Lincoln: Play Dixie For Me

fullsizeoutput_3f77We rolled into the Land of Lincoln and to the campground at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

fullsizeoutput_3f74The grounds are massive and it has been interesting to walk around and see the preparations for the fair beginning August 10.

fullsizeoutput_3f75This is the poultry barn,  just one of many  large, beautiful buildings for animal groupings.


fullsizeoutput_3f76Randy 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.



Lincoln is everywhere!

We visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, Lincoln’s Home National Historic Site, Lincoln’s Tomb and Union Station.



Here we are with Abraham, Mary, Robert, Tad and Willie.

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.

fullsizeoutput_3f83Lincoln’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.



We all know Lincoln grew up in a log cabin and taught himself to read by firelight.


He worked in a general store and became a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois. 

fullsizeoutput_3f88 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.

P1110879They 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.”

fullsizeoutput_3f89In 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.


The museum had several walls of campaign and election brutality!

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.


Lincoln wrote The Emancipation Proclamation himself but worked with his cabinet on timing its release.  Opinions on when, and whether to do it at all, varied.


fullsizeoutput_3f91The 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.

fullsizeoutput_3f92A sobering movie shows the Civil War, including battles, territory modifications and casualties, in four minutes.   One week of war is represented each second.

fullsizeoutput_3f93The 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.

fullsizeoutput_3fa8With 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.

fullsizeoutput_3f9aThis 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.



In Springfield, Lincoln’s body was entombed here temporarily.



Lincoln’s Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery, the final resting place

fullsizeoutput_3fabThe 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.

fullsizeoutput_3f9bWe 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.


The door bell and hat rack are original to the house. 

fullsizeoutput_3fa0Mary Lincoln’s stove is original to the house. She liked it so well that she considered taking it to the White House.

fullsizeoutput_3f9eThe bed in Abraham Lincoln’s bedroom is not original but the wallpaper is an exact replica based on protected sections that were found.

P1110938We 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.









About Serene

Former full time RVers, transitioned to homeowners and travelers. We've still got a map to finish! Home is the Phoenix area desert and a small cabin in the White Mountains of Arizona.
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4 Responses to Lincoln: Play Dixie For Me

  1. Teri McClelland says:

    Wonderful blog! This place looks amazing. I love the picture of you and Randy with Abraham, Mary, Robert, Tad and Willie. You wore the right color clothes.

  2. BeverlyOlson says:

    Wow. Makes me want to get in the car and head out. Thanks for great title. I didn’t know it, but I MISS ABE too.

    • Serene says:

      I’d wait until after their fair!! It’s going to be huge! We both got T-shirts with the I Miss Abe logo. The place actually made me feel hopeful. If we can survive the civil war maybe we can survive the present.

  3. Mark McClelland says:

    What a great write-up. It was nice of Randy to take care of the hornet issue at the recharging stations. Teri got into a hornet’s nest here and they were actually hitting her in the head. She got away from them before she got stung. That nest no longer exists…

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