Abe and Donald: A study in contrasts

Parallels between Abraham Lincoln and Donald Trump are fascinating. Lincoln, being likely the last “honest” president while Donald is undisputedly the most “dishonest” president to ever occupy the Oval Office.

Like the Internet and Trump’s television, Lincoln spent a lot of time in telegraph chat rooms. He was known to stay late into the night and early morn, monitoring his e-messages. He chatted with his generals, his friends and enemies. He certainly kept himself aware of news media and even shut some for providing information on his army’s movement.

In March 1862, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton centralized all war telegraph communication at the War Department’s library next to his office. This made it convenient for Lincoln to stroll down and monitor “the War of the Rebellion.” He kept an eye on troop movement, battles, gave advice and issued orders to his generals.

Trump has had televisions installed in a dining room near his office and, reportedy, in his bedroom where he munches fish sandwiches and burgers, washed down with gulps of diet soda, alone. He too, watches well into the night and early morn. Wife Melania prefers to sleep separately in another room. Son Barron, who knows.

Lincoln told one telegraph operator, “I come here to escape my persecutors. Hundreds of people come in and say they only want to see me for a minute. That means if I can hear their story and grant their requesting a minute, it will be enough.”

Trump watches several televisions. His preferred news outlet being Fox News, with “Fox and Friends,” and Sean Hannity who calls Donnie daily. Trump holes up and doesn’t escape his detractors. He seems to glory in their criticism. Gives him a purpose, maybe.

Where Lincoln consulted daily with his Cabinet, frequently taking their advice, Trump prefers to ignore his Cabinet members, frequently cussing and yelling at them. He publicly embarrasses them via Internet and social media. Lincoln was gentle, often defusing tense clashes with a joke. Trump is rude, crude and has no empathy.

Telegraph operator Homer Bates recounted Lincoln’s daily routine as he waited for messages to be decoded and placed in order of receipt in a drawer.

“He would go immediately to the drawer and read from top to bottom. When he finished, he most always said, “Well boys, I’m down to the raisins.”

During Lincoln’s administration, people could simply walk into the office and talk to him. They wanted jobs, favors and maybe money. Rugs were worn threadbare and had to be replaced often. With Donnie, a phone call or appearance on Fox News frequently triggers a historic calamity, like the recent government shutdown. Trump was egged on by right-wing conservatives Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and the three stooges on Fox and Friends.

Lincoln “had a canny manipulation of the popular press,” writes Harold Holzer, a prominent authority on America’s 16th president, in his book “Lincoln and the Power of the Press.” Lincoln declared that “public sentiment is everything,” and in his era nothing shaped public sentiment more powerfully than journalism. Lincoln coddled antagonist editors with “rustic charm.”

However, when The New York World published a false story that pointed in warning to “the general state of the country” as the reason for proclaiming a national day of “fasting, humiliation and prayer” and for calling up 400,000 new troops, Lincoln wasn’t charitable. He ordered the arrest and imprisonment of the editors who had published the document. Trump would likely be orange with envy.

Major Thomas J. Eckert reported that Lincoln walked into the telegraph office to wait for translations early one morning in June 1862, shortly after McClellan’s ‘Seven Days’ Fight.’

“He asked me for some paper and a pen, as he wanted to write something special. I procured some foolscap and handed it to him.” He was given a small barrel-pen by Gillott, supplied to the cipher-operators. “He then sat down and began to write. He wrote daily, sometimes only a line or two. When ready to leave, he asked me to take charge of what he had written and not allow any one to see it. I told him I would do this with pleasure and would not read it myself. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I should be glad to know that no one will see it, although there is no objection to your looking at it; but please keep it locked up until I call for it to-morrow.’ I said his wishes would be strictly complied with.”

That manuscript was The Emancipation Proclamation — a masterpiece that still stands strongly today.

Speaking at a September 2018 rally at Billings, Montana, “Dishonest” Don declared that his “speeches will go down in history for being as great as Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address” — which he says was lambasted by “fake news” way back in 1863. Not true.

Trying to morph his speech into a version of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, “Dishonest” Don failed miserably because he had no idea what the words were.

He began, “So we are dedicated to the proposition that all men — and women, don’t forget the women. The women love me so much. I won big with the women. The women love Trump.” It got worse, much worse, even embarrassing to all but Donald.

Lincoln’s net was hacked by pole climbing rebels as they tapped his lines and sent fake information using portable telegraph keys. Delusional Donald is positive that his predecessor Barack Obama had his phones tapped.

Unlike today, candidates did nothing publicly to advance their campaign. Without a mass rail system, they stayed at home, publicly silent. Their friends did the walking, writing and talking. Candidates who broke tradition lost. As we sadly know, candidates and their supporters now spend billions to get elected. The final price tag for the 2016 election is in: $6.5 billion for the presidential and congressional elections combined, according to campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets.org.

In his day, it was considered immodest to vote for yourself, so Lincoln tore off the top of the ballot that included his name. Now, candidates are followed by media and openly vote for themselves. Trump didn’t tear his name from the ballot.

“Honest” Abe Lincoln adhered to a “government of the people, by the people, for the people, (that) shall not perish from the earth.” He revered the Constitution, studied it, protected it. “Dishonest” Don Trump has little knowledge of what the document contains. He uses the media to propagate lies to the nation — well over 7,000 lies.

Trump shuttered Lincoln’s beloved government because he wants a southwestern border wall, a tactic that held the security and maybe fate of the nation hostage, and could do so again in a few short weeks.

In a demonstration witnessed by members of Congress, American inventor Samuel F.B. Morse dispatched a telegraph message from the U.S. Capitol to Alfred Vail at a railroad station in Baltimore. The message, “What Hath God Wrought?” was telegraphed back to the Capitol a moment later by Vail.

Indeed, “What Hath God Wrought?”

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3 thoughts on “Abe and Donald: A study in contrasts

  1. Well done! I didn’t know Lincoln’s telegraphs were intercepted and corrupted. It is ironic that our most honest president dealt with this, while our current lunatic-in- chief is paranoid about so-called fake news and phone tapping.

    Liked by 4 people

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