Lincoln, Midnight

Lincoln, Midnight


Never have I seen such majestic shins. He is pensive, frock coat unbuttoned, larger than once planned, and if he were to stand his head would nearly scrape the ceiling. What if that is Robert E. Lee’s face, sculpted into the waves of hair? No telling of the Union without the telling of the Confederacy. No stranger a feat than infusing Alabama marble with paraffin, to better let the sky’s light in. The sculptor took these hands from a May 1860 cast, before he had signed any proclamations or called 75,000 volunteers to an army. In May 1860, he was only a Republican nominee. Leonard Volk came to Illinois, and as he prepared the plaster he asked Abraham Lincoln for two gestures: one hand a fist, and in the other, something to be held loosely. In the statue this postures openness, conciliation. In reality, Lincoln was holding a broom handle he’d fetched from the tool shed.

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