Daily Archives: December 7, 2007
I’m not sure how many international readers set eyes on The Webcomic Overlook. With the internet, you never know. I feel I need to spend some time explaining a certain American President named Abraham Lincoln. Unless you are from the United States, you may be puzzled as to why the man is considered by many to be the greatest president of the United States. Why does he appear on so much of our currency? Why is the Lincoln Memorial treated like a sacred shrine? I imagine the bafflement mirrors my own confusion of the Chinese devotion to Mao Tse Tung or the Filipino deification of Jose Rizal.
So if I could be serious for a moment….
We now live in an era where every Presidential candidate seems to be born with a spoon in their mouth. So it seems rather shocking that Lincoln was a man born of poverty, starting from zero and clawing his way to the top through sheer perseverance. Unlike you or I, Lincoln received no formal education. No problem; he taught himself by reading Shakespeare and the Bible. As President, he penned two of the most moving speeches in American history: the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address.
Lincoln was chronically depressed, mocked for his unconventional appearance, despised by more than half the country, and denounced by factions in his own party. Yet he united a divided country and set the referendum on an issue that had poisoned the United States since its founding: slavery. Oh, historians will tell you that there was the matter of state’s rights, but slavery, and its expansion into the new territories, was the only issue anyone was interested in. This adds to entire mystique of the Lincoln Presidency: he entire term is defined by a war about an idea — human rights — and whether or not that idea was worth dying for.
Thus, Abraham Lincoln seems larger than life, legendary. He seemed to exist solely to serve as President of the United States in it’s darkest years. And when that task was over, he was gone. Lincoln died for his beliefs, assassinated at Ford’s Theater. After the deed, the assassin, the actor John Wilkes Booth, uttered the phrase, “Sic Semper Tyrannis.” This only expands Lincoln’s legacy by contrasting his mercy (which was noted by Confederate General Robert E. Lee: “I surrendered as much to Lincoln’s goodness as I did to Grant’s armies”) against blinding, senseless hatred. By the time Lincoln was buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery, he was the American Messiah.
And, because he’s seen as such a stately individual, Abraham Lincoln is ripe for lampooning. A teenage Abe was one of the main characters in MTV’s “Clone High,” the ghost of Lincoln helped the Venture Brothers, he once told us to “be excellent to each other” in Bill & Ted, and once ran amok as “Evli Lincoln” on Futurama.
This trend continues in webcomics. Jesus Christ may be the most frequent target for webcomic creators, but Honest Abe gets some props, too … like the subject of today’s Webcomic Overlook, Thinkin’ Lincoln.