CORRECTING A CONNECTION BETWEEN LINCOLN AND IDAHO – THE GEORGE RUSSELL CAMPAIGN PARADE

by David H. Leroy, President, The Idaho Lincoln Institute and Chairman, Idaho Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission

Family anecdote turned Idaho history records, as Arthur Hart wrote in “The Boiseans at Home,” that George Whitfield Russell “was especially proud of his horses, and during the 1860 Chicago presidential campaign, he had the honor of driving candidate Abraham Lincoln in a parade behind his finest clayback team.”  In 1862, the family left Illinois for Oregon, eventually ending up in Boise in August of 1864.  However, the Lincoln campaign connection came West too, as: “they drove the same horses that pulled Lincoln.  According to Russell, they were the finest animals in the entire caravan.”

One detail in this well-told tale has apparently been misreported over the years: Between May 18, 1860, when he was nominated and the election of November 6, 1860, contemporary reports of Lincoln’s whereabouts day by day indicate that he did not participate in any parade as a presidential candidate.  Instead, in the tradition of the era, Nominee Lincoln stayed home in Springfield and met delegations of supporters on his “front porch” and in his parlor.

Can the Russell story still be true?  Absolutely, if one adopts the entirely likely assumption that the correct campaign parade occurred in 1858 when Lincoln ran for the Senate, not during the 1860 presidential race.  In fact, still available details strengthen the likelihood that the event happened exactly as described, but two years earlier.

* George Russell is buried in Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise

* His siblings and other relatives are buried in the Russell Cemetery, near Gilson, Knox County, Illinois.

* Gilson is 6 ½ miles Southeast of Knoxville, Illinois, making it probable that George’s residence in 1858 was either in Knoxville or on an agricultural property in the surrounding area.

* On the afternoon of October 6, 1858, Lincoln arrived by train in Knoxville during a violent storm to stay at the Old Hebard House Inn.  He was wearing “a big gray shawl,” a “rusty stovepipe hat” and carrying a carpetbag.  That evening a crowd assembled at the hotel, a brass band serenaded Lincoln and he gave a short, humorous speech to the assemblage to the light of a lantern from the porch of the Inn.

* The next morning, Lincoln was transported by a parade of buggies, floats carrying banners and farmers in hayracks and wagons comprising a cavalculde of 1200 to 1500 persons some nine miles West to Galesburg, where the fifth Lincoln-Douglas Debate was to take place.  This is likely the campaign parade in which George drove Lincoln.  On arrival they paraded west along the principal street through the town to the public square, then south, then east and north. Shortly before noon, he was taken to the home of Judge Henry R. Sanderson, north of the town square.  As the local Republican committee chairman, the Judge gave Lincoln an official greeting, T.G. Frost made a speech and the party’s ladies presented an embroidered campaign banner in his support.

* At two o’clock, both Lincoln and Douglas were escorted to the site of the debate at Knox College.  Both candidates are reportedly transported there “in four horse carriages driven abreast.”  This description is consistent with the Russell Clayback team.  With up to 20,000 people in attendance, the Galesburg debate turned out to have the largest crowd of any of the 1858 Senate events.  Obviously, members of the Knox County Russell family would have been among that number.

It is uncertain when or how the “presidential campaign” reference first entered the printed stories of George Russell’s pioneer history.  For example, his obituary in the Idaho Daily Statesman of December 6, 1901 describes his living in Illinois between 1856 and 1862, his crossing the plains to Oregon and his removal to Boise with his family in 1864.  However, no reference to his horses or the Lincoln anecdote is contained in the two columns.  However, by the publication in 1914 of French’s History of Idaho, Russell’s biography therein contained the 1860 campaign story, with the additional detail that there were “four large clayback horses,” which later comprised “the finest equipped outfit” in the wagon train coming West.  The inclusion of numerous other details of George’s life in the French biography make it appear likely that his children or close friends retold such anecdotes and specifics as they could recollect of the family history to French.

Since his wife had died in 1902, it is unlikely that Mary, whom George had married in 1856, was directly consulted as a source for this text.  Thus, next generation individuals could have easily confused the 1858 and 1860 campaigns of half a century before, especially as the earlier unsuccessful run for the Senate would have been less well recollected by Idahoans.

