Sunday, February 13, 2011

Loving Lincoln

In honor of Lincoln's birthday, the American Antiquarian Society's Past is Present blog discusses sources on Lincoln and features a detail from an 1860 political cartoon, "The Republican Party Going to the Right House." The cartoon mocks depicting his supporters as social deviants, radicals, and crackpots, including pickpockets, free love advocates, Mormons, socialists, free blacks, and, yes, ardent followers. The woman closest to Lincoln (drawn with masculine features) treats him inappropriately like a celebrity, asserting her "passional attraction" to his "lovely face."

Over at the New York Times Opinionator online, Ted Widmer has published several linked articles that consider Lincoln's 1861 inauguration train tour in which he notes Lincoln's celebrity status and the frantic crowds that greeted him at stops:

Earlier inaugural journeys had also been public affairs. Washington’s trip from Mount Vernon to New York was a “prolonged coronation ceremony” – in Trenton, a chorus of “young virgins” threw flowers in his path, a custom we have wisely discontinued. Jackson’s journey from Tennessee was well-chronicled, as a westerner came in to clean the Augean stables of Washington. But nothing on the scale of Lincoln’s trip had ever happened. It had elements we recognize from our own time: the peculiar thrill of the traveling celebrity and his entourage, lurching from city to city, like a touring rock band (Tonight Only: Lincoln!); the frenzy of crowds, eager to catch a glimpse of this new American idol...

Finally, teacher and writer Jim Cullen, at his blog American History Now, has posted a tribute to Lincoln that brings the love of Lincoln into the present.

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