Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Abe And Mardi Gras

Today is Mardi Gras, the last big blowout party before Lent begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. New Orleans is rocking today, letting the good times roll.

Abraham Lincoln made two trips to New Orleans as a young man, serving on a flatboat, delivering goods to that port city. His journeys were re-created last year, which I posted about here, here, and here.

A little known story about Abe is that he really enjoyed Mardi Gras while he was in New Orleans. A newly discovered photo of Abe at Mardi Gras has just been announced and I'm proud to publish it here for the first time.


OK, not really. Happy Mardi Gras!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Great Lincoln Posts At Oxford University Press Blog

I was contacted a few days ago by a blog intern at the Oxford University Press (OUP) informing me of some very interesting articles about Abraham Lincoln posted to the OUPblog. Ms. Megan Branch, a "blog intern" at OUP, asked me to inform my readers about these articles, written by famous authors and Lincoln scholars. I'm happy to oblige her.

The renowned author James McPherson has an article here, which is an excerpt from his book Abraham Lincoln.

The scholar and author Allen Guelzo has a series of FAQ's about Lincoln on the blog in three parts. You may find part one here; part two here; and the final post here.

Here is a highly interesting post about how Lincoln almost failed from Jennifer Weber, author of COPPERHEADS: The Rise And Fall Of Lincoln's Opponents In The North.

Finally, the OUPblog contains this post by 2009 Lincoln Prize co-winner Craig L. Symonds, a comparison between Lincoln and Obama.

Check out these posts for excellent insight into Lincoln. Thanks to Ms. Branch for bringing them to my and my readers' attention.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Abe In The 21st Century


Of the various projects I've heard about being created to honor Abraham Lincoln's 200th Birthday, one of the more innovative and unusual is from Philadelphia's Rosenbach Museum and Library. Titled "21st Century Abe", the project is yet another attempt to answer the age-old questions as to why we continue to be fascinated by this man and why he continues to influence America today?

"21st Century Abe" consists primarily of an interactive website which features rare Lincoln documents; analysis by famed Lincoln scholar Douglas Wilson; and art (both visual and musical). But the most unusual feature of this website is that it permits users to share videos, essays, other websites, etc. as they pertain to Lincoln. The website permits users to submit their "Lincoln findings" to the site, so others can experience things about Lincoln which otherwise might be missed. For example, I've seen a video featuring former presidential candidate Ron Paul discussing Lincoln; a link to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum; images of Lincoln artwork; and even a video of the "Your Dreams Miss You" commercial featuring Abe pitching a sleep-aid drug. Quite a hodgepodge of Lincoln stuff.

The project has earned the endorsement of the National Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission as well as the Pennsylvania Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Check it out. It's engaging, interesting, informative, and entertaining. Submit your own Abe finding!

Monday, February 16, 2009

We Already Realized This About Abe Lincoln

Out today is the latest survey of historians which ranks the nation's presidents in order from best to worst. The survey was commissioned by C-SPAN, which asked 65 top historians to participate. President Obama was not ranked for obvious reasons.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Abraham Lincoln took top honors. Yes, he has his detractors and historical revisionists, but those who correctly understand American history know that this survey got it right.

Rounding out the top five are George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Harry S Truman. The bottom five were James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, William Henry Harrison, and Warren G. Harding. I think it's a bit unfair to even rate poor Harrison since he died just one month into his term.

Former president George W. Bush was rated in this poll at 36th out of 42. Although I tend to agree with this ranking, it's probably a bit unfair to rank recent presidents as well. The distance of time has a way of changing opinions of presidents, sometimes dramatically. For example, when Mr. Truman left office, he was highly disliked and ranked very poorly by presidential polls of the time. Now he's considered one of the best. Only time will tell if George W. Bush's ranking will improve. But we all know one rating will remain constant: Abe is the best.

