Courthouse!

To accompany the RNC’s newly discovered Lincoln quote, here is a never before published account of Grant briefing Lincoln on the particulars of Lee’s surrender:

“General Grant, you bring news?”

“I do, Mr. President. General Lee has surrendered and the insurrection has ended.”

“And where did this take place?”

“In Virginia, at Appomattox Court House.”

“That does seem like the proper place to receive a surrender.”

“That village, sir?”

“A courthouse.”

“Yes, sir, we did meet in a courthouse.”

“So you said, Appomattox courthouse.”

“Yes, sir. In the courthouse there.”

“Of course, general. The courthouse at Appomattox.”

“At Appomattox Court House.”

“As I just said.”

“No, Mr. President.”

“We are simply saying the same thing in different ways.”

“No, Mr. President.”

“Then say it.”

“I received Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House.”

“Good.”

“At the courthouse there.”

“At Appomattox.”

“At Appomattox Court House.”

“General Grant, I’ve always valued you a man of great directness. Yet today you split hairs like a monk. And not just any monk, the chief monk.”

“Do you mean, sir …”

“Exactly. You sounds like an abbot.”


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34 thoughts on “Courthouse!

  1. It’s unfortunate that many of the great Lincoln quotes originated 20-40 years after he was dead, Lincoln certainly could have done much to broaden their appeal while he was alive.

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  2. (well, actually, the surrender was in some dude’s house, not the courthouse itself, and that some dude also had a house where the war kicked off in earnest)

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  3. There were Confederate generals named Battle, Early, Hill (3) , Lane (2), Major, and Slaughter. You’ve got to be able to use those for something. And hey, there was a General Abbott in the Union Army.

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    • My favorite is “Commissary” Banks, a Union general nicknamed that for his habit of retreating so fast that he left his supply wagons behind for the enemy’s use.

      There was also a Union general called Jefferson Davis, best known for murdering a superior officer and forbidding a group of fleeing slaves that were following his army from crossing a river, resulting in their recapture. It’s just one of those names.

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    • There were Confederate generals named Battle, Early, Hill (3) , Lane (2), Major, and Slaughter.

      “Mr. President, we’ve finally achieved a lasting peace. The South has surrendered.”

      “Under what circumstances?”

      “We had Major take Battle to the Hills looking for Slaughter…”

      “Pause a moment. You say this was a peaceful surrender?”

      “Yes, sir. Slaughter made sure of it.”

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    • Given that the fake quote isn’t on the lines of “Republicans rule, Democrats drool!” I would guess casual incompetence, of the sort where it would never occur to anyone to confirm the quote beforehand.

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      • As Lincoln once said, the learned wisdom of the pig farmer informs us there are inopportune places to make a stand. (*)

        In his remarks to Democratic lawmakers the day before they passed the health care bill, President Obama said: “I was tooling through some of the writings of some previous presidents, and I came upon this quote by Abraham Lincoln: ‘I am not bound to win, but I’m bound to be true. I’m not bound to succeed, but I’m bound to live up to what light I have.’ ”

        The Lincoln quotation was stirring. It was also bogus. There is no documentary evidence that Lincoln ever said any such thing.

        Link

        This is common. I could find more.

        (*) Lincoln didn’t say that.

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        • This is a fair point. The next question is how frequently does this sort of thing happen?

          I recently read the first three chapters of a book on the Players League of 1890. Why only the first three chapter? Well, there was a factual error in the introduction, before we even get to pages with Roman numerals. This by itself is trivial. The fact could have been checked in under a minute with a decent internet connection, but nobody is perfect and these things slip through. Then the first three chapters, on a period I know very well, turned out to be chock full of such errors, big and small. I have filled the margins with notes of errors. With the fourth chapter we move into a period I know less well. I haven’t read the rest of the book because I lack the background to spot the errors, and I fear internalizing them. This is a book (published by a reputable academic press, and clearly the author’s doctoral thesis) where every fact needs to be checked, and if you aren’t in a position to do this you are better off not reading it, as you are likely to come away from it knowing less than you did going in.

          Yes, Obama got sloppy. It happens to the best of us. But if he says it is raining outside, I don’t feel the need to look out the window to confirm this for myself.

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          • The Lincoln “quotes” issue happens a lot; my link had examples from Clinton and Bush I. One of my favorite Lincoln “quotes” is not his: “If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.” No record of him saying it, and the earliest source appears to be from early 19th century humorist. Lincoln may well have read it in the papers and repeated, and it seems to suit his character, but it appears to be one of many sayings that were postumously transferred to Lincoln.

            This appears to be a result partly of his death, by which he became mythologized and a public became thirsty to learn about him. This is partly due to the standards of popular histories of the time which didn’t find fealty to sources to be an imperative. And it continues to this day because the “quotes” can be located in Lincoln quote books. Trump’s Lincoln quote is almost certainly in a published book, and the quote can be found on gifts at the Presidential Library bookstore.

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  4. Sure, Appomattox Court House, Virginia seems like the most idiotic and confusing name for a city possible, but I think cities could beat it, if they tried.

    Kansas City, Missouri is really the only one that’s made an effort, but what they need to do is name themselves Kansas City Kansas, Missouri. Or maybe Kansas City Not The One In Missouri But The One In Kansas, Missouri.

    And all Clevelands should immediately append a random state name to their own. Bonus confusion if one of them uses the state they are actually in.

    How about a city named Office of the President 1600 Pennsylvanian Avenue, Washington? Or a Washington DC, Washington?

    And Paris, Texas is hardly trying. How about ‘75008 PARIS
    FRANCE
    , Texas’. (can you put a newline in a city name? Who knows?)

    I actually knew a guy online who was seeing if he could set some sort of record for the shortest address. He was the only person in town known as ‘Ari’, and he had some letters sent to him only addressed as:
    Ari
    [his zip]

    A grand total of eight characters, and they were delivered, at least until the Post Office told him to knock it off.

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    • “I live in
      .”

      “What?”


      .”

      “I think the line is cutting out. Please spell that for me and I’ll spell it back.”

      “space space tab carriage return tab”

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    • A friend of a friend who lives in Alexandria, Virginia told the story of getting a packaged delivered 14 months late, covered with Arabic writing. Yeah, the mail handlers had sent it to Egypt.

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      • Somewhat more frighteningly, years ago my father in law was facing some serious difficulties over allegedly unpaid child support. IIRC his ex’s lawyers had gotten things to the point where he was at risk of losing his landed immigrant status in Canada.

        I guess he had once missed a check for under a hundred bucks (or it had gotten lost in the mail – it had been so long ago it was impossible to know for sure). His ex’s lawyers had mailed him at an address in the nonexistent location of “Saskatoon, Toronto, Canada,” and, receiving no reply, concluded he had ‘gone underground’.

        Then they’d gone on to all kinds of weird roundabout measures to recover the tens of dollars, all of which they’d added to his total owing, all accruing swingeing interest, until the notional amount he owed was in the tens if not hundreds of thousands.

        All this time, he had been working for a public university, publishing books and articles under his real name that listed his real employer, listed in the phone book, living at the same address for decades.

        In the end I think he found someone at Immigration Canada who was willing to take the time to look check his side of the story, and who then basically told the lawyers to accept, as the only payment they would ever see, a check for the original tens of dollars, and never to bother them again.

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