Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Must A President Be A Techie?

This week's issue of Newsweek contains an op-ed piece from resident writer Anna Quindlen about the need (in her opinion) for our nation's president to be technologically literate. In other words, a techie.

She first discusses in her editorial how Abraham Lincoln was a techie himself, at least as much as possible in the 1860's. Quindlen explains how Lincoln made use of that era's "Internet," the telegraph, as a means to communicate with his generals, thus having an advantage over Confederate forces who didn't have as much access to telegraphy. She refers to the recent book "Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails" by Tom Wheeler, in which the author describes how Lincoln pushed for the spread of the new technology across the country in order to achieve much better communication.

Then Ms. Quindlen contrasts Lincoln with John McCain, who freely admits that he's technologically illiterate and has never been online. She equates this with being out of touch and behind the curve in today's world. She makes a point how Al Qaeda is technology savvy and how our next president must be as well. Her arguments are compelling.

However, I'm not so sure I agree, even though I'm a professional techie myself. I don't know that it's necessary for our president to be at ease with computers and other modern technological marvels. It's critical that our spy agencies and defense services use all the technology possible for the nation's homeland defense. And it's crucial that our chief executive be willing to listen to advice from people who are technical experts.

But must a person know how to use email or build a website in order to be our commander-in-chief? An interesting question, but I think the answer is no. What is your opinion?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lincoln Portrayer Brings Abe To Life


While scanning the news earlier today for articles about Abe, I came across this wonderful story about an Atlantic, Iowa, Abraham Lincoln portrayer. According to the article published in the Nonpareil (Council Bluffs, Iowa), the gentleman in the photo, Lee Williams, is one of the most renowned Lincoln re-enactors.

Mr. Williams performs his show "Lincoln Live" on a part-time basis and has been at it for more than 20 years. He approximates the genuine article's physical characteristics, coming in a couple of inches shorter and a few pounds heavier, but it's close enough for approximation. He's presented his show all around the United States as well as in Russia and Dubai. Mr. Williams found the children of those two countries to be more knowledgeable about Lincoln than most kids in our country. Sad, but not surprising!

In his long career portraying Abe, Williams has won several competitions for his skills and appearance. He has more than 3 hours of materials he can draw from. I did note that he now has a graying beard, so he should probably being dyeing his so he can more accurately resemble Abe.

I like the photo I've included here. It's obviously taken in a way to simulate an antique photo of the real deal, including some blurriness. Clever.

I have to admit, I've never before seen a Lincoln portrayer in person, but it seems to me that Lee Williams would be a great bet for an entertaining event.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Connecticut Joins The Lincoln Celebrations

Back on June 13, I published a post about Hartford, Connecticut dedicating a sculpture garden to the memory of Abraham Lincoln. Now the entire state is going to join in for the celebrations for the bicentennial of his birth.

According to the July 26th edition of the Norwich Bulletin, a 14-member panel has been formed to help Connecticut plan its celebrations. The article describes a visit Lincoln made to Norwich back in March of 1860 to campaign for a friend, William Buckingham, who was running for governor of the state. Lincoln had made previous stops in Hartford and New Haven before arriving in Norwich. Thanks in part to Lincoln's campaigning, his friend won the governorship by 700 votes.

The image I've included in this posting shows a banner which was made in advance of Lincoln's visit. It still exists and is on display in Norwich City Hall. An interesting story from the article details how this banner was long thought to have been lost, until it showed up for auction in 1997 at a New York City auction house. A local Norwich group raised more than $35,000 to buy the banner, bring it back home, and restore it. A good story. The banner is lovely.

The other items in the image are of course the famous 1863 photo of Lincoln. The other small photo is of the hotel where Lincoln gave a speech while in Norwich.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Another Hunt For Abe On eBay

It's time for another stroll through eBay, looking for Lincolnania. As always, there are currently thousands of items related to Mr. Lincoln on eBay, ranging from the cheap to phenomenally expensive; from the tacky to the items which could be considered American treasures. Let's see what's out there right now.

  • The above image shows one of the items which could be an American treasure. This item is one of the more famous and lovely Lincoln photos, taken in approximately 1858, by an unknown photographer. It happens to be an original albumen print and is signed by the man himself. This is how Lincoln appeared at the time of the famous debates with Stephen Douglas. From time to time, Lincoln would autograph these prints for friends or VIP's. Starting price on this item is a cool $150,000! Don't think I'll be selling my house in order to buy it.