The corrected reference to the 1858 campaign becomes even more likely with the additional French reported detail that George had “four clayback horses.”  The contemporary description of Lincoln being driven to the Galesburg debate in a “four horse carriage” reinforces the possibility that those horses were the Russell clayback team, especially when coupled with other known details of the Know County locale, the farmer’s parade to Galesburg and the fine Illinois team that came across the prairie to Boise. Thus, the George Russell campaign story can be both validated and corrected, even at this late date.

Lincoln Knew Idaho Too

Remarks by David H. Leroy, former Lt. Governor and Attorney General on the occasion of the Idaho Day Ceremonies before the Idaho State Senate, March 3, 2016.

Lincoln statue south of the Idaho Capitol building – Boise, Idaho

At 4:30 in the afternoon, Friday, April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln is sitting in the Presidential Office on the second floor of the Executive Mansion in Washington, D. C.  Seated at the end of a long oak table on which he had signed the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier, Lincoln turns slightly to his right and gazes out the window across a grassy expanse at the stump at the Washington Monument, only one-third constructed.

Seated across the table is William Wallace, the Delegate to Congress from Idaho Territory.  Wallace is speaking about politics in Idaho.

Abraham Lincoln has 15 hours to live.

Lincoln Knew Idaho in 1848, as a Congressman, when he voted three times to exclude slavery from the Oregon Country which would one day include our State.

Lincoln Knew Idaho in 1849, as an office seeker, when he was offered and declined the governorship of Oregon Territory which then covered this area.

Lincoln Knew Idaho in 1858, as a debater against Douglas, when he urged that the land and the people here should remain “Forever Free.”

Lincoln Knew Idaho, but he does not know that he has only 15 hours to live.

Lincoln Knew how Idaho got its name in 1862, for he attended the meeting held in Wallace’s residence when it was chosen.

Lincoln Knew that the Idaho Bill almost did not pass on March 3, 1863 when the Senate nearly ran out of time to vote as midnight approached.

Lincoln Knew Idaho as he signed the legislation creating Idaho Territory at 4 in the morning on March 4, 1863.  What a Territory it was – some 310,000 square miles — an area larger than Texas, spanning from Washington to the Dakotas, from Canada to Utah.

As Wallace speaks, Lincoln knows the 15 men, some his closest political allies and associates, whom he appointed to Idaho territorial offices.

Lincoln knows the detail of our territorial organization, for he reported to Congress in his annual messages of 1863 and 1864 about our rich mineral wealth, great distances, and Indian hostilities.

Lincoln knows Idaho best through the man across the table – William Wallace, the former Governor of Idaho Territory, now elected by its people to be their Delegate to Congress.

They have been friends since the 1840’s.  Lincoln knows Wallace so well he calls him by the nickname, “Old Idaho”.

With 15 hours to live, Lincoln is listening to Wallace explain the need to fill a vacant position on the Idaho Supreme Court and in the U.S. Marshall’s post.

Wallace slides two recommendation letters across the table, and on one Lincoln writes nearly the last written communication of his life:

“Let the within appointment be made.  April 14, 1865   A. Lincoln”

Concluding the interview, Lincoln tells Wallace to come back on Monday to  receive the commissions as wished.  Standing, Lincoln then moves around his table, approaches Wallace, pats him on the shoulder and says, “Old Idaho, how would you and Mrs. Wallace like to come to Ford’s Theater with Mary and me tonight?  We are going to see a play called Our American Cousin.”

As they parted, Lincoln has 15 hours to live, the Chief Executive moving toward history and his iconic status as America’s greatest president.

Wallace merely went home, to attend his sick wife and to the agony of wondering, for the next 14 years, what might have happened had he been present in the theater box that night.

Lincoln’s future plan to visit the West, California and perhaps even Idaho, after he completed his second term also was lost that night.

So too was William Wallace’s dream to finish his service in Congress, to move home to Idaho, build a residence on two lots of land which he had acquired in Boise City and live out his days among the neighborly pioneers who then walked the streets which surround where this Capitol building sits now.

Idaho celebrates its relationship with Lincoln in its public places and its public spaces, like this Senate Chamber.

The oldest Lincoln statue in the Western U.S. sits just 100 yards in front of this building.

The largest public room in this Capitol is called the Lincoln Auditorium.

The most significant museum exhibit in the world celebrating Lincoln and the Rocky Mountain West can be found at our Idaho Archives Building on Old Penitentiary Road.

The sixth or seventh largest statue of Lincoln in the nation, some 13 feet tall if the seated figure stood erect, is located in Julia Davis Park, adjacent to Boise’s Black History Museum.

