed.

Lincoln reached his most theologically assertive point in a letter to a delegation of Baptists from Springfield, Massachusetts on May 30, 1864. Writing to George B. Ide, James R. Doolittle, and “A. Hubbell,” the president reiterated an argument grounded in biblical language that he used during the Douglas debates of 1858. Now, however, he was more explicit about whom he was attacking: “those professedly holy men of the South” (Basler VII, 368). Lincoln wrote: Indeed it is difficult to conceive how it could be otherwise with any one professing christianity [sic], or even having ordinary perceptions of right and wrong. To read in the Bible, as the word of God himself, that “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,” and to preach therefrom that, “In the sweat of other mans [sic] faces shalt thou eat bread,” to my mind can scarcely be reconciled with honest sincerity…When, a year or two ago, those professedly holy men of the South, met in the semblance of prayer and devotion, and, in the name of Him who said “As ye would all men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them” appealed to the christian world to aid them in doing to a whole race of men, as they would have no man do unto themselves, to my thinking, they contemned and insulted God and His church, far more than did Satan when he tempted the Saviour with the Kingdoms of the earth. The devils [sic] attempt was no more false, and far less hypocritical. But let me forbear, remembering it is also written “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” The biblical quotation that rounds out the last line (Matt. 7:1) is the only similarity between this passage and the Second Inaugural. It is the only aspect of the passage that does not stand in diametric opposition to the tone of reconciliation that Lincoln struck in the later speech. It identifies Southern theologians as partly responsible for bringing on the Civil War. Lincoln shifted this responsibility farther away from radical Protestants of the Northern stripe when he declared in a speech at the Great Central Sanitary Fair in Philadelphia on June 16, 1864, “We accepted this war; we did not begin it” (Basler VII, 395). Furthermore, the letter to the Springfield Baptists continues to associate the Southern cause with Satan. Indeed, Satan was “no more false, and far less hypocritical” than his Southern cohort. This is not a Lincoln bound by the political necessities of Reconstruction. It must have been a cathartic exercise for him. Reading again the president’s last letter to Gurney with a critical eye, it seems these theologians may have been the “mortals” who “made” the rebellion.

As interesting as Lincoln’s theological assertiveness is his uncharacteristic allusions to the afterlife. Alongside his letter to Alexander Reed and his response to serenaders after the Battle of Gettysburg can be placed the Cincinnati Gazette’s account of his “Reply to John Conness upon Presentation of a Cane.” The senator from California called upon the president in order to pass along a gift he had received from his deceased predecessor David Colbert Broderick. On this occasion Lincoln reportedly said, “Whether remaining in this world or looking down upon earth from the spirit land, to be remembered by such a man as David C. Broderick was a fact he would remember through all the years of his life” (Basler VII, 13). As phrased, it is ambiguous whether Lincoln meant to refer to himself or Broderick in the first clause. Regardless, Lincoln began to give indications during the second half of his presidency that he was at least willing to entertain the idea of an afterlife. His “Order for Observance of Mourning for Caleb B. Smith,” for instance, noted that the “late Secretary of the Interior…has departed this life” (Basler VII, 118).

Further evidence for Lincoln’s evolving opinions about life after death and his understanding of the theological duties of his office comes from an interview he held with Alexander W. Randall and Joseph T. Mills on August 19, 1864. Writing in his diary, Mills quoted the president as saying, “There have been men who proposed to me to return to slavery the black warriors of Port Hudson & Olustee to their masters to conciliate the South. I should be damned in time & in eternity for so doing” (Basler VII, 507). Here again we see Lincoln’s affinity for broaching the prospect of eternal damnation should he waver on the issue of emancipation. Even more evident is the success with which Lincoln conveyed his understanding of the war’s religious significance and of his role within it. Mills wrote: The President appeared to be not the pleasant joker I had expected to see, but a man of deep convictions & an unutterable yearning for the success of the Union cause…As I heard a vindication of his policy from his own lips, I could not but feel that his mind grew in stature like his body, & that I stood in the presence of the great guiding intellect of the age, & that those huge Atlantian shoulders were fit to bear the weight of mightiest monarchies. His transparent honesty, his republican simplicity, his gushing sympathy for those who offered their lives for their country, his utter forgetfulness of self in his concern for his country, could not but inspire me with confidence, that he was Heavens [sic] instrument to conduct his people thro [sic] this red sea of blood to a Canaan of peace & freedom (Basler VII, 507). After the assassination Lincoln was cast as a Christ-like figure whose death redeemed the nation’s sins. Here we see that the convention of viewing Lincoln in a biblical role predated his death, and was to a large extent facilitated by the president himself.

