tv Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Museum - Life of Lincoln CSPAN February 18, 2019 12:23pm-1:11pm EST
during the 17 years the family resided here, lincoln was elected congressman in 1846 and president in 1860. coming up, we visit the lincoln presidential library and museum to learn more about the life of our 16th president. the city of spring field, so much of it is built around that legacy of abraham lincoln. his home is here. the old state capitol, his old law offices are here and he's buried on the out skirts of town. lincoln is extraordinarily important to the city of springfield. this museum was built in 2005. it had been a dream a long time of many folks here in central illinois. a presidential library for the greatest president. the purpose of the library is
basic. to preserve and pass on the legacy of abraham lincoln. he had great ambitions to do great things and he succeeded in that. he was born in 1809 in kentucky. he moved when he was 6 or 7 up to indiana. he lived through his teens in inn inner loop. he grew up on the frontier. he had a lot of hard work to do. clearing land and being a farmer in many ways. you see a young lincoln putting focus on learning as much as he could. he knew he wanted to do something more with his life.
from an early age he said he knew that if slavery wasn't wrong then nothing was wrong. he would have seen slavery growing up in kentucky. one of the reasons the family left kentucky is their dislike of slavery. he traveled down twice to new orleans. we know he saw it then and was repelled by it. he saw it in an economic point of view that it made no sense. people should be able to reap the benefit of what they do for their work and some speculate early on him being farmed out by his father showed him the injustice. if you're working and sweating for that product, you should
benefit from that. you should profit from that. in slavery, that was not the case at all. a fundamental moral and philosophical repulsion to slavery but also realizing this was unfair in every way. he had that all of his youth and put that into effect as president. he same to springfield, illinois in 1837. he was a lawyer. a young lawyer at this point and making his way in the world. he was part of that legislative group that ended up getting the state capitol moved to springfield. he was very instrumental in making that move here. he came here. he was active in the social scene here. a little audiocassetwkward arou. he met her at the home of her sister who had moved up here and living. elizabeth was her name.
mary said he came over to her and said i've been watching you all night. i want to dance with you in the worst way. she said by the end of the that he succeeded in that. he was a bad dancer. it was a rock y relationship. they were engaged. they broke it off and then they reconnected. they got plamarried in 1842. n mary todd lincoln is an amazing woman. i think her role of getting his involved with politics is important. she came from a very connected family in kentucky, the todd family. i think she saw a rough version
of what we could be and she was seeing a future leader there. i think she prods prodded him a the way. i think she's definite lly supported him. issues later in her life. as you put that pair together, they were one heck of pair. he aspired higher. a couple of times he ran for the senate. we know that because the great debate with stephen douglas. his great political rival. there were seven debates held around illinois. he was a democrat and stoods for slavery.
two years later they were rival for the presidency. this time abraham coming out on top because of the split of the democratic party. it raised lincoln's name up around the country. he was already very involved or getting very involved in the new republican party. he's going out to adjoining states. he was an illinois politician. these debates help raise him to a level of national prominence. several times after his defeat in 1858 and before that, lincoln when he suffers a defeat thinks that's it. i'm done. no one will remember me at all. he said, maybe, i was able to enunciate some things. he goes on. he has thought of running for
the presidency and plots a path to do that in 1860. still very unlikely that he gets elected. douglas runs but loses a lot of southerners. he wins most of the north. that's how he became president. douglas was always his political rival. he was elected president in 1860. back then inauguration was many march rather than in january like today. he addressed a crowd from the back of the train at the depot and said some heartfelt remarks that talked about the importance of springfield to him over time where this is where he had grown up and practiced law.
