Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 9:46 AM
Monday, April 28, 2008
It should be noted that the overwhelming majority of Lincoln experts don't buy into the theory of Booth's escape, as there is at this point absolutely no proof of any kind to support such a claim. Indeed, Edward Steers Jr., the author of "Blood On The Moon," the definitive study of Lincoln's assassination, doesn't even include this theory of Booth's survival in his latest book, "Lincoln Legends, Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated With Our Greatest President."
It will be interesting to find out the results if and when the DNA testing is conducted. Hopefully, it will prove once and for all that John Wilkes Booth was given the ultimate justice for his heinous crime.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 9:06 AM
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 8:47 AM
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 9:23 AM
Friday, April 11, 2008
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 2:51 PM
Monday, April 7, 2008
The main goal of this blog is to help educate people about the nation's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. I never cease to be surprised by just how much additional knowledge I have personally gained about him since I started the blog back in November 2007. The learning continues. Just today, I stumbled upon the story of the "Abraham Lincoln Flag," which supposedly was used at Ford's Theater to cradle Lincoln's head after he was shot on April 14, 1865. I had never heard of this flag, which is on display at the obscure Pike County Historical Society in Millford, Pennsylvania. Here is the story behind the flag.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 10:16 AM
Friday, April 4, 2008
Today marks the 40th Anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which occurred April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King had been in Memphis leading marches of sanitation workers who had been on strike in Memphis for weeks. He was there to give hope, strength, and courage to the workers, who were mostly African-American. As everyone knows by now, Dr. King was the primary leader of the Civil Rights movement in our country, originally coming on to the scene in the 1950's during the Selma, Alabama protests and boycott of that city's bus system for requiring people to ride the back of the bus (or stand), simply based on the color of their skin.
While Dr. King of course has no direct ties to Abraham Lincoln, he served as a guiding force and conscience to President Lyndon Johnson on the question of Civil Rights as Frederick Douglass did for Lincoln on the question of slavery. Just as Lincoln was slow and deliberate in coming around to the total abolition of slavery, President Johnson moved slowly towards the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Without Dr. King's ideas and moral force demanding justice for his people, the Act may have never come to pass.
Dr. King is primarily known today for his spell-binding "I Have A Dream" speech given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963. I am too young to remember his speech, but I never cease to get chills every time I watch it. You may find it here in its entirety of nearly 18 minutes.
On the night of King's assassination, Robert F. Kennedy gave one of the most brilliant speeches in American history in Indianapolis, Indiana at what was to be a campaign appearance. Speaking entirely without notes, Kennedy eulogized Dr. King, but also appealed to every American to avoid violence and continue to work for Dr. King's dream. This speech may be found here. I would urge my readers to watch it.
Our nation has come a long way since that fateful day in Memphis. Who would've guessed that 40 years to the day after King's death that the leading candidate for the Democrat nomination for president would be an African-American? Yet, there is still much to be done. There remains much discrimination in this country based on nothing more than skin color, or sexual orientation, or religious beliefs. Conservatives disparage liberals and vice versa. The rich grow wealthier every day while our senior citizens must choose between medicine, food, and heat. Jobs disappear to other countries while the companies which send them abroad get tax breaks for destroying the lives of Americans.
But I feel there is still hope. If we keep Dr. King's dream alive and remember Abraham Lincoln's words, trusting in the "better angels of our nature," we can truly bring liberty and justice to all. We need to hope. We need to believe. We all need to say "I Have A Dream."
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 9:22 AM
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Back on March 13, 2008 I reported the story about the letter Abraham Lincoln wrote to schoolchildren in Massachusetts in response to their petition for him to end slavery. The letter is beautiful, eloquent, and moving as so much of his writing was. The pre-auction estimate was between 3 and 5 million dollars.
The auction was held today at Sotheby's in New York and fetched an incredible $3.4 million. As usual with these special pieces of history, the bidder remains anonymous, unless of course he or she chooses to reveal his or her identity at some point. One would hope that the new owner will consider putting it on display at some point or even consider donating it to a museum, so everyone can enjoy it.
Also auctioned today was the only known autograph of Abraham Lincoln signed on the day of the dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery, November 19, 1863. That autograph sold for an amazing $937,000 to a first time bidder at Sotheby's.
There were other documents signed by Lincoln and other presidents such as Thomas Jefferson which failed to sell. That of course means that the reserve price or opening price was not met.
One of my favorite activities (my wife would call it an addiction) is to head to the land of eBay and seek out Abraham Lincoln collectibles. I've been an eBay member since its earliest days, before it was even called "eBay" (it was then known as "Auction Web"), beginning in the summer of 1997. I've had transactions with fellow members from around the world and I love the thrill of the hunt, so to speak. Now that Brian Birck has regrettably halted his outstanding "A. Lincoln Blog" I suppose it will be OK if I take over for him and occasionally post links to fun Lincoln items I spot on eBay. I always enjoyed those postings of his titled "Abe on eBay."
