‘Springfield’ Category

 

#16. Lincoln, Abraham

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was the 16th president of the United States from 1861 to 1865. I’m finding it very hard to write about Abraham Lincoln; for one, there’s probably been more written about this president than any; he was neither obscure nor forgettable. So I’m guessing there isn’t much about the man you don’t already know, or have an opinion about. And I’ve already written a lot about “Abe” – on the Journey I came upon his statue everywhere; in front of the capitol in Charleston, West Virginia, a pensive, sad figure that took research to determine if he was sad about the war, or family matters, or just suffering the general melancholia we’ve heard about. In Frankfort, Kentucky his statue stands in the capitol rotunda, with Jefferson Davis nearby. I found that not only odd, but strangely heartwarming – two men on different sides, in a position to communicate across the room. In Springfield, Illinois I got the full package – I visited his tomb, his home, his law office (where his kids romped around while he was absorbed in his work) and the topper of it all – the Disney version of Lincolnland, with holograph ghosts, cannon fire jolting your seat in the 4D show, and a modern-day telecast of the 1860 election, So I refer you to those posts rather than tell it all again; the links are at the end.

Instead, I’m focusing on four moments in time: his first inauguration, the Emancipation Proclamation, his second inauguration, and his funeral. I grew up in the south; a number of my ancestors served in the Confederate Army and a few in the Union Army; one family had sons serving in both, and two sons hiding in the woods to avoid either. Lincoln’s presidency was a time of heart-rending confusion and upheaval; a time when beliefs and behaviors learned at Daddy’s knee were brought into question. Not just actions were forced to change, but feelings about those actions. It was emotional. That’s the can of worms that came with Lincoln’s job.

1861: First Inauguration

Lincoln won 180 electoral votes on November 6, 1860. Seven deep-south states declared their secession from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America before he arrived in Washington for his inauguration. Word of an assassination conspiracy brought him into the city through Baltimore at midnight on a special train. The air was thick with rumors of “rebel plots” to assassinate or capture Lincoln before he took office. General Winfield Scott was charged with providing protection for Lincoln; he too received death threats. On the procession to the Capitol, Lincoln’s carriage was so closely surrounded by marshals and cavalry it was almost hidden from view.

Nevertheless, on March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln stood on the East Portico before a crowd of 25,000 and delivered his first address to a nation in trouble. Indicating that he’d leave aside matters of no special anxiety, he made these points:

  • Slavery: “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”
  • Legal status of the South: “I have just taken an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the United States Constitution, which enjoins me to see that the laws of the Union are faithfully executed in all states, even those that have seceded.”
  • Use of force: “There will be no use of force against the South, unless it proves necessary to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the federal government. If the South choses to actively take up arms against the Government, their insurrection will meet a firm and forceful response.”

Lincoln concluded his speech with a plea for calm and cool deliberation in the face of mounting tension throughout the nation. He assured the rebellious states that the Federal government would never initiate any conflict with them. Though most of the northern press praised the speech, it was met with contempt in the south.

1862: Emancipation Proclamation

The Federal government’s power to end slavery was limited by the Constitution. In June 1862, Congress passed an act banning slavery on all federal territory, which Lincoln signed. Privately, Lincoln concluded that the Confederacy’s slave base had to be eliminated. Publicly he said this:

My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union … I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.

The Emancipation Proclamation became effective January 1, 1863 and affirmed the freedom of slaves in the ten states not then under Union control. With the abolition of slavery now a military objective, Union armies advancing south liberated three million slaves; enlisting former slaves became official policy. In a letter to Andrew Johnson, then military governor of Tennessee, Lincoln encouraged him to lead the way in raising black troops, stating: “The bare sight of 50,000 armed and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi would end the rebellion at once.”

1865: Second Inauguration

The Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln again in 1864, selecting Andrew Johnson as his running mate. Lincoln ran under the label of the new Union Party, to include War Democrats as well as Republicans. Lincoln pledged in writing that if he lost the election, he would still defeat the Confederacy before leaving the White House. His pledge was put into a sealed envelope; which he asked his cabinet members to sign. The pledge:

“This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he cannot possibly save it afterward.”

Sherman captured Atlanta in September. On November 8, the Lincoln/Johnson ticket won all but three states – Kentucky, Delaware, and New Jersey. Only twenty-five states participated in the election; of the seceded states Tennessee and Louisiana chose electors who voted for Lincoln; their votes were rejected by Congress. Three new states participated for the first time: Kansas, West Virginia, and Nevada. Of the 40,247 army votes cast, Lincoln received 76%.

