Abe Lincoln in Springfield (Virginia, that is)

Springfield Travel Blog

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Lincoln's visage

This Thursday, February 12, marks the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th and perhaps most famous President of the United States. (By coincidence, the date is also the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin. I find it fascinating that both of these influential individuals were born on February 12, 1809.) Numerous observations of Lincoln's 200th birthday are taking place across the USA in the Lincoln Bicentennial year. One such celebration is the traveling exhibition "Abraham Lincoln: Self-Made in America" a joint project of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. The traveling museum exhibit is unique in that it travels in its exhibit space--a 53 foot long tractor-trailer rig! The exhibit has been on the road across America since April 2008.

The Lincoln exhibit trailer
During the weekend of February 6-7, 2009, it made a stop in Springfield, Virignia. History buffs that we are, Susan and I had to see it.

The Lincoln tractor-trailer pulled up on the campus of West Springfield High School. Students visited the exhibit on Friday and the public was invited on Saturday. The exhibit presented an overview of Lincoln's life. Much of it, of course, concerned his Presidency and the Civil War, but there was also a conderable information about his life before he found himself thrust into history.

One learned that Lincoln's forebearers had come from England to Massachusetts in the 17th century. From there they progresed through the colonies and the new states to the frontier and Kentucky, where Abraham Lincoln was born.

Visitors to the exhibit
 The exhibit describes Lincoln's early life, not frequently encountered. He was primarily self-educated through avid reading and was, among other things, a shopkeeper, a surveyor, and a river flatboatman. (He is the only President to hold a patent on an invention, a device for freeing flatboats from river snares.) He eventually became a prosperous attorney in Springfield, Illinois, and served one term in the US House of Representatives in the 1840s. Various memorabilia, such as photos of his family, locks of hair, possessions, papers, and a replica of his top hat acquaint one with Lincoln the person. (He carried his legal papers under his tall top hat. Perhaps that is where the expression "keep it under your hat" comes from.)

But it is Lincoln as President and his role in preseving the Union during the Civil War and in ending slavery that he is most noted.

Lincoln exhibit rig
His administration redefined the Presidency and its powers and it was not a widely popular one at all in his time. Half of the exhbit deals with Lincoln in the Civil War period. Depictions of his election, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, and the outcome of the Civil War remind one of the burden Lincoln sholdered. A dramatic presentation is a four and one-half minute video depicting a map of the four and one-half years of the Civil War. In compressed fashion, one sees the strategy of the North (divide and isolate the Confederacy) vs. the strategy of the South (invade the North and  keep Union troops away from Richmond and the South's food suply).
Lincoln and the log cabin
Against the backdrop of an ever-changing map are the major engagements and events of the Civil War--and a running tally of the number of casualties on both sides.


We spoke at some length with the exhibit docents. (I couldn't resist telling them of my recent experience viewing the Lincoln Inaugural Bible up close--and showed them my photos still on my current memory card.) They are a husband and wife team. (He drives the rig.) They have spent two months in the Washington region--and say they enjoy the opportunity to travel as a job!


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Lincolns visage
Lincoln's visage
The Lincoln exhibit trailer
The Lincoln exhibit trailer
Visitors to the exhibit
Visitors to the exhibit
Lincoln exhibit rig
Lincoln exhibit rig
Lincoln and the log cabin
Lincoln and the log cabin
Replica of Lincolns top hat
Replica of Lincoln's top hat
Law office wall clock
Law office wall clock
Mary and Abraham Lincoln in 1846
Mary and Abraham Lincoln in 1846
Locks of hair
Locks of hair
The 1860 Presidential election
The 1860 Presidential election
1860 Campaign memorabilia
1860 Campaign memorabilia
Lincoln White House china
Lincoln White House china
Mary Lincolns music box
Mary Lincoln's music box
Lincolns administration was contr…
Lincoln's administration was cont…
The Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation
Gettysburg Address
Gettysburg Address
The Gettysburg Address
The Gettysburg Address
The end of the Civil War
The end of the Civil War
Lincoln is assassinated
Lincoln is assassinated
Springfield
photo by: Zagnut66