November 2020 Lincoln Academy Hall of Fame Inductees

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November 2020

Five Illinoisans from history added to Lincoln Academy Hall of Fame

SPRINGFIELD – Five Illinoisans who made a significant impact on the history of the state and nation have been inducted into The Lincoln Academy of Illinois Hall of Fame. Those inducted are Daniel Burnham, Bessie Coleman, Otis B. Duncan, William Henry Herndon, and Julia Clifford Lathrop.

“These five people helped to shape the world as we know it today,” said Lincoln Academy Chancellor Frank Clark. “We proudly place their names beside other Illinoisans who have inspired and humbled us with their place in history.”

The Hall of Fame was created in 1992 to recognize early contributions to our state’s heritage prior to the establishment of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois in 1964. Since that year The Lincoln Academy has awarded the ”Order of Lincoln” to present or former Illinois citizens who have made outstanding contributions toward the progress and betterment of humanity. The Lincoln Academy also annually recognizes an outstanding senior from each of the state’s four-year degree-granting colleges and universities, and one student from the community colleges in Illinois, by naming them Student Laureates of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

 

Daniel Burnham (1846 – 1912) is famously quoted as saying, “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not themselves be realized.”

He was an environmentalist, architect and urban designer. Much of his work was based on the classical style of Greek and Roman. He was the Director of Works for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. With a strong belief that man should strive to be of service to others, Burnham took a leading role in the creation of master plans for the development of a number of cities, including Chicago, Manila, Baguio and downtown Washington, D.C. He also designed several famous buildings, including the Flatiron Building of triangular shape in New York City, Union Station in Washington D.C., the Continental Trust Company Building tower skyscraper in Baltimore (now One South Calvert Building), and a number of notable skyscrapers in Chicago.

After several business failures as a young adult, Burnham became a man of influence and was considered the pre-eminent architect in America at the start of the 20th century. He held many positions during his lifetime, including the presidency of the American Institute of Architects. Other notable architects began their careers under his aegis, such as Joseph W. McCarthy. Several of his descendants have worked as influential architects and planners in the United States, including his son, Daniel Burnham Jr., and grandchildren Burnham Kelly and Margaret Burnham Geddes.

 

Bessie Coleman (1892 – 1926) Born in Atlanta, Texas into a sharecropper family, Coleman worked in cotton fields through her youth. She moved to Chicago in 1915 at age 23 where she worked as a manicurist and in a chili parlor to save money to become a pilot.

In 1922, Coleman broke barriers of gender, race and ethnicity, becoming the first black-native American woman to earn a pilot’s license. Flight schools in the US would not accept her, so she learned French and moved to France to

learn the craft in which she’d become interested as a child after hearing stories of World War I fighter pilots. She specialized in stunt flying and parachuting and she earned a living on the “barnstorming circuit” at air shows. In a tragic accident during a rehearsal for a show, she died in April, 1926. She was a pioneer in the field of aviation for women.

 

Otis B. Duncan (1873 – 1937) was the highest-ranking African American officer in the U.S. Army during World War I, serving as a lieutenant-colonel in the 370th Infantry Regiment. Unlike other states, Illinois organized and offered paid training for an all-African-American regiment of the National Guard (8th IL Infantry organized in the 1870s, renamed 370th US Infantry during WWI).

A member of a long-established African-American family of Springfield, Duncan worked in the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (current-day ISBE) and entered the National Guard.

Military Service:

  • Major on the Regimental Staff – Called into national service during the Pancho Villa Expedition into Mexico in
  • Field Commander of regiment’s 3rd Battalion – The infantry took ship for the Western Front in France.
  • Promoted to Lieutenant Became the highest ranking African-American officer in the United States Army.
  • Awarded the Purple Heart and the French Croix de Guerre for gallantry in action while serving on the Western front against the German army,
  • Colonel and Commander of 8th IL Infantry

Despite (or perhaps because of) his service as an officer in the Illinois National Guard, Duncan was a prominent victim of the Springfield Race Riot of 1908. Contemporary news accounts indicate that a white mob broke into and ransacked Duncan’s house; they shattered furniture, smashed the family piano and used Duncan’s National Guard saber to gouge out the eyes of a portrait of Duncan’s mother that was hanging in the house. The mob was reported to have stolen clothes, jewelry and everything of value they could find, including the saber.

