Abraham Lincoln, April 25, 1858, by Samuel G. Alschuler, Urbana,
Abraham Lincoln, April 25, 1858, by Samuel G. Alschuler, Urbana, Illinois

Who is this Billy Herndon, this enigmatic, controversial figure who keeps intruding himself everywhere in the Lincoln field? Who is this paradoxical, hifalutin', abrupt, whimsical, corn-on-the-cob, owlish, temperamental, convivial, forlorn, transcendental, lonely, reverent, eloquent man, asks Carl Sandburg in a stack of adjectives that only he could invent? [1] The "Big Me," as Billy headed some brief autobiographical notes, [2] was born on Christmas day, 1818, in Kentucky just down the road from and less than two weeks after Mary Todd, his archrival for the respect and love of Abraham Lincoln. Billy's father, a pompous parvenue, settled in Springfield in 1823 and became a leading merchant, farmer, and speculator. [3] Billy first attended some "old-time" schools in town and later had a brief stint at Illinois College in Jacksonville in 1837. He returned to clerk in Joshua Speed's store, where he met Lincoln. He soon began reading law, and in 1844 Lincoln asked him to be his junior partner. "Billy, I can trust you, if you can trust me," Lincoln said to the delighted Herndon. [4]

Until 1861 Lincoln and Herndon functioned as probably the most successful and enduring law firm in town. Thanks to the Lincoln Legal Papers, we are beginning to have available some genuinely original material on the Lincoln-Herndon law practice. I have benefited enormously from the early findings of this project and sense Page  [End Page 1] that from it we will learn a great deal about both men and nineteenth-century law. I will not attempt to describe here the Lincoln-Herndon law practice in detail, but will instead try to illustrate with one example the broader use of legal evidence, even for someone asking my kinds of questions. [5]

One of Herndon's important tasks in the partnership was to keep up the "Commonplace Book," or index to relevant precedents for the cases the firm handled. On one side of a large folio page Herndon listed the kinds of cases handled and then opposite it the relevant precedents and often extensive cross-referencing. "Trusts," for example, shows six precedents and a cross-reference to "Real Estate." The types of cases listed are remarkably specific in order to focus the precedent search, that is, "County seat removal," or "Vagrants," or "Burial Ground Dead." It is not an orderly book, and the Lincoln Legals Project will have its work cut out deciphering all the references. But it was crucial to the operation of the firm, the heart and soul of the office, and it is all in Herndon's hand. To keep it up-to-date, he spent many hours poring through texts that were kept in the office and others he read under the whale-oil lamp in the State Law Library. The "Commonplace Book" was one key to the success of Lincoln-Herndon and gave substance to the garrulous and often witty arguments Lincoln presented to juries. Herndon was the reader of the firm, it might be said, and Lincoln the thinker. [6]

Outside of his legal practice, Herndon cut a wide swath in Springfield life during the 1850s. He had a huge reservoir of civic pride and was something of a one-man chamber of commerce or, perhaps Page  [End Page 2] more generously, Springfield's Benjamin Franklin. No one pushed harder or sang the praises of Springfield louder as the new Athens on the prairie. He joined every railroad subscription, attended every school picnic, was a part of every handball club, went to every lecture, attended every Thanksgiving ceremony or 4th of July festival in Sangamon County. He was the ultimate town booster. He was a leading light of the Young Men's Lyceum as early as the 1830s,[7] the driving force behind the Springfield Library Association in 1856 that is the historical beginning of the current Lincoln Library, [8] and Springfield's most aggressive reform mayor in 1854 (although his temperance crusade faltered). [9]

Lincoln and Herndon's business card, printed in the
Illinois State Journal, January 6, 1848
Lincoln and Herndon's business card, printed in the Illinois State Journal, January 6, 1848

