Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 7:42 AM
Friday, December 19, 2008
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 1:52 PM
Monday, December 15, 2008
The cable channel C-SPAN is running a series of programs every night this week about The White House. Titled "White House Week" the shows will feature tours of the private quarters of the White House (hosted by Laura Bush), a never before shown 1968 tour with Lady Bird Johnson, the famous 1962 tour hosted by Jackie Kennedy, and the first ever televised tour with President Harry S Truman from 1952.
Of particular interest to Abraham Lincoln enthusiasts will be "The Lincoln White House," being shown this coming Thursday evening, December 18. This episode will be taking place in The Lincoln Bedroom and will feature an interview with Harold Holzer, the national co-chair of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, and one of the leading Lincoln scholars. Also featured in this program will be Lincoln's "Summer White House," the old Soldier's Home in Washington, which has recently been restored.
The program begins at 9:00 p.m. and is scheduled to run for two hours.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 10:16 PM
Friday, December 12, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
From now until January 4, 2009 people fortunate enough to visit the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. have the opportunity to visit a rarely displayed copy of The Gettysburg Address written in Abraham Lincoln's hand.
This is the so-called "Bliss Copy" of the Address, which is the fifth and final copy known to exist in Lincoln's own writing. This copy was written by Lincoln at the request of Mr. Alexander Bliss, who along with Mr. John Pendleton Kennedy organized and published a book called "Autograph Leaves Of Our Country's Authors." The book was created to raise money for the U.S. Sanitary and U.S. Christian Commissions, which were the two major women's relief organizations in the North during the Civil War. It contained facsimile reproductions of writings and autographs of the most famous authors of the era, and included a facsimile of this copy of the Address. The two commissions were begun in 1861 in order to help promote clean and healthy conditions in Union army camps, set up field hospitals, and provide services and comfort to the soldiers.
The "Bliss Copy" is the source for most modern facsimile reproductions of the Address, primarily because it is the only copy which contains Lincoln's signature. The text is also slightly different from the earlier copies; for example, Lincoln removed the word "here" from the clause "for which they (here) gave their lives......" in this version.
This copy of the Address remained in the hands of the Bliss family until 1949, when it was purchased at auction by Mr. Oscar Cintas (a wealthy former Ambassador from Cuba to the United States) for the then-record sum of $54,000. Mr. Cintas willed the document to the people of the United States, but with the stipulation that it be displayed in the Lincoln Bedroom in The White House. It remains in The White House collection to this day, which is why it is seldom seen in public. Mrs. Laura Bush generously permitted the document to be displayed at the current exhibit at the museum.
The document is on display in the Albert H. Small documents gallery in the museum. Unfortunately, photography of the Bliss Copy is not permitted to the public, nor is photography permitted in the gallery. The image I've included showing the Bliss Copy and the gallery is from the Associated Press, which had the approval to take this photo.
I had the good fortune to visit the National Museum of American History on the opening weekend and made sure I saw the Address. While the exhibit itself is small, it is highly informative and very well done. There are various signs to read which helps place this copy of the Address into context. A copy of the book "Autograph Leaves" is only display along with a brief history of the Sanitary Fair and commissions. There are two beautiful images of Lincoln in the gallery, including a painting of Lincoln which was donated to the museum by Lincoln's grandson (there are no living direct descendants of Lincoln). Finally, there is a recording of the actor Liam Neeson reciting the Address. Neeson is to portray Lincoln in Daniel Spielberg's biopic of Lincoln. I have to say, I've heard the actor Sam Waterston's recital of the Address, and found his recitation to be more moving and warmer than Neeson's.
If you have the opportunity to be in Washington, D.C. before January 4, 2009, don't miss the chance to see this copy of the Gettysburg Address. And by all means, also see the original Star-Spangled Banner once more on exhibit after a 10-year restoration. It's literally just a few feet away from the Address.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 10:12 AM
Monday, November 24, 2008
My previous post was titled "Chillin' With Abe," informing my readers that I was heading to the beach for some much-needed relaxation and fun with my friends and their family. I certainly didn't mean "chillin'" as in "freezing."