 

William Henry Herndon (1818 – 1891) was a law partner and biographer of President Abraham Lincoln. He was an early member of the new Republican Party and was elected mayor of Springfield, Illinois.

In 1840 Herndon began studying law at the Logan and Lincoln law practice.

In 1856 Herndon was one of the organizers of the Republican Party after the dissolution of the Whigs. Lincoln also joined the Republican Party, hoping to “fuse” people of disparate political affiliations who wanted to end slavery.

In the fall of 1844, Lincoln invited Herndon to form a partnership. Lincoln appreciated Herndon’s friendship, loyalty, shared political beliefs and conscientious study. Lincoln said that Herndon “was my man always above all other men on the globe.” Herndon did not disappoint his friend. He contributed to the practice by performing research for his older and more experienced partner, building the firm’s law library, and overseeing young men who came to study law (read the law) at their office.

Herndon was a much stauncher opponent of slavery than Lincoln and claimed that he helped change Lincoln’s views on the subject.

Following Lincoln’s assassination, Herndon began to collect stories of Lincoln’s life from those who knew him. Herndon aspired to write a faithful portrait of his friend and law partner, based on his own observations and on hundreds of letters and interviews he had compiled for the purpose. He was determined to present Lincoln as a man, rather than a saint, and to reveal things that the prevailing Victorian era conventions said should be left out of the biography of a great national hero.

Herndon’s Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life, the result of their collaborations, appeared in a three-volume edition published by Belford, Clarke & Company in 1889. The majority of the actual writing was done by Jesse W. Weik, who received full credit as co-author. The book received wildly mixed reviews due to the inclusion of such unvarnished elements as Lincoln’s mother’s illegitimacy (and even the rumors of Lincoln’s own), its sometimes viciously negative portrayal of Herndon’s longtime enemy Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s suicidal depression, and other decidedly less than hagiographic accounts of the martyred president who was quickly becoming the most venerated and romanticized figure in American history.

Weik kept the notes gathered during the writing of the book and wrote a follow-up book The Real Lincoln: A Portrait, which included Weik’s personal insights and some embarrassing details for Herndon. Weik’s family kept them for fifty more years.

Much of what we know about AL’s life before he became President, is derived from Herndon’s interviews for his book.

 

Julia Clifford Lathrop (1858 – 1932) Born in Rockford, Julia’s father, a lawyer and friend of Abraham Lincoln, helped establish the Republican Party and served in the state legislature (1856–57) and Congress (1877–79). Her mother was a suffragist active in women’s rights activities in Rockford and a graduate of the first class of Rockford Female Seminary.

Lathrop attended Rockford Female Seminary where she met Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr. After one year, she transferred to Vassar College, developing her own multidisciplinary studies in statistics, institutional history, sociology, and community organization and graduated in 1880.

In 1890, Lathrop moved to Chicago and became involved with Hull House. The women of Hull House actively campaigned to persuade Congress to pass legislation to protect children. During the depression years of the early ’90s Lathrop served as a volunteer investigator of relief applicants, visiting homes to document the needs of the families.

In 1893, Lathrop was appointed as the first ever woman member of the Illinois State Board of Charities, beginning her lifelong work in civil service reform: advocating for the training of professional social workers and standardizing employment procedures. This would lead to opening the labor market for educated women as well as improving social services in Progressive Era cities and towns.

Over the next few years she helped introduce reforms such as the appointment of female doctors in state hospitals and the removal of the insane from the state workhouses.

In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson sent Lathrop and Grace Abbott to represent the U.S. at an international conference on child welfare. There Lathrop consulted on the formation of a childcare bureau in the newly formed country of Czechoslovakia. After her retirement from the Children’s Bureau in 1922, Lathrop became president of the Illinois League of Women Voters. She also helped form the National Committee of Mental Illness. In 1925 Lathrop represented the U.S. in Switzerland at the Child Welfare Committee established by the League of Nations.