When Lincoln left for Washington, however, a light passed from Herndon's life. He struggled through the war years and seemingly endless ups and downs in the 1860s as he began to research and lecture on his biographical work. After 1867, when he inherited a six-hundred-acre farm from his father, Herndon tried farming, but the one-time temperance advocate spent more time sotted with booze than putting in the potatoes. He tried to practice law once again in the 1880s, but his efforts faltered. In desperation, one day he slammed his books shut and exclaimed: "My God! I can't see; I can't hear! I am going to quit." [10] He stormed out the door and never returned. He had failed once again. He returned to peddling his vegetables to Springfield residents from the back of his wooden cart, limping Page  [End Page 3] home in the evening, a physically broken man with a white beard, to sit in his tiny study without books to speak of (his magnificent library had long since been sold) and hardly any research materials, and there beneath a portrait of Lincoln, to write notes and voluminous letters to Jesse Weik, his co-writer, and the essence of one of the greatest biographies in American history.

This book[11] and all its stories, real and fanciful, have been absorbed into American life and culture. As David Donald points out, "[I]t is usually safe to wager that any well-known anecdote about Lincoln derives from Herndon's writings."[12] But there is more than folklore to Herndon's biography of Abraham Lincoln. Herndon knew Lincoln longer and saw him in more varied public, private, and work situations than did any other man or woman except for Mary, who left a much less complete record. Herndon was also committed to "God's naked truth," as he put it,[13] with an almost desperate passion, something that can hardly be said of Nicolay and Hay, for example, who skewed their ten volumes to avoid offending Robert Lincoln, who controlled the materials on which their book was based. That is why their biography now gathers dust on library shelves while Herndon's work is enjoying a renaissance and his interview source material will soon be published in toto in a critical edition.[14]

And yet we must be cautious in using Herndon. His writings are full of confusions and falsehoods mixed indiscriminately with important truths and valuable insights. The key to using Herndon, it seems to me, lies in attention to his own sources and most of all understanding a few important characteristics of his personality. In terms of his sources, Herndon conducted what I have described as one of the first oral history projects in America.[15] That record has all the strengths — and weaknesses — of old memories, something Page  [End Page 4] we know a little more about after Freud. If Sandburg's gullible use of Herndon's record turned a generation of historians away from using those testimonies, the recent scholarship of John Y. Simon on Ann Rutledge, confirmed later by that of Douglas L. Wilson, [16] suggests there remains much more to mine. As Roy Basler observed in 1979: "When I was writing The Lincoln Legend [in the 1930s], I was a young man and saw the people Herndon talked to as old fools. I'm now almost half a century older and read this material differently."[17]

Herndon himself, however, proved not to be a good historian when he worked with this record. In fact, in almost all cases when he acts as a historian, organizing and interpreting the oral history evidence he collected rather than providing information from his own personal experience, he is often wrong-headed if not altogether wrong factually. [18] On this basis the Herndon version of the Lincoln story before he met him in 1837, and for stories he got secondhand after that (such as Lincoln "the defaulting bridegroom" that Elizabeth Todd Edwards told him forty years later), should be read with extreme caution if not completely discarded. [19] But even with what remains — which is a lot — Herndon often got things muddled, his memory sometimes blurred, and his own idealization of Lincoln helped give a mythical edge to his story.

One of Herndon's major problems is that he lacked a sense of humor, although he seems to have chuckled at some of Lincoln's ribald jokes. He certainly lacked a sense of irony, and reported Lincoln's escapades with a Beardstown girl who may have given Page  [End Page 5] him syphilis and ridiculous scenes with prostitutes that have always struck me as Lincoln jokes Herndon didn't get. [20] His mind was always rushing forward, frantically searching for a new idea before digesting the last one. He loved to pile on adjectives with breathless haste and fill his sentences with dashes. He had a "cubist" mind in Donald's wonderful phrase [21] and a restless soul that Lincoln grounded. The two are the perfect fox and hedgehog.

