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tv   Abraham Lincoln and Photography  CSPAN  July 20, 2016 9:02pm-10:30pm EDT

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will be covering this event for later broadcast on c-span tv. as a reminder when we open the floor to questions please be sure to use the microphones. if you don't, you will not be heard on television and you'll miss your big media event. our speaker tonight, david ward, joined the national portrait gallery in 1981. he oversees the permanent collection galleries including states devoted to the antebellum age 1820 to 1860 as well as the ongoing exhibit 20th century americans. among his many accomplishments -- too many that i can go into completely tonight -- david was co-curator of an award winning exhibition, "hide, seek, difference and desire in american portraiture." he's currently working on rehanging the hall of presidents -- not the presidents, the hall of presidents. [ laughter ] and the american origin space along with curating new exhibits on the photographer mario
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tostino and a his store y'all survey called "sweat of their face" portraying american workers, 1750 to 2015. speaking more directly to his talk tonight, david has his fourth civil war themed exhibit on view now at the portrait gallery called "dark fields of the republic, alexander guaardn photographs, 1857 to 1872" which includes several lincoln photographs. i saw this last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. and this exhibit was preceded by the portrait gallery's "one life grant and lee" "the mask of ling condition with" and "walt whitman, a cosmos." you may remember last year walt whitman was a theme of our event. i might mention that along the way with his work at the national portrait gallery, this multitalented david ward is a poet, an editor and a literary critic. a selection of his poetry was published in 2011 called
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"internal difference" and a full collection "call waiting" was published in 2014. david earned his bachelor's degree from the university of rochester and graduate degrees from warwick university in england and yale university. please join me in welcoming david ward. [ applause ] >> thank you, brian. thank you all, i'm delighted to be here. i want to -- because i am from the portrait gallery, both an art and history museum, i want to congratulate the portrait competition winners and i do need to say that we are traveling, or portrait competition which opens in april in the national portrait gallery and it will be at the kemper next year so i invite you all to join us then and i invite our portrait competition winners
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tonight to come and see how much better they are than most of americans contemporary portraitists. [ laughter ] again, thank you, i'm pleased to be here. i'm always -- i've been fascinated with lincoln for a long -- a very long time. the other reason i accepted this invitation is that wherever i've come to kansas city i've had a great time. i've always really enjoyed it. today i realized i was going to be in leavenworth. [ laughter ] so you're kind of taking your chances tonight. so happy president's day, it's great to get together and celebrate the career of franklin pierce, william henry harrison, john tyler, can't forget john tyler. [ laughter ] and i'm joking slightly to make a point. i understand the imperatives of the three day weekend and bureaucracy and you can't take two days off as we used to do back when i was a lad, february 12 and february 22 for the alpha and omega presidents washington
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and then lincoln. there's a kind of a participatory medal to the presidents, they get lumped together, lincoln in with pierce. and some of this is a justifiable suspicion of the great man period of history which began in the 19th century with thomas carlisle and worked its way through to popular biographies that glorified lincoln or washington or teddy roosevelt, the great, if you will and we now are more sensitive to democratic politics, we're more sensitive to diversity and the panoply of social history and i'm not a devoe tae of the great man theory. i don't like it. i don't believe a single individual -- with rare exception as we'll get to -- that they determine the outcome of world historical events. that hagel's world historical individual who included lincoln, it doesn't work for history. history is much more multifaceted and complicated but
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i do think we lose something first as a nation by not celebrating people who were great. i think they would -- it's a good idea to celebrate people who really achieved something. and while not all the presidents have and not all the presidents will, that people like lincoln and all their complexity, washington, the two roosevelts have done something and we should pay some attention to it. how does this work? i'm going the wrong way here. it was short. [ laughter ] i did my best. all right. the other thing as part of the interpretive theory as i'm getting older where i actually -- historians are always changing things because they need to come up with new ideas because they need to write new books so they can keep their jobs and the frontier thesis is largely discredited but as again
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i've gotten older and thought about it again and not a yes or no way that you can bring in the fact that america crossing the prairies, crossing to the west coast actually does change american character and it's -- again, i restroert the fact that i am in kansas and it's great to be in the plains which begins carl sandberg's first volume of his biography of lincoln, the prairie years. it begins with the long travel between kentucky and illinois and giving the speech in leavenworth because in washington you're surrounded by monumental lincolns, lincoln in the lincoln memorial at the end of the mall looking at us. still kind of homey. lincoln was always an accessible figure, if you will. i'm fascinated, as most people are, with his face. but sitting, there's a huge edifice with a huge building and
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white marble and you realize you can't do this anymore. this is out of many one, plur bus unum, after mousussolini yo can't use that anymore. but you have the monumental including the healy portrait, the signature portrait in our gallery. the portrait gallery has all of the presidents along with the white house. we're the only collection that includes all of the presidents and this is our signature, if you will. i don't particularly -- i have to say, they made the mistake of put megain charge of rehanging the presidents and i don't like this portrait and i'm trying to get it and i will end with a portrait that i want to replace this with. this is a portrait which hides as much as it reveals. it's a thoughtful lincoln. his face has been air brushed.
