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Visual Evidence

Photo 1: Lincoln Home, 1860. [Photo 1] with link to larger version of photo.
(Courtesy Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum)

This photo of the Lincoln home was taken by Boston photographer John Adams Whipple during the summer of 1860 and features Lincoln and his son Willie, standing together behind the fence and Tad is peeking from behind the corner post. Reporters and photographers came to Springfield, charged with telling the rest of America through words and images, about the little known, Abraham Lincoln. Following are several accounts:

New York Evening Post
May 23, 1860
I found Mr. Lincoln living in a handsome, but not pretentious, double two-story house, having a wide hall running through the centre, with parlors on both sides, neatly, but not ostentatiously furnished. It was just such a dwelling as majority of the well-to-do residents of these fine western towns occupy. Everything about it had a look of comfort and independence. The library, I remarked on passing, particularly, that I was pleased to see long rows of books, which told of scholarly tastes and culture of the family.

Springfield Massachusetts Republican
May 23, 1860
As nearly as could be made out in the evening light [of May 19], his dwelling house is of the style and character suited to his position in life. It is a two-story wooden house of more than extraordinary good exterior; and the interior arrangements are such as show that good taste and good domestic rule reigns within. The furniture, without pretension to show, was neat, and in admirable keeping with what is understood to be his moderate pecuniary ability. Everything tended to represent the home of a man who has battled hard with the fortunes of life, and whose hard experience has taught him to enjoy whatever of success belongs to him, rather in solid substance than in showy display.

Questions for Photo 1

1. What is your impression of the Lincoln Home after viewing Photo 1?

2. What did the Springfield Massachusetts Republican reporter mean when he wrote that Lincoln's "house is of the character suited to his position in life?"

3. Why would reporters and photographers be at the Lincoln home in 1860? If needed, please refer to Reading 1.

4. Why do you think the public would be interested in Lincoln's home and family life? Would reporters be able to provide the same type of personal information for presidential candidates today? Why or why not?

* The image on this screen has a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Photo 1, but be aware that the file will take as much as 50 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.

 

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