Grand Opening for Lincoln: The Making of a Man set for Saturday, 14 April at 1 pm.

The Kibbe is pleased to announce that the grand opening ceremony for Lincoln: The Making of a Man will be at 1 pm on Saturday, 14 April 2012.

Alexander Gardner, photographer, 5 February 1865. From the Library of Congress
Photo by Alexander Gardner taken at Gardner's Gallery in Washington, DC, on Sunday, February 5, 1865. This last photo session from life was long thought to have happened on April 10, 1865, but more recent research has indicated the earlier date in February.

The museum and grounds will open at noon. Area re-enactors, led by the Southeast Iowa Civil War Roundtable, will bring the Civil War era to life, with tents and a campsite set up on the west lawn. The Carthage chapter of PEO, an organization that raises funds for women’s education, will sell light refreshments. Visitors are encouraged to come in period dress if they have it.

At 1pm, a horse-drawn hearse will arrive at the entrance to the east hall of the museum. Carthage mayor Jim Nightingale will make some remarks and then a uniformed honor guard will transfer the replica of President Lincoln’s casket from the hearse into the museum. The casket will be placed in a period reproduction of the East Room of the White House as it was when Lincoln lay in state.

About the exhibit:

Honest Abe.    The Railsplitter.     The Great Emancipator

Everybody knows about Abraham Lincoln.  Thousands of books, articles, and web pages aspire to cover every detail of his life.  His image is on our currency, both the penny and five-dollar bill.  Photos and paintings of him hang in countless courtrooms, schools, government buildings, and homes.  We hold him up as a role model of integrity, perseverance, and wisdom.  We raise a mirror to his image, seeing in his reflection the sort of country — and people — we wish to be.

Nature or Nurture?

This giant of history did not just spring out of the ground fully formed, with an axe in one hand and the Emancipation Proclamation in the other.

Fully human, he sobbed for the loss of a mother on a harsh frontier; walked among us as a young man seeking his way in the world; and knew the joys and compromises of marriage and family.  He applied himself to learning his profession as lawyer and legislator; he mourned with the inexpressible grief of a parent over the loss of two sons.  He lived, worked, and socialized with our own ancestors, exchanging ideas, suffering through shared hardships, laughing at the same jokes.

This exhibit is about the culture and communities that helped to form the adult character of the man who would be one of our greatest Presidents.  This exhibit is his story, but it is also ours.

A lawyer’s footrace

Lincoln was one of the busiest lawyers in central Illinois.  In his law career, he handled more than 5100 cases.  He also rode the 11,000 mile circuit around Illinois each spring and fall 16 years.  Each trip lasted ten weeks and the cases were many and varied.  He gained the nickname “Honest Abe” during this period in his life because of his fairness to clients and fellow lawyers.  It has been said that he gave as much attention to minor neighbor squabbles as he did to affairs of State.

Lincoln & Douglas in a presidential footrace
Published by J. Sage & Sons, 1860. From the Library of Congress.
Rival presidential nominees Lincoln and Douglas are matched in a footrace, in which Lincoln's long stride is a clear advantage.

He enjoyed the finer points of the law and his briefs were complete and all well written with an emphasis on precedent.  He was said to be a real threat during cross examination and closing arguments.  He never had trouble speaking and could always draw a crowd.  That made him a very successful politician, and he used his profession to reach the goal of service to his country as an elected official.  He gave his House divided speech as he was running for the US Senate in 1858 as a candidate for the new Republican Party.  He didn’t win that election, but in 1860 he was nominated for and won the Presidential race without ever giving a campaign speech.  He kept a close eye on the race, but left the campaign to the enthusiasm of the Republican party and they did not disappoint.  He was finally going to serve his country in the greatest way possible and he felt he was ready.  He would need to be.  The most difficult years of our  nation’s history were only months away.

The Making of a Man: Lincoln finds a profession

After walking back home from New Orleans, Lincoln made a living in manual labor.  He was six foot four inches tall, kind of lanky, but very muscular and strong.  He lived in New Salem and over the next few years he did build

Abraham Lincoln, Congressman-elect from Illinois
This daguerreotype is the earliest-known photograph of Abraham Lincoln, taken at age 37 when he was a frontier lawyer in Springfield and Congressman-elect from Illinois. Nicholas H. Shepherd, photographer, Springfield, Illinois, circa 1846. From the Library of Congress.

fences and was also a shopkeeper, postmaster and owned a general store.  It was there, working with the public, that Lincoln gained his social skills and learned to tell a great story.  He was very popular with the locals and when the Black Hawk War broke out in 1832, the volunteers in the area elected Lincoln to be their captain.  He saw no combat during that time, but said he had “a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes.”  During that time he he also made several important political contacts and connections.

After the Black Hawk War, Lincoln started his political career by being elected to the Illinois legislature in 1834 as a member of the Whig party.  It was during that time that he formulated his views on slavery.  He’d seen it first hand, but believed it was not so much a moral issue as hindrance to economic development.  He decided to become a lawyer, teaching himself the law by reading Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England.  He was admitted to the bar in 1837 and moved to Springfield and began to practice in the John T. Stuart law firm.

In the legal section of the Lincoln exhibit,  you’ll see photographs of local attorneys who served in the court system with Lincoln:  men such as Hiram Ferris and Bryant Scofield, and see him as his peers did in the courtroom.  The exhibit also features the desk of Judge Charles Scofield, nephew and protege of Bryant Scofield and son of Carthage attorney Charles Scofield, Sr., and a painting of the Hancock County Courthouse as it was during Lincoln’s time.

Lincoln:  The Making of a Man opens 14 April, 2012.

The Making of a Man: Lincoln grows up on the frontier

Board member Bruce Leathem works on construction of the cabin.

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in Hardin County, Kentucky. He and his family lived in a one-room log cabin. At the Kibbe Hancock County Heritage Museum, you will be able to see a replica of just such a cabin,. In 1816, Abraham’s father lost his land in a title dispute; the family moved to Perry County, Indiana, and once again their home was a log cabin. When Abe was nine years old his mother died of milk fever, a disease gotten from drinking milk from cows that had grazed poisonous white snakeroot. Abe had to work just like a man to help his father keep the farm and feed the family.

His father married widow Sara Johnston, with three children of her own,in 1819. Abe loved her from the start. He had learned to read from itinerate teachers that traveled the country and in all, had about 18 months of formal schooling. From then on he was totally self taught and Sara encouraged him.

Abe didn’t like the physical labor of farming , but was an excellent ax man and gained a good reputation as a rail fence builder. As was the custom, all outside earnings were given to his father until he was 21. When Abe was 22, he canoed down the Sangaman River to New Salem. He got a job taking goods to New Orleans on a flatboat by going down the Sangamon, Illinois and Mississippi rivers. He saw slavery, firsthand, in New Orleans and was so upset by it that he walked all the way home.

Visit a log cabin and learn more about the hardships of settling the frontier when the Kibbe Musuem opens its new exhibit  “Lincoln:  The Making of a Man” on 14 April, 2012.