tv Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Museum - Life of Lincoln CSPAN February 17, 2019 9:43pm-10:01pm EST
1846 president in 1860. lincoln's son robert todd lincoln donated the family home to the state of illinois in 1887. coming up we visit the lincoln presidential library and museum to learn more about the life of our 16th president. alan: the city of springfield, so much of it is built around that legacy of abraham lincoln. illinois is the land of lincoln. springfield certainly is the city of lincoln. his home is here, his old law offices are here, and of course he is buried on the outskirts of town at oak ridge cemetery. lincoln is extraordinarily important to the city of springfield. this museum was built in 2005. it was opened to the public. it had been a dream for many folks in central illinois, a presidential library for the greatest president. the purpose of the library is very basic, to preserve and pass on the legacy of abraham lincoln. he is the man i think best
encapsulated what it means to be american, freedom and equality, opportunity. we do put him on a pedestal rightly, but also he was a human being and had great ambitions to do great things. he certainly succeeded in that. abraham lincoln was born in 1809 in kentucky. he lived there just for a few years. he was six or seven when he moved to indiana, lived through his teens in indiana. he grew up on the frontier. he had a lot of front -- hard work to do clearing land, essentially being a farmer in many ways, lived a very difficult life, one that he was determined to move beyond his -- beyond. you see a young lincoln putting focus on learning as much as he could and finding those rare books he could read cover to cover because he knew he wanted to do something more with his life. ♪ from an early age, abraham lincoln said he knew that slavery wasn't wrong, the
-- then nothing was wrong. we believe in, somewhat speculation, he would have seen slavery certainly growing up in kentucky when he was young. one of the reasons the family left kentucky, our understanding is the dislike of slavery. but as a young man he traveled down the mississippi river twice to new orleans which at that point was the biggest slave trading market in america. we know that he stayed just a block or two away from the major trading area, so he saw it then and was repelled by it. he also saw slavery as a moral evil, something running founder -- completely counter to the founding ideas of america. he also saw in an economic point of view that it made no sense, economically, and that people should be able to reap the benefit of what they do for their work. some speculate farming out to other formers showed him the injustice. if you are working and you are sweating for that product, you should you should benefit. ,you should profit from that. of course in slavery that was
not the case at all. a fundamental moral and philosophical repulsion to slavery but also realizing that this was fundamentally unfair in every way. he had all of his youth and put that into effect as president. abraham lincoln came to springfield, illinois in 1837. he was already in the state legislature. he was a lawyer a young lawyer, , making his way in the world. he was part of that legislative group that ended up getting the state capital moved to springfield. he was very instrumental in making that move here. he came here, he was active in the social scene. as active as he could be. he was a little awkward around women. in 1839 met mary todd from lexington, kentucky. their courtship was interesting. he met her at the home of her sister, who had moved up here and was living, elizabeth was her name, she had married the son of the former governor of illinois. as i recall, the story is mary said he came over to her at her dance and said i have been watching you all night, i want to dance with you in the worst
way. she said by the end of the night he had succeeded in that. he was not a good dancer. they immediately took to each other. it was a rocky relationship though. they were engaged, broke off the relationship. still some mystery about what was going on. then they reconnected and married in 1842. mary todd lincoln was an amazing woman. i think her role with abraham lincoln getting him in politics was extraordinarily important. i think sometimes overlooked in that story. she came from a very connected family in kentucky todd family, , very aristocratic family there. she was friends with henry clay, one of abraham lincoln's great idols in the senate. she had a political background. she would talk politics with her father and was well-educated. when she met lincoln, i think she saw in him kind of a rough version of what he could be. she realized that there was a leader, she was seeing a future leader.
i think she prodded him along the way. she pushed him a bit. she definitely supported him. they were a good political pair. obviously issues later in her life, but they were one heck of a political pair. as a lawyer abraham made a name for himself as a lawyer but also as a politician in the state legislature. he had great ambitions. a couple times he ran for the u.s. senate, most famously in 1858. we know that of course because the great debates with stephen douglas, his great political rival. there were seven debates around illinois that really encapsulated the political ideas and debates of the time like nothing else. stephen douglas was a great illinois politician known as the little giant. he was an even bigger name than abraham lincoln, but he was a democrat, and he stood for slavery. he was trying desperately to get the democratic presidential nomination. he had his eyes on that and knew the senate was an important steppingstone to the democratic nomination.