On March 4, 1865, Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address. In it, he deemed the war casualties to be God’s will.

“Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said, “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether”. With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

Before Lincoln was sworn in, Vice President-elect Andrew Johnson took his oath of office in the Senate Chamber. Obviously inebriated, he later explained that he had been drinking to offset the pain of typhoid fever, but the press ridiculed him as a “drunken clown.” This was the first inauguration to be extensively photographed; one photo is thought to show John Wilkes Booth, a well-known actor and Confederate spy.

1865 Timeline: Assassination and Burial

  • On April 9 General Robert E Lee surrendered his Confederate troops to Ulysses S Grant, marking the beginning of the end of the Civil War.
  • On April 11 Abraham Lincoln gave a speech in which he promoted voting rights for blacks. John Wilkes Booth was there.
  • On the afternoon of April 14 Lincoln and Johnson met for the first time since the inauguration. John Wilkes Booth dropped by Kirkwood house that day and left his card with Johnson’s personal secretary with the message “Don’t wish to disturb you, are you home?”
  • On evening of April 14, Abraham and Mary Lincoln attended a play at Ford Theater. Our American Cousin was a comedy, a farce about an awkward, boorish-but-honest American, heading off to England to claim the family estate. John Wilkes Booth was there. He was familiar with the play, and waited for the line that he knew would draw loud laughter; when the character of Asa Trenchard says to Mrs Mountchessington: “Don’t know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal – you sockdologizing old man-trap!” At that moment John Wilkes Booth entered the Lincoln box and shot Abraham Lincoln in the back of the head, then leapt onto the stage and escaped through the back to a horse he had left waiting in the alley. Lincoln was first attended by doctors there, then taken across the street to Petersen House. He remained in a coma for eight hours.
  • On April 15 at 7:22 AM Lincoln died. His flag-enfolded body was escorted in the rain to the White House by bareheaded Union officers as the city’s church bells tolled. Andrew Johnson was sworn in between 10 and 11 in the presence of most of the Cabinet. Between April 15-19 Lincoln’s body lay in state in the East Room of the White House.
  • On April 19 the coffin, attended by large crowds, was transported in a procession down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol Rotunda, where a ceremonial burial service was held. The body again lay in state on the 20th and on the early morning of the following day a prayer service was held for the Lincoln cabinet officials.
  • On April 21 Lincoln’s coffin was removed to the depot and placed on a train, which traveled through 444 communities and seven states before arriving in Springfield, Illinois, for internment on May 4.
  • On April 26, John Wilkes Booth was caught and killed.

I’d like to talk more about Mary Todd Lincoln, and the Lincoln boys. Back in the happier days of “life in Springfield” when the boys were small, and romping around the little town, I would have invited the whole family over for dinner; a picnic maybe.

But then, everything got so sad.

For Lighter Reading

The Citizen Key, Charleston, West Virginia https://capitalcitiesusa.org/?p=8362#

An April Afternoon, Frankfort, Kentucky  https://capitalcitiesusa.org/?p=9950#

Honestly Abe, Springfield, Illinois  https://capitalcitiesusa.org/?p=9141#

 

 
 
 

That Virus Thingy

September 1, 2020, Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Six months have passed since we really started counting “that virus thingy.” I check the US stats on the Centers for Disease Control website every week; so far no US state or territory has had a week go by with NO new cases. Except for American Samoa, bless their peaceful, well-isolated hearts. Today I took a worldwide look – the World Health Organization has an excellent site and really good advice. It’s vitally important to track what is going on in our own neighborhood, but I believe it is equally important to track what is happening beyond our borders. Compare – how are they managing? How are we, in the US?

