The presidential library will be able to restore five extremely rare
maps that are deteriorating badly. One is an 1879 state map that
apparently can be found nowhere else. Another is a map of Sangamon
County from 1858 that lists more than 5,000 landowners —
in effect, a list of the people interacting with Abraham Lincoln as
he rose to national prominence. A Pike County map from 1860 shows
New Philadelphia, the first town in America to be legally
established by an African-American.
The Supreme Court Historic
Preservation Commission is working to preserve portraits of 107
justices. These portraits in the Supreme Court Building are
one-of-a-kind, with 45 produced by Chicago photographer J. Ellsworth
Gross for the building in 1910. Portraits of justices after 1910 are
also important to preserve because the negatives were destroyed in a
photographic studio fire in 1980.
"(This) announcement allows the photographs of those who have
served in this court since its inception to be preserved for future
generations without any taxpayer expense," said Illinois Supreme
Court Chief Justice Rita B. Garman. "My colleagues on the court and
I are appreciative of those who have given their support in this
endeavor to preserve our rich and storied judicial history by
supporting events hosted by the Historic Preservation Commission and
the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum."
Funds for the conservation projects were generated by events
produced in 2011, 2012 and 2013 by the Supreme Court Preservation
Commission, the Lincoln Presidential Library and the library's
The programs, presented in theaters in Chicago and Springfield,
depicted the retrial of Mary Surratt, the first U.S. woman sentenced
to death as an alleged conspirator in the assassination of Lincoln;
the insanity retrial of Mary Todd Lincoln; and the habeas corpus
hearings of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of the Latter-day
Saints. Extra funds raised for the events were to be used for
artifact and document conservation.
Funds for producing the events were contributed by foundations,
businesses, the legal community and individuals. The three retrial
events raised a total of $269,000, with a surplus of more than
$123,000. The presidential library and the Supreme Court
Preservation Commission will each receive $61,766 for conservation.
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"One of the goals of the Supreme Court Historic Preservation
Commission and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library has been
to work together with other agencies and groups to promote
education on legal issues rooted in our state's history —
education not only for the legal community, but the community at
large, and especially for students," said Supreme Court Justice
Anne M. Burke.
"In these programs, the commission and the library have
successfully partnered with the Illinois State Board of Education,
the Theatre School at DePaul University and others to achieve that
goal and produce non-taxpayer funds to help preserve a part of our
state's rich legacy."
The three events illustrate the connections between law and
society and between history and the present day. Abraham Lincoln
once said that the law "must follow, and conform to, the progress of
society." The law has always been a window into the public and
private interactions among people. History provides lessons from
these interactions that we can use in the present.
"The questions we ask about history and the law reflect our
changing values and concerns," said Eileen Mackevich, executive
director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
"With Mary Surratt, Mary Lincoln and Joseph Smith, the outcome of
trials and hearings would be quite different today than in the 19th
century. Learning from the past is possible."
Each presentation offered lessons from an important trial in the
past and how those lessons are being applied in our modern-day
lives. The retrial of Mary Surratt demonstrated the necessity of due
process in civilian versus military tribunals. The insanity retrial
of Mary Todd Lincoln illustrated the mental health profession and
the role of women in society. The habeas corpus hearings of Joseph
Smith showed how the courts protect personal liberties.
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
file received from the
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]