Lincoln continued to combine his civil and religious duties in a letter to James S. Wadsworth tentatively dated January 1864. Asked by the general if a policy of universal amnesty to former Confederates would entail universal suffrage for freed blacks the president responded that he could see no other option, “regarding it as a religious duty, as the nation’s guardian of these people” (Basler VII, 101). If he meant to place some of the burdens of his office onto God’s shoulders during the beginning of his presidency, this quote and Welles’s account of his decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation in September of 1862 indicate that Lincoln held himself as well as the national cause accountable to God. It is therefore premature to take Lincoln’s varying tone of agnosticism and assertiveness regarding God’s purposes as evidence of insincerity.

Indeed, by any objective account Lincoln had every right to share responsibility for Union casualties. He did everything in his power to spare enlisted soldiers who had been condemned to execution for negligence or desertion. The vast majority of his correspondence with Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt consisted of commutations. In an “Endorsement Concerning Henry Andrews” Lincoln wrote that he “had ordered his punishment commuted to imprisonment for during the war at hard labor…not on any merit in the case, but because I am trying to evade the butchering business lately” (Basler VII, 111). This passage does betray what may have been a sense of guilt on Lincoln’s part. At the same time, it suggests that more soldiers may have died had military justice been rigidly enforced in lieu of Lincoln’s magnanimity. If Lincoln felt any remorse, he at least put it to good use.

Lincoln’s Wartime Theology IV

Lincoln remained agnostic about God’s purposes during the first half of the Civil War. On October 26, 1862 Eliza P. Gurley, the widow of English Quaker Joseph J. Gurney, visited the president. The Lincoln Papers (Angle, 1930) report her as having “uttered a short but most beautiful, eloquent, and comprehensive prayer that light and wisdom might be shed down from on high, to guide our President” (Basler V, 478). Lincoln’s reply was measured. “[I]f after endeavoring to do my best in the light which he [sic] affords me,” he said, “I find my efforts fail, I must believe that for some purpose unknown to me, He wills it otherwise.” Echoing his recently-composed “Meditation on the Divine Will,” he speculated that God permitted the continuance of the war “for some purpose of his own, mysterious and unknown to us.”

This thought may have consoled Lincoln by placing the course of events beyond his control. In his biography of George Washington, Ron Chernow attributes a similar motive to the future president’s declaration after his appointment as commanding officer of the Continental Army that he did not “think himself equal to the command he was honored with.” Both men anticipated the difficulties inherent in their posts, and that, justly or unjustly, history would hold them accountable for the success or failure of their cause. Lincoln tried to convince himself and others “that he who made the world still governs it.” In the months after the Union defeats of First and Second Bull Run and the failure of George McClellan’s Peninsula campaign, this belief allowed him to set aside the question of victory or defeat and focus on his duties.

It is important not to take the “Meditation” and the Second Inaugural as flashes of insight. Both documents should be read as markers of Lincoln’s theological development during the war. This development was continuous, not epiphanic. The reply to Gurney was not the only occasion on which Lincoln used phrases or ideas that would become associated with his more famous works. In his analysis of Lincoln’s statement in the Second Inaugural that “the war came” Ronald C. White says, “human agency alone did not decide the outcome or even the character of the war. As Lincoln looked back from the perspective of four long years, he saw that all along the war had a life of its own.” In a letter dated November 10, 1862 in which the president argued politics with General Carl Schurz Lincoln used the precise wording that eventually made its way into the Second Inaugural: “Notwithstanding this, it distributed to it’s [sic] party friends as nearly all the civil patronage as any administration ever did. The war came” (Basler VI, 494). Lincoln’s ideas about the meaning of the war and how to express that meaning were well developed by the time of he came to take the oath of office a second time. Lincoln was “looking back” as he came to deliver his Second Inaugural, but the retrospection was more for the American people. He had already done it himself.

