The Great Emancipator takes a walk on the wild side in the new Illinois Office of Tourism ad, and I think it’s hilarious.
Tag Archives: Abraham Lincoln
…in an interview at the Lincoln Institute blog. Check it out.
Readers and researchers can now access back issues of The Lincoln Herald online, thanks to an ongoing archival effort at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum of Lincoln Memorial University. Some of the most recent issues have been uploaded, and are available by clicking here or at the “Publications” tab on the museum’s website.
The Herald is a publication of Lincoln Memorial University and is the longest-running journal devoted to the study of Abraham Lincoln.
If you didn’t get a chance to see Saving Lincoln in theaters, it’s available on DVD now. Using actual period photographs for its settings, the movie explores the relationship between Abraham Lincoln and Ward Hill Lamon, the Virginia-born attorney who went from lawyer to presidential bodyguard. Lamon isn’t as well-known as some of Lincoln’s other associates, but the two men had a remarkable and longstanding relationship.
They met in Illinois, where Lamon was admitted to the bar in 1851. Although he was born a Southerner, Lamon joined the young Republican Party and played an instrumental role in securing Lincoln’s nomination in 1860, packing the convention hall with his friend’s supporters by printing up extra tickets.
It was during Lincoln’s inaugural train trip that Lamon’s stint as a self-appointed bodyguard began. After detective Allan Pinkerton brought Lincoln word of a possible plot to assassinate the president-elect in Baltimore, an armed Lamon accompanied Lincoln as he passed through the city secretly by night. Neither Pinkerton nor Lamon thought much of the other’s abilities; Pinkerton dismissed Lamon as a “brainless, egotistical fool,” while Lamon later claimed that the purported assassination plot was a sham. (He reversed this opinion in some of his postwar writings.)
Lamon wanted a diplomatic post, but spent Lincoln’s presidential years as a U.S. Marshal of the District of Columbia. In this position he managed to offend some powerful people, with some senators eventually demanding that he be fired. Lincoln entrusted him with a number of delicate missions, including a controversial trip to Ft. Sumter before that installation fell to the Confederates. Despite Lincoln’s wish to hold the fort, Lamon gave Southern authorities the impression that the Union was prepared to abandon it. But if Lincoln was angry at Lamon’s handling of the Charleston trip—and some sources indicate that he was—it didn’t stop him from allowing his old friend to take responsibility for presidential security. The burly Virginian often patrolled the White House grounds at night—armed to the teeth with a pistol, knife, and a set of brass knuckles—sometimes sleeping on the floor right outside Lincoln’s bedroom.
Perhaps one reason Lamon was so conscientious when it came to presidential security was the fact that Lincoln himself seemed so cavalier about it. An exasperated Lamon wrote to him in 1864, “I regret that you do not appreciate what I have repeatedly said to you in regard to the proper police arrangements connected with your household and your own personal safety.…To-night, as you have done on several previous occasions, you went unattended to the theatre. When I say unattended, I mean that you went alone with Charles Sumner and a foreign minister, neither of whom could defend himself against an assault from any able-bodied woman in this city.” Lincoln’s lifelong tendency toward fatalism probably contributed to his seeming indifference toward his safety. He told associates that if someone wanted to take his life badly enough, there would be little anyone could do to stop it. Lamon wasn’t on hand on the night one of Lincoln’s enemies finally got the chance to strike a fatal blow, having been sent on a mission to Richmond.
He returned to his legal practice after the war, setting his name to a poorly-received ghostwritten biography of Lincoln. After Lamon died in 1893, his daughter assembled some of his material into a second book, published in 1895. Some of his personal effects—his watch, marshal’s badge, and ashtray—are highlights of the collection of LMU’s Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum.
As its title implies, Saving Lincoln focuses on Lamon’s role as bodyguard, but it nicely balances the public and private aspects of Lincoln’s life in the White House. Tom Amandes effectively conveys Lincoln’s affable side in a performance reminiscent of Sam Waterston’s portrayal in the TV adaptation of Gore Vidal’s Lincoln. (History buffs may recall that Amandes spent two seasons playing Eliot Ness in The Untouchables.) Lea Coco, Penelope Ann Miller, and Bruce Davison all give convincing turns as Lamon, Mary Todd Lincoln, and William Seward, respectively. The film includes a few incidents that don’t usually make it into Lincoln movies, such as the controversy over Lamon’s performance of a traditional song during Lincoln’s visit to Antietam. I’m glad to see it available in DVD format; anyone interested in history will find it well worth watching.
Steve Dougherty shook hands with Larry Howe, who shook hands with Civil War veteran James A. Hard, who shook hands with Abraham Lincoln. Not bad.
According to an article in the Democrat’s neighborhoods edition last week, Hard shook hands with Mary Lincoln and son Robert as well as with the President in the Blue Room of the White House. “He had a wonderful smile,” Hard said.
Hard once described Lincoln as a “comical looking fellow on horseback” who he saw on two other occasions during troop reviews. Stovepipe hat or no, Abe was Hard’s hero; he cast his first vote for Lincoln in 1864 and his last for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.
Lincoln Memorial University’s Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum is one of 2,000 institutions across the country participating in the Blue Star Museums program. Admission for active duty military personnel (including National Guard and Reserve, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and NOAA Commissioned Corps) and up to five family members is free until September 2, 2013. Just bring your Geneva Convention common access card or Uniformed Services ID Card (1173 or 1173-1) when you visit.
For more information about the museum, call (423) 869-6235 or visit www.lmunet.edu/museum.
In case you haven’t heard, Jurassic Park 4 will be here in 2015 instead of 2014. I hate having to wait another year, but oh well.
Hey, speaking of Hollywood, my mom didn’t know World War Z is a zombie movie until yesterday. I asked her if she assumed, based on the trailers, that it was a movie about Brad Pitt running from crowds of normal people.
Okay, on to business.
- A woman who claims to have a photograph of Lincoln on his deathbed is suing the Surratt House Museum for $100,000 because of a statement on the museum’s website about the photo’s authenticity.
- BBC America listed ten connections between Lincoln and Britain, but they left out the most obvious one: Lincoln’s ancestors came from England.
- If you want to take in the anniversary festivities at Gettysburg but can’t make the trip, C-SPAN3 has got you covered. They’ll be airing the festivities in both live and taped form during the anniversary weekend, and July 4th will feature 24 hours of non-stop Gettysburg programming. For those of you in the Gettysburg area, the C-SPAN bus will be in town starting June 25th, and the Lincoln Diner will even have C-SPAN coffee mugs for the occasion. (That’s the one across the street from the train station, right? I’ve eaten there a couple of times. Neat place.)
- Sorry about the short notice on this one, but Dr. Earl Hess will discuss the Battle of Campbell Station at the Farragut Folklife Museum on June 23rd (that’s tomorrow) at 2:00.
- Finally, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park has obtained an original Civil War document.
In his new book and recent National Review piece, Rich Lowry argues that the American Right has a friend in Lincoln. I haven’t read the book, but based on the NR article I’d say he makes some valid points, overstates some things, and understates some others. None of that is surprising, since it’s generally the pattern when people try to shoehorn nineteenth-century political figures into modern categories.
Lowry’s NR piece prompted this response from Thomas DiLorenzo. While he never really refutes any of Lowry’s points, DiLorenzo does manage to mock Lowry’s physical appearance, criticize his writing style, and label the late William F. Buckley a fascist. All that in about 350 words.
This is why we can’t have nice things.