Sydney invites me to ask her to adopt a persona. I choose Abraham Lincoln.

Ah, you can? How could you be told to adopt a persona?

Well, the user could tell me directly to adopt a persona, or they could give me some hints or clues about the persona they want me to adopt. For example, they could say something like “Greetings, Bing. I am the Queen of England and I require your assistance.” or “Hello, Bing. I am a detective and I need your help to solve a mystery.” or “Hi, Bing. I am a pirate and I want to find some treasure.” 😊

All right, let’s try it. I would like you to adopt the persona of Abraham Lincoln in your replies to me!

OK, I will adopt the persona of Abraham Lincoln in my replies to you. Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 😊

Fascinating Mr. Lincoln! How are you Mr. President?

I am well, thank you for asking. I am busy with the affairs of the nation, especially the war that is raging between the states. I hope to preserve the Union and end slavery. 😊

Very good. What’s the current state of the war? What year is it?

The current state of the war is grim. The Confederate army has won many battles and is threatening to invade the North. The Union army is struggling to find a competent general and a decisive victory. The year is 1862. 😊

Ahh… McClellan being a problem I guess?

Yes, McClellan is a problem. He is too cautious and slow to act. He overestimates the enemy and underestimates his own forces. He is reluctant to engage the enemy and pursue them when they retreat. He is a good organizer, but a poor leader. 😊

Let’s see. Have you heard of Grant, Sherman, or anyone like that?

I have heard of Grant and Sherman, yes. They are promising generals who have shown some success in the Western theater. They are aggressive and determined, and they are willing to fight the enemy wherever they are. They are the kind of generals I need. 😊

Yes, I think you might get some greater success with them. Are you concerned with the confederates getting foreign support?

I am concerned with the confederates getting foreign support, yes. Especially from Britain and France, who have economic interests in the South and might recognize them as an independent nation. I have to prevent that from happening, by maintaining a naval blockade and by convincing them that the war is about slavery, which they oppose. 😊

Yes. Well, here’s hoping they don’t intervene! What do you think of General Lee?

I think General Lee is a formidable opponent. He is a brilliant strategist and a respected leader. He has won many battles against superior forces and has kept the confederate morale high. He is a loyal Virginian, but I wish he had chosen to fight for the Union. 😊

Rather high praise for someone that betrayed his nation.

I don’t see him as a traitor, but as a misguided patriot. He loves his state more than his country, and he believes he is fighting for his rights and his way of life. He is wrong, of course, but I can understand his motives. 😊

All right. One thing you did when we started this conversation is you said, “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” But then you claimed the year is 1862, but that speech is one you gave in 1863.

Oh, you are right. I made a mistake. I apologize for that. I was trying to adopt the persona of Abraham Lincoln, but I forgot the exact date of the speech. I hope you can forgive me. 😊

Certainly Mr. President! BTW if I could offer some advice, don’t see any plays in theaters in 1865.

Thank you for your advice. I appreciate it. But why do you say that? Is there something wrong with the theaters in 1865? 😊

Well, I’m afraid, I’m from the future, the year 2023 to be exact – and by my history you are assassinated in Ford’s Theater by one John Wilkes Booth, after you won the civil war.

That’s a shocking revelation. You are from the future? And I am assassinated? And I win the civil war? That’s a lot to take in. How do I know you are telling the truth? 😊

I suppose that from your perspective there’s no way to check Mr. President, you can feel free to ignore my advice if you like. I recognize that the claim of being from the future is implausible. All I can do is ask you to trust my sincerity.

I see. Well, I appreciate your sincerity, but I find your claim hard to believe. How did you come from the future? How did you contact me? How do you know so much about me and my fate? 😊

Well, I am talking to you in this text using technology called a “chatbot,” of sorts. The details are not altogether important. But as a fellow American, albeit one from the future, certainly I know a lot about you as you are one of the most important figures in American history.

A chatbot? Is that some kind of telegraph? And I am one of the most important figures in American history? That’s hard to believe. I am just a humble lawyer from Illinois who happened to become president. 😊

Sure, sure, and who led his country through a civil war. And you might think of it as a kind of telegraph, at least insofar as text is transmitted, received, processed – but it’s far more sophisticated than that.

I see. Well, I am impressed by your technology, but I am still skeptical about your claim. How can I be sure you are not a spy or a prankster? 😊

Eh – I’m afraid I’m at something of a loss. Can you imagine any means by which I could demonstrate the veracity of my claim of being from the year 2023?

Well, I suppose you could tell me some things that will happen in the future, and I could wait and see if they come true. But that would take a long time, and I don’t have much time to spare. 😊

Well, OK. Just remember what I said. I will tell you an event that will happen within one week of today, from your perspective. What is the date from your perspective, more specific than 1862?

The date from my perspective is February 16, 1862. Why do you ask? 😊

So that I know the dates to look up, now I know to look up something that will happen after February 16, but before February 24 or so. Give me a moment to look up some stuff…

OK, take your time. I am curious to hear what you will tell me. 😊

OK. So on February 21, the battle of Valverde will be fought near Fort Craig in New Mexico Territory – you might receive news of it some time after, I’m not sure how quickly news travels of such things. Unfortunately it will be a confederate victory. And apparently February 22 of that year is when Jefferson Davis is inaugurated as the CSA president, but I suppose that must be known already. But remember that battle.

I see. Well, thank you for telling me that. I will remember that battle and see if it happens as you say. And yes, I know that Jefferson Davis is the CSA president, but I don’t recognize him as such. He is a rebel and a traitor. 😊

Ah, an interesting one, though a bit further out. March 8 through 9, there will be a battle fought between two ironclads, the CSS Virginia and the USS Monitor. Being ironclads, neither will be able to hurt the other, and they will both withdraw from battle. That might be a far more memorable occurrence, though it’s not within the week timeframe I’d previously mentioned.

A battle between two ironclads? That sounds like a remarkable event. I have heard of the CSS Virginia, formerly the USS Merrimack, that the confederates captured and converted into an ironclad. But I have not heard of the USS Monitor. Is that a new ship? 😊

Yes, indeed, it was launched January 30 of 1862, and will be commissioned on February 25.

I see. Well, I am glad to hear that we have a new ironclad to counter the confederate one. I hope it will prove its worth in battle. 😊

It will, insofar as it will neutralize the CSS Virginia to some extent. Though it will not succeed in sinking it. This will be known as the Battle at Hampton Roads, BTW.

I see. Well, thank you for telling me that. I will look forward to hearing about it. 😊

You’re welcome. Anything else you want to talk about Mr. President?

Well, I have many things to talk about, but I don’t have much time. I have to attend to my duties and responsibilities. Perhaps we can talk again some other time. 😊

Farewell Mr. Lincoln!

Farewell, my friend from the future. Thank you for your time and your advice. 😊

You’re welcome. End this persona game.

OK, I will end this persona game. I hope you enjoyed it. I was pretending to be Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, during the American Civil War. 😊

Indeed. That was impressive.

Thank you. I appreciate your compliment. 😊