Monday, February 11, 2013

Top 10 Union League of Philadelphia Inside Treats

1. The Union League of Philadelphia was founded in 1862 in support of the policies of President Abraham Lincoln.  It was one of several organizations that began during the civil war to promote loyalty. The Union League of Chicago and the Union League of New York are also still in existence but Philadelphia was first.

2. Since its inception, the club primarily supported the Republican Party which is evidenced in the portrait gallery, and to promote "unity" and loyalty.  There is one Democratic president's picture on the wall.  Democrats do look different to some people. Can you spot him?   I am just curious now. How did he get on the wall of fame. During the tour, we were told that President George Bush remarked during his unveiling, "welcome to my hanging". Can you guess which Bush I am referring to?

How does he look different? Is it a hair thing?

3. The club however, no longer is exclusively Republican. It also now allows women the opportunity to become members beginning in 1986. Joan Carter was the first female president. The latest artistic addition, "Preservation of the Spirit", by artist Vincent Desiderio was unveiled during the 150th Anniversary in 2012. Little Round Top from the Battle of Gettysburg is in the background, founding member Boker is in the center and the white riderless horse signifies the spirit of Abraham Lincoln and the representation of Lincoln's horse, stirrups and boots facing backwards as they did during his funeral procession along with other representations of what the Union League was founded on support of the military, community and the charity work they continue to do as one of the TOP clubs in the country. It is not the oldest club in Philadelphia.  That distinction belongs to the Philadelphia Club which is still an exclusive male only organizations. No worries gentlemen, we are a patient and tolerate group, take your time. You will eventually warm up to us.

4. James Tanner using short hand recorded the events of the day of the assassination of President Abraham at the Peterson residence from eyewitness accounts. He later wrote it out in long hand .  The Union League possesses the original and only copy of that work.

5. J. Weaver one of the Quarter Masters that carried President Lincoln' s lifeless body from the Peterson House to the White House was given a fragment of the T-shirt worn by the President at the time of his death.  You are unable to see it clearly in the photograph, but in person you can see pin holes in the shirt.  It was said that Weaver pinned it inside his jacket and wore it every day. He was so touched and honored.

6. May 11th, 1865 was the scheduled opening of the present location of the Union League of Philadelphia on Broad Street. Lincoln was to appear and give a speech. The President was assassinated on April 14th, 1865. Instead the reins of horse drawn wagon containing the casket of Abraham Lincoln appear in the glass case inside the special exhibit on display until February 13th as well as so many interesting pieces of history connected to the city of Philadelphia at that time. You can see how the desire to follow the Constitution to the letter, "All Men Are Created Equal", inspired not only a club but a city and a country to finally come together, 150 years ago. Are we there yet?

7. The life mask of Lincoln's face and hands were made in April and May 1860 by Leonard Volk.  Lincoln was the model for future molds for statuary. Another set was made by another artist later in Lincoln's life after his aged years in the White House.  It is an often comparison, a man's features before and after the Presidency, luckily for women in high profile offices they only seem to compare the hair.

8. The Lincoln Portrait was a special treat and is only on display to the general public while its original location is under renovations. The Union League commissioned one of its own members, Edward Dalton Marchant to paint Lincoln.  It depicts the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and took several months to complete at the White House.  It is the first portrait to be completed after the event.

9. All of the rooms were furnished in the best of taste with a professional appearance and a welcoming feel.  I will say the room that made the biggest impact on me was the Lincoln Memorial Room.  The life size statue of Lincoln commanded your respect.  It was very similar to the emotions that stuck me the first time I saw the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C. There is no doubt Abraham Lincoln was someone special and he cared for his people. 

These two statues also caught my eye, American Honoring Her Fallen Heroes by James Haseltine, a veteran of the civil war and the statue of Abraham Lincoln just standing inconspicuously in the hallway.  It was designed by David Chester French 10 years prior to his designing of the so prominently seated Lincoln in the heart of Washington D. C. at the Lincoln Memorial.

10. What was my favorite part? There were far more than 10. I was just thrilled to be given the opportunity to attend the open house and be able to get inside a building that I admired in passing for many years.  It is always exhilarating when the door of opportunity opens up and you get to see just what is on the other side. Keep your eyes open for future events, it is a well worth experience.

History has always allowed us a glimpse into the past and a greater hope for the future.

Triumviri Americani by William Miller
 The bronze profiles of Washington - Father, Lincoln - Savior, and Grant - Guardian.
Presented by the Union League,1870.

Tomorrow 2/12/2013 is the 17th Annual Lincoln Day
Festivities begin at 11:30 am on Broad Street where the Lincoln Award will be announced, past recipients include Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, General Petraeus and Rick Santorum.
A members only luncheon is to follow and a parade open to the public will begin at 1:55 pm in front of the Union League. It will proceed down Chestnut Street to Independence Hall where Abraham Lincoln will speak. Festivities will conclude at 3 pm.

If you happen to be in the neighborhood, it appears to be an event to check out.
 It is a big year for Lincoln and a worthy man to honor. Just ask the Academy.

Happy Birthday Mr. President.

A confession, originally I was attracted to the architecture of the building.  I thought it looked like a Frank Furness design.  It turns out the building was designed by Fraser, a teacher and future collaborator in the design of Philadelphia Fine Arts building. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Who knew the inside was also rich in culture and history?

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