Hello again. Welcome to the year 3740. This is Teachminder Phonias J. Futz, and the past few years have been quite amazing. As you know, I have been single-handedly responsible for debunking the mythology surrounding Abraham Lincoln, supposedly a great leader of the ancient nation of Usa, but as I have shown, more likely a charlatan and a scoundrel.
It is with some excitement that I find now that I must upgrade, and to some degree disassociate myself from, my earlier theory. I am now convinced, based on newfound evidence, that it is quite likely that Lincoln as a man did not exist at all.
My grounds for this startling thesis is an incomplete copy of a work recently discovered in the ruins of a college library in what was once known as Northwest State University in the ancient dominion called Louis-Anne, a territory of Usa. Though badly damaged, and missing a few pages at either end, we are able to discern this work's title, author and purpose: Lincoln Wasn't There, by Francis Lee Utley. His thesis: Lincoln's life is composed entirely of mythological elements -- adjusted and syncretized for his time period, of course.
Utley's first pages are lost to us, but we can see how he proves out his thesis beginning on page 3. Utley lists a set of 22 characteristics of the life of a mythical hero. Lincoln turns out to adhere to some form of all 22 of these, allowing for adjustments to his own alleged period shortly before the technological 20th century. Let's examine these one at a time, offering summary of and commentary upon Utley's case.
This is as close to royalty as the Usaians came in this period: the aristocratic upper class. We noted also that this was likely an example of fabrication by pro-Lincoln forces. How appropriate that Utley's criteria confirm this thesis!
The "virgin" aspect is likewise fulfilled, albeit with expected adjustments. Lincoln's age and thereafter was the time of the blossoming of science, and of eminent rationalists such as Thomas Pain and Thomas Hume. A typical "virgin birth" story would hardly have been accepted.
What we get on equal terms is reported by Utley. A field interview of obvious worth (as noted by Utley, verified by the colloquial language with which it is reported; this obviously reflects a reliable oral tradition) with a person living in the area where Lincoln's mother reputedly resided reveals that Nancy Hanks was hired by a gentleman named Abraham Enloe who had a reputation for adulterous affairs. Nancy was "presumably a virgin before Enloe seduced her."
Furthermore, Nancy became, after Lincoln's alleged death, a subject of sermons that compared her to the Virgin Mary. In his own "mythical memoirs" Herndon reports Lincoln saying, "I don't know who my grandfather was, and I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be."
Two other points clearly place Nancy -- and therefore Lincoln -- in the realm of myth. We have noted Basler's words: Reportedly Lincoln once said: "All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." Basler writes of this: "It is such an expression as any man is likely to make, but...(it) has furnished the keynote of the Nancy Hanks legend." Here we now see Basler trying to cover up the obvious mythological nature of the "angel mother" statement which gave birth to the legend. This statement, as Utley notes, clearly places Nancy "in the ranks of the supernatural."
Second, it is worth noting that "Hanks" derives from the Egyptian ankh, or soul. A virgin birth would have been hard to claim, but it is clear that Lincoln's mythologizers did what they could!
Utley also notes various legends of claims of other persons than Thomas Lincoln being Abraham's father -- and rightly interprets this as "competition for the birth of the cult hero." Among those alleged to be Abraham's father were great patriots like Patrick Henry, and others with signifying names such as Adam Springs (reminding us of the mythical springs of life and of vegetation deities) and Samuel Davis, also reputedly the father of Jefferson Davis, leader of the Confederacy, symbolzing the dualistic notion of good and evil having a common source.
Utley also reports the account of the popular writer Tolstoy of an interview with a Circassian chief who said that Lincoln "spoke with a voice of thunder" and added that "the angels appeared to his mother and predicted that the son whom she would conceive would become the greatest the stars had ever seen." Abraham was born during "the worst blizzard in anyone's memory" raged outside, and would have died had not a neighbor come and rubbed the baby and fed it with turkey-fat. One writer says of this: "God came down to the world that February morning" and went with that neighbor.
Interestingly, this neighbor's name was Isom Enlow, a match for one of lincoln's putative fathers, Abraham Enloe.
A final tale worth noting: We have alluded to Patrck Henry as a putative father of Lincoln. The former died in 1799; Lincoln was born in 1809. As Utley notes, this matches with the mythological gestation of Hercules by Alcema.
Utley also notes that a characteristic of a mythical hero is an identification with totem animals. Lincoln was regularly identified thusly. One newspaper referred to him as "a cross between a sand-hill crane and an Andalusian jackass."
Elsewhere he was called the Royal Ape, Fox populi, and Old Hoss, and was also often identified with the hog or pig. One commentator said that Lincoln "sucks flattery as a pig sucks milk." Hogs or pigs were often the subject of Lincoln's stories or jokes, and a Senator reputedly remarked that the hogs running uncontrolled around Washington showed that they were favored by Lincoln.
Finally Utley notes that Lincoln's stature -- he was six foot four, among the tallest of men -- reflects an aspect of the god-hero.
