I remember painfully sitting through a High School Advanced Placement history class that for some reason I had tested into. To this day, I will never know how I ended up in there. The teacher certainly wondered too. I never quite got her points. And she let me know it. What I did get from her class was how intensely she despised Richard M. Nixon. We heard about it almost daily, so I tended to tune her out. But if truth be told, I do actually recall some portion of the class. It was the section on the Civil War.
Coming from a California education, the only information we received on that horrible War was what we learned from our text books. By the time we got to that section in this particular class I can assure you the teacher accomplished her task. To this day I can hear her pounding into our brains that the War between the States was merely about cotton. Economics. End of story. Turn the chapter
So you can imagine my bewilderment as eyes scanned the page showing the levels and the layout of the packed slave ships. I was baffled as to why this woman seemed so bent on making us believe it had nothing to do with slaves
As I skimmed through the news online, my eyes caught a fascinating story one morning. It jarred my memory of this high school teacher and her mantra.
It was a story from CNN that began, “A long-hidden message has been discovered inside Abraham Lincoln’s pocket watch, the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History…” (March 10, 2009)
Ironically, the message in the watch differs slightly from what the watchmaker later claimed that he wrote. Jonathan Dillon was repairing Lincoln’s watch in April 1861 when he heard about the attack on Fort Sumter, South Carolina. That day, he apparently scratched a short note on the metal inside the watch. And, there it stayed, as a secret, for almost 150 years.
The actual message that the museum found however seems to differ from the watchmaker’s personal recollection years later. The inscription on the watch reads:
 Jonathan Dillon, April 13-1861, Fort Sumpter [sic] was attacked by the rebels on the above date J Dillon, April 13-1861, Washington, thank God we have a government, Jonth Dillon.
Interestingly, in a 1906 interview with The New York Times this same watchmaker, Dillon, reported that as soon as he heard the news about the first shots of the Civil War, he unscrewed the dial of the watch and wrote on the metal, “The first gun is fired. Slavery is dead. Thank God we have a President who at least will try.”
So, what the man wrote, and what he recalled to the world seem to have ended up being two conflicting accounts. Interesting, isn’t it?  Actual events and how we recall them later can be two very different things. Yet in our minds, we are so confident in “our” point of view. I guess that much, in the last 150 years, hasn’t changed. The facts of a story and how it actually went down, sometimes, just don’t always match up. Being commited to getting the facts is always a good plan of action to keep in our back pocket. Kinda like that famous watch that Lincoln kept in the back of his.
Just my thoughts.