Finally, we celebrate Idaho Day, annually each March 4th, to remember the event 154 years ago, when Lincoln took his pen in hand and with the strokes of his signature, created Idaho Territory.

As we today know Lincoln, be assured,with certainty, Lincoln Knew Idaho Too.

KIVI-TV Channel 6 News – Idaho’s Abe Lincoln Exhibit Highlighted In Honor of His Birthday

As seen on KIVI-TV Channel 6

by: Tammy Scardino
6:24 PM, Feb 11, 2017

Go to the KIVI TV’s site and watch the video by clicking on the image.

BOISE – The Gem state might not exist if it weren’t for Abraham Lincoln.

The Idaho State Historical Society hosted a birthday celebration for the former U.S. president on Saturday, and they invited a local Lincoln scholar to speak on Abe’s behalf. Dave Leroy penned a letter from Lincoln to President Donald Trump offering some advice while facing a divided nation.

“Honest Abe” advised Trump to keep his promises to the America people and to not be fearful of using the executive order, among other things.

“He might advise to knock off the tweets,” Leroy said. “Abraham Lincoln had a habit of writing angry letters to his general or to people who had disappointed him. But, he took those angry letters and put them in the bottom drawer of his desk and wrote on them never signed, never sent.”

Lincoln was born on Feb. 12, 1809 and served as the nation’s 16th president.

The exhibit that highlights his special relationship with Idaho is located inside the Idaho State Archives building off of Old Penitentiary Road in Boise.

February 18, 2017 Wine & Politics with Dave Leroy – What Would Lincoln Say to Trump – (Capitol Cellars Restaurant)

“WHAT WOULD LINCOLN SAY TO TRUMP”

Abraham Lincoln’s advice from 150 years ago is startlingly relevant to today’s issues.

  • Saturday, February 18 @ Noon-
  • Lunch & 1 glass of Wine-
  • 110 S. 5th St., Boise, ID
  • RESERVATIONS?
  • 208.344.WINE (208.344.9463)
  • $16.43/person

Brochure: Wine & Politics with Dave Leroy


SPEAKER – Dave Leroy, President and Founder of the Idaho Lincoln Institute, is scheduling a limited number of speaking engagements to share Abraham Lincoln’s wisdom and how these timeless principles are important to embrace at this pivotal time in our Nation’s history. Please go to this link to learn more about having Dave speak at your event.

What Would Abraham Lincoln Say to Donald Trump?

WHAT WOULD ABRAHAM LINCOLN SAY TO DONALD TRUMP?

Since 1989, each outgoing American president has left a private letter of comments and advice in the Oval Office for their incoming successor.  What a treasure trove of history the Nation would have if this tradition had started with George Washington, instead of Ronald Reagan.  Even better it would be, if a far-past presidents of unique and relevant experience could whisper in the ear of a future Chief Executive in challenging times.

Abraham Lincoln in 1861, elected with under 40% of the vote, inherited a politically divided Union.  He was pushed into a Civil War with domestic terrorists, propelled toward budget deficits and faced a balky Congress and a conflicted Supreme Court.

Donald Trump in 2017, chosen by 46% of the ballots, faces the political division of civil unrest, a war with international insurgents, spiraling spending, a Congress which has too long delayed solving critical issues and a deadlocked Supreme Court.

To be sure, today’s contrast between Red States blockaded on both East and West by Blue States is not comparable to yesterday’s catastrophic secession of Slave States in the South. Further, Lincoln and Trump are very different men.  One, at age 70, has a fine college education and no political experience.  The other, then 51, was a former state legislator and congressman with first grade level formal schooling.

The times too are vastly different.  Modem communication for Trump is instantaneous on the internet.  For Lincoln, it was the telegraph.  It took Lincoln 13 days to journey from Springfield to Washington by rail as President-elect.  Mr.   Trump flew from New York in less than an hour.

Nevertheless, Lincoln 16 may well have valuable insights for Trump 45 to prevent the current culture clash from erupting into a second civil war.  Knowing that California may be on the verge of declaring itself a “sanctuary state,” Lincoln may well have written:


THE EXECUTIVE MANSION

WASHINGTON

Dear Donald:

Though I left the Executive Mansion a Century and a half ago, custom permits me to leave a word of advice.  The same gap of time between us permits you to freely disregard it.

You are a builder, I merely a lawyer.  I suspect that your administration will commence with a flurry of reconstruction.

Strong cabinet appointments are a necessity.  One might say I relied upon a team of rivals.  I am certain that your choices, like mine, will be swiftly confirmed by the Senate.

