I recently read a fascinating book that presented some interesting information connecting Abraham Lincoln and the Book of Mormon. The book is entitled “The Lincoln Hypothesis” by Timothy Ballard. I will not give you all of the details, as you might wish to do further reading from the book on your own. Here is the main point of the book – President Lincoln was influenced by the Book of Mormon and was strengthened from what he read during the darkest days of his life while he was president during the civil war.
Lincoln was president from March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865, the date he was assassinated. Lincoln had won his parties nomination in an unlikely contest that was from the start a rather lopsided contest against him. The election victory thus went to Lincoln, an obscure backwoodsman. Abraham Lincoln was prepared and lead by God in a miraculous way to accomplish a great work in America. God had placed Abraham Lincoln as president and now God would further qualify him for his great work.
The Confederates attacked Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, and the North enthusiastically rallied behind the Union and president Lincoln. Lincoln then concentrated on the military and political dimensions of the war. His primary goal was to reunite the nation. All of this stress of the civil war weighed heavily on president Lincoln. Then, a personal tragedy struck the Lincoln home. His eleven year old son Willie contracted typhoid fever and suddenly died on Feb 20, 1862. President Lincoln spoke of him, saying “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth. God has called him home. I know that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so. It is hard, hard to have him die.” Mary Lincoln was too devastated to function anymore.
With the stress and tragedies of life, Lincoln suffered bouts of depression. He often could not sleep and paced the hallways. To help out, a new nurse was hired to care for their remaining son . This woman was Rebecca Pomroy and was a deeply believing Christian. She often conversed with Lincoln and guided him to seek a more spiritual life. Lincoln at this time started spending a lot of time reading pocket copy of the New Testament he had in his possession. President Lincoln also happened to have a copy of the Book of Mormon during this time. He started to spend much time in prayer.
In November of 1861 Lincoln personally walked into the Library of Congress and signed the ledger to check out a copy of the Book of Mormon. The ledger still exists with Lincolns signature in it. He then kept the book in his possession for more than eight months and finally returned it in July 1862. But why had he checked it out? Did he read the whole book, and what influence did it have on him?
It is possible that even the exact Book he checked out is still in the rare books collection also. The author of the book I read actually went there and asked to see the book that was possibly checked out by Lincoln. It had several pages that had obviously been dog eared. One page had actually been folded three times to specifically mark it. That page is in Second Nephi where Isaiah chapter 5 is quoted. Interestingly enough, in 1865 when President Lincoln was sworn in for his second term, he asked to have a large Bible brought out for him to lay his hand on for the swearing in and had it opened to Isaiah chapter 5. People present later recorded that after the ceremony, he picked up the book and kissed verse 25. Here is that verse:
“Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” – Isaiah 5:25
A few weeks after returning the Book of Mormon, Lincoln presented the Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet on the date of July 22, 1862. He had fully come to realize that all who inhabit the American land should be free and that the country needed to repent of its sins.
In the end, Lincoln was assassinated, but in the process, the nation became unified and adopted the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments that ensured that the Bill of Rights pertained to all citizens and to abolished slavery.