  • A unique 2008 Topps Allen and Ginter baseball card featuring a single strand of Abe's hair. This item is from the "World's Champions" baseball card collection put out by Topps to commemorate famous people. Comes with a letter of authenticity and the like. Check it out. Current bid is already $5,100!

  • For you ventriloquists out there, this Abe Lincoln dummy could be yours for just $299.99 in a Buy It Now auction. Looks pretty cool, actually, but I can't imagine "Little Abe" reciting the Gettysburg Address. Hand-crafted by the seller.

  • A more affordable item is this great-looking motivational poster featuring a portrait of Lincoln, along with a long list of his failures leading up to the presidency. The point is perseverance through life. Current bid is only $10.00.

  • An 1860 edition of a Lincoln biography may be found here. This is a fairly scarce title called "Life and Speeches of Lincoln and Hamlin Wide Awake Edition." There are numerous 1860's bios of Lincoln, but this "Wide Awake" edition is uncommon. This was issued shortly after the Republican convention of 1860, but prior to the election itself. Please note that this is NOT the same as the true first Lincoln biography, the quite rare "Wigwam Edition" in which Lincoln's name is listed as "Abram." Bidding here opens at only $24.99 and there are no bids.

  • For the female Lincoln buff in your life, here are some funky Abe earrings. Each earring is a "bust" of Lincoln, complete with a top hat. No bids and a steal at only $2.99 at this point.

  • A carte-de-visite depicting a scene of what life in the Lincoln home might have looked like. The scene is an artist's rendering. The Lincoln figure reading to his son Tad is based on a famous photo by Matthew Brady. The figure of Robert Lincoln is also based on a photo. But the Mary Todd Lincoln and Willie figures seem to be from imagination. No bids and begins under $10.

  • A fairly rare political ribbon from the election of 1856, when Lincoln was the vice-presidential candidate of the newly-formed Republican party. John C. Fremont was the first presidential candidate of the party. The ribbon simply says "Fremont and Lincoln" but is still kind of interesting. I've not seen one of these before.

  • Finally, Lincoln centennial items from 1909 are coming out of the woodwork right now. You can find postcards, books, presidential medals and so on with 1809-1909 on them. Here's a Harper's Weekly from February 1909, a postcard, and a beautiful medal struck for the Grand Army Of The Republic (the Union Veteran's organization) to celebrate the Lincoln centennial.

As always, happy hunting!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

National Portrait Gallery To Stage Lincoln Exhibit


The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. will stage a new exhibition beginning November 7, 2008 titled "One Life: The Mask Of Lincoln." The purpose of the exhibition is to explore how Lincoln crafted his public persona through the use of images.

The exhibition will feature approximately 30 images, all owned by the Gallery. Included in the exhibition are the famous 1865 "cracked plate" (shown to the left) photograph taken by Alexander Gardner; the 1857 "tousled hair" portrait by an unknown photographer; and the Matthew Brady "Cooper Union" photo, which Lincoln himself considered to be the image which made him president. Additional images include sketches and prints. For more information on the "cracked plate" image, long thought to the be last photo of Lincoln (but not), click here for a description from the Gallery.

The exhibition will run through July 5, 2009. This site from Artdaily.org contains more information about the show.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Knox College Will Host Annual Lincoln Colloquium


Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois is preparing to host the 23rd Annual Lincoln Colloquium on October 11, 2008. Leading Lincoln and Civil War scholars such as Allen Guelzo, James McPherson, Rodney Davis, Garry Wills, and Douglas Wilson will be presenting lectures at the colloquium. Another part of the colloquium will be an exhibit of Lincoln artifacts by collectors and organizations.

This year marks the sesqui-centennial of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, one of which took place on the campus of Knox College. It's "Old Main" building is the only surviving structure from the debate sites.

For more information, including the lectures which will be presented by the scholars, more information may be found here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Update: Lincoln Statue Brings $9,000

Back on July 7, I posted a story about an auction coming up in southeastern Ohio in which 62 acres of land plus various statues of U.S. presidents and military leaders were going to be sold.

