A visit with Abe Lincoln

Published 7:32 pm Friday, February 24, 2023

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Somehow President’s Day slipped by me.

But, I had a remembrance that I would like to share, not of President’s Day but of a president.

Many years ago, we were in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was an icy cold winter’s day but I could read the small, snow-cover sign: “A. Lincoln’s Place” and, in smaller letters, 6 p.m. tonight.

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We took a chance and made our way to the small, modest house where we were seated around a crackling fire with five others who had braved the icy, cold night.

“Don’t let him startle her,” the doorman whispered, as he nodded toward my little daughter.

Suddenly, there he stood:  Abraham Lincoln, himself.

He greeted everyone before seating himself and began the fireside chat. He laughingly told of meeting a woman on horseback along a wooded path. He pulled his horse aside to let her go by, with the greeting, “You’re lookin’ mighty fine today, mam,” he said. “I wish I could say the same about you,” the lady replied. “Well, Mr. Lincoln said, “You could, if you’d told a lie like I did.”

President Lincoln shared several stories that night including the dream he had about a body lying in-state in the rotunda of the Capitol. The body was his.

But, the one story that stands clear in my mind is of a runaway slave who was brought into President Lincoln’s office.

This is President Abraham Lincoln’s story.

The President asked the runaway slave if his master ever mistreated him. The aging man answered, “No, sir. He was always good to me. he wasn’t never mean or unkind.”

President Lincoln asked, “Did you have a place to live?

“Yes, sir, we had a place with a tin rooftop.”

Did you have food to eat?

“Oh, yes sir. We had plenty to eat- good things – meat and greens and cornbread.”

What about when you were sick?

“Oh, the missus, she made sure we was took good care of.”

Well, President Lincoln said, now, you’ve told me that the master never harmed you, that you had a roof over your head and were warm in the wintertime.

You said you had food to eat every day and were cared from when you were sick. If you had all that, why, then, did you runaway?”

“Well, Mr. President,” the old runaway slave answered, “I’se reckon my job’s still open, if you wants it.”