As of the beginning of September, 2020, the World Health Organization shows 25,541,380 cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide; 852,000 deaths. If we want to compare that death count with the population of cities of equal size – we could say that EVERYBODY in Indianapolis, Indiana is dead now. Or, Seattle, Washington. Dead. No living, breathing persons left in those cities. When you look at it THAT way, it seems like a lot of deaths, doesn’t it? Other cities in the US that have populations in the 800,000 range are Charlotte, North Carolina; San Francisco, California, Columbus, Ohio; Forth Worth, Texas.  Imagine them gone! Imagine a dystopian horror tale, such as Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars (2012); a world where the unexpected happened – a flu pandemic struck – and life on the planet had to adjust to “what is.” While I’m a believer in Positive Thinking, I’m also a believer in being well-informed. And approaching life in ways that are reasonable, and not based on impatience to “get back to normal, now!” Like, opening schools.  Sure, kids are getting a sucky education right now. Sure, parents are sick and tired of having to manage and monitor their children’s schooling from home.  Sure – well the issue is ablaze in arguments and accusations and vastly different proposals. Politics involved. What is the best solution? Start with facts.

Here are the numbers broken down by sections of the world, and then the US.

World Health Organization Statistics – Number of Cases Reported Worldwide as of September 1, 2020

  • Americas – 13,469,747
  • SE Asia – 4,318,281
  • Europe – 4,225,328
  • Eastern Mediterranean – 1,939,204
  • Africa – 1,056,120
  • Western Pacific – 501,959
  • TOTAL WORLDWIDE – 25,541,380

Of the Americas, that’s both North and South, let’s look at what is happening just in the United States. We’ve got the most cases of any American country — 6,004,443 COVID-19 cases reported to date; 183,050 deaths from the virus. That “death” total kills off everybody in Little Rock, just about! The US numbers are big, and continue to get bigger. Over the next month, I’ll be looking at what other countries in the world are doing to combat a pandemic that is “sure ‘nough” real, and how they are keeping their citizens safe.

Meanwhile, wash your hands, keep your chin up (with MASK intact!), and if you happen to live in any of the states below, get in touch with your governor because your state is leading the pack this week, an honor you don’t want.

US States With Highest Percent of Population Diagnosed With COVID-19 as of September 1

  1. Louisiana – 3.2%, Governor John Bel Edwards, Democrat
  2. Florida – 2.87%, Governor Ronald Dion DeSantis, Republican
  3. Mississippi – 2.81%, Governor Jonathon Tate Reeves, Republican
  4. Arizona – 2.77%, Governor Douglas Anthony Ducey, Republican
  5. Alabama – 2.57%, Governor Kay Ellen Ivey, Republican

US States With Greatest  Numbers of COVID-19  Cases Diagnosed as of September 1

  1. California – 704,485, Governor Gavin Christopher Newsom, Democrat
  2. Florida – 616,629, Governor Ronald Dion DeSantis, Republican
  3. Texas – 612,969, Governor Gregory Wayne Abbott, Republican
  4. New York – 435,783, Governor Andrew Mark Cuomo, Democrat
  5. Georgia – 270,471, Governor Brian Porter Kemp, Republican

US States With Most New Cases Diagnosed in One Week as of September 1

  1. California – 40,416, Governor Gavin Christopher Newsom, Democrat
  2. Texas – 35,432, Governor Gregory Wayne Abbott, Republican
  3. Florida – 22,342, Governor Ronald Dion DeSantis, Republican
  4. Georgia – 16,522, Governor Brian Porter Kemp, Republican
  5. Illinois – 15,130, Governor Jay Robert “J. B.” Pritzker, Democrat

John Bel Edwards, LA

Ron DeSantis, FL

Tate Reeves, MS

Doug Ducey, AZ

Kay Ivey, AL

Andrew Cuomo, NY

Brian Kemp, GA

Gavin Newsom, CA

Greg Abbott, TX

J B Pritzker, IL

 
 
 

Readin’ and Writin’ and ‘Rithmatic

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – Do you know how many students attended public schools in the United States in the 2019-2020 school year? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/, about  50.8 million – 35.5 million in prekindergarten to grade 8, and 15.3 million in grades 9-12.

About 3.7 million students graduated from high school this spring, in the strangest ending to a school year anyone can recall. I’ve heard stories from my parents of “depression years” and school schedules revolving around “cotton-picking time.” My Dad was double-promoted in high school during hard times and wound up graduating at age 16. “Daddy had been a school teacher, and he made sure I got my studies done first. So I’d go to classes in the morning and then put in a crop in the afternoon,” he told. My Mom was dealt a reverse blow – her father held her back for two of her school years; once due to a lengthy illness and once when she simply needed to help support the family. My grandfather was a carpenter, and she dug clay from the riverbank to make bricks. But both parents persevered. They made it, despite the odds.

