Flora Wilds Journal Contributor
If you’ve got time in between keeping up with your social media and trying to decide what to do with your major, the Abraham Lincoln exhibition at the Adams Gallery could provide you with a refreshingly antiquated experience and a new perspective on Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln: A Man of His Time, a Man for All Times, is a traveling feature of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
At first, I was a little disappointed by the lack of material artifacts in this exhibition. I mean, I was at least expecting to get a status or a few twit pics out of this! “Just saw Abe Lincoln’s first top hat. Man had some #style.” But alas, there was no top hat, or anything eIse that seemed to be tweet worthy. The exhibit does display consist of large panels of writing and pictures and one television playing a History Channel program on Lincoln. The panels reminded me of enlarged pages of a history textbook. On them were a number of pictures of photographs, pictures of letters, pictures of prints, and quite a lot to read. Reading? What a concept. So it was not until I put away my expectations of a Smithsonian level exhibition and disconnected myself from Twitter, that I was actually able to appreciate what the gallery had to offer. What I mean was I actually decided to take the time to read through the panels. And you know what? I actually learned something! And while the photographs were what initially grabbed my attention, it was the words of Lincoln that left the greatest impression. There were quotes, copies of letters he wrote, notes on documents and speeches, and more. This is how I came to the conclusion that if Abraham Lincoln was alive today and possessed a Twitter account, there is no doubt that his quotes would be frequently retweeted. And if I have any faith in humanity, possibly even more retweeted than Kanye, and other expressive and opinionated “role models” of our time. Can’t you see it? @HonestAbe: “The struggle of today, is not altogether for today — it is for a vast future also.” #merica
However much I wish that Lincoln was around to tweet inspiration today, it was a good thing that he lived when he did. Not only did our nation need him for the preservation of the Union and Emancipation, but today he would probably be cut off mid sentence. Our society has become so used to a 160 character maximum, that we have to make an effort to read something that’s not a status update. We wouldn’t have the attention span for the hours of public discourse and analysis that politics revolved around during Lincoln’s presidency. Someone would probably cut the poor man off mid Gettysburg Address: “Four score and seven years ago-” “Yo Abe, I’m bummed about this whole Gettysburg thing but…” One can only imagine.
In a few years, Kanye will have interrupted enough people and tweeted enough garbage to become boring and irrelevant. But Abe Lincoln will still be remembered. One could say he has been trending since the 1800s. His progressive ideas and the changes he made for the Unites States and have true pertinence in the 21st century. Lincoln’s legacy, explored and honored in the Adams Gallery exhibition, helped shape the America you live in today. So take this as a challenge. Log off Twitter for a while, and simply appreciate the wisdom and eloquence of Abraham Lincoln, a man who has not lost his relevance and will certainly never be forgotten.
The Adams Gallery is located on the first floor of the David J. Sargent Hall and will be hosting the exhibition on Abraham Lincoln until September 29. The gallery is open from 9am to 7pm daily. The traveling exhibition has been provided in part thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Admission is free!