The five of us ventured to Cape Hatteras, N.C., which is one of the best places on the Eastern seaboard for fishing, serenity, and beauty. Average temperature this time of the year is in the middle 60's. Unfortunately, we were met with chilly temps in the low to mid 40's and gale force winds (from 25-35 mph) nearly every day. It ruined fishing for the most part and the frigid conditions meant that we never needed any sunscreen.
But all was not lost. Even on the beach, I was never far from Lincoln history. We visited a small museum about shipwrecks along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. One of the most famous shipwrecks is the U.S.S. Monitor, the Union ironclad ship which sank on December 31, 1862 about 17 miles off the North Carolina coast. It was rediscovered in 1973 and is now preserved as a federal Marine Sanctuary. The U.S. Navy approved construction of the ship in 1861.
The museum also has an exhibit about the hunt for the Alligator, which was the first U.S. Navy submarine. I had never heard of this submarine, which was never commissioned. It also was lost at sea off the coast of North Carolina. The Alligator was observed by Lincoln during a test of its capabilities on March 18, 1863. The hunt continues for the Alligator.
Our journey home took a couple of unexpected stops, one in Washington, D.C. We were fortunate enough to be able to visit the original Star-Spangled Banner at the National Museum of American History. This flag was the one which flew over Ft. McHenry in Baltimore during the British bombardment of Baltimore during the war of 1812. It has undergone a decade-long restoration and was put on display just last week at the remodeled museum.
We were also very fortunate in being able to see an original copy of The Gettysburg Address, which is on display through January 4, 2009. This is the "Bliss" copy of the Address and is rarely displayed to the public. It's current permanent home is the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House.
Finally, my travelling companions and I stopped in Sharpsburg, Maryland for a tour of the Antietam National Battlefield. It was, of course, the scene of the single bloodiest day of The Civil War, with nearly 20,000 deaths and other casualties on September 17, 1862. I'd never before visited Antietam and I found it just as moving as a visit to Gettysburg. It was at Antietam that Lincoln visited General George McClellan in an effort to prod him into action. Of course McClellan was eventually fired due to his continuous inaction and failure to destroy Lee's army.
I'll be posting more in-depth about the Alligator, the Gettysburg Address, and Antietam in coming days. I didn't expect that my vacation would be so heavily "Abe oriented" but I'm of course happy it was.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 12:29 PM
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Mr. Lincoln looks like he's "chillin'" a bit in this drawing, almost as if he's thinking about a week or so at the beach, catching some rays, doing a little fishing, maybe and try to unwind a little from all the pressure he's under as president.
Can't say as though I blame him. It's been an intense campaign season, corporate America is axing jobs faster than we count, the economy is weak, and life is stressful for almost all of us.
That's why I'm heading to the beautiful seashore of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina for a week of some (hopefully) relaxation and fun with some long-time friends who make me part of their family.
I'm a systems analyst in my "real life" and a fairly active blogger in my spare time. I interact with computers way too much. Therefore, the Abraham Lincoln Blog is going on a 10-day or so hiatus. I'm taking along a couple of history magazines, a couple of books, and hopefully will find some peace and quiet far from the stresses of daily life.
Thanks for reading this blog. I'm an unabashed history geek and I hope you enjoy my posts.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 8:23 PM
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
In my previous post, I shared with my readers my review of an exhibit about Abraham Lincoln and the U.S. Constitution. This temporary exhibit examines how Lincoln took extraordinary powers during the U.S. Civil War and exceeded some Constitutional protections along the way.
The exhibit is housed for now within the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. After I visited the Lincoln exhibit, I stayed a couple of hours longer in order to visit the Freedom Center. I'm gratified I did. I experienced powerful emotions during my visit, from overwhelming sadness to inspiration and many others in between.
Cincinnati was selected as the home of the Freedom Center primarily because of its importance to the slaves who valiantly struggled to escape to freedom. Ohio was always a "free" state, divided from the "slave" states of Kentucky and Virginia (now West Virginia) only by the Ohio River. For many of the escaped slaves making their way north, Cincinnati was their first "stop" on the Underground Railroad. Many abolitionists lived in Cincinnati and their story is told at the Freedom Center, too.
