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George Schlepington Washed Here…

… reads a sign over a wash basin in a lower east side delicatessen in obvious parody of the hundreds, if not thousands, of places along the east coast seeking to cash in on pater patria by claiming that he slept there. Mind you we have been to more than a few places where we suspected the original mattress was still in service but by and large we suspect most of the claims are apocryful. What we still do not understand is how, in a state with no established religion, the importance of locale and pilgrimage has been transferred to secular saints – and indeed their supposed amuletic powers of enlightenment to be derived from visiting these sights qualifies them as being “saints” in a psychological if not religious sense of the term.

There are places where brave men have done great things, where ordinary men and men of genius have joined together to build great things and where our ancestors rest in hallowed ground. All of these places are worth visiting and reflecting on the nature of sacrifice and accomplishment while we are there. That having been said we must add you would be better off following pig tracks in hope of a truffle than you would be in following the footsteps the sixteenth president who was a  second-rate politician and a third-rate man.

Following in Lincoln’s Footsteps    New York, Carroll & Graf, 2001   Ralph Gary Hardcover. A complete annotated reference to hundreds of historical sites visited by Abraham Lincoln. 480 p., 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

From Abe Lincoln’s law offices to the 16th president’s Oval Office; from the address in Springfield, Illinois, where he made up with Mary Todd after a premarital spat to the window he jumped out of to avoid a quorum call in the Illinois General Assembly — this unprecedented volume of Lincoln lore takes readers there.

A longtime member of notable Lincoln societies, Ralph Gary has scoured county courthouse records and the writings of Lincoln’s contemporaries as well as thousands of other books written on Lincoln’s life and work to compile the most complete and up-to-date guide to Lincoln historical sites ever published.

Included are detailed maps showing Lincoln’s travels so that students of the Civil War and Lincoln buffs can retrace history by walking in the footsteps of one of America’s first secular saints.

Of course no such record is complete and you will not find Lincoln the frequenter of low places here. Neither will you find an index of those meetings where lawyer Lincoln sold the Republic down the river – what an apt and ironic use of the term.

If you have a shallow understanding of history and are a member in good standing of the cult of Lincoln you will enjoy this book. If not it may be a good reference tool but it is certainly not a source of joy or enlightenment.

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