Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lincoln Bible Will Be Used By Obama At Inaugural


President-Elect Barack Obama has been doing his best to "channel" Abraham Lincoln ever since he kicked off his campaign for the presidency. He began his campaign in Springfield, Illinois at the steps of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln served for eight years in the Illinois Legislature. He's referred to Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team Of Rivals" countless times both during and after the campaign. The President-Elect will partially re-trace the route taken by Lincoln to the nation's capital, departing from Philadelphia on a train. A welcoming ceremony will be held at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18. Just announced this morning is yet another move by Obama to honor the memory of his political hero, Abraham Lincoln.

According to the Presidential Inaugural Committee website, Mr. Obama will be sworn in as the nation's 44th president while he places his hand on the Bible used by Abraham Lincoln on March 4, 1861 during Lincoln's first inauguration. This will mark the first time that this particular Bible will be used at a presidential swearing-in since Lincoln himself used it. The Lincoln Bible is in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress, which was under no obligation to let it be used by Obama.

According to the site, Obama is "is deeply honored that the Library of Congress has made the Lincoln Bible available for use during his swearing-in. The President-elect is committed to holding an inauguration that celebrates the unity of America, and the use of this historic Bible will provide a powerful connection to our common past and common heritage."

This particular Bible was purchased specifically for Lincoln's inaugural by the clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court. Lincoln actually wanted to use his family Bible, but it was still en route to Washington and would not have arrived in time. The image I show here is the Bible Lincoln used at his inauguration.

Presidents are under no Constitutional requirement to use a Bible during the swearing-in ceremony. Theodore Roosevelt chose to not use one, the only president to date to have done so. Some presidents choose to use family Bibles, others have chosen to use the one used by George Washington.

The Lincoln Bible will be featured in an exhibition titled "With Malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition" from February 12, 2009 until May 9, 2009 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.. Some of the other items to be featured will include Lincoln's grammar book, notes he took in preparation for the debates with 'Stephen Douglas, and a scrapbook which Lincoln kept.

I admit that Obama's continued references to Lincoln can sometimes be a little over-the-top. But I think this simple act of using the Lincoln Bible is both justified and meaningful.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Abraham Lincoln Blog At 200


As Mr. Lincoln's 200th birthday rapidly approaches (surely everyone knows by now that it is February 12, 2009), I hope the reader of his blog will permit a little self-indulgence today. This post is the 200th entry on The Abraham Lincoln Blog.

I was new to blogging when I began this blog about Mr. Lincoln in October 2007. I began it for fairly selfish reasons. I needed something productive to occupy far too much spare time. A life of watching too much television and net surfing too frequently was not accomplishing anything worthwhile. Since I'm a computer professional, I thought I'd venturing into the world of blogging. And since my true passion in life is everything related to Abraham Lincoln, I decided to blog about him.

Had I known that there were other Lincoln blogs and sites in existence, I would not have had the "courage" to begin another one. It was after my first 20 posts or so that I learned about Dr. Brian Dirck's wonderful "A. Lincoln Blog," and the superb Abraham Lincoln Research Site, by R. J. Norton. At that point, I nearly stopped this blog for fear that it was superfluous and not in the "league" of the others.

But I realized that in my attempt to provide knowledge to others about Lincoln, I was learning a lot more about him, too. I hadn't known much about the Lincoln-Douglas debates or about his life as a circuit-riding lawyer, for example. So I decided to keep this new Lincoln blog going and I'm happy I did.

Along the way, I've "met" some interesting people who have commented about my postings and I was given the opportunity to review an advance copy of a children's book about Abe. Above all, I've become good friends with a couple of other history bloggers. I'm surprised at the "publicity" the blog has received, including a link to it from the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission website. I'm even more surprised that it's received over 46,000 "hits" in the 14 months it's existed.

I thank everyone who has commented on posts, asked questions, offered suggestions, and gently corrected errors I've made. And I especially thank you for the continued interest in Abraham Lincoln.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mister Lincoln's White House

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.

