Exhibit at Milw. Public Library showcasing Lincoln's accomplishments

MILWAUKEE -- While Hollywood makes our country's 16th President a newfound celebrity at the box office, a traveling exhibit brings his accomplishments before your eyes at the Milwaukee Public Library.

On loan from the Gilder Lerhman Institute of American History in New York, the display features several panels showing historic photos, writings and graphics of Abraham Lincoln.

"Abraham Lincoln: A Man of His Time, A Man For All Times," is free and open to the public from now until December 10th.

Visitors can read more about Lincoln's early days growing up in Kentucky and then working as a struggling Illinois lawyer, before entering politics in Springfield, Illinois.

Along with texts and photos from his presidency and assassination, part of the exhibit is also devoted to slavery and the Civil War.

"There's never been a country that did what we did, and a lot of it is because of Abraham Lincoln," said Virginia Schwartz of the Milwaukee Public Library.

Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. on November 25th, visitors can listen to a special presentation on Milwaukee's connection to Lincoln and Wisconsin's contribution to the Civil War.

According to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum web site, Wisconsin sent 91,000 men to battle.

More than 12,000 soldiers died in action, from war wounds or disease.

As much as his legacy fills exhibits and history books, Lincoln's time in Wisconsin can be traced back to only a few visits.

One of those appearances took place a year before he first took office.

In 1859, Lincoln, then an Illinois lawmaker, traveled to the old Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in Milwaukee to speak before the state's agriculture society.

Compared to speeches he would later give for an inaugural address or Gettysburg, this was a low key affair.

"He spoke about the importance of labor and education. Coming to Milwaukee, he was an out of state legislator, so he didn't attract the attention he did later on," said Schwartz.

On the corner of 13th and Wells next to a dormitory on Marquette University's campus, you'll find a small plaque commemorating the spot where Lincoln gave the address.

Marquette remembered the event during the speech's 150th anniversary in 2009 by dedicating the stone.

Almost a century before then, Milwaukee wanted to remember the Lincoln speech with a monument that would be hard to miss.

The bronze statue that now stands tall above the Lincoln Memorial Bridge in downtown Milwaukee was only a vision back in 1916.

That's when Mayor Daniel Hoan created a committee to remember what was the 60th anniversary of Lincoln's visit to the city.

A donation drive began when pennies, nickels and dimes were collected in schools and factories to pay for the project.

Along with a contribution from a local post of the Grand Army of the Republic, more than $23,000 was raised.

Then came World War I, and it wasn't until 1932 when a sculptor from New York City won a competition to design the statue.

Two years later, the monument was unveiled on September 15, 1934 on the bridge over the old Chicago & North Western Railroad tracks, close to where it stands today.

The statue went into storage in late 1954 during construction of the War Memorial Center and was moved in 1959 to a part of county land near Northwestern Mutual on East Wisconsin Avenue.

Finally in 1986, the Lincoln sculpture returned to what was essentially its original location after renovation work was finished on the Lincoln Memorial Drive Bridge.

For more information on the Lincoln exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Library and Sunday's special presentation, visit: http://www.mpl.org/file/2012_lincoln.pdf

To learn more about Wisconsin's part in the Civil War, visit the Wisconsin Veterans Museum web site: http://wisvetsmuseum.com/