Exhibit examines President Lincolnâ€™s Cabinet and the start of the Civil War 150 years ago; opens with lecture, book signing by author Doris Kearns Goodwin
Springfield, IL – The new, little-known boss assembled a group of people whose egos he had bruised on his way to the top and gave them key jobs in the organization.Â And, while some of those people did all they could to undermine his authority, the new boss desperately tried to avert the worst crisis in the organizationâ€™s history.
The boss was President Abraham Lincoln, the group of people was his newly formed Cabinet, the organization was the 85-year-old United States of America, and the crisis was the impending Civil War.Â A new exhibit about these charismatic, difficult men and this critical time period in U.S. History, â€œTeam of Rivals,â€ opens Thursday, October 14 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois.Â This one-of-a-kind exhibition begins Illinoisâ€™ commemoration of the Civil War Sesquicentennial and runs through August 2011.
Named after the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and renowned presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the exhibit will feature original artifacts from Lincoln and his cabinet, as well as artifacts from personal tour guide throughout the exhibit with recorded videos that narrate each section.Â She will also hold a book signing and lecture the day the exhibit opens., displayed together for the first time.Â It will use innovative video components and creative productions to immerse visitors in the tumultuous days leading up to the Civil War.Â Goodwin will act as the
â€œTeam of Rivalsâ€ will 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.Â They include Simon Cameron, ; , Secretary of the Navy; Caleb Smith, Secretary of the Interior; Edward Bates, Attorney General; and Montgomery Blair, Postmaster General.Â Seward, Chase, Cameron and Bates all vied with Lincoln for the Republican nomination., Secretary of State; Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury;
â€œLincoln said that these were the strongest men in the country, and the country was in peril, so he needed them by his side,â€ said Goodwin.Â â€œHaving this entire group of rivals together who could question his assumptions, argue with him, and debate him made Lincoln a much stronger president than he otherwise would have been.Â I think Lincoln would have said that the price he had to pay for this unruly cabinet was worth it in the end.â€
Goodwin will officially open the exhibit at 9 a.m. Thursday, October 14; hold a book signing in the Presidential Museum Gift Shop that day from 10 a.m. to noon, where copies of her books may be purchased; and present a lecture that evening at 7 p.m. in Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois at Springfield.Â Tickets for the lecture are $15 each and may be reserved at www.sangamonauditorium.org or by calling or .
Local actors and museum volunteers will take part in performed readings of various sections of the book Team of Rivals throughout the ten months of the exhibit. The first readings, 30 to 40 minutes in length, will begin opening week: Thursday, October 14 at 2:30 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, October 15 and 16 at 11 a.m. These presentations will take place in the Union Theater. Free tickets will be distributed 90 minutes prior to each performance.
The â€œTeam of Rivalsâ€ exhibit will feature an in-depth investigation into Fort Sumter, including the key people and developments before, during and after the bombardment that started the Civil War.Â Original artifacts from the fort and the commanders on both sides of the battle are included.
Visitors entering â€œTeam of Rivalsâ€ will first learn how and why Lincoln chose his first cabinet.Â They will move into a section covering his First Inaugural Address, including original Lincoln artifacts pertaining to the speech, then see a digital map that notes the Federal installations taken over by the Southern states before and during .Â A corridor will follow the military and political path toward war as some of Lincolnâ€™s own cabinet members work behind his back to undermine his authority.Â After the Fort Sumter section, visitors will enter an area with in-depth information about Lincolnâ€™s cabinet members along with displays of original personal artifacts from them.Â While there, visitors may find answers to the following questions:
- Which cabinet member had seventeen children; one of his sons served in the Confederate army and another in the Union army; wore old-fashioned Quaker clothes; and his black hair and white beard caused Abraham Lincoln to say that he used â€œhis chin more than his head?â€
- Who was described as â€œawkward, shy, homely, and repellent, and makes few friends;â€ had his home was burned to the ground by Confederate soldiers; and was the great-grandfather of a famous Hollywood actor?
- Who was accused of being so corrupt that the only thing he wouldnâ€™t steal was a red-hot stove; uttered the now-famous quote, â€œan honest politician is one who, when he is bought, stays bought;â€ and his federal government career included a stint as Minister to Russia?
- Who â€œlooked as you would wish a statesman to look;â€ had buried three wives by his 44th birthday; recited psalms while bathing and dressing; was extremely near-sighted but didnâ€™t like to wear glasses; and presided over the impeachment trial of Lincolnâ€™s successor, ?
- Who was well-known for his liberal use of profanity in private conversation; was Lincolnâ€™s greatest rival and eventually became his greatest friend; nearly died the night Lincoln was assassinated; and made a foolish purchase that turned out to be not so foolish after all?
- Whose middle name was Blood; was the first citizen of Indiana to hold a Presidential cabinet position; and whose biggest impact on administration policy was his support for schemes to colonize former slaves and free blacks in Central America?
- Whose boss called him â€œFather Neptuneâ€ and joked that he was examining a model of Noahâ€™s Ark with an eye toward introducing it into the ; was infamous for wearing a bad toupee; and predicted that Lincoln would be â€œbetter appreciated in the future than now?â€
Original artifacts for the â€œTeam of Rivalsâ€ exhibit are being loaned by the Maine Historical Society; Seward House Museum in Auburn, New York; ; The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia; Virginia Historical Society; Indiana State Museum; Lincoln Heritage Museum in Lincoln, Illinois; the Raab Collection; Historical Society of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania; Hartford History Center/Hartford Public Library, Connecticut; Fort Sumter National Monument at Charleston, South Carolina; Memorial Hall Museum, New Orleans; and the Smithsonian Institution.;
â€œTeam of Rivalsâ€ will open just prior to the 150th anniversary of Lincolnâ€™s election as President on November 6, 1860; his Farewell Address to Springfield as President-elect on February 11, 1861; and the start of the Civil War on April 15, 1861.
â€œWhen experiencing the exhibit, I think people will see that these strong and independent men who made up Lincoln’s cabinet gave their lives in so many ways to public service, and they were able, even in the midst of having very different points of view, to somehow work together for the common cause of winning the war and ending slavery,â€ said Goodwin.Â â€œWe’ve come through really tough times before, and we can come through really tough times now if all factions put aside their differences and work together just like Lincoln’s ‘Team of Rivals.’â€
For more information about â€œTeam of Rivalsâ€ or other programs and exhibits at the www.presidentlincoln.org., visit