News from the ALPLF CEO, Dr. Knorowski
Philanthropy is a beautiful thing. It is a humanitarian act typically done to advance the public good—a goodwill gesture fulfilling a charitable mission or cause. Abraham Lincoln understood this and while there are many instances of his charitable acts, such as joining Mary to nurse the injured and ill soldiers in and around Washington, there is also evidence that earlier in his life, during Ireland’s great potato famine in the mid-1800s, he contributed 5 pounds, (about $300–$500 in today’s currency), to assist in alleviating the suffering of the Irish. It seems that in addition to being a President, shopkeeper, soldier, lawyer, flatboat captain, and legislator among other things, Lincoln was a philanthropist.
As someone who has spent some three decades promoting philanthropy and seeking charitable contributions from generous benefactors to advance a worthy cause, I know a thing or two about the impact a charitable gift can make. Giving a gift, while wonderful for the recipient, is so much more enriching for the giver. There is an exchange between the giver and the receiver wherein what the giver gives is so far less than the feeling of satisfaction he or she receives in return. Abraham Lincoln understood this, which is why he gave so freely of his possessions and himself throughout his lifetime.
Equally heartwarming are the stories of philanthropic gestures made in honor of and in tribute to Abraham Lincoln himself. There’s the professional conservator, Russ Maki, who, upon seeing that one of America’s most iconic documents, the Thirteenth Amendment, was greatly in need of restoration, had his Graphic Conservation Company restore it pro bono back to its near original condition, thereby preserving it for its next 150 years.
And there was that period in 1943–1944, when the Everett copy of the Gettysburg Address, written in Lincoln’s own hand, came up for sale. Philanthropist Marshall Field III challenged the children of Illinois to save their pennies to help raise the necessary funds to purchase the document. He promised them that if they did their share and worked hard to raise the money, he would contribute as well. The children raised approximately $50,000 and Marshall Field III generously supplied the balance. Because of Field and thousands of Illinois children, the document is now part of the ALPLM’s collection. Since 1944, millions of visitors from all 50 states and more than 100 countries have viewed the Address—some weeping as they read it, hanging on the 16th President’s every word. It has taught and continues to teach the lessons of sacrifice and commitment, liberty, and freedom.
I can go on and on about why philanthropy is important and why you should continue to give and support the Great Emancipator’s presidential library and museum, but I would rather let him tell you himself, as he told a crowd assembled in Cincinnati, Ohio, on his birthday in 1861:
“I hold that while man exists, it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind; and therefore…I am for those means which will give the greatest good to the greatest number.”
Thank you for helping us advance Mr. Lincoln’s legacy around the globe and in so doing helping us to give the greatest good to the greatest number. Oh, and yes, Happy 200th Birthday, Illinois!
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