The auction was held on Saturday July 19, in Frazeysburg, Ohio. The sandstone statue of Abraham Lincoln brought an impressive $9,000, but the most expensive statue (of U.S. Grant) went for a cool $35,000! The same gentleman purchased those two statutes, plus a statue of James B. McPherson (a Union Civil War general) for another $8,500. They are destined for the purchasers' property in Oxford, Ohio.

This article from the Coshocton Tribune (Ohio) contains more details about the auction turnout and results.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Illinois Lincoln Birthday Celebration Underwhelming

A couple of posts ago, I discussed the fact that the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission in Illinois had its budget cut by the governor of that state due to financial problems in that state. Now this article discusses some of the ways the state of Illinois will celebrate the 200th birthday of its most famous son.

The Commission is going to have schoolchildren across Illinois simultaneously read The Gettysburg Address. Good idea, but hopefully teachers will take the time to explain the meaning of the address, the importance of it in American history, and emphasize the fact that it's one of the finest speeches ever written. Without context, the point of having kids read it aloud will be lost.

The next idea is to have churches across Illinois toll their bells on February 12, 2009. That could be moving and help people remember Lincoln. But when you think about it, this idea doesn't make a lot of sense. Lincoln never officially joined any church and he most likely was never baptized. He did attend services on occasion, but he was not a "Christian" in the traditional meaning of the word.

Finally, the Commission is going to ask businesses to put "Happy Birthday, Abe" on their signs, boards, marquees, etc. This strikes me as a little ridiculous.

Even with budgetary restrictions, surely the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission in Illinois could come up with better ideas to celebrate and remember Lincoln. For example, it could pay for a re-enactment of the celebrations held in Springfield upon Lincoln's election to the presidency. A special book commemorating Lincoln could be written and sold through the state. It could organize a special "Lincoln Festival" in Springfield.

Anyway, this is only my opinion. I just think that the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln requires more dignified celebrations than asking businesses to display the words "Happy Birthday, Abe" out front.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Abe Lincoln Childhood


Most people have read or heard about Abe Lincoln's childhood, including how he would walk for many miles to borrow books which were quite scarce in those days on the frontier. He of course did the things kids did back then, such as help with farming (which he disliked) and other chores and certainly played games which were then popular. Although he had under one year of formal education combined in his life, he was always an avid reader, preferring that activity to nearly all others.

Imagine how Abe might have turned out had he been able to play video games. Who knows what he might have pursued in life, but I sort of doubt he would've grown up to be the greatest president our country has yet produced. Here's a great photo of a kid playing a video game while wearing an Abe mask. For some reason, it struck me as very funny and led to this post. This blog is mostly serious, but life is far too short to not inject humor into it on occasion, including into serious blogs.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lapel Pins And False Patriotism

For months now, Barack Obama has been criticized for his refusal to wear an American flag lapel pin. He has been branded unpatriotic and called un-American by right-wing bloggers, media, and other pseudo-patriots who equate wearing an American flag pin (made in China, of course!) with patriotism. Unfortunately, Obama has now begun wearing one in recent weeks, thus pandering to critics who don't know what true patriotism is.

Today's New York Times contains an editorial about this "important issue," along with suggestions from various designers, illustrators, and artists about the type of lapel pin Obama should wear on the campaign trail. Various designs are suggested, but the first one mentioned is this lapel pin of Old Abe. The illustrator who suggests this, Tamara Shopsin, says that for her, Abraham Lincoln represents the best of America. Tamara, I couldn't agree with you more!

The ironic thing about all of this brouhaha over a cheap metal pin being equated to patriotism is that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are the two major politicians who wear their American flags proudly in their lapels. George W. Bush of course was placed into the National Guard courtesy of his family during the Vietnam War and then disappeared from his unit for a long time. Dick Cheney is really patrotic for wearing his pin, but obtained an unprecedented five deferrments from serving in the military while thousands of his generation died in battle.

Contrast this "patriotism" with both Obama and John McCain. Obama hasn't served in the military, but has dedicated his career to serving the poor and helping to better their lives. McCain was in the military and was held as a prisoner of war for years.

UPDATE: 09/10/2008: Senator John McCain accepted the Republican nomination for President Of The United States on September 4, 2008. McCain is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, served his country honorably in Viet Nam, and was of course held captive by the Viet Cong for over 5 years. No one would ever question his love of country. However, Senator McCain didn't wear an American flag lapel pin during his acceptance speech. Does this make him unpatriotic? I think not, just as Obama was not unpatriotic when he didn't wear one.

