Christmas and Quilt Display through Jan. 4

The Man Who Knew Lincoln

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A large crowd was on hand Tuesday night, April 14, for the third of four Sampler Series programs at the McHenry County Historical Society Museum. With the help of the McHenry County Civil War Roundtable the Society marked the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination.
Horace White, reporter and former editor of the Chicago Tribune and New York Evening Post, wrote this introduction in February 1892 for William Herndon’s book, “Herndon’s Lincoln:”
“… What Mr. Lincoln was after he became President can be best understood by knowing what he was before. The world owes more to William H. Herndon for this particular knowledge than to all other persons taken together. It is no exaggeration to say that his death, which took place at his farm near Springfield, IL on March 18, 1891, removed from earth the person who, of all others, had most thoroughly searched the sources of Mr. Lincoln's biography and had most attentively, intelligently, and also lovingly studied his character.”
“He was generous in imparting his information to others. Almost every life of Lincoln published since the tragedy at Ford's Theatre has been enriched by his labors. He was nine years the junior of Mr. Lincoln. Their partnership began in 1843, and it continued until it was dissolved by the death of the senior member. Between them there was never an unkind word or thought. When Mr. Lincoln became President, Mr. Herndon could have had his fortunes materially advanced under the new administration by saying a word. He was a poor man then and always, but he chose to remain in his more humble station and to earn his bread by his daily labor.
Some six years ago Mr. Herndon conceived the project of writing a series of magazine articles intended to portray the youth and early manhood of Lincoln. Being somewhat infirm, he called Mr. [Jesse] Weik to his assistance. … The magazine articles expanded insensibly to the present volumes. Lincolniana is increasing and is destined to increase. It has been enriched within recent years by the indispensable but too massive work of Nicolay and Hay, by the masterly essay of Schurz, and by the posthumous lecture of Greeley, which latter, being in reality if not in terms a hearty, ungrudging confession that he had underestimated Lincoln in his lifetime, is doubly welcome. As a portraiture of the man Lincoln – and this is what we look for above all things in a biography – I venture to think that Mr. Herndon's work will never be surpassed.”