After much delay, we are finally able to bring you KHF MST Day 3 Part I. Before we begin, I would like remind each of you of HKI's Save the National Civil War Museum Campaign; please sign to save this wonderful center: petitions.moveon.org/save-the-national-civil
Another item we would like to call to your attention is the Illinois State Museum. For several months, Governor Bruce Rauner has threatened to cut numerous social programs and shutter state institutions in response to the inability of the Republican and Democratic Parties to reach a budget agreement. Though Gov. Rauner asserts that this is a necessity aimed at reforming the State, both of the proposed budgets are billions of dollars over-budget -- it is clear that this is a unilaterally partisan act.
Among the lengthy list of closures is the Illinois State Museum System: Illinois has five museums and one appendage facility throughout the State, the primary ISM being located on the Capitol Complex in Springfield (which alone draws circa 200,000 visitors.) Closing the ISM would be a grave mistake, one which is utterly detestable, opposed by a majority of citizens, and which would cement Gov. Rauner's heinous reputation. Government agencies are hearing arguments for and against the closure; though testimony was given and the seats filled with a multitude of concerned citizens, the decision of these commissions have no binding bearing on the Governor's actions. Yesterday (the 21st,) a rally was held in front of the Capitol's Lincoln statue to save the ISM -- more than 800 individuals attended. The Land of Lincoln has twice been a generous host to myself and now KHF, it holds an ever endearing position in my heart; moreover, the universal defense of cultural/natural heritage is a cause 'round which I ardently rally. I am asking all of our treasured readers to show their support:
Flood Twitter with hashtag #SaveTheISM
Keep up to date on this issue via my personal Twitter: @AustinJustice91
"Like" Save the Illinois State Museum on Facebook and sign their petition
Share news stories: you can find many on Facebook via my personal account, the State-Register Journal, Save the Illinois State Museum, and Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus.
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America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we have destroyed ourselves. - A. Lincoln.
The most effective way to destroy a people is to deny and obliterate their understanding of their history. - George Orwell.
Day 3 Part I will center exclusively on sites and artifacts we viewed in Springfield. Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Museum, New Salem, and UChicago will receive their own, separate installments. A majority of the photos you will see were taken during our time in Springfield for the MST, although a handful were taken one year prior in July/August 2014 -- we only substitute these older photos if we were unable to visit a significant site during the MST or we wish to give you a better view of a site we did visit.
Join us as we step into Mr. Lincoln's Springfield in
Here I Have Lived a Quarter of a Century... Day 3 Part I
- Austin R. Justice, History of Kentucky Group.
Contemporary Springfield and the Capitol
Springfield is a city brimming with cultural memory. Its annual summer History Comes Alive program, including performances by college acapella group The Lincoln Troubadours who sing period music in period costume, and Fritz Klein as A. Lincoln, ensures that visitors to the Land of Lincoln receive an immersive, unforgettable experience. Coupled with a plethora of historic sites and museums, tourism is a key factor in the Springfield economy; its Oak Ridge Cemetery - wherein Lincoln was laid to rest - is the second most visited in the United States, following Arlington. I have often argued that our own Commonwealth should heed cues from Central Illinois and Virginia in heritage preservation/commemoration: we are host to a considerable lesser portion of historic sites, museums, etc. Indeed, whereas the City has poured millions into the construction of the ALPLM, Kentucky's Harrison County Fiscal Court seeks to demolish the Ridgeway Estate - which has ties to Lincoln - in order to construct a swimming pool. Whilst Frankfort is host to such great facilities as the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, Old State Capitol, Old State Arsenal, Capital City Museum, and others, we have yet to implement such an immersive living history program as Springfield. One may merely dream of a 19th century symphony wafting its sorrowful yet exciting melodies across the Old Capitol grounds as it does in Springfield.
The Lincoln Troubadours perform in the Old House of Representatives for an episode of Illinois Stories. Among the pieces sang are Hard Times Come Again No More, Shenandoah, Battle Hymn of the Republic, O Susana, Aura Lea, and others.