you can sense his concern. as he was elected and waiting for his inauguration states are starting to succeed from the union. he is immediately confronted with the issue of fort sumpter. the south fires first shot and war begins. it came any way at a horrible cost to this nation. lincoln knew that he had to follow in the footsteps of
washington. it's one of his heroes. he realized he had a sacred duty to preserve the union and make right those ideas that were still very incomplete thanks to the horrible evil of slavery. abraham rise in washington as the president ready to take the oat. he's already being attacked terrible terribly by any number of individuals. terrible things. everything from his looks to int intelligence and horrible racist i thi things. it must have been a horrible burden to him to have every move
question and to be attacked in a really vicious manner from every possible avenue and from his own party. he almost wasn't re-nominated in 1864. he was under such attack from the republican party it. we have the civil war in four minutes. every week of the war shown as one second. you see the changing borders of north and south and the mounting casualty rate in the lower right of the screen. it's a phenomenal way of representing how the war progressed. the war took a great toil on the nation and a toil on abraham lincoln. we know the horrible aging he underwent in those five years where you can see he looks like a very young man to the time before his death, we have one of the final photos of him in 1865
where he looks like he's aged 20 or more years because of the stress of the war. we allow guests to touch these. a youthful face in 1860 and this was taken not long before the assassination. we see a different face of a man grown prematurely old. what caused the stress during the cwar, i think he gets stres from many fronts. he's very much connected to the fronts. he visits hospitals with mary. he takes it very personally every one of those. he does get constant bombardment of letters from families wanting
to nowhere their loved ones are and talking about the horrible toll of the war. in every direction he getting the stress. he has to make constant decisions. decisions he knows may reserve or destroy the union. these are extraordinarily earth taking decisions no man or woman could take easily. when the war began, he put so much effort into preserving the union. he knew he had to take issues against slavery. you see a variety of reactions to that. some happy. some not happy at all because they feared that this
emancipation proclamation would drive the border states into the con fed ra confederacy. lincoln knew from a principle point of view, it was important. he had the authority. it was a wartime measure only to free those slaves in rebel territory taken by the union armies. lincoln presents the draft to his cabinet. this was team of rivals. a very strong cabinet he put together. some for it. some against it. they realized the proclamation was an important wartime measure. it was president's lincoln
decision to make. he tells them he had a growing conversation with god about this. assen early man, early youth he was seen ooze a village atheist. by time of the the emancipation proclamation you see a very religious man. the war is over. this great jubilation. he walks the streets of retch monday. he cops back and says a few words to the united states. one of the things he loves to do is go to the theater. a little after 10:00 p.m., john
wilkes booth enter the area where the president is sitting with mary and shoots the president point-blank in the head. president lincoln dies on april 15th, 1865, good friday. he is then taken back to springfield where he will buried on a trip some 1700 miles on the rail. thousands along the way turn out to see the train and pay their respects to the slain president. one of the final sections of what we call journey two in our museum represents lincoln lying in state at the state capital here in springfield at the end of his long journey back from washington.
shay wi they will show respect to president lincoln. he was buried the next day at oak ridge cemetery. there was a lot of debate. some people wanted to bury him in chicago. it was a great back and forth with mary. she determined where it was going to happen. she wanted it to be in oak ridge cemetery. he was buried there. a few years later there was a plot to steal his body. thankfully that was foiled. many years later when robert todd was still alive, they built the new tomb where he's safely buried along with mary and every one in the family except for robert todd who was buried at arlington national secemetery. you can learn about abraham lincoln and his times during the civil war.
he can be great model for all of us of how we attain those principles. >> illinois state capital building is the sixth in the state. construction started in 1868 and wasn't completed until 20 years earlier. it's the tallest non-skyscraper capital in the united states. taller than the u.s. capitol in washington, d.c. we speak with two political journalists about the history of political corruption in illinois. >> i want to thank you for joining me today. we're here to talk about illinois politics. if you could, i'll start with you. how would you describe illinois politics? >> tiffany, i've lived my whole life, during my life span, there's not a culture of corruption in illinois politics.
starting in 1940s. he turned his -- he would not allow the anti-gabli inanti-gam be enforced. the gambling interest flooded him with contributions and his machine with donations and so on. also, it was disclosed in the 1940s that it was supposed to dispatch in chicago daily news shared a pulitzer prize. then in the 1960s, and i know
bernie will take this, over the next 11 governors and that's not including our newly inaugurated governor here but of the next 11 governors, five were indicted. i have lived with this throughout my adult life in illinois. it's great for reporting and the media and so on. william stratton was governor for most of the 50s. he was indicted on charges of income tax evasion and it related to political contributions that he received and still held. there was a long expensive trial held.