Stealing Lincoln's Body Debuts On History Channel

A new Lincoln television special debuts tonight (Feb. 16, 2009) on The History Channel at 9:00 p.m. Eastern/8:00 p.m. Central. Titled "Stealing Lincoln's Body," the two hour special documents the bizarre 1870's plot by counterfeiters to steal the body of Abraham Lincoln in order to free their compatriot in crime.

I posted previously (Jan. 5, 2008) about this strange episode in Lincoln history with details that I won't repeat here. Instead, I'll just share a link here to a two minute preview of tonight's special. In this preview, you'll see what looks to be a simple re-enactment by an actor portraying Lincoln. Not exactly. These are incredible digital recreations of Lincoln based on existing photos. For the first time, we have a reasonable recreation of what Lincoln might have looked like as he was walking or otherwise moving.

The company behind this technology is Studio Macbeth, which runs a blog about the new photos and "film" it creates featuring an extremely realistic Mr. Lincoln. Thanks to Maria of Studio Macbeth for bringing it to my attention.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Abraham Lincoln In Cupcakes?


I've been posting so many "serious" items about Abraham Lincoln recently that I thought it would be refreshing for my readers (and for me) if I posted something sort of fun for this entry.

My friend Christy (from the Mystic Chords Of Memory blog) sent me a link today about a special event being held tomorrow (February 14, 2009) at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. "Presidential Cupcakes" is the name of the (very) temporary exhibit to be shown for only one day.

Artist and baker Zilly Rosens will create "A New Birth Of Freedom" entirely out of cupcakes, using only flour, fondant, and frosting. The work will feature portraits (again, made entirely of cupcakes) of President Obama to honor his recent inauguration and of Abraham Lincoln, to honor the 200th anniversary of his birth.

The installation and display may be watched here tomorrow (February 14) between 12:00 noon and 6:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The photo I've included in this post was a screenshot my friend sent me earlier today. You can see that the images are going to look very realistic. Amazing that these are edible images!

After the exhibit is complete tomorrow, the museum is inviting guests to help disassemble the work by enjoying it as a tasty treat. Of all the tributes to Presidents Lincoln and Obama, this might be one of the most unusual, but also one of the most fun.

UPDATE: Below is a screenshot from February 14, 2009 of the finished artwork in cupcakes depicting Presidents Obama and Lincoln. Remarkable!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Celebrating Abraham Lincoln At 200



We celebrate the life, memory, and legacy of Abraham Lincoln as the 200th anniversary of his birth has at last arrived on this day in history, February 12, 2009. Remembrance ceremonies will be held today in Washington, D.C.; at his birthplace in Hodgenville, Kentucky; his boyhood home memorial in Indiana; and of course at his beloved Springfield, Illinois. Countless other ceremonies from exhibits to speeches to musical performances will take place coast-to-coast across the nation he helped to preserve.

Mr. Lincoln continues to hold a lock on the imagination of our country for reasons that even the most expert of historians sometime struggle to understand or explain. Certainly his life story is compelling and well-known. Born to poor, illiterate parents, Lincoln as a youth suffered the loss of his mother and sister and was never close to his father. The amount of formal education he had in his entire life totaled less than one year. Business attempts as a young man resulted in failure. He married a woman who can be charitably described as difficult and suffered more tragedy by losing two children, including the one who was most like him and who was his personal favorite. He struggled with depression, sometimes so in the grips of it that his friends feared for his life. As if that wasn't enough, once he had final victory in his grasp, he was struck down by a madman intent on revenge.

Yet in spite of these obstacles and almost impossible odds, Abraham Lincoln achieved greatness. He had a burning ambition to succeed and to escape the life his parents endured. His perseverance is astounding. He read voraciously, often walking miles in order to borrow books which were rare on the frontier. He developed an extraordinary writing style which has been seldom matched even by the most accomplished of writers. He taught himself law and became a very successful attorney. And of course he continued to pursue politics, even though he served just one term in Congress prior to becoming president.

But the failures and successes, the tragedies and the triumphs, cannot completely explain why we continue to have a fascination with this man of the humblest of origins. In my opinion, there are two primary reasons.

