At the time of his assassination in April 1865, Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was considered by a majority of northerners as a competent president. Yet, this was not always the case. Lincoln was elected president at a critical time when the nation was at a breaking point over issues of states’ rights and slavery. As a direct result of his election, eleven states left the Union before his inauguration in 1861, touching off the Civil War.
During much of his first term of office, Lincoln was viewed by many as lacking the skills necessary for the role of President of the United States. He was lampooned as unsophisticated and criticized for tolerating ineffective generals. Lincoln, however, was a skilled politician—wise, tenacious, and perceptive—and learned from his mistakes.
Abraham Lincoln was committed to preserving the Union. He believed that the United States was more than an ordinary nation—it was the testing ground for a unique form of democracy. Many, including Lincoln himself, described one of his greatest achievements as the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, which shifted the goal of the war from a fight to preserve the Union to one of freeing the enslaved. With Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Lincoln’s vision of an indivisible Union—and a more perfect one—was fulfilled.
Take a look at images from The Henry Ford’s wonderful, eclectic collection of Lincoln-related photographs. These images span the years from Lincoln’s career as an Illinois legislator during the 1840s to his tragic death in 1865.
The original daguerreotype of this image of Abraham Lincoln was taken by Nicholas H. Shepherd in Springfield, Illinois, shortly after Lincoln’s election in 1846 to the U.S. House of Representatives. It is believed by many to be the earliest known image of Lincoln, who was 37 or 38 years old when it was taken. At this time, Lincoln was a husband and father of two small boys, had a successful law practice in Springfield, and had just become a junior member of Congress.
Daguerreotypes like this one are one-of-a-kind photographs made on silver-coated copper plates. In order to make photographic prints, copy negatives had to be made from the original daguerreotypes. This photographic print was made in the early 20th century from a 19th-century copy negative. In 1902, Frederick Hill Meserve, an early collector of photography, found glass negatives from Mathew Brady’s Washington, D.C., studio in a Hoboken, New Jersey warehouse. Meserve carefully preserved the negatives and made the later photographic prints of the earlier images--including this photographic print in our collection.
In October, we announced that The Henry Ford has acquired a functioning Apple-1, a major milestone in the history of computing. However, in September, we acquired another significant computer, and we’ve just added it to our collections website. When Pixar began as a department within Lucasfilm in 1979, it started developing its own computer system to support graphics and visualization. The Pixar Imaging Computer became commercially available in 1986, and was adopted by other organizations with intensive graphic arts and animation needs, such as the Walt Disney Company and the United States Departments of Defense and Forestry. Curator of Communication & Information Technology Kristen Gallerneaux notes about the P-II: “One of our goals at The Henry Ford is to document computing as applied to creative and expressive activities. The Pixar Image Computer II (P-II) is of particular interest not only as a graphics rendering tool … but also as a hugely significant element in the thread that connects the Apple-1 computer to the finely designed and engineered computing devices we all carry with us every day.” See the P-II, as well as the rest of our digital collections related to computers, on our collections website.
Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the few and the weak over the mighty and the strong. Legends and stories surround the holiday’s origins, whose name means “dedication” in Hebrew.
For centuries, Hanukkah was a modest occasion, a minor holiday. Jewish law and custom only required the lighting of candles for eight nights, with one candle to be used as the shamash (“guard” or “servant” in Hebrew) to light the others. The lighted candles were to be kept by a window where they could be seen by passers-by. In Eastern Europe, the celebration included eating latkes (potato pancakes), distributing small amounts of Hanukkah gelt (coins) to children, playing games with a dreidel (a spinning top), and playing cards.
In the 1920s, following his success with the Model T, Henry Ford increasingly turned his attention to transforming farming—the life he sought to escape as a boy. He focused on finding new products and new markets for agriculture. (The charcoal briquette was an early result of this effort, made from surplus wood scrap.)
In 1928, Ford started the Chemical Lab (the building in Greenfield Village now known as the Soybean Lab), and asked Robert Boyer, a student at the Ford Trade School to run it. Ford told Boyer to select good students from the Trade School to staff the Lab. Ford then set them to experimenting with all manner of agricultural produce, from cantaloupes to rutabagas.
After a sultry summer, all of a sudden the air turns chilly and crisp. The sunlight is somehow brighter and more intense. The days get shorter. The leaves start turning their riotous colors. When I was growing up, this was the time my brothers would stash away their baseball gloves and start tossing around the football.
Football Season had arrived.
American football got its start as a college sport. In fact, virtually all the rules, playing strategies, player equipment, and methods of scoring that today we consider part of American football evolved during its early college years.
American football probably originated in England and it came to this country in two separate versions. The first version, which involved more kicking, eventually became the game we know as soccer. The second version, which involved more carrying and running with the ball, was akin to the British game of rugby.
How would you like to live in a round house built of aluminum, steel, and plastic, suspended on a mast like a giant umbrella, with built-in closets and shelves and a bathroom the size of an airplane toilet?
R. Buckminster Fuller thought this house, which he called the Dymaxion House, was just what the American public wanted. Fuller, an engineer, philosopher and innovative designer, conceived the house in 1927 and partnered with the Beech Aircraft Corporation in Wichita, Kansas, to produce prototypes in 1945. Although Fuller designed his house so that it could be mass-produced, only one was ever built and lived in.