SPRINGFIELD – The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is introducing an exhibit showcasing the Abraham Lincoln’s relationships with the Jewish population during the Civil War-era.
Library officials say the exhibit will be called “With Firmness in the Right: Lincoln and the Jews.” It will focus on Lincoln’s role in advocating for acceptance and inclusion for Jews in America. The exhibit will also examine how Jewish friends and colleagues of Lincoln affected his life. Several sources, such as the Library of Congress and the Chicago Historical Society, contributed documents, photographs, letters and other artifacts to the exhibit.
This exhibit is a revision of the original exhibit that opened at the New-York Historical Society earlier this year. The introduction of this exhibit inspired several other events and activities around the library and museum. One of the co-authors of “Lincoln and the Jews: A History,” which inspired the exhibit, will speak at the museum on October 15.
Museum Executive Director Eileen Mackevich hopes Lincoln’s intolerance of bigotry toward the Jewish population will shed new light on the historic figure for visitors. She thinks Lincoln’s friendship with Jewish people helped spur acceptance of other minority groups.
“His acceptance of Jews set a pattern that made acceptance a bit easier for other minorities coming to America in the years ahead. We hope this exhibit brings new attention to this part of the Lincoln story,” Mackevich says.
The exhibit displays correspondence between Lincoln and “one of [Lincoln’s] most valued friends” Abraham Jonas, a Jewish attorney based in Quincy. Daniel Stowell served as the curator for this exhibit, while Dr. Ann Meyerson came in as a guest curator.
“This exhibit does more than shed light on Lincoln’s views of a specific group. It tells us about his heart, his fundamental sense of fairness. He was always willing to look past old prejudices,” Stowell explains.
“With Firmness in the Right: Lincoln and the Jews” is presented with support of Stephen and Lisa Stone, Robert and Natalie Silverman, Jean and William Soman and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. It will open on August 3.