Lincoln at Niagara Falls

In the autumn of 1848, Abraham Lincoln campaigned for Whig presidential candidate Zachary Taylor in Massachusetts.  On the way home to Illinois, he visited Niagara Falls, and found the sight so impressive that he started writing about it. His unfinished meditation on the falls probably dates from the end of September:

It calls up the indefinite past. When Columbus first sought this continent—when Christ suffered on the cross—when Moses led Israel through the Red-Sea—nay, even, when Adam first came from the hand of his Maker—then as now, Niagara was roaring here. The eyes of that species of extinct giants, whose bones fill the mounds of America, have gazed on Niagara, as ours do now. Co[n]temporary with the whole race of men, and older than the first man, Niagara is strong, and fresh to-day as ten thousand years ago. The Mammoth and Mastadon—now so long dead, that fragments of their monstrous bones, alone testify, that they ever lived, have gazed on Niagara.

Drawing of Niagara Falls by George Wallis, 1853. Library of Congress

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1 Comment

Filed under Lincoln's Writings

One response to “Lincoln at Niagara Falls

  1. How very eloquent and spiritually inspiring. Thank you.

    I just returned from visiting Lincoln’s homes in Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. What an amazing experience. Especially the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. But, of course, visiting his tomb was a solemn experience. There with Eddie, Willie, Tad and Mary. Everyone except Robert.

    In the never said better words of Daniel Day-Lewis:
    “I never, ever felt the depth of like for another human being that I never met, and that’s, I think, probably the effect Lincoln had on most people that take the time to discover him. I wish he had stayed [with me] forever.”
    BD Brown

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