I’m always intrigued whenever I come across images of Abraham Lincoln. There aren’t many I haven’t seen as his image has remained in the public eye on a regular basis throughout my life. Growing up, in our family photos there was a small image of Lincoln that was mixed in with a handful of early photos from my great-grandmother. I didn’t yet understand the place that Lincoln held in the heart of the American people and wondered why it was there. I actually felt more related to his image in that I at least recognized who he was which was something I couldn’t say for some of the folks in those old photos of people standing in front of what appears to be 1920′s automobiles in some totally unfamiliar rural farm setting . Maybe that’s why I am drawn to his image even now.
So when I come across an image that doesn’t seem familiar, I take notice. It’s part of trying to capture another part of the prism of the man, to fill him out as a human rather than as the icon he has become. The token shown above, obviously a souvenir from the 1860 campaign, is new to me. Lincoln is still youngish in appearance, not yet showing effects that the ravages of the weight of a nation at war would appear in later photos.
This photo on the right brings up questions. Why was his hair so wild? Would he not have been aware of that when he agreed to sit for the photo? It’s not like there was a paparazzi at that point snapping candid shots at every turn or a White House photographer documenting every moment. You had to more or less pose for most photos. But I like it. Again, it fills out the man. And it makes me feel a little better about my own crazy professor hair as I sit here.
There are a few more images below and some of them are a bit more familiar. The first one seems to be a shot from the same sitting as the wild-haired one above. Maybe the photographer noticed and offered up a comb. I don’t know. The second is from the War years and he has began to age. But it’s a noble and strong image with that steely look of determination staring directly into the camera. The last is an earlier image when he is obviously not as consumed by the tasks before him. But all are interesting in their own way and give us more insight into this most compelling character.