“I am your Heavenly Father and the God of all Nations,” it began. God had particular explanations and instructions for the president, whose entire term of office had been defined by war. “I am the cause for the disruption between the North and the South,” he continued, and the point was to destroy the “horrible state of affairs” that man’s “selfish nature” had brought. “I am not partial and have no respect of persons.” Coming just weeks after the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, the letter made it clear that God wanted to destroy slavery. For further instructions, God told Lincoln to gather six of his best men and meet in person “my instrument the Messenger of Peace the Christ of this day.” Lincoln did not believe the letter was from God, of course; as he suspected, it came from a local religious devotee named Lydia Smith, who believed herself to be God’s medium.
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Today a President has staff to go through his mail and is less accessible then he was 150 years ago. Still I picture Lincoln writing at his desk or reading about military strategy not answering "crank" letters or being influenced by the great awakening.