Lincoln Legacy: How was Abe like Marilyn Monroe? scholar Duncan Newcomer is writing this week. Part 1 introduced his series. Here is Part 4 …

MARILYN MONROE loved Lincoln.

She told her friend Carl Sandburg, the poet and Lincoln biographer, that she felt Lincoln was the father she never had. She told Sandburg that perhaps most Americans felt that way. During the Civil War Union soldiers openly called him “Father Abraham” and even sang a rallying song, “We are coming Father Abraham, 300, 000 more….”

The hunger for father love was strong in Lincoln as well. Growing up he felt like a slave to his father, a man who once cuffed him publicly for joyfully speaking out of turn. As if to reverse the tide, Lincoln wildly indulged his four boys—yet his eldest, Robert Todd, was bitter about the absence of his father throughout his legal and political career.

What do we do when we don’t feel loved enough by a father or a mother? What did Marilyn Monroe do? What did Lincoln do? Psychologists will say that we might seek love and admiration, intensely, through our work. These two American icons would have that in common.

Even long after their deaths, they share the fascination of millions. In Lincoln’s case, many people—including Marilyn before her death in 1962—say they love him, not just for what he accomplished as president, but for the personal values he showed. Leo Tolstoy, the great Russian novelist and Christian, even called Lincoln a “miniature Christ” because he loved his enemies. “With malice toward none and charity for all” from his Second Inaugural are perhaps Lincoln’s most famous words.

Millions are fascinated with Marilyn as well. Elton John famously recorded Candle in the Wind in 1973 to honor Marilyn’s Memory, 11 years after her death, then he re-cast the song to perform it at the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997. Marilyn memorabilia routinely sells for far more than estimates indicate: In 2011, the dress she work in The Seven Year Itch was estimated at $1-2 million, but sold at auction for $4.6 million.

Are these similarities between Abe and Marilyn relevant today?

Is the public fascination with them comparable?

What values do each embody, in your view?

Please, leave a Comment below.

Originally published at, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.

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