To the Logan County
Civil War Statue Committee, the Logan County Board, all other
citizens of Logan County and history buffs everywhere:
Abe say about replacing Logan County's fallen Civil War soldier
Enough is known about Abraham Lincoln's thought process that we
can usefully speculate on an answer. The committee to replace the
statue is in the process of writing a contract with a sculptor to
replace the fallen Civil War soldier marble statue with a bronze
one. Such a contract will have to be taken to the county board for
approval, and that is like taking a case to a jury. I'm sure lawyer
Lincoln would ask how well the case has been made favoring bronze.
He was respected for his thorough gathering and analysis of the
facts -- what lawyers call "discovery" -- and he took the time
necessary to arrive at the most logical conclusions.
The statue committee apparently has not considered key
information from one of its members, David Doolin (a degreed
engineer), and an outside stone materials expert brought in to
evaluate the monument. Those sources report that the chemicals used
to seal, clean and maintain bronze are acidic. The supporting stone
structures beneath a bronze statue would be destroyed if the
chemicals dripped onto them. Those chemical treatments also will not
entirely prevent a bronze statue from bleeding green discoloration
onto the lower supporting stone structures. An example of this ugly
staining problem can be seen on a wall of the Lincoln Christian
Church's Fellowship Center (Pekin Street side).
The committee abandoned its original unanimous decision to
replace the fallen statue with a marble one like the original. Last
May, when the committee voted for a marble statue replacement, one
committee member was quoted in the Pantagraph as saying, "We want it
to look exactly like it did originally to honor those men who made
the decision on the original memorial." Indeed, the sculptor for
whom the contract is being written says he can create a marble
statue like the original.
After the initial vote, the committee was willing to consider
additional information up to a point. A public online poll whose
results were intended to be only advisory produced 364 responses
(just 1 percent of the county's population) -- with a slight
preference for bronze: 54 percent vs. 46 percent.
Some on the committee apparently began to express positions
without citing scientific evidence. One committee member argued that
a stone statue would begin to show wear after about 20 years. Yet at
that point apparently little or no consideration was given to
methods of treating marble to maintain it. Another observation was
that a bronze statue weighs less than one of stone so the lighter
statue would be more suitable for the weathered, possibly weakened
base. But no scientific information had then been obtained about
whether the base could or could not support another stone statue, or
if not, whether it could be renovated or would need to be replaced.
The statue had not fallen because of faulty support beneath it.
In November 2009, the committee voted 5-4 in favor of bronze, but
four committee members were absent. I question whether attorney
Lincoln would agree that either the public's or the committee's
votes were taken only after all relevant information had been
obtained and thoroughly considered. This weak decision involved
heated discussion, and some committee members protested this radical
change in the committee's direction by resigning.
Doolin realized that the decision for bronze was made without
finding sufficient information about material costs, maintenance
costs, durability and artistic appearance. Doolin has commendably
persisted with research in order to get the best possible
information and has shared his findings with the committee and with
me. None of the news reports I have seen, however, suggest that the
committee has taken his full findings into consideration.
Doolin's findings are significant enough that they need to be
discussed by the committee and made known to the public because the
statue restoration project involves civic pride, historical accuracy
and taxpayer expense. The next three paragraphs summarize Doolin's
A white marble statue is less expensive to make than a bronze
one. Costs for a bronze statue range from $35,000 to $80,000, not
including shipping, insurance and installation. Costs for a marble
statue range from $25,000 to $40,000, not including shipping,
insurance and installation. (In December 2009 the county board
received an insurance check for $23,650 as a result of the
irreparable damage to the fallen statue.)
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A white marble statue can be treated to sustain its durability
and appearance, and the maintenance costs are less expensive than
those costs for bronze. According to committee minutes quoting
estimates from the sculptor named in the draft contract, bronze
would require an initial sealant costing "$900 or so." Then an
annual preservative wash would be needed at $300 per year, followed
by another "$900 or so" sealing every 10 years.
But remember, according to Doolin's research and the testimony of
a stone materials expert, the stone column beneath a bronze statue
could be damaged and discolored regardless of the sealing
A new marble statue installation would require an initial sealing
of several coats covering the entire monument, and this whole
process would cost about $500. Then, as needed every couple of
years, the new marble would require sealing. Each of these
applications would cost about $100 to $150 for the whole monument.
Thus, after the initial sealing cost, the 10-year maintenance cost
for the white marble would be much less than that for bronze, even
if an annual treatment were needed at $150 each.
White marble has sacred significance for monuments and markers
relating to the Civil War and President Lincoln. American white
marble is widely used for headstones in U.S. national cemeteries.
According to historian Paul Beaver, the Logan County Civil War
monument "was like putting up a stone in the cemetery" because most
of the dead were not returned home for burial. They had been buried
in shallow graves in places like Shiloh and Vicksburg, which are
sites of national cemeteries with thousands of white marble
headstones. White marble is also the main material of the massive
Illinois Memorial at Vicksburg, for much of the interior of
Lincoln's tomb and for the Lincoln statue at the Lincoln Memorial in
White marble is more artistically appropriate for the Logan
County statue replacement than bronze. A white marble statue is
consistent with the white stone of the supporting column.
Additionally, white stone provides more of a contrast to the brown
stone of the courthouse in the background and thus has the advantage
of greater visibility than a bronze statue.
A new white marble Union soldier statue would honor all of the
county's Civil War soldiers and the wishes of the noble citizens who
carefully planned and specified a white marble statue for the
original. Planning for the monument our forebearers dedicated in
1869 began just two years after the Civil War ended, so that
monument has an added historic significance: It is one of the oldest
Civil War monuments in the nation.
Finally, I think Abe would advise the committee: "Ladies and
gentlemen, we now have enough information to reach the most
accurate, logical conclusion. That is, we need to take a contract to
the county board that specifies a marble statue. While bronze is
often appropriate for some commemorations, the capstone monument for
Logan County Civil War veterans must be sculpted like the original
-- with white marble. Let us teach the younger generation the value
of preserving history. Let us not rewrite history and risk staining
The statue committee meets to discuss the contract on Monday at 7
p.m. at the Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society on
Chicago Street in Lincoln, across from the depot.
If you agree that a white marble statue is the appropriate
replacement, please immediately e-mail David Doolin at
Or, write him at 604 Broadway St., Suite 5, Lincoln, IL 62656. At
the Monday meeting he will report on this feedback, and responders
will remain anonymous unless they state otherwise.
D. Leigh Henson, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of English
Missouri State University, Springfield
Native Lincolnite and honorary member of the Abraham Lincoln
Bicentennial Commission of Lincoln, Illinois
For historical information about the monument, photos of the
soldier statue before and after it fell, and an undoctored photo of
the stained Fellowship Center's wall, access
May 02, 2010]
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