This year’s high schoolers were hit with an unexpected, unpredictable crisis along about March. In a flurry of fears and fumbles, as the COVID-19 virus began to creep across the country, schools shifted to stay-at-home, online classes. The methods varied from state to state, even within school districts. “Let’s stay home till this passes,” was Plan 1.

It didn’t pass. Virus cases continued to go up and state governors were tasked with issuing mandates to protect their citizens. What a thoroughly depressing “rock and a hard place” to be between. We can’t let 3.5 million kids miss a senior year! But also, we can’t let 50.8 million kids sit side by side in a classroom when the danger of illness, or death, is entirely possible.

So what to do?

You know what happened, it’s past now. My two high-school-senior-grandchildren toughed it out, sitting at home with their laptops; certain hours for online classtime and individual study. Yes, you can STUDY at home (that’s normally called “homework”) but how the heck do you complete a welding class online? They missed the senior prom, the cross-country meets, the camaraderie with school chums. It all went flat.

I applaud the effort their school officials made to create “virtual graduation ceremonies” so they did get to WEAR those caps and gowns; they did get photographed with smiling faces and feted with “immediate-family-at-home parties.” And cake, of course, cake. I’ve heard stories from friends in different parts of the country that told of similar, and some very unusual, solutions for “how to make it SPECIAL for the Class of 2020.”

Life goes on, and the virus isn’t letting up as the fall “school year” fast approaches. The daily news is mostly daily arguments and accusations; we MUST do this; we CANNOT do that. The impact of school closures extends far beyond “educational concerns” or “health concerns.” Financial, emotional, practical, common-sense issues are topsy-turvy; our structured way of life is no longer certain of its footings.

I analyze COVID-19 cases every day on the CDC site; today’s totals are 2,982,900 with 145,663 deaths so far in our 50 states, the District of Columbia, and our US territories.

Top Ten List

Sometimes, I noted, it isn’t good to make the TOP TEN LIST. Today, the ten US states dealing with the highest sheer numbers of COVID-19 cases are:

  1. 399,925: New York. Capital City Albany, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Democrat
  2. 277,724: California. Capital City Sacramento, Governor Gavin Newsom, Democrat
  3. 210,594: Florida. Capital City Tallahassee, Governor Ron DeSantis, Republican
  4. 210,585: Texas. Capital City Austin, Governor Greg Abbott, Republican
  5. 173,878: New Jersey. Capital City Trenton, Governor Phil Murphy, Democrat
  6. 149,574: Illinois. Capital City Springfield, Governor J B Pritzker, Democrat
  7. 110,338: Massachusetts. Capital City Boston, Governor Charlie Baker, Republican
  8. 105,094: Arizona. Capital City Phoenix, Governor Doug Ducey, Republican
  9. 100,470: Georgia. Capital City Atlanta, Governor Brian Kemp, Republican
  10. 92,148: Pennsylvania. Capital City Harrisburg, Governor Tom Wolf, Democrat

Andrew Cuomo, Gavin Newsom, Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Phil Murphy, J B Pritzker, Charlie Baker, Doug Ducey, Brian Kemp, and Tom Wolf, governors of these hardest-hit states, have some tough decisions ahead. So do the governors, and health departments, and school boards, of ALL our states and territories.

There are more than 50 million children out there whose future rocks, and rolls, on the decisions you make.

Tomorrow: Colleges

 

 
 
 

An Invite From DAR

1 DAR Presentation ArkadelphiaLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – I was invited by Charlotte Jeffers, Regent of the Arkadelphia Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, to speak at their April 14 meeting. “Do you want me to talk about the history of the capital cities, or my travel experiences?” I asked. “What will everyone be most interested in?” “We are interested in everything,” was the reply, so I decided to focus on our likeminded objectives, which sent me to the DAR national website.

I learned that DAR was founded October 11, 1890 and incorporated in 1896 by an Act of Congress. Objectives are listed as Historical, Educational, and Patriotic, so I honed in on the “educational” factor, since that is a primary objective of Capital Cities USA. For DAR, “to promote…institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge, thus developing an enlightened public opinion.” For Capital Cities USA, “to build community, character and citizenship through humanities education.” From Objectives to Methodology explains the Journey Across America: Item 1 – to assess civic, community and historic resources in the 50 capital cities of the United States and their capitol buildings by gathering data through on-site visits to each capitol and capital city. In a nutshell!

