There was an election approaching. Many thought the nation was at a crossroads, and that this presidential race might change the direction of the country. There were many well known candidates, but the one who took his party's nomination was a previously unknown politician from Illinois. He rose quickly to prominence in the party, due largely to his eloquence and his debate skills.
Does this sound familiar?
I am not referring to Barack Obama, but to Abraham Lincoln and the election campaign of 1860. I was struck by the similarities between that election campaign and the current one. I also noted that we are approaching several Lincoln-related anniversaries; the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth and the 150th anniversary of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. I recently traveled to Springfield to experience the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. If anyone is interested in Lincoln or in museums in general, I highly recommend a visit. The facilities are state of the art, and the exhibits are captivating. I left the museum having learned more about Lincoln than I ever had in school, and I was inspired to learn more.
When I returned I checked out several books about Lincoln. I suggested the library lead a book discussion of a Lincoln biography and I later learned that the Des Plaines Public Library has a number of programs coming up to commemorate those anniversaries.
The book I chose for discussion is With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen B. Oates, a very thorough and well-written book. The discussion will take place on Tuesday, September 2nd at 10AM. Registration is required and books are available at the Readers' Services Desk one month prior.
I also strongly considered choosing the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin because it was also well-written and well-reviewed and dealt more directly with the election campaign. And though I highly recommend the book, I thought it a little too vast for our discussion.
On October 5th, the Des Plaines Public Library is hosting the Lincoln-Douglas Debate: An abridged version of the fifth debate that was held on October 7, 1858 in Galesburg, Illinois. It will be presented by Michael Krebs and Larry Diemer. On November 23rd, nationally-acclaimed folksinger and songwriter Chris Vallillo will bring Abraham Lincoln to life from his birth in Kentucky in 1809 through his tragic death in 1865 in a program called Abraham Lincoln in Song. Registration for both programs is required.