Friday, March 6, 2009
Friday found us in Springfield, Illinois, the capital of the Land of Lincoln. We also visited a little-known hamlet on the Mississippi called Nauvoo. I'll feature the latter in a separate post. Unless you're new to D.C. Confidential and in case you've missed the photo in my header, you know Abraham Lincoln is my favorite president and the Lincoln Memorial is my favorite monument in Washington. Thus, it seemed only appropriate and fitting that part of this road trip should include a visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum (ALPLM.)
Hands down, the ALPLM was worth every penny of its $10 admission fee! I've been to Washington's Mount Vernon and Jefferson's Monticello. I've seen the burial places of Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy, John Tyler, and James Monroe, as well as the aforementioned Washington and Jefferson. I've even visited the Confederate White House and the grave of the (in)famous Jefferson Davis. All of those are moving and significant in their own right, but I must say that the museum to Lincoln and his mausoleum are quite impressive and awe-inspiring.
Here are some fun facts and trivia: Lincoln was a president of firsts. He was the first bearded president. He was the first president over six feet tall. Honest Abe was also the first sitting president to come under fire in a war when he rode out to Fort Stevens to watch Union forces repel an advance on Washington by CSA general Jubal Early. And, sadly, he was the first American president to be assassinated.
According to a very humorous document written in Lincoln's hand and on display in the museum, he coined the phrase "bass-akwards." When he died, his funeral procession travelled 1,700 miles and more people saw Lincoln dead than ever saw him alive.
Among some of the highlights of the museum: A custom chopper, a media room featuring the late Tim Russert of Meet the Press discussing the campaign of 1860, a four minute time lapse map that shows the battles of the Civil War, a wonderful movie called "Through Lincoln's Eyes" in the Union Theater, and several "experience exhibits" that chronicles Lincoln's life from his upbringing on the frontier to his years in the White House. If you're traveling through central Illinois, this is an absolute must-see!
After the Lincoln Museum, we visited the only home Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln ever owned in Springfield. They lived there for 17 years before Lincoln won the presidency and they departed for Washington.
Finally, about two miles from the museum and his home is the grave of President Lincoln, his wife, and their three sons. Their oldest son, Robert, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
And now, here's your quiz for the day:
1. Who were the first and the last presidents to travel by train to their inaugurations?
2. How many candidates were on the ballot in the election of 1860?
3. What was the name of Lincoln's first wife?
4. What was the name of Tad's and Willie's pet dog?
5. What was Mrs. Lincoln's favorite color?
6. Aside from Washington, D.C., what three states did Lincoln live in?
And a few more pictures from the museum and Lincoln's grave.
Answers: 1. Abraham Lincoln was the first president to travel via the latest in transportation conveyances, the train, to his inauguration. He traveled from Springfield to Washington. Barack Obama recently did the same, traveling from Philadelphia to Washington. 2. Four: Abraham Lincoln (Republican), Stephen Douglas (Northern Democratic), John C. Breckenridge (Southern Democratic), and John Bell (Constitutional Union). 3. Mary Todd Lincoln. 4. Jip. 5. Purple. 6. He was born in Kentucky, raised in Indiana, and moved to Illinois to practice law.
Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 03/09
P.S. If/when I have time, I'll post additional pictures of sculptures of Lincoln and a few more pictures of the Lincoln Chopper. Right now, though, I've got to get on the road!