Of course, the Underground Railroad was not actually a railroad and the routes were not underground. Rather, it was a "network" with multiple lines running from the south through cities like Cincinnati and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "Conductors" ran safe houses, served as guides, and otherwise assisted the escaped slaves on their way to freedom. Historians estimate that more than 100,000 slaves sought their own freedom through escape and a "trip" along the "railroad." Even if they escaped to Cincinnati and cities further north, there was always the extreme danger of being captured and returned to bondage. This is why many slaves continued their journey until they reached Canada or even heading south to Mexico, those two countries having abolished slavery long before the United States.
The Freedom Center doesn't teach the visitor only about the Underground Railroad. It presents the entire history of slavery in North America, dating from even prior to 1492 when Columbus made his first landfall in the Americas. I was impressed that the Center is not politically correct. It frankly relates the story how Africans were sold to European slavers by other Africans, who had captured their rival tribesmen. This fact is not often mentioned in history, but Africans did practice slavery. A nice re-creation of the bowels of a slave ship shows just how horrible the journey was for these poor souls. In the very early days of European arrival, slavery did exist in the northern states, including in New Amsterdam (New York City). Of course, slavery eventually did die out in the northern states, but remained present in the south until after the Civil War.
Original artifacts are shown throughout the museum, including ankle irons, chains, whips, slave ID tags, and other instruments of brutality. The Center is not for the faint of heart. Items created by slaves, such as baskets, rare articles of clothing (most slave clothing is long gone), pottery, and wooden items are on display, too.
The story of the abolitionists who fought long and hard to end slavery is told as well. Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth are represented through personal items, books, and wonderful displays. White abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Harriet Beecher Stowe (who I am proud to call an ancestor) are represented as well.
A wing of the Freedom Center is dedicated to the history of the Underground Railroad. An excellent interactive exhibit is presented by an African-American man portraying a slave who wants to escape to freedom. He tells you you're coming along with him but asks you to answer various questions, such as when is the best time of year to try to escape (surprisingly enough, winter), if you should take your family or not (the fewer the people, the better the chance to escape), what paths to take (along rivers and streams) and so on.
Of course, Abraham Lincoln is represented. This is in addition to the temporary exhibit at the center. Lincoln's growth from being willing to leave slavery as is to wanting to eradicate it once and for all is told frankly and movingly.
The most incredible display in the Freedom Center is what I've included as the photo for this posting. It might look like a log cabin, not all that different from the so-called "Birth Cabin" of Abraham Lincoln. In actuality, it is an original slave pen from Kentucky. How the Freedom Center acquired it is quite a story. Just a few years ago, a landowner (a farmer) from Kentucky contacted the Freedom Center and told them he believed that a portion of his tobacco barn used to be a slave-holding pen. He wanted to donate it to the Center. Much research was done into land records in both Kentucky and Ohio, interviews held with long-time area residents, and finally the experts reached the conclusion: indeed, this was truly a slave-holding pen. The barn had been built around this structure, estimated to date to the 1830's. Expert conservationists went to the site, carefully removed the outer barn and delicately disassembled the pen. Some restoration work was required, but the structure you see in this photo is essentially original. Visitors are permitted to walk into the pen and imagine the horrors that those wretched souls must have experienced.
Unfortunately, slavery exists in our world even today. A section of the Freedom Center deals with this subject as well. It is estimated that 25 million people currently are held in bondage in our supposedly "civilized" world.
The Freedom Center has an excellent gift shop with a wide range of books and other items about U.S. slavery, the Underground Railroad, and current day struggles for freedom throughout the world.
I've read that the Freedom Center has struggled financially since its opening. That is a shame, because we as a people need to learn about this stain on our nation's history.
I was engrossed by my visit. If you ever find yourself in Cincinnati, it's worth a few hours of your time . Hopefully, you'll have a better appreciation for the struggles of the slaves and the efforts of those who fought to free them. I know I do.
Four Lincoln log cabins out of five. Had the exhibit been larger, I would have given it a perfect rating.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
The Joint Congressional Committee On Inaugural Ceremonies has announced that the theme for President-Elect Barack Obama's inauguration will be "A New Birth Of Freedom." The theme, borrowed from the closing phrase in Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, was selected by the committee, made up of Democrats and Republicans alike.
