Abraham Lincoln - Religious and Philosophical Beliefs

Religious and Philosophical Beliefs

Further information: Abraham Lincoln and religion

Scholars have extensively written on topics concerning Lincoln's beliefs and philosophy—for example, whether Lincoln's frequent use of religious imagery and language reflected his own personal beliefs or was a device to appeal to his audiences, who were mostly evangelical Protestants. He never joined a church, although he frequently attended with his wife, but he was familiar with the Bible, quoted it and praised it.

In the 1840s Lincoln subscribed to the Doctrine of Necessity, a belief that asserted the human mind was controlled by some higher power. In the 1850s, Lincoln acknowledged "providence" in a general way, and rarely used the language or imagery of the evangelicals; he regarded the republicanism of the Founding Fathers with an almost religious reverence. When he suffered the death of his son Edward, Lincoln more frequently acknowledged his own need to depend on God. The death of his son Willie in February 1862 may have caused Lincoln to look toward religion for answers and solace. After Willie's death, Lincoln considered why, from a divine standpoint, the severity of the war was necessary. He wrote at this time that God "could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds." On the day Lincoln was assassinated, he reportedly told his wife Mary at Ford's Theatre he desired to visit the Holy Land.

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