It seems everyone caught a bit of Abraham Lincoln fever this winter; everyone from historians, to political figures, to artists, to authors is obsessed with the 16th president. Not that anyone’s complaining; it is a fever worth catching.
Why is the fever so contagious? Let’s take a look at the evidence:
1) 2009 is the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth (he was born on February 12, 1809), and leave it to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (ALBC) to organize the celebration.
2) Current president Barack Obama has a deep fascination with Lincoln. And everyone links Obama to Lincoln, not unjustly. It is only natural that the legacy of Lincoln, who is remembered for abolishing slavery, would become poignant at this moment in history.
3) Artists are taking up Lincoln as a subject in their artwork! Check out some of the related trends below for examples in the visual arts. On the other hand, in the performing arts, the famous Ravinia Festival is celebrating the Lincoln Bicentennial through sponsoring music and dance performances throughout the spring/summer that are centered around Lincoln. avinia has even received the 2009 Joyce Award in Dance for its commission of a new dance-theater world premiere inspired by Lincoln choreographed by Bill T. Jones.
4) People are writing and reading about Lincoln. Just visit Amazon.com. On Lincoln’s birthday, The New York Times announced the two books that won the 2009 Lincoln Prize. Gettysburg College awards the Lincoln Prize for outstanding scholarship on the 16th president. James M. McPherson’s “Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief” and Craig L. Symonds' “Lincoln and His Admirals: Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. Navy and the Civil War” are sharing the award.
5) They are debating about studying Lincoln’s DNA! Apparently he may have suffered from Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that effects connective tissue. The latest Newsweek features an article about the decision whether or not to give scientists access to the National Museum of Health and Medicine’s Lincoln trinkets, including clips of hair and some bone fragments removed from his skull. See Newsweek for more information.
So, are you experiencing any symptoms yet? Pick up a book or a newspaper, head to the museum or the theater, or just turn on the news to learn more about our beloved 16th president. Perhaps he is more complex than you thought. Did you know that the city of New York voted against Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 election? You won’t find that answer on wikipedia, but it is a good place to start.
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