The psychological nuances in Herndon's idealization of Lincoln are also crucial to understand. In reading Herndon, especially his letters, we should attend to the evolution of his views in his portrait of Lincoln and note with care, for example, the sea change that occurred around 1870 when, as Donald points out, poverty forced Herndon to start thinking for himself. [22] Even more important is the vast chasm between Herndon's contemporary view of Abraham Lincoln and his historical assessment. After 1865 Lincoln became larger than life for Herndon, a mythic figure whose every idea and mannerism and joke deserved preservation for the ages. Toward this end Herndon devoted many of his declining years to living vicariously through Lincoln, although he also went through long periods when his notes gathered dust. Few biographers sustain such commitment to their subjects, nor, in a field strewn with identifications, is there usually such intense, even abject, idealization of one's subject.

Yet while he actually knew Abraham Lincoln, Herndon seemed not to regard him as a world-historical figure, to say the least. In a letter to Wendell Phillips on May 12, 1857, that was only recently discovered in an attic, Herndon writes: "I am now in my office writing this letter, with a good hickory fire in the stove and several good jolly fellows keeping it warm. Lincoln — the joker — the funny man — is cracking his jokes: — he beats hale to death in that line. By the by — do you know Lincoln? as we say west he is a 'hoss.' I am the runt of the firm and no 'hoss,' yet I suppose will pass among the crowd as a Liberty lover — a fool and a Reformer." [23]

For the most part, Lincoln is a great absence in Herndon's letters Page  [End Page 6] up to 1861. He fulminated against slavery to people all over the country and yet at the time seemed barely able to conceive of Lincoln as anything more than a figure of local political significance. Herndon, it seems, simply could not imagine his law partner as a significant thinker or politician; he was too close and Lincoln too actual, in more psychological terms. All the stories of Herndon's later involvements in Lincoln's political career — like cautioning against the House Divided speech as too radical — are the product of his memory, and maybe other things as well. It is not even clear whether Herndon supported Lincoln for the presidency in 1860, and he certainly had nothing to do with orchestrating the convention in Chicago. Donald argues convincingly that Herndon, despite his later exaggeration, was not even in Chicago for the convention. He remained in Springfield. [24]

Wendell Phillips was admired by Herndon for his
fiery antislavery speeches.
Wendell Phillips was admired by Herndon for his fiery antislavery speeches.

Yet the fierce idealizing needs of William Herndon were an integral Page  [End Page 7] part of his personality long before 1865; they were just directed elsewhere. Herndon needed distant heroes. In the 1850s with Lincoln at hand, eternally present, reading aloud the newspaper and retelling the same obnoxious jokes to clients all day in the office, Herndon found his idealized others in the East among some of the leading philosophers and thinkers of the day. People often mock Herndon for his pretensions, but no one else in this town at the edge of western nowhere read and actively corresponded with Wendell Phillips, Horace Greeley, and Theodore Parker. Especially Theodore Parker. In his very first letter to Parker, Herndon, never one to hold back, wrote: "You are my Ideal — strong, direct, energetic & charitable." [25] A couple of years later, in making arrangements for Parker to speak in Springfield, Herndon referred to his pen pal as "grandly eloquent and sympathetically humane — uniquely moral in manner and quite philosophic." [26] Parker in turn wrote Herndon often and seemed to value his friendship, perhaps even his ideas. Parker was then, as Herndon himself put it, the only man living who could "hold him steady."[27]

Up close, however, Parker quickly lost his lustre for Herndon. The two met only twice. The first visit was when Parker spoke in Springfield in 1856. The engagement was badly attended, and Parker hardly made any money. Herndon himself returned from a campaign speaking swing just before the talk and was dirty and dressed in shabby clothes. He was so ashamed of himself that he cancelled plans for an extended visit with Parker. Several years later Herndon dropped in on Parker in Boston. Finding himself in the great man's study, Herndon released a "gasseous gush" of nonstop talk before Parker cut him off and showed him to the door.[28]

A dead Lincoln proved easier for Herndon to grapple with emotionally than a live Parker. "I always loved him," Herndon wrote about Lincoln in 1889.[29] "Mr. Lincoln was my good friend, well tried and true." [30] There is no reason to question the genuineness of these sentiments, even though such things are never as simple as clichés Page  [End Page 8] imply. Herndon's complex portrait of Lincoln not only reflects his devotion to his former partner but also carries much ambivalence from their daily contact in the years before the war. That ambivalence in turn tells a great deal about Herndon, perhaps even more about Lincoln, and in the end something as well about the psychological shadows that lurk in the human experience of making heroes.[31]

