Monday, March 30, 2009

More on the 29th Annual Illinois History Symposium

Last week, I attended the Illinois History Symposium, “Abraham Lincoln in Ante-bellum Illinois: 1831-1860.” In an earlier blog post, I shared my report of the first day’s events. Now, I’ll move on to tell you about some of the ones I made it to on Friday, March 27, 2009.

The day started with rain, which convinced me I’d rather use my time to blog about Thursday’s events than take the walking tour of the Illinois College (IC) campus. Don’t get me wrong – Illinois College has a beautiful campus, with a nice mix of buildings of many different ages and architectural types, from Beecher Hall, where the first college class in Illinois was held, to the state of the art Bruner Center, with its indoor track and athletic facilities. I just decided to do otherwise.

So I got my cardio-strength workout as a guest at a local fitness center, went back to the room to get ready for the day and blogged. My first session was at 10 a.m., this time in a book-lined room on the second (and top) floor of Beecher Hall, a room we were assured the students had “cleaned up” for us.

I think it took most of us boomers and older back in time, with its well-worn 1960-something Early American couches and rich old wooden armchairs - on wheels. It seemed fitting that when Lincoln scholar Michael Burlingame arrived, he settled into one of the couches. My guess is that it’s not the first such room this retired professor has occupied, nor the first piece of sagging furniture which has molded itself around him.

Lecture topics hold surprises
The first paper was presented by Joe Ashbrook, a Mt. Vernon (Ill.) native and independent scholar who retired from teaching in the same schools he once attended. Ashbrook’s paper about Abraham Lincoln in Jefferson County disclosed new information about a Jefferson County trial in which Lincoln represented the Illinois Central Railroad. He seemed to leave no stone unturned in his research and may very well have proven that this trial was one of Lincoln’s most important, if not the most important.

Because I hope to someday do further work on Lincoln and the railroads myself, I found this talk and his revelation of particular interest. I just wish I had the time to dig in now and start the Lincoln work I long to someday do.

The second paper of the day was presented by my fellow Bloomington (Ill.) Lincoln buff, Guy Fraker. Fraker’s paper was on Abraham Lincoln in Edgar County. Guy is the guy on Lincoln and the Eighth Judicial Circuit, and I can’t wait until his book on the topic comes out. On Friday, though, his talk took us somewhere I hadn’t yet been - to Paris (Illinois, that is). As usual, Fraker educated and entertained. Even though we were all looking forward to our luncheon program speaker, Burlingame, we hated to see the session with Ashbrook and Fraker end.

This session was moderated by Bill Kemp of the McLean County Museum of History, with commentary by James Cornelius, Lincoln Curator of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM). I saw a new side of both of these men – and I liked it.

I’ve been around Bill Kemp some, but not enough. He had just accepted the job as the archivist about the time I stopped volunteering in the museum library to attend to more pressing family obligations. I learned Friday that Kemp is a very engaging speaker himself – and interjects just the right amount of humor. I’m looking forward to getting to know him better, as I begin my Lincoln-related research in earnest late next year. I know the museum will be an invaluable repository of information I’ll need.

I met James Cornelius during bicentennial week – surely the most important time for him since he began working at the museum in 2007. He was busy most of the time – and working hard to make sure the events at the ALPLM went smoothly. Nonetheless, he never flinched.

Watching him prepare his commentary and hearing him deliver it was a real treat. I couldn’t help but wonder if Cornelius had ever been a Toastmaster. If not, he ought to join. I think he could win the evaluation contest hands down. He nailed it on Friday!

Burlingame and more when we return
I’ll be back some other days with more on the remaining symposium events, including:
  • Michael Burlingame’s luncheon talk
  • Poetry readings with Dan Guillory and Martha Vertreace-Doody
  • My absent-minded moment
  • Harold Holzer and Richard Dreyfuss in “Lincoln Seen and Heard,” preceded by some phenomenal Illinois College musical talent
  • A breakfast talk by Mark E. Steiner on the Lincoln lawyer theme
  • Papers presented by Samuel Wheeler and Raymond Lohne
  • An invaluable session about writing for the Illinois State Historical Society Journal
  • Papers on Lincoln and the “Blue Mass” (mercury) remedy and on traveling salesmen in Illinois
  • A visit to Woodlawn Farm, a stop on the Underground Railroad

Watch for more on these topics and on some of the interesting people I met this week as I have time to share.