First, Lincoln never wavered from his principles and beliefs in doing what he felt was right, even in the face of withering criticism from his enemies. Lincoln was under siege from abolitionists who wanted him to destroy slavery immediately; from Northerners who wanted him to simply let the Confederate states leave the union so the War could end; and from elected officials who criticized his leadership of the War. But Lincoln had the vision that this nation was the "last best hope on Earth" for democracy, for government of the people, and stuck to this belief.

More importantly, though, Lincoln also showed an extraordinary capacity for personal growth. While he was against slavery, for example, he was slow to accept the need for universal emancipation. He freely stated that if he could save the union without freeing a single slave, he would do so. And he believed at first that the government had no right to interfere with slavery where it already existed. Yet as the War continued, he at last came to understand that our nation, founded in liberty and freedom, could not truly be a successful experiment in representative government while millions were in bondage.

These two traits of Lincoln combined into making him our greatest president. While it's important to be dedicated to certain principles, it is crucial that one can admit mistakes and be able to understand when those principles might need to be altered.

Lincoln remains controversial for some, a hero for most, an enigma for nearly everyone. We continue to look for the man behind the myth. Some claim he was gay, others that he was a racist, still some who say he was an atheist. In the process, Lincoln has been somewhat taken down from his pedestal. Personally, I think that's a good thing. For in doing so, we learn more about this fascinating, yet highly complicated man.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lincoln Celebration At The Kennedy Center


As my regular readers know by now, I was treated to a special "Lincoln Weekend" in Washington, D.C. a couple of weeks ago by my wife as a Christmas gift. I went to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, the U.S. Capitol, and The National Portrait Gallery in my quest for finding Mr. Lincoln. But those exhibits, as outstanding as they are, were not the highlight of the weekend.

The weekend closed for us this past Monday evening, February 2, 2009, with a truly special performance at The Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts in Washington. "Our Lincoln" was the special performance that night, helping to kick off the national celebration of President Lincoln's 200th birthday.

"Our Lincoln" (click for the story behind the program) is the creation of the Kentucky Humanities Council, Inc., an organization which helps organize and promote the arts in that state. Featuring a cast of over 375 performers (95 percent of them Kentuckians), the concert performance tells the story of Abraham Lincoln through vocal and instrumental music, dance, actors, and even poetry. The music varied from folk to choral to opera, and I really had no idea what to expect.

Quite simply, the performance was brilliant. The combined choirs of the Lexington Singers and Children's Chorale (one of the largest community choruses in the country), the University of Kentucky Chorale plus the University of Kentucky Symphony opened with a medley of Civil War era folk songs, including an absolutely haunting rendition of "Shenandoah," one of my personal favorites. The chorales were superb.

Other musical interludes included a performance of Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait," which I had never heard. The narrator for the piece was Nick Clooney, a legendary newsman from Kentucky, who happens to have a famous son named George. The music was nuanced and moving.

The American Spiritual Ensemble, a group of roughly 20 African-American singers treated the audience to the classic "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel" plus two other songs which were sung with incredible power and volume control.

The audience was treated to selections from a new American Folk Opera, titled "River Of Time," which tells the story of slavery and young Abraham Lincoln's experiences with it in New Orleans. The full opera will debut later this fall. Lincoln's reaction to slavery as a young man are not truly known, so the opera will be taken some liberties, if you'll pardon the pun.

Probably the main highlight of the evening was the appearance of Mr. Mark O'Connor, who performed the beautiful "Ashokan Farewell," which of course was the theme song of Ken Burns' "Civil War" documentary. Mr. O'Connor was the artist who performed that song for the soundtrack.

Interspersed among the musical selections were actors portraying famous people from Lincoln's life, such as Billy Herndon, Mary Owens (Lincoln's first "fiancee" if legend is to be believed), and Emilie Todd Helm, Lincoln's sister-in-law.

The evening closed as it should have, with a majestic rendition of "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic," featuring the combined choirs and Spiritual Ensemble.

