Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lincoln and Euclid

Listened to Doris Kearns Goodwin on Charlie Rose tonight.   It was fun as the two discussed who better for Obama to channel in these next four years.  Most of their thoughts swirled around LBJ, FDR, TR and Lincoln, with Rose plugging a new reprint of her book that ties in with movie.  He even featured a film clip in which Lincoln was weighing Euclid's thoughts on equality and how it might become part of his emancipation proclamation.  Goodwin said that Daniel Day-Lewis is incredible, not only capturing Lincoln's distinct walk but his high-pitched voice as well.  She also noted how faithful Spielberg was in recreating the Lincoln White House right down to first editions copies he was reading at the time.  Goodwin noted that Lincoln was a reader, thrilled over copies of Shakespeare and the King James Bible to the point he couldn't sleep.

On Lincoln's interest in Euclid, author David Van Haften noted,

I found countless references to Euclid and they all said about the same thing: Lincoln read Euclid, he mastered Euclid, and he took Euclid’s Elements with him while riding the judicial circuit. The only real substantive clue that there was more here than meets the eye was a rather loose statement that Lincoln read Euclid to find out how to “demonstrate.”


  1. Hard to say what copy of Euclid Lincoln had, but problaby this one,

    There is a Taschen reprint of the 1847 edition available.

  2. Here's a sample of the Lincoln book for those interested,