I believe that Lincoln is well understood by the people; but there is a patent-leather, kid-glove set who know no more of him than an owl does of a comet blazing into his blinking eyes. Their estimates of him are in many causes disgraceful exhibitions of ignorance and prejudice. Their effeminate natures shrink instinctively from the contact of a great reality like Lincoln’s character. I consider Lincoln’s republicanism incarnate-with all its faults and all its virtues. As, in spite of some rudeness, republicanism is the sole hope of a sick world, so Lincoln, with all his foibles, is the greatest character since Christ.“
By John Hay, the Assisant Private Secretary to Abraham Lincoln.
Quoted in Letter of John Hay to William H. Herndon, September 5, 1866. (Herndon’s Lincoln: A True Story of a Great Life Written by William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, ed. Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, editor, Herndon’s Informants, p. 332.)