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it's posthumous. it's a little after lincoln died. it's lincoln being avuncular and thoughtful and the rest of it. and we have the mystery of abraham lincoln. all the monument and the portrait, it hides what's an extraordinary career and i think this western movement from kentucky to springfield, the family spends one entire winter in a pine lean to open ended with a fire burning, his family -- sickness takes his mom and you have lincoln and his beginnings. i call the exhibition the mask of lincoln. we all have a public persona. i have one on now as i'm speaking to you as a semiqualified historian and talking to you in a professorial
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way and private life you have your different ways of doing things but for lincoln and lincoln had that element of a public pose as most politician statesmen do but there's something mysterious where the mask for me blocks lincoln. the accessibility of getting to lincoln becomes more and more difficult and i'm taking a still here of henry fonda, young mr. lincoln, and you can kind of -- it's not a great slide but you see lincoln has become part of the natural landscape and he's lying on his back with his feet in the tree and he's reading and this drove his father crazy. it drove thomas lincoln mad that lincoln would -- lincoln famously would read a book while plowing and get to the end of the row and forget to turn the horse around and thomas would come down and get angry at him. it's funny but it's not because then thomas lincocoln would bea him. switch young abraham and there's this element, this drive and i'm
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certainly not a freudian but the element of parental disapproval in terms of setting lincoln off his dreamy young man -- dreaming what? in the middle of nowhere, no -- you know, a small farm, failed father as a mentor. no guidance, self-taught, no college. and i think we forget in the 19th century how there is no safety net. if you didn't succeed you died. you disappeared. you became invisible. there was no record of your passing or -- and lincoln himself in his famous autobiographical fragment cuts off the discussion of his youth. he refuses to talk about it where he just simply -- and lincoln does this repeatedly where he cuts it off in poetic terms, he cuts the line and he uses thomas gray's elegy that his early life was simply the short and simple annals of the poor and he forbids any real
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inquiry to the chicago newspaper about what he was doing. when lincoln's father thomas is on his deathbed, young mr. lincoln has moved on, he's 80 miles away and he refuses to come to the deathbed, refuses to visit the funeral, doesn't go to the funeral. he cuts off relations with the man who he had grown to loathe. and he had grown to loathe him in part because his dad thomas would hire him out. this is the origins for lincoln in highly personal terms of the notion that i borrow this title from obviously the bible "the sweat of their face" from my show on american workers because this is the beginning of the ideology of free labor. it's the beginning of lincoln's evolution from somebody who was an advocate of free labor to anti-slavery, abolitionism and the great freedom amendment which is we're fortunate to have, the 13th. and of course lincoln is coming
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of age politically and generationally at just the moment where photography is beginning to come into vogue as a method of reproduction. that the hierarchical element of oil painting is disappearing. lincoln is not the first visual president, that's a misnomer because in my title because other presidents, there was a thirst to know what presidents looked like, iconic presidents like george washington especially but andrew jackson or even the lesser-known ones, john quincy adams would have an oil painting done because that was customary, it was descended from the queens of england and they would have a democratic portrait in a democratic country but then there would be lithographs and prints and drawings of greater and varying quality. as you move down the food chain to the local almanacs and newspapers the quality backs let's say not very artistic so
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there is this thirst to find imagery which photography satisfies. so you have lincoln for the first time here in the first photograph 1846 becoming visible. he's worked his way up. he's a lawyer. he's becoming a lawyer, he's establishing himself. he's gone through this process of autodidactic self-teaching, of where all of the cliches are true, he does walk five miles to return five cents while he's working in a shop, he does learn to cipher by using wooden logs, there's a primitivism to the myth of lincoln and the beginning of the modern country that the united states is becoming that lincoln is coming out of the west, he's coming into prominence and fairly early on in 1846 he starts to get photographed and the thing that's interesting about lincoln
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politically to me is that he's a classic figure of the democratic party as it emerges, the jackson party if you will of the artisan and small holder but he becomes a whig which -- in american historiography is the party of privilege. and american historians have slightly overdrawn this. they've taken the example of the french revolution where this is a class conflict between the haves and the have notes and whigs being the haves and aristocrats and the working class, the democrats, being the party of the working class, the progressives and some of that is true, some of it there is demographically, sociologically a difference. but what lincoln does and this is a cast of lincoln's hands which is in the national portrait gallery collection and i'm showing them because i want to emphasize his origins are working class. he was a working class individual. he was the rail splitter. he did work unwillingly for his father and more willingly as he made his way on the river
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looking for jobs, this scuffling for a job in the 19th century where there was no pattern you could follow outside of the priesthood, the ministry that would get you ahead and it's the rough huhn pitch thewn nature o his political career. we think of him as he's become mythologized as not being human. but he was intensely human. and he had the attribute of physical strength. he was 6'4", whipsaw 165, 170 pound guy. he was famous for his wrestling ability. he had a trick he would do where he would hold a sledge out parallel to the ground and he could hold it there longer than anyone else. this element of masculinity, masculine fortitude even lincoln -- although she jokes about his service in the black hawk war where, again, early election success, he's elected
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captain, his military career is not -- he jokes about it but there's an element of the early charisma which is embodied literally in his physique and of course the body is portrayed in photographs, portrayed in these casts and ultimately posthumously in the oil painting and the thing that makes lincoln a whig is the sense of whig progress. lincoln is the only president to receive a patent, which is nice for me and nice for the portrait gallery because the portrait gallery exists in the original patent office building built in the 1830s under jackson and it's this majestic -- i invite you to visit, call me when you're coming and i'll show you around. but there's -- this majestic building which is a symbol of american progress and the takeoff of the american economy in the 1830s under the combined drive of the jacksonian
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democracy, the extension of the franchise, working people, small farmers, then the whig plan of henry clay which was again appealing to lincoln as a rising man in springfield. he was a man on the make, he famously becomes a corporation lawyer, works for the railroads and the patent that he invents is particularly interesting because it was a way -- he'd been up and down the mississippi and i don't think it worked. you can get a patent without the invention working but -- [ laughter ] and this is the model that we have in the collection. you can see the label, a lincoln. it was a way -- the mississippi or all rivers, the missouri, was famous for this sand bar and obstructions and what lincoln invented in this sort of barge was a way of walking the boat over the sand bar so he would lower these -- he would get two
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men on each post and they would lift the boat up. they must be like lincoln very strong and shuffle the boat over the sand bar and then, you know, move down the river. this's this element of open metaphor -- an element of openness to lincoln, that the river should be open, opportunities should exist and the channels of industry should lead to opportunity, as jack kennedy says rising tides should lift all boats. lincoln creates in slightly utopian terms this device that man would be the rising tide to carry the boat down the river and i thought when grant wins the battle at vic vicsburg, he said the father of waters runs to the sea. vicksburg. he thought about his patent that the point of america was to have
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the element of opportunity and discourse and openness and that the river should run free. again, i go back to landscape, go back to his notion the souse shouldn't be allowed to leave the union because it was part of the sacred ground of the union first pictures of lincoln getting his crew off the ground. i need to address the element of lincoln's so-called homeliness. he was famously supposedly -- i've spent a lot of time with lincoln and perhaps it's a form of stockholm syndrome that as i've looked at these pictures he seems more and more attractive to me, particularly as we'll see in a minute with the hesser will photograph. the thing that i was struck by when i looked at this is the tousled romantic hair.
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i noticed the hooded eyes. you don't get people smiling in 128640s photographs because they have to hold still. he's still a bad dress er. but i was struck again the way he was masking his intentions behind jokes and witticism and again with lincoln there's a sense of an understanding of who he was, how he came to that understanding and this he would not reveal himself even as he claimed in these photographs.