On a few occasions during the war, he did it for a wider audience, too, albeit less comprehensively than he would in his Second Inaugural. Though Lincoln never explicitly broached the prospect of Union failure in his Annual Message to Congress on December 1, 1862, he did strike the same tone of theological modesty and uncertainty that he had maintained in his reply to Gurney. “[W]e can but press on,” said Lincoln, “guided by the best light He gives us, trusting that in His own good time, and wise way, all will yet be well” (Basler V, 518). Unsurprisingly, though, Lincoln tailored his religious statements to the audience he was addressing. Whereas he mentioned defeat as a legitimate possibility when speaking to Gurney, he never explicitly told Congress what he meant by the phrase, “all will yet be well.” He allowed them to assume that Union victory was a part of God’s plan.

Lincoln came closer to linking the Union cause with God’s will in a letter to Caleb Russell and Sallie A. Fenton, representatives of the Society of Friends from Iowa who had formally expressed their approval of the Emancipation Proclamation. Writing on January 5, 1863, four days after the proclamation had gone into effect in the Union-occupied South, Lincoln wrote, “I am conscious of no desire for my country’s welfare, that is not in consonance with His will, and of no plan upon which we may not ask His blessing” (Basler VI, 39-40). He even conjoined the “birthright of civil and religious liberty,” arguing that it was that liberty “upon which all good men may unitedly agree…imploring the gracious favor of the God of Nations.” Lincoln seems to have become more theologically assertive after he issued the Proclamation. Gideon Welles, Lincoln’s naval secretary, quoted him as saying that he had “made a promise to God” that he would issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation if McClellan defeated Lee at Antietam. In the wake of Union victory, Welles’ diary has Lincoln declaring, “God had decided this issue in favor of the slaves.” Lincoln eventually had to moderate this assertiveness, coming as it did at a moment when the tide of war was beginning to turn. Such rhetoric would not do as he turned his mind to Reconstruction. However, there was a moment in early 1863 at which Lincoln may have succumbed, in his own way, to northern millennialism. Writing to “the Workingmen of Manchester, England” on January 19, 1863 Lincoln said, “I cannot but regard your decisive utterance upon the question [of emancipation] as an instance of sublime Christian heroism which has not been surpassed in any age or in any country” (Basler VI, 64). Four months earlier, as he composed his “Mediation,” it would have been difficult to envision Lincoln praising a Christian for decisiveness.

Whether or not this newfound decisiveness was more political or theological, Lincoln had checked it by the time he came to deliver his Second Inaugural. Indeed, he had checked it well before then. Writing to Alexander Reed, General Superintendent of the U.S. Christian Commission, on February 22 Lincoln said, “whatever shall tend to turn our thoughts from the unreasoning, and uncharitable passions, prejudices, and jealousies incident to a great national trouble…can not [sic] but be well for us all” (Basler VI, 114). When we take his statements of January, 1863 into account, this observation assumes a somewhat self-admonitory tone, a return to theological modesty.

At the same time, Lincoln’s letter to Reed discloses a new development in Lincoln’s theology: sympathetic allusions to the existence of an afterlife. Noting that the Sunday on which he was writing coincided with Washington’s birthday Lincoln said that “the highest interests of this life, and the life to come” made the date “most propitious” for a meeting of the Christian Commission (Basler VI, 115, emphasis mine). In a response to a serenade three days after the Union victory at Gettysburg, Lincoln referred to the deaths of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, all of which had occurred on July 4. Lincoln remarked that all had been “called from this stage of existence on the same day and month of the year,” which coincided with Lee’s retreat from Pennsylvania (Basler VI, 320). Previously, Lincoln had resorted to anodyne declarations of sympathy for basic Christian doctrine. His 1846 handbill refuting charges of infidelity, in which he tepidly said that he “had never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular,” comes to mind. In New Salem and Springfield, he had been reluctant to make positive assertions about his belief in life after death. His time in the White House seems to have changed that.

Lincoln’s Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day, issued on May 30, 1863, also signaled a return to theological modesty. In addition to a “dependence upon the overruling power of God” the president declared it the “duty of nations as well as of men” “to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow” (Basler VI, 155). “Yet,” he continued, the nation would engage in such introspection “with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon.” This is roughly the argument Lincoln would make to the country in his Second Inaugural: God brought the war upon the North and South as punishment for the “national sin” of slavery and so that a purified nation might rise. Lincoln’s providentialism was always progressive. It viewed punishment for past wrongs within the context of a future goal. He abhorred gratuitous punishment.

