Monday, October 22, 2012

Standing Lincoln Has a Birthday

JWB, 2010
On this day, October 22, in 1887 Standing Lincoln, Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ sculpture of the Great Emancipator, was dedicated at the entrance to Lincoln Park.  On the day after the dedication The Chicago Tribune described the scene, “Since the night of the great fire Lincoln Park has never contained within the same area so many human beings as thronged its plains, clustered under its trees, and in every variety of vehicle crowded its roadways yesterday afternoon.”

The statue, one of two sculptures in the city (The other is Storks at Play in front of the Lincoln Park Conservatory) provided for in the will of lumberman Eli Bates, was dedicated on a gray afternoon.  Chicago Mayor E. A. Roche headed the dignitaries on the dais, and Abraham Lincoln II, the 15-year-old grandson of the late president, released the flag covering the statue as upwards of 10,000 people watched.

JWB, 2010
The Tribune described the work of Saint-Gaudens in this way . . .

There is the old-fashioned carelessly rolled collar falling in reversed furrow over the thick silk cravat.  There is the old-fashioned shirt-front, with the two wide plats on either side of the middle one with its honest buttons and buttonholes exactly in the middle.  There is the medium low wrinkled vest, none too well fitted, and the long round old-style black corded watchguard passing about the neck and carrying the watch to the left pocket of the vest.  There is the old frock coat, its slightly shirred sleeve tops, its loose, bagging sleeves, its buttons none too tight in their places . . . There are the loose trousers, ill-fitting at the ankles, and the Western square-toed boots.  Thus attired, almost lank, grave, careworn, Yankeeish, and homely, Abraham Lincoln, by the grace of God working in his soul and into his aspect, stands before men, proving under the hand of genius that classic drapery is not indispensable to artistic effect in sculpture nor theatrical accessories necessary to make the human form seem somewhat divine.  The bronze chair of state relieves the austerity of the figure and appropriately symbolizes the exalted function of the office it suggests.

The ceremony was disrupted just as the martyr’s grandson was pulling away the flag that covered the statue.  As the First Regiment Band began to play Hail Columbia and the men of Battery D began to fire a 38-gun salute, a horse drawing a two-person cart was spooked by the sudden noise and plunged through the crowd before attempting to jump a fence and entangling itself in the wires.

Mrs. C. L. Dunning was thrown over the horse’s head, and Miss Ora Cody jumped out of the cart.  Neither woman was seriously injured, but the members of the constabulary cut the 38-gun volley short.

JWB, 2010
Mr. Thomas F. Withrow, who rode the Eighth Judicial Circuit with Lincoln for 11 years, offered these remarks during the dedication ceremony, “We see him in this beautiful image of bronze above us which the sculptor has wrought and recall his real presence.  What we know of the future is, that in all time hereafter, wherever the slave shall groan under the lash, or the poor shall sigh for something better than they have known, there his name will be honored and his example imitated.”

JWB, 2010
Mr. T. F. Withrow, head of the Monument Fund of the Eli Bates estate, said as he presented the statue to the Lincoln Park Commissioners, “As long as the flowers shall bloom among these trees and the waves of Lake Michigan break on the shore this figure will preserve the memory of the patriot and martyr whose firm adherence to his convictions has made every man a free man and preserved the union of these States.”

The statue is a good place to seek out in the next few weeks.  Stand before the likeness of a politician who rose above the fray, made the hard choices, and ultimately paid for it with his life.  It gives one something to think about as we head toward November.

1 comment:

birkin said...

Very nice colors & theme.