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he's famous for using jokes and witticism to distract people. the good and the great of the republican party, they think he's a fool. they think he's a buffoon and lincoln is using jokes and country folk tales. first of all, it's national democratic politics, the william seward boston braman might not like those jokes but the people did. it was a way of connecting with the public the way lincoln connected with the public when he was elected captain. but the homeliness becomesing? lincoln was more than happy to use to his advantage. as i say, opinions differ, everybody's spouse is the best looking person they've ever met we all know that, i think this is the same thing with lincoln. he did not have the smoothness as we'll see in a minute of the
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eastern politicians but lincoln was -- there's a famous occasion in the douglass/lincoln debates where lincoln responds by saying "my opponent accuses me of being two faced. if i had another face, would i wear this one?" [ laughter ] and that element here where he's using it again, the humility which is not completely forced, not completely fictional. lincoln knew who he was, he knew what he looked like. he was aware of that and it was something again in terms of the smoothness and urbanity that he could use to his advantage as a frontiersman coming east. woodman and lincoln share this curious connection. woodman comes to idolize lincoln. they never met. and there's this amazing quote by whitman in one of his political tracts in 1856 called the 18th president, he misses
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lincoln by two. "the redeemer president." he welcomed a redeemer president of the united states who would come out of the real west, the log hut, the clearing the woods, the hillside, the prairie, he would be much more happy to see some shrewd healthy body middle aged beard faced american blacksmith or boatman come down from the west across the alleghenys and walk into the presidency and i go back again to this sense of the west as the cradle of a democracy which whitman hits very early on. whitman the great democratic poet who responded not only to whitman -- lincoln's democracy but of course to the sense of a union, that the union would be bound up in the bodies of the individual american citizens, that they would be exemplified by the bodies that existed between each of us so here's lincoln early on.
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again, the photographic process -- i'm jumping a little chronologically here. the other thing we need to remember is that photography is just getting started. we don't a come plooplete recor you would today where the candidates and celebrities are photographed incessantly. to my mind much too much. you have this episodic -- some prints don't survive. they work their way into the archives and crop up again but lincoln -- this element of an advertisement for himself, he's in the whig party. they have a deal where they rotate off, he's a one-term congressman. he goes back home and clear hi he -- as he puts it in the context of the presidential race where he -- when he thinks he has a shot in 1860 he says he must admit the taste is 234 my mouth. this element of ambition and, of course, his secretary john
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nikolai says "the little engine of his ambition knew no rest." the people who knew him best saw this furnace, this burning, this ambition. again to escape his non-existence, his non-person hood as the son of this ne'er-do-well farmer, the invisibility where if you didn't succeed you disappeared off into the dark fields of the reap. g republic. this is a wonderful photograph. alexander he isser will. the springfield mafia were identifying lincoln as a charismatic figure working his way through the whig party into national prom necessary. he isser will. here's the other thing we forget because in those days the congressional delegation elected senators so the lincoln/douglas
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debates are a spurious exercise in democracy because it depended on who controlled the delegation, but nonetheless this element of verbal combat where lincoln is staking a claim, making a name, and the springfield, david davis, his backers in illinois start to commission photographers so his name would be known, again, we're dealing with a society in which people didn't know what other people looked like, i heard an incredible anecdote where zachary taylor who wins the whig nomination for the presidency in 1850, wins the presidency, defeats henry clay, clay didn't know what taylor looked like, they met on a team boat and clay snub it had president-elect and it had to be -- somebody has to hurry back to play and say that's general taylor and clay was oe fus in his apology which is again this element of the size of the country, the distance between
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people and the lack of imagery as photography is coming on not until the 20th century and certainly now with google to our detriment we're all google, you can go look at yourself. but what's happening is photography is a way that you can have images made. most poignantly it was a way in which ordinary americans with middle-class -- photography wasn't cheap but it wasn't expensive and it certainly wasn't as hierarchical and originally controlled as an oil painting so photography begins its service in which everything from high school yearbooks to wedding photographs and keepsakes for loved ones and what lincoln in particular along with walt whitman are the two people in america who begin to realize photography is a way of moding your personality and presenting it. whitman is famously photographed almost as much as lincoln and
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whitman realizes -- and whitman was a shape shifter. had many different guises, you didn't have to strike the same pose. henry wadsworth longfellow, whitman's great competitor as a poet, only had one pose, you see longfellow as a young poet, this pose when he's aged and gray, it's the same pose and whitman is constantly experimenting with how he looked. he's wearing a hot, not wearing a hat, holding a butterfly. he's wearing a loose shirt, wearing a poet's shirt. and this element of adapting to circumstance which lincoln will use in a slightly different way to indicate the circumstances as he moves into the white house and fights and bleeds for the civil war. and what he's leaving behind -- i include this, this is our life mask of abraham lincoln done before he was inaugurated in
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1861. this is the older less malleable technology. i've shown you the portraits, particularly the romantic hesslhessller one. so in order to obtain a depiction of somebody you would have a life mask taken. either an entrepreneur or sculptor would go to your house and put a big block of plaster of paris on your head and do a reverse mold and this could be turned into anything from a tussaud wax works to really realized fully finished neoclass cal sculpture. parenthetically thomas jefferson was nearly killed in 1819 when a man came to the retired president's plantation in monticello and started chatting with jefferson with the plaster block and lost track of the time. and jefferson -- jefferson nearly suffocated and he was too
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polite to just sort of get up and rip the plaster off. and finally the man realized. jefferson's two daughters -- jefferson was not in good health and they were convinced this hastened or worsened -- they were going to sue him. again, as this element of danger of the politeness but this is the older technology as oppose again to this. i'm going back to another heslor photograph that the springfield guys put together for lincoln. thissing a will line features, the tie is better in this one and what you have again the far searching gaze which you read into, of course and you begin to see the development of lines. lincoln was born in 1809, he's 56 when he dies and he's growing into manhood before our very eyes and he's affected by these
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tremendous circumstances of wanting a career that will move him into the law, into politics and then into office and this is the photograph that did it for him. i have to say that you have a very difficult time doing this with power point and i probably should have mentioned this earlier. sizing powerpoint to the actual scale so portraits exist in relationship to each other is very, very difficult. this is a photograph that's very small. it's a visiting card, you have one in your pocket, i'm sure, it's about that big and they were the most widely disseminated, they were the easiest to produce. they were the most common, they were the cheapest. there's no film -- and many my gardner show -- they're glass plate negatives. technology is evolving but they haven't invented film so this
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complicated process of chemical and visual stimulation i was doing something for high school and they didn't know what film is because everything was digital. [ laughter ] so i was okay let me explain all this. and this is a photograph and it's port that it's a card de visit. this is the photograph that mr. brady took that made me president, lincoln says. the taste is well and truly in his mouth. the second party system breaks down into regional parties. lincoln going back to the free soil ideology. he gravitates from the destroy ing whig party which is
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collapsing into the new republican party which combines element of the democratic jackson party with the big he w he's still not known and he accepts in 1859 an invitation by henry ward beecher to come to beecher's big church in brooklyn and give a speech about whatever he want he wanted but the secession crisis was going on. but they wanted to know what lincoln looked like. they wanted to hear him so lincoln comes east. he goes to brooks brothers, buy this is suit, the suit is getting better. and he goes to matthew brady's studio on madison avenue and has his portrait taken, he then goes to the cooper union and deliver this is incredible -- to our constitutional scholars, they can understand this speech. ordinary mortals cannot.