Yet Lincoln never fully expurgated his hatred of secession. Addressing wounded soldiers, some of whom had lost legs, in May of 1863, the president said, “that when we could present that famous adversary [viz., the devil] at the White House on his stumps, and therefore somewhat incapable of further rebellion against constituted and divine authority, that we would let him know” (Basler VI, 226-227). His first inaugural address was a rigidly legalistic argument against the doctrine of secession. Here, as in the letter to Russell and Fenton, he combined divine and human law to make secession an offense against God. This was not a national offense, but one for which a cabal of southern slaveholders bore responsibility. There is no question that Lincoln knew how to wield power with clemency. However, he only did so from a position of strength, and under the assumption that secessionism would be crushed.

The Union victory at Gettysburg, just like the Emancipation Proclamation, presented an opportunity for Lincoln to imply that God was moving closer to the North as the fighting went on. In a telegram sent as a press release from the War Department Lincoln wrote of General George Meade’s victory on the morning of July 4, “he [i.e. the president] especially desires that on this day, He whose will, not ours, should ever be done, be everywhere remembered and reverenced with profoundest gratitude” (Basler VI, 314). God’s will was a source of consolation when the Union was losing. It became a source or assurance as Lee dragged his defeated army back to northern Virginia. Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving on July 15 played the same role as his Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day in May. In the July proclamation, Lincoln said that the nation had “been brought to suffer in mind, body or estate, and finally to lead the whole nation through the paths of repentance and submission to the Divine Will, back to the perfect enjoyment of Union and fraternal peace” (Basler VI, 332).

We might say, then, that one characteristic of Lincoln’s official pronouncements was that they were more conciliatory than his private correspondence and impromptu remarks. Between 1861 and 1865, Lincoln was crafting a narrative for the country. Occasionally that narrative conflicted with his distaste for anarchy, which he had first annunciated to the Young Men’s Lyceum in 1838, alluding in that speech to the proslavery mob that had killed the abolitionist editor Elijah P. Lovejoy. As Edmund Wilson suggested, Lincoln was remarkably successful at occupying the dramatic persona he had created for himself. There were, however, instances in which Lincoln’s public image momentarily gave way to his belief in law and order.

Lincoln’s Wartime Theology III

Lincoln believed the United States had a redemptive role to play in world history. Writing to the Salvadorian minister Lorenzo Montufar on April 24, 1862 Lincoln said of the Civil War, “On the result largely depends the progress, civilization, and happiness of mankind” (Basler V, 198). Responding to a petition presented to him by a delegation from the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lincoln said in May of the same year, “ [the war] involves…in a large degree the civil and religious liberties of mankind in many countries and through many ages” (Ibid., 212). In a July 12, 1862 “Appeal to Border State Representatives to Favor Compensated Emancipation” he said, “Our common country is in great peril” (Ibid., 319). He continued, “Once relieved, it’s [sic] form of government is saved to the world.”

Lincoln always viewed the conflict as a test of whether republicanism was practicable. In January of 1838, the future president spoke to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois on “The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions.” Likely alluding to the murder of the abolitionist editor Elijah P. Lovejoy by a band of proslavery activists the previous year Lincoln said:

“…there is, even now, something of ill-omen amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice (Basler I, 109).”

Later in the address he hoped that a “reverence for the laws” would “become the political religion of the nation” (Ibid., 112, emphasis in the original). As he would do a quarter century later at Gettysburg, he defined the American project as the “practical demonstration of a proposition…namely, the capability of a people to govern themselves” (Ibid., 113, emphasis in the original). He viewed the principle of secession as anarchical, and said so in his First Inaugural. For Lincoln, the Civil War was about America’s role as a beacon of self-government. In that sense he subscribed to the tradition of American providentialism that began with John Winthrop’s sermon aboard the Arbella.

