The subtle transformation of Abraham Lincoln into a hero is obvious in this letter written by John Downing Jr. on April 26, 1865:

“Poor Mrs. Lincoln. How I pity her. She was proud of her husband, as well she might be, despite his plainness. And do you know that he was not half so plain as represented to be. His was a strong, rugged, honest face, beaming at the same time with gentleness and good nature. His smile was something to remember forever. It was positively beautiful. I never saw one like it on any other human face.”