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as you immerse yourself the political and legal culture of the crisis because it's a complicated well thought speech about why it's unconstitutional for the south to secede. so job done. lincoln convinces everybody. they might not vote for him but they have a to take him seriously and he establishes that in the cooper union and more importantly because of the politics of all this he takes his photograph which david davis and the group, the wide awake, this is a society that's -- there were two things in the 19th century, they hadn't invented professional sports yet. there's religion and politics. those were the two organizing devices that galvanized local communities in ways we can't understand from participation rates in voting to paing to parn rates in churchgoing to participation rates in political activities and the republican
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party in particular is again the rising men this coalescence of the whigs and democrats led by lincoln creates modern campaigning. this is one of my favorite items. a tiny political pin and you'll notice it's the same picture of linco lincoln. >> you could notice that lincoln's face is smoother than the hesser will. the hair has been smoothed out. they haven't invented photo shop but you can see it on the horizon and the republican party ordered thousands of brady visiting cards and hired women to cut ovals and put them inside these nice wooden painted gold ovals and created a political pin using a photograph so you can literally wear lincoln your heartthrob on your sleeve you
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can demonstrate a more or less accurate illustration. there was the man it's an incredible little thing that was -- that -- it's amazing but this is beginning of the modern media campaign with lincoln and the republican party adapting to all of this. the older world of the caricature and the newspaper didn't disappear, you could not create -- you could not print a newspaper or anything printed with a photograph in it. there was journalism in the process of being invented but it hasn't come out.
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there's a purported assassination plot so they send lincoln in early in the morning instead of later in the day and he was ridiculed for you'll notice the nice touch of the security in the foreground so there's lincoln the coward sneaking into town and here we are with a confluence of alexander gardner and abraham lincoln. gardner is in washington working for brady at the time and gardner would take many photographs of lincoln. this is lincoln alive in washington. there's an element of the photograph bearing witness. it bears witness to lincoln's presence. it bears witness to his moving into the job. legendarily lincoln is hiding his white hand because supposedly it was swollen, as politicians did in the 1900s, they shake hundreds of thousands of hands.
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ring condit shake a lot of hands but this is a fairly conventional piece and now the other thing that needs adjusting is you'll notice he's grown the beard. whitman had talked about a bearded man coming out of the west. lincoln famously grows the beard between the election and the inauguration. it's the biggest alteration by any president in the way. what i think it meant for lincoln he's nervous, and there's an element here that he's toughening up. there's a -- i am a big sports fan, i like hockey and the way in which hockey players grow a beard during the playoffs,
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there's the testosterone element here. they're returning to a more primitive state here and what lincoln is doing is this is the first big break for lincoln that you have the dreamy youth and the rising politician who's getting harder and we've become accustomed to his face but now you see a new lincoln, lincoln is reinventing himself as the wartime president. he's thinking what about he needs to do with this crisis. this is the great photograph as lincoln deals with this crisis. march, 1861, lincoln is inaugurated. gardner takes this great outdoor photograph of the inauguration this is lincoln's famous mystic cord of memory piece is, the inauguration in which he's trying to keep the union together and what he appeals to is the mystic cords of memory which tie us to each and every
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patriot brave. it's the revolutionary foundation of american democracy in the revolution. the declaration of independence. it doesn't work. in fact, just the on says, lincoln's words fall on deaf ear s. so he's called a black republican, it's kind the double connotation of the republicans usurping power. it was also the identification of lincoln with black people, with african-americans, that he was overly even at an early stage overly concerned with the welfare of african-americans. so the war came. i'm bringing in this portrait. this is the beginning of
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battlefield journalism with alexander gardner. alexander gardener, what he does in the same time is he's specializing in portrait photography for the good and the great life o. the revolution that occurs here is that gardner takes his camera out to antietam december 17, 18621862. america's bloodiest day, 23,000 to 25,000 killed and wounded in one day. the battlefield is a smoking wreckage gardner brings back these horrifying scenes of
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american casualties. we remain a nation ambivalent politically and morally about displaying american casualties. breaks the taboo against that at a very early stage and what this does is it ends romanticism once and for all. the notion that the civil war would be a romantic conflict that it would be civil rick, it would be courteous and gentle n gentlemanly went out of the window as people realized the consequences of industrial debt. these photographs have a terrible distinctness and then mr. gardner has -- if he has not brought the war into our very houses or parlors and streets he has done something very like it. there is a huge change in american culture that leads in all kinds of the ways that we mourn, the way we worship, the way we think about language and
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culture this directness leads people to a culture change. lincoln goes out to antietam to find out what mcclellan is doing. mcclellan leads first invasion of the north but doesn't pursue himself. lincoln had to wear a stove pipe fact as a passive aggressive gesture to i'm really all the. douglas isn't called the little giant for nothing because he was only 5'1", it must have been amazing so here lincoln is towering over little mack, the little napoleon, the most ego technical assistance kalman in
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american history. he is not moving this again where mcclellan -- and mcclellan thought lincoln was a fool and treated him rudely. lincoln, one of the virtues i like about him is he's patient and says mildly to mcclellan before he fires him "general, if you're not using your army, may i borrow it." and mcclellan being obtuse and self-important, he didn't get it he felt like lincoln was just a joke. lincoln fires him. this is not the meeting in which lincoln fires mcclellan. it's where he's trying to find out what mcclellan is doing in october '62. but i'm showing this picture because it's the beginning of photojournalism that the camera is big, cumbersome. there was the process of taking the plate and developing it. gardner couldn't manipulate the camera that easily what lincoln
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is doing here, lincoln doesn't talk as much as we think he did. hi would tell the crowd appreciate it but i'm not going to speak. then he'd say a few remarks and ask the band to play and leave. but what he's doing and using photography and this is the opposite of what whitman was doing. whitman was constantly changing his pose and affect and clothing. what lincoln is doing is indexing himself to the american people. he's using a measure that as so many americans were fighting and dying as the mothers and fathers were mourning their lives