the federal court in chicago he was acquit bidted by a jury. he was found not guilty. then we get to the 1960s in illinois. we have a very popular democratic governor for most of the '60s. everybody was shocked. he was indicted on tax evasion and mail fraud charges relating to the fact as his second term as governor, he accepted under the table, stock and racing organizations. it's a big industry in illinois. he got the stock at a bargain price and allowed to resell it. this was all done covertly -- it was repurchased at a high price. he made a lot of money on it.
he was found guilty. in 1974 he was sentenced to prison. he was sent to the federal prison facility down in lexington, kentucky which was kind of a country club. >> he gets indicted. what's the reaction of the public to their former governor going to jail? >> it was astounding. he was so highly respected. he served two terms. he was easily reelected to his second term. he was very popular throughout the state although he was from
chicago. everybody respected him. that's why service such a chock when he was indicted. >> first citizen used to be the family when we were part of the press group. we have moved on. part of the reason was there's a big landmark in downtown spring field. it's the old state capital. that's the building in front of which barack obama announced his campaign for the presidency and calm back there to announce the joe biden would be his running mate. that building was the former state capitol became the county courthouse. they built a parking garage
the family was happy that it came out that president nixon seem to have a vendetta. >> the next one indicted was not endorsed by the democratic machine in chicago but he was a rebel democratic named dan walker. walker was elected in 1972. walker was a terrific came painer. >> he w -- campaigner. >> he was known as bandana dan. he put on a red bandana. he went to the southern tip of the state. he walked the length of the state in a zigzag getting press
coverage everywhere he went. it was this maiamazing out pour of media coverage saying i'm going to take on springfield. he got known for that. >> all sorts of democrats would refuse to talk to him. they would not be pictured with him. he spent the whole time talking to people who had not been involved in the political process one way or the other. he brought in a lot of young people who had no interest before that in politics. he slept in different homes. it's in the 1972 walker upset.
everybody thought paul simon would defeat this guy who come out of nowhere. walk around the state. it was quite incredible. his governorship was a mixed bag. he engaged in confrontation with everybody. not just republicans but a lot of other democrats. he never ma-- in retrospect wal he had make up with daly because he might have gone further in public life. in 1983, 7 years after he left the governorship, he was defeated in his victory election in '76. his downfall began when he and his wife purchased a small savings and loan down in illinois called the first american saving and loan association. they quickly opened a branch up in the chicago suburb of oak
brook. they made that the headquarters. in 1986, federal authorities took over the savings it was insolvent. then the following year, walker was indicted on perjury and other charges relating to the operation of the savings and loan. it was determined or charged that -- which was true -- that he had profited personally from funds connected to the savings and loan. he pled guilty to three of the charges and was sentenced in 1987 to seven years in prison, in federal prison, by a federal district court judge ann williams in chicago. and he only served a year and a half of it because he was
released for health and other reasons, but it was tough duty. he's one of the governors -- i'm his biographer. it was very difficult. he was in a real penitentiary. the federal penitentiary up in duluth, minnesota. >> when was walker convicted? and again, what's the reaction to the public, now they have another governor who's been convicted of a crime? >> it was interesting, wouldn't you say, when walker was convicted. there wasn't a lot of sympathy for him, but it was interesting. it was like, oh, here we go again, you know. because when he was governor, there was really no scandal to talk about. in the four years walker was governor, a lot of bickering, definitely, but -- i can tell you, walker lived very sparsely as governor. he didn't use the fancy limousine. he didn't like a lot of state cops around him for security because he felt he had to protect his populist image. when he lost and could not get his party's nomination and was out, it was then he decided, i
have been deprived of all the perks i could have exercised as governor, so i'm going to enjoy myself now and really -- so he had several business ventures that made some money before he got the savings and loan. he also found the money to buy not one but two yachts, and he lived a very glamorous life. >> we've brought this up a couple times, talking about the political machine in particular that walker had gone against. can we talk about what is this political machine, and where are they based out of? >> you know, mayor richard j. daly, who was mayor of chicago for 26-ish years, maybe it was 21, but there's a book by a famed chicago news columnist, now departed, called "boss." apparently it's used in schools across the country to teach how to build a political machine. the chicago democratic party,
which mayor daley controlled city hall, the legislature and some governors. it was building block by block, having block captains who had to get out the vote. if you got out the vote, then your garbage got picked up and your snow got plowed. if you didn't do that, you got fired. there's a lawyer named shackman. there was a shackman decree that took on the daley machine saying people shouldn't be hired or fired just for political purposes, but in the early days of the machine, i guess starting in the late '50s or '60s, you performed for the party or you didn't get jobs. it's funny. the newspapers in chicago have done a good job over the years slating sessions. you go before the party organization to be slated as a judge. and if you haven't -- and people talk about how they walked precincts to become a judge. then they get slated.
