Friday, February 12, 2016

The Rail Splitter President

You would think, by now, that we would know everything there was to know about Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, who was born on February 12, 1809.

He grew up to be President during one of the most dangerous times in the history of the United States - a time when our country was at war with ourselves.  In many parts of the country, he is revered.  He was a man of the backwoods, a man of little education, who self educated himself and rose to the highest position in our land.  At one time, he even earned his living by splitting wood into rails - an arduous and skilled task.

It would seem that a mallet belonging to Lincoln in his rail splitting days was kept by a family and passed on from generation to generation until now.  It's a fascinating story, and I invite you, my readers, to read this link.  This mallet from his young adulthood in Indiana will be on display starting today.

The mallet is now at the Indiana State Museum, and experts believe the mallet, some 187 years old, was the property of Mr. Lincoln.  Indeed, Lincoln's early life as a rail splitter has become folk legend in our country.

Speaking of Lincoln, I have written many blog posts about him - this one, perhaps, is my favorite.  Enjoy this rerun from February 12, 2015.

Happy birthday to one of our greatest, if not our greatest, Presidents.

Dining with Abraham Lincoln

It isn't every day you get to eat lunch with a sitting President of the United States.  Or, to be more exact, the sitting statue of a former President.

Today, February 12, would have been the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.  Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, and our country's President during the United States Civil War.

I enjoyed some vintage photos of the late President and then remembered I had a couple of pictures of my own.

In the summer of 2013 my spouse and I drove from our home in upstate New York to Arkansas for a visit.  On the way back home, we stopped for a rest break in Vandalia, Illinois.

Back in the 1830's, Vandalia was the capital of the state of Illinois - the second capital of Illinois,  from 1819 to 1839.  It no longer is the capital and you may be surprised to learn who is partially responsible for that.
This was the Vandalia state capital building, built in 1836.

In the city of Vandalia, a young Illinois state legislator got some of his early political experience.  His name was Abraham Lincoln.  (One day, I will blog more about Lincoln).  Ironically, this particular statehouse was built to try to convince Lincoln and some of his colleagues to keep the capital in Vandalia.  Lincoln and some of his colleagues wanted the capital closer to the geographic center of the state.  It replaced a different building that was torn down while the legislature was in recess.  The hope was, the building would so impress the legislature that they would stay in Vandalia.
Looks nice, but Lincoln never tried any cases in this room.
The bribe (if you could call it that) didn't work, and Lincoln was not a beloved figure in Vandalia for his actions in moving the capital away from their city.  But, time has a way of dimming memories.  Now, Lincoln is quite beloved in Vandalia.

In 2001, Lincoln Park was built near the statehouse. It features a statute called "Sitting with Lincoln".

On this bench, I ate lunch with Abraham Lincoln in 2013- a tuna sandwich we had purchased in Missouri that morning, to be exact.  It was a hot sunny day, a day I would treasure today, when I think of the subzero wind chills outside at this moment.

I hope Lincoln enjoyed that wonderful Missouri tuna sandwich as much as I did.


  1. Years ago we took the kids to see the log cabin where Lincoln was born. A few years ago I went to see his home in Springfield, complete with maid's quarters. For some reason, probably the log cabin, I always thought of him as poor, but that was NOT the case. He did very well as an attorney.

  2. Happy Lincoln Birthday! A few years ago, I joined my husband on a business trip in Chicago. It was a Monday, and we decided to go to the Field Museum-I mean, who goes to a museum on a Monday? We'd have the place to ourselves.
    Unless it's Lincoln's birthday in Illinois, which is a state holiday, and FREE admission and kids everywhere! at the museum. Live and learn!

  3. This was an interesting read, and very informative too. I hardly knew anything about Lincoln.

  4. Well done, thank you for bringing this to us

  5. Disneyland had that great Lincoln attraction, with the animatronic Lincoln. I have no idea if it's still there.

  6. Great post -love history so I enjoyed this well written tribute to a great man:-)Thanks

  7. happy birthday to AL, interesting post, Alana, makes me think how he is admired so much more universally than current leaders.


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