The Life and Public Service of General Zachary Taylor: An Address
Abraham Lincoln, author; William E. Barton, editor. The Life and Public Service of General Zachary Taylor: An Address. Los Angeles, Library of Alexandria (2015).
This book was originally published in Boston by Houghton Mifflin in 1922 with the Reverend William Eleazar Barton as the editor. Why should a digitized reproduction of this eulogy matter when the text of the speech is included in standard collections of Lincoln’s speeches? The answer is the editor’s introduction, which is a window into Lincoln scholarship fifty-seven years after the president’s death. According to Barton, the text of this “lost speech” turned up in the archives of the Chicago Historical Society, when—as so often happens with archives—a researcher was looking for other material. There it was, carefully preserved and waiting to be noticed. The speech itself is a rarity: a public eulogy of a president by a future president. When this book was compiled, the editor was the pastor of the First Congregational Church of Oak Park, Illinois, and he also was considered as a leading figure in Lincoln scholarship. His introduction offers shrewd insights about characteristics of Taylor that Lincoln highlighted in the eulogy that later proved to be traits associated with Lincoln himself as president. The editor included a full text of a poem that Lincoln had quoted in his eulogy—“Mortality” by William Knox. According to the editor, Lincoln’s use of that poem in the speech confirmed what had been part of the oral tradition handed down about Lincoln, that this was a work he recited often and may have been his favorite poem.
In his Author! Author! blog series, Museum president Gary T. Johnson highlights works that draw on our collection.