Friday, February 12, 2016

Abraham Lincoln: February 12, 1809

Today marks the 207th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. Do take some time today to reflect on the life, time, and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. So much of what he was in his time, we are as a nation today. 

If you want to settle into an evening with Lincoln, your choice of titles will number in the thousands and in a variety of media. I am inclined to recommend Carl Sandburg's Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and The War Years. It is available as a one-volume abridgement or you may choose to tackle the original six-volume version. Not always accurate, not always "organized" as a traditional biography, Sandburg's work is really the story of Lincoln as American experience. It's romantic, rich, warm, organic, meandering, sometimes stormy, sometimes calm. I think the approach works well because the Lincoln story is, in so many respects, the American story. Also keep in mind that, although well-known as a poet, Sandburg soon was revered in the U.S. as a poet/writer for the people, once the first volumes appeared . With that in mind, I believe Old Abe would have been proud to select a writer of popular history and culture as his official biographer.

Abraham Lincoln Photo Portrait, early 1865                                       Alexander Gardner

As you can see from the photo below, Lincoln and I go way back. That picture was taken during the spring of 1952 during my first visit to Washington. It began a long association with Old Abe and his time that peaked during the last fifteen years of my career. What an honor it was to know him well and work to preserve his story for future generations visiting our national parks.


Photos and Illustrations:
Lincoln photograph, Gardner collection, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Lincoln Memorial, author's archive, 1952

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