if the party is for you, there's so many judges on the ballot in cook county, particularly before they split it up into districts. nobody knows who those people are. if you're on the ballot, you win. >> how did the power of this machine that seemed to be based in chicago make its way to springfield? >> well, if you're in chicago and you're a state legislator, nobody knows who you are. if you're an alderman, you have real power because there are 50 of them an they control their wards. still to this day, you know, sometimes it was more important in chicago to be a member of the city council than a member of congress. just by being able to pick so many people -- because the population of chicago is so large compared to the rest of the state. whatever it is, four-fifths of the population. as these stories about paul powell and others who were corrupt down staters, it wasn't limited to chicago. we'll talk about george ryan, who was a republican governor. there was a machine there as well of the republican brand.
if you work for the state mental health facility that was there, you probably should buy your cadillac, i'm told, from the local state senator's cadillac dealership. i mean, these are stories -- i don't know exactly if they're true. it's been some years. but there was just -- chicago is such a population center. i guess it dipped below 300 million, but it was above at times. they elected a lot of legislators. a lot of them would come down and wait for mayor daley's people to tell them how to vote. >> you mentioned george ryan. can we talk about him? what was his background and him as a republican? how did he end up being the democrats? >> george ryan was not even out of office a year when in 2003 he was indicted. >> when was he elected? >> he was elected in 1998. >> right. so he served as --
>> as vernon was going to say, he was speaker of the house before that. he was a powerful legislator in his own right. for part of his years in the house, he was the speaker of the house, which is a very potent, powerful position in illinois. he had been an elected official in kankakee county. in many ways, he didn't operate politically any different from a lot of his predecessors, both democrats and republicans. but anyway, things caught up with ryan. within a year after he had left the governorship, he was a one-term governor, he was indicted on a whole variety of charges related to so-called corrupt activities during his years of public service. after a lengthy trial, i think it was a seven-month trial, he was convicted on 18 counts of
corrupt activity. he was sentenced to prison. he was sentenced to 6 1/2 years. his defenders always said when he was indicted for the things he did, he was doing nothing that a lot of his predecessors, both democrats and republicans, had done in office. not just the governorship, but all other levels of government in illinois. there was a little truth to that. but apparently the powers that be decided to finally make a stand on this stuff, and he was indicted. a lot of the charges involved -- went back during his years in the secretary of state's office, when he was secretary of state. >> yeah, he was elected secretary of state -- i think he served '91 to '99. the problem in the secretary of state's office, he had a very aggressive fundraising operation, wasn't necessarily run directly by him. i remember going to the state fairgrounds when he'd have
fundraisers. there would be giant lines of people who all paid at the time, $50 or whatever, shake his hand, full building full of people. the problem was -- and there was a guy who was the chief of staff who also went to prison for 6 1/2 years. they were putting pressure on their people in driver's license facilities to raise money. it ended up that there were things going on where particularly trucking companies were paying bribes to get drivers truck driving licenses. this all came to a head and started to develop because there was this horrible accident near milwaukee in 1994. scott and janet willis. he was a preacher. they had six children. six of their nine children in a van. there was a truck driver who had turned out through investigation had gotten his license, could hardly speak english, had gotten
his license apparently through bribery, that somebody paid for him. a piece of metal fell off his truck. the van ran over the piece of metal. the car basically started on fire and six children died. it was people in some of the offices where these bribes for licenses transactions were taking place that started to -- that some people had kept notes and went to investigators. ultimately, this led to a lot of investigation into what george ryan was doing, and his people. so while there was no murder charge or anything like that, this horrible, horrible situation led to investigation, and there were many, many people who were indicted and convicted. and that's the corruption part. and yet, people look at him in the legislature as someone you could work with, who could get things done. when the chicago bears almost moved out of soldier field, george ryan helped push through a plan to build this basically