I faced and surmounted a great Civil War.  Circumstances have forced upon you a great civil unrest.  Let not criticism deter you from a required path.

Prioritize the nation’s needs, but be flexible, strategic.  My only purpose was to save the Union.  I would have freed some, all or none of the slaves to do that. In time, I accomplished both freedom and union.

Let Congress legislate, but fear not the issuance of Executive Orders.  My edicts were the essence of saving a Nation: Draft calls to muster troops, suspending habeas corpus to preserve the peace, emancipation to win the war.

Take care to guard the Constitution – ultimately it, and the Declaration of lndependence which enables it – are our gift to the world and ourselves.

If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author.  As a Nation of free men we will live forever, or die by suicide.

Issue not any proclamation in haste or heat of anger.  While a bird may “tweet” with impunity, a President must preside, most often, above the fray.  My custom of placing my “hot” letters in a desk drawer, “Never Sent,” “Never Signed,” served the country well.

Finally, keep faith – keep your promises made to the electorate.  We Republicans are a new and ever emerging party and must build, not dissipate the base.  Remember always, this is a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Your Truly,

A. Lincoln


SPEAKER – Dave Leroy, President and Founder of the Idaho Lincoln Institute, is scheduling a limited number of speaking engagements to share Abraham Lincoln’s wisdom and how these timeless principles are important to embrace at this pivotal time in our Nation’s history. Please go to this link to learn more about having Dave speak at your event.

Lewiston Tribune – Appealing the Marty Trillhaase Jeer – Lincoln & Trump

As printed in the Lewiston Tribune on February 16, 2017

I earned a Tribune “jeer” under the pen of Mr. Trillhaase February 10th when he relied upon a story incompletely reported in the Idaho Falls Post Register that I had proposed Lincoln and Trump to be “comparable” presidents in like circumstances. The journalist writing that story heard my rhetorical question, “What woould Abraham Lincoln say to Donald Trump?” Unfortunately, he headed back to the press room before listening to the answer, and thus under reported the entire point of my exercise. Marty correctly noted that the Trump45 inaugural speech did not soar to the heights of noble concept and phasing found in Lincoln”s second inaugural of 1865. However, this observation precisely underscores the point made in my remarks and by my printed column below – Lincoln’s coaching is needed now!I appeal the jeer…………….Dave Leroy


WHAT WOULD ABRAHAM LINCOLN SAY TO DONALD TRUMP?

Since 1989, each outgoing American president has left a private letter of comments and advice in the Oval Office for their incoming successor.  What a treasure trove of history the Nation would have if this tradition had started with George Washington, instead of Ronald Reagan.  Even better it would be, if a far-past presidents of unique and relevant experience could whisper in the ear of a future Chief Executive in challenging times.

Abraham Lincoln in 1861, elected with under 40% of the vote, inherited a politically divided Union.  He was pushed into a Civil War with domestic terrorists, propelled toward budget deficits and faced a balky Congress and a conflicted Supreme Court.

Donald Trump in 2017, chosen by 46% of the ballots, faces the political division of civil unrest, a war with international insurgents, spiraling spending, a Congress which has too long delayed solving critical issues and a deadlocked Supreme Court.

To be sure, today’s contrast between Red States blockaded on both East and West by Blue States is not comparable to yesterday’s catastrophic secession of Slave States in the South. Further, Lincoln and Trump are very different men.  One, at age 70, has a fine college education and no political experience.  The other, then 51, was a former state legislator and congressman with first grade level formal schooling.

The times too are vastly different.  Modem communication for Trump is instantaneous on the internet.  For Lincoln, it was the telegraph.  It took Lincoln 13 days to journey from Springfield to Washington by rail as President-elect.  Mr.   Trump flew from New York in less than an hour.

Nevertheless, Lincoln 16 may well have valuable insights for Trump 45 to prevent the current culture clash from erupting into a second civil war.  Knowing that California may be on the verge of declaring itself a “sanctuary state,” Lincoln may well have written:


THE EXECUTIVE MANSION

WASHINGTON

Dear Donald:

Though I left the Executive Mansion a Century and a half ago, custom permits me to leave a word of advice.  The same gap of time between us permits you to freely disregard it.

You are a builder, I merely a lawyer.  I suspect that your administration will commence with a flurry of reconstruction.

Strong cabinet appointments are a necessity.  One might say I relied upon a team of rivals.  I am certain that your choices, like mine, will be swiftly confirmed by the Senate.