two years later in 1860 these men who were rivals for the senate seat were again rivals for the presidency. this time abraham coming out on top because of the split of the democratic party. there were seven debates between lincoln and douglas in the 1858 senate race. it raised lincoln's name up around the country. he was already very involved or getting involved in the new republican party. he was going out to adjoining states, sometimes further afield, to speak, but he was an illinois politician. these debates raised him to a level of national prominence. it is interesting. several times after his defeat in 1858 and before that, linkedin, like any human being, when he suffers a defeat, thanks that is it. no one will remember me at all. he said at least i could enunciate several principles, say some things on my mind. maybe that will be remembered. probably not. you know. of course that wasn't the case. he goes on, he has thought of running for the presidency and of course lots a path to do that in 18 -- plots a path in 1860 to
do that. still unlikely he gets elected. what helps him is douglas runs but loses southerners. the democratic party splits, and abraham retains the republican party as a whole unit and wins most of the north. the interesting thing is douglas is always his political rival. they had obviously differing views on important issues like slavery. but after lincoln's election and the war breaks out, douglas says i am with you, i am for union. , i put that in the credit box for stephen douglas that he said i will support you. of course sadly right after that, he passed away. he is elected president in 1860, and he left springfield in february 1861. back then the inauguration was in march, rather than january. when you left springfield, he addressed a crowd from the back of the train in the depot and said some heart filled remarks to the people of springfield. really it was where he had grown up had practiced law, raise a , family, owned a home and how much he owed to springfield. you can sense in those words his
concern he is never coming back. he realizes he is going on to an enormous challenge. when the president came into office, often they had a honeymoon time to start their term, he had no such honeymoon. ishe was elected and as he states are starting to secede awaiting his inauguration from , the union. when he finally gets here, he is immediately confronted with the issue of fort sumter being blockaded by the southerners. that? you do about he realizes anything he said could precipitate a war. how he traverses that difficult terrain, that is immediately put on his desk when he gets to washington, and of course the south fires the first shot and the war begins, a war that certainly lincoln didn't want but that came anyway at a horrible cost to this nation. but lincoln knew that he had to follow in the footsteps of washington, one of his heroes. he looked back to the founding fathers and realized he had a duty to preserve the union and
to carry on the ideas they had. and make right those ideas that were still very incomplete thanks to the horrible evil of slavery. abraham lincoln arrives in washington as the newly elected president ready to take the oath. he has to kind of sneak into the town because of assassination plots against him. already he is being attacked terribly by any number of individuals and publications. this part of the museum here called the whispering gallery we , show those here. you hear some of those. they are whispered through this part of the gallery. terrible things, everything from his looks, his intelligence or lack thereof, this horrible racist thing is spewed about him. as the war goes on, you see him blaming -- them blaming him for the thousands and thousands of deaths and casualties. it must have been a horrible burden to him, every move questioned and to be attacked in such a vicious manner from every possible avenue.