To the performers, the main narrator (Bob Edwards, formerly of National Public Radio), and the Kentucky Humanities Council, I offer my thanks and congratulations for a breathtaking and moving celebration of Abraham Lincoln. BRAVO!

Thus concluded my "Lincoln Weekend" in our nation's capital. I had a great time and was sorry it was over so quickly. I never tire of Washington, D.C. since I'm obviously a student of history. In fact, I plan on returning this spring as a new Lincoln exhibit is opening tomorrow at The Library Of Congress, and Ford's Theater is reopening. It's a special time for those of us who are such Lincoln enthusiasts. By the way, for other highlights of my trip, click here and here for reviews of the exhibits at the Smithsonian; and here for some fascinating Lincoln items at the U.S. Capitol.

USA Today Cover Story On Revising Lincoln

USA Today has yet another story about Mr. Lincoln in today's edition. This time, the story is the main cover feature on the front page. It's a very thought-provoking piece and one which should be of great interest to Lincoln enthusiasts. especially those who are just beginning to learn more about him.

The point of the article is that 200 years after his birth, there is a more complex picture emerging of Lincoln than what was the case many decades ago. Recent years (and books) have seen claims made that Lincoln was gay or that he was racist or an atheist. Some upcoming books even claim he was henpecked and a crybaby in public.

The article quotes leading Lincoln scholars like Harold Holzer and Michael Burlingame along with many other authors and professors. The theme is that Lincoln was human like the rest of us, complete with failings and foibles, and not a demi-god like people so believed at the time of the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922. For example, Lincoln may have shown racist beliefs early in his life, but he exhibited such an extraordinary capacity for growth that after his death, Frederick Douglass called him the "black man's president."

Take a look at this article. It's an excellent synopsis of today's complex views of a very complex man.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Abraham Lincoln On PBS This Week

There are two special documentaries on PBS this week which should be of great interest to Abraham Lincoln enthusiasts. One is the story of the assassination, while the other strives to find the "real Lincoln," the man behind the myths.

Tonight (February 9, 2009) at 9:00 p.m. (Eastern), the PBS series American Experience tells the story of the assassination in feature film 90 minutes in length. It focuses not only on the assassination itself, but also on the tumultuous two months following the deed as approximately 7 million Americans showed an outpouring of grief which had never been seen in the country. These Americans either paid their respects at the funerals held in numerous cities across the eastern U.S. or by simply lining the tracks as his funeral train made its mournful journey to Springfield. The assassination was one of the greatest tragedies in our history and it helped to solidify myths about Lincoln, such as the belief that he was universally loved. The USA Today television critic says that some of the re-enactments are a bit "cheesy" but I think it should be a compelling film, at least based on the usual high quality programming on American Experience.

On Wednesday night (February 11, 2009) at 9:00 p.m. (Eastern), PBS will debut "Looking For Lincoln" (2 hours in length) hosted by the historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as he looks for the "real" Lincoln. Too often, we lose sight of the fact that the people who helped shape American (and world) history were flesh and blood like us, that they had failings in their lives, that they were human. History becomes boring for students and adults alike when it becomes a recitation of facts, dates, and numbers. We need to understand the real persons hidden behind myth. A companion book of the same title has already been published. It is a remarkable look at how Lincoln's son Robert, various friends of Lincoln, and others worked to shape the Lincoln myths. It is an excellent book which I cannot recommend highly enough. I'm very much looking forward to this film. By the way, be sure to check out the link I provided in the opening sentence of this paragraph. You can take a Lincoln quiz, or even watch the film itself.

If you are just learning about Abraham Lincoln, or would like to further your understanding of this complex man, these two PBS films should do the trick. Please check your local PBS schedule as sometimes the local stations do not show the scheduled presentations at the same time as the national feed.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

"Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life" - An Extraordinary Exhibit


In recent posts, I've talked about my "Lincoln Weekend" in Washington D.C. The trip was a Christmas gift from my wife, who put aside her ambivalence about history for four days while I immersed myself in all things Abraham Lincoln. We visited the Lincoln Memorial, Capitol, The National Portrait Gallery and even some venues which had nothing to do with Lincoln at all.


