Long-lost letter sheds light on Lincoln's religious beliefs
Just as the country marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, a long-lost letter has surfaced that describes President Abraham Lincoln's belief in God.
The Raab Collection of Philadelphia plans to sell a recently discovered letter written in 1866 by William Herndon, a Springfield, Ill., lawyer and Lincoln confidant.
"Mr. Lincoln's religion is too well known to me to allow of even a shadow of a doubt; he is or was a Theist & a Rationalist, denying all extraordinary ‚ÄĒ supernatural inspiration or revelation," wrote Herndon of the nation's 16th president....
"As he prepared to leave the presidency in 1796, George Washington famously warned, ‚ÄúWhatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.‚ÄĚ Generally speaking, however, Americans tended not to worry much about the philosophical question of religion and nation. The whole theologico-political problem, which obsessed European philosophers, was gnawed at in the United States most by those who were least churched." (The Death of Protestant America. Joseph Bottum)