Fundraising flyer for Lincoln Memorial, included with 2/8/1909 letter from Clarance H. MacKay to Mary Baker Eddy. 690a.79.014.

 

Mary Baker Eddy was a great admirer of Abraham Lincoln, as were so many of her American contemporaries. So it’s hardly surprising that as the 1909 centennial of Lincoln’s birth approached, special celebrations and commemorations were planned throughout the United States. Today, perhaps the best known of these commemorations is the Lincoln one-cent coin.

Lincoln Memorial flyerAnother enduring monument to the sixteenth president is the Kentucky farm where Lincoln was born. It is now the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Hodgenville. In 1906 the Lincoln Farm Association was founded to preserve this “birthplace farm” and create a proper memorial. This was to be a “Lincoln Memorial Hall” that housed a log cabin, constructed with timbers thought to be from the Lincoln birthplace. (The logs were later found to have no Lincoln connection.) The hall was (and is) an imposing building, designed by John Russell Pope, later architect of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. The cornerstone of the hall was laid on February 12, 1909—the anniversary of the Lincoln centennial.

Shortly before the cornerstone ceremony, Eddy received a flyer on the monument (pictured left), which provided illustrations of the planned buildings. “We ask that you will help us,” urged Clarence H. MacKay, the Association’s Treasurer, “to complete and pass down to your children and ours a memorial worthy of our great President. It is more than our duty; it should be to us a sacred privilege.”1

 

Founders RollEarly in 1910 Mary Baker Eddy was again contacted as one of 250 distinguished Americans who were invited to donate to, and be designated as “Founders” of, the Lincoln Farm Association. The list included such dignitaries as Mrs. Marshall Field, Mark Twain, and Cardinal James Gibbons. Eddy sent her contribution to the monument in May 1910. However, the park was not completed until late in 1911, about a year after her passing. A short while later, the association donated the property to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, which in 1916 gave the park to the federal government. Today the site is preserved as a location where the public can learn more about the life and achievements of Abraham Lincoln.

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  1. Clarence H. MacKay to Mary Baker Eddy, 8 February 1909, IC690a.