Make no mistake about it: Herndon's Lincoln is an outsize and appealing figure, and yet he rose from what Herndon called a "stagnant, putrid pool" and was himself illegitimate and the offspring of an illegitimate mother; his father was somehow sexually inadequate and certainly downwardly mobile as well as "roving and shiftless"; as an adult he was melancholic (depressed, we would say) and at least twice verged on suicide; before marriage he regularly visited prostitutes and afterward "could scarcely keep his hands off" women; he was unchurched and only questionably Christian; and his wife was a shrew who browbeat him and whom he never loved. [32] These images of Lincoln broke nearly every nineteenth-century convention — and some twentieth-century ones as well. If the evidence for all aspects of Herndon's interpretations of Lincoln were irrefutable, it might seem malicious to examine his motivation for painting so many warts on Lincoln. In fact, however, most of these Herndon interpretations — like Lincoln's illegitimacy — rest on bad evidence, or on things he experienced firsthand with Lincoln but failed to understand (like Lincoln's religious views and his relationship with his wife). Why the warts?

Herndon was definitely Lincoln's junior partner, and in ways large and small was constantly reminded of it. Lincoln valued Herndon's loyalty ("I expect everyone to desert me except Billy" he said after losing to Stephen A. Douglas in 1858), [33] while he also kept his partner in his place. Lincoln would sit back in his chair and say, "Billy, you're too rampant and spontaneous." [34] Lincoln mocked Page  [End Page 9]

 William Henry Herndon
William Henry Herndon
Herndon's wide, if somewhat superficial, reading and seldom took his advice on anything. [35] He even seemed at times to go out of his way to put Herndon down. Once, after his return from a trip East in 1858, Herndon told Lincoln expansively of his impression of Niagara Falls. He described its "mad rush of water, the roar, the rapids, and the rainbow." He asked Lincoln for his impression of the Falls, and he replied, "The thing that struck me most forcibly when I saw the Falls was, where in the world did all that water come from?" It's a funny line and has a just place among Lincoln jokes. It was also not true. In fact, Lincoln had been quite moved when he saw Niagara Falls in 1849 and had noted to hemself, "It calls up the indefinite past. When Columbus first sought this continent — when Christ suffered on the cross — when Moses led Israel through the Red Sea — nay, even, when Adam first came from the Page  [End Page 10] hand of his Maker — then as now, Niagara was roaring here." [36] Lincoln was not only unwilling to share any of that with Herndon for perhaps understandable reasons, but he also felt obliged to put Herndon down in responding to his enthusiasms.

At times, Lincoln seemed not above some symbolically phallic comparisons that the earnest Herndon solemnly reports as a good lesson in the law. Herndon thus complained once that Lincoln moved and spoke too deliberately in court. Herndon urged him to "speak with more vim." In reply, Lincoln told Herndon to give him his "little pen-knife with its short blade," which he then compared to a much larger jackknife lying on the table. Opening the little penknife, Lincoln noted that its blade moves rapidly but only covers a small space. The huge blade of his jackknife, in contrast, moves slower but cuts a much wider path in the air. So it is, Lincoln concluded, "with the long, labored movements of my mind."[37]

Herndon was also continually bothered by the way Lincoln treated his children. Mary later sentimentalized Lincoln's attitude toward his children. In her 1866 interview with Herndon no less she has Lincoln saying, "It is my pleasure that my children are free, happy and unrestrained by parental tyranny. Love is the chain whereby to bind a child to its parents." [38] Herndon, however, had to deal with the brats running wild in the office on Sunday mornings. They pulled books from the shelf, bent the pens, overturned the inkstands, scattered papers, threw pencils into the spittoons. As Herndon put it in a letter (although Weik censored it for the book), they even "pissed on the floor." Lincoln worked calmly through it all. Nothing distracted his serene good nature.[39] But somehow Lincoln made it clear that no one was to criticize his children, no matter what they did. An unhappy Herndon was given no space to complain. "I have felt a many a time," he wrote later, "that I wanted to wring the necks of these brats and pitch them out of the windows, but out of respect Page  [End Page 11] for Lincoln and knowing that he was abstracted, I shut my mouth, bit my lips, and left for parts unknown." [40]