The statue you are admiring is of Stephen A. Douglas, Democratic rival of Lincoln and a native of Vermont. The Little Giant was, for some time, one of the most prominent statesman of the century; comparatively, Lincoln was effectually unknown. In 1858, Lincoln challenged Douglas for an Illinois senatorial seat - his campaign being launched via the famed afar House Divided address - for which the two set out on a series of debates throughout the State. Lincoln would lose the race (though being the popular candidate, Senators were elected by State legislatures until a Constitutional amendment in the early 20th century,) but achieve national attention as a result. As Dr. Allen Guelzo argues in his Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America, Lincoln's choice to pursue a seat against Douglas would force the lanky lawyer unto the national stage and, ultimately, allow him to defeat Douglas and three other candidates for the Presidency two years later.
Illinois has clearly demonstrated which of its son it favors; statues and portraits of Lincoln are much more prominent throughout the City, the Capitol, and other government buildings; Springfield advertises itself as the Home of Abraham Lincoln; his image or name appears in innumerable places. Surprisingly, the only DeMolay Chapter in Springfield is however named Stephen A. Douglas Chapter.
The current Illinois State Capitol is pictured above. When its ground was broken in March 1869, it would not be completed for twenty years. It was a necessity due to a lack of sufficient space in the Old Capitol; this stunning complex, whose dome is the tallest non-skyscraper capitol dome (exceeding the Federal capitol,) is the sixth of its kind -- two of its predecessors survive. Regrettably, we do not have photographs of its interior to present to you; rest assured of its immense beauty. Notably, the interior of the dome is topped with a wondrous glass Seal of the State of Illinois which was not known to exist for quite some time due to it being hidden by smut and the like. The Seal also slightly varies from the contemporary State Seal: the seal used appears as thus:
The current seal:
One will take note that the position of the ribbon's wordage has shifted. State Sovereignty - originally the dominant, upper half - is now the secondary, lower half. This is one of countless changes which symbolize the aftermath of the American Civil War. A massive societal revolution was awoken by the atrocious conflict; no longer is the parlance of our times the United States are but rather the United States is.
A view of the city from the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel.
One may see the Capitol in the distance from this street.
Looking for Lincoln signs such as this one in front of Obed's and Isaac's Microbrewery & Eatery are posted throughout the City and, indeed, the State.
The Old State Capitol & Lincoln-Herndon Offices
In the distance of the first photo, one will catch sight of Springfield, IL's Old State Capitol -- the building's immediate predecessor still surviving as Vandalia State House State Historic Site, and its successor serving as the present seat of government. Though it retains a deepened tie to Lincoln, being the location at which he delivered his prophetic House Divided Address, launched his unsuccessful 1858 senatorial campaign against Democratic challenger Stephen A. Douglas, served as a State Representative, declared his Presidential bid in 1860, and lied in state as a beleaguered republic mourned; the minority of his legislative journey was spent here.
New Salem - a small commercial village to the northwest of Springfield - offered to a young Abraham numerous opportunities, in some of which he utterly failed. There he would enlist as an Illinois militiaman for the Black Hawk War, be elected Company Captain, reenlist as a private, work in two fruitless stores, begin his ever-significant reading of the law, lose his first attempt at seeking a legislative seat, be made Deputy Sangamon County Surveyor, and in 1834 ascend to the Illinois House of Representatives. At this point, the State capital rested in Vandalia, where it had been since 1819 (after a year of statehood.) Indeed, the majority of Lincoln's career as a legislator for the State was exhausted in Vandalia; upon relocating to Springfield - a move he assisted in achieving with such prominent men as Elijah Iles the, "Father of Springfield," and others in 1839 - Lincoln soon grew tired of the political scene. Rather, he preferred to focus on growing his law practice.
Across the street from the OSC one may notice the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices. In actuality, Lincoln would practice with three partners - all of which were also native Kentuckians; William Herndon is perhaps most noteworthy in that he was the junior partner, indicating that Lincoln had matured an as attorney such as to design an independent practice. Uncharacteristically of the period's customs, Lincoln and Herndon equally halved all income -- this is attributed to the sense of injustice felt by Lincoln, whose salary was less than his previous senior partners. Misleadingly branded as the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, the entire building was not purposed for the two. Their offices were located within the upper levels of the complex, which also served as a store, post office, and other facilities. Until recently, the original flooring could be walked. As with Lincoln's little time as a representative in Springfield, his law practice also did not wholly take place in the city; although his home was permanently located here, he would only be in the area for circa 6 months of the year. Otherwise, he traveled throughout Illinois as a Circuit Court rider.