Lincoln contributed to this myth a tone of humility. As he saw it, humiliation and repentance were central to America’s redemptive role. In his response to the Evangelical Lutherans, Lincoln claimed that the American people would “make their prolonged national existence a source of new benefits to…all classes and conditions of mankind” by “humbly seeking the Divine guidance” (Ibid., 213). In June of 1862, about a month before Lincoln presented a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet, William Barnard, representing a delegation of Progressive Friends that had given a memorial to the president insisting that he free the slaves, expressed “an earnest desire that he might, under divine guidance, be led to free the slaves” (Ibid., 279). Lincoln’s reply, the theme of which he returned to in his “Meditation on the Divine Will,” was notable for its balance between providentialism and equivocation:

“The President responded very impressively, saying that he was deeply sensible of his need of Divine assistance. He had sometime [sic] thought that perhaps he might be an instrument in God’s hands of accomplishing a great work and he certainly was not unwilling to be. Perhaps, however, God’s way of accomplishing the end which the memorialists had in view may be different from theirs. It would be his earnest endeavor, with firm reliance upon the Divine arm, and seeking light from above, to do his duty in the place to which he had been called (Ibid., 279).”

All the elements of Lincoln’s civil religion are present: his unwavering belief that some greater good would come from the carnage of the Civil War, his insistence that he was passively cast into the most prominent role of the national drama, and his willingness to remain circumspect about God’s dealings with the United States.

Lincoln returned to his criticism of millenarian speculation, which tended to favor the North at the expense of the South, again and again. Responding to yet another memorial on emancipation, this one from a group of Chicago emancipationists, Lincoln said, “I am approached with the most opposite opinions and advice, and that by religious men, who are equally certain that they represent the Divine will” (Ibid., 419-20). “I am sure,” he concluded, “that either the one or the other class is mistaken in that belief, and perhaps in some respects both.” He noted that “the rebel soldiers are praying with a great deal more earnestness…than our own troops.” Here, again, is a theme he would return to in his Second Inaugural, in which he regretted that “the prayers of neither [side] could be answered fully.” In his September, 1862 response to the Chicago Christians he said “that our country had been exceedingly guilty…both at the North and South; that our just punishment had come by a slaveholder’s rebellion” (Ibid., 422). In the Second Inaugural he assigned blame to both sides. God brought “to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came.”

In the “Meditation,” Lincoln reiterated his skepticism of those who claimed to discern God’s purposes in the contest. “In the present civil war,” he wrote, “it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purposes of either party” (Ibid., 404). When he did come to make a positive assertion, “that God wills this contest,” he couched it in hesitant language: “I am almost ready to say this is probably true.” Here we see the connection between Lincoln’s theological insight and his mood swings. Composed around the time of Second Bull Run, at which Union General John Pope was routed, the “Meditation” came at a time when Attorney General Edward Bates thought Lincoln “seemed wrung by the bitterest anguish-said he felt almost ready to hang himself.” For Lincoln, emotional pain had become a source of rhetorical and religious strength.

Lincoln expressed his theological humility most movingly in his attempts to overcome Northern animosity. He recoiled from exacting retribution upon the South for what he deemed a national sin in his Second Inaugural. Writing to Reverdy Johnson, a State Department employee who had been sent to New Orleans in order to observe the actions of General Ben Butler, Lincoln said in July of 1862, “I am a patient man-always willing to forgive on the Christian terms of repentance; and also to give ample time for repentance” (Ibid., 343). Around the same time he wrote to the prominent New Orleans loyalist Cuthbert Bullitt that he would “do nothing in malice. What I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing” (Ibid., 346). Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, which demanded that national reconciliation be pursued “with malice toward none, with charity for all,” returned to this theme. Lincoln’s wartime theology was consistent. It was characterized by humility and uncertainty.

Lincoln’s Wartime Theology II

Abolitionism was inherently militaristic, and it derived its militancy from its Christian elements. “[The] movement arose,” writes Eric Foner, “as the joining of two impulses: black anticolonization and white evangelicism” (Eric Foner, “Lincoln and Colonization,” Our Lincoln, ed. Eric Foner, W.W. Norton and Company, 2008, p. 142). Abolitionists diverged from the “white-dominated, gradualist” groups linked to colonization. They were “immediatist, interracial, and committed to making the United States a biracial nation.” Awareness of abolitionism’s Christian ethos makes Joshua Speed’s comment regarding border state emancipation in September of 1861 seem more pointed. “You might as well attack the freedom of worship in the North,” Speed had said, “as to wage war in a slave state on such a principle” (Foner, p. 153). Many of those who would wage war on such a principle took great pride in worshipping freely in the North.