I began my talk with bottom-line statistics – departed February 28, 2012 and concluded December 18, 2013 for a total of 659 days. Traveled 31,710 miles and spent time in 50 state capitols and the national capitol in DC. Shared neighborhoods with 12,947,450 people as I lived two weeks in each capital city. (With my two cats, no less.) I shared a map showing the 75 overnight stops I made before settling down in Arkadelphia, and then moved into story telling.

“What learning opportunities did I find in the capitols?” I focused on five that were exceptional:
• Austin, Texas – Most Extensive Visitor Services
• Boise, Idaho – Most Inspiring Kids Tour
• Atlanta, Georgia – Tie With Springfield, Illinois as Most Welcoming
• Springfield, Illinois – Tie with Atlanta, Georgia as Most Welcoming
• Montpelier, Vermont – Most Intimate & Inviting, Best Volunteer Program, Most Meticulous Restoration

» read more

 
 
 

As Pretty As Ours

20 capitol frontLinda Burton posting from Springfield, Illinois – The grass was so green it commanded my attention. The sweet smell of spring hedge assailed my senses the minute I stepped from the car; the grass added a visual blast; wow, what did the groundskeeper do to get such green? The wind sent my hat sailing; I chased it across the lawn, wanting to stop and sit right in the middle of that luscious grass. But I plopped it back onto my head, secured the string, and kept walking; I had a purpose. Past the statue of Stephen Douglas, up a few steps, into the doors of the building that has served as this state’s capitol since 1877. The two men at security waved me towards Xray; “Where are you from?” one 20 capitol enteringasked as my bag went through. I told them about the Journey. “This is my thirty-first capitol,” I said. “Is any other one as pretty as ours?” inquired the one whose badge told me he was Fred. “Well, you’ve got the best grass I’ve ever seen!” I laughed. “We’ve got the highest dome,” he said. “It is 74 feet higher than the national capitol.” “It’s shaped like a Greek cross,” Robert added, “and it is the sixth capitol we’ve had. The first was in Kaskaskia.” Fred picked up a 20 domebrochure; “It cost $4,315,591 to build,” he read, “and they used 3.4 million pounds of cast iron in it.” “You guys aren’t Security, you’re PR,” I told them; “where should I start?” They directed me straight ahead, across the rotunda to the Visitor Desk. “And look up,” Fred urged. “There are 9,000 pieces of stained glass in the dome.” I walked past the open-armed statue of Illinois Welcoming The World, and looked up. » read more

 
 
 

Little House On The Prairie

17 flw in 1900Linda Burton posting from Springfield, Illinois – Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was a man who dared to be different. And as with anyone who puts forth new ideas, he was controversial. In 1893 Frank left the office of his mentor, Louis Sullivan, and began to practice as an independent architect. Frank believed that rooms in Victorian era homes were boxed-in and confining, so he began to design houses with low horizontal lines and open interior spaces, aiming for congruence between the interior of a building and its surroundings. In the 1901 Ladies Home Journal, a Frank Lloyd Wright houseplan called “A Home in Prairie Town” was featured; thereafter Frank’s concept became known as “Prairie Style.” It was fitting; prairie houses were meant to blend with the flat prairie 17 sld portait llandscape. Susan Lawrence Dana (1862–1946) was an independent woman and heiress to a substantial fortune, including silver mines in the Rocky Mountains. Widowed in 1900, Susan enjoyed complete control over her household and fortune. Eager to express her personality and to become the leading hostess in Springfield, she decided to completely remodel her family’s Italianate mansion in the state capital’s fashionable “Aristocracy Hill” neighborhood. Her search for an architect to match her aspirations ended when she was introduced to Frank Lloyd Wright, at the time considered the rising leader of a new movement. Susan’s 1902 commission to Frank for the remodeling of the Lawrence Victorian mansion was the largest commission he had ever received. The personalities and tastes of the two were a perfect match; Frank wound up designing and building what was, in effect, an entirely new house for Susan. The house contains the largest collection of site-specific, original Wright art glass and furniture in the world; this gorgeous treasure is today a museum operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. » read more

 
 
 