A lapel pin doesn't make a person a patriot. Serving one's country with dignity, grace, and honor does.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lincoln Birthday To Be Less Happy?

Mr. Lincoln appears to be slightly sad as depicted by this bust located in Burbank, California. If planned budget cuts become reality next year in Illinois, Abe's 200th birthday celebrations might be a little less happy than expected.

In an article from the July 12, 2008 edition of the Herald and Review, details are presented about how Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois has slashed about half of the annual budget for state historic sites due to economic tough times in the state. His budget also includes $3.7 million less for the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission than the Illinois legislature had budgeted. Most of the commission money would be used to help local communities stage their own Lincoln programs and exhibits in commemoration of the bicentennial.

Let's hope that the money can be restored along the way. While the state of Illinois is planning it's own celebrations, it would be a shame if there is no money for smaller communities to honor our nation's 16th president.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lincoln's Parentage: The Myth Which Will Not Die


Back on April 11, I published a post titled "Bad Lincoln 'History'" in which I told about a new Lincoln museum in North Carolina which was established to perpetuate the myth that Abraham Lincoln was really the illegitimate son of one Abraham Enloe. This myth has persisted in some circles for more than 100 years. It claims that Lincoln was actually born in North Carolina (not Kentucky) and that his son Robert Todd Lincoln basically paid off Lincoln historians to cover up his illegitimate heritage.

This myth continues into modern times without a single shred of evidence to back up the claim. Now, an article from the Terra Haute (Indiana) Tribune-Star published just yesterday trumpets the fact that a "stunning new document" found on Genealogy Today (an online guide) presents "proof" about Lincoln's illegitimate heritage.

Well, no. The story on that site is just more regurgitation from a gentleman by the name of R. Vincent Enlow, a descendant of the Enloes from North Carolina. He has done "research" for the past decade or so, which he claims proves the myth about Lincoln really being an Enloe. One of the pieces of evidence these revisionist "historians" love to use in their claims is the image I've included here. It's a photo of a gentleman named Wesley Enloe, the supposed "half-brother" of Abraham Lincoln. Wesley was the son of Abraham Enloe, the "real" father of Lincoln. The "historians" point out the obvious height and lankiness of Wesley as strong evidence that he was related to Lincoln.

On the Genealogy Today site, you can download an essay from Mr. Enlow detailing his evidence, etc. What I don't like about this article from this genealogy site and the article from the Tribune-Star is that this claim about Lincoln's parentage is presented as FACT. It is bad history. It misleads readers into believing this myth and I believe is an attempt to denigrate Lincoln.

As my post from April 11 stated, Dr. Edward Steers, Junior, one of the leading Abraham Lincoln scholars of our day, carefully examined all the claims in his book "Lincoln Legends, Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated With Our Greatest President." His conclusion is that there is not one bit of evidence to prove that Lincoln was born in North Carolina to a father named Abraham Enloe.

We all must always be aware of attempts by revisionists who try to disparage the titans of American history for their own gains, be it in the form of mindless newspaper articles, false claims of historians on obscure websites, or books written by kooks trying to make a fast buck.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lincoln's Flatboat Journey To Be Re-Enacted


In 1828, when Abraham Lincoln was only 19 years old, he journeyed down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans on a flatboat, then popular with pioneers for transportation of various kinds of cargo. Legend has it that Lincoln was deeply affected by the scenes of slavery all around him in New Orleans and that he then resolved to try to eradicate the "peculiar institution." No writings have been discovered that actually proves what Lincoln felt for sure while in New Orleans, but the large and decadent city must have made quite an impression on the young man.

An organization based in Spencer County, Indiana is undertaking a project to re-create Lincoln's journey down the rivers. Titled "Lincoln's Journey of Remembrance," the project includes a replica of the type of flatboat used by Lincoln on his trip. A departure date of September 9, 2008 from Rockport, Indiana is scheduled, with the final destination being New Orleans.

About 8 or 10 residents of Spencer County will be aboard the 60-foot replica. They're planning on stopping at various towns along the way, telling visitors about Lincoln's life in Spencer County, which includes the location of the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. Not only will the journey serve to educate people about Lincoln's youth spent in Indiana, it hopefully will attract more tourism to the county as well.