Lincoln himself said that his early life could be condensed into a single sentence: "The short and simple annals of the poor." In his own autobiographical notes, Lincoln "Try as he might...could not remember much about Kentucky - and nothing at all about the log-cabin farm..." (p. 5)
This seems very odd indeed, and is telling evidence of myth. Only the latest biographer, Donald, gave any detail about Lincoln's childhood, an obvious attempt to shore up a myth that was rapidly losing ground.
But more likely this is represented by Lincoln's many political opponents: Stephen Douglas, Jefferson Davis, and other lesser antagonists. Davis in particular fits the mythical portrait of the doppelganger, or the legendary twins. As noted some thought they had the same father. They also were born in the same state, some say in the same log cabin, and both lost a son (a dynastic successor) during the war. Their wives went to the same dressmaker.
The myth is completed by the report that after victory in war against the South, Lincoln took upon hismelf to sit in Davis' vacated chair in the Confederate leader's office.
Stephen Douglas also fits the doppelganger/anti-hero myth. Lincoln was tall; Douglas was short. A newspaper described Lincoln's countenance as "happy, good-humored" and Douglas' as "black and repulsive enough to turn all the milk in Egypt sour." This is an especially interesting comment in light of the derivation of Hanks from ankh, and the likeness of the Mississippi delta, the sounternmost part of Lincoln's kingdom, to the Nile delta.
Douglas also matches the mythical pattern of the enemy-turned-friend, found also for example in the ballads of Robin Hood and Little John, and his debates with Lincoln reflect the myth of the sacred combat, adjusted of course for the times.
The white goddess was Lincoln's early love, Ann Rutledge, a slim, fair-skinned and fair-haired woman who died at an early age. Mary Todd easily is seen as the dark goddess, as we have seen in report of her treatment of Lincoln.
It is worthwhile to also note in Lincoln's alleged past a story told by him of eloping with a girl in a covered wagon. Utley perceives in this tale a form of the sacred marriage in a processional barge, similar to tales of ancient Egypt and Babylon.
It appears that we are vindicated, as Utley notes that Ulysses Grant, Lincoln's own general, says nothing about this Proclamation in his memoirs. Clearly he could not have avoided, indeed would have been compelled to be, mentioning such a great event. This decree was most likely a myth.
Second, by Lincoln's adversaries within his own administration, such as McClellan and Seward. Utley notes clear clues of mythical dualistic doubling: the freed slave Frederick Douglass, and Stephen Douglas; Jefferson Davis and David Davis, one of Lincolns campaign managers; and Ann Rutledge and Archibald Rutledge, who attacked Lincoln's body after his death.
All three of these points are merged in Lincoln's assassination. Utley notes a mythical quality of the anti-hero in John Wilkes Booth. Little is known of Booth's early life. He reportedly liked shooting animals, including Lincoln's totem animal, the hog. The "top of the hill" may have been Capitol Hill, but is more likely modernized into Lincoln's place in a box at the Ford's Theater, higher than the rest of the audience.
Adding to the mythic mix: A parallel to the legend of another myth, that of Jesus Christ. "The time of [Lincoln's] death is proof positive that we have no real history before us, but a plain syncretic myth. For the shooting was on Good Friday," the same date as the execution of Christ.
Significantly also, Lincoln's actual "heir" to the throne, Vice President Andrew Johnson, was also an anti-hero: reportedly he was illiterate, and had to be awakened from a deep sleep after a drunken spree to take his Presidential oath.
These two points are fulfilled by the various localities that competed for Lincoln's tomb. New York, Washington, and Springfield, Illinois all competed for the honor. There was also confusion when Mary Todd (the dark goddess!) rejected the original burial plot and chose another. Lincoln therefore had a number of places where his body was not buried, and ended up with several holy sepulchres.
Utley's closing words are fitting: "The railsplitter Lincoln exists in our hearts, not in forged documents or in historical hairsplitting." He quotes Basler, significantly, as saying, "His existence may some day be denied, but his significance never." In our earlier study we noted the work of one Bracado Bramantip, who suggested a Lincoln myth. At the time I did not endorse this idea, thinking it enough to suppose that Lincoln the man did exist, but was overlaad with mythical components.
Now I am convinced that Bramantip was correct. It remains to be seen whether we may now discern further sources for the Lincoln myth. To this end I have directed my junior research associates to scour the archaeological remains from the 19th and 20th centuries to see what else may be found. Hopefully further evidence is forthcoming which will allow us to discern once and for all the origin and nature of the Lincoln legend.
Welcome back to the 21st century.
Francis Utley's classic work on Lincoln is a work of satire. My fictional Dr. Futz is unaware of this, since I have conveniently robbed him of the first two pages or so, where Utley explains that he is making this work in jest. However, there are serious points behind this presentation. Purveyors of a "pagan copycat" thesis of some sort depend on the same sort of imaginative methodology Utley did for his study of Lincoln.
In particular and of late, the explaining of Zalmoxis as a source, but one syncretized for a Jewish background, reminds one of the use of "cultural substitution" to explain away discrepancies and non-parallels between acounts.
It boils down to this: copycat parallels rely heavily upon vague generalization, the collapsing and dulling of terms and specifics, interpretation of evidence as broadly as possible, and creativity by the author. Using such methods it is possible to relegate any story or person to the realm of myth.