Always proud, Herndon was then disgusted with the sudden adulation heaped on Lincoln after his election to the presidency in 1860 and the crowd of office-seekers that suddenly flocked to their law offices. People were kissing Lincoln's feet, Herndon complained, begging for notice or for a hair from the "tail of his old horse."[41] He would not stoop to such depths and apparently never had any intention of clinging to Lincoln's coattails in the new administration (unlike most Springfield residents). But if he had wanted office, Lincoln certainly reminded Herndon that it was out of the question when he asked, during their conversation just before Lincoln left for Washington, how many times Herndon had been drunk. Herndon was flustered but must have gotten the point. [42] Lincoln went out, as he had always been, the "hoss" of the firm.

Finally, Herndon, I think, retained deep feelings of frustrated anger at Lincoln for not letting him get closer. He did love Lincoln, which partly explains his obsessive interest in what he wrote about as Lincoln's unlikely sexual escapades and the "fires of his terrible passion," [43] and even more clearly explains his mean-spirited treatment of Mary. As I put it some years ago, "Raw, elemental jealousy prompted the virulent hatred between Herndon and Mary as each sought possession of the elusive Lincoln." [44] Herndon and Mary fought each other like children in a situation of sibling rivalry. Ironically, scholars for more than a century have continued to play out this struggle, aligning themselves as either "pro-Mary" or "pro-Herndon." I think it is time we moved beyond that particular silliness.

In any event, we have much more to learn about William Herndon and have only begun to use his oral history materials to full critical advantage, both for work on Lincoln and on the social history of the period (perhaps in the long run its most productive use). An Page  [End Page 12] edition of these papers will be most welcome. It is also encouraging at last, after more than four decades, to have some biographical discussion of Herndon that incorporates Donald's brilliant biography but goes beyond his mean and nasty portrait. Herndon, it seems, is at the cutting edge of Lincoln scholarship. Page  [End Page 13]


