Sculpting Lincoln, Part 5
Lincoln The Orator
Bronze Statue By Charles J. Mulligan, 1866-1916
Story and photos by Carl Volkmann
The village of Rosamond is located three miles west of Pana, Illinois. Yankees from Massachusetts settled the village in 1856 and soon built a church and a school. They established a permanent cemetery several years later. The residents formed the Rosamond Cemetery Association in 1903 and accepted the gift of a Lincoln statue that same year. Captain John W. Kitchell had served under Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War, and he commissioned sculptor Charles J. Mulligan to create a statue of his leader. Mulligan was born in Ireland in 1866 and came to the United States in 1872. He got his start as a sculptor by modeling clay dug from the Illinois & Michigan Canal and later worked as a stonecutter in Pullman near Chicago. He studied sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago under Lorado Taft and succeeded him as head of the department of sculpture. During the days of the building of the great Chicago World's Fair, Taft made Mulligan the foreman of the workshop where sculptors from all over the world created their masterpieces. Mulligan was best remembered for his representations of the working people of America.
Mulligan's Lincoln The Orator stands on a granite block at the top of a hill in the center of a circular drive surrounded by trees. The granite pedestal includes a portion of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The massive statue rises eighteen feet above the highest point of the cemetery. It is the only known depiction of Lincoln with his hand raised. His right hand is raised as if he was gesturing to a crowd, and in his left hand he holds papers or a book. The bearded Lincoln wears a knee-length coat. Early critics suggested that Lincoln would never have gestured while giving a solemn speech like the Gettysburg Address. John Kitchell retorted that he had seen Lincoln gesture at three different speaking engagements, so he wanted his statue to include the gesture. Kitchell had been present when Lincoln gave his farewell address to the people of Springfield on February 11, 1861.
The unveiling and dedication of the statue took place on October 29, 1903, in the presence of approximately 2,000 people, a procession of 60 carriages, and a band from Pana. The officers and directors of the Rosamond Cemetery Association and a large number of the oldest citizens from Pana and surrounding villages were seated on a large platform. In his presentation address, the donor, Captain Kitchell, defended Lincoln's sweeping gesture and expressed the hope that "here may come youth to gather inspiration and fresh incitement to noble deeds and purposes, and that here, too, they may meditate on the achievements of the past." Kitchell also introduced the sculptor, Charles Mulligan. In a letter to Captain Kitchell, Lincoln's son, Robert, wrote: "The statue of my father stands out splendidly in the surroundings and is manifestly full of life." The Honorable Benson Wood of Effingham delivered the address of the day and affirmed, "that anarchy, socialism, and lawlessness would never be tolerated under the shadow of the magnificent statue." The statue was rededicated in 1933 with elaborate ceremonies including a memorial tribute to Captain Kitchell. Kitchell and his wife, Mary, are both buried within twenty yards of the statue.
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Lincoln At The Crossroads Of Decision
Bronze Statue ByAvard Fairbanks, 1897-1987.
The impetus for this statue in New Salem State Park came from the group called the Sons of Utah Pioneers, a history-oriented association. They chose to honor Abraham Lincoln, one of the nineteenth century's greatest Americans, by commissioning a sculpture. Although their Mormon ancestors had been driven from Illinois during Lincoln's lifetime, association members maintained a sense of respect for the principles and life of the sixteenth president. It was in New Salem that the young Lincoln established a reputation as a grocery clerk, a storyteller, and an avid reader. He labored as a store clerk, a postmaster, a surveyor, and a soldier. There he began his study of law, voted for the tirst time, and entered into politics. The State of Illinois restored portions of New Salem as a state historical park and a memorial to Lincoln in the 1930s, but it had no Lincoln statue.
When the Sons of Utah Pioneers decided to sponsor a Lincoln statue for the site, they sought the assistance of one of their members, sculptor Avard Tennyson Fairbanks. Fairbanks was born on March 2, 1897, in Provo, Utah. His father, John B. Fairbanks, was an accomplished artist and painted many of the murals in Mormon temples. Fairbanks' talent was recognized at an early age, and he soon followed his father to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. He went to Paris in 1913 and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Ecole Moderne. The outbreak of World War I led Fairbanks to return home to Salt Lake City. He then studied at Yale University and eventually joined the faculty of the University of Michigan.
While conceptualizing the project, Fairbanks reported that he devoted much time to making different studies of the head of Lincoln as he appeared at twenty-eight, his age when he left New Salem to practice law in Springfield. He obtained reproductions of Lincoln's life masks and hands cast by the sculptor, Leonard Volk. Fairbanks portrayed Lincoln as tall, broad shouldered, and courageous. Fairbanks said, "This is the period of his life that I proposed to recreate in an impressive and heroic bronze sculpture. To symbolize it, I chose to compose Lincoln with the implement of his past activities, an ax, showing him as a capable, stalwart man of the frontier, and a law book, portraying him also as a man of mental pursuits and capabilities."
Fairbanks chose granite for the base of the statue because it is solid and sturdy like the character of Lincoln. The particular type of stone called rainbow granite was selected because the rainbow is a symbol of hope. When Lincoln lived at New Salem, he formed his hopes for the United States. Fairbanks declared, "God gave to man the rainbow in the heavens as a symbol of hope and promise. A statue of Abraham Lincoln in bronze on a base of rainbow granite shall be symbolic, for the peoples of the world, of these enduring hopes and promises to be gained through adherence to those guiding principles given by Lincoln."
The statue was dedicated on June 21, 1954. In his dedicatory speech, Bryant S. Hinkley, the representative from the Sons of the Utah Pioneers, stated: "We unite with you and all Americans in honoring Illinois' great citizen and one of the greatest leaders of all times. Majestic in character and intellect, lofty in purpose, sublime in his faith and forgiveness, Abraham Lincoln stands as the tenderest memory of all the ages." Avard Fairbanks' "Lincoln At The Crossroads Of Decision" achieved national prominence when it was featured on the recently minted Illinois commemorative state quarter.
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