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Joseph A. Marutollo
February 3, 2010
Lincoln and New York City
One of the best parts about going to law school in the New York metropolitan area is that many of the world’s finest museums are only a short train ride away. Unfortunately, one of the most frustrating parts about going to law school in New York is that most law students are too busy to visit such wonderful places as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, the Frick Collection, the Cloisters, or the Guggenheim (to name just a few). I hope, however, that my fellow classmates will take the time to attend the “Lincoln and New York” exhibit at the New-York Historical Society before it closes this March.
The New-York Historical Society is one of my favorite museums in the city, as it features a wide variety of historical artifacts and pieces from four centuries of New York history. As an Abraham Lincoln enthusiast, I am always eager to learn as much as I can about our greatest president. I was thrilled to recently visit the Historical Society’s “Lincoln and New York” exhibit. The exhibit, which commemorates the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, features original documents (including some written by Lincoln) and images that examine Lincoln’s often contentious relationship with New York City. My favorite part of the exhibit was a presentation of Lincoln’s views on wartime civil liberties. The exhibit’s historians and curators did an excellent job delving deeply into the public sentiment on this issue, particularly in showcasing the scathing political cartoons from city newspapers that frequently referred to Lincoln as an incompetent military dictator. As the museum put it, Lincoln was the “most beloved leader that New York ever hated.” The exhibit notes that only after his assassination did New York accept Lincoln as the martyred symbol of freedom and liberty for all. The entire exhibit was truly fascinating.
For fans of Lincoln (or for that matter, anyone who enjoyed first-year constitutional law), this exhibit is a must-see!