Monday, January 11, 2010

The greatest biography of Abraham Lincoln... In its original concept, a three book edition.

William Henry Herndon (1818-1891) Herndon did some very enthusiastic research on his law partner. His work brought about by many interviews of those who loved Lincoln and those who did not. They were a bit too much for many historians and friends of old Abe. Many people had already brought him forward to sainthood. In fact many historians did their very best to discredit this book as often as possible. For it took away the saintly qualities they had put into their creation of Lincoln. But with its warts and all, it truly is the greatest biography of Lincoln ever done. For it shows him as a man, not a god.

The front cover of one of the 3 books that make the set in it's original style.

The 3 books together as they are seen today. This set was put out in 1889 and published by the Herndon Lincoln Publishing Company. This was another name used by the company Bedford Clark and Company. After publishing about 1500 books they went into financial troubles and the pressing of the book had to be held up and came out again in this form, which was identical to the previous. In which ever form these early copies of this set are hard to come by and quite rare.

Jesse William Weik (1857-1930) who worked with Herndon and basically edited, and rewrote much of what Herndon had. It was very much a mixed blessing for him to do so. For by doing so he misunderstood some of Herndon's ideas and interviews. But in most cases he had the right idea, just a few he was off the map. These would be corrected in later editions, not these early first ones.

The front title pages to two of the books.

Herndon was Lincolns law partner for near 17 years and knew him better than any man. For Herndon was not afraid to tell the truth on all subjects and only now are we really starting to listen to the man Lincoln called "Billy".