Friday, December 12, 2008

UPDATE: Lincoln Collection To Remain In Indiana


Today's Indianapolis Star newspaper brings the happy news that the famed collection from the now-defunct Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana will apparently remain in Indiana after all. A news conference is scheduled to be held today at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis to make what's termed a "major announcement."

The consortium between the State Museum, the Allen County (Indiana) Public Library, and the Indiana Historical Society seems to have beat out major competitors such as the Smithsonian Institution and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.

The Indiana consortium proposed that the three-dimensional objects (like the busts pictured above) would be housed in the State Museum, while documents and books go to the library. The Historical Society would preserve and maintain the rarest of the documents, including one of the 25 known copies of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Lincoln.

The Fort Wayne collection, previously owned by the Lincoln Financial Foundation, contains a massive amount of artifacts related to Abraham Lincoln. The collection contains at least 230,000 items, including 18,000 books and 340 documents signed by Lincoln. Countless other items include busts, photos, paintings, and other ephemera. The collection is considered to be priceless.

I've posted several times about the closure of the Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne. This was the original announcement , while this post dealt with some of the ramifications of the closure. At the time of the closure, it was not known what would end up happening to the collection.

While the main competitors were indeed formidable, I think it's wonderful and just that the collection remains in Indiana, where Abraham Lincoln spent his formative years. Congratulations to the Hoosier State! Well done!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

President Lincoln At The Smithsonian


As the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth rapidly approaches, plans are in full swing across the country for exhibitions, lectures, concerts, plays, musicals, and countless other activities to celebrate his life. It would be nearly impossible to take in all of these events, so how can the average Lincoln fan get the most "bang for the buck" while participating in the national celebration?

The perfect place to begin, in my opinion, are the museums of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. (My previous post discusses the rare exhibition of the Bliss Copy of the Gettysburg Address at the National Museum of American History. It's being shown for only 3 more weeks!) Five different exhibits at the various museums are either open now or will be open by January 2009. The "Lincoln At The Smithsonian" website describes all the exhibits, the dates they run, and the museums in which they are featured.

The most anticipated of these exhibits would have to be "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life" at the National Museum of American History. This exhibit will feature more than 60 items Lincoln owned, acquired or used. Included will be the top hat (pictured above) he wore to Ford's Theater the night he was assassinated. The exhibit opens on January 16, 2009 and will run until 2011.

Also opening on January 16 at the Museum of American History is "America's New Birth of Freedom: Documents from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum" which includes a signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation. This and nine other documents written by Lincoln are on loan from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois. These documents are on display until April 2009.

The National Portrait Museum is currently showing "One Life: The Mask Of Lincoln" which features 33 photographs and portraits of Lincoln. The link I've provided is a video which shows some of the items, along with an interview of the curator. The show runs until July 5, 2009.

At the American Art Museum, visitors can learn about President Lincoln's Second Inaugural Ball at the exhibit "The Honor of Your Company Is Requested: President Lincoln's Inaugural Ball." The ball was held on March 6, 1865 just six weeks before Lincoln's death. This exhibit displays a menu from the ball, an invitation, and other items. It's open until January 2010.

Not to be left out is the National Postal Museum, which is showing various plate proofs of stamps honoring Lincoln. These certified plate proofs are the final proof of the plate (engravings) prior to printing the stamps themselves. The exhibit is on until October 2010.

Of course while in Washington, you can absorb even more about President Lincoln by visiting the Lincoln Memorial and the recently re-opened Soldiers' Home which was used by the Lincoln family as a summer retreat during his time in office. And don't miss Ford's Theater, which re-opens after an extensive remodeling in February 2009.

Obviously there are other Lincoln Bicentennial Events throughout the country. The Lincoln Bicentennial Commission website found here is a great place to start. It contains a calendar of events for the bicentennial. The calendar is not all-encompassing, so be sure to search for events in your community.

As always, please continue to return to The Abraham Lincoln Blog for the latest news about Mr. Lincoln and his bicentennial. Thank you!

 
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