President Abraham Lincoln.
I grew up in Illinois- the “Land of Lincoln.” Illinoisans are proud of that, we even put it on our license plates.
We learned about Lincoln in school and took field trips to Springfield where he lived before becoming the 16th President and where he is buried after being assassinated in April 1865.
He is our most familiar of all Presidents and yet there is so much more to this great man. A country lawyer of meager beginnings who was twice elected President, pushed for the unpopular abolition of slavery and was responsible for ending the Civil War as well as uniting our deeply divided nation through the start of Reconstruction.
And then he was murdered.
John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer and famous stage actor, shot Lincoln in the back of the head while the President and his wife watched a play at Ford’s Theatre. Sadly, President Lincoln would die the next day- only six days after the surrender of the Confederate Army and the official end to the Civil War.
When I was in DC last month, I visited Ford’s Theatre and Petersen House where Lincoln died.
I had heard that Ford’s Theatre was haunted–and it was suggested to me (quietly by one of the guides) to take a photo of the Presidential box as there are occasional ghostly appearances caught on pictures. Always one who likes a good ghost story I snapped a couple of pics.
I didn’t really inspect the pictures until I started writing today’s blog. I have to say this one gave me the creeps. It is not edited in any way…I was by myself when I entered the box and this was the first picture I took of the interior.
Here is the second picture I took- the light is pretty normal and the ghostie has decided to leave.
Could be a reflection, could be a weird light thing. Or it could be….
On to Petersen House, a boarding house across the street where President Lincoln was carried.
I happened to be with my family who went marching on ahead while I had a pleasant conversation with the ladies who were working in the house.
It was more like this…
Me: ”Hey, I KNOW this wallpaper!”
The ladies: “Really? Why ever would you know that?”
Me: ”Because I am an interior designer and believe it or not, it is STILL available for sale! I have used this paper in the past”
The ladies: “Huh. Are you sure? This is a reproduction of a very old wallpaper.”
Me: ”Yes, yes…it’s a Brunschwig & Fils..let me see, if I can I get wifi in here..I’ll pull it up on my iPhone….”
Mr. V, My Brother, My Sister In Law, the Beans, My Nieces and Nephews (outside after already toured the whole thing): “Hey, where’s Amy?”
Anyway…here’s the paper:
And if you want to buy it, I REALLY can order it for you.
The Petersen House is a somber place. The front parlor is small and filled with period pieces.
The back bedroom where President Lincoln died is a sad place and I was moved while standing there thinking of what a horrible night it must have been for all those who were present.
A giant of a man for the time at 6′-4″, he died crammed diagonally on the small bed.
He was the first President to be assassinated and his death plunged our already grim nation into deep grief.
He is a fascinating figure. A magnificent orator, a brilliant politician (yes there was such a thing) who reached across the aisle for the good of the country, a devoted father and a humanitarian who believed all men were created equal. His Gettysburg Address is the most quoted speech of all time and there are more books written about him than any other public figure.
The following book tower is made up of over 15,000 books about Abraham Lincoln. Pretty cool, huh?
There are several I would like to read, including Killing Lincoln and these I found in the bookstore at Ford’s Theatre Museum:
Mary Todd Lincoln was an interesting person in her own right and the personal tragedies that befell the Lincolns (including the death of their young son while in the White House) are often overshadowed by the greatness of Lincoln himself.
And I did enjoy the recent movie starring Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln.
We went to the Lincoln Memorial at sunset on a cold day.
Even though Lincoln was a Republican and had very different political ideology than our current President, he is probably tickled that his Thirteenth Amendment not only abolished slavery but made it possible for the 44th President to be elected.
His most famous quote is from his Gettysburg Address:
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
But my favorite quotes of his are more personal in nature…And this one might be my mantra for 2013:
“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”–Abraham Lincoln.
Happy New Year! I hope it’s a great one for you–filled with love, learning and the joy of life!
Now go pick up a book about Lincoln–there’s over 15,000 to choose from.