of course also from his own party. he also -- almost wasn't renominated in 1864. he was under attack from the republican party itself. the civil war is so much part of what we talk about here at the lincoln library and museum. in this part of the gallery we have an amazing audiovisual presentation called the civil war in four minutes. every week of the war is shown as one second. you see the changing borders and the mounting casualty rate in the lower right. it really is a phenomenal way of representing how the war progressed. of course that war to the great -- took a great toll on the nation and abraham lincoln. we all know that the horrible aging he underwent in those four years, those five years from his election in 1860 where you can see he looks like a very young man to the time right before his death, one of the final photos of him in 1865, he has aged 20
or more years just because of the stress of the war. we are very fortunate here to have life masks of abraham lincoln. you see the 1860. we allow guests to touch these and see how big their hand is compared to abraham lincoln's. you see a relatively youthful face their in 1860, and this was taken not long before his assassination. we see a very different face here, a man grown prematurely old from all the stress and strain of the civil war. what caused the stress for president abraham lincoln during the war he gets stressed from , many fronts. he does go to the telegraph office all the time. he is very much connected to the fronts, and he knows the mounting casualty numbers. he visits hospitals with mary in the washington area and sees the sick, the wounded, the dying. he takes it personally every one of those. he does get constant bombardment of letters from families wanting to know where their loved ones are and talking about the
horrible horrible toll of the , war. in every direction he is getting these stresses. he also has to make constant decisions decisions that he , knows may preserve or destroy the union. these are extraordinarily earthshaking decisions that no man, no woman could take easily. you see that as part of his stress as well. so when the war began, when lincoln came into office, the civil war began, he put effort into preserving the union, but he understood the real core issue was slavery. and he knew he had to take measures against slavery. of course that was a controversial -- sadly a controversial thing to do. one of my favorite areas of the museum shows his initial reading of the emancipation proclamation to his very strong cabinet in you see a variety of reactions 1862. to that, some happy, some not at all because they feared this emancipation proclamation would drive particularly the border
states into the confederacy. that would have been probably fatal to the union. but lincoln knew at that point from a principal point of view it was important. he had the authority. it was the wartime measure only as commander in chief to free those slaves in rebel territory, taken to the union armies, but also he knew that it was important to bring african american men into the union fighting forces. and they played an extraordinarily important role in the final victory of the union in the civil war. lincoln presents the draft of the emancipation proclamation to his cabinet. you heard this was a team of rivals, a very strong cabinet he put together, very intelligent, very connected men, and he got a diversity of opinions. some were for it, some work against it some were completely , against black equality but realized it was an important wartime measure to make. in the end it was president lincoln's decision to make. he says he had had a
conversation with god about this. you see a growing religiousness, if that is a word, with abraham lincoln over time. as an early man, early youth in new salem, he was seen as the village atheist. you see this coming to terms with god over time. certainly by the time of the emancipation proclamation, we see a very religious man. over, leeil war is has surrendered, of course there are still some mopping up operations in the west, but essentially the war is over. great jubilation, lincoln goes to richmond and walks the streets of richmond, the rebel capital. he comes back, says a few words to the white house the next couple days then decides one of , the things he loves to do is go to the theater. he decides to take mary to a play at ford's theater, our american cousin. a great comedy. they go there and after 10:00 p.m. john wilkes booth enters the area where the president is sitting with mary along with major rathbone and clara harris, and shoots the president
point-blank in the head. on april lincoln dies 15, 1865, good friday. he then is taken back to springfield where he is going to be buried on a trip after 1700 miles on the rail. we say it isthe -- the most prolonged, elaborate repeated 7 -- ceremony in american history. thousands turn out to see the train and pay their respects to this president. thehat we call journey to show lincoln lying in state at the end of his long journey back from washington. even though this is a replica of that scene, the old state capitol is down the road and people can visit. it is a beautiful place. it is a referential way, even if they are a loud school group, they will quiet down and show respect to president lincoln. tens of thousands of people came to see president lincoln to him
while he was lying at stake for the day. he was buried at oak ridge cemetery. in terms of his burial site, there was a lot of debate. some people wanted to bury him in chicago. there is back and forth with mary, and she determined oak ridge cemetery. he was buried there as you may know a few years later, there was a plot to steal his body. that was filed -- foiled. when robert todd was still alive, they built a new tomb where he is safely worried along with mary and everyone in the family except robert todd who is buried at arlington national cemetery. when visitors come to the museum it is a great experience i hope for everyone and you can learn many things about his times, the civil war. lincoln is still very relevant to us today. the ideas he stood for, still the ideas we as a nation say we aspire to today.
let -- he can be a model for all of us. announcer 1: our cities tour staff traveled to springfield, illinois to learn about its rich history and learn more about springfield and other stops on our tour at c-span.org/cities tour. you guard -- you are watching "american history tv. " to learn about american history. next, we toured the u.s. medical history department museum at fort houston in san antonio to see several advances made by army medics made in the past 200 years. we look at a simple war era electrotherapy machine, transport helicopters used during the vietnam war, and a unique contraption used to combat hypothermia. >> i would like to welcome you