We rolled into the Land of Lincoln and to the campground at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
The grounds are massive and it has been interesting to walk around and see the preparations for the fair beginning August 10.
This is the poultry barn, just one of many large, beautiful buildings for animal groupings.
Randy discovered a different “animal” grouping while looking at an electric vehicle charging station! He disturbed a hornets nest when he removed the charging handle and got swarmed and stung. The next day he destroyed the nest and was able to replace the handle.
But we didn’t come for the fair, we came to Springfield to be immersed in everything Abraham Lincoln.
We visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, Lincoln’s Home National Historic Site, Lincoln’s Tomb and Union Station.
There were two excellent video productions about Lincoln and the Lincoln Library. Ghosts of the Library (in Holavision) was SO amazing that we thought the narrator was a real person! The picture shows the set – no pictures allowed of the actual performance.
Lincoln’s life and death are shown in full size dioramas but the museum adds much depth to the man and President we thought we knew.
But did you know Lincoln had two sweethearts before Mary Todd and that they were engaged twice before they married? Mary came from a wealthy family who were opposed to her engagement to someone beneath her social standing. She eventually married him regardless.
They had four sons and had a permissive style of child rearing. He said “It is my pleasure that my children are free, happy and unrestrained by parental tyranny.”
In 1858 Lincoln debated Senator Douglas seven times as candidate for the United States Senate. Lincoln lost the election (as he did many before that) but the resulting publicity made him a viable candidate for President in 1860.
Lincoln was assaulted in the press. The Wilmington Daily Journal declared him “by all odds the weakest man ever elected. He is vain, weak, sterile, hypocritical, without manners…. is beneath contempt in every particular, morally and mentally.” Of course we know better now!
The Civil War began soon after Lincoln’s first inauguration. Year after year of war was hard. Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address and wrote the Emancipation Proclamation.
The proclamation was released in a variety of forms and the museum has several examples. An opinion in the Chicago Times stated “…it will be known in all history as the most wicked, atrocious and revolting deed recorded in the annals of civilization.” Not quite, as the proclamation was furthered in the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
A sobering movie shows the Civil War, including battles, territory modifications and casualties, in four minutes. One week of war is represented each second.
The War Gallery allows you to select a photo on a matching video display and learn more about the person or persons depicted in the wall photo.
With the war in its final days, Lee had surrendered but all hostilities had not yet ceased, Lincoln was killed by John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln’s body made several stops on the way home to Springfield.
This photograph of Lincoln lying in state was taken in New York City on April 24, 1865. Mary Lincoln felt it was disrespectful and Secretary of War Stanton ordered all plates and negatives confiscated and destroyed. A single print was sent to Stanton who sent it to a former Lincoln secretary years later. The photo was found in 1952.
The remains of Abraham, Mary and the three sons who died young, Eddy, Willie and Tad, are all in the Lincoln Tomb complex. Their first son, Robert, lived a full life and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery at the request of his wife.
We also visited Lincoln’s Home National Historical Site – the only home Lincoln ever owned. The family lived there for 17 years before moving to Washington DC. There are furnishings the Lincoln family actually owned and others that are similar.
The house is accurately represented because there were drawings commissioned by a newspaper when Lincoln became President.
Mary Lincoln’s stove is original to the house. She liked it so well that she considered taking it to the White House.
The bed in Abraham Lincoln’s bedroom is not original but the wallpaper is an exact replica based on protected sections that were found.
We visited Union Station where, when leaving Springfield for Washington, Lincoln said “Here I have lived a quarter of a century and have passed from a young to an old man.”
Today the station holds sets and memorabilia from Steven Speilberg’s movie Lincoln. Speilberg strove for authenticity. He coordinated with the Lincoln museum and library, even obtaining a sound clip of Lincoln’s law office clock ticking.
In considering a title for this blog, I thought of familiar phrases like “…dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…” or “Now he belongs to the ages” as spoken by Secretary of War Stanton upon Lincoln’s death.
Instead I decided on a phrase we just learned about. Lincoln, the man who said “with malice towards none and charity for all” also said “Play Dixie For me.” He was visiting Richmond just after it fell and asked the band to “Play Dixie for me.” He said “It is good to show the Rebels, that with us in charge, they will be free to hear it again.” This exemplifies President Abraham Lincoln as he contemplated putting the nation back together again.