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Friday: (B)Lincoln (B)logs

May 30, 2008

Lincoln was not just a great problem solver but he had a hawk’s eye for spotting new opportunities. I’m specifically thinking of his unrivaled ability to take advantage of new technologies in their infancies and utilize them in ways unintended by their creators.

My colleague Nancy has already mentioned (in the comments section) the book she’s reading on how Lincoln was an early adopter of the telegraph and how he used that technology to improve the logistical structure of the northern army (setting the pattern for continued American excellence in military logistics).

Equally savvy, and more in line with our mission as a state humanities council, Lincoln understood the increased intimacy created between candidate and voter when the latter could view the former in photographs. During his campaign for president in 1860, 35 photographs of Lincoln by Matthew Brady were circulated, making Lincoln the first president to use the new medium for political means. This political and artistic genius culminated, in Lincoln’s own mind, in his eventual victory. As Lincoln would say afterward, “Make no mistake, Brady made me President!”

The image here is not a Matthew Brady image but was taken by Alexander Gardner to use as a model for a portrait of the president he wanted to paint and is one of several works offered through Picturing America, a collection of iconic images from throughout American history.

(Click on the image to see a larger version of it on the Picturing America website.)

Over 600 Indiana schools and libraries have received the Picturing America prints.

This entry was posted by: Jim
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