OHS Collections featured in Lincoln Exhibit

The Ohio Historical Society is loaning a number of objects to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum for their upcoming exhibit Team of Rivals, which opens October 14.  If you are in the Springfield, IL area, you should definitely check it out!  For more information about the exhibit, read the official press release  from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum below.

Dress worn by Edwin Stanton's neice, Nancy Tappan, to the first inaugural ball of Abraham Lincoln in 1861. This dress is in the collections of the Ohio Historical Society.

Ohio’s Salmon P. Chase featured in Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum’s upcoming “Team of Rivals” Exhibit

SPRINGFIELD, IL – U.S. Senator Salmon P. Chase of Ohio believed he should be President.  Instead, he ended up working for the man who had surprised everyone and secured the 1860 Republican nomination.  As the nation prepares to observe the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a new exhibit opening October 14 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois will use original artifacts from Chase, other Cabinet members and Fort Sumter to bring to life one of the darkest and most uncertain periods in United States history.

Titled Team of Rivals after the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and renowned presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the exhibit will feature many original artifacts that will be publicly displayed for the first time.  It will also use innovative video components and creative productions to immerse visitors in the tumultuous days leading up to the Civil War.  Goodwin will act as the personal tour guide throughout the exhibit with recorded videos that narrate each section.  She will also be on hand to open the exhibit and deliver a public program October 14 – for ticket information, visit www.presidentlincoln.org.

Original Chase artifacts that will be part of the Team of Rivals exhibit include:  A cane made for Chase with a handle in the shape of a cannon, made from the metal of the famous Confederate ironclad ship the CSS Virginia (known as the Merrimac in the Union); the Chase family coverlet, reportedly used to protect family valuables in Mill Creek, Virginia from Confederate soldiers; a broadside advocating the candidacy of Chase for President and Jefferson Davis for Vice President in 1856; and period currency circulated during his term as Secretary of the Treasury.    Many of the items will be on loan specifically for the exhibit by the Ohio Historical Society (www.ohiohistory.org).

Another Ohioan, Edwin M. Stanton, who served as Lincoln’s Secretary of War starting in 1862, will also be featured in the Team of Rivals exhibit.  Although he was not in Lincoln’s initial Cabinet, he played a key role in the Civil War and the apprehension and prosecution of those involved in Lincoln’s assassination.

The Team of Rivals will also feature original artifacts from Fort Sumter, including personal items relating to the two commanders, Brig. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard and U.S. Major Robert Anderson; a section of wall, a mortar shell and friction primer, all from the Battle of Fort Sumter; and other remnants of the action that began the Civil War.

Original Abraham Lincoln items in the exhibit include the original desk and inkwell Lincoln used to draft his First Inaugural Address, as well as the galley proofs of the speech; and a Lincoln signed original April 19, 1861 authorization to blockade Southern ports, a document many feel was the first official declaration of war by the Union.  Also included is a letter Lincoln wrote to New York school boy George Patten in March 1861, as the entire nation was plunging toward war, to confirm for George’s skeptical schoolmates that he had indeed met the President-elect.

Team of Rivals will tell Chase’s story and offer insights into the man and his contributions to American history.  Salmon Portland Chase was born January 13, 1808 in New Hampshire and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1830.  He was a U.S. Senator from Ohio and the 23rd Governor of Ohio, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in his long and distinguished career, but the top prize that eluded him, that of the Presidency, was snatched away from him by Lincoln at the 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago.  Still, Chase’s contribution to American history is such that he is pictured on the current U.S. $10,000 bill.          

Tall and dignified, Chase “looked as you would wish a statesman to look.”  He had six children, but burying three wives by his 44th birthday left the humorless and intensely ambitious Chase emotionally depleted, and he never married again.  He coped by intensifying his religiosity (he recited psalms while bathing and dressing) and doting on his two surviving daughters.  Blessed with a keen intellect and administrative capacity, he was cursed with a nervous temperament and an inflated sense of self-importance.  Lincoln described Chase as “about one hundred and fifty to any other man’s hundred.”  Chase did not make friends easily and his extreme near-sightedness and preoccupied air were liabilities in social settings.

Chase’s Herculean achievement was financing the northern war effort.  He also used his Treasury connections for a back-stabbing attempt to replace Lincoln as the Republican nominee in 1864.  For months Lincoln looked the other way, but finally he fired Chase, writing that they had “reached a point of mutual embarrassment” in their official relations.  Several months later he appointed Chase as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and in that capacity Chase presided over the 1868 impeachment trial of Lincoln’s successor, President Andrew Johnson.  Despite his position on the High Court, Lincoln predicted that Chase would never give up his dream to be President.   Lincoln was right.  Chase flip-flopped between political parties trying to be nominated, but died unsatisfied in 1873.

Chase agreed with Lincoln about provisioning South Carolina’s Fort Sumter after numerous federal installations had been seized by the seceding Southern states.  When asked by the President to express his opinion, Chase wrote:  “If the attempt will so inflame civil war as to involve an immediate necessity for the enlistment of armies…I cannot advise it…But it seems to me highly improbable that the attempt…will produce such consequences…I return, therefore, an affirmative answer to the question.”

The Team of Rivals exhibit will first demonstrate how Lincoln chose his initial Presidential cabinet, composing it of men with differing viewpoints, some of whom were his opponents for the 1860 Republican Presidential nomination.  They include William H. Seward of New York, Secretary of State; Salmon P. Chase of Ohio, Secretary of the Treasury; Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania, Secretary of War; Gideon Welles of Connecticut, Secretary of the Navy; Caleb B. Smith of Indiana, Secretary of the Interior; Edward Bates of Missouri, Attorney General; and Montgomery Blair of Maryland, Postmaster General.  Seward, Chase, Cameron and Bates all vied with Lincoln for the Republican nomination.

Visitors entering Team of Rivals will then learn about Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, then see a digital map that notes the Federal installations taken over by the Southern states before and during Secession.  A corridor will follow the military and political path toward war as some of Lincoln’s own Cabinet members work behind his back to undermine his authority.  Fort Sumter will be examined before, during and after the battle that started the Civil War.  The final section will feature in-depth information about Lincoln’s Cabinet members along with displays of some of their personal possessions.

Team of Rivals will open October 14, 2010, just prior to the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s election as President in November 2010, his Farewell Address to Springfield as President-elect in February 2011, and the start of the Civil War in April 2011.

For more information about Team of Rivals or other programs and exhibits at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, visit www.presidentlincoln.org.

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