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Lot #8039
Calvin Coolidge

Vice President Coolidge's commemoration of Abraham Lincoln

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Vice President Coolidge's commemoration of Abraham Lincoln

Typescript of Vice President Calvin Coolidge's speech commemorating the birth of Abraham Lincoln, 26 total pages, signed at the conclusion in black ink, "Calvin Coolidge, February 12, 1922." Delivered in Springfield, Illinois, on Lincoln's birthday, the speech, in part: "We see in great men a brighter gleam of the Infinite. Unto them is given the power to show forth to their fellow man not only what he longs to be but what he is. They are the means by which the people raise themselves to a new and higher order of nobility. They see. They do. They inspire. In the greatness of Lincoln the people of this nation are lifted up to their own greatness. As they looked on him they beheld their better selves. They felt with him the bond of a common spirit. He was Father Abraham. They loved him. They followed him. They knew that through his life they came unto a larger knowledge of the truth.

Men long have hallowed this day. It brought into the world the miracle of a new life. But it was far more than his nativity. Held within the many great meanings it would come to have was the answer to the prayer which his life made, 'that this nation under God may have a new birth of freedom.' On this day was born a man that a nation might be reborn.

To some men there are given a few great moments in life, while all the rest is commonplace. Lincoln had his great moments, for 'he grew in stature and in wisdom,' but he was never commonplace. He was marked by a solemn grandeur from the rude and lonely hut on the frontier until a nation stood beside his tomb. There was about him a dignity which no uncouthness of surroundings could blot out. He had a mind which no lack of letters could leave undeveloped. He had a faith which could move mountains. Two generations have sought out whatever could be associated with him, have read the record of his every word with the greatest eagerness, and held his memory as a precious heritage. Where he trod is holy ground. Yet never was a man more simply human.

Wherever men look upon his life, they are filled with a new wonder. About him there was never any needless thing. No useless burdens held him back. No wilderness of tangled ideas bewildered his vision. For him the outward show of the world was cast aside that he might be a larger partaker of reality. His cradle was bare, but above it was the precious canopy of the love of a gentle mother. When she was borne away in his early boyhood, he had learned the great lesson that all this world is mortal. From his youth he knew that anguish is the common lot of mankind. In his rearing there was no false art. Like the strengthening of his body, the strengthening of his mind came from great Nature…

It is not to the city of Washington that men must turn if they would understand Abraham Lincoln. The beginning and the end of his nature is here. Here was the life which he carried with him. The frank and open ways of the neighbor were his. The indulgent patience of the friend who knows how hard and difficult is the path of the common man. Too often the world turns its eyes to the high places, thinking that from them will come its revelations and its great events, forgetful that a greater wisdom is in those who 'mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.' The greatest epoch in all human history began in a manger. This great American, the foremost world figure of the nineteenth century, came out of a frontier clearing and spent his early manhood in a village of a few hundred souls.

In the memory of these facts there lies a solid basis for our faith. There is in the people themselves the power to put forth great men. There is in the soul of the nation a reserve for responding to the call to high ideals, to nobility of action, which has never yet been put forth. There is no problem so great but that somewhere a man is being raised up to meet it. There is no moral standard so high that the people cannot be raised up to it. God rules, and from the Bethlehems and the Springfields He sends them forth, His own, to do His work. In them we catch a larger gleam of the Infinite." In fine condition, with a crease to the lower left corner of the signed page. On February 12, 1922, Vice President Calvin Coolidge and General John J. Pershing traveled to Lincoln’s resting place at the Oak Ridge Cemetery for a tribute honoring the martyred president’s 113th birthday. Entitled ‘The Place of Lincoln,’ this moving speech was originally published by Charles Scribner's Sons in Coolidge's 1924 compilation The Price of Freedom: Speeches and Addresses.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Letter Collection
  • Dates: #553 - Ended June 28, 2018

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