Sad ending to saga of missing Illinois brothers

I departed from my Lincoln blog mission in early March to write one blog post which was not Lincoln-related. Two brothers from a small Central Illinois town were missing when their father failed to return them after their weekend visit with him.

I’ve seen the power of social media to spread news far and wide. I hoped that maybe someone somewhere would see these little guys and we could help get them back home to their mom.

Unfortunately, the story didn’t end that way. Late yesterday, the bodies of Duncan and Jack Connolly and their father, Michael, were found in a rural area in Putnam County, Ill. If you printed a poster and put it up somewhere or said a prayer for the boys, thank you. I’m sure their family appreciates it.

No comments please
I will not post any comments on my blog about this tragedy. I never post any comments without moderating them, and I just don’t have the time to moderate the many comments that might come in. However, if you wish, please continue to keep the boys’ mother, family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

My sympathy
To the family, I extend my sincere sympathy. You’ll continue to be in my prayers.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Virtual Book Signing today: Slavery and Gettysburg

Be sure to join Daniel Weinberg of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop online today, Saturday, March 28, for a Virtual Book Signing at 12:00 noon, when he welcomes Tom Campbell to talk about his book, "Fighting Slavery in Chicago" and Lance Herdegen to talk about "Those Damned Black Hats."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Congratulations, Dr. Dreyfuss

There are times in life when you know you're in the right place at the right time, times when you experience something so magnificent and exciting you can think of no place you'd rather be - and you can't stop smiling when you think of it.

Seeing Richard Dreyfuss awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Illinois College in Jacksonville (Ill.) was one of those moments. Dreyfuss was in town for the 29th Annual Illinois History Symposium, "Lincoln in Antebellum Illinois: 1831-1860." Together, Dreyfuss and my favorite Lincoln scholar, Harold Holzer, presented "Lincoln Seen and Heard," a magnificent work which blends Lincoln images with Holzer's well-crafted narrative, as well as Lincoln's own words.

Anytime you can see Holzer present you know you're in for a treat, and the same is certainly true of any time Dreyfuss performs. Put the two together and you've got a dynamite show. I'll tell you more about the performance in a future post.

The one thing I want to share tonight before I fall asleep on my keyboard is how excited Dreyfuss was to receive this degree. I truly believe it meant the world to him. Witnessing his excitement made me almost as happy for him as I was upon receiving my own college degree at age 41.

You know, it was strange. I've admired this man's work for decades, yet meeting him tonight for the first time, he didn't come across as some great, unreachable movie star. He was warm, accomodating, appreciative of his fans and thankful for the honor he'd received. It was really cool to be there to experience his special moment.

So, I have to say it again: "Congratulations, Dr. Dreyfuss! I'm happy for you." Ann

Reporting live from Jacksonville

Yes, Jacksonville (Ill.) is a good place to be today if you're a Lincoln buff. The theme of the 29th Annual Illinois History Symposium is Abraham Lincoln in Ante-bellum Illinois: 1830-1861."

The symposium started yesterday and I was able to attend about half of the events, as many times there were two seperate options offered simultaneously. Let me tell you a bit about the ones I made it to.

Lincoln - Jacksonville connections
It was really exciting to begin my day in the room in Beecher Hall where the very first college course in Illinois was held. And, it was appropriate that the presenters had strong connections to the town and the college. You can't get more connected than the college's First Lady, Loreli Steuer, and Mayor Ron Tendrick. The session was moderated by John R. Power, a past ISHS president.

