“The goats and father are well—especially the goats.”


The Civil War was the first “modern war.” Abraham Lincoln became president of a divided nation during a period of both technological and social revolution. Among the many modern marvels was the telegraph, which Lincoln used to stay connected to the forces in the field in almost real time. No leader in history had ever possessed such a powerful tool. As a result Lincoln had to learn for himself how to use the power of electronic messages. Without precedent to guide him, Lincoln developed his own model of electronic communications — an approach that echoes today in our use of email.

Tom Wheeler, from Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails

I found this story (and the image) on Lifehacker the other day and since it is an Illinois kind of story, I had to include it here. The subject line quote is from a note sent by Lincoln to Mary Todd on April 28, 1864. Mrs. Lincoln and Tad were in New York and Tad was concerned about his pets.

An enterprising writer named Chirag Mehta has created Tag Clouds of over 300 historical documents written by presidents, called the US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud. It includes Lincoln’s first two inaugural addresses as well as The Emancipation Proclamation. There’s more on the history of the telegraph here, too.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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