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Friday, February 26, 2010

Donald does self-assigned homework for the Surratt Society's upcoming conference on the Lincoln Assassination.

I did a sudden and radical change of course in my planned choice of reading material since the subject was last mentioned. With the approach of next month's Surratt Society's Lincoln Assassination conference it was deemed perhaps somewhat smarter to read books the presenters were going to be focusing on, including Larry Tagg's "The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln," Michael Kline's "The Baltimore Plot," Andrew C.A. Jampoler's "The Last Lincoln Conspirator: John Surratt's Flight from the Gallows," and Charles Lachman's "The Last Lincolns: the Rise and Fall of a Great American Family."

I'm not quite half-way through Tagg's book, but his point is well made that people perceived Lincoln as down right plug ugly, unintelligent, uncouth, given to telling, for the times, dirty stories, (though never in mixed company), a stumbler, a bumbler, slow witted, completely at unease in a crowd, totally lacking in social graces and manners, a devoted slob outfitted in dirty and stained clothing, and whose high pitched Southern twang drove those listening to distraction. Simply put, he horrified and repulsed nearly everyone at first meeting.

Director Stephen Speilberg has cast acclaimed Irish actor Liam Neeson in the lead role for his planned biopic on Lincoln. Based on Tagg's descriptive work perhaps a wiser choice would have been another of Kentucky's native born sons, Ernest P. Worrell, also known as actor Jim Varney.


That Lincoln's approval rating among the American public dropped to 25 per cent shortly after his election and that he was subjected to more threats to his person than a Meter Maid is well proven by Tagg, whose book, even this early in the reading, is recommended as well worth purchasing.

My favorite quote thus far, and one that made me laugh aloud, in a book full of great quotes and observations, came from a note Lincoln received shortly after his arrival at the Willard Hotel in Washington just prior to his inauguration. I don't suppose Lincoln or those in his entourage found anything funny about it at the time though.

"if you don't Resign we are going to put a spider in your dumpling and play the Devil with you god or might god dam sundde of bitch go to hell and buss my Ass suck my prick and call my Bolics your uncle Dick god dam a fool and goddam Abe Lincoln who would like you goddam you excuse me for using such hard words with you but you need it you are nothing but a goddam Black nigger."


The students in my wife's government class also loved "we are going to put a spider in your dumpling." One student put it on his Facebook page.
The level of invective that Lincoln inspired, even in the North, was truly remarkable. One Wisconsin newspaper in 1864 called publicly for someone to assassinate him.
Thanks for the excellent review, Mr. Thompson. I am looking forward to the Surratt Society Conference on March 19-20.

Posted by Larry Tagg at Saturday, February 27, 2010 12:36:20

I'm not sure if mine was much of a review, but your book is definitely well worth reading. I'll look forward to hearing you speak in person and autographing my copy later this month.

Posted by Donald Thompson at Monday, March 01, 2010 13:02:35

Thank you for mentioning our book, “The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln” by Larry Tagg. If you would like more information about the book, including an excerpt, or its author, please check at

Posted by militaryhistory at Thursday, March 11, 2010 15:26:56

Alas, Mr Varney has been deceased for quite some time.

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Alas, Mr Varney has been deceased for quite some time.

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