Sunday, January 14, 2007

Horace Mann & Abraham Lincoln - The Connection


Craig Nall Holds Lincoln


Craig Nall, a Horace Mann Companies' employee, and an ALPLM volunteer, while reading David Herbert Donald's biography Lincoln, discovered a reference to an 1849 meeting between Lincoln, and Horace Mann.
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The Proposal

Lincoln, who at the time was a freshman member of Congress from Springfield, Illinois went to Horace Mann for assistance in drafting a proposal to end slavery in the nation's capitol. The plan entailed forcing slave owners in Washington D.C. to sell their slaves to the federal government which would then set the slaves free.

Both men were members of the Whig party. Horace Mann was filling in as a member of Congress for the recently deceased John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts. Horace Mann was a well known figure, and founder of the public education system.

Their proposal to free the slaves of Washington D.C. failed.

No one whom I have talked with about the Abraham Lincoln & Horace Mann connection had ever heard of it before. Having the Horace Mann Companies' Home Office, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, situated directly across the street from each other is quite ironic.
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An Age Without Heroes

There certainly are quotes from each of these gentleman, which we would consider to be racist today. Neither man started out believing that all men were created equal despite their deepest held beliefs in the Declaration of Independence, and The Constitution. It was a time of learning for both men, and the country as a whole.

What is important to remember at this point in history is that both men experienced considerable growth on the subject of race, and risked their own political careers, and their very lives in opposing slavery. It's easy today to cast judgment on historical figures as being undeserving of our respect, and admiration, and for being less than what we would demand them to be today.

Despite their imperfections these men, and others like them, were remarkable for what they accomplished in furthering the creation of a more just society. For their bravery, commitment to higher ideals, and their sacrifices, they deserve to be honored today, and in all times.
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The Quote

"It was something to me at that time to have him so-for he was a distinguished man in his way and I was nobody" - Abe Lincoln -
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About The Photo

The photo was taken from the Northeast corner of Horace Mann Plaza on a beautiful early November day. Behind Craig Nall we see a portion of the east side of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.

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