The movie LINCOLN has been a massive hit in theaters over the past few months. Everyone seemed to be talking about it for awhile. The focus of the film was about the slavery issue. But some may not recall his Presidency with those particular facts in mind.
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 had despised Richard M. Nixon. We heard about it almost daily, so I tended to tune her out. What I do actually recall from her class was the section on the Civil War.
Coming from a California education, the only information we received on that era was what we learned from our text books. 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 to the next chapter. (Her opinion, or course.)
So you can imagine my bewilderment as my eyes scanned the page that illustrated 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. Where was she getting her facts?
CNN ran a story once. Apparently, a Mr. Jonathan Dillon was repairing Lincoln’s watch in April 1861 when he heard about the attack on Fort Sumter, South Carolina. That day, he scratched a short note on the metal inside the watch. And, there it stayed, as a secret, for almost 150 years.
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.”
However…… The inscription on the watch was later found to actually read:
 April 13-1861, Fort Sumpter [sic] was attacked by the rebels on the above date… thank God we have a government, Jonth Dillon.
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, throughout history, hasn’t changed. The facts of a story and how they 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.