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Lincoln outstript them and they in secret hate him.In contrast, Herndon had always idolized and revered his law partner, and had urged his transition from the Whig to the Republican Party.In these respects he was certainly Lincoln's opposite.He was also, by comparison with Lincoln, something of a radical.Herndon, Abraham Lincoln's law partner and biographer, made a record of "secret and private things" about Lincoln in two memorandum books that long ago disappeared.Now diary entries have materialized, written by a woman who saw the memorandum books in 1866, and who recorded her shocked reactions to accounts of "profligacy" and "debauchery." A distinguished Lincoln scholar describes the discovery, and considers anew the collision of privacy and history EVERY age needs its own biographies of the great historical figures.As Lincoln's former partner, Herndon was designated to voice the sentiments of his fellow lawyers and to acknowledge Lincoln's qualities at the bar.
It was not that Herndon wasn't truthful and honest, for he was; it was not that he was spiteful or envious toward Lincoln, for he was not.Until fairly recently Jefferson's best and most conscientious biographers duly reported, but gave little or no credence to, the claims that he had had a sexual relationship with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings.In 1970 the great Jefferson biographer Dumas Malone addressed this matter in the fourth volume of his magisterial biography by soberly reviewing the charges, which he found unsubstantiated, in a brief appendix.Although Abraham Lincoln's intellectual interests were not nearly so broad, or his public activities so varied, as Jefferson's, the American public's fascination with Lincoln's life and political career is sufficiently intense to sustain the exploration of virtually anything that purports to be new or newly interpreted information.Because Lincoln is widely regarded as the greatest of all Americans, and is thus part of our national identity, a substantial audience exists for the revelation of even the smallest anecdotes and bits of incidental information.
Only four years later the historian Fawn Brodie published a biography that treated the relationship with Sally Hemings as a central fact in Jefferson's life.