In 1849, having left office following a single, "Lame duck" Congressional term, and declining appointment as Territorial Governor of Oregon, Lincoln claims to have effectually retired from politics. It would be 1854 before he again reentered the field amidst an ever shifting sociopolitical atmosphere.
Lincoln himself writes in an autobiographical sketch, "...In 1846 I was once elected to the lower House of Congress– Was not a candidate for re-election– From 1849 to 1854, both inclusive, practiced law more assiduously than ever before– Always a whig in politics, and generally on the whig electoral tickets, making active canvasses– I was losing interest in politics, when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused me again."
The repeal of this adjudication via the Kansas-Nebraska Act and Dred Scott Decision would erupt in a horrific slaughter known as Bleeding Kansas -- an eerie prelude to Mr. Lincoln's War. There militant abolitionist John Brown would be afforded his first drawing of blood as he cut down pro-slavery citizens at Pottawatomie Creek, Kansas.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site & the Elijah Iles House
Elijah Iles, whose home is pictured above, was a prominent Illinois legislator who served with Lincoln in Vandalia and was among the group of men who facilitated the capital's relocation to Springfield. Known as the Father of Springfield due to his philanthropy in opening orphanages and other Springfield endeavors, Iles' home has been transplanted twice. It originally stood circa 12 blocks from its present location (then the outskirts of town,) and was later moved 1-2 blocks from the picture's geography, where a Korean church now stands. Comparatively, Elijah Iles was quite wealthy -- his home's original location was known as Aristocracy Hill. A friend of Lincoln's, he at times had Abraham and other friends over for cards in his parlor (amusingly, it is noted that Lincoln was by no means a card shark.)
As may be expected of the period, house parties were commonplace for the Ileses; hundreds could be hosted in the home via a method of filing individuals in and out based upon a strict time table/scheduling of arrivals/departures.
Near the Iles House is the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. This building, which stands amid a entire preserved city block of 19th century homes, was the permanent residence of the Lincoln family in Springfield as well as the only home Lincoln ever owned. Here he, Mary, Robert, Eddie, Willie, and Tad lived and Edward (Eddie) died.
Originally the home had only one floor; the second was later added by Lincoln. Few of the items within the home are original to the house; most were auctioned off, lost, destroyed, etc.
The LHNHS Visitor Center has encased a reproduction of the renowned sculpture Council of War which showcases Lincoln (seated,) Grant (left,) and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (right.) There is also a reproduction Lincoln-Hamlin 1860 campaign banner. Such a piece reinforces Day 2's discussion of Antebellum political culture; the banners which men touted that read Lincoln and Hamlin: Wide Awake are ones such as this modern reconstruction.
An Affectionate Farewell
The Lincoln Depot is the site of a sorrowful scene. Here Lincoln stood on a platform before a crowd of his fellow Springfield citizens, and solemnly delivered his impromptu Farewell Address. In it, we are able to discern the evolution of Springfield in Lincoln's mind from a dull, lonesome frontier town to a heartening, friendly home.
Uncharacteristically, Lincoln did not write his speech prior to its delivery. The Farewell Address was entirely spontaneous so far as we can tell. Upon boarding the train to Washington, Lincoln began writing his oratory from memory on a request. It has been confirmed that the handwriting is his until the 8th line, at which points it shifts to that of secretary John Nicolay to whom the remainder was dictated. The small note at the bottom is from Robert Lincoln.
My friends, no one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.
Little did he know, his return to Springfield would be a procession of mourning.
The President Has Been Shot!
A period mourning cloth - Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Museum of Springfield, Illinois.
Lincoln's abrupt demise resulted in a swift shift in social sentiment. Despite the considerable unpopularity of the President with his constituents but months earlier - political ads proclaiming him, "King Abraham Africanus I" or press openly ridiculing his emancipation policy of 1863 (some even depicting him as and suggesting he is discretely a person of color) - and, indeed, throughout the course of the conflict; the nation swelled with sorrow upon the slaying of the Chief Executive.
Amidst the election of 1864, Lincoln personally admitted that, "...as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be reelected." Moreover, the nomination of the Republican (National Union) Party was far from guaranteed; some suggested John C. Fremont as an alternative: an adamant Garrisonian abolitionist who had consistently spited Lincoln for his unwillingness to adhere to a like-minded doctrine -- Fremont also had the distinction of serving as an officer throughout the war and having been the first candidate the young Party set forth for the Presidency upon its establishment.
