(Left: First page of Lincoln’s second inaugural address, March 4, 1865, in his hand. Right: Cover of Lincoln by David Herbert Donald)
With the second inauguration of President Barack Obama last week, I happened to be finishing David Herbert Donald’s wonderful biography of Abraham Lincoln, called simply Lincoln. Although Donald quotes liberally from Lincoln’s famous second inaugural address (“With charity for all….”), he doesn’t reprint the text in its entirety. Incredibly short at something like 750 words, it’s a real masterpiece, and I found it—in Lincoln’s hand—on the Library of Congress website. We read it out loud at my house on the evening of President Obama’s inauguration and were moved by Lincoln’s deep compassion, his futuristic thinking, and his magnificent mastery of the English language. And, of course, by the fact that he made President Obama possible.
And then just a few days later, what should greet me but a wonderful photo from Tanya Anderson of one of her manuscript pages (below left) from Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg (cover, below right). Turns out Tanya writes all her first draft manuscripts on yellow legal pads in pen and ink. I’d say that’s just about perfect.
Do you write anything longhand these days? If so, let us know. And don’t forget to check in again in two weeks for more from TFCB!