Originally published -
I want to start this post by clarifying that I would not hastily choose to write an article like this about a museum. The reason I am writing about the Abe Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois, is because I found it to be a moving, powerful experience as someone just starting to take the plunge into law. If you are ever near that area it is worth the trip. We just can't thank Lincoln enough for the freedoms we enjoy in America today. It goes beyond just the direct effect and humanist principles of emancipating slaves, based on the idea of equality of man; it also changed the way that America was viewed from a global perspective.
On a personal level, Abraham Lincoln the man epitomizes the American dream. Not only was Abe fascinated by reading and intellectual endeavors as a boy and young man, he also displayed a great entrepreneurial spirit. One thing that I did not know about Lincoln before visiting the museum was his success transporting goods by flat boat. In one instance, a 19-year-old Lincoln was taking some supplies to New Orleans along the Mississippi River. I will let you learn more about this on your own if you are interested, but this experience opened Lincoln's eyes to the racial issues in the deep south. These are the kinds of stories you will read about in exhibits at the Lincoln museum that you may have otherwise never heard about.
The other factual points that the museum really emphasizes are the many articles, cartoons and other stuff from that time that shows dissent, and disdain for Lincoln's political perspective at that time. It is so easy for us, being several generations removed, to lack an understanding of the political landscape in that period. We think of Lincoln as some type of political demigod, revered by all for his sense of justice and political wisdom. In reality, he was hated by so many on both sides of the aisle. We all may be able to guess why the politicians of slave states would be against Lincoln's politics, but there were others, abolitionists who believed that Lincolns execution of abolishing slaves made no sense. Why was he leaving these middle states open, with the stipulation that pressure would be applied to encourage them to abolish slavery on their own? That's the side of the story that was new to me to hear and interesting to dissect.
The museum has so much great information, lost relics and moving antiques, but that is not what makes it such a special museum. The presentation is truly unique, and creates stories all their own. Without giving anything specific away, I can say that both shows are must-sees that will captivate you. The main exhibit that you walk through is like a timeline, stepping you through the different parts of Lincoln's life. If you stroll through the couple blocks surrounding the museum you will find geographic landmarks mentioned, such as the office in which Lincoln worked as an attorney prior to becoming president.
Coverage of the Civil war is also plentiful, and I found that stuff to be thought-provoking on its own and in conjunction with the information about Lincoln. Immersing oneself into the era, you realize that this dispute was due to boil over when it did, and how hard the fight on both sides in getting things settled. While the Union had superior weapons and technology from the beginning, their leadership in the early battles almost cost them the war and in turn our country's great future.
So, in summary, I hope that I've convinced you that this is not your everyday museum. The Lincoln museum was not only a great learning experience with the massive amount of historical information available, it was an experience that cultivated a greater understanding of Lincoln and enhanced respect for the great man who we call "Honest Abe".