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article imagePresident Obama Sparks Revival of Lincoln Memorabilia

By Saikat Basu     Feb 7, 2009 in World
President Obama has always made it known that he has been inspired by Abraham Lincoln. And now he in turn is inspiring the world to look back at the greatness of that man through a revivalist interest in things that are Lincoln.
The symbolism of Abraham Lincoln evoked by President Obama hasn’t escaped many. Least of all Barack Obama himself, who has repeatedly brought up mentions of the great man himself. President Obama’s inspiration became all the more obvious when he used the same Bible during the swearing in as was used by Abraham Lincoln during his turn.
President Obama’s historic ascendancy to the high office and its significance on our consciousness is now reviving the fascination with all things Lincoln. The timing, Lincoln’s 200th anniversary perhaps is just incidental.
The New York Historical Society is opening an exhibit ‘Lincoln in his own Words’ on February 12th, Lincoln’s birthday. The exhibit has photographs, posters, telegrams and letters in Lincoln's handwriting, including a draft of Lincoln's "house divided" speech on the dangers of disunion over slavery. The profusion also has a telegram supporting General Ulysses S. Grant at a turning point of the Civil War.
On the very same day and with the excuse of the same occasion, Christie’s auction house will place Lincoln's handwritten 1864 re-election victory speech on the block for bidding. The handwritten four-page speech by Lincoln was delivered two days after he was elected for a second term. The valuation of that four page piece is $3 million to $4 million.
James Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History explains the significance,
“There are no sound recordings, no videotapes of those speeches that Lincoln gave, so the idea that these speeches that he carried with him on his body somewhere, in his coat or in his hat, in his handwriting, to me they are the most magic.”
James Basker also explains the importance against the backdrop of the Obama phenomenon...
Drawing comparisons between Obama and Lincoln, two men of undisputed oratory skills, he says,
“Their gifts with language are tremendous and they have abilities as orators that have to do with articulating ideas in somewhat grey language sometimes, but in phraseology that resonates with people and conveys real ideas and real values.”
Lincoln and Obama both are separated by history. What links them perhaps is there skill with words and the rare ability to mould the public imagination through it. One has his place in history assured...let’s hope the other does too.
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