On the first day of the visit, we visited the newly renovated and re-opened Smithsonian National Museum Of American History. As a quick aside, the restored original Star Spangled Banner exhibit is an absolute must see. The scientists and curator have done a marvelous job with it.

The main purpose for visiting the museum, though, was the exhibit "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life" which opened just last month. This show marks the first time that the Smithsonian Institution has placed the entirety of its collection of Lincoln artifacts on display at the same time in the same exhibit.

The first Lincoln artifact the visitor encounters in this exhibit is none other than the top hat he wore to Ford's Theater the night he was assassinated, April 14, 1865. It only gets better from there. The original model Lincoln himself built to obtain his patent is on display here. A section of rail he split is shown along with a iron wedge he used to chop wood. A suit of clothes that Lincoln wore to his office is displayed next to one of the numerous dresses Mary Lincoln wore. Tad's pocket watch can be seen. The original document promoting U.S. Grant to Lt. General is shown, signed by Lincoln and his Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton. Two original life masks of Lincoln are in this exhibit, as is a casting of his hands. All major eras of Lincoln are represented, including his childhood, legal career, presidency, and his assassination. A bloodstained collar from Laura Keene (the lead actress in "Our American Cousin", the play Lincoln was watching when he was shot) is shown, the blood coming from Lincoln as she cradled his head. An original playbill from the play is on display as well.

I think I was most stunned by the display of the actual hoods worn by the co-conspirators of John Wilkes Booth while they were imprisoned during their trial by the U.S. military tribunal. Each prisoner was held in solitary confinement, hooded and in irons. I had no idea that these hoods still existed. Unfortunately, it was never recorded which hood was used by which prisoner, so that information is lost to history. You can see the hoods below in the picture I took (there are eight on display).



The Smithsonian Institution has placed this exhibit on-line, which may be found here. It contains over thirty (30) separate pages, and has full descriptions of the items in this exhibit. It also has published a companion book which may be ordered through its website. I picked up one while I was in the museum and it's a bargain at only $12.95.

"Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life" is an extraordinary exhibit, hands down the best I've ever seen regarding Mr. Lincoln. The items are displayed perfectly in low light, but bright enough to be easily seen. The display placards are informative. The exhibit space itself is large and visitor traffic flows easily. The items on display, of course, speak for themselves. You won't see them anywhere else. And the exhibit is presented as only the Smithsonian can do: there are no cheesy "statues" of Lincoln and his family; no high-tech features like holograms; no reproductions. Perfection. It runs until the year 2011, so there is no excuse for missing it. If you are a Lincoln enthusiast (and you must be since you're reading this blog), this is an absolute must.


My rating: 5.0 out of 5.0 log cabins

Friday, February 6, 2009

Exhibit Review - One Life: The Mask Of Lincoln - National Portrait Gallery


The Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery is currently holding a special exhibition of Abraham Lincoln portraits now through July 5, 2009. Titled "One Life: The Mask Of Lincoln" the exhibit depicts for the visitor the changing face of Lincoln as he served as our 16th president. It is part of the "Lincoln At The Smithsonian" series.

I had the pleasure of viewing the exhibit this past week during my "Lincoln Weekend" in Washington, D.C. A friend of mine had told me just how special this exhibit is and I'm happy to say she was correct.

The centerpiece of this exhibit is the photo I show at the top of this posting, the famous "cracked plate" photo of Lincoln taken just two months before his death, in February 1865. No, this is NOT the last photo of Lincoln as so many people still believe. But this is probably the most famous photo of Lincoln and is quite possibly one of the most famous in American history. Even after the deaths of 600,000 men in the Civil War, and the deaths of two of his four children, Lincoln was able to bring himself to have the slightest smile in this photo, as he realized that the horror of war was nearly over. The crack in the original negative adds poignancy to this photo of Lincoln. The print on exhibit is an original albumen silver print from 1865. Click here for more information plus an MP3 discussion about it.