A Trace Of Times

15 cozy dog overallLinda Burton posting from Springfield, Illinois – It was a time warp. Two just-up cozy dogs and a side of rings sat before me on 50’s-era formica, a squirt of mustard puddled beside them in the cardboard cup. Over by the door two eight-foot cozy dogs complete with hairbow and gloves stood in loving embrace. Over in the corner two cozy customers stood mesmerized by memorabilia plastered floor to ceiling on the restaurant walls. Outside, two cozy dogs atop the sign explained: Cozy Drive In Home of the Famous Hot Dog On A Stick. And beyond that, the highway once known as Route 66 15 cozy dogscarried the midday traffic on what is now Sixth Avenue. Times may change, but the past is safe in here. I swirled my corndog in the mustard, bit off the end, and began to read the back of my newly purchased map. Route 66 runs from the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago to the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica, California. Begun in 1926, it was built under several Federal Aid Highway Acts and was one of the largest public works projects to take place in the US. Route 66 helped create a distribution of America’s population from the areas affected most by the great depression to 15 cozy dog drawingnew areas in the west. From 1945-1965 many unique businesses opened along the route to service the increased travel prompted by the post-war economic boom. Restaurants, motels, and novelty shops created miles of neon signs that marked the way of Route 66. “And I’m in one of those restaurants right now,” I thought, as I unfolded the map to read about other spots along the route still there to offer nostalgic travelers a trace of times gone by. » read more

 
 
 

Honestly Abe

13 alpmlLinda Burton posting from Springfield, Illinois – “It’s like Epcot,” I was told by a Springfield resident, referring to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum at the corner of Jefferson and Sixth. “You’ve got to see it!” In a town that’s filled with Abe-ness, this is the spot where every facet of the Lincoln story is presented “Disney style,” in ways designed to hold the attention of even the most blasé. Everybody knows Abraham Lincoln basics; born February 12, 1809, assassinated April 15, 1865; 16th President of the United States. His rugged face is familiar to us; he’s often portrayed wearing a top hat and a somber expression. His boyhood poverty and 13 museum frontrise to leader of the land is the stuff of inspiration; “he learned to read by candlelight,” we’re told, and thus we know we can achieve greatness too, no matter how humble our beginnings, just like Abe. This is the place to kick up what you know a notch; it’s all there in an air-conditioned walk – the replica of “Abe’s Boyhood Cabin;” his courtship of Mary Todd; his children Willie and Tad playing in his office; his presidential campaign; his time in the White House; his coffin in the Springfield capitol. Special effects surround you; there’s a TV studio 13 ghostsplaying the 1860 presidential campaign as though it were held in modern times; a barrage of words and images depict the world that surrounded Lincoln as he sat as his desk to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. During the projection show in the Union Theater the seats tremble when Civil War cannons are fired; in Ghosts of the Library a live actor debates holographic ghosts. A fabulous experience, all in all. But here in Springfield you can see the honest-to-Lincoln sites too, like the Lincoln home, and offices. For real. » read more

 
 
 

Love What You’ve Got

10 illinois signLinda Burton posting from Springfield, Illinois – I woke in Indianapolis today; from my room overlooking the city I watched the sun rise in the morning window-sparkle of downtown skyscrapers. I sleep tonight in Springfield; outside my room a single tree somewhat blocks my view of the long-haul trucks in the parking lot, waiting for daylight to hit the road. Though both cities are the center of government for their state, they are very different in style. Indianapolis (pop 829,718) thrives on the adrenalin of sports; speedways and stadiums dot the landscape, surrounded by the accoutrements that accommodate large crowds; restaurants of every ilk, high-rise hotels, taxi cabs. Stand and cheer! Springfield (pop 116,250) is Lincoln’s land; everywhere is evidence of the quiet reflective man who lived here, is buried here. In Springfield he practiced law; in Springfield he campaigned to become president of the land, though when he arrived he didn’t have money to even buy a bed. Inspiration of a different sort; such is the way of the Journey Across America, now 60% complete (stand and cheer!). Today I claim 30 capital cities as my home towns; for the last 443 days I’ve experienced life with big-city bustle, and small-town charm. I’ve seen mountains and 10 love brownvalleys and rivers and lakes, fishing and farming and mining and making things, fresh air and fresh food and history and her story, progress and dropping back and growth and decline, sun belts and bible belts and rust belts and no belts at all, just space. Or congestion. I knew capital cities would be interesting; I had no idea how such a mix of lifestyles and scenery and climate would affect my sensibilities, and begin to explain the world. It’s not what you’ve got that matters, I’ve discovered, it’s how much you love what you’ve got. » read more