Lawyer": Lincoln on the Threshold of Greatness
In creating the "Prairie Lawyer," I imagined Mr.
Lincoln as he might have been in 1860, charged with energy after his successful
Cooper Union address in New York on February 25th, eight months before his
election as President of the United States. This Lincoln is robust, full of
life, hope, and eagerness to meet the challenges of the future.
meteoric rise to national prominence actually began two years before with his unsuccessful
attempt to win the Illinois Senate seat from Stephen A. Douglas. Although
he lost the election, his series of historic debates with Douglas launched him
on his journey to the White House. After two years on the campaign trail,
his passion for his political beliefs was well known, and his reputation for
strength and stamina- the "Illinois Rail Splitter" image - was
Lincoln, self taught, hard working, and intelligent, understood
the value of knowledge, the wisdom of the Constitution, and the necessity of the
law. His convictions led to an early interest in politics, and he served
four successive terms in the Illinois stat legislature and one term in the U.S.
House of Representatives. He did not seek re-election, choosing instead to
return to Springfield and his thriving law practice.
Despite his decision
to avoid politics, threatening national events, and the impending spread of
slavery (made possible through the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska act in 1854),
forced his strong moral convictions to return to the political arena.
Above all else, Lincoln's face shows those moral convictions- convictions strong
enough to bring this humble man to greatness.
This is the face, on the threshold of greatness, that addressed
the audience at the Cooper Union rally in February, 1860. It is a face
that possesses the experience of fifty one years on the frontier of
America. A face that shows through sunburn and lines the hardship of his
early life and the character of his intellectual development. A face that wears
many personal tragedies, yet is still graced with the wrinkles of laughter and
the kindness of soul. If there has ever been a face that possessed both
humility and greatness, it is the face of the "Prairie Lawyer,"