by Rex Rouis
Abraham Lincoln fought clinical depression all his life, and if he were alive today, his condition would be treated as a “character issue”—that is, as a political liability. His condition was indeed a character issue: it gave him the tools to save the nation. – Joshua Wolf Shenk
There were times when for his own safety Lincoln would not allow himself to carry a knife, for fear that he would hurt himself, or worse. The following is an excerpt from the article, Lincoln’s Great Depression. It shows how he used faith to manage his melancholy (depression):
According to General James F. Rusling, Lincoln said that during the fighting at Gettysburg he turned to prayer, felt the whole thing to be in God’s hands, and “somehow a sweet comfort crept into his soul.” In another revealing incident that summer, Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Lincoln’s dressmaker, once told of watching the president drag himself into the room where she was fitting the First Lady. “His step was slow and heavy, and his face sad,” Keckley recalled. “Like a tired child he threw himself upon a sofa, and shaded his eyes with his hands. He was a complete picture of dejection.”
He had just returned from the War Department, he said, where the news was “dark, dark everywhere.” Lincoln then took a small Bible from a stand near the sofa and began to read. “A quarter of an hour passed,” Keckley remembered, “and on glancing at the sofa the face of the president seemed more cheerful. The dejected look was gone; in fact, the countenance was lighted up with new resolution and hope.” Wanting to see what he was reading, Keckley pretended she had dropped something and went behind where Lincoln was sitting so that she could look over his shoulder. It was the Book of Job.
Taken from Joshua Wolf Shenk’s classic, “Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness.” You can also view a short article version: “Lincoln’s Great Depression” And a great article showing forth in great detail that Abraham Lincoln was indeed a believing Christian – “Abraham Lincoln: The Old School Presbyterian Convert.”