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lincoln used photography he was always photograph ed. you could go to gardner's studio and lincoln was having his photograph taken because this is where you transition to the pos chummous lincoln because we know what's coming is that you see the wear and tear on lincoln's body. an art critic who recrew it had gardner show said by 1863 you can see the way the clothes are hanging off him. he's got the nice suits still but look at the face. he's very well groomed in this picture. in '63 he's -- there's something that's haunting. the eyes are no longer quite as dreamy. they're beginning to stare. there's the famous vietnam phrase "the thousand yard stare"
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and what he's staring sat this. industrialized warfare continuing a year later. gardner goes up and takes more of the pictures at gettysburg, ramming home the point if you didn't need the casualties that would appear in the paper that these photographs, these incredible photographs of dead soldiers, their bodies stripped, you notice they're not wearing shoes. these are union casualties and the shoes have been strip bid scavengers and the fields at gettysburg, again, the battle that blunt's lee's second invasion. again, though, lincoln is distressed that the need will not pursue lee as vigorously as he wants. and this is my favorite lincoln. this is a cut down full face image in november and note the date, november 8, 1863 and there's something in this picture where there's this hardening element which gardner captures perfectly. gardner was a great photographer for the hard documentary edge. and this photograph is more of
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the war hawk. it's full frontal. it's the oblique angle lincoln usually poses. there's a fierceness to it. it's like looking into the barrel of a gun. and this is a really interesting moment in american political culture because again, it's november 8th. lincoln had been invited to gettysburg to give what would become the gettysburg address 11 days later. the 19th. and famously, lincoln is not the main speaker at the dedication of the cemetery. it's edward everest, the star attraction, the star order in the north and he ever yet being the star orator and because you hear that well in open door settings he had preprinted his remarks. they're two hour long. it's an incredibly long address and we know and this is the thing that historians love when these facts, it rarely happens that you get this level of serendipity.
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lincoln goes down to gardner's studio. he was reading he ever yet's address in the studio chewing the fat with gardner and his secretaries and was reading it. i believe again because i think lincoln was a political genius in the way he mastered campaigning and invented the campaign pin and also in terms of what was expected in terms of breaking the mold. and i'm convinced that lincoln sat there because he was thinking or he did not write the gettysburg address on the train up to gettysburg. he had been thinking about it a lot in the context of anti-slavery and abolitionism and the course of the war. i'm convinced he said to himself being a sly dog, you're going to give him two hours? i'm going to give you two minutes. he constructs the gettysburg address even in the context of remarks because nobody is going to stop the president from
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speaking if he wants to speak for 45 minutes. i'm going to take these two minutes and use them because the other thing that he does and we know this again because it's in the diary entry from a war department clerk. all of the gettysburg pictures were up in gardner's studio. as lincoln is sitting there surrounded by all the images we just saw, and this is a visual recap to youlation of the battlefield in a photographic form. i'm convinced this is when lincoln begins to construct the gettysburg address where he says nothing we do or say here can consecrate this ground. it is for us the living to create the new birth of freedom. this is another -- this is where he cuts the cord with the past and asks for new birth of freedom, when he cuts american democracy loose from precedent and issues about the union and secession and the slavery and the tired abolitionist. everything that had gone from 1776 to 1860, '61. lincoln says the new birth of freedom will be a new birth of american politics and he radically reorients the war.
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it's now a war for freedom. and he does that in large part, i'm convinced because of the dialogue that he was constructing in his own ahead between what he wanted to do and what he saw in those terrible pictures by alexander gardner. again, this level of indexing that he's doing, the beard looking a little haphazard here, gray, you have in in your collection here this great anthonyburg erg photograph of lincoln, a profile. this is the picture that is on the penny. and again, lincoln in profile. this weird one stereoscopes were again a country that's beginning to discover visual imagery. stereoscopes were two slightly different card de visits that were put together and you review them through a stereo lens and it koreas a 3-d image. we're back here with strange looking abraham lincoln because his hair has been cut and we're back to the hooded eyes and the slightly heavy downturned mouth
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and at supposition is that he has this slightly different hair because he had been posing for another one of the life masks where they would grease your hair back. so that's why he looked strange. and this again is his official family, which nikolai and hayes, two secretaries, again, i work in washington in a large bureaucracy which is a tiny bureaucracy in the big scheme of things, the smithsonian institution. again, lincoln ran the war with two secretaries and a telegraph at the war office. so i commend him for his devolution of the federal government is in the process of being invented. nikolai and hay are the two closest observers of lincoln and they call him the tycoon out of egyptian mythology. even the people who knew him very well thought he was
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mysterious and strange and unfathomable. they were always talking what what is the tycoon up to now. they were trying to get a handle on him. so we're now reaping the end game. it's february, 1865. the avuncular lincoln. the smile on lincoln's face, tad who is developmentally challenged didn't only live to 18. and this is the last sitting. this is february 5th, 1865, gardner posing this little vignette with tad lincoln had survived barely the death or endured the death of his son willy who dies early in the war, makes mary distraught. i had a poet in the gal ril two weeks ago fascinated with lincoln. i asked him why he became
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interested in lincoln and steve said as a young father, he was desperately afraid for his children. and he identified with lincoln losing his child and steve used this incredible image about lincoln running the war at the same time as he endured the loss of his son and the problems with tad and he said it was try for lincoln, steve says it was like trying to perform brain surgery while a dog is attacking your leg. this image of almost physical pain that lincoln had to endure, and again, was indexed on his face. again, notice the shadows, notice the hair because what we're moving to again, this is a burger earlier. the lines on the face becoming greater. the hands gnarled. look at the suit the way it falls off him. and we're up to 65 where lincoln is reelected. on the balcony or bal lus
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strayed above hip recent lincoln is down below with a paper in his hands, a distant portrait. on the balcony is john wilkes booth who was begin doing stalk lincoln. the two gentlemen in gray down in the middle below that-in-law are possibly lewis powell and one of the other lincoln conspirators. booth was talking lincoln. he was after him. he originally had a plot to kidnap lincoln and when he discovers that lincoln will give votes toe qualified african-americans, he says that's it. i will run him through. in february, 5th, gardner sitting was always thought to be the last sitting. i'm showing this because this is an early paparazzi photograph. this photographer henry warren got into the white house by taking pictures of tad who was playing around. whether he went to deliver the photographs he said go get your dad and i'll take his picture, too. a rather expass rated lincoln takes time out from writing the inaugural address to sit for this last photograph in which he does look kind of peevish you. notice again the eyes disappear.
