On Tuesday afternoon we ventured down the road to Springfield to learn all we could about Abraham Lincoln – the man, the lawyer, the husband and father, the 16th President.
Downtown Springfield is home to the Lincoln Presidential Library
the Presidential Museum,
and the Lincoln Family home.
In the Museum, we learned that Lincoln was born in Kentucky, but at a young age he moved with his family to a log cabin in Indiana.
Having taught himself to read, he worked hard as a young man, eventually moving to Springfield to work as a lawyer. He became well-known as a lawyer and debater, and attempted several times to enter politics.
He married Mary Todd, and they bought this home at the corner of 8th and Jackson, in Springfield, for $1500. They bought the home as a small single-story house, but added on to it as their family grew.
Both the Museum and the National Historic Site had movies that told of the Lincolns’ life in Springfield. We weren’t allowed to take many pictures in the Museum, but we were allowed to take as many as we wanted in the Lincoln home.
The Lincolns had 4 sons, although one died of tuberculosis as a toddler, while they still lived in Springfield. According to the historians, the Lincolns were devastated by the loss of their son, and tended to let the younger boys (who were born after his death) run a little wild.
Mr. Lincoln was also quite extravagant in the things he bought for the boys. This stereoscope (worked like a Viewmaster) was equivalent to buying the boys a top-of-the-line 50” plasma TV.
The Lincolns had a formal parlor for entertaining guests,
and a more casual room for spending time as a family. Also according to the historian, Mrs. Lincoln said that her happiest times were the days they spent in this house as a family.
It was in this house that members of the Republican Party informed Abraham Lincoln that he had been chosen as their nominee for the 1860 Presidential election, and also in this house that he told Mary that they had won the election.
The historian told us that the wall paper in the master suite was an exact match to the wallpaper that Mrs. Lincoln chose . . . she also told us that Mrs. Lincoln suffered from migraines. I think that wallpaper would give me migraines!
Most of the furniture in the house was carefully chosen antiques from the time period, very similar and often by the same manufacturer as the Lincolns’ own furniture. A few pieces, however, are original, including Mr. Lincoln’s desk.
It’s hard to imagine such a tall man sitting at such a small desk, but they believe that he likely wrote his inauguration speech at that very desk.
Our tour exited the house in the backyard,
and we were able to walk through the rest of the “neighborhood” that is contained within the 4-block boundary of the National Park. It was really neat to see this little neighborhood restored to the state it was in in the 1860s – right in the middle of downtown Springfield.
The other half of the Museum covered the Lincolns’ years in the Whitehouse, and the struggles he faced as President during the Civil War.
He’s now considered one of the greatest Presidents of all time, but at the time there were plenty of people who didn’t like him.
The display ends with his assassination, and the funeral train that carried Mr. Lincoln’s body from Washington DC, through 15 different cities for viewing of his casket, to his final resting place at Oak Creek Cemetery in Springfield.
Plans for the Monument and Tomb began immediately after his death, and some major reconstruction occurred around 1900.
The bronze sculpture of Lincoln’s face in front of the Monument was sculpted by Gutzon Bolgrum, the same artist who created Mount Rushmore.
Rubbing Lincoln’s nose is supposed to bring good luck, and it’s apparent that many people have tried it . . . Tom just had to be one of them!
We entered the tomb, where we were immediately greeted by a bronze reproduction of the Lincoln memorial in Washington DC.
We walked through the circular corridor, passing by multiple sculptures of Lincoln at various stages in his life,
until we reached his tomb.
It was a very somber place, but surprisingly accessible . . . we were just a few feet away from the actual tomb of the 16th President of the United States. It really is a beautiful resting place!