Nonetheless these staples of Civil War Era political culture were abandoned; no Executive of the Union had been reelected since Jackson, and certainly none had been slain while in office. A grand mourning solemnly swept across the land; in various cities, i.e. Cleveland, Ohio, entire days were set aside to mourn Mr. Lincoln. A large procession of crowds eagerly followed the lengthy route of his funeral train's return to Springfield. Men and women adorned themselves, as may be expected of the Victorian tradition, with cloths and ribbons such as this one. Foreign dignitaries, including Queen Victoria, dispatched special condolences; entire towns of England were known to print large certificates exclaiming their grief at the nation's loss. (I may well have a photograph of one in my collection.)
Swarms of citizens - a majority of whom had never laid eyes upon their fallen chieftain - trekked from the train upon its arrival in Springfield back to their hometowns, often in other States. The State government began issuing tickets which asserted that guards were not to allow any individual to enter the Capitol (now Old State Capitol, where Lincoln lied in state,) or Capitol grounds without a note signed by a State officer due to the mass overcrowding of the small city. Thousands turned out to catch a brief glimpse of his lanky corpse. There is one account of an elderly woman, circa 90s in age I believe, who had sewn a funeral shawl for Lincoln (as he was well known to wear shawls in public,) who stood near the tracks with her family awaiting the train. Unfortunately, the city wherein the woman resided was not a scheduled stop on the tight itinerary; when she realized the train would not stop, as she had been standing with arms outstretched as it rolled past, her family claims that she fell to her knees and wept.
All the while, Mary Lincoln was in vehement opposition to the grandeur afforded to her late husband in death; Mr. Lincoln, she would explain, had been an all too humble man for such a national display and upset. When the City of Springfield proposed that Lincoln be buried in the center of the city (an awkward ruse to attract tourism,) Mary defiantly insisted he be laid to rest in quiet Oakridge Cemetery; Lincoln lies there to this day, though now with a stunning monumental tomb, whereas he was originally interred in what is presently known as the Receiving Vault.
No definitive account exists which rightly attests to Lincoln expressing a preferred place of burial; some have suggested that he said to Mary that he may like to be buried in Oakridge. Regarding his affection for Springfield, he noted upon first relocating thereto in 1837 that, "This thing of living in Springfield is a rather dull business, after all, or at least it is so to me.." going on to decry that he was as lonely there as anywhere in his life.
We then, however, behold the evolution of Springfield within his mind: in his 1861 Farewell Address, Lincoln writes, "..to this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything." Still, being one who is deeply rooted in Frontier culture and oral tradition, Lincoln most enjoyed spinning stories; one of his favorites goes as follows: a Presbyterian minister wished to procure the Capitol (OSC) for a revival. Upon consulting the Secretary of State, the official inquired, "Might I ask what you intend to be the subject of this revival?" The minister replies, "The Second Coming of Jesus." To this, the Secretary adds, "Oh, no, no, that will never do. If he's been to Springfield once he won't be back again."
In the Post-War Era, sources began exaggerating their relationship with Lincoln. Acquaintances who had scarcely known him thirty years prior spoke as though they were the closest of friends; some fabricated having met him whatsoever. This therefore makes for quite an interesting time for Lincoln scholars in discerning what is myth and what is actuality in early Lincoln biographies compiled by his law partner William Herndon and others. Ultimately, the death of Lincoln enacted upon these United States a mourning seemingly unknown for a single man. Entire classes are held on the effects of Lincolnian legacy. The grave marker for Abraham's father, Thomas Lincoln, speaks nothing of his life; rather, it simply reads, "Father of Martyred President."
Earlier this year, Springfield reenacted the funeral of A. Lincoln for its sesquicentennial. You can find highlights of it here: http://www.c-span.org/video/?325631-1%2Fpresident-lincoln-funeral-reenactment
We encourage our readers to use the US Office of the Historian's database of 1865 correspondence. It contains thousands of letters - some from nations no longer in existence - which express deep sorrow for the death of Lincoln. Find the index by clicking here.
This sesquicentennial funeral badge can be purchased from the ALPLM Foundation website. One should note that this is not a period reproduction; it was designed specifically for the 150th anniversary.
