Monday, February 9, 2009

Bicentennial doesn't disappoint

Folks, the Lincoln buff is here in Springfield and the party has begun. Here's what I've been up to the last couple days, and there's ton's more fun to come.

Saturday, Feb, 7 events
I heard I missed some great events. Apparently, there was a wonderful spiritual concert at the Old State Capitol on Saturday night. I ran into a man today who said his wife couldn't stop saying good things about it. I've talked to several, too, who attended Saturday evening's Order of Lincoln award dinner. Apparently, all but a couple of the nominees were able to make it - pretty good considering they were from all over the country and even one from England.

Sunday presentations
I attended two Sunday activities - a lecture by author and Columbia University professor Eric Foner and a panel discussion with Dan Weinberg of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago, along with Judge Frank Williams, Philip Kunhardt III, Louise Taper and Jack Smith.

Foner's lecture was super. This man can boil a complex topic down and make it understandable, and even entertain while he does it. Those who've had him as students are blessed. He talked about the evolution of Lincoln's views on slavery, which is no easy thing to condense, and left me thinking, "If anyone can help me understand reconstruction, Foner can. I need to read his book!"

Foner was doing a book signing, but because of another commitment, I didn't take time to meet him. I regret that, but do hope I get to meet him at the Lincoln Forum Symposium at Gettysburg in the fall.

Collecting Lincoln
Weinberg's panel discussion was really cool. These folks all have incredible Lincoln collections and it was interesting hearing how they all got started and watching the healthy ribbing and rivalry they have. I'll share more about how each of them got started and a little about some of the items they've had an opportunity to own or to pass on to others through the years.

I got to meet all but Smith afterwards. I still say these Lincoln scholars are the warmest, most encouraging folks I've ever met. Yesterday was no exception. I look forward to getting to know these people better as I pursue my Lincoln work.

Monday morning
I had an errand to run before I came to Springfield this morning, so I got down mid-morning. I'd made my birthday card for Lincoln last night and went to the Old State Capitol to drop it off. I forgot the new stamps were issued today - right there! There were two lines inside - one for purchasing the stamps and another for getting the visiting dignitary's autograph. Both wound the length of the inside of the building when I was there shortly before 11 a.m.

I spent the next hour dropping in on some folks in the Old State Capitol area. My first stop was Tingley's Dry Goods Store, a fun little shop down the block from the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices.

From there, I stopped in to see the folks at Looking for Lincoln. They're keeping really busy, opening new wayside exhibits - Mt. Pulaski the other day and Quincy today. And, they're getting ready to host hundreds of fifth graders and other interested guests at the Farewell to Springfield event at the Prairie Convention Center on Wednesday.

I also made my first visit to a legendary Springfield book store, Prairie Archives. I'll devote an entire blog to it someday. This is a place you have to experience with your senses, and it will be worth the wait

After a very nice visit over lunch with a Lincoln scholar friend, I headed to Lincoln's Home for the afternoon. I told you a few weeks ago that they'd gussied the home up for company. The new carpet and wallpaper in the parlor really looks nice, and as I walked the neighborhood, I could see busy little National Park Service beavers getting the grounds in the Lincoln Home neighborhood all spruced up.

This evening's lecture was by Oxford scholar and Lincoln Prize winning author Richard Carwardine, whom I had he pleasure of getting to know better this week. He talked about Lincoln and the world and shared information about an upcoming Lincoln conference in England. I'll share more on that after the bicentennial.

I did meet a couple of really neat people tonight - a member of the Oregon bicentennial commission and Decatur (Ill.) Lincoln presenter Lonn Presnall.

I'll try to fill you in by Wednesday about the Tuesday events i attended. I've got a couple really cool things planned, and tomorrow night I hope to watch Prelude to the Presidency as it airs on PBS here in Springfield. I may even try to twitter again - didn't have much time for it today.

*Forgive me for not putting links in. I'm still trying to learn the laptop. I'll plug some in after the bicentennial events slow down. In the meantime, please google.

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