THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN ASSOCIATION
BY FRANK J. WILLIAMS
Carl Sandburg was right when he said at the end of his oration before a joint session of the United States Congress:
The people of many other countries take Lincoln now for their own. He
belongs to them. He stands for decency, honest dealing, plain talk, and
funny stories. … He had something they would like to see spread
everywhere over the world … Democracy.
But why would the Abraham Lincoln Association, originally orga- nized in Springfield, Illinois, for a neighborhood Lincoln’s birthday party, become a major sponsor of this volume? The organization, known at first as the Lincoln Centennial Association, was begun in 1908 to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Lincoln’s birth the following February. Until 1924, its major function was to stage an annual observ- ance on Lincoln’s birthday, featuring prominent speakers giving ban- quet addresses.
Fortunately, the Association was reorganized to support activities of a broader nature. This was appropriate—as Lincoln no longer belonged just to the people of Springfield but to the entire world. The Association recognized its responsibility to help bring information about him to all people, not just those who lived within the precincts of Lincoln’s home- town. Our sponsorship of this book, containing material from the mil- lion-word Lincoln utterance record that relates to democracy, civil liberties, and freedom, represents a recognition of this mission.
It also represents recognition of changes in our emphasis over the