Study Guide

Abraham Lincoln in Across Five Aprils

By Irene Hunt

Abraham Lincoln

It's the man… the legend… the 16th President of the United States of America. Okay, so Abraham Lincoln doesn't have a starring role in Across Five Aprils, but he certainly does in Jethro's mind. Lincoln is not just the leader of the country—he's someone Jethro looks up to for guidance.

And we get it—the small amount of Lincoln that we get to see in this book makes us love him too. Dude takes time out of his very busy day (freeing slaves and all that jazz) to respond to Jethro's letter, after all, and the note he writes is genuine and compassionate to boot. The President writes that the decision he's made regarding the deserters will be judged hard by some people but "if it be a wrong one, I have then erred on the side of mercy" (9.170). Lincoln knows he's no Superman, but he legitimately strives to do right by his county, no two ways about it.

Lincoln's letter also shows just how greatly the President is affected by the war. Not only is a solution to the whole war situation "agonizingly difficult" (9.169), but it is constantly on his mind. In this way he reminds us a bit of Bill. Jethro's favorite brother doesn't take the war lightly either, and intensely considers both sides before choosing to fight for the South. It could be a coincidence that on opposites sides of the battlefield are two men who have some resemblance of each other, both of whom Jethro respects greatly. Or it could totally not be a coincidence at all. What do you think?

Overall Lincoln proves that no man is safe from the awfulness and anxiety of war. We see the Commander-in-Chief distraught over the separation of the country, just like Jethro and his family are. This war nonsense is putting everyone in the dumps, from the White House to the prairie farmlands. It's almost as if everyone would be better off without it. Now, there's a thought.