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Obama, Lincoln, and - Bram Stoker - Elizabeth Miller
Obama, Lincoln, and - Bram Stoker

What do Obama and Stoker have in common? They were both great admirers of Abraham Lincoln.

Today I have been watching the progress of Obama's historic train ride from Philadelphia to Washington, with its echoes of a similar trip undertaken by Lincoln before his inauguration in 1861. Obama has frequently made reference to Lincoln throughout his campaign and in the days leading up to his presidency. You don't need me to tell you about this!

But maybe I can offer another angle. Bram Stoker was also an admirer of Lincoln. In 1886-7, with help and encouragement from his friend Walt Whitman, Stoker wrote a lecture on Lincoln which he delivered intermittently until 1893. Stoker described an address Lincoln gave in New York in 1860 as "one of the most perfect pieces of reasoning of pure and sound logic based upon the study of history which it has ever been my lot to read." He continued, "It shows in every part as well as in its wide scope the comprehensive mental grasp of a great statesman." Stoker goes on to praise the former president not only for his role in freeing the slaves but for his ability to bring opponents into his administration.

One of those opponents was a man who had also sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1860 but had lost. Lincoln brought him into his cabinet (as Obama is doing with Hillary Clinton), as (again note the similarity) Secretary of State. That person's name was William H. Seward, whose main claim to fame is probably his acquisition of Alaska from Russia (in 1867, after Lincoln's death), an event mocked by his detractors as "Seward's folly."  (If they'd only known about Sarah Palin!)

Now, considering that Stoker was working on early drafts of Dracula during the 1890s while he was still delivering his Lincoln lecture, maybe this Seward (mentioned three times in the lecture) gave Stoker the idea for the name of Dr John Seward!

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wiliqueen From: wiliqueen Date: January 17th, 2009 11:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
If only I'd known this when I wrote a high school term paper on all the characters' names! That was the only Seward I knew of, but I couldn't think of any connection, so I didn't mention it.
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