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Lincoln exhibit shows politics of 1860

November 5, 2010

The Henry Pfeiffer Library at MacMurray College is hosting an exhibit from the Illinois State Historical Society’s collection on Abraham Lincoln, with many pieces displayed from the 1860 presidential campaign, 150 years ago this month.

The opening of the exhibit, “Your Obedient Servants: The Presidential Papers Collection of Joseph and Lucille Block,” will be 2-5 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 14 at the library with noted Lincoln scholar Dan Guillory giving a talk at 3 p.m.

Many of the artifacts in the exhibit provide a visual history of the 1860 presidential campaign, in which Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States. Seven Currier and Ives political cartoons illustrate the divisive political climate that Lincoln’s nomination spawned in the campaign and reflect the national attitude toward slavery in ante-bellum America.

The MacMurray exhibit also includes several documents bearing Lincoln’s signature, including a rare 1860 autograph with accompanying lithograph of the future president without a beard.

Guillory will be giving a presentation on the contentious election year that brought the Civil War. He is a professor emeritus in English at Millikin University in Decatur and was a University of Chicago Fellow and a Fulbright lecturer.

He has published more than 450 articles, reviews and chapters in books. He is the author of eight books; the latest, People and Places in the Land of Lincoln, was published in June.

The Lincoln Poems, published in 2008, a collection of his poetry, was one of 21 books selected for inclusion in the 2009 national bicentennial celebration of Lincoln's birthday in Springfield. The Lincoln Poems will also be part of an interactive, electronic exhibit in the new Ford Theatre Museum, which will be opening across the street from the Ford Theatre where Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.

The Lincoln exhibit comes to MacMurray College through the efforts of MacMurray alumnus William Furry, who is the Executive Director of the 111-year-old Illinois State Historical Society, which owns the Joseph and Lucille Block Collection. For more than 60 years, the Blocks collected presidential letters, portraits, and other ephemera and displayed them on the walls of their downtown Chicago home. The Blocks bequeathed the documents to the Illinois State Historical Society and the Chicago History Museum.

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