News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Mike Lunsford

February 22, 2009

The Off Season: Lincoln’s words rightfully called ‘American scripture’

Opal Ford and the graduating class of 1926 were more fortunate in their educations than many students today. I say that because I own one of Ford’s books; it passes its days on my desk near other favorite things.

The book is a copy of “Selections from the Writings of Abraham Lincoln,” printed in 1922 by Scott, Foresman and Co. of Chicago. Written in its inside jacket cover in pencil and in a neat cursive hand was Opal’s name and class (she was a senior) and school (I have no idea where H.J.H.S. was located). She also playfully included a typical ditty of her day:

“Kiss me sweet,

Kiss me cunning,

Kiss me quick

For Papa’s coming.”

I don’t know who Opal Ford was; one of the cast of my brothers-in-law, Phil Cox, found her book for me on a secondhand bookstore sale table, and knowing I revel in such things, promptly handed over a few dollars for it.

He had no idea that I would come to treasure it because of Lincoln’s words, not because it is rare, for books like it can be easily found at most auctions and library sales. As a writer and history teacher, I can do no better than to study what Lincoln has left for us, and I wish that more of my students could find him as fascinating as I do.

It is ironic that one of our most poorly educated presidents — I mean that in a conventional sense for our last president had a degree from Yale — was the very best writer among them. Lincoln had virtually no formal education, yet he voraciously read newspapers, read and re-read the works of Shakespeare and Robert Burns, taught himself the law through Blackstone, and soaked in the cadences and poetry of the King James version of the Bible. He taught himself well.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Mike Lunsford
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village 3 People Killed, Deputies Wounded in NC Shootout Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve Raw: 16 Killed in Gaza Market Strike Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Raw: Smoke, Explosions Fill Gaza Skyline Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions Obama: 'Blood of Africa Runs Through My Veins' Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit Today in History for July 31st
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010