Emancipation from slavery, sin and vampires

History prefers legends to men. It prefers nobility to brutality, soaring speeches to quiet deeds. History remembers the battle and forgets the blood.

How ever history remembers me, if it does at all, it shall only remember a fraction of the truth.

This quote from the highly entertaining movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter comes startlingly close to the truth.

The movie starts when Lincoln as a child witnesses a confusing scene, his father’s former boss, his face grossly distorted, leaning over Lincoln’s mother as she slept. Within days his mother suffers a horrible, painful death. The boy is convinced the man is a murdering monster and vows when he is old enough to avenge his mother. When we see him again he is a young man trying to fortify his resolve with liquid courage. When the shot fired into his enemy’s head fails to kill, Abraham is rescued by the intervention of a stranger he’d met at the bar. The stranger, Henry, turns out to be a vampire himself who needs a human’s assistance to avenge the death of his loved one many years earlier. Vampires, it seems, are physically unable to kill each other. (This does not prevent them from inflicting incredible damage to their surroundings when they fight, though.) Apparently only the living can kill the dead.

So, Lincoln begins his study, eventually becoming a formidable vampire slayer and finally avenging his mother’s death. It is in this process, though, that Abraham Lincoln learns the truth of the slave trade, that vampires are the backbone of the slave trade. Slavery is their way to insure an uninterrupted and unquestioned flow of fresh blood. Tired of fighting the huge problem one vampire at a time, Lincoln sees politics as a more effective way to bring the issue to a head.

Many years later, during the war, when Lincoln’s son dies the same way his mother did, he picks up his ax once again.

Of course, the real Lincoln never hunted down vampires in his cause to liberate slaves from being consumed. We have no evidence that vampires composed the Rebel army at Gettysburg. And it’s highly unlikely that Mary Todd Lincoln put a silver bullet in the skull of the vampire assassin out to kill her.

But – it’s a lot of fun to imagine that maybe… just maybe…

Vampire hunting skills aside, what history has overlooked is Abraham Lincoln’s spiritual growth over the same period in his life.

I wrote before about Clay Morgan‘s book, Undead. In the final chapter “The Dead Live”, Morgan, a historian by trade, researched a letter he’d heard about where Lincoln explains his spiritual beliefs. Clay writes:

Well into the civil war a pastor from Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield, Illinois wanted to know what the president thought of Jesus; if he loved him… the president said he didn’t consider himself a Christian when he arrived at the White House or when his 11-year-old son Willie died. But, Lincoln wrote, he comitted his life to Christ after arriving at Gettysburg in 1863 and seeing the graves of thousands upon thousands of soldiers.

If that letter is accurate, then Gettysburg doesn’t just commemorate the death of thousands; it also marks the spot where at least one man found ultimate life.

There is emancipation from slavery, which Lincoln supported even as he mourned the death of all those men. And then there is emancipation from sin, which Lincoln was able to enjoy from that day on.