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The Lincoln Legacy

March 4, 2015

The third finger of the left hand is the usual and customary location for a wedding ring, but on March 4, 1905 the large gold ornament on Theodore Roosevelt’s left ring finger announced his union with the Great Emancipator. The ring was a gift from Secretary of State John Hay, and it contained a strand of Lincoln’s hair. Hay had been one of Lincoln’s personal secretaries and had coauthored a ten-volume biography of Lincoln. He asked President Roosevelt to wear the ring when he was sworn in because: “You are one of the men who most thoroughly understand and appreciate Lincoln.”

The normally loquacious Roosevelt spoke only for six or seven minutes and concluded his address with the following words:

“…we must show, not merely in great crises, but in the everyday affairs of life, the qualities of practical intelligence, of courage, of hardihood, and endurance, and above all the power of devotion to a lofty ideal, which made great the men who founded this Republic in the days of Washington, which made great the men who preserved this Republic in the days of Abraham Lincoln.”

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