At President Lincoln’s Cottage, we emphasize the value of understanding history in all we do. We do that daily on the tour, where we share knowledge and discuss history and new perspectives with our visitors. We’re deeply appreciative when the experience reawakens that sense of working toward the common good, such as when a visitor wrote after the tour, “This place reminded me of my responsibility as a citizen and keeper of my nation.”
Responsible citizenship takes many forms, including asking questions, seeking truths, and understanding historical context to figure out the circumstances that brought us to the present, so that we can chart a path forward together. This issue of The Proclamation is particularly dedicated to asking questions, seeking truth, and understanding context to plan for the future: from announcing the launch of our new podcast, Q&Abe, to a new essay on Lincoln and immigration, to recapping action plans generated by participants in our 7th annual Students Opposing Slavery International Summit, to snapshots of new projects to protect and restore history.
As the fourth of July fast approaches, I am reminded that President Lincoln referred frequently to these words in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” He used them as a guiding light throughout his career, calling them “sacred principles.”
While Lincoln acknowledged plainly that the authors of the Declaration did not mean to suggest everyone was then enjoying those rights at that time, he asserted that they “erected a beacon to guide their children and their children’s children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages. Wise statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants, and so they established these great self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that none but rich men, or none but white men, were entitled to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the battle which their fathers began — so that truth, and justice, and mercy, and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land…”
Lincoln was critical of what he saw as betrayals of those self-evident truths by the nation, stating, “On the question of liberty, as a principle, we are not what we have been.”
Our challenges today are different, but the values we look to are the same.
We recently released the first-ever episode of our podcast Q & Abe! This original podcast investigates real questions from visitors to the Cottage. Each episode, we’ll investigate a single real question a visitor asked us here. First up: How could Lincoln sleep, if slavery was happening? A second grader asked us this question on a school group visit. To answer, we interviewed a Civil War historian, sleep doctor, and a licensed professional counselor who works with survivors of modern slavery.
In 1861, on the way to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech in Cincinnati. During this speech to a group of German-Americans, he said “If there are any abroad who desire to make this the land of their adoption, it is not in my heart to throw aught in their way, to prevent them from coming to the United States.” Lincoln believed in the promise of America, and he viewed it as a promise that all could partake in, regardless of national origin. A review of his speeches, writings, and political actions from throughout his life confirms that he was dedicated to the idea of free and open borders throughout his political career.
Click here for the full article by Executive Administrator & Editor Zach Klitzman on Lincoln and immigration.
Join us in welcoming the new Events Manager Shayla Roland to the President Lincoln’s Cottage team! We sat down with her to chat about her new role, Lincoln, and her love of theater.
What: Think you have what it takes to be a trivia champion? Come join us on July 25th when we partner with Port City Brewery for a night of American Trivia! Questions will cover American history, geography, pop culture, and art. So bone up on your Founding Fathers, State Capitals, and Hollywood trivia.
When: Thursday July 25th at 7pm
Where: Port City Brewery | 3950 Wheeler Ave Alexandria, VA 22304
For full details, and to purchase tickets, click here: https://www.portcitybrewing.com/events/american-trivia/
WHEN: Saturday, September 21
For the third time, we’re combining our two popular events, the Freedom 5K and Family Day, into one full day of racing and family fun: Homecoming. During the Civil War the Lincoln family called the Cottage home. This year we welcome everyone back “home” to join us for a full day of activities where you can run, walk, and play like Lincoln.
Stay tuned for registration details on the race and family day.!
Our first two Cottage Conversations of the Fall are scheduled. Stay tuned for reservation details.
September 12 — Sidney Blumenthal, author of All the Powers of Earth: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln Vol. III, 1856-1860
October 10 — Doug Waller, author of Lincoln’s Spies: Their Secret War to Save a Nation
Last fall we reported on an upcoming preservation project to stabilize the West Balcony of the Cottage. Here’s Senior Preservationist Jeff Larry with an update, as well as a gallery of progress photos. Click here for the Preservation Update.
The 2019 Students Opposing Slavery International Summit concluded this weekend, having run from Sunday June 23-Friday June 28. We welcomed 19 participants from all over the world to the Cottage to learn about human trafficking, build a network of youth abolitionists, and continue Lincoln’s unfinished work.
Click here to read reflections from participants, and to see images of their work throughout the week.
If you would like to support the work the students are doing, and help sponsor a future participant in the Summit, you can learn more about making a donation here.
Support our educational programs, preservation efforts and public events by making a contribution to President Lincoln’s Cottage. Donate online today.