Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lincoln's Birthday - Learning About the Real Honest Abe

Today is Abraham Lincoln's Birthday, still celebrated as an official state holiday in Illinois. When I was a child, Lincoln's birthday was still a school holiday, and a good day to visit a museum. I remember especially the extensive Lincoln collection on display at the Chicago Historical Society.

Lincoln was born in Kentucky. Galen Frye Singer, a pioneer of the Internet travelogue, has a series of picures of Lincoln's birthplace in Hodgenville, Kentucky. That's a lucky find, because the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace is closed today, due to icy conditions; luckily the Internet site is still open.

Lincoln spent eight years in downstate New Salem, Illinois. If you have ever visited there, you know that it became a ghost town years ago, and really is in the middle of nowhere, but the town has been recreated for Lincoln fans. With snowy and icy roads, why not click here and take a virtual visit?

Lincoln may be America's most mythical president, but most of those myths are good ones, even if they are not true. Take for example, the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House, considered a sacred place by many. Lincoln never slept there; that's the myth. The truth is that he held Cabinet meetings there, and it never was a bedroom until Teddy Roosevelt's administration. The White House Museum has a fabulous online exhibit on the Lincoln Bedroom, which you can view by clicking here. The exhibit is principally a series of photos and pictures of the room from 1856 through 2007, showing the extensive changes undergone by the Lincoln Bedroom over 1 1/2 centuries.

Photography was an emerging technology at the time of Lincoln, and about 130 photos of Lincoln are known to exist. Amateur historian James has put together an online collection of most of them which is fascinating; just click here to see them.


Blogger El Rider said...

My mother's great (great?) uncle was a lawyer in Springfield, he was a friend and an associate of Lincoln's. The story passed down is that whenever Lincoln ate at their home he sat in the seat of honor, an ornate chair of unknown (to me) vintage, style and with a wicker seat. That chair has sat in the entrance to my family's home since the late '60s. I was too busy to blog yesterday but now I have an idea for his 200th birthday next year! Btw, great post.

Feb 13, 2008, 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

Too bad that chair's seat is wicker; it would be a great idea to attach its provenance written on cotton paper in a cotton envelope to the bottom of the seat; it is an important piece of Americana.

My father's grandfather's name is on the memorial in Freeport (the county seat for their town) for his Civil War service. My father didn't have a high regard for Lincoln. Putting the two together, I think my family must have attended (or been affected by) the Lincoln Douglas Debate held in Freeport where Lincoln made it very clear his agenda was not anti-slavery. See http://www.nps.gov/archive/liho/debate2.htm

Feb 14, 2008, 1:17:00 PM  

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