modern space, you know, saucer inside the old columns. so the bears stayed downtown chicago. it was -- i don't know what it was. $500 million. they got it done because he was a deal maker and people trusted his word in the legislature because he was of the legislature and was a good speaker of the house. >> exactly. >> and we can't leave without talking about the last governor to go to prison. rob blagojevich. >> he's a boyish looking individual. in my encounters with him, i always thought he looked like he was 25 years old. but anyway, in 2008 he was arrested by the fbi and charged with basically trying to implement pay to play systems in illinois where, you know, to get an appointment you've got to pay
and so on. then in early 2009, as bernie said, he was impeached and convicted in the general assembly process. he was removed from office. that meant he was out. then later that year, he was indicted by the feds again, mainly on charges of trying to pursue this pay-to-play scheme, but specifically the big item that caught everybody's attention was he had sought to profit from the sale of barack obama's senate seat. barack obama was a u.s. snartd fr -- senator from illinois when he got elected to the presidency. that left that senate seat vacant. the governor appoints the person to fill that seat. and blagojevich was overheard soliciting money and wondering how much they could get and what
it was worth for individuals to pay to get that senate seat. those are all on tape-recorded conversations. >> i don't know if it was direct as, give me a million dollars and i'll give you the seat. maybe you could give my wife a job. maybe i could get a job running your association. >> yeah, right. it was clear. and that's what got him in hot water. then he went to trial in 2010, and there was a mistrial. but then there was a retrial, and he was found guilty there. again, basically on selling barack obama's senate seat charge. then in 2011, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison. and in 2012, he started serving that 14-year sentence out at a facility on the edge of denver. >> he was a lawyer in chicago. he was an assistant state attorney. i'm not sure exactly the see
sequence, but he met the daughter of a powerful chicago elderman and married her. just kind of moved up the political chain, was interested in running for things. ended up going to congress. he was in the house, and he was the kind of guy that would, you know, play around. i remember him throwing spitballs or something at another guy in the office one night. he was kind of a back bencher, yeah. but then when a seat came open in chicago, he got to congress. i remember being at the democratic national convention covering the illinois delegation in 2000 in california. he shows up and say, i'm going to be governor. and he was a great campaigner. i remember his father-in-law came to talk to democratic county chairman at a meeting in
springfield when rob blagojevich was in congress and running for the nomination for governor. mel said, you know, this guy is the best campaigner you'll ever see. if he goes to a bowling alley, he won't leave before he shakes every hand. he's also, he said, a jacksonian democrat. not andrew jackson. no, not jesse jackson. but andrew jax son, ckson, to t victor go the spoils. that's what mel was telling these county chairs. you elect rod, and we'll get you some jobs, basically. that kind of thing. the down staters went strongly for him. he ended up winning the primary. i remember seeing him campaigning at our state fair one day at an open covered area, the food-o-rama, they call it. it was on a weekend. there were a few hundred people. when he finished talking about his father, who came from europe and worked at a steel company in chicago, and his mother, who took nickels and dimes at the cta station just so they could
get their kids through college and get them a good education, when he finished this talk there was a line about a block long, mostly women, waiting to meet him and have him sign their sweatshirts. i mean, he had charisma. then he got to be governor. and it turned out he didn't want to do much. he stayed in chicago most of the time. there was like an eight-minute report that ended up a few years later on one of the tv stations in chicago. he was like in his bathrobe, coming out of his house at 10:00 in the morning because he wasn't going into the office. for a while the state still had airplanes then, a fleet that politicians could use. that ended under the last governor. i remember there was a three-day veto session in the fall where blagojevich flew to -- the state plane would have to go pick him up in the morning, take him to springfield, and at 4:00 in the afternoon, he'd leave to go back home so he could tuck in his kids at night. he said, you can't criticize me, i want to tuck my kids in at night. he just didn't want to do the work. there are people who asked for