Some concessions to modern times will have to be made. As this article explains, the replica flatboat will be equipped with two 150-h.p. Mercury outboard motors due to the much-greater river traffic of our time.

This is one of the more interesting projects being undertaken for the celebration of the Lincoln Bicentennial. Stops along the way planned for now include Mt. Vernon, Indiana and Metropolis, Illinois. More information about the journey is provided in the first link in this post.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lincoln Leadership And Success


What qualities in Abraham Lincoln made him such an outstanding leader? Why did this man with less than one year of formal education and practically no political experience become such an excellent writer, politician, and president?

Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of the best-selling "Team Of Rivals" book about Lincoln and his cabinet, has identified ten characteristics of Lincoln's personality which in her opinion made him such a brilliant leader. She encourages us today to look for these same qualities when trying to decide who we will elect as our next president.
  • The capacity to listen to differing points of view - this was the concept behind Lincoln appointing former political rivals to his cabinet.

  • Ability to learn on the job - Lincoln learned as he grew into the job. Experience doesn't mean everything as my previous post explains

  • Willingness to share credit for success - Lincoln shared credit for successes with his cabinet and generals.

  • Willingness to share blame for failures - like Harry Truman, Lincoln took equal credit for failures when necessary. Compare this to recent presidents who hang their cabinet members out to dry.

  • Awareness of own weaknesses - Lincoln realized he gave people too many chances. Think how much better we'd be off in our country today if Bill Clinton and George W. Bush would admit their weaknesses.

  • Ability to control emotions - Lincoln often would write a letter to someone who had aggrieved him, but then would never send it.
  • Know how to relax - Lincoln's sense of humor saw him through some of the darkest days of the Civil War. Not that he found the war to be funny, but he tried to combat his grief over it through funny stories.

  • Manage directly by "walking around" - Lincoln often visited with soldiers and tried to meet with ordinary people to get a handle on public opinion.

  • Strength to adhere to goals - Lincoln never wavered in his goals to see the Union restored.

  • Ability to communicate goals and vision - the one quality which escapes nearly every politician of our time.

This list was found at HR.BLR.com, a Human Resources website. It reported on Ms. Goodwin's lecture at the 2008 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) convention in Chicago, where she identified these ten qualities of a great leader.

Does Obama's Lack Of Experience Matter?

Back on January 11, 2008 I published a post about how much discussion occurs during every presidential election cycle about the various candidates' experience or lack thereof. Each candidate positions himself or herself as having the best experience. If the candidate happens to be inexperienced, then the person runs as an "outsider."

I've been laughing recently at the attacks on Barack Obama for his lack of experience. As that rabid bulldog of conservatism (that would be Rush Limbaugh) put it the other day, Obama had only 143 work days of experience in the U.S. senate before he formed a presidential exploration committee. The bull...er...Limbaugh compared this to the 26 years in the Senate served by John McCain along with the years of military service that McCain had as well.

So just because Obama had only 143 days of experience as a senator, does this mean he is not a leader? If my memory serves me well, Abraham Lincoln had just one term, only two years, of experience as a U.S. Congressman. He lost a senate race in 1858 to Stephen Douglas, was involved in failed businesses (just like George W. Bush, by the way), and had very limited time in the Illinois state government. Yet he went on to become a brilliant leader who saw our nation through its greatest crisis.

As I posted back in January, political experience is no predictor of presidential success or failure. Some of our most experienced politicians have been failures as presidents (John Quincy Adams and James Buchanan) while some of the least experienced have gone on to greatness.

Don't fall for false arguments!

Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin??


Through one of those quirks in history which can never be understood, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the very same day, February 12, 1809. It must have been a slow week at Newsweek magazine when it ran an article asking who is more important to society today, Abe or Chuck?

Talk about comparing apples to oranges. Lincoln was not a scientist (although he did have an invention patented) and Darwin was not a politician. About the only thing they had in common that I can think of (other than their birth date) is that Lincoln was called the "original gorilla" and Darwin stated that humans and apes share common ancestry. Please, Darwin NEVER stated that humans evolved from apes, by the way!

Newsweek's article is interesting on the surface, I guess, but you have to wonder about the reasoning behind this article. There doesn't even seem to be much of a conclusion, although the author seemingly leans towards Lincoln being more important than Darwin.

