Mystory: Community History of Abraham Lincoln
English 1000: 45
Mystory: Community History of Abraham Lincoln
Being raised in Illinois, you learn first hand that Illinois is the ‘Land of Lincoln.’ In Springfield, Illinois, there is an entire museum dedicated to him and all the things he has accomplished in his life. I was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois, which is about an hour away from Springfield, IL. Abraham Lincoln was not only a significant figure in U.S. history, but he is the sole symbol of the state of Illinois. There are museums and monuments all around Springfield to symbolize the history of Lincoln, all of which show how important he was to our country and how he remains a significant historical figure in the U.S and in Illinois.
When I was in grade school, everyone in my grade went on an organized field trip to Springfield to go to the Lincoln Monument and Tomb and the Lincoln museum. Being young children at the time, our attention spans weren’t exactly on point so we only focused on what we would buy at the gift shop instead of focusing on the history that surrounded us. The Lincoln Tomb is the sight where Abraham Lincoln is buried. It has a large monument that lies above his grave, along with statues of himself and soldiers from the Civil War (Lincoln Tomb). These statues, as seen in the picture, symbolize the Civil War and what how Lincoln led the fight for freedom of slaves. The statues seem to show the importance of Lincoln during the Civil War and how he was trying to bring the two sides together but remain firm in what he believed in. Along with the monument is a large bronze statue of Lincoln’s head, which is located right in front of the monument. It is usually customary to rub the nose of the Lincoln statue for good luck, which is why today it has a golden shine on the nose. All these monuments were made later on after his death, but some of the original parts of his grave have been kept preserved.
Inside the tomb, you are able to see Lincoln’s actual tombstone that is very well preserved to this day. Since the tomb has been preserved since the original building and tombstone were created, they have very strict rules for tourists who walk through the underground area of the burial site. When you are younger, you might go through an important burial area like that and not think much of it, but when you’re older and understand more about how that person has made a huge affect on our country, it’s an unusual feeling to experience because of all the history that is in front of you. Seeing the monuments and statues that have been established in his name over the years shows how well respected he was and the importance he had on this country. Although the burial site of Abraham Lincoln offers a lot of physical history, the museum in Springfield, IL gives you a thorough insight into the life of Abraham Lincoln.
The Abraham Lincoln Museum first opened when I was in early grade school and became one of the most popular museum openings in all of Illinois. The museum focuses solely on the life of president Abraham Lincoln and all he accomplished throughout his lifetime. One of the parts of the museum that was most interesting was the section that gave a visual of what his life was like as a child. It has an area that is decorated and designed just like a colonial cabin home, which gives you an idea of what the lifestyle was like back then for Lincoln and his family. Although Lincoln was never actually born in Illinois, his family moved there when he was only 21 and he began working his way up in the political world. In 1834, he earned a seat in the Illinois State Legislature as a Whig (Civil War Trust, 3). His political career began growing more and more outside of Illinois when he began promoting his anti-slavery motives. Being from the Northern states and being against slavery, he won support of the North but was despised by the South. His election as president became one of the primary reasons the Civil War broke out in 1861. Many parts of the museum showed his progression in politics from his early days in Illinois to his presidential election. I remember some areas even showed real artifacts and historical documents from key political moments in his career. Most of the political parts weren’t the most appealing during the tour, but the one area everyone raved about was the Ghosts of the Library.
The Ghosts of the Library is an area in the museum where people go sit in an auditorium and a man comes out to discuss Abraham Lincoln’s life. However, while the speaker is talking, a hologram of Abraham Lincoln appears to discuss things about his life such as his election, historic addresses, and family life. This new technological advancement was the most popular attraction in the whole museum. During my experience in this show, I was so mesmerized by the hologram that I never remembered what they were actually talking about. The speaker would usually talk a little bit about Lincoln first and then out of nowhere, a blue, transparent Abraham Lincoln would appear. The whole show focused on looking at certain documents and books that contained information on events and facts about Lincoln’s election and the Civil War. This exhibit became so popular because it allows people to learn about the history of the area they live in and, of course, about Abraham Lincoln in a new and fascinating way that allows you to be more interested in the information.
The Abraham Lincoln Museum is full of so many interesting visuals that allow you to really experience the life of Abraham Lincoln. Many of these visuals include the colonial cabin that was previously mentioned, the realistic wax statues of Lincoln and his family, and the large colonial white house built in the middle area of the museum. Although many of these things are very impressive creations, the more interesting visuals would be the real life artifacts that have been preserved throughout history. The Lincoln Museum contains many artifacts, such as documents (diaries, letters, etc.), articles of clothing, and sentimental objects that belonged to his family. These artifacts give you the sense of the rich history that Illinois has in connection to Abraham Lincoln.
There’s no doubt that Abraham Lincoln was one of the most significant presidents in U.S. history, but he was even more significant for the state of Illinois. It is certain that Lincoln is the symbol of Illinois based on phrases such as “Land of Lincoln.” When we are younger, most of us don’t learn to stop and really learn about the history that surrounds our community. As we grow older and understand more about history, we begin to appreciate the history in the areas we live in. Being educated more about the Civil War makes you realize the sacrifices that were made and struggles that were overcome to reach a goal. Abraham Lincoln was a persistent leader in the fight against slavery and became the historic symbol for freedom of slaves. It makes me feel proud to live in a state where it is symbolized by a president who faced obstacles and struggles every day to fight for something he believed in. I hope to return to the Abraham Lincoln Museum and Lincoln Tomb again to really experience the sites, visuals, and information that are given.
“Abraham Lincoln.” Civil War Trust. Council on Foreign Relations, n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/abrahamlincoln.html>.
“History of the Tomb.” Lincoln Tomb. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.lincolntomb.org/tomb_about.php>.