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The Kalamazoo Abraham Lincoln Institute
BUILDING ON A GIFT OF HISTORY NO OTHER MICHIGAN CITY CAN CLAIM!
Greetings, fellow Lincoln enthusiasts! 

Welcome to the first newsletter of the Kalamazoo Abraham Lincoln Institute (KLI). We are eager to share with you an update on our work to commemorate Abraham Lincoln's 1856 visit to Kalamazoo.  This newsletter contains reports from members of our board about the status of our fund drive, our research, and other activities.  We hope you enjoy receiving this news.  For more information, please visit our website and like us on Facebook.
Institute Update
  • One of our objectives is to erect a statue of Abraham Lincoln in Kalamazoo's Bronson Park commemorating his 1856 visit.  We are pleased to report our statue fund balance has now reached a level allowing us to proceed with a call for artists (please see report below).
  • Plans for a special event at the Kalamazoo Ladies’ Library Association building on February 12, 2022 are underway. Our recent research has shown that while in Kalamazoo, Mr. Lincoln was hosted for tea.  This event will reveal the newly discovered identity of Lincoln's Kalamazoo tea hostess!
  • Our Education Committee has produced a draft curriculum framework for teaching area students about Lincoln's Kalamazoo visit, all tied to Michigan's core curriculum requirements. The initial response from area educators has been positive. The project remains a work in progress. The draft proposal is downloadable from the home page of our website.
  • We are collaborating with the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War-Department of Michigan in our efforts to raise funds for the Bronson Park Lincoln statue.
The opportunities to enlarge upon Kalamazoo’s unique Lincoln legacy continue to excite and motivate our board of committed citizens who have given their time, building on a gift of history
 
-Cameron S. Brown, President
Research Update
An important discovery related to Lincoln’s 1856 Kalamazoo visit took place when Tom Starr, a Lincoln enthusiast from Detroit, discovered the text of Lincoln’s Kalamazoo speech.  Starr found the speech in an overlooked newspaper account in the Detroit Public Library and published it in a booklet in 1941.  The Kalamazoo Abraham Lincoln Institute is proud to continue this tradition of discovery with two recent publications:
  • This fall's issue of the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association carries my article, "Lincoln and the First Corruption of Illinois."  The article stems from the study of Alonzo Mack, a Kalamazooan who resettled in Kankakee, Illinois and served in the Illinois legislature.  Mack was a figure in one of two banking scandals that came to light in Springfield in 1859.  The scandals did not involve Lincoln directly, but rather entrapped some of his rivals and allies. 
  • In 2021 we will contribute one more article to the field of Lincoln studies.  The upcoming issue of The Michigan Historical Review will feature an article entitled, “Lincoln’s Kalamazoo Tea Hostess Revealed,” written jointly by me and KLI President Cameron S. Brown.  The article draws from a letter Lincoln wrote four years after his Kalamazoo visit in which he recounts meeting future Michigan US Senator Zachariah Chandler, while taking tea in Kalamazoo. 
Finally, President Brown and I represented the Institute at this fall’s 23rd Conference on Illinois History.  The conference took place at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois.  President Brown was part of a panel of Lincoln scholars and presented a paper titled, “Lincoln’s Winning Smile.” His original work is based on first person accounts of Lincoln’s appearance and reveals an overlooked asset of the sixteenth president.

This academic work helps to further highlight the unique gift of Lincoln’s Kalamazoo visit.  By contributing to the field of Lincoln studies we hope to enrich not only our understanding of Lincoln, but gain insight into ourselves and our own times.
-Tom George, Vice-President
.KLI President Cameron S. Brown (right) presenting at the 23rd Annual Conference on Illinois History
Penny Drive
Beginning on Lincoln’s birthday in 2019, the KLI conducted a penny drive in many public elementary, middle, and high schools in Kalamazoo, Portage, Vicksburg, and Comstock. We supplied posters, collection jugs, the text of Lincoln’s Kalamazoo speech, and a list of suggested age-appropriate books about Lincoln. One favorite was "Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln" by Doreen Rappaport and beautifully illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Disney Hyperon, 2008). This book was placed into each Kalamazoo Public Schools' (KPS) elementary library.

Kalamazoo's Lincoln International Studies School collected the most!  The drive was very successful, netting $2500 in coins (mostly pennies!), which were carried in bucketfuls for deposit to the Drake Rd. Mercantile Bank, over many trips. The bank staff was very accommodating to our extensive use of their counting machine! We are grateful to KPS, KRESA, area school administrators, teachers, and most of all to the students and parents for their support in this successful effort.  Our hope is that children will be inspired by the life and leadership of Abraham Lincoln.
-Al Jackson, DVM, Penny Drive Chair
Support of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
 
Michigan’s Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) has officially endorsed our project and is actively assisting our Lincoln statue fundraising efforts. In 2020, State Commander Terry McKinch issued a Dept. Order creating a special committee to assist us. Since then, the state and national organizations have provided significant grant funding along with contributions from individual members and Camps across Michigan. The SUVCW is the congressionally chartered legal successor to the Grand Army of the Republic, the large group of Union Civil War veterans that organized following the Civil War. We are most grateful for this collaborative show of support.
 
Call to Artists
 
With the help of the SUVCW and many others, we are pleased to announce we will be issuing a call to artists in early 2021. A formal Request for Qualifications (RFQ) will be sent out the first part of the year and will appear on several nationally recognized sites.  It will ask for interested artists to submit their qualifications including descriptions and images of prior work, references and a statement describing their proposed approach to the design of our project. The selection of the artist and statue design approval phases are anticipated to take approximately six months to complete. Final installation of the finished work is expected to take an additional six to eight months depending on the artist’s schedule and availability of materials. We look forward to providing this gift of history to the people of Kalamazoo!
-Gary Swain, Statue Committee Chair
Help us bring Abraham Lincoln back to Kalamazoo!  You can make a tax-deductable donation by clicking on our logo:
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Kalamazoo Abraham Lincoln Institute · 2037 Quail Cove Drive · Kalamazoo, MI 49009 · USA

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