Steuer's talk, "A Logical Alma Mater: Abraham Lincoln and Illinois College," was enlightening. I'll try to share more in a future blog post. It was interesting to hear her speculate that Lincoln may have attended the school had not Ann Rutledge died the summer before she was to attend a female academy in the town. It's not so far out there to think he actually may have followed her there and enrolled himself at IC. She shared much more, but too much for me to write about and still make it to today's sessions. I'lll have to give you very high-level overviews of all events so I can move on to learn more.

Tendrick packed oodles of information into his talk about John J. Hardin, including the large number (in the thousands) of people who came to town to his funeral - if I heard it correctly, in the heat of July.

Lunch not in the temple, but with one
Dr. Wayne Temple, an icon in Lincoln scholarship and one of the honorees awarded the Order of Lincoln in February, presented an enlightening talk about Lincoln's tombs - the one where he's buried and a much lesser known one on the grounds of the State Capitol. When Mathers and others were still pushing to bury Lincoln in downtown Springfield, even though Mary was against it, they were so bold as to begin work on a tomb. Construction workers in the 1930s and 1970s have run into the underground structure while laying trenches in the area. Unfortunately, no pictures exist.

Everything you ever need to know about research
Okay, not quite, but a lot! David Joens and Elaine Evans of the Illinois State Archives and Dennis Suttles of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library packed a ton of helpful information into their session, "Historical Research Workshop: How to Find and Use 19th Century Documents for Illinois Research." Because my academic background to date ends with my late-in-life bachelor's degree, I didn't have an opportunity to learn to work with primary source material. Now, I feel prepared to dig in. This has been one of my "growth areas" in corporate-speak, so the session was a godsend.

Alton and Pike County - Wow!
Dennis Williams presented a paper written by independent scholar Terri Cameron about Alton's attempts to gain the state capital back when Springfield succeeded. The paper was informative and enlightening, and it would have been neat for Terri to see in person how well it was received.

One of the highlights of the week so far for me was hearing Warren Winston of Pike County talk about an obscure article in the Pike County Journal on May 10, 1860, which likely helped propel Lincoln to the presidency. Both Doris Kearns Goodwin and Michael Burlingame were thrilled when they learned of this piece. The significance - it was written for and fed to the paper by Lincoln's secretary, Nicolay, and included excerpts Lincoln likely collected himself about Henry Clay's views on slavery. The comparison of the similarities between Lincoln's and Clay's views likely garnered extra southern votes for Lincoln he may not have had otherwise.

To you Lincoln scholars out there: There's a treasure trove of information in the Pike County Journal, much of which you may miss on microfilm. The most significant piece of information here, that Nicolay was the author, was on a page edge that the microfilm didn't pick up. You need to get to Pittsfield, a charming little town 20 miles or so from the Mississippi River to see these for yourself,

To the philanthropists out there: These papers really need to be digitized. The paper often ran articles from other papers across the country. They are a treasure waiting to be devoured. Who knows how many other gems like this one are waiting to be mined.

Rowena McClinton, of Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville, had a view comments on the papers, including about how the rail presence in Alton today, unlike the days when it vied for he capital, makes travel to and from there much easier.

The only Illinois Governor's Mansion outside Springfield
I closed my evening with a relaxing talk by Rand Burnette, History professor emeritus, MacMurray College. Duncan, the sixth Illinois governor, is often overlooked in history. I learned a lot about him and saw a beautiful home. If you ever get to Jacksonvile, stop by to see it, and if you get the chance to hear Burnette, don't miss him. He's entertaining and engaging.

Here a tweet, there a tweet
I'm going to try to twitter a bit today to keep you up to speed on the events. I seem to have a bit of a challenge doing it from my phone and have to take a couple extra steps to get there. I'll do it when it's not disruptive or I'm not too mesmerized by the speakers. You can find me as LincolnBuff2 on twitter.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On the road again

This history buff has always wanted to attend the Illinois History Symposium . Once again, wishes can come true. Tomorrow morning, I head to Jacksonville (Ill.) for the 29th Annual Illinois History Symposium, “Abraham Lincoln in Ante-Bellum Illinois: 1830-1861."

