Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Not the way I learned it, but....

     In February 1910, Sandburg wrote an article for the Milwaukee Social-Democratic Herald to commemorate Abraham Lincoln's birthday.  The short piece was revealing for three reasons:   it affirmed Sandburg's commitment to the working class; it portrayed Lincoln, who became Sandburg's lifelong obsession, as a socialist, at least in spirit; and it marked the first appearance of a new byline.  No pseudonym this time concealed his political history;  no Americanization masked his Swedish roots.  He became, once and for all, Carl Sandburg.  At the same time, he tried to wrest Lincoln away from the Republicans, to make him a symbol of hope for "the common people - the working class."  "Let us not forget" he wrote:
     Abraham Lincoln was a shabby, homely man who came from 
     among those who live shabby homely lives.
     He came into life sad - down in the sad world of labor - labor 
    burdened and tragic and exploited.
     He never forgot the tragic, weary underworld from which he 
     came - the world of labor, the daily lives of toil, deprivation and 
     monotony.  Against these things he fought.  He struggled for 
     more - more food and books and better conditions - for the 

-Penelope Niven, Carl Sandburg:  A Biography

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