American Pioneer Music has released a new album with some very old material. It’s a collection of campaign songs from the 1864 presidential election, with the original—and in some cases offensive—lyrics left intact. Check out the album’s website.
Category Archives: Lincoln Updates
As an Illinois lawyer, Abraham Lincoln spent quite a bit of time on the Eighth Judicial Circuit. One of the courthouses where he practiced was a small Greek Revival building in the town of Mount Pulaski; it’s become a state historic site, but has fallen on hard times. A local third-grade class has started a fundraising effort to contribute to the building’s upkeep, and donations have been coming in from as far away as Germany.
Columbia University’s trustees have selected Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History by John Fabian Witt as a co-recipient of this year’s prestigious Bancroft Prize. The other winner is W. Jeffrey Bolster’s The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail.
This blog featured a review of Witt’s book last fall.
Written in the summer of 1860, the letter is addressed to William Jones, an early employer of Lincoln’s in Indiana. Jones went on to serve in the Union Army despite being well advanced in years, losing his life at Atlanta in 1864. This document is not included in the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, although a few others with the same date made it into the collection.
DVD copies of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln will be going out to public and private schools as part of an educational outreach effort; some schools will also receive new electronic equipment. Click here for more info.
Barack Obama will use two historic Bibles during his second inauguration this month. One of them is the Bible used during Lincoln’s first swearing-in, and is the same volume on which Obama took his first presidential oath. The other belonged to Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lincoln’s first inaugural Bible was an edition that was widely available at the time, provided by a clerk of the Supreme Court. The widow of Lincoln’s son Robert gave the book to the Library of Congress in 1928.
Ironically, the man who administered the oath to Lincoln in 1861 was Roger Taney, who issued the controversial Dred Scott decision and challenged Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus.
Abraham Lincoln spent the morning of Dec. 31, 1862 meeting with his cabinet to revise the final text of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was due to go into the effect the next day. On the morning of January 1, 1863, after an 11 A.M. reception at the White House, he signed the final, official copy of the document, which had been prepared by the State Department. Frederick Seward, the son of Lincoln’s Secretary of State, was an eyewtiness:
At noon, accompanying my father, I carried the broad parchment in a large portfolio under my arm. We, threading our way through the throng in the vicinity of the White House, went upstairs to the President’s room, where Mr. Lincoln speedily joined us. The broad sheet was spread open before him on the Cabinet table. Mr. Lincoln dipped his pen in the ink, and then, holding it a moment above the sheet, seemed to hesitate. Looking around, he said:
“I never in my life felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper. But I have been receiving calls and shaking hands since nine o’clock this morning, till my arm is stiff and numb. Now this signature is one that will be closely examined, and if they find my hand trembled they will say ‘he had some compunctions.’ But anyway, it is going to be done.”
So saying, he slowly and carefully wrote his name at the bottom of the proclamation. The signature proved to be unusually clear, bold, and firm, even for him, and a laugh followed at his apprehension. My father, after appending his own name, and causing the great seal to be affixed, had the important document placed among the archives. Copies were at once given to the press.
Many abolitionist churches in the North and communities of contraband slaves in Union camps in the South held watch night services on Dec. 31 to await the final proclamation. This year, on the 150th anniversary of the proclamation, some organizations are continuing this tradition, and the document is on exhibit for a limited time at the National Archives.
You can read the final proclamation’s text in the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln:
Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, towit:
Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. Johns, St. Charles, St. James[,] Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New-Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South-Carolina, North-Carolina, and Virginia, (except the fortyeight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth-City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk & Portsmouth [)]; and which excepted parts are, for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.
And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.
Lincoln’s handwritten draft of the Emancipation Proclamation will be on display to the public at the Library of Congress for six weeks beginning in January 2013. This special limited engagement is part of the LOC’s special Civil War exhibition, which runs through next June.
The Kentucky Historical Society has released a new tour for its “Explore KY History” smartphone app. The new tour showcases Kentucky sites associated with Lincoln, allowing you to access maps, photos, and other material to guide you on your own trip through Lincoln’s home state. Two other tours featuring Kentucky’s Civil War and War of 1812 sites are also included. You can download the Explore KY History app for free through iTunes.