Inaugural themes are traditionally chosen to reflect a major anniversary in America, and this year's theme was selected primarily because Obama's inauguration will occur less than a month prior to the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth. According to Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the committee,
"At a time when our country faces major challenges at home and abroad, it is appropriate to revisit the words of President Lincoln, who strived to bring the nation together by appealing to 'the better angels of our nature.' It is especially fitting to celebrate the words of Lincoln as we prepare to inaugurate the first African-American president of the United States."
I think the theme is highly appropriate. First and foremost, it is an honor to the memory of the greatest president in our nation's history and not only because of the bicentennial of his birth. In my opinion, at least, the most important phrase in the Gettysburg Address is when Lincoln wrote ".....that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom..." At the onset of the Civil War, Lincoln's main goal was to preserve the Union, with slavery a lower concern of his, if at all. But as the war evolved into the national horror it was, Lincoln gradually came to believe that slavery must be eradicated from the landscape once and for all. Thus his reference to a new birth of freedom, the first being when the U.S. declared its independence in 1776.
Of course, giving freedom to the slaves was just the beginning of the long Civil Rights struggles in our country. The ex-slaves might have been technically "free," but the struggle for "true freedom" has been a long and arduous journey. "Jim Crow" laws placed on the books during the post-Civil War era kept African-Americans segregated, suppressed their right to vote, and were used to terrorize them into submission. The 1960's saw sit-ins, protest marches, and further fights in the battle for not just freedom, but for equality and justice for African-Americans.
This is why Obama's inaugural theme of "A New Birth Of Freedom" is so "fitting and proper." After more than 400 years of slavery, inequality, and injustice for African-Americans in our land, we are about to witness the inauguration of the first African-American president. Of course, that doesn't mean the struggle is finished. But we will be closer, at least, to the finish line.
As a history blogger, I really do try to keep The Abraham Lincoln Blog from being too political. I've commented during this presidential campaign on the various candidates from both major political parties, but only as they pertained to Mr. Lincoln. Candidates compared themselves to Lincoln ("I'll put rivals in my cabinet just like Abe did") or were compared to Lincoln by others. I criticized Ron Paul once for his bizarre statements about Lincoln.
But I do have to admit that I've become a strong supporter of President-elect Obama. No, I don't think he's the Messiah, as some right-wingers accuse Obama voters of believing. While I do think it's too early to call Obama "Lincoln-esque," the parallels are striking. Both Lincoln and Obama exploded onto the national scene, both served approximately the same amount of time in the Illinois Legislature, both had limited experience in national politics. More importantly, Obama's call for unity and his words of hope are so similar to Lincoln's.
I wrote a post back on the evening of Obama's acceptance speech at the Democrat convention which might have cost me a friendship of more than twenty years. That post was written because I was thrilled that history was occurring before our very eyes and I wanted to recognize that in my blog. This friend of mine, who was a groomsman in my wedding, called my post "drivel" and told me it was not "fair and balanced." This is an example of the divisiveness and attacks launched by both sides of the political spectrum for far too long.
If this friendship is lost over an election, I will mourn it. But I rejoice that a message of hope and inspiration won over a message of hate and fear.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Barack Obama has been elected to serve as the nation's 44th president. His unlikely journey to the highest elected office in the country began, of course, in Springfield, Illinois on the steps of the Old State Capitol where Abraham Lincoln once served in the state legislature.
Many people have pointed out the similarities between Lincoln and Obama, including some who have gone so far as to call Obama "Lincoln-esque." That's an exaggeration at this point, because we can't know just what kind of leader Obama will be.
I watched Obama's acceptance speech last night along with millions of others across the country and around the world. As always, Obama's speech was eloquent and, at times, even moving. I was particularly struck by his paraphrases of Abraham Lincoln's words and his use of Lincoln's example to inspire the nation.