 

Previous Lincoln Academy Hall of Fame inductees include Robert Sengstacke Abbott, Jane Addams, John Peter Altgeld, Philip Danforth Armour, Black Hawk, Shadrach Bond, Myra Colby Bradwell, Williams Jennings Bryan, Frances Xavier Cabrini, George Rogers Clark, Edward Coles, Daniel Pope Cook, Richard J. Daley, Clarence Darrow, David Davis, Charles Gates Dawes, John Deere, Walter Elias Disney, Stephen A. Douglas, Ninian Edwards, Enrico Fermi, Eugene Field, Marshall Field, Lucy Louisa Coues Flower, Melville Weston Fuller, Harold “Red” Grange, Ulysses S. Grant, William Rainey Harper, Ernest Hemingway, Henry Horner, William Le Baron Jenney, John Jones, Mary “Mother” Jones, Keokuk, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Victor Freemont Lawson, Abraham Lincoln, Vachel Lindsay, Major General John A. Logan, Elijah Parish Lovejoy, Edgar Lee Masters, Cyrus Hall McCormick, Joseph Medill, Ralph Metcalfe, Robert Andrews Millikan, Harriet Monroe, George William Mundelein, Walter Loomis Newberry, Archange Chevallier Ouilmette, James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens, Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, George Mortimer Pullman, Julius Rosenwald, Carl Sandburg, Louis Henri Sullivan, Lorado Zadoc Taft, Christian Theodore Thomas, Emmett Till, Harriet Elizabeth Vittum, Aaron Montgomery Ward, Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, Frances E. Willard, Daniel Hale Williams, Frank Lloyd Wright, William Wrigley, Jr., and Florenz Ziegfield

Six Illinoisans from history added to Lincoln Academy Hall of Fame

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May 11, 2020

SPRINGFIELD – Six Illinoisans who made a significant impact on the history of the state and nation have been inducted into the The Lincoln Academy of Illinois Hall of Fame. Those inducted are:
Judge David Davis, Enrico Fermi, William Le Baron Jenney, Mary “Mother” Jones, Major General John A. Logan, and Emmet Till.

“These six people helped to shape the world as we know it today,” said Lincoln Academy Chancellor Frank Clark. “We proudly place their names beside other Illinoisans who have inspired and humbled us with their place in history.”

The Hall of Fame was created in 1992 to recognize early contributions to our state’s heritage prior to the establishment of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois in 1964. Since that year The Lincoln Academy has awarded the”Order of Lincoln” to present or former Illinois citizens who have made outstanding contributions toward the progress and betterment of humanity. The Lincoln Academy also annually recognizes an outstanding senior from each of the state’s four-year degree-granting colleges and universities, and one student from the community colleges in Illinois, by naming them Student Laureates of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

David Davis was a long-time resident of Bloomington who was a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and close ally of Abraham Lincoln. Davis was the presiding Eighth Illinois Judicial Circuit judge for 14 years, during which time he became a close personal friend of Lincoln, later serving as administrator of the president’s estate after the assassination. Davis followed his friend into the Republican Party and was instrumental in securing Lincoln’s presidential nomination at the 1860 Republican National Convention. Following the election, Davis relocated to Washington with Lincoln, who appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court on December 10, 1862 where Davis served for 14 years. Davis won election to the U.S. Senate in 1876 and retired after a single term to his Bloomington home.

Enrico Fermi was a Nobel-Prize-winning physicist who created the first sustained nuclear reaction. Born in Italy, Fermi’s Italian university work included the discovery of plutonium, for which he won the 1938 Nobel Prize for Physics. He used his trip to Stockholm to receive the prize as his opportunity to escape Italian fascism and moved to the United States. Fermi was increasingly drawn into the U.S. government’s atomic research program and became one of the founders of the Manhattan Project. On December 2, 1942 at the University of Chicago, a Fermi-led team produced the world’s first sustained nuclear reaction. The nuclear element Fermium is named for him.

William Le Baron Jenney was a renowned architect often credited with inventing the skyscraper. Following education and work in Europe, Jenney became a civil engineer and served on the staffs of Generals Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman during the Civil War. Jenney opened an architectural practice in Chicago in 1866, laid out the West Chicago park system, and worked with Frederick Law Olmstead to design the community of Riverside. Jenney designed numerous homes throughout Illinois but is best known for his development of tall buildings in Chicago. Using a system of iron columns, especially on the outside of the structures, Jenney’s concepts essentially created the skyscraper.

