Asking what Lincoln would do in a given situation has become a venerable American political tradition. Bill O’Reilly recently criticized President Obama’s appearance on a comedy website, saying, “All I can tell is you is Abe Lincoln would not have done it. There comes a point when serious times call for serious action.” Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer disagreed, telling Media Matters that Obama’s use of a humor site to get his message across “is absolutely in the Lincoln tradition.”
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The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum (ALLM) received a belated Christmas Gift on Friday, December 27, 2013, when alumnus Randy Bumgardner, assistant chief of protocol and general manager of the Blair House, the President’s Guest House in Washington, D.C., delivered two handkerchiefs that belonged to Mary Todd Lincoln.
“This significant contribution to our Lincoln collection is deeply personal. The LMU collection includes many personal treasures of the entire Lincoln family and these additions certainly enhance our view of Mary Todd Lincoln,” LMU President B. James Dawson said. “LMU is fortunate to have alumni like Randy Bumgardner who not only epitomize her mission, but also continue to contribute to her success.”
The handkerchiefs were among personal effects from the wife of 16th President of the United States that were recently sold at auction. While her husband was in office, Mary Todd Lincoln was known to indulge in shopping trips to New York and Philadelphia for personal items and to furnish the White House. Historians often note the large debts Mary Todd Lincoln was left with following her husband’s assassination. Much of that debt is attributed to her shopping habits.
Bumgardner acquired the “ML” monogrammed handkerchiefs in a lot that included around a dozen handkerchiefs. The pair received by the ALLM included a basic white cloth monogrammed with white letters and a more delicate white cloth embellished with light blue embroidery and white letters. Both will be put on display in the museum’s galleries following cataloging.
Bumgardner, a 1983 graduate who worked in the ALLM as a student, also brought the Museum’s collection of presidential signatures current with a hand signed copy of the February 12, 2013, State of the Union Address to the 113th Congress. President Obama signed a bound copy of his address while after a special request from Bumgardner. In his role as manager of Blair House, the President’s Guest House, Bumgardner has put his degree in history and museum studies from LMU to good use as he rolls out the red carpet for world leaders, diplomats and even royalty from around the globe.
Admission to the ALLM is $4 for adults, $2 for children and includes entrance to the galleries. Admission is free for LMU employees and students with their University ID. For more information regarding the ALLM, contact Program and Tourism Director Carol Campbell at 423.869.6439.
The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum is located on the historic campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. Housing one of the top five Lincoln and Civil War private collections in the world, the Museum is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about this and other programs at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, call 423-869-6235.
In USA Today, historian Matthew Pinsker argues that by deferring to Congress on Syria, Obama has neglected the precedent set by Lincoln. “Lincoln demonstrated that war powers work best when the president, and not Congress, takes the lead,” he writes. “While Congress holds the authority to declare war, it is the president as commander in chief who must make war.”
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.
Todd Purum of Vanity Fair examines President Obama’s cabinet in light of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s work on Lincoln. Obama’s relationship with his advisors, he claims, differs greatly from Lincoln’s.
While in Chicago a few days ago, President Obama told a fundraiser audience that Republicans should look back on the legacy of the first member of their party to occupy the White House:
Obama told the audience that while his GOP competitors were campaigning in Illinois, they should put aside their “avalanche of attack ads” and focus on the vision of the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln.
“I hope that while my counterparts on the other side enjoy the outstanding hospitality of the people of Illinois and spend some money here to promote our economy. I hope they also take a little bit of time to reflect on this great man, the first Republican President,” Obama said.
Obama argued that unlike the Republicans of today who preach about the importance of less federal government, and more self reliance, Lincoln understood that “we are also one nation and one people and that we rise or fall together.”
You can read more about Obama’s remarks by clicking here.