When discussing the beginnings of his campaign, Obama admitted his wasn't the likeliest to succeed, thanks to little money and few endorsements. He said that his army of volunteers, young and old, who worked around the country tirelessly for him is proof that "government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from this Earth." This paraphrase of the last line of the Gettysburg Address hammers home his point that together, people can achieve the unexpected.
Obama went on to ask for unity and an end to the bitter divide between people on the right and on the left, between Democrats and Republicans, between people of different color and different ideas. He again spoke of Lincoln, saying: " Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, 'We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.'" Of course that line was from Lincoln's First Inaugural Address.
John McCain also gave a moving speech last night as he conceded the election. He offered his support to Obama, thanked his millions of supporters, and said he still loves and believes in his country. It was the finest concession speech I've ever heard and it speaks to the honor and character of a man who so badly wanted to win. I think our country did a great disservice to him when it did not elect him in the 2000 presidential primary season, because I believe he would have led the nation with a steadier hand than what we have experienced since.
Only time will tell what Barack Obama will deal with during his presidency. I pray that Democrats and Republicans alike can find a way to reach across the aisle to help solve the many problems this nation is facing at this moment in history. And it wouldn't hurt to look back across some 150 years of that history and ask: "What Would Lincoln Do?"
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 10:52 AM
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 10:57 AM
Monday, October 20, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The Lincoln Journey of Remembrance has come to an end. The final stop of the replica flatboat used to re-enact Lincoln's trip down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers took place on Saturday October 4, 2008 in New Orleans. Most of the trip was fortunately uneventful, but the crew did encounter 7-foot waves in the remnants of Hurricane Ike which necessitated repairs to the boat.
The trip was re-created by a team from Spencer County, Indiana in order to both commemorate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, as well as to publicize his youth in Indiana. Now that the journey is finished, the replica flatboat will be trucked back to Indiana. The intentions are to put it on display in Rockport, Indiana at Lincoln Pioneer Village.
I've previously posted about this journey both here and here. The official site for the Journey of Remembrance may be found at this location.
The Journey of Remembrance was an officially sanctioned event by the United States Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Today's USA Today contains an informative and entertaining article, asking what lessons, if any, we can learn from Abraham Lincoln's leadership as our nation is experiencing economic turmoil, war, social and political divisiveness, and fear that we are on the wrong track. The paper consulted a few historians, primarily James M. McPherson, for help in realizing how Lincoln's example(s) might mean for us today.
Mr. McPherson is of course an historian and author of many books relating to both Lincoln and the Civil War. Retired from Princeton University, McPherson won the Pulitzer Prize for history for his Battle Cry Of Freedom, considered by many to be a definitive narrative of the Civil War. His new book, Tried By War: Abraham Lincoln As Commander In Chief, comes at a time when our country must decide who will lead us in time of both financial crisis as well as in two wars.
McPherson details in the book how Lincoln was the most "hands on" commander in chief in our history. Lincoln spent amazingly long hours in the War Department, reading telegrams detailing the outcome of battles, most of them Union losses in the first year of the war. He was so involved primarily due to the lack of good generals, such as George McClellan, who was always so to engage the enemy, or George Mead who failed to destroy Lee's army after Gettysburg.
In McPherson's opinion, Lincoln was so effective as a leader because he "never made a snap decision. He would mull over every aspect of a situation, examine all sides of a controversy, before he came to a decision." At the same time, McPherson suggests it is a mistake for us today to forget that Lincoln was not "above politics" and was in fact a brilliant politician.
The article also has a couple of brief quotes from Harold Holzer, the nation's eminent Lincoln scholar. Holzer states that America has often turned to Lincoln and his legacy in times of trouble, including World War II. We look to his leadership as an example of what represents the best of America. Holzer astutely points out that not only did Lincoln preside over the bloodiest conflict in our nation's history, but he also led the country through a time of great financial upheaval (the Union had a very difficult time financing the war effort), similar to what we face today.
So what do the historians think Lincoln would advise to the next president? In McPherson's opinion, it would be "Don't panic, don't make snap decisions, and keep your cool." Wise advice to our leaders. Indeed, wise advice to us all.
History can often be a confusing jumble of dates, places, and events. We learn the "facts" of history, but rarely understand the personal side of historical figures, especially people like Abraham Lincoln, who take on almost mythical status through the years. We forget that these people experienced the same raw emotions that we do: contentment and longing; joy and sorrow; anger and happiness.
