Day Twelve - February 22, 2011
Philadelphia, PA to Baltimore, MD
We loaded up the van and drove to a parking garage near Independence Hall.
Today was a special day, beginning with our program at Independence Hall. Several inches of snow covered the ground. Unfortunately, the storm caused many schools in the area to cancel classes. So the school group that we were to speak with was not available.
Nevertheless, we had a great event at Independence Hall. Park Ranger Adam Duncan was our point of contact for the event. Many other NPS staff members were present, as well as members of the media—both print and television. And once again, I took photos and videotaped the program.
When Lincoln was in Philadelphia 150 years ago, he learned of an assassination plot. Railroad detective Allan Pinkerton had uncovered the plot.
On the morning of February 22, 1861, Lincoln spoke in the Independence Hall, where the founding generation had declared its independence from Great Britain and, eleven years later, hammered out the U.S. Constitution. Lincoln was moved to be in the same place where our democracy was born:
“I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing here in the place where were collected the wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion to principle, from which sprang the institutions under which we live. I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. . . . I have often inquired of myself, what great principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the colonies from the mother land; but something in that Declaration giving liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. This is the sentiment embodied in that Declaration of Independence.
“Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon that basis? If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the world if I can help to save it. If it can’t be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. But, if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle—I was about to say I would rather be assassinated on this spot than to surrender it.
“Now, in my view of the present aspect of affairs, there is no need of bloodshed and war. There is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a course, and I may say in advance, there will be no blood shed unless it be forced upon the Government. The Government will not use force unless force is used against it.”
President-elect Lincoln then stepped out onto a platform outside of Independence Hall. He gave a short talk and then raised a 34 star flag, which included a new star for the state of Kansas. As a native Kansan, it was a great occasion for me to be at Independence Hall this morning. Kansas was admitted to the Union on January 29, 1861. Southern secession made it possible because southerners in the U.S. Senate could no longer block the entrance of Kansas as a free state.
Fritz Klein raised a 34 star flag amid much fanfare and cameras. Perhaps 50 feet from the current flagpole is a plaque on the ground marking the spot where Lincoln raised a 34 star flag 150 years ago today. Very cool.
The Lincoln Inaugural Journey team then drove to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1861, Lincoln spoke to a joint meeting of the general assembly in Harrisburg. We gave an afternoon program at the National Civil War Museum. About 120 people heard the program. Fritz was interviewed by an area television station. We arrived early enough to be able to do a quick walk-through of the museum exhibits, which was a wonderful opportunity for us. Too often, we arrive, set up, do the program, and quickly depart to our next program. Our thanks go out to the staff at the museum for welcoming us so kindly.
We then loaded the van and proceeded on to Baltimore, Maryland.
I should briefly comment on our routine for getting from stop to stop. I have a large expandable file folder with tabs for each stop we’re making along the route. Under each tab I have emails from Tim Good and the coordinators of the various events, as well as other pertinent information about each stop. I also printed maps with directions off the internet. In addition, we have a GPS navigation device along with us. It’s my job to plug in the next address as quickly as possible. Tim drives. Fritz rides shotgun. Spirit sits behind Fritz. I sit behind Tim. Tim usually asks me if I have the address plugged into the GPS. Generally, I have it ready to go pretty quickly. Fritz has a smart phone. He often has the route pulled up on his phone and he’s been of great help with navigation. I had always heard that Lincoln loved fiddling with new gadgets……