The President and the Druggist

 

Today is the observed date for Lincoln’s birthday in Illinois.  State offices are closed, including the courts, and I am at home today as I always close my law office on dates when the courts are not open.  Lincoln’s birthday is also a state holiday in California, Connecticut, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Indiana.  Most local Republican parties have Lincoln Day dinners each year, although they are often not held on Lincoln’s birthday.

The honoring of the Great Emancipator on his birthday was a movement begun by a Buffalo, New York druggist, Julius  Francis.   After the assassination of Lincoln in 1865, Francis made it his life’s mission to preserve Lincoln’s memory.  A bachelor, he declared that the cause of honoring Lincoln each year was “his wife and his life”.  Beginning in 1874, and continuing until his death in 1881, he would rent out a hall on Lincoln’s birthday, arrange for speakers, poets and singers, and invite the public to attend the observances free of charge.

He made two attempts to petition Congress to make Lincoln’s birthday a national holiday, but the efforts failed.  On his death he left behind him the Buffalo Lincoln’s Birthday Association, and bequeathed his house, a lot in Buffalo and six $1,000 bonds, a considerable sum for the time, to carry on the work of commemorating Lincoln on his birthday.   Each year in Buffalo Lincoln’s birthday is observed with a public ceremony, Julius Francis’ mission having succeeded in remembering Lincoln, at least in Francis’ Buffalo. (more…)

Published in: on February 13, 2012 at 10:34 am  Comments Off on The President and the Druggist  
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