The schedule is very full, so I'm not sure if I'll have much blogging time. I may try to twitter if I can figure out how to make it work from my phone. You'll find me as LincolnBuff2 on Twitter. Here are just a few of the symposium highlights: Luncheon lectures with Wayne Temple and Michael Burlingame and a production of "Lincoln Seen and Heard" with my friend Harold Holzer and Academy Award winning actor, Richard Dreyfuss.

Now, I'm just trying to figure out how to drop enough hints to get Holzer to introduce me to Dreyfuss. I've admired that guy since Jaws. Getting down on my knees and begging is not an option!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Why Lincoln? Why not?

I recently learned of an artist who has painted a Lincoln portrait or two – or a couple hundred. Actually, try 300! Her name – Wendy Allen. And, like so many of us who seem to have devoted our lives - or at least a portion of them - to Lincoln, Allen is making her own special contribution during this bicentennial year.

Sign a birthday greeting
Allen is traveling with a Lincoln portrait and asking people across the country to sign a ginormous birthday card for the 16th President. If you’re in or near Danbury, Conn., you can sign it yourself this week, March 23-27, 2009 at the Danbury Fair Mall.

According to an article in The News Times, more than 7,000 people have already signed the birthday greeting, which will be displayed during bicentennial activities in Washington, D.C. on May. 30.

Learn about the artist
You can learn more about Allen, her healthy obsession with Lincoln and her work at her website, and even watch a video where she answers the question, “Why Lincoln?”

Lincoln buffs, we all have our own answer to this question – or maybe we don’t. Maybe Lincoln is so engrained in our souls that we can’t even remember a time when he wasn’t. Whatever the answer, I think you’ll enjoy learning more about Allen and seeing her work. And, if you’ve devoted your life or a part of it to Lincoln, keep up the good work.

From Lincoln Buff 2 to my readers

To my most loyal blog visitors (you know who you are) and to the more casual or accidental guests, my apologies for not being as devoted to blogging lately. I’ve had to take a bit of a breather to catch up on other things, but I’ll keep sharing Lincoln news as I can. Thanks for coming back.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Help find missing brothers from Land of Lincoln

--Updated March 30, 2009*

I vowed when I started this blog that everything I wrote would have a connection to Lincoln and I've always found one. Today, however, I think it's important to share something else from the daily news.

A little more than a week ago in Central Illinois, a father failed to return his sons to their mother after his weekend visitation. The father, Michael Connolly, and his sons, Duncan, 9, and Jack, 7, are still missing, and there is great concern about their safety. Law enforcement officials suggest that people preparing to go on spring break print fliers to distribute across the country during their travels.

Visitors to this blog live in all 50 states and almost 30 countries in five continents. Just think how you could help spread the word, too. If you'd like to print fliers to post in your area, you may download them from a link in an article in The Pantagraph, a Bloomington (Ill.) newspaper. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could help bring Duncan and Jack back home?

* The bodies of Duncan, Jack and their father were found March 29, 2009 in rural Putnam County (Ill.). My sympathy to their family. The comments feature is not available for this story. Please, just keep their loved ones in your prayers.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mourning a tragic loss

I always hoped the first blog post I devoted to Liam Neeson would be the one in which I celebrated work beginning on Steven Spielberg’s proposed Lincoln film. I’ve heard for some time now that Neeson is pegged to play Abraham Lincoln.

Instead, I use this forum to offer the actor and his family my sympathy and prayers on the loss of his wife, Natasha Richardson, in a skiing accident.

Mr. Neeson, Ms. Redgrave, family and friends: May you find strength in the love of those around you and the outpouring of concern and well wishes from around the globe. I am so sorry for your loss.

A reminder to the rest of us
It’s at times like this we are reminded how fleeting our lives on this earth can be. A few years back, I really admired the work of a regional journalist. I couldn’t wait for the paper to arrive each day so I could read his column, but I never took the time to tell him. When he was killed suddenly in an auto accident, I lost the chance forever. I won't let that happen again.