  1. Carl Sandburg, "Introduction," in David Donald, Lincoln's Herndon: A Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1948, repr. New York: Da Capo, 1989). return to text
  2. Emanuel Hertz, ed., The Hidden Lincoln: From the Letters and Papers of William H. Herndon (New York: Viking Press, 1938), 395–96.return to text
  3. Donald, Lincoln's Herndon, 7–8. return to text
  4. Herndon himself wrote later: "I don't know [why he chose me] and no one else does." William Herndon to Jesse Weik, Feb. 24, 1887, Herndon-Weik Collection, Library of Congress, and in Hidden Lincoln, ed. Hertz, 179. Herndon was a good lawyer, hard-working, honest, without political ambition, and intensely loyal. All of these factors mattered to Lincoln, but I suspect trust was foremost in his thinking. The way the explanation for Lincoln's choice of Herndon has worked its way through modern biographies of Lincoln, curiously one might say, is discussed in Robert Bray, "Reading Between the Texts: Benjamin Thomas's Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Oates's With Malice Toward None," unpublished paper delivered at the Illinois History Symposium, Springfield, Dec. 1, 1990.return to text
  5. In two chapters of my book Lincoln's Quest for Union: Public and Private Meanings (New York: Basic Books, 1982), "Law and Order" and "The Domestication of Political Rhetoric," I discuss Lincoln's law practice and the way his identity as a lawyer shaped his way of thinking and acting politically. The two standard books on Lincoln the lawyer are John P. Frank, Lincoln the Lawyer (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1961) and John J. Duff, A. Lincoln: Prairie Lawyer (New York: Holt, Rinehart, 1960). Note also Albert A. Woldman, Lawyer Lincoln (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1936). The best source for circuit life is Henry Clay Whitney, Life on the Circuit with Lincoln, introduced and with notes by Paul M. Angle (Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1940). Donald, Lincoln's Herndon, is also quite good on Herndon as a lawyer, and one should not ignore Herndon's own classic account in his Life of Lincoln, chapter 11, 268–90. The Lincoln Legals Paper Project, headed by Cullom Davis, is beginning to produce some interesting papers. See, for example, William D. Beard, " 'I have labored hard to find the law': Abraham Lincoln for the Alton and Sangamon Railroad"; and Joanne R. Walroth, "Abraham Lincoln's Circuit Court Case Work: A Report from Menard County." return to text
  6. Personal communication, William Beard, The Lincoln Legals Paper Project, Springfield, Ill. return to text
  7. Donald, Lincoln's Herndon, 60, observes that Herndon was a "founding member" of the Lyceum, something Thomas F. Schwartz, the curator of the Lincoln Collection in the Illinois State Historical Library, disputes (personal communication, Nov. 21, 1990). Note also Schwartz's interesting article, "The Springfield Lyceums and Lincoln's 1858 Speech," Illinois Historical Journal 89 (1990): 45–49. return to text
  8. Donald, Lincoln's Herndon, 60–62. return to text
  9. Ibid., 69–71.return to text
  10. Ibid., 293. Herndon once wrote that "a law office is a dry place for incidents of a pleasing kind. If you love the stories of murder, rape, fraud, ect., a law office is a good place, but, good Lord, let me forget all about a law office." Herndon to Weik, Feb. 18, 1887, Herndon-Weik Collection, and in Hidden Lincoln, ed. Hertz, 177.return to text
  11. It is important to note that Herndon's memories of and reflections on Lincoln stretched over two and a half decades and are contained in his letters to a large assortment of respondents now in various archival collections, especially the Library of Congress and the Huntington Library. The final version of the biography pulled much of this, but by no means all of it, together.return to text
  12. Donald, Lincoln's Herndon, 343. return to text
  13. "My purpose to tell the truth about him [Lincoln] need occasion no apprehension; for I know that 'God's naked truth,' as Carlyle puts it, can never injure the fame of Abraham Lincoln." William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, Herndon's Life of Lincoln: The History and Personal Recollections of Abraham Lincoln as Originally Written by William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, with Introduction and Notes by Paul M. Angle (Cleveland and New York: World Publishing, 1930), viii.return to text
  14. The editors are Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, both of Knox College.return to text
  15. Strozier, Lincoln's Quest for Union, xvi.return to text
  16. John Y. Simon, "Abraham Lincoln and Ann Rutledge," Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 11 (1990): 13–33; Douglas L. Wilson, "Abraham Lincoln, Ann Rutledge, and the Evidence of Herndon's Informants," Civil War History 36 (1990): 301–24.return to text