The true last portrait known of Lincoln is also on display in the exhibit. Lincoln was apparently not pleased by the "surprise" photo as his face shows a little bit of anger. Recent research has shown that this photo was taken on March 6, 1865, at least a few weeks after the "cracked plate" photo.

My personal favorite Lincoln image is represented in the exhibit. This is the famous "Gettysburg" portrait in which Lincoln is staring directly at the camera. Taken only 11 days prior to the Gettysburg Address, it shows Lincoln as resolute, determined, and almost handsome.

All in all, there are roughly 40 images of Lincoln on display in this exhibit, all of them rare and priceless. The viewer can see ambrotype, stereo cards, cartes-de-visites, and prints of captivating images of Mr. Lincoln. No photography was permitted in the exhibit. But the link I provided in the opening paragraph contains every image of Lincoln on display along with a description.

Strangely, the National Portrait Gallery has chosen to not publish a companion book for this wonderful exhibit. It's a pity, because such a book could explain the images in-depth and in context for the enthusiast. Yes, books have been published in the past which contain every known pose of Lincoln, but this exhibit is so unique and special that a companion book should have been done. I know I would have purchased one.

The exhibit is fairly small, but incredibly well done. It was special being able to see original prints and plates of these famous Lincoln images. It is not to be missed.

My rating: 5.0 out of 5.0 Log Cabins



Finding Lincoln At The United States Capitol


A little more than two months ago, a sparkling and impressive new Visitor Center opened at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Open to the public, the Visitor Center will offer various exhibitions pertaining to the history of the building and the people who have served as our elected officials through the centuries.

This being Abraham Lincoln's bicentennial year, the Capitol is joining in the celebrations. This past Monday, my wife and I toured the Visitor Center during my "Lincoln Weekend" I posted about earlier this week. I'm happy I did, because I had no idea that I was going to find wonderful Lincoln items there.

Various famous documents are displayed at the Visitor Center and one of the first I noticed was none other than the original 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which banned slavery forever within our nation. President Lincoln's signature is present on the document, signed for once with his entire name instead of just "A. Lincoln" as if for extra emphasis. It is noted on the display placard that Lincoln's signature was NOT required by the Constitution, but he chose to sign it anyway. Unfortunately, Lincoln did not live to see the 13th Amendment become ratified and put into law on December 6, 1865.

A far less important, but still interesting, document on display shows a petition signed by Lincoln and his fellow residents requesting that a post office be established, at New Salem, Illinois, I believe.

I was very surprised to see that the catafalque which held Lincoln's casket in the Capitol Rotunda is also on display. The catafalque was first used for Lincoln's laying-in-state and has been used for every such ceremony since, with a couple of exceptions. It was last used for Presidents Ford and Reagan's laying-in-state. The material on the catafalque is not original, but closely resembles the original fabric. It is fragile and is displayed inside the wall of the Center, behind glass.

The last item associated with Lincoln in the Visitor Center is the very table he used during his Second Inaugural Address. It was stunning for me to see the table, as I had no idea it still existed. You can easily see the table, which was specially built for the occasion, in the photo taken during his Address on March 4, 1865. The table is displayed under glass and is immediately across from the catafalque. To think that one was made for a such a happy occasion while the other was made just 6 weeks later after a national calamity was emotional for me.

There are of course many more artifacts and bits of information in the Capitol Visitor Center which have nothing to do with Abraham Lincoln. Displays explain how our government (supposedly) works, the history of the Capitol, stories about famous senators and representatives, and so on. But since this blog is about Lincoln, I don't want to go into depth about the other displays.

Sorry I can't include photos of the items I've described here, but photography of any type is not permitted in the exhibition part of the Visitor Center.

I'll be posting more about my "Lincoln Weekend" in Washington in the coming days. Please come back for exhibit reviews and a review of a special performance about Lincoln held at the Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts.

