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“New Hope writer pens book about Lincoln’s relationship with stepmother”

WHYY / NPR Interview Courtesy Newsworks.org

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Adding to the ever-growing body of knowledge about perhaps the greatest American president, New Hope resident Jeff Oppenheimer has written “That Nation Might Live: A Story of Motherhood, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War.”

NewsWorks Tonight Host Dave Heller spoke with Oppenheimer about his fascination with Lincoln’s relationship with his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln.

“I discovered that there’s a real unsung hero in the life of Abraham Lincoln, that being his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln,” said Oppenheimer. “She recognized the diamond when the rest of the world saw the rough.”

Sarah Lincoln came into young Abe’s life 14 months after his biological mother’s death.

“Abe Lincoln, at that time, was filthy, malnourished, he had lice in his hair. He was not much different than the wilderness creatures around him,” said Oppenheimer. “As it was told later, [his father] Tom Lincoln wasn’t worth shucks during that 14 months.”

Abraham Lincoln credits his stepmother with encouraging him to read and do well in school, yet he says she didn’t want him to become president.

“She had a premonition that he would be killed, which makes their farewell very moving,” said Oppenheimer. “Because their final exchange is documented. She says: ‘I’m afraid I’ll never see you again. There are people who hate you, who want to kill you.’ And he says, ‘No no, that’s not going to happen. No matter what happens, I’ll see you again.’ And she said, ‘God bless and keep you my good son,’ and those were her final words.”