Tune in for this talk today at 12pm ET on the National Archives Ustream channel.
During their presidencies, both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis suffered the death of a child—a not uncommon event for most American parents in the 19th century. Starting with the death of Willie Lincoln in 1862 and the tragic accident that befell Joseph Davis in 1864, Catherine Clinton explores Victorian mourning and the embrace of rituals of grief and symbols of remembrance during the Civil War.
Join us at noon on March 29 in the McGowan Theater at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, or watch online at our Ustream channel.
Image: Abraham Lincoln and his youngest son Tad (ARC 52628). While Lincoln was President, Tad’s older brother Willie—the middle child—died of typhoid fever while living in the White House. Tad himself died at age 18 in Chicago in 1871. Only the oldest son, Robert, lived to adulthood.
February 12, 1967. Lincoln’s Birthday. LBJ lays a wreath at the Lincoln Memorial and says a few words:
“So Lincoln began his troubled journey towards a new concept which would go beyond theories of black power or white power; beyond the ancient blinders of racism to the establishment of a multi-racial community in which a man’s pride in his racial origins would be wholly consistent with his commitment to the common endeavor.
“He died before he had the opportunity to give voice to this vision.
“We can never know what course history would have taken had Booth’s bullet not brought down this towering political saint and stoked the fires of vengeance.
“We do know that it has taken more than a century for us as a nation to assert the ideal that Lincoln had barely formulated.
“It has required the hard lessons of a hundred years to make us realize, as he realized, that emancipating the Negro was an act of liberation for the whites.”
President Johnson, Remarks at a Ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. February 12, 1967. LBJ Presidential Library photos 9896-O, 9896-J by Abbie Rowe of the National Park Service. Public domain.
President Gerald R. Ford Walking away from the Lincoln Sculpture after Laying a Wreath at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Wreath Laying Ceremony, 02/12/1975
The cornerstone of the Lincoln Memorial was laid on February 12, 1914, Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday. A little more than eight years later it was completed and dedicated on May 30, 1922 with Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln attending the ceremony.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was a great admirer of Abraham Lincoln. He often cited the sixteenth President in speeches, evoked his image in campaign material, and collected or received over 100 pieces of Lincoln related ephemera.
Shown here is a photograph of Lincoln pieces given to FDR in 1942 by historian John E. Washington.
Fixed to the photo is a small “Lock of hair removed from Pres. Lincoln’s head by Wm. Slade his messenger while preparing the body for burial,” and a small “Piece of dress worn by Mrs. Lincoln the night of the assassination showing blood of Pres. Lincoln. Given by Mrs. Slade to her cousin Mrs. Brooks.”
The FDR Library’s Museum has several pieces related to Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. On the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, you can see many of them here.
-from the FDR Library
President Lincoln drafted an emancipation proclamation in July 1862. He delayed issuing it till the Union had a military victory. On Sept 22, 1862, after the victory at the Battle of Antietam, he signed the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. It warned rebel forces that if they did not surrender and rejoin the Union in 100 days, then all slaves in the rebellious states would be freed. Once it was clear that the South would not surrender, Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation Jan 1, 1863.
Image description: Beginnings of a beard. This is the earliest photograph of Lincoln that shows the legendary President with his iconic beard. After his November 6, 1860 election, he began to let it grow, perhaps on the advice of an eleven-year-old girl. Less than three weeks after his victory, he sat for this portrait by Samuel G. Altschuler. Abraham Lincoln was born on this day in 1809.
Image from the Library of Congress.
Here’s something we’re not used to seeing - Abraham Lincoln without the iconic beard. It’s another presidential campaign medallion, intended to be sewn to a lapel through the hole at the top.
This medallion is from the 1860 presidential election. The front displays a portrait of Lincoln; the back shows vice presidential candidate, Hannibal Hamlin.
Shortly after winning the presidency, Lincoln began to grow his beard.
President Lincoln would approve the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery in the US on this day, February 1, 1865.