Lincoln was no different from anyone else. Though he appears to us through the lens of history as a kind and understanding man, he could show flashes of anger with political opponents and the occasional personal enemy. A newly discovered letter written by Lincoln reveals his darker side. This letter, written on February 13, 1864, to a "Mrs. Neagle" came to light recently as part of an auction of presidential manuscripts to be held by Sotheby's.
Some of the letter reads: "As I understand it your husband … knowingly and willingly helped a rebel to get out of our lines to the enemy to join in fighting and killing our people … You protest, nevertheless, that you and he are loyal, and you may really think so, but this is a view of loyalty which it is difficult to conceive that any sane person could take, and on which the government cannot tolerate and hope to live …"
Although more research is necessary, it is suspected that "Mrs. Neagle's" husband must have been imprisoned for treason, a subject which Lincoln took very seriously. The letter must have been written in reply to a request for her husband's parole.
On the other side of this letter, however, Lincoln wrote another few lines stating that Senator Harlan of Iowa knew the Neagle family and that they were "diligent friends." Following Lincoln's handwriting, the note was signed by General Edward Canby. So Mrs. Neagle may very well have ended up obtaining her husband's release.
The letter is estimated to be worth a cool $250,000 to $350,000. Given the abundant interest in Abraham Lincoln these days thanks to the upcoming bicentennial of his birth, I wouldn't be surprised if the letter fetches far more than the estimate.
This article from MSNBC contains more information about the letter and the story behind it.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 10:05 AM
Monday, October 6, 2008
The Easter Seals organization of Central Illinois has issued two Christmas ornaments this year depicting Abraham Lincoln. Part of the Ornament of Hope series, the sale of these ornaments will be used to fund programs that Easter Seals sponsors for helping families who have loved ones with special needs and disabilities.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 12:37 PM
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
To write that Abraham Lincoln had a way with words would be the mother of all understatements. His speeches speak to us today, especially his First and Second Inaugural Addresses and of course, the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln employed no speechwriter; he wrote his own. His writing had a simple, rhythmic style which conveyed majesty and righteousness in some of America's darkest days. Writers of his time and since have considered him to be one of the greatest wordsmiths in the English language.
The October 2008 issue of Smithsonian contains an insightful article about what made Lincoln's speeches so memorable. The article was written by Ted Sorenson, who was the main speech writer for President John F. Kennedy. He was the author of Kennedy's inaugural address, which contained the famous words "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
In the article, Sorenson makes the claim that Lincoln was also the greatest presidential speechwriter. He examines what made Lincoln's words so special, such as alliteration, repetition, rhythm, and timeless ideas. He also states that Lincoln was a much better speechwriter than orator, making comparisons to other presidents such as Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt. In Sorenson's opinion, it was the power and majesty of Lincoln's words which have made his speeches immortal. He closes his article by stating that "The presidents greatest in speechcraft are almost all the greatest in statecraft also—because speeches are not just words. They present ideas, directions and values, and the best speeches are those that get those right. As Lincoln did."
Coming from such an outstanding speechwriter in his own right, the praise from Sorenson is meaningful. Take some time to read the article. You won't be sorry you did.
Monday, September 29, 2008
In July of 1952, a 14-year-old boy named Ronald Rietveld made the discovery of a lifetime. While searching through papers of Abraham Lincoln's secretaries (John Hay and John Nicolay), he stumbled upon a photo of Abraham Lincoln in death. Lincoln's family felt that any photos of Lincoln in death were in poor taste and ordered them destroyed. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton agreed, but inexplicably kept this one photo, taken in New York City on April 24, 1865. The photo was a sensation when it was first published in Life magazine. It is the only known photo of Lincoln in death. Rietveld was granted special access to the papers thanks to his unusual interest and depth of knowledge of Lincoln. He was known to Lincoln scholars thanks to his writing numerous letters inquiring about the president and his life. A more detailed recounting of his find is located here.