Don’t ever hesitate to reach out to let people know how much you appreciate them and what they’ve done to bring joy into your life or make it easier – whether it’s an actress, an author of a Lincoln book or the cashier who waits on you at the local supermarket. As I’ve encountered people in the Lincoln community and in many other walks of life, it’s a rare person who doesn’t genuinely appreciate hearing those words, “Thanks. You’ve touched my life and I’m glad.”

And, with those closest to you, remember to close always with “I love you.” Ann

Sunday, March 15, 2009

No, Sacha. We thank YOU!

Every once in a while, you have the opportunity to meet someone whose creative work leaves a lasting impression. Far less frequently, you’re even more fortunate when that same person leaves an even stronger imprint themselves.

The event I expected
I had the blessing to meet just such an individual the week of the Abraham Lincoln bicentennial. I attended a poetry reading at the Vachel Lindsay Home. Though I’d heard the poet, Dan Guillory, read some of his poems just a short time before, it was important to me that I attend the event at the Lindsay home.

Before I began my studies of Lincoln in earnest, I spent a great deal of time studying and writing about Illinois literature. My special area of concentration was the work of Carl Sandburg, but you can’t study Sandburg without studying the other Prairie Poets, Lindsay and Edgar Lee Masters. I wanted to see the home where he lived, wrote and died. And, I knew I’d enjoy the event.

As I expected, I really enjoyed hearing Guillory read his Lincoln poems again. I also enjoyed hearing a retired school teacher, Marge Deffenbaugh, read Lindsay’s poems. Unexpected surprises were a monologue by Kathey Reed, who portrayed Mary Todd Lincoln’s younger sister, Ann Todd Smith, who lived in the home before the Lindsay family, and period music by the Prairie Chickens.

The surprise ending
After the event, which spilled from the front to the back parlor of the large 19th century home, we moved to the dining room for refreshments. I lingered longer than most when I found people to visit with. As the crowd dwindled, I saw a man sitting in a corner of the back parlor, with dashing good looks and curly dark hair. The man, who appeared to be in his 30s or so (they all look young the older I get), was surrounded by women several years older than I am.

I walked over to Deffenbaugh and said, “I bet this is someone I need to meet. Do you know who it is?” She didn’t, but like any good school teacher, she knew who to ask to get the answer.

The answer? The man whom this bevy of sixty-something, former sixties girls had cornered was none other than the artist Sacha Newley, son of actress Joan Collins and the late actor Anthony Newley. My assumption was that they were excited by his fame. After all, this gent has been the subject of paparazzi since he left the hospital as a baby. For me, the excitement of meeting the son of famous movie stars – any movie stars - was also a high.

I found something to have Newley autograph, acted as giddy as my older counterparts for a while, then learned more about Newley himself. He was in Springfield because of his own work – his Lincoln work. Newley is an artist, and his portrait of Lincoln graced some of the bicentennial commemorative envelopes. The original of the portrait resides at Lincoln College in Lincoln, Ill.

Most incredible
What was most incredible was not how famous Newley is or how gifted he is - and believe me, this guy has talent. I’ve never seen an artist whose work can make me feel so much like he’s taking me into the soul of his subject.

No. Though, he’s famous and he’s gifted, and, yes, he’s incredibly good looking, I think the artist’s greatest attributes are his graciousness and his appreciation of the simple kindnesses and prairie hospitality of his newfound friends. Sacha Newley has fallen as deeply for Lincoln as many of the rest of us, and just as much in love with the place Lincoln called home for more than half of his life.

I had the opportunity to wish Newley farewell after the Abraham Lincoln Association banquet and to tell him again how nice it was to meet him. His response: “I’ve had a blast. Please, invite me back.” If it were within my power, he’d be back tomorrow, and he’d have his family in tow.