Two Days Worth Of Abe In "USA Today"

USA Today has featured articles about Honest Abe and the bicentennial of his birth in today's and yesterday's editions. I realize the paper is widely-read, but I thought I'd share with my readers in case anyone has missed them.

Today's USA Today has an article in its weekly travel section with suggestions for trips to Lincoln-related sites in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and of course Washington, D.C. The writer thoughtfully included some upcoming events in each location, along with a suggestion or two for sites which are infrequently visited by travelers. For example, the less-visited site suggested for Kentucky is Mary Todd Lincoln's childhood home in Lexington. She grew up in luxury while her husband of course spent most of his youth in abject poverty. While it's fitting and proper that these states and D.C. get a lot of attention, Lincoln's links to my own state of Ohio are often overlooked. I'll be posting about some of them in an upcoming post.

Yesterday's edition of the paper has a full-page article discussing noteworthy new books about Lincoln for both adults and children. The writer gives a great review for "A. Lincoln" by Ronald C. White, Jr." and for "They Have Killed Papa Dead" (yet another book about the assassination) by Anthony Pitch. There is also a section devoted to new Lincoln books for the kids. I was very happy to see the reporter mention "Lincoln And His Boys," a truly superb book which I reviewed in-depth here last August. The article in the paper shows one of the beautiful illustrations by P.J. Lynch from that book.

Update: Pennsylvania Museum's Lincoln Flag From Ford's Theater

Back on April 7, 2008 I posted an article about a museum in Pennsylvania which owns one of the American flags which draped the presidential box at Ford's Theater the night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The original post describes the flag, how it came into the possession of the Pike County (Pennsylvania) Historical Society, and how the flag was authenticated. The flag not only draped the box, but it was used for a time to cradle Lincoln's head as he lay mortally wounded in the theater.

I received an email yesterday from a reader who pointed out that I left out some pertinent information about the flag. Although I mentioned in the original post how the flag was authenticated, I neglected to mention that it was authenticated by Mr. Joseph Garrera, who serves as the president of the Lincoln Society in New York, New York. He is also the director of the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum in Allentown, PA. Apologies to Mr. Garrera, but the original news article I saw about the flag didn't mention his name.

This link contains an older story about how the flag was lent to the now-defunct Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It has more details about the flag itself as well.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Lincoln Weekend In Washington

I returned home last night from what can truly be called "A Lincoln Weekend" spent in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the 4-day weekend, a Christmas gift from my wife Pinar, was to take in the sites and sounds of the celebrations going on in Washington as the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth rapidly approaches. It was a memorable weekend for me, one of the best mini-vacations I've ever taken.

We began the weekend by visiting Mr. Lincoln's Memorial, my favorite spot on Earth. I've been to Washington countless times, but I always make it a point to see the Memorial in order to take in the sheer beauty of the temple. I read The Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address inscribed on its walls. And I always take more than a few minutes to stare at the imposing statue of Lincoln. The sight never ceases to move me in a way I cannot put into words.

This weekend, though, there was far more to be seen related to Lincoln. The next stop was the Smithsonian National Museum Of American History in order to experience the exhibit Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life. The exhibit itself is extraordinary and I will be posting an in-depth review within the next day or two. It is not to be missed.

We took in more about President Lincoln the next day at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in order to see the exhibit One Life: The Mask Of Lincoln. This exhibit features very rare images and prints of Lincoln depicting important events in his life. I'll be posting a separate review about this exhibit as well. It is also not to be missed

On Monday evening, we delighted in an absolutely superb performance at The Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts. Our Lincoln featured a cast of 400 performers ranging from singers to musicians to dancers, combining to tell Abraham Lincoln's unique journey. The performance was simply stunning. I'll post a detailed review on this performance soon.

I had mentioned all of the goings on in Washington just briefly to my wife, who took it as an opportunity to give me such a beautiful weekend. My readers should know that she is not a history buff, so for her to do this for me was very special. Thank you, dear. It was a weekend I shall never forget.

 
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