The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

A Two Year Long Birthday Party?

by: Mitch Worley, Special For The Quill

An epic celebration is about to commence all around the nation and most notably here in the Midwest for one of the most prominent figures in American history.

The bicentennial birthday of Abraham Lincoln is a little over a year away, yet much of the nation is getting the party started this year.

Abraham Lincoln was born February 12th, 1809 in a little town in Hardin County, Kentucky called Hodgenville.

A young Lincoln quickly faced two themes he would have reoccur throughout his entire life; dealing with tragedy, and perseverance.

At the age of ten, his mother died, leaving him to depend solely upon his father to educate him in the backwoods of Indiana.

Lincoln recounts just prior to receiving the Republican nomination of his first term that his parents were born of "undistinguished families" in Virginia and that he was lucky growing up knowing how to read and write, especially due to his mother's passing at such a young age and his father being a frontiersman and giving education to young Abe only in the form of how to live off the land and what a strong work ethic was.

He would not only use that strong work ethic to eventually become the leader of the free world, but in the many different jobs he held in living in New Salem, as well as during his stint as a Captain in the Blackhawk War. Again though, Lincoln would continually deal with tragedy, along with persevering through those trials as well as others he would face in his life until his untimely death at Ford's Theater.

President Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln had four sons: Robert, Eddie, Tad, and Willie. Although all but one survived him, the death of his favorite son, Willie, was a very tough pill to swallow. This not only haunted President Lincoln, but the entire family as one half of the mischievously dynamic duo of Willie and Tad now was laid to rest. Lincoln would deal with that personal tragedy in magnificent fashion, pressing on and continuing to serve this nation as perhaps the greatest leader we will have ever known.

Flashing forward through his presidency and amazing success at abolishing slavery and restoring the unity of this nation after the secession of the South, Lincoln's outstanding life came to an end at the hand of actor and Southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater in Washington DC during the April 14th play, Our American Cousin, just days after Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. He died at 7:22 a.m. the next morning.

The life of Abraham Lincoln was quite tremendous. We owe so much to the man that single-handedly restored our nation to become one again, as well as ending slavery and making all men equal.

Many states, such as neighboring Indiana, will begin the celebration of his life on his 199th birthday, lasting until his 201st birthday on February 12th, 2010. As Lincoln spent much of his life in both Illinois and Indiana, the celebration will most certainly be a grand occasion and much deserving as well.

Although La Harpe may appear on the surface to be nothing more than a rural agricultural community of about 1,400 to 1,500 people depending on which sign you read coming into town, we have a history with the 16th president of the United States as he not only spoke at our very own Methodist Church in 1858 in the time period of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, laying his head to rest for a night at a house on South C Street afterward, but many of his close relatives were members of the La Harpe community and are buried in our cemetery and in grave yards in the surrounding area.

Albeit the personal history we have with Abraham Lincoln was brief, we still owe a great deal of gratitude to the man for the artifacts and stories our museum and other locales have to tell about the man and his time spent in La Harpe.

I hope our community rallies in almost an excessive fashion much like the rest of our great state of Illinois and our neighbors to the east, Indiana, to celebrate the man's life and show our appreciation for all he did for us as a community, and a nation as well.

Not only would it help pay homage to a great man and one of the most prolific leaders in the history of the free world, but also help us draw closer as a community and party together like its 1999 all over again.