Sacha says thanks
I’m sure I wasn’t the only Central Illinoisan Newley thanked in person (and I didn’t do anything but talk to him), yet it didn’t surprise me that he wanted to make sure he didn’t miss anyone. He sent a thank you to the Good Deeds column in the State Journal-Register.

But, Sacha, you brightened our week and your beautiful tribute to Lincoln will brighten his prairies for years to come. It is we who thank you! Godspeed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Best thing Lincoln since proverbial sliced bread

--Updated March 11, 2009 6:50 p.m. Central

Two of my LinkedIn/Facebook Lincoln friends directed me today to a Lincoln website. It has to be one of the coolest, most helpful Lincoln sites I've found yet - and there are some good ones out there.

This website,, links to more than 100* websites or blogs, including ones about :
  • Lincoln: 35
  • Lincoln bicentennial: 35
  • Lincoln places: 11
  • Lincoln writers: 14 (including Lincoln Buff 2)
  • Lincoln presenters: 31
  • Lincoln commerce: 7
*Number as of 9:30 p.m. Central Time on March 10, 2009

Bob Willard, a quintessential Lincoln buff, pulled all this magnificent information together. The website is a work in progress, so if you know of other Lincoln websites you think he may want to include, please send him email at bobwillard [at]

I know I'll go to Bob's website often to get to the other valuable Lincoln websites. I hope you do, too.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Don't forget to watch Burlingame tonight

--Updated 5:25 p.m. March 5, 2009

Michael Burlingame will be joining Daniel Weinberg of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop for a Virtual Book Signing this evening, March 5, at 6 p.m. Central Time. Be sure to join and watch online as Burlingame talks about his new two-volume, 2,000-page* biography, Abraham Lincoln: A Life.

These are really nice events. Weinberg has such a knack for interviewing. You'll really feel as if you're all just sitting around in his living room chatting about the book. Burlingame is quite personable himself - and funny, too. Be sure to watch for his quip about the size of the book.

*Thanks to Bjorn of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, who noticed that I originally said 2000-word instead of 2000-page. That's what I get for trying to blog before my first cup of morning coffee!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A much-needed blogger break

To all my faithful visitors who come back to this blog day after day, I offer an apology. I haven't been very good about blogging the past few days.

I love blogging. I love the research. I love the writing. I love it all. I'd blog every day for hours if it were practical, but sometimes it just isn't. Other things need to take priority. This has been one of those times. Our family was blessed last week with a visit from our California daughter. It was a great time for all of us to spend time together as a family.

I've also had to spend some time catching up on things I couldn't get to while I was covering the bicentennial - coursework for a continuing education class, those dreaded income taxes and household duties. Some days there just aren't enough hours in a day.

I'll be blogging again a little more regularly soon, so please keep coming back to visit.

In the meantime, please visit the blog for the Lincoln Seminar at Galesburg High School. This is a great group of motivated students led by the cream of the crop in past and present American Studies teachers at GHS. They've done a lot of neat things this year, and they've got a lot more on the horizon. Check out what they've been doing. It's all pretty cool.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Want to see what you may have missed?

If you weren’t able to celebrate the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth in person, it’s not to late to see some of the events you may have missed. As they have been so often, our friends at C-SPAN were there to chronicle some of the happenings.

I had the opportunity to be there myself for several of these, but even I couldn’t be in Washington, D.C. and Springfield at the same time, so the C-SPAN videos allowed me to catch up on the ones I didn’t see.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum events
On Sunday, Feb. 8, I had the opportunity to attend two events where several of my favorite Lincoln scholars or enthusiasts presented. You won’t want to miss:
  • Eric Foner’s talk, “Reflecting on Lincoln”
  • The panel discussion moderated by Lincoln memorabilia expert Daniel Weinberg and featuring Lincoln collectors Philip Kunhardt III, Jack Smith, Louise Taper and Frank Williams

Senator Dick Durbin speaks at Lincoln Tribute Dinner
Monday, Feb. 9, Senator Dick Durbin spoke in Washington, D.C. on “What Lincoln Means to Me.” Durbin is a co-chair of the U.S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, a long-time supporter of the need for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and a public servant representing the district Lincoln lost to Stephen A. Douglas in 1858. His devotion to keeping the legacy of Lincoln alive is deep-seeded, sincere and much appreciated. We’re fortunate to have him and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood as champions of Lincoln both in Illinois and for the nation.

