Abraham Lincoln 1859 Springfield Base Ball Club

The newly-minted Republican Party was having their first Convention.  It was a very important gathering – they were there to nominate their candidate for President. Even though this event was taking place just a few miles away, US Representative Abraham Lincoln was not among those in attendance. Surely he must have been very busy with some important work in Springfield, or else he would have been there. Or not.

abe1In fact, Lincoln was doing one of the things he loved best – playing baseball in a vacant lot located between the old railroad depot and the courthouse.

abe2There were nine men on each team, one side were called the railroad men, although only 3 of them worked for the railroad. Lincoln’s team was loosely known as the Farmers, only because they were mostly farmers who came to town on Tuesday and Friday to sell their farm goods at the Springfield market. They would leave their wives to attend the goods while the men played ball. Lincoln had an affinity with these men of the earth, and was pleased when they invited him to join their team.
At some point during the game, just as Lincoln was on-deck to hit next, the whistle of a steam train signaled the arrival of the five o’clock train from Chicago.
A group of what could only be politicians exited the train, and were soon led to the ball field. They wished to speak with Mr. Lincoln. He told his team captain to let them know they would have to wait until he took his turn at bat.
Meanwhile, he wondered. He was positive that Senator William Seward would be nominated to run for President, and he started to realize that they could only be here for one reason: To tell him he had been chosen to run for Vice President. Lincoln was thrilled with the prospect.
We don’t know whether he struck out or hit a home run. Statistics from the era are worse than spotty. He had the physique of a power hitter, so maybe he socked one.
What we know is that the men were there to tell Lincoln that he had been chosen to run for President on the first Republican ticket in history.
Abe would soon be leaving Springfield to serve as one of the greatest leaders in world history. He wouldn’t have time to play ball any more.
During his Presidency in Washington, Lincoln loved to watch ball games played on a field behind the White House, and kept up with the baseball teams of the various Illinois regiments in the Union Army.

Wheaties2

Above is the back panel of a Wheaties Cereal box from 1939, which tells the story of how Lincoln received the Republican nomination in 1860.

(click image to enlarge)

There is no proof that the picture on the card above is Lincoln – but there is no proof that it isn’t.  Look at the images below:

3 lincolnsThe images on either side are known conclusively to be Abraham Lincoln. The image from the card is in the center.  The matching features are: hairline on the forehead; receding hairline on the right hand side; broad flat sideburn; ear protruding from under shaggy hair; arched bushy eyebrows; piercing eyes; forehead height, slope of shoulders; determined mouth; angular face; prominent chin; high cheekbones; and shape of the face. The general physique also matches closely, and this was in an era when tall men were a rarity.  So I think it is Abe. Either way, a great card and a terrific story.

This card was created and issued by Dave Stewart

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