At any given time there are roughly 800 to 1,000 Abe Lincoln collectibles on eBay, ranging from cheap trinkets like fridge magnets and postcards to truly astounding items such as authenticated Lincoln autographs, letters, and rare campaign items which bring thousands of dollars. I typically search only for "Abraham Lincoln" because it finds the most items, but some sellers list items as "Abe Lincoln" and those searches return 200-300 items.
Without further adieu, here is the first batch of Lincoln items I'd like to share:
- An 1860 biography in rough condition. I include this here because it was published as campaign literature prior to the election of 1860. It also includes information about Lincoln's first vice-president, Hannibal Hamlin. It's fairly common. Please note that this is NOT the first Lincoln biography, however. That distinction belongs to the famous "Wigwam Edition" published during the Republican Convention at the Wigwam in Chicago. Lincoln was such an unknown even at that point that the biography is titled "Honorable Abram Lincoln", getting his first name wrong. Those biographies are quite scarce, but you can occasionally find one on eBay, as I did a few years ago. I fortunately won the bid and it is the cornerstone of my Lincoln collection.
- A lock of Old Abe's hair. The seller states authenticity and it may well be real. I'm not an expert, but I've seen so many supposed locks of hair from Lincoln listed on eBay that if they were ALL authentic, then Lincoln was surely bald-headed when he was buried. I'd be careful.
- Here's a very nice campaign item featuring Abe and a top hat. Seller says it's an 1864 campaign item, but again, I'd be careful. It very well could be from a later Republican campaign or from the Lincoln centennial in 1909. I've not seen one of these before and I'm watching the auction closely, but will not bid.
- This signed legal document is in Lincoln's handwriting and dates from 1853. I would trust this item with no hesitation as the seller is extremely reputable. I've purchased from them previously and they have impeccable service. This item is authenticated by a trustworthy outfit as well. Bid is already over $2500, so I don't think I'll be buying it.
- A nice souvenir of the centennial of his birth is this small medallion. At just $2.58 currently, this is a cool and affordable item.
- An ashtray showing a representation of the Derringer which shot Lincoln. This is weird.
- An old print from 1866 titled "The Death Bed Of Lincoln." This looks authentic. I believe it's a Currier and Ives print. The actual room at the house where Lincoln died is much smaller than shown in the print and all of the people couldn't have possibly fit there at once.
- How about a piece of a brick from Abe's house? These were available after the renovation of Lincoln's home in Springfield.
- Here is another 1864 campaign item, a good looking photo pin. This I believe to be real.
- Finally, let's close for now with an original newspaper containing the news of Lincoln's assassination. This item appears to be legitimate, based on the seller's history and the high current price of $660.00. Please be careful when purchasing supposed historical newspapers, especially if you see the famous New York Herald edition of the assassination for sale. The Herald edition of April 15, 1865 is a highly valuable newspaper, but it has been reprinted countless times. You have to know what you're doing so you don't get taken in by one of these reprints. Always buy from a reputable seller! I own a copy of my hometown's paper trumpeting the tragic news. I purchased it from Wes Cowan's "Historic Americana" auctions. He's highly respected and is an expert appraiser on Antiques Roadshow.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 12:25 PM
The long-running fight between the state of Illinois and various contractors over cost overruns at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has finally been settled. The total project, including the library, museum, visitors center, parking garage and park took longer to plan and build than did the Civil War and cost a whopping 145 million dollars. An ugly dispute between the state and the contractors began even before the complex opened.
If you've never been to the Library and Museum, which is by far the most-attended of all the Presidential complexes, I would recommend it highly. I made a "pilgrimage" there a couple of years ago and found it to be informative and entertaining. To be sure, it's a little bit over the top with its "Disney-like" exhibits such as holographic presenters and a "recreation" of Lincoln's boyhood log cabin, but it also provides the casual visitor with accurate and detailed information about Lincoln and his family. When I visited, the Museum had a temporary exhibit about the assassination, titled "Blood On The Moon" and it was fascinating. The Museum gift shop is first rate with an excellent selection of books and other mementos for the more serious Lincoln fan, and the usual t-shirts and such for kids.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 10:10 AM
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
In recent posts, I've been covering the upcoming closure of the famed Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana, scheduled for June 30. The museum serves as a repository of priceless Lincoln artifacts, including documents, photos, and literally tens of thousands of reference materials which Lincoln scholars have used for decades in research.
Now a committee made up of members of the Friends Of The Lincoln Museum is seeking comments from the public about the closing. The committee is asking for letters of support and is also soliciting any ideas about how to keep the collection in Fort Wayne. The members of the committee remind anyone that the submitted ideas must be constructive and realistic, considering the position taken by Lincoln Financial, the operator of the museum.
An informal meeting is scheduled to be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 10, with its purpose to bring together individuals and groups who are interested in the future of the museum collection.
Comments and letters should be sent to:
Friends of the Lincoln Museum
P.O. Box 7863
Fort Wayne, IN 46801-7863
This information is courtesy of WANE-TV in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 8:47 AM