New York Times, January 13, 1907
A LINCOLN MEMORIAL.
A Plea by Mark Twain for the Setting Apart of His Birthplace.
There is a natural human instinct that is gratified by the sight of anything
hallowed by association with a great man or with great deeds. So many
people make pilgrimages to the town whose streets were once trodden by
Shakespeare, and Hartford guarded her Charter Oak for centuries because it
had once had a hole in it that helped to save the liberties of a Colony. But in
most cases the connection between the great man or the great event and the
relic we revere is accidental. Shakespeare might have lived in any other
town as well as in Stratford, and Connecticut's charter might have been
hidden in a woodchuck hole as well as in the Charter Oak. But it was no
accident that planted Lincoln on a Kentucky farm, half way between the
lakes and the Gulf. The association there had substance in it. Lincoln
belonged just where he was put. If the Union was to be saved, it had to be
a man of such an origin that should save it. No wintry New England
Brahmin could have done it, or any torrid cotton planter, regarding the
distant Yankee as a species of obnoxious foreigner. It needed a man of the
border, where civil war meant the grapple of brother and brother and
disunion a raw and gaping wound. It needed one who knew slavery not
from books only, but as a living thing, knew the good that was mixed with
its evil, and knew the evil not merely as it affected the negroes, but in its
hardly less baneful influence upon the poor whites. It needed one who
knew how human all the parties to the quarrel were, how much alike they
were at bottom, who saw them all reflected in himself, and felt their
dissensions like the tearing apart of his own soul. When the war came
Georgia sent an army in gray and Massachusetts an army in blue, but
Kentucky raised armies for both sides. And this man, sprung from
Southern poor whites, born on a Kentucky farm and transplanted to an
Illinois village, this man, in whose heart knowledge and charity had left no
room for malice, was marked by Providence as the one to "bind up the
Nation's wounds." His birthplace is worth saving.
[The following explanation accompanies the editorial:]
The above article by the author and humorist refers to the movement on foot
to make of the Lincoln Birthplace Farm a National park of patriotism.
The farm consists of 110 acres in the rolling blue grass region of Larue
County, Ky. It is crossed by a picturesque stream, has many shady groves,
and possesses the famous rock spring near which it is proposed that the
Lincoln statue shall be erected. But a short distance away, along the
turnpike, stands the old mill where Lincoln used to go with his father, the
boy seated astride a rack of corn on the broad back of the old mare.
Instead of appealing to the wealthy few to carry out the work, the
association has given its cause to the whole people, asking "every man,
woman, and child in whose heart is the love of country and a reverence for
the memory of Lincoln" to become a member. Each member is called upon
to contribute whatever amount he or she wishes, provided it is not less than
25 cents or more than $25.
The officers and Board of Trustees of the Lincoln Farm Association, which
has its offices at 74 Broadway, New York City, include Joseph W. Folk,
President; Joseph H. Choate, ex-Ambassador to England; Henry
Watterson, Cardinal Gibbons, Edward M. Shepard, August Belmont,
Horace Porter, William Travers Jerome.