  17. Seminar at Sangamon State University, Springfield, Ill., April 16, 1979.return to text
  18. Nowhere is this distinction clearer than in what Herndon does with the Ann Rutledge story. As Simon and Wilson agree, the evidence pretty clearly suggests that Lincoln loved Ann and went a little crazy after she died. That is a far cry from the larger meanings Herndon ascribes to this lost love in his understanding of Lincoln. See Herndon, Life of Lincoln, 105–15, especially 114, and the argument in the rest of the book that interprets Lincoln's melancholy and his unhappy marriage (and his domestic hell) as byproducts of his love for Ann Rutledge. return to text
  19. These criteria are in agreement with what most Lincoln scholars would support. The person most often quoted in support of this general approach to Herndon's writings is Paul Angle in his 1930 Introduction to the Herndon biography, Life of Lincoln, xiii–xlvi. As will be readily apparent, however, I believe these criteria are only the beginning of what one needs to determine about Herndon to sort out the useful from the foolish. return to text
  20. The prostitutes are described in Herndon's letter to Weik, Jan. 5, 1889, Herndon-Weik Collection, and in Hidden Lincoln, ed. Hertz, 233. The Beardstown girl who supposedly gave Lincoln syphilis is mentioned in Herndon to Weik, Jan. 1891, Herndon-Weik Collection, and in Hidden Lincoln, ed. Hertz, 259.return to text
  21. Donald, Lincoln's Herndon, 301. return to text
  22. Ibid., 260.return to text
  23. Herndon to Phillips, May 12, 1857, in Perspectives in American History 12 (1979): 144. return to text
  24. Donald, Lincoln's Herndon, 136. return to text
  25. Herndon to Parker, May 13, 1854; cf. the letters of June 11, 1854, and Jan. 24, 1857. All are in the Theodore Parker MSS Collection, University of Iowa Library. return to text
  26. Herndon to Parker, Nov. 15, 1856, University of Iowa Library.return to text
  27. Herndon to Mrs. Lydia Parker, March 30, 1857, in Donald, Lincoln's Herndon, 56. return to text
  28. Herndon to Parker, May 29, 1858; Donald, Lincoln's Herndon, 55–56, 115–16. return to text
  29. Herndon, Life of Lincoln, vii. return to text
  30. Herndon to Ward Hill Lamon, March 6, 1870, Herndon-Weik Collection, and in Hidden Lincoln, ed. Hertz, 71.return to text
  31. Freud was so impressed with the ubiquity of ambivalence that he thought it had a biological basis, and in any event stressed that it emerged in the context of early relationships when the same person who loves and nurtures and adores also withholds and punishes. It seems to me, however, that ambivalence also must find a place in real human relationships as adults. It is less a constitutional given, in other words, than a psychological aspect of experience.return to text
  32. The quotations are from Herndon, Life of Lincoln, vii, 12; Herndon to Weik, Jan. 23, 1890, Herndon-Weik Collection, and Hidden Lincoln, ed. Hertz, 249. return to text
  33. Henry C. Whitney to Herndon, July 18, 1887, Herndon-Weik Collection, as quoted in Donald, Lincoln's Herndon, 126; note in Hidden Lincoln, ed. Hertz. return to text
  34. Herndon, Life of Lincoln, 292. return to text
  35. For example, note the letters Lincoln wrote to Herndon, Feb. 15, June 22, and July 10, 1848, in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler, asst. eds. Marion D. Pratt and Lloyd A. Dunlap (Rutgers, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953–55), 1:451–52, 490–92, 497–98.return to text
  36. Collected Works, 2:10–11. return to text
  37. Herndon, Life of Lincoln, 273. return to text
  38. The barely legible notes of this interview are in the Herndon-Weik Collection and are not reproduced in Hidden Lincoln, ed. Hertz. For Herndon's published version of the interview, see Mrs. Lincoln's Denial and What She Says, Massachusetts Historical Library. In Lincoln's Herndon (190–99), Donald explains the confused story of Herndon's 1866 interview with Mary.return to text
  39. Herndon, Life of Lincoln, 344. Note also Herndon to Weik, Nov. 19, 1885, and Feb. 18, 1887, Herndon-Weik Collection, and in Hidden Lincoln, ed. Hertz, 105, 175–77. In the 1887 letter Herndon notes that if the Lincoln children had "s[hi]t in Lincoln's hat and rubbed it on his boots, he would have laughed and thought it smart." return to text
  40. Herndon to Weik, Jan. 8, 1886, Herndon-Weik Collection, and in Hidden Lincoln, ed. Hertz, 129. return to text
  41. Donald, Lincoln's Herndon, 145. return to text
  42. Jesse W. Weik, The Real Lincoln: A Portrait (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1922), 301–2. In Herndon, Life of Lincoln, 390–91, the question about how many times Herndon had been drunk is left out of the story. return to text
  43. Herndon to Weik, Jan. 23, 1890, Herndon-Weik Collection, and in Hidden Lincoln, ed. Hertz, 247. return to text
  44. Strozier, Lincoln's Quest for Union, 81.return to text