There apparently was no news during that week of publication.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Buy Your Own Statue Of Lincoln

Would you like to buy your own statue of Old Abe? Here is your chance. On July 19, 2008, an auction of statues of presidents and other Americans is being held in the hamlet of Frazeysburg, Ohio in the southeastern portion of the state.

According to the Coshocton Tribune (Ohio), the statues are part of the Baughman Memorial Park, which will also be auctioned off (about 62 acres). The statues, including that of Mr. Lincoln, were sculpted by a Mr. Brice Baughman between the late 1800's and 1930. Mr. Baughman's hobby was carving in sandstone, the bulk of which came from the property.

The statues are in various states of repair. This link provides more information about the auction, including photos and a map of the property, along with photos of the other statues up for auction. Other presidents represented by the statues include William McKinley, Warren Harding, and George Washington. Famous military figures carved in stone include Grant and Sherman.

I cannot begin to imagine what these statues might bring at auction. I especially cannot imagine what it would take to haul one of these statues and install it on your own property.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Rarest Lincoln Signature To Be Displayed In Philadelphia

The rarest Abraham Lincoln signature of them all is to be displayed for the next decade at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. The only known signature of Lincoln he made in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863 is a national treasure.

The autograph of Lincoln is in a book which contains the signatures of other dignitaries who were gathered in Gettysburg that day for the dedication of the national cemetery, the scene of Lincoln's immortal Gettysburg Address.

According to this article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, the autograph book was purchased for a staggering $937,000 at a Sotheby's (New York) auction by Lewis Katz, a philanthropist who is part owner of the New York Yankees and New York Nets. He in turn decided to loan it to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Among the other signatures in the book are those of William H. Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State who was nearly killed on the night of Lincoln's assassination; and Abner Doubleday, credited by some experts as the inventor of modern baseball.

Racist Comments Not Tolerated In This Blog

I want to let my readers know that I just deleted some vile comments posted by a racist to my blog. If any of you read this comment and were offended, I extend my deep apologies.

This narrow-minded bigot posted some remarks disparaging Barack Obama both about his race and intelligence. To the idiot who posted these remarks, Senator Obama has more class, dignity, and intelligence than you can ever hope to have now or in the future. No doubt this "person" (and I use the term loosely) belongs to some neo-Confederate group and can't get over the fact that the Civil War was lost 150 years ago.

I welcome comments from my readers, even comments which disagree with my opinion, and especially those which point out my mistakes. But I and this blog will NEVER tolerate racist and hateful remarks about any person, living or dead. Such comments are cowardly and will immediately be deleted upon their discovery.

For the vast majority of my readership, I offer my gratitude for your positive comments and compliments about this blog. And please note that I will continue sharing news, facts, stories, and opinion concerning Abraham Lincoln. Thank you!

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Fall Of Vicksburg Anniversary


Today marks the 145th anniversary of the Fall of Vicksburg (Mississippi), a critical victory for U.S. Grant and the Union Army. After a siege which had begun in May, the final surrender of the city to Grant marked the fall of the last major Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. With the Union victory, the Confederacy was essentially divided into two and the major transportation route for the rebels fell into the North's hands.


The days of July 1-4, 1863 marked the major turning point of the war for the Union. Only July 1-3, the Union won a critical victory in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and then the jubliant news came a day later from Vicksburg when that city finally surrendered.


Abraham Lincoln is famous for his brilliant speeches at Gettysburg, and his two inaugural addresses. But his single sentence statement after the hard-fought seige of Vicksburg is perhaps the most stunning line he ever wrote: "The Father Of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea."


To learn more about the Siege and Fall of Vicksburg, here is a great link. Another article from the National Park Service provides further background.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Abe Lincoln In A Noose?


Back on June 13, I posted an article about the city of Hartford, Connecticut dedicating a sculpture garden in honor of our nation's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. In that original post, I included a photo of a sculpture of Lincoln meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

The above image is from the original article in The Hartford Courant newspaper. I chose not to include it in my post because of the gentleman in the photo and the obvious fact that this particular sculpture of Abe was not complete, with the hoisting rope still visible in the image.

Imagine my surprise when I then found this column, also in the Courant, relating the fact that some readers called the paper, expressing outrage that this photo depicts Lincoln in a noose! One reader called and stated:
"We have been talking about nooses and what they mean to the black community for the past six months. When we see pictures like that show upon the front page of the paper, it's clear to us in the black community that the newspaper isn't representing us."

