Honest Abe In Dreamworld
We have been reading lately about the contrast between America's high minded founders and men who dealt with subsequent crises, comparing them to current elected officials who seem concerned only about their own status and power, country be damned. For instance, how would Abraham Lincoln, who risked his career and ultimately gave his life to preserve a divided nation, react to the current challenges such as the whole world wanting to move here?
Lincoln with generals discussing immigration.
As often happens when we contemplate such thorny issues, the answer comes to us in a dream. The insights of dreams are intriguing because they are not constrained by time. Things we enjoy today do not exist, and vice versa. People long dead are back to life, and people in dreams who are close friends, turn out upon awakening to be utter inventions. Thus it was that we were enjoying a noon cocktail in Washington's Willard Hotel one day in the spring of 1865, when who should drop in but Abraham Lincoln himself. We were old friends, and he was his usual charming self.
"Except me, Mr. President," said the voluptuous female bartender, "but would you mind taking off that big hat? It's blocking the TV. And General Grant has been trying to reach you. He's telegraphing from Monkeypox, Virginia, or something like that."
"Good man, Grant," said Lincoln. "I cannot spare him. He fights."
We barely got into small talk when the bartender came over again. "It's Grant again, Mr. President. He says it's urgent."
"Please tell him I'll get back to him. I have more important things on my mind than a damned war. That's all Grant wants to talk about. I have other cultural issues pressuring me - like immigration."
The bartender again approached, "Mr. President, General Grant on the telly again. He says General Lee wants to surrender. He needs advice on terms."
Lincoln replied: "Tell him with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to know the right - you know, that little speech I gave last month"
Returning to our conversation, Lincoln apologized, "Excuse me. They have no idea how much trouble these immigrants are causing me."
"What immigrants?" we asked.
"The Irish. They are rioting again in New York. And they talk funny, drink around the clock and want their own churches and everything. They’re trying to take over the country. And they keep coming day after day."
"But," we noted, "The Irish Brigade is one of your best outfits. Battle after battle, they save the Union army. Bull Run. Seven Days. Fredericksburg. They got slaughtered. And the Wheat Field at Gettysburg."
"They're too drunk to know better."
The bartender interrupted, "Hate to keep bothering you, Mr. President, but it's Grant again. He says Lee has tickets tomorrow night for the La Salle-Richmond game and really wants to get this surrender signed today. He wants to know if his men can keep their horses. He says most of them own them."
"Sure," said Lincoln, "and they can keep their girlfriends, too. Tell him not to bother me when I'm dealing with cultural issues. This immigration thing is driving me bananas. Now the Germans are pouring in. Nobody in Kansas and Iowa speaks English. How do you stop people who want to ruin our country just because they want freedom? We're going to wind up with a country filled with extremely disciplined alcoholics."
"That's a wonderful thought," said the bartender, "but you must be dreaming."
"I probably am," said Abraham Lincoln. "I'm going home to sleep it off."
"Don't forget your hat," said the bartender. "If anybody sits on it they may get hurt."