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the sense in which lincoln is present to the public in his suffering, suffering that we're dealing withing in this great photograph by gardner, the ruins of the south, the ruins of the confederacy. the north wanted to see the south beaten. they wanted to see them beaten badly. and gardner was serving that appetite. lincoln is faced with the prospect as he reported in the second inaugural of binding up the nation's wounds with malice toward none and charity toward all. here again, the last sitting with lincoln with a very haggard face and again, when lincoln went in to sit, had several photographs taken from the little cart de visit. about the same time, he had this life mask taken for the clark mills sculpture and people when they see this in the gallery think it's a death mask it's
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white. the eyes are closed although the eye would have been covered. the beard is there. the cadaverous element literally and metaphorically suggests somebody who is dead. there's an anticipation. this is at about the same time as this, but i'm moving to a close here that this is the famous lincoln cracked plate in 1865. in some point in the development process, probably when gardner heats the plate to the pull the image, it cracked. the myth always was that it was dropped and that would have just destroyed the plate. these are incredibly fragile items that they disappear. there are only two surviving imperial plates. this is a large format. gardner looked at this print and said that's not any good and threw away the plate. so there's only one cracked image, there's only one image and the portrait gallery is proud to own it. we only show it rarely. it's not in very good condition. i'm happy to have it in the gardner show. but this is a signal moment because what we're looking at is lincoln in february, 1865 where
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the war is won but he knows he has to win it. he still has to win it. he's thinking about the inauguration and the speech and thinking of binding up the nation's wounds. he's thinking about reconstruction. incredibly torturous process of reconstructing the south and dealing with the social problems of emancipation and freedom. he's mel lan colic because he's very tired. you can see that in this photograph in particular where i think and there's some dispute about this, people disagree with me about this if you notice the shoulders are out of focus. that eye, the left eye as you look at it doesn't have the usual crispness and clarity of gardner's documentary. empiricism seems to be disappearing into itself. the hair is grizzled and distant. if you're metaphorical or a
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french literary theorist you can read the crack as booth's bullet and you can read it as the union being bound up in the body of abraham lincoln because what we know is that lincoln is looking forward to the future and we know he's going to die. this is the confluence between the actual lincoln that we've seen in these photographs growing from nothingness into something into my mind the greatest american president prosecuting the war and enduring the simultaneous end of the war and his assassination within a week turning everything upside down. this is where i do believe in the world historical individual that the death of lincoln changes everything. what we begin to two two months six weeks before the assassination, we begin to look at what will happen. everything we know that happens after the night at ford's theater. and we're projecting backwards and the transposition of abraham lincoln from a living figure into a mythological figure.
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it was noted of course, immediately instant lit in this highly religious society that he was shot on good friday. lincoln dies the next morning, his secretary of war says now he belongs to the ages or alternativelyly, now he belongs to the angels. there's a sense of the apotheosis of abraham lincoln. this incredibly bad horrific lima could be portrait of lincoln, again this early sense of editing of these weird angels is taking lincoln to heaven to be greeted by the an pol theo sis of lincoln combined with that of george washington. the founder and the preserver of the union combined together in heaven this transsubstantiation of lincoln. i chose this one because it is so terrible. there were many others that were more fine art productions with full al gore calorie gailia, rather fine depictions of what was in everybody's mind is that everything had changed with had portrait, that lincoln was present to us but he's disappearing at the same time.
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that he has in front of him this small smile on his face, this is mona lisa smile you have satisfaction. as he brings the chief of state home. i'm conclude by alluding to the two great walt whitman poems, my captain and when lilacs last in the door yard bloomed where two very different takes on lincoln which is one is lincoln of the present moment in the middle of the victorian century of the kind of mo captain, my captain, your faithful ship is done. your fate featherweight trip is done. this victorian melodrama na which is the old world and the world that lincoln was responsible for and whitman embodied with free verse with
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when lilacs last in the door yard bloomed. this mourning poem for the body of abraham lincoln, a man who had come out of the west to america. the theme of the many themes in the great whitman poem anthem exists it is the tallying bird that the little thrush that appears at various points in the action and marks whitman's mourning. he mourns every spring and been mourn again. and the tallying bird is the thing that connects people beyond the grave. the notion of tallying with a coffin of the unnamed president, the great star has dipped. the tallying bird is the wait preds keeps track of past. this ultimately unnoble process we've seen played out in the work of lincoln. not just in his political life but the combination between his life and utilization of photography as a way to make what he knew himself to be an
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incredibly mysterious process the formation and process of lincoln, his actions in this world in which he appears to us at the same time with the tallying bird fails at his job is that lincoln remains president to us but forever elusive, ever disappearing. somehow unaccountable to us even as we begin to try and understand america's greatest president. thank you. [ applause ] >> you brian has rather overly eagerly addressed my willingness
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to take questions. i'll be happy to do them although i'm not sure if i can answer all of them. if there are questions, feel free. i've stunned you into silence. no? okay. if there are no questions, thank you all -- whoop, there is a question. thank you, sir. you don't liking to have an invitation turned down. it's like asking somebody out. >> i noticed no photographs from the brief and perhaps undistinguished military portion of lincoln's career. did he minimize that aspect of his background in his political. >> no, he used it for his advantage. i'm sorry if i didn't convey that correctly. lincoln, again, when he was joking, he was always serious. i mean, it's that interesting psychological tick that, and this is one of the things that what i like about lincoln
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because we've lost the capacity for irony and self-deprecation. particularly presidents. i'll say it, particularly presidential candidates. unlike lincoln, they talk too much and much too self-referenceal and too self aggrandizing. lincoln was in the black hawk war. he became an office holder. he was popular. it was again part of his grassroots campaign to become someone. and but what he did was instead of puffing this up as.other 19th century candidates did, instead of turning it into i won the black hawk war single-handedly and could have killed black hawk if only i was near black hawk, he minimizes it and turns into a slightly -- he deflects attention from it. he was a volunteer for a couple of months and it wasn't a situation like william henry
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harrison who kills. he was at the battle of fallen timbers and tecumseh dies and legend gross william henry harrison killed him personally which is unlikely. lincoln was using the here's the established rhetoric and i'm going to go against it and be in public and poke mild fun at my service. and it worked for him. i don't know if that answers your question but that's how i'm seeing it. >> i'll jump in with a quick one. in our research, we found that lincoln supposedly was the most photographed president of the 19th century. and frederick douglass the overall most photographed. but lincoln led such a short life professionally. how could it be that -- was he using the photographers that
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extensively and why didn't other presidents? >> i mean, again, it's the sort of thing that seems obvious to us now. lincoln and alluded to lincoln and whitman. they're the avant guard. they understand very quickly that the medium is plastic, it's mobile. it's, it allows you -- it's rapid. it's fast. it can keep up with current events as we saw with the -- as we saw with the battlefield pictures and the almost journalistic photo op pictures of him and mcclellan. there's this element of his ability that lincoln exploits. we don't know how, again, lincoln was incredibly interested in technology as his patent indicates as his whig background indicates. he was interested in the process of war and modernity. there was something about itting that made it attractive to him. i suppose you could say, if you want to be malicious you could say that lincoln was an egoist and liked to look at himself.