Mr. Rietveld is still living and is now 71 years old. Along the way he achieved his doctorate in History. He has continued his lifelong fascination with everything Lincoln (I can certainly relate) and has collected various Lincoln items through the years. His collection is going on public display for the first time, in his hometown of Pella, Iowa. Some of the items Rietveld has collected include a log cabin lapel pin which Lincoln is said to have worn; a pile of dirt from Lincoln's birthplace; and a piece of a wreath which was on Lincoln's coffin.
The Des Moines (Iowa) Register has a nice article about Rietveld and the exhibit. He's providing a great service by sharing his Lincoln items. The photo below is of Mr. Rietveld with one of his items.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
People have long accused me of getting lost in all things related to Mr. Lincoln, be it in my books, stories, studies, or in my blogging. Now here is everyone's chance to *literally* become lost with Lincoln, or should I say, lost IN Lincoln?
Every year at this time, a farmer in Lexington, Kentucky sets up a maze in his cornfield. This year, John Kelley chose to do his maze with the image of the nation's 16th president. With the publicity associated with the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth next year, Mr. Kelley thought this would be an obvious choice, especially since Lincoln was born in the Bluegrass State.
The maze was professionally designed by a company from Utah, but Mr. Kelley did the work with a large mower. The maze covers an amazing 8.7 acres! In fact, it's so big that the only way to see the entire image is from the air. Note the houses at the top of the photo for some perspective. Very impressive. Visitors are welcome to wind their way through the maze for a small fee. And yes, some folks do get lost and have to be "rescued."
To read more about the maze, you may click here, which is an article from the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader newspaper.
Earlier this week, the United States Mint unveiled the final designs for the new one cent coins being released next year to celebrate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln. There will be a total of four newly designed coins, the reverse of each showing a different stage of Lincoln's life. The first depicts the famous log cabin of his birth. The second shows a young Lincoln taking a break from log splitting in order to read. The third coin is a representation of Lincoln as an Illinois legislator, showing him standing in front of the State Capitol Building (which still stands) in Springfield, Illinois. The last coin in the series depicts the U.S. Capitol building with an unfinished dome, which is as it appeared during Lincoln's presidency. The obverse (i.e. "front") of each cent will remain the current design of Lincoln's profile.
Christy also found another design for the new Lincoln cent series. Unfortunately, it didn't make the final cut. Too bad, because I think Lincoln would've made an excellent surfing dude.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 11:38 AM
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
As many of you know, Abraham Lincoln's flatboat trip down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers is being re-enacted, with the official journey under way just this past week. Seems as if the boat and crew encountered some very rough waters over the weekend from the remnants of Hurricane Ike and had to have some emergency repairs.
According to this article, the flatboat was buffeted by seven foot swells and huge waves on the Ohio River as it journeyed from Elizabethtown, Illinois to Paducha, Kentucky. The crew needed to fix some damage to the cabin in order to make the boat safe for continued travel. Thankfully, no one was injured in the storm.
The flatboat is apparently still on schedule. You may find updates to the schedule at the main site for the recreation of Lincoln's journey here.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 8:58 AM
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 10:43 AM
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
So, I was happy to find this article in the Herald-Leader (Lexington, Kentucky) newspaper which reports that some Lexington-area restaurants are serving up dishes throughout September that Lincoln was known to enjoy. Some of the recipes being presented at these restaurants are lamb shanks, chicken casserole, and scalloped oysters. Since this is a family-oriented blog, I won't speculate about why Lincoln might have enjoyed the oysters.
What were some of Abraham Lincoln's favorite foods or meals? One of my fellow bloggers asked me this just a week or two ago, and I had no idea. She likes the more personal side of history and so do I. Facts and dates are fine in and of themselves, but they don't tell us what the person or places were really like.
The Lexington restaurants are taking the recipes from "Lincoln's Table," a collection of Lincoln's favorite dishes and other meals of the era. The book is currently in the second edition and provides interesting tidbits about the meals, some background on the recipes, and an explanation about some of the out-of-date cooking terms. It's currently out of stock at Amazon.com, but may be found at The Abraham Lincoln Bookshop. I've included a photo of the book in this post.
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Posted by Geoff Elliott at 10:29 AM