Congressional Bicameral Celebration from the U.S. Capitol
On Lincoln’s 200th birthday, Feb. 12, 2009, a special celebration was held in our nation’s Capitol. C-SPAN was there to capture the festivities, including remarks from President Barack Obama. As we waited in Springfield for a Lincoln luncheon to begin, one of my Lincoln buff friends who is a great champion of technology and one of the most social media-savvy fellows I know, was watching coverage from Washington on his cool compact notebook computer. I wasn’t able to that, so I was thankful to find it online later. I think you will be, too.

President Obama speaks at Abraham Lincoln Association Banquet
I was also fortunate to get my ticket early, before we even knew President Obama was coming to Springfield for Lincoln’s birthday bash. Being there when he spoke was almost surreal. It was one of those times in life where you take something in and try to savor every morsel of it, but feel almost as if you’re on the outside looking in. It’s great to have the C-SPAN video of the speech to listen to again and again to recreate the historic moment and to reflect on this new President’s words about the President we’ve long revered.

C-SPAN – Champion of Lincoln legacy
The bicentennial week festivities play only a small part in the commitment C-SPAN has for teaching people about Lincoln through the worldwide web.

C-SPAN continues to promote Lincoln. For earlier coverage of Lincoln events, authors and publications, be sure to return often to:

You’ll also want to check out the C-SPAN book, Great American Historians on Our Sixteenth President, edited by C-SPAN's CEO Brian Lamb and co-president Susan Swain. Profits from the book go to a great cause, as C-SPAN is directing any royalties from the sale of the book to the nonprofit C-SPAN Educational Foundation which creates teaching materials for middle and high school teachers.

My C-SPAN connection
It’s always neat when you have a brush with greatness. My first personal encounter with C-SPAN came in the 1990s when the network came to my hometown of Galesburg (Ill.) to film the Lincoln-Douglas debate reenactment at the Knox College’s Old Main.

My job at the time kept me from participating directly in the event, but many folks whom I knew from the community were dressed in period dress, some of my customers were actors in the production and the store where I worked catered food for the cast of hundreds. I did get to join the audience for a few minutes late in the afternoon and felt the importance of the legacy this piece would leave.

In 2005, when I attended several days of events surrounding the opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, C-SPAN was there. They filmed many of the events I attended, including the dedication ceremony visit by our 43rd President George W. Bush and a then-senator who was to become our 44th President, Barack Obama.

During one of the events, I got to ask a question of a three-generation panel of Lincoln scholars – David Herbert Donald, Harold Holzer and Matthew Pinsker. I knew I wanted to someday do work related to Lincoln, but lamented that I feared I may be coming at it too late in life. I asked the panel, moderated by Brian Lamb, for advice. Their advice was sincere, direct and heart-felt: “Come to events like this one. Study Lincoln. Get to know those who share your passion.” That’s what my journey and this blog are all about.

I didn’t count on having to answer a question myself, though, but Lamb did what he does so well. He asked the million-dollar question – the one that makes the interviewee look inward – and he asked it of me: “If you wrote about Lincoln, what would you write about?”

I didn’t know the answer to the question that day. I just knew then I wanted to help tell the Lincoln story. After three years of introspection, hours of study and time spent in the Lincoln community, I can answer that question, and I have Lamb and his network to thank for it.

Over the next couple years, I’ll be developing my plans for the Lincoln topics I know I can best cover. Along the way, I’ll keep sharing Lincoln-related information with the rest of you. Thanks for visiting Lincoln Buff 2 blog.

And, Mr.Lamb, thanks for asking the question that made me look at my Lincoln interests in a deeper light. You’ll never know what it meant to me.