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that i don't believe is the case is that he wanted to be visible to the public and was using it. just real quickly before we get to the next questions. frederick douglass is an interesting side case parallel case to lincoln because i think douglas probably just because he lived longer but was having his photograph taken because there's the other thing is allowed to you to do, you could make people visible but more dramatically with the case of the freed people particularly douglas as he moves into his career as an anti-slavery and abolitionist. there's an element of bearing witness. here's an african-american man leading the abolitionist fight. there's this is visibility of the cause that goes along with douglas words. words and images are begin og be married. yeah? >> thank you for your speech tonight. i think if nixon had heard this in 1959, he might have been president earlier. it seems today that you know, it's twitter and facebook and
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it's photoshop that is used to kind of form images for all of us as well as video. my question is, without having you to go into a whole other lecture is following on lincoln's example, his developing use of photography, did that continue on in a strong way after him? >> yeah, that's the key. you see it in the technology and the gardner invents the career of the war correspondent. what happens here and you can blame lincoln and gardner if you like is we're an wash in a sea of images now. we're overwhelmed with them. it's nice in 1859 that you have a card d visit but the verbal is turning into the visual where now we have a situation where the visual completely trumps, ah, a punt, completely trump, that was totally inadvertent. i'm a federal employee, i can't
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make political statements. completely trumps the verbal in a way that wipes it out. and, of course, without getting into the details of the history of photography, the sense in which it can be faked and manipulated becomes important. yeah, sir. >> the images that we see seem to be kind of from two or three photographers, generally, maybe those are the good ones. how did lincoln control access to the other photographers that wanted to take his pictures? >> well, you had to -- well, except for the alexander at the end where the guy ambushes lincoln by going through tad, it's still pretty structured. despite that, gush ril lal intervention, it's one of the reasons i included it. it didn't happen that a camera man was stationed out.
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they couldn't afford to put somebody outside the white house gate and hope top capture mary and abe walking to the railway station. there is curiously enough a drawing of abe and mary walking to the railway station but it was too cumbersome to move the photographic apparatus around. so it's very much a client relationship here in which there was a kind of complicit where i mean, lincoln kept these photographs. he paid for them. i mean, there wasn't an official white house photographer. he paid gardner. and the deal would be, and gardner probably cut him a deal because gardner could then sell the photographs in the same way gardner would take photographs of celebrities or theater people and he would do it as a form of advertisement because he cosell laura keen or one of the other actors. but there wasn't a situation where you know, and i don't know the mechanism where if you wrote lincoln a letter and said could i photograph you, i think it
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probably happened. there weren't that many photographers. there's brady's studio and gardner splits off from brady in '62 after antietam. there weren't that many in washington. practically none in the south. we have very few wartime southern photographs. it's still a process of being invented. the camera itself isn't flexible enough that you could sit outside the white house and snap paparazzi pictures. yes? >> i was curious if you believed that the affluence of his wife mary anything to do with the amount of pictures that he had done. as you said, he did pay for them personally. >> no, i don't think so. i mean, lincoln and again i would like to know more about the mechanism which these were. there are no personal or business pictures from alexander gardner. they're all lost. you would like to find that
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diary entry or shot book entry in which he says, you know, received of a. lincoln $250 for five pictures. i don't know how much lincoln drew on mary's money. i just really hadn't considered it. >> do you know which image was used when they created the images at mt. rushmore? was it a compilation? >> i don't know. i think it might be a compilation. i don't want to guess. i think we have one over there. i'm trying to be fair to the left and the right here. >> thank you. i've heard somewhere that there was a childhood injury to one eye of infantry that causes this mysticals a symmetry of his face. is that a. >> to be honest, i've never heard that. here's the other thing in terms of the body of abraham lincoln
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that and the mystery is that we're always trying to find -- and you may well be right. you've read it. i haven't heard it. we always try to find a solution to abraham lincoln. there's a keep because we're a nation that you know since the world war ii, we've become obsessed with therapy and medical explanations, there are all kinds of medical explanations for lincoln that he had far fan syndrome, and of course, in 19th century terms he was mel lan colic which means today he was depressive. if he was on prozac, we could have ended the war faster. i had not heard the eye injury story. >> just a quick question about the technology of the day. how long would the subject have to remain still in order to create a sharp image and get a good exposure? >> it's really coming down. the cliche is that you had to have your neck -- they did use a brace for portrait studio photographs. gardner would ask people to be still but we're coming down to about five to seven seconds. it's coming way down. and the cart de visit photographs or the cabinet card
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cameras, you need aid little camera for the little picture and a bigger camera as you move up in size. it's becoming faster. and i really enjoy the alexander gardner show that you put on because of the photographs and the way in which gardner is really beginning to make it the camera mobile. i have the sense with gardner,ing if only he had the technology, he could invent the modern sort of nikon film camera and really be flexible. as it was, he has to manipulate this rather couple mersome. for instance, you couldn't hand hold the camera. it had to be in a tripod which mitigates against the kind of ambush shots of them walking out. >> thank you. >> thanks. >> well, my question would be, wok gardner's battlefield photos, were they staged? >> interesting question. do you actually -- because you anticipate what gardner did at
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gettysburg. again, this -- you've got three -- my gardner story closes in the middle of the march. if you possibly can get to washington, it's worth looking at these photographs including the cracked plate. but the pain drive that you've hit upon, the antietam picture were not. gardner went out and he along with everybody else was stup fied of the carnage. antietam is a relatively small battlefield. he moves his camera in one or two shots. shots find themselves. what you anticipate is what he did at gettysburg which is this blight. this is an entirely different lecture. he manipulates a, the titles of his shots where he associates them erroneously with major figure who's died on the spot where in fact it's just, if you will, the ordinary casualties of
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the ordinary soldier. but he associates them with generals like john reynolds but then what he is does is the notorious rebel sharpshooters series where he and assistants pull a georgia infantry man out of the line and move him about 70 yards and manipulate at rifle and this aspect of the corps and create this four-shot video visual tableau of the fate of this unfortunate soldier. it's complete fraud and wasn't discovered for some years afterwards till late in the 1960s, a forensic photographic historian with much more patience than myself actually found the by examining hundreds of gettysburg photographs the soldier who appears in the rebel sharpshooter picture in a previous photograph of the line of dead being ready to be buried. that's why your question is so interesting. at the very moment at which photography is claiming absolute
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truth and in which lincoln is using again to deal with the way in which his face looks, the emotional state and the physiological state that he was in, gardner starts to create this uncertainty about the accuracy of the image that we live with today, this on going debate you know, is it real? is it photo slopped? is it staged. if you know the history of photography, they're a famous paragraph of the spanish civil wart moment of an american soldier's death where he's christ like and a bullet takes him. was that just the luckiest pardon expression shot in the world by the cameraman or was it staged. and gardner at the very moment he's inventing photo war journalism company, he destabilizes it. that's a great question. it was gettysburg, not antietam. >> thank you. >> yes. >> wow.
