Category Archives: E-Newsletter

Latest Edition of the Cottage Courier

The latest edition of the Cottage Courier is now available on our website! Stay up-to-date with all that is happening at President Lincoln’s Cottage by subscribing to receive our quarterly e-newsletter.

In the fall edition, readers can preview two upcoming exhibits that will be on view in the Robert H. Smith Vistior Education Center at the Cottage. “Seat of War: A Panoramic View of Civil War Washington through Historic Prints” shows rarely seen prints from the Cottage collection. This exhibit is on view for just over a month from December 7, 2011 – January 15, 2012. “Can You Walk Away?” will take an indepth look at the state of slavery today, 150 years after all legal forms of slavery were abolished.

The Cottage 2012 ornament – “Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation” – is now on sale. This ornament commemorates the 1862 preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, much of which was drafted at the Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home. This beautiful commemorative ornament features the 1957 painting “Abraham Lincoln Writing the Emancipation Proclamation” by Jes W. Schlaikjer. The 1862/2012 ornament is the second in the President Lincoln’s Cottage Sesquicentennial Series. Collect all five!

Readers also do not want to miss the history article Lincoln’s Other Proclamation: The Creation of the First Annual Thanksgiving Day Tradition by Zachary Klitzman.

Read the Cottage Courier HERE.


Leave a comment

Filed under E-Newsletter, History, Multimedia, Public Programs

Lincoln’s First Amendment Record

federal phoenix

In this 1864 cartoon, Lincoln is mockingly portrayed as a “Federal Phoenix” rising up from the ashes of burnt logs "United States Constitution," "Commerce," "Free Press," "States Rights," "Credit" and "Habeas Corpus."

By Eve Errickson

Visitors to the Cottage last summer may have been surprised by the presence of Mr. Quick — a resident of the Armed Forces Retirement Home — on the grounds, distributing flyers that voice his protest of practices at the Home. While President Lincoln’s Cottage is a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and has separate management from the Armed Forces Retirement Home, we recognize his First Amendment rights to present his views peacefully on the grounds of the Cottage. As the First Amendment declares: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press or of the right to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Mr. Quick’s exercise of his rights inspired our staff to take a fresh look at the legal debate over President Lincoln’s actions to suppress the free speech of journalists and other private citizens who objected to the Civil War. His actions brought to light a complex intersection of laws which include the First Amendment and due process issues. In 1861, mob violence throughout the Union forced the closure of newspapers that published editorials opposing war between the states and targeted the writers themselves for public humiliations. In response, Lincoln focused exclusively on quick, regional stabilization — “without ruinous waste of time.”[i] The Union Army confiscated, monitored and censored communications sent via the mail and wire, including newspapers. Journalists and newspaper owners who persisted after government suppression were arrested and held without warrants or due process of law. 

The suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in April 1861 was initially directed at quelling unrest in Maryland. In February 1862, Lincoln ordered the release of political and state prisoners once “The line between loyalty and disloyalty [was] plainly defined,” only to suspend the writ again and extended throughout the Union in 1862. Congress confirmed the suspension, after the fact, through passage of the Habeas Corpus Act in 1863.[ii] Prison records reflect that as many as 4,000 civilians were imprisoned as part of efforts to suppress anti-war sentiment—including politicians, foreign nationals, and diplomats. According to historian Mark Neely, Jr.:

The government thus unleashed every dogberry across the nation to make loosely defined arrests whose victims had no remedy to appeal to judges for writs of habeas corpus and might be essentially tried by court martial.[iii]

The intersection of the war and the suppression of free speech have invoked a wide variety of interpretations. As historian Akhil Reed Amar has observed, Lincoln focused on the preservation of the Union. For Lincoln, the Constitution was an expression of statehood, rather than an expression of individual rights, and saw no contradiction in trying to preserve a democratic union by force: “Continue to execute all the express provisions of our national Constitution, and the Union will endure forever” he said in his first inaugural address. [iv]  Others cite the absence of legal precedent and the importance of public safety—in essence, Lincoln believed that his actions were necessary to minimize the rebellion, even at the cost of essential American civil liberties and innocent lives.[v] Whether or not his understanding of Constitutional issues was grounded in good faith or indifference to civil rights is a continuing and robust debate among lawyers and historians alike.

Continue the article HERE
Ms. Errickson is an attorney and Director of Contracts at the National Trust For Historic Preservation.

[i] A Lincoln “Letter to Erastus Corning and Others” June 12, 1863,

[ii] Mark Neely Jr., The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991) p. 69.

[iii] Mark Neely Jr., Abraham Lincoln and the Promise of America: The Last Best Hope of Earth (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1993) p. 126.

[iv] Akhil Reed Amar, “Abraham Lincoln and the American Union” Yale Faculty Scholarship Series, Paper 854, (2001), p. 111 citing Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address.

[v] Dean Sprague, Freedom Under Lincoln (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965) p. 302; Thomas J. DiLorenzo, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, his agenda and an unnecessary war (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2002) p. 159.

1 Comment

Filed under E-Newsletter, History

The Cottage Courier

The spring edition of The Cottage Courier is now available! Get up-to-date information on what has been happening at the Cottage and learn something new about the Civil War.

A recap of the Contraband Heritage Summit held at the site and the Washington Revels performance highlight the newsletter. “Centennial Changes,” an article examining the differences between the 150th commemoration of the Civil War and the 100th commemoration, is fascinating and a must-read.

Be sure to check out two new items from our Museum Store as well – the new Cottage photo history book and the ornament commemorating Lincoln’s first ride to the Cottage in 1861.

View all editions of The Cottage Courier here.

Leave a comment

Filed under E-Newsletter, History, Newsroom, Public Programs, Visitor Tips

Proclamation of Thanksgiving

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Leave a comment

Filed under E-Newsletter, History, Public Programs

Read the Latest Edition of the “Cottage Courier” Now!

The summer edition of the Cottage Courier is now available. Find out what has been going on at President Lincoln’s Cottage, information about the new exhibit, Being Lincoln, and what is coming up in the fall!

Read the newsletter here:

To find out more about President Lincoln’s Cottage visit our website, at

You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube!

Leave a comment

Filed under E-Newsletter, Education, Exhibits, History, Newsroom, Preservation, Public Programs, Visitor Tips

Welcome to President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home

President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home in Washington, DC is the most significant historic site directly associated with Lincoln’s presidency aside from the White House. During the Civil War, Lincoln resided seasonally on the grounds of the federally-owned Soldiers’ Home, just over three miles north of the Capitol. From June – November of 1862-64, Lincoln commuted daily by horseback or carriage from the Soldiers’ Home to the White House. Today, the Soldiers’ Home still commands spectacular views overlooking the city. Here, the Lincolns prized this breeze-swept pastoral refuge for its relative privacy yet proximity to Washington’s city center. Lincoln met with Cabinet members, political allies and adversaries, and he enjoyed spending time with his family there. He also studied war strategies and pondered the course of leadership in this setting. Most importantly, Lincoln developed the policy of emancipation during his first season residing at the Soldiers’ Home, the summer of 1862.On July 7, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed Presidential Proclamation 72 which established the site as a National Monument.In cooperation with the Armed Forces Retirement Home, the National Trust for Historic Preservationis preserving and restoring the Lincoln Cottage to become the premier historic site for public education about the Lincoln presidency. The site will open to the public to visit in February of 2008.  Visit for more information.


Filed under Collections, E-Newsletter, Education, Exhibits, History, Multimedia, Museum Store, Newsroom, Preservation, Press Releases, Public Programs, Site Rental, Testimonials, Visitor Tips