The editorial about this photo goes on to explain that the editors of the Courant realized that the photo might cause some consternation, but they elected to run the photo on page 1 anyway.

I realize that the noose is a symbol of hatred and racial intimidation to this day, and for good reason. However, I cannot believe that any reasonable viewer of this photo could possibly interpret the hoisting rope around this Lincoln statue as a noose.

What do you think?

What Happened To The Lincoln Statue??


What happened to this beautiful monument dedicated to Abraham Lincoln on July 4, 1909 in Scranton, Pennsylvania? Today, all traces of this 16-foot high monument have vanished. And no one living seems to know why it's gone or where it went.

Dedicated at the Nay Aug Park in Scranton in the centennial year of Lincoln's birth, the monument was obviously beautifully carved and contained an impressive looking bust of Lincoln at the top. There were bronze lions and eagles around the base of the structure as well. All in all, it might have been one of the most beautiful monuments ever erected to Lincoln.

This article from the Associated Press tells the story of the monument and relates how another photo from the dedication day exists showing men, women, and children surrounding it. A local postcard collector found this real photo card I've shown in the above image, but he doesn't remember the statue at all while swimming at the park in Scranton as a boy in the 1930's and 1940's. Obviously, the monument wasn't in place at the park then for even 30 or 40 years.

Historians in Scranton and the surrounding areas are completely baffled. No documentation has been found relating what happened to the statue. It's as if this monument has vanished into thin air. Let's hope that the case of the missing Abe might be solved in time for the bicentennial of his birth next year.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

New Statue Destined For President Lincoln's Cottage


Here is a clay and plaster model of a new statue which will be installed at President Lincoln's Cottage in Washington, D.C. This model is 3 percent larger than life to allow for settling in the bronze-casting process for the actual statue.

The sculptors are Stuart Williamson and Jiwoong Cheh, working for the design shop StudioIES in Brooklyn, New York. The statue differs from so many others of Abe in that this one actually shows him with a slight smile, as if Lincoln is greeting a valued friend or relative upon arrival at his summer home. It looks like it's going to be beautiful.

The story of the statue may be found here in The New York Times. President Lincoln's Cottage, the former Soldiers' Home, in Washington, D.C. has recently reopened after an extensive restoration. It is thought by historians that this mansion was where Lincoln wrote The Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln used it as a refuge from the oppressive heat of the city and to escape the burdens of the White House. It was the Camp David of the day. An interesting article here, also from the Times, discusses the history and restoration efforts of the Cottage.

Incredible "New" Photos Of Lincoln A Must See

A person named "Maria" just contacted me through this blog to let me know about some incredible "new" photos of Abraham Lincoln her company has created. Her firm, Studio Macbeth, has been in existence since 1979 and has the goal of " realism while retaining a painterly sensibility to light and form" in its digital photography.

I would not insult her company or violate copyrights by posting these images of Lincoln in this post, but you may view them for yourself here. One photo shows "Lincoln" receiving a field briefing by a Union officer, while the other photo shows "Lincoln" sitting at a dining room table. Please remember that these are created photos of a digitized Lincoln. I was struck by how realistic looking these pictures are. Do yourself a favor and take a look.

The Abe Lincoln Bear


Searching for all things related to Abraham Lincoln this morning on the web (while I should be working...can you tell I'm bored?), I stumbled upon this adorable life-sized fiberglass bear made to look like Old Abe himself. Intrigued and laughing out loud, I had to research this bear a little further.

This Lincoln bear is located in the small city of Boyertown, Pennsylvania (in Berks County, in the Reading area). The local high school team is the Bears. A few years ago, some folks in the town started "Bear Fever," a collaborative public arts project. The goal of the effort is to decorate the town and surrounding communities with 40-60 fiberglass bears as a way to develop school and town spirit. Local businesses in town "sponsor" a bear, all of which are uniquely designed and painted. The townspeople got the idea after learning about other cities in the U.S. decorating with cows (Chicago) and pandas (Washington, D.C.)

Abe-Bear-Ham (as he's affectionately called) has a top hat, a beard, and a coat resembling the frock that Lincoln wore. Note the "5 dollar bills" serving as a hat band. Too cute. The story of the Lincoln bear, additional photos, and an interview with the artist may be found here.

The real Lincoln had to "bear" much in his life, so what better animal to represent him?

 
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