A Presidential Mishap

Brian Niedermeier

" A Relatable Mishap with Ole Abe " -

            Panic.  This is the word that springs to mind when something is misplaced, whether it be a wallet, a purse, or a set of car keys. And panic of course can open the floodgates to other mind numbing questions: What if I can't pay the bill? What if my wallet was stolen? What if I can't find my keys and I'm late for work?

            These questions reveal a future ripe with trials and troubles that most people wish to scream about only in their sleep. Abraham Lincoln was one such person. After his election in November of 1860, Lincoln was busy writing his Inaugural Address, a speech he knew would be vital to the fate of a country that stood on the brink of civil war. It would sum up all of his thoughts and beliefs on that sacred bond of the American Union and those who were calling for its end. Therefore, it was a speech that would need constant work, even as Lincoln was en route to Washington.

            During the stop in Indianapolis, Lincoln was faced with something that became commonplace during his trip East, crowds of people wanting to meet the president-elect, get a job from him, or hear any comments that he may have on the storm of secession raging. It was a grueling and chaotic experience for Lincoln and his traveling party, and things got a little tight during that particular stop.  After attending a parade in his honor, Lincoln went back to his hotel, which was packed to the brim, to work on the Inaugural Address, which he had put in a black hand bag and given to his oldest son Robert for safe-keeping. Unfortunately, Robert, who was so overwhelmed by the attention he was getting from the surrounding crowds, had given it to a waiter by accident, and had no idea where it was.  A fact that he reluctantly shared with his father.  “ My heart went up into my mouth.” Lincoln later said.  The last thing that he, or the country needed, was for that speech to find its way into the newspapers, before it was time to say what needed to be said.  Things could go from bad to worse very quickly. 

            Without another word, Lincoln opened the door to his room, fought his way through the crowds, and jumped behind the hotel's front counter like a gymnast leaping over a beam. He then began to open each black handbag with a small key that he had until he found the one with his speech in it. Despite his panic and the delight of everyone around who was watching, Lincoln was successful in retrieving his bag.

            Even Abraham Lincoln has lost his luggage, and even though the repercussion could have been bigger than merely missing work, it proves that mishaps can happen to anyone, whether they be tall or small, president or not.