The flag in the lower case was recovered from Ford's Theatre on the night of April 14, 1865. The tear was made by John Wilkes Booth as he fell from the Presidential box.
Above is the contemporary Lincoln Tomb. This monument required years of planning and construction; his body was first interred here, at the Receiving Vault:
Beneath this tomb lies Abraham Lincoln. He is covered in circa 10 feet of concrete due to repetitious attempts to burglarize his body for ransom.
Surrounding the martyred emancipator are the flags of the States which attributed funds to the tomb's construction; if you inspect it closely, you will see Kentucky's standard to the right of Indiana and left of Virginia.
Opposite A. Lincoln are the tombs of Mary, Willie, Eddie, and Tad -- Robert is the only Lincoln child not buried at Oak Ridge. Instead he lies in Arlington National Cemetery. Mary and Robert never repaired their shattered relationship during the Post War Era; Robert succeeded in briefly imprisoning his mother in a sanitarium by reason of insanity until Mary won her freedom soon after.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential
Library & Museum
2015 is the 10th anniversary of the ALPLM.
The ALPLM is the preeminent, world class facility for Lincoln scholarship; it has established Springfield as the nucleus of international Lincoln studies.
We've visited twice; both times offered new, unique experiences unlike those you will discover anywhere else -- try as you might, not even in Lincoln's birthplace of Hodgenville.
Open 9-5 for 362 days of the year, the regular exhibit is not a conventional museum display. When you step into the first segment of the path, you begin a trek through Lincoln's life.
You begin in Indiana. A young Abraham, sitting as he oft did on a tree stump, clutches a book which he likely borrowed from a neighbor. He is a veracious reader, enjoying Aesop's Fables and any other literature he can find. His mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln - to whom Abraham attributes his personality, his depression, and all of his future achievements - has recently passed away from milk sickness when he was but 9 years of age.
The attention to specificity and detail in the museum is astonishing. The trees were made from molds of actual trees in southern Indiana. The cabin you see is an authentic 19th century home, albeit not the Lincoln family's cabin.
As you proceed on your journey, you will encounter the Lincoln children playing in the law office as Lincoln casually reclines on his sofa and recites news articles aloud; you will find an unpolished Mr. Lincoln lovingly looking at his courting partner, Southern belle Mary Todd; one may turn to see the Rail Splitter Statesman taking on the Little Giant at Knox College; you'll see firsthand a slave and mother being torn from each other. Exiting the Antebellum Period, you will cross into the a team of rivals in which Lincoln proposes his Emancipation Proclamation to his vehemently opposed cabinet. Proceeding, the press will ridicule the President, you will see signs reading, Emancipation Proclamation? - It goes too far! - It doesn't go far enough! and slip through a twisted hall of whispers displaying the many press attacks on Lincoln as voices play in the background. Ultimately, though you are fully aware of how the narrative concludes, you will find yourself at Ford's Theatre, in the room where he lay dying, and finally at the Old State Capitol where he lies in state as the Battle Hymn of the Republic is heard above.
It is an immersive, wonderful experience. It is the only museum which nearly brought me to tears.
At the end of the life journey, you'll find a changing exhibit with actual artifact displays as per what one expects of a museum.
There are also two permanent theatres in the museum which present to you a vanishing historian (or is he?) who tells the purpose of the complex via Ghosts of the Library and the thunderous bellows of war via Union Theatre.
From now until February 2016, you can visit the Undying Words exhibition which masterfully presents the legacy of Lincoln through his written word, 1858-1865.
Photographs are prohibited in the special exhibition.
Therefore I am personally urging each of you to, before February, find your way to Springfield. Truthfully, it is a wondrous city (culturally.) In the exhibit you will stand before an original print of the House Divided speech, a copy of the 1st Inaugural, a bound collection of speeches corrected in the margin by Lincoln's hand, the bed upon which he died, and much more.
Across the street from the ALPLM is Union Square Park and historic Union Station which houses the History to Hollywood exhibit about Spielberg's Lincoln.
Hi, I'm the website Admin. I look after the website as well as the chapter social media accounts.
Austin R. Justice
PMC of River Cities Chapter and Lincoln Forum & Colloquium Student Scholar.
Spencer M. Dayton