January 2020 Newsletter

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Dear Friends,

Happy new year! We’re kicking off January by launching two new exhibits, including a collaboration with Justice Arts Coalition, dropping the first episode in the second season of our Q & Abe podcast, and recognizing National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month by opening applications to our 2020 Students Opposing Slavery International Summit, which takes place in June.

Hindsight might be 2020, but history helps us understand the context of the past, including the uncertainty of reactions, the precedents that were set, and the trade-offs made in a democracy. We know outcomes of history that people in the past couldn’t predict. We know that President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect over 150 years ago this month, and that he still managed to get reelected and win the war. We also know President Lincoln was assassinated, in no small part because he was antislavery and progressive on the question of who should be granted the rights of citizenship. Lincoln himself could not have predicted any of those events with certainty, and many of his contemporaries did not even think those outcomes were likely or even possible.

That’s not to say Lincoln wasn’t realistic about threats to his safety. He was clearly aware of them, but also did not see how he could allow those threats to prevent him from attending to his official duties, including meeting with the people — all people — he was elected to represent. One of Lincoln’s secretaries, John Nicolay, related years after the fact that, in response to suggestions that Lincoln’s life was in danger, Lincoln himself said, “I will be careful. But I cannot discharge my duties if I withdraw myself entirely from danger of an assault. I see hundreds of strangers every day, and if anybody has the disposition to kill me he will find opportunity.” Lincoln shared a very similar sentiment with adviser Leonard Swett, saying “I cannot be shut up in an iron cage and guarded.”

Several years ago, at our first Lincoln Ideas Forum, a former secret service agent shared that the balance of access to our elected officials and security was a frequent discussion between him and his colleagues. Our feature article this month looks at that conflict of access and security in two presidents, Lincoln and Garfield: both Soldiers’ Home visitors, both antislavery, both extremely accessible, and sadly, both assassinated. With every attempted assassination of a U.S. president, security around elected officials has increased, and public access to their representatives has decreased. The danger of assassination is real. So is the danger of elected officials no longer hearing the people — all people — that they represent.

Wishing you peace and progress in 2020,



A Tour of President Lincoln’s Cottage that Almost Didn’t Happen: President Garfield’s Final Visit to the Soldiers’ Home

By Johnny Di Lascio

Just like Lincoln, President James Abram Garfield visited the Soldiers’ Home with an eye towards using it as a potential summer retreat. Unfortunately, also like Lincoln, an assassin’s bullet ended his promising presidency. In fact, just as Lincoln visited the Soldiers’ Home the day before he was shot, so too was Garfield’s last visit to the Soldiers’ Home enveloped in the shroud of assassination.

Click here to read the full article about how the balance between security and access led to the fatal end of the Garfield presidency.

Who did Lincoln Trust the Most? 

Take the Quiz based on our first episode of the second season of Q & Abe, which drops tomorrow.

Create your own user feedback survey

More Q & Abe Season 2 Fun

Podcast Giveaway Announced


Click here to find out how to enter our giveaway and win an amazing Lincoln themed prize.

Be sure to subscribe wherever you download podcasts: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / StitcherGoogle Podcasts 


Civil War Boys, Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center 

Currently on display at the Visitor Center, we are highlighting prints and other objects from our collection by interpreting them through the hit song “Boys” — a retro funk song from soulful, popular singer, Lizzo.

Art Exhibit in Partnership with The Justice Arts Coalition, President Lincoln’s Cottage

From now through the end of January we are partnering with the Justice Arts Coalition to exhibit artwork inside Lincoln’s Cottage from artists who have been incarcerated. The Justice Arts Coalition unites teaching artists, arts advocates, incarcerated artists, and their loved ones in an effort to build and support a common agenda and provide a unique voice in public dialogue around the intersection of the arts and justice.

Desire by Tomás, Mixed Media

Artist Description of the artwork to the left: “It seemed that everyday the newspaper arrived with troubling headlines about a deeply personal issue, immigration. My father illegally entered this country with his family when he was quite young. These news stories somehow felt like a threat to me and my family. These feelings lead me to transfer the newspaper articles themselves to a canvas around an icon of a Hispanic woman. She represents resilience and draws a parallel between our country and its people.”



‘Iron Cages’ Opening Reception

  • Thursday, January 9, 2020 from 6:30-8:30pm

Refreshments will be served, attendees will have the opportunity to see and discuss the art, and formerly incarcerated actors and artists will perform poetry written in prison.

Please register here for the event.

‘Iron Cages’ Closing Reception and Film Screening

  • Thursday, January 30,2020 from 6:30-9pm

The event will include a screening of 16 Bars, a “feature-length music doc that offers a rare glimpse at the human stories — and songs — that are locked away in our nation’s jails and prisons.”

Please register here for the event.

Woman in Red Dress (2018) by Conor Broderick, Watercolor

Begin your Year with Style and Grace in your Custom Lincoln Slippers

Developed in partnership with luxury slipper purveyor Stubbs and Wootton, these custom-made slippers, featuring an embroidered animal motif, are inspired by Lincoln’s own pair of slippers, currently on exhibit at the Cottage. Historical accounts describe him pacing the Cottage floors in his embroidered slippers, and now you can pace around your own house in a similar pair. Slippers are available for purchase in your choice of natural linen, flax linen, or black velvet. All proceeds benefit the mission of President Lincoln’s Cottage.

[button link=”https://www.lincolncottage.org/the-lincoln-slipper/” bgColor=”#000000″ textColor=”#000000″]Click here to purchase[/button]

Questions? Call 202-829-0436 ext. 0 between 9:30am-4:30pm or visit our Museum Store, where you can also see samples. Please allow 6-8 weeks for production and delivery.

Click here for more information about Lincoln’s slippers.

2020 Students Opposing Slavery International Summit Application is LIVE!

We encourage all high school students to register for the 2020 SOS Annual Summit here. The summit will take place from June 21st-26th.

News and Awards


Cottage in the Snow by Elaine Guihan


Support our educational programs, preservation efforts and public events by making a contribution to President Lincoln’s Cottage. Donate online today

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