Say Who’s That Tall, Homely Feller In The Stovepipe Hat?

Why, that’s George Billings.

George Billings? Certainly, in Al and Ray Rockett’s long-forgotten silent epic Abraham Lincoln in 1924. The gaunt, familiar form of Lincoln has been a stock dramatic figure ever since May of 1861, when a political potboiler called Abe’s Saturday; or Washington Sixty Days Hence opened at Boston’s Mobile Theater. Read more »

Mallet, Chisel, And Curls

Vinnie Ream sculptured Lincoln while she was still a teen-ager

President Lincoln had been dead more than three years in May of 1868, and the model of his statue still rested unfinished in young Vinnie Ream’s Capitol studio. Now its very completion was threatened by a band of bitter congressmen who had failed to eject Mr. Lincoln’s successor from the White House and, in their frustration, would try to turn Vinnie’s ambition to ashes as well. Read more »

Mrs. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper

Miriam Follin had a penchant for diamonds, the demimonde, and the dramatic. She also possessed the business acumen to become one of America’s leading publishers in the nineteenth century

Riflemen lined the roofs along the parade route. Cavalry squads patrolled the intersections. Rumors of armed mobs and assassination swept through Washington, D.C., that cold, angry March of Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration; and even though that afternoon’s parade and swearing-in ceremony went peacefully enough, the entire city was caught up in a somber, uneasy mood hard to dispel. Read more »

Garibaldi And Lincoln

Would the great fighter come over for the Union? Italian freedom and lead troops Lincoln hoped so

In the summer of 1861, when the newspaper generals in New York clamored for a clash of arms to put down the Confederate rebellion, the battle and the recriminations came sooner than expected. The people of Washington loaded up picnic baskets in buggies and carriages and drove across the bridges of the Potomac to watch the fun. Under the southern sunlight the sabers of the Union cavalry glistened, and the hope of a quick and punishing victory was in the smoking air.Read more »

Pistols For Two … Coffee For One

“It is astonishing that the murderous practice of Benjamin Franklin. Yet continue it did, duelling should continue so long in vogue,” said often with peculiarly American variations

Few boys survive their school days without using their fists now and then. If these fights are extemporaneous affairs, fought in the immediate heat of anger, they are little more than animal reflex actions. But if they are of the “I’ll see you after school” variety, allowing time for rage to be replaced by trepidation, they become highly complex manifestations of human emotions and social pressures. By the time the young gladiators arrive on the field of combat, usually one or both of them would much prefer to be home watching television.Read more »

The Miracle That Saved The Union

The Union desperately needed an extraordinary warship to counter the ironclad the Confederates were building

It was obvious that something very special was needed to confront the ironclad that the Confederacy was furiously building if the Union was to be saved. Yet it took a personal visit of Abraham Lincoln to the somnolent offices of the Navy Department to force the issue, and by then it was so late that the Navy Department had to have a miracle. In short, the contractor would have to build, in a hundred days, a kind of ship that had never been built before, and build it in a desperate race against time. Read more »

Lincoln As Poet

In the fall of 1844 a thirty-five-year-old lawyer from Springfield, Illinois, returned after an absence of nearly fifteen years to Spencer County, Indiana, to campaign in behalf of Presidential candidate Henry Clay. He had lived in the county—in the Pigeon Creek neighborhood—from the time he was almost nine years old until he was twenty-one, years of his life that later became legendary when the gangly, rustic youth himself became President of the United States. His mother and only sister were buried there.Read more »

The Lincoln Highway

Carl Fisher thought Americans should be able to drive across their country, but it took a decade and a world war to finish his road

When Carl Graham Fisher, best known as the builder and promoter of Miami Beach who started the Florida vacation craze, died in 1939 the New York Times pointed out that he brought about a far more significant change in the life-style of modern America in his earlier and less conspicuous role as the creator of the idea of the Lincoln Highway, the first automobile road from New York to California. Read more »

The Relief Of Fort Pickens

WAR WAS DAYS AWAY, A UNION STRONGHOLD WAS THREATENED, AND THROUGH A FOG OF RUMOR, DOUBT, CONTRADICTORY ORDERS, AND OUTRIGHT LIES THE ARMY AND NAVY SET OUT TO HELP

A good place to start the story is the Republican convention in Chicago in May, 1860. By long odds the leading candidate, and on form and experience the best qualified, was of course Senator William H. Seward of New York. He was eminent in the legal profession. He had served with distinction as governor of his state before going to the Senate. He had been a leader of the antislavery Whigs and had brought them into the recently created Republican Party.Read more »

As Well As The Art Of Diplomacy, There Are Also The Arts Of Diplomacy

On any list of events that have altered the course of history the opening of Japan to foreign trade in 1854 must surely rank high. While the United States was pushing its boundaries westward to the Pacific and reaching the early stages of industrialization, Japan lay cradled in the tight shell of its own seventeenth century. Under an absolute ban on intercourse with the rest of the world imposed in 1638, Japanese citizens could not leave the islands, and foreigners could not enter them.Read more »