clemency petitions. he let, i think, thousands pile up because he wasn't acting on them. so by the time he got in this other trouble, which partly became -- he ended up having a fight with his father-in-law. he blew the whistle on someone who ran some kind of a dump for materials, and he got the epa involved and shut down this dump. but mel was friends with him. and dick mel told one of the chicago papers or tv stations, you know, well, what's rod doing? he's telling people if they pay him $25,000 to his campaign, he'll appoint them to something. that started the process. then the fbi ended up bugging pho phones at his campaign office and home for several weeks. then news started to break about those tapes. those tapes are just what killed him because he sounded so self-indulged. he didn't want the job. he wanted to earn money later. he called barack obama's senate
seat the opportunity to appoint him. there's a bad word that starts with "f." it's a golden opportunity. i'm not going to just give away for nothing. even though, as he would argue and his lawyers would argue, he never got a dime from any of this, never got the job, never, you know -- people probably donated to his campaign, but not personal money. he still got this 14 years because the judge, who was a former director of state police, former director of the department to of revenue years ago, let the hammer down on him because in addition, after he was indicted, arrested and indicted, he went on this national tour. he was on david letterman. david letterman is like, what are you doing here? he's like, i'm an innocent man that's put upon by the powers that be. all i was doing was politics. and people always trade, talk about different positions. he ended up being a contestant on "the celebrity apprentice." this is when we found out he
couldn't type. he had to like use a computer for one of the things on the show, one of his projects, and he couldn't really type. it was so funny. but he was shameless in going around the country saying this is not my fault, i did nothing wrong. clearly the judge didn't like that. he's still in prison. his wife patty has gone on fox news a couple times to talk about how terrible it is that these prosecutors railroaded my husband for just doing political work and trying to be good. you know, i think they were hoping that donald trump might commute his sentence or pardon him. it hasn't happened yet. maybe on a slow news day. >> we talk about the culture of corruption in illinois. there are certainly a lot of extremely decent, honest people in public office in illinois. that should be pointed out. a lot of them are well intentioned. they're in both parties. there are good people. of course, they don't get the attention that these individuals get that have been indicted and
so on. i would say right now the future is in the hands of j. j.b. fritzker. we've never had an individual like this in my time at the helm in illinois. i'm optimistic that he's going to a good job. i hope he does, and i'm optimistic he will. he doesn't have to owe anybody. he's his own man. and this is a big deal in politics. i don't think he fits any particular mold and that's good. i think we'll see some new innovati innovations that maybe surprise bernie and i. i'm optimistic things can't get much worse, okay? >> thank you, gentlemen, so much for joining us and talking about illinois. >> it's what we do, right? >> that's right. >> thank you. >> thank you, tiffany. our cities tour staff
recently traveled to springfield, illinois, to learn about its rich history. learn more about springfield and other stops on our tour at c-span.org/citiestour. you're watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. next on american history tv, university of delaware professor tiffany gill talks about the green book, a travel guide for african-americans produced during the jim crow era, first published in the 1930s. the book listed businesses around the country that accepted african-american customers when so many hotels, restaurants, and other destinations would refuse to serve them. this 15-minute interview was recorded at the american historical association annual meeting in chicago. >> tiffany gill is a professor of history of afran