Abraham Lincoln visits Kalamazoo
August 26, 2006
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150 years ago (on August 27, 1856), Abraham Lincoln made his only visit to Michigan; he spoke in Kalamazoo’s downtown park as part of a rally for John C. Fremont, the first Republican nominee for President. There are a number of events taking place in Kalamazoo this weekend, sponsored, in part, by our local state senator (a Republican, natch, and against whom my brother-in-law Sandy Lipsey is running this fall).
I attended one session today, an informative talk by Weldon Petz on “The Musical Note In Lincoln’s Life,” basically a talk connecting anything musical with Lincoln. Lincoln played the harmonica and Jew’s harp; enjoyed both ministrel shows and the opera; probably sang out of the Missouri Harmony (pictured here in its modern revision); liked both “Dixie” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic;” and has been a popular subject of music for a long time.
One thing I learned was that it was common to publish “songsters,” or small song books, for the presidential campaign, for example this digitized copy of the 1864 Republican Songster of Lincoln’s second campaign, which includes songs as well as the Republican platform (“Resolved, That the foreign immigration which in the past has added so much to the wealth and development of resources and increase of power to this nation–the asylum of the oppressed of all nations–should be fostered and encouraged by a liberal and just policy.”)