Mary “Mother” Jones was one of the most prominent labor leaders of the early 20th century. Jones was born in Ireland, immigrated to Canada with her family, and moved to the United States in 1860, where she eventually settled in Chicago. She co-owned a seamstress business until it was destroyed by the 1871 Chicago Fire, and in the following years, Jones began to move into labor activist circles and participated in several major labor protests, including the 1877 Pittsburgh Railroad Strike and the 1886 Haymarket Riot. She became involved in various labor movements throughout the country, met Eugene V. Debs and helped found the Social Democratic Party with him, and started writing for workers’ rights newspapers, where she adopted the name Mother Jones. Jones was an organizer for the United Mine Workers for 30 years and organized the 1898 United Miners’ Strike in Virden which led to seven killed and 30 wounded miners. She is buried with the victims of Virden at the United Miners’ Cemetery in Mount Olive.

Major General John A. Logan was one of the Union’s best generals in the Civil War and a prominent state and national politician. Logan served in the Mexican War and was afterwards elected as a prosecuting attorney, then state representative, from southern Illinois. Logan was elected to Congress in 1858 and when the Civil War began, he organized the 31st Illinois regiment, served under Ulysses S. Grant, and earned a promotion to brigadier general after suffering severe wounds at Fort Donelson. Logan officially resigned from Congress to fully commit himself to military service, earning promotion again to major general and serving as one of Grant’s ablest commanders during the Vicksburg campaign and then with equal effectiveness under William Tecumseh Sherman in Georgia, earning the new nickname, “Blackjack Logan,” for his dark complexion and facial hair. After a brief 1864 stay in southern Illinois to campaign for Lincoln, Logan returned to command under Sherman in the Carolinas for the remainder of the war. Logan became an advocate of veteran Civil War soldiers, helped found the Grand Army of the Republic, and announced the first formal Memorial Day in 1868. Logan would later serve again in Congress and the U.S. Senate and was James G. Blaine’s vice presidential running mate for the Republican Party in 1884.

Emmett Till was one of the youngest and most widely-covered victims of racial lynching. In 1955, after finishing seventh grade in Chicago, Till traveled to Money, Mississippi to visit relatives. Till was there in a grocery with a group of other teenage African American boys to buy candy and was accused of whistling at a white woman. The woman’s husband and his half-brother later abducted Till from his uncle’s house, severely beat him, shot him to death, and dumped Till’s his body into the Tallahatchie River. Till’s body was recovered several days later, and the ensuing funeral and trial received wide national attention. The brutality of the case and Till’s age spurred massive outrage and helped inspire the Civil Rights Movement.

Previous Lincoln Academy Hall of Fame inductees include Robert Sengstacke Abbott, Jane Addams, John Peter Altgeld, Philip Danforth Armour, Black Hawk, Shadrach Bond, Myra Colby Bradwell, Williams Jennings Bryan, Frances Xavier Cabrini, George Rogers Clark, Edward Coles, Daniel Pope Cook, Richard J. Daley, Clarence Darrow, Charles Gates Dawes, John Deere, Walter Elias Disney, Stephen A. Douglas, Ninian Edwards, Eugene Field, Marshall Field, Lucy Louisa Coues Flower, Melville Weston Fuller, Harold “Red” Grange, Ulysses S. Grant, William Rainey Harper, Ernest Hemingway, Henry Horner, John Jones, Keokuk, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Victor Freemont Lawson, Abraham Lincoln, Vachel Lindsay, Elijah Parish Lovejoy, Edgar Lee Masters, Cyrus Hall McCormick, Joseph Medill, Ralph Metcalfe, Robert Andrews Millikan, Harriet Monroe, George William Mundelein, Walter Loomis Newberry, Archange Chevallier Ouilmette, James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens, Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, George Mortimer Pullman, Julius Rosenwald, Carl Sandburg, Louis Henri Sullivan, Lorado Zadoc Taft, Christian Theodore Thomas, Harriet Elizabeth Vittum, Aaron Montgomery Ward, Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, Frances E. Willard, Daniel Hale Williams, Frank Lloyd Wright, William Wrigley, Jr., and Florenz Ziegfield