A.J. Liebling on Lincoln’s presence in Springfield (1950)

A.J. Liebling (1904-63), noted essayist and press critic for The New Yorker magazine, visited Springfield in 1950 for the first article in a New Yorker series on the Lincoln tradition. Among those Liebling interviewed were George “Gib” Bunn Jr., Gertrude Masters of the Springfield Art Association, lawyer John P. Snigg and architect Murray Hanes.

The report that ensued is a classic profile of mid-20th century Springfield. The article is not available online, but can be read in Lincoln Library’s Sangamon Valley Collection. The Prairie State: Civil War to the Present, edited by Robert P. Sutton (1976), available from online booksellers, contains a digested version.

Here is Liebling’s tally of Lincoln nomenclature in Springfield:

When the driver mentioned the Abe, he meant the Abraham Lincoln, Springfield’s largest and newest hotel. After I reached my room there, I picked up the telephone directory to look for my friend’s number and right in the front of the book found the A. Lincoln Tourist Court, the Abe Lincoln Baggage Transfer, the Abraham Lincoln Association, the Ann Rutledge Apartment Hotel, and the Ann Rutledge Beauty Salon. After that, instead of looking up my man’s name, I made my initial concession to curiosity about Lincoln. I turned to the “L”s and found listings for the Lincoln Advertising Agency, Lincoln Air Lines, Lincoln Automotive Mechanics School, Lincoln Baggage Transfer Company, Lincoln Cab Company, Lincoln Cafe, Lincoln Candy Company, Lincoln Cash Market, Lincoln College of Law, Lincoln Dental Laboratories, Lincoln Library, Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Lincoln Park Fieldhouse and Pavilion, Lincoln Radiator and Auto Parts Company, Lincoln School, Lincoln’s Home, and Lincoln’s Monument. Nothing, apparently, had been named for Mrs. Lincoln. Nor, I found, on turning to the “D”s, was there anything named after Stephen A. Douglas, although in 1860 Springfield’s vote was almost evenly divided between the two Illinois Presidential candidates. Cults form around defeated generals and unhappy lovers, but the stature of wives and losing politicians evidently diminishes.schs logo (2)

Original content copyright Sangamon County Historical Society. You are free to republish this content as long as credit is given to the Society.

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2 Responses to A.J. Liebling on Lincoln’s presence in Springfield (1950)

  1. James Krohe Jr. says:

    We reprinted the Liebling piece in its entirety in A Springfield Reader: Historical Views of the Illinois Capital, 1818-1976, published in Springfield by the Sangamon County Historical Society in 1976. It thus also is available in many area public libraries.


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