During the Civil War, Lincoln coopted the narrative that abolitionists had been developing since the 1830s. By the time of his reelection, writes Manisha Sinha, “Lincoln had come to share the abolitionist and African American view of the Civil War as a providential, apocalyptic event that would not only end slavery but redeem the American Republic and vindicate its founding principles” (Manisha Sinha, “Allies for Emancipation? Lincoln and Black Abolitionists,” Our Lincoln, ed. Eric Foner, W.W. Norton and Company, 2008, p. 187). After he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln’s task was partly to moderate the abolitionist’s tone in a way that promoted national reconciliation without compromising the integrity of the abolitionists’ narrative. The Second Inaugural is an eloquent, and largely successful, attempt to do just that.

Lincoln had to account for not only radical abolitionists. “[T]he Republican Party that captured much of the Whig vote…was even more evidently the inheritor of the millenialist, antislavery reformism of New School Protestants” (Carwardine, pp. 233-234). Though Republicans cohered around the territorial confinement of slavery, they were predisposed to distinguish divine significance in the events of 1861-65.

Lincoln was a conciliator by temperament. “In Lincoln,” writes Andrew Delbanco, “we encounter…a mind searching for transcendent meaning in the carnage and asserting that meaning for both sides” (Andrew Delbanco, “Lincoln’s Sacramental Language,” Our Lincoln, W.W. Norton and Company, 2008, p. 218). Abolitionism’s zeal for redemptive justice gave meaning to the Civil War, but Lincoln could not allow the movement’s vindictiveness to overrun the cathartic, progressive meaning he had imparted to the conflict. North and South had suffered for the “national sin” of slavery. Further talk of exacting revenge upon the South was gratuitous. Lincoln’s relationship to the militant Protestantism that suffused abolitionism was, therefore, necessarily ambivalent.

The most prudent commentary on Lincoln’s religion may have come from his close friend David Davis. Asked by Lincoln’s law partner William Herndon about the president’s religion, Davis replied, “I don’t Know anything about Lincoln’s Religion…don’t think anybody Knew. The idea that Lincoln talked to a stranger about his religion or religious views…is absurd to me…I Know the man so well: he was the most reticent-Secretive man I Ever Saw-or Expect to See” (Richard Carwardine, “Lincoln’s Religion,” Our Lincoln, ed. Eric Foner, W.W. Norton and Company, 2008, p.224). In religion, as in politics, Lincoln seems to have thrived on ambiguity. He created and to a remarkable degree inhabited a religious persona that cast him in the role of Jesus, one who suffered for the redemption of others. But we are limited in what we can say about his theology, by his own reticence as much as time.

What can be said with some certainty is that Lincoln was a man for whom questions of morality were of cardinal significance. Though “he warmed to Robert Burns’s poetry, including his satire on Calvinist self-righteousness,” continues Carwardine, “Lincoln’s immersion in the scriptures-alongside his keen appetite for Shakespearean soliloquies with anxious self-examination and moral wrestling-points to a man for whom profound private reflection on ethical matters was an essential part of his being” (Carwardine, p. 227). When Orville Browning suggested Lincoln emancipate the slaves as a in the wake of Lincoln’s post-Bull Run proclamation for a national day of fasting and prayer the president replied, “Browning, suppose God is against us in our view on the subject of slavery in this country, and our method of dealing with it” (Carwardine, p. 230). This response, reminiscent of his “Meditation on the Divine Will,” impressed Browning and indicated to hi, “that [Lincoln] was thinking deeply of what a higher power than man sought to bring about by the great events then transpiring.”

Returning to Lincoln’s ambivalent relationship with Northern Protestantism, the “Meditation” “indicated some movement toward the evangelical mainstream” as well as “hesitancy over equating the Union cause with God’s will” (Carwardine, p. 231). Above all else, Lincoln “showed more humility than did most Protestant preachers.” “Lincoln’s theology,” concludes Carwardine, with its humility and remarkable absence of self-righteousness, stands in some contrast with the theology of the mainstream Union pulpits, mostly confident that God was on their side” (Carwardine, p. 241). “The logic of Protestant evangelicals’ understanding of events,” appealing as it did to an American tradition of self-righteous millennialism, “culminated in the certainty that, as one Episcopalian insisted, ‘God is with us;…the Lord of Hosts is on our side’”(Carwardine, p. 243). As Lincoln wrote to New York political operative Thurlow Weed after giving his Second Inaugural, the speech was “not immediately popular” because “men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them.”