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wait a minute, the gamecocks. >> to what extent did lincoln's death and mourning, was it like publicly like memorialized by photographers? >> well, one of the things that happened was there were a tremendous number of fakes. there was this competition to get what everybody wanted, mccould bely, was lincoln in the coffin. but what happened, none of those exist. but what happened was and you can't overstate the extent or the deepness of the way in which americans mourned and the cataclysm of having lincoln assassinated and killed at the very moment of union victory with this. it's the this whipsaw of emotion which just psychologically both individually and collectively in our consciousness just wiped
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people out so there's this intense overbearing grief which gets played out in victorian terms with huge with huge black catafalques and draping buildings and the body of lincoln is projected into our imaginations by the photographs but lincoln then disappears and what you have -- and i guess i should have been fair and shown one of the better pictures but you have this attempt to come to grips with him in religious terms by him rising, going to heaven. but what you have is photography disappearing for a while. you have a certain amount of landscape photography where there ask a famous picture discovered -- it's not famous because it was discovered last year but it will be famous where somebody in new york has a very blurry image of what appears to be the funeral cortege when the body was taken from washington. the body becomes invisible, it's
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put in a coffin, mary refuses to have lincoln buried in washington because she hates washington. she takes the body back to springfield and there's a long macabre process in which the body is embalmed and taken from city to city and displayed and the body displayed in an open coffin and that's where people were trying to get shots in the body and the the pictures were disputed and people said they were faked. and the body begins to decompose. this whole religious relics of the saints, one of the aspects of the true cause is it only adds to the whole kind of religious -- i have to say hysteria of the public. but the body disappears but because of that it becomes all the more mythologized.
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and again going back to one of the earlier questions, photography then becomes part of the landscape but no president really uses it until later in the century with somebody like teddy roosevelt. teddy was always having himself photographed and that's when photography -- because by then you could print photographs in the newspapers and teddy took full advantage of that. >> thank you. so thank you again, i see brian lurking in the wings. [ applause ] >> thank you again, david, very good presentation. very interesting one and as david has suggested and i did earlier, if you have a chance to get to washington, the gardner exhibit is well worth the trip. i'd now like to ask sister diane -- she's on her way up already to make a presentation to david we hope will take with him.
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step out so you can get a photograph of this. what the sister is giving david at this point is a framed copy of the oil painting of lincoln, the original copy hangs in the abraham lincoln presidential library and museum in springfield, illinois and we here at the university of st. mary have a limited reproduction of this piece in our lincoln collection it's quite beautiful and certainly unique. thank you again. [ applause ] >> as i close tonight, i'd like to thank the lincoln event committee for organizing tonight's gathering and add my special thanks to pete payne for his continued support of this annual program. as you leave the theater, be
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sure to stop by the walnut room and there are people who can guide you down there to view some special pieces from our lincoln collection as well as to join us for a reception. thank you again for joining us. we hope to see you again next year. [ applause ] thursday night on c-span 3, lectures about women's history. at 8:00 eastern professor heather cox richardson on the changing roles of american women in the late 19th century. at 9:00, marshal university professor kat williams on life on the home front during world war ii. and at 10:40 history professor nancy u.n. gar on activists. part of american history in prime time each night this week on c-span 3.
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this sunday night on q&a, university of toronto professor a mer tus jeanne edward smith on his biography of george w. bush. >> bush east worst fault is the fact he's a born again christian who brings that ideology into the presidency. he believes that he was god's agent here on earth to fight evil. bush called the president of france on the telephone trying to get france to join in the attack. and during the course of that conversation he told him u that we're fighting before the final judgment. creatures in the book of revelations of the new testament, that's the center of the universe for many evangelicals and fundamentalist
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christians. and bush generally believed that and believed that he was god's agent here on earth to fight evil. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span's q&a. next, art history professor, curator and officer bonnie yokelson about jacob riis. the professor argues that the danish-born riis was not an artist but used photography as a mechanism to expose poor living conditions and poverty in new york city during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. the library of congress center for the book hosted this hour-long event. >> i'm here to introduce bonnie yochelson. bonnie is from the d.c. area but she's made her long time home in
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new york city. she graduated from swarthmore college and proceed a masters and doctorate in art history from new york university. earlier in her career she was working in the print room at the national gallery of art in washington, d.c. and from 1987 to 1991 she was the curator of prints and photographs at the museum of the city of new york and that's where she was able to work with the jacob riis collection of photographs. since leaving the museum, she's been an independent curator and photographic historian working with such institutions as the new york historical society, the columbia county historical society, and the south street seaport museum and since 1988 she's taught in the mfa program in the department of photography, video, and related media at the school of visual arts in new york where she curates the thesis show and serves as a mentor to graduating students. she has curated numerous exhibitions including esther

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