I faced and surmounted a great Civil War.  Circumstances have forced upon you a great civil unrest.  Let not criticism deter you from a required path.

Prioritize the nation’s needs, but be flexible, strategic.  My only purpose was to save the Union.  I would have freed some, all or none of the slaves to do that. In time, I accomplished both freedom and union.

Let Congress legislate, but fear not the issuance of Executive Orders.  My edicts were the essence of saving a Nation: Draft calls to muster troops, suspending habeas corpus to preserve the peace, emancipation to win the war.

Take care to guard the Constitution – ultimately it, and the Declaration of lndependence which enables it – are our gift to the world and ourselves.

If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author.  As a Nation of free men we will live forever, or die by suicide.

Issue not any proclamation in haste or heat of anger.  While a bird may “tweet” with impunity, a President must preside, most often, above the fray.  My custom of placing my “hot” letters in a desk drawer, “Never Sent,” “Never Signed,” served the country well.

Finally, keep faith – keep your promises made to the electorate.  We Republicans are a new and ever emerging party and must build, not dissipate the base.  Remember always, this is a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Your Truly,

A. Lincoln

 

 

February 11, 2017 Presentation – What Would Lincoln Say to President Trump – (Idaho State Historical Society)

MEDIA ADVISORY

For Immediate Release

February 6, 2017

Contact: Patricia Hoffman

(208) 334-2682

[email protected]

IDAHO STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY CELEBRATES ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S BIRTHDAY

BOISE, ID – Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln! Celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on Saturday, February 11 at the Idaho State Archives (we are celebrating on Saturday due to his birthday falls on Sunday). Join us at Noon for remarks by David Leroy, “What Would Lincoln Say to President Trump”, the advice that history suggests Lincoln would give to President Trump at the outset of an administration in a divided country and a president who got fewer than 50% of the popular vote.

View the A. Lincoln: His Legacy in Idaho exhibit, an extraordinary collection gifted by David and Nancy Leroy. Cake and refreshments will be served and self-guided tours will be available.

  • Saturday, February 11
  • Noon – 2:00 p.m.
  • Idaho State Archives: 2205 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise, Idaho 83712

SPEAKER – Dave Leroy, President and Founder of the Idaho Lincoln Institute, is scheduling a limited number of speaking engagements to share Abraham Lincoln’s wisdom and how these timeless principles are important to embrace at this pivotal time in our Nation’s history. Please go to this link to learn more about having Dave speak at your event.

February 12, 2017 Panel Discussion – Comparing Presidents Lincoln & Trump (Boise Public Library)

Abraham Lincoln 208th Birthday Panel Discussion in Boise:

“Comparing the Situations of Presidents  Lincoln and Trump at the Onset of their Respective Administrations”

Contact: F.W.Krone 208-854-9197 or

Ida[email protected]

For Immediate Release: January 24, 2017

CELEBRATE THE 208TH BIRTHDAY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN on February 12 in Boise, Idaho with a lively discussion by noted experts.

WHAT: Panel discussion at the Boise Public Library featuring former Idaho Lt. Governor David Leroy, the Honorable Stephen S. Trott (Senior Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the NInth District) and Lincoln presenter Skip Critell.

WHEN:    Sunday, February 12, 2017,   Noon-1:30 pm

WHERE: 

Boise Public Library,

3rd Floor, Marion Bingham

Room, 715 S. Capitol Blvd – Boise, Idaho

PANELISTS:

  • Former Lt. Governor and Attorney General David H. Leroy
  • The Honorable Stephen S. Trott (Senior Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth District.)
  • Skip Critell, Abraham Lincoln presenter for Idaho

ABOUT:

The program will start with a historical review by Senior Circuit Judge Stephen Trott on Lincoln’s first month in office, followed by David Leroy’s address of the comparative issues facing President Trump under the title “What Would Lincoln Say to Trump?” After the discussion there will be a photo opportunity with Skip Critell as Abraham  Lincoln. Program Sponsors include the Idaho Lincoln Institute (looktolincoln.org) and the Idaho Civil War Roundtable ([email protected]).


SPEAKER – Dave Leroy, President and Founder of the Idaho Lincoln Institute, is scheduling a limited number of speaking engagements to share Abraham Lincoln’s wisdom and how these timeless principles are important to embrace at this pivotal time in our Nation’s history. Please go to this link to learn more about having Dave speak at your event.