October 2017 Newsletter
Among the traits of Abraham Lincoln that I appreciate most were his empathy, accountability, and his ethical leadership. While those traits are on display in many stories of Lincoln’s time right here at the Cottage, it’s a pre-presidential quote that I think illustrates all three traits most succinctly in a way that also hammers home his view on liberty and progress. In an 1855 letter to Joshua Speed, Lincoln wrote,
“Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except Negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all mean are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”*
What I have always appreciated about this Lincoln quote — one we have used since before the Cottage officially opened to the public nearly 10 years ago — is how clearly it demonstrates his empathy for others who were quite different from him in faith, ancestry, and origin, as well as his view of whether other platforms constituted progress toward a “more perfect” union, or “progress in degeneracy.” It also states his strong desire to hold the nation (and himself) accountable to its founding principles — it’s ethics. We know the Declaration of Independence was aspirational. And the U.S. Constitution acknowledges in so many ways that there was room for growth — to strive to become “more perfect.” More than many, Lincoln reminds us that by looking to our past, we can strive to understand our present, and plan a better future for all.
*Emphasis is original
Help us in congratulating our fearless leader, CEO and Executive Director Erin Carlson Mast on receiving the Gelman, Rosenberg & Freedman Excellence in Chief Executive Leadership (EXCEL) Award at the Center for Nonprofit Advancement’s Gala on October 31, 2017. Erin stated, “Every day I go to work I think about what it means to be an ethical leader… By understanding the past, we can move forward.”
The EXCEL Award recognizes and spotlights outstanding leadership among Washington-area nonprofit chief executives. The award recognizes leadership achievement in the areas of innovation, motivation, community building, ethical integrity, and strategic leadership. The selection process included four stages; nomination, interview, site visit and selection.
The award was given to three EXCEL Awardees. The EXCEL Awardees each receive a $5,000 professional development account to be used for the individual’s continued professional development. In addition, each recipient’s organization will receive a $2,000 grant to support the professional development of the organization’s staff.
TWO FACES COMEDY NIGHT
Drawing inspiration from Abraham Lincoln’s legendary humor and self-deprecation, President Lincoln’s Cottage and The DC Improv are again partnering to present Two Faces Comedy, the first comedy series to transform Lincoln’s living room into a comedy den. The third and final night will feature stand-up comedian Bengt Washburn:
Tuesday, November 7th– “With Malice Toward None,” with Bengt Washburn (7:30PM)
Lincoln was one of our funniest presidents, and he earned that distinction without relying on attack humor. For our third night, we bring you a comedian who knows how to get big laughs without being mean. To borrow a phrase from Abe, it’s proof that comedy can still work beautifully “with malice toward none.” Bengt Washburn is a former winner of the prestigious San Francisco International Comedy Competition. He has been seen on The Late Late Show with Craig Fergusen, Live at Gotham on Comedy Central and most recently Conan on TBS. He has performed at numerous comedy festivals, and has been on NPR, PRI and Bob and Tom.
STAFF SPOTLIGHT: Michelle Martz
This month we’re focusing on Michelle Martz, a President Lincoln’s Cottage veteran, who was recently promoted from Programs Coordinator to Visitor Services Associate Manager. To congratulate her on her new role, we sat down with her to dig deeper than, well, cheeseburgers.
This month we sat down with Paul Ruppert, the unofficial King of Petworth, to talk about his partnerships, continued support of President Lincoln’s Cottage–oh, and where he thinks Lincoln would hang out on Upshur Street. Read the full interview here.
HALLOWEEN AND THE CIVIL WAR
Did people celebrate Halloween during the Civil War? If you stumbled upon this Harper’s Weekly cartoon published on October 26, 1861, you might think a zombie Jefferson Davis could be a good clue. But the answer is a little more complicated than that. Read on for our brief history of Halloween during the 19th century.
PRESERVATION UPDATE: Association for Preservation Technology Conference
Senior Preservationist, Jeff Larry was in Ottawa, Ontario this month to attend the Association for Preservation Technology (APT) & National Trust for Canada Joint Conference. He offers this report on his observations and experiences at the conference, plus what this means for the future of preservation at the Cottage.
BOOK YOUR HOLIDAY PARTY TODAY
Make your next workplace holiday party memorable by hosting it at President Lincoln’s Cottage! Contact our award-winning Events Department at Events@lincolncottage.org for more information.
MUSEUM STORE UPDATE: Strathmore
President Lincoln’s Cottage will once again be participating in the Museum Shop Holiday Market at Strathmore, November 9th-12th. Attention members: Thursday, November 9th will be our special members day! Members will receive 10% off any purchases at the President Lincoln’s Cottage store. For more information, click here.
NEWS and AWARDS
- Executive Director Erin Carlson Mast was awarded the Gelman, Rosenberg & Freedman Excellence in Chief Executive Leadership (EXCEL) Award
- Washington Post Express featured the Cottage as “Possibly the Worst Presidential Retreat…”
- Grateful American Foundation published another video featuring the Students Opposing Slavery Summit
- Just in time for Halloween, we were named as a “Hauntingly Unique Space to Hold your Fall Events” on the Unique Venues Blog
- Curbed DC listed President Lincoln’s Cottage as, “10 Beautiful Places for Getting Married.”
- Concierge at the Mandarin Oriental, Jack Nargil, recommends President Lincoln’s Cottage as one of DC’s Best Kept Secrets in the October issue of WHERE Magazine
- Richard Quest from CNN International drew parallels between the American Civil War and the happenings in Catalonia for his “profitable moment” on “Quest Means Business”
Support our educational programs, preservation efforts and public events by making a contribution to President Lincoln’s Cottage. Donate online today.