A Message for the Benefit of Abraham Lincoln,
16th President of the United States:
In 2007, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation was asked by Illinois historians working at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) to purchase a privately held collection of iconic Lincoln artifacts. The collection would broaden the ALPLM’s holdings and once purchased, ensure it would be made available to the public in perpetuity. At the time, the ALPLM and ALPLF were less than a decade old and neither had the financial ability to purchase the collection outright. Financing was sought, received and the $25 million collection was purchased. Since then, more than $15 million in private donations have been raised to retain the collection. $9.7 million remains. The loan note is due in just 20 months.
Abraham Lincoln has held iconic status for more than 150 years. His image, which is in the public domain, is recognizable and used with impunity. He has been used to sell everything from perfume to carpeting, automobiles to insurance. And yet many, certainly not all, who profit off him, never seek to donate philanthropically to advance his legacy.
Streets and schools, parks and government buildings bear his name. He is glorified in public monuments. Yet, in spite of all the adoration for the man who ensured that “Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth,” it is not enough. Money does make the world go ‘round—yes, even the Lincoln world—and without it the world stops turning.
Right now, the burgeoning threat that items which represent him to his core--his presidential seal, stovepipe hat, locks of his hair, gloves he carried with him the night of the assassination, stained with the very blood he spilled that this nation might have a new birth of freedom, are ever closer to the auction block.
When will those who revere Lincoln, but who’ve yet to contribute in his behalf, step up? The many who have contributed wonder and wait, even as they contribute once again. But where are those who haven’t? All of us today, who, because of Lincoln, experience a more free and just society, must rise up, contribute and ensure justice for him.
If a single Lincoln artifact goes to auction, taken from the public realm, then we, as a nation are collectively diminished and must look ourselves in the mirror and take responsibility. It is not any one individual’s or group’s responsibility to bear, it is all of ours to bear.
What would Lincoln do if faced with this problem? He would solve it and not let us down. In that same vein, we must solve it and not let him down. We should, post haste, set our hearts, minds and yes, money to the task we have before us. We are dutybound to do so and we should, as Lincoln said, dare to do our duty as we understand it….to be dedicated
here to the unfinished work we have before us.
The clock is ticking. The time is now.
Dr. Carla Knorowski
Chief Executive Officer Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation
To contribute to the campaign to keep the Lincoln artifacts in the public realm at the ALPLM please go to www.alplm.org and click on the DONATE button to make your fully tax-deductible contribution or visit our GoFundMe page at www.bit.ly/ALPLF2018GOFUNDME. Help make this campaign go viral by sharing this message.
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