Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ages Or Angels

When Abraham Lincoln  drew his last breath on the night of April 14, 1865,  Edwin Stanton, his Secretary of War,  whispered a famous sentence. What exactly he said is disputed. Most remember  him saying "Now he belongs to the ages". The Rev. Gurley however, Lincoln's family minister,  understood: "Now he belongs to the Angels." The brilliant New Yorker journalist, Adam Gopnik,  comments: "Now he belongs to the angels?  Where had that come from? That was a Monty Python element here."  There's something we can learn from this. Historians must not trust eye- and earwitnesses, no matter how close to a historical event they have been. We all  tend to see and hear what we want to.  No matter what Stanton really said, Now he belongs to the ages entered all history books. Not because it is necessarily the truth, but because it is what we want him to have said.

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