The society's journal
publishes only articles recommended by professional historians, who
are typically distinguished professors at four-year colleges and
universities. Henson earned a Ph.D. in English studies from Illinois
State University in 1982 and is professor emeritus of English at
Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo.
Henson's article explains his research process that led to the
discovery of previously unidentified newspaper (primary) sources
about this event, which took place on the day after the last
Lincoln-Douglas debate in Alton. (Primary sources are contemporary
with a given event.) Henson used numerous primary sources, including
the texts of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, in the composition of the
play script that was adapted for the re-enactment of this historic
event in Lincoln on Oct. 16, 2008. The article includes historic
photos and a summary of the play, with excerpts demonstrating
Lincoln's arguments against slavery and his humorous jabs at Stephen
A. Douglas, his opponent in the 1858 Senate race.
The double, book-length journal issue (213 pages) features nine
articles, most of them about Mr. Lincoln's various career-related
experiences in Illinois. Also included are reviews of 25 books: new
and recent as well as collections, reprints and picture books
relating to Mr. Lincoln. These reviews are the work of Dr. Robert
McColley, professor emeritus of history at the University of
Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. On the cover is the famous photo of Mr.
Lincoln taken by Alexander Hesler on June 3, 1860, in Springfield,
soon after Mr. Lincoln became the Republican presidential nominee.
The state historical society owns the only two surviving glass-plate
positive images of this treasured photo.
The articles in this issue reflect the diversity of Lincoln's
career-related experiences in Illinois. One article focuses on
Lincoln in Mercer County (western Illinois), where he spent time as
a soldier during the Black Hawk War and later worked as a surveyor.
Another article explains one of Lincoln's little-known Illinois
Supreme Court cases (1841), Bailey v. Cromwell, in which he
successfully defended a young black woman in her efforts to gain her
freedom. This case became an important legal precedent as well as
early evidence of Lincoln's lifelong anti-slavery views.
In another article, Dr. Daniel W. Stowell, director and editor of
the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, begins by discussing the peculiar
social phenomenon of 19th-century camp meetings, which attracted
hucksters and rowdies as well as the religious faithful. Next,
Stowell describes the 1857 Methodist camp meeting in Mason County
that was the setting for the murder of James Preston Metzger, a
murder that led to Lincoln's most famous case -- the almanac trial
at Beardstown the following summer in which Lincoln successfully
defended Duff Armstrong.
Other articles of significance explore Lincoln's political
relationships with the Mormons and Germans.
Henson's article on the research for the 1858 Abe rally-speech
re-enactment is the only one in the special issue with a direct
connection to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial celebration. The
rally-speech re-enactment last fall -- on the sesquicentennial
anniversary of the original event -- exemplifies the Illinois
Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission's mission, which "encourages
every community and citizen to become involved … to learn about
their Lincoln stories and explore ways to relate their Lincoln
heritage in public events and commemorative activities."
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Thus, in the future when people look back to see how the Lincoln
bicentennial was celebrated, they will discover from this article
that his first namesake town commemorated its unique Lincoln
heritage with a truly original and spectacular event. For that
reason, everyone associated with Lincoln, Ill., can be proud and
grateful to the city's Lincoln Bicentennial Commission for producing
the re-enactment. Special thanks are due Ron Keller, Paul Beaver,
Wanda Lee Rohlfs and Sean Patrick Leonard, who portrayed an
impassioned Mr. Lincoln.
Henson plans to purchase copies of the special issue of the
journal and donate some to the Lincoln Public Library, the libraries
of Lincoln Christian College and Seminary and Lincoln College, as
well as to Main Street Lincoln and the Logan County Genealogical and
Individual copies and copies in bulk (suitable for classrooms)
may be purchased from the Illinois State Historical Society, PO Box
1800, Springfield, IL 62701-1503; phone 217-525-2781.
According to the Web site of the Illinois State Historical
Society (founded 1899), its mission is to foster research,
preservation and recognition of history in Illinois. This nonprofit
organization depends solely on membership dues, gifts, bequests and
foundation grants. Access the society's Web site at
Access a link to the cover of the special issue, the table of
contents, the editor's page, biographical sketches of the authors,
the first two pages of Henson's article and more information about
Additionally, Henson recently published a video of the
re-enactment on the Internet. This video was produced by his
sister-in-law and former student at Pekin Community High School,
Caryl Schlicher. Another video version of this event -- shot with
higher resolution, showing more scenes and providing more production
information -- is available for purchase at Main Street Lincoln, 109
S. Kickapoo St., Lincoln, IL 62656.
Access the Google video publication of the 2008 re-enactment of
Abraham Lincoln's political rally and speech in his first namesake
town on Oct. 16, 1858:
[Text from file received from
Leigh Henson; LDN staff]