at the Entrance to Lincoln Park, Kennedy Boulevard and Belmont Ave.
Every February 12th since 1867, the Lincoln Association of Jersey City commemorates the birth of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president, assassinated on April 15, 1865. The association members currently hold a morning ceremony and place a wreath at the foot of Lincoln the Mystic or the Abraham Lincoln monument at the entrance of Lincoln Park. Later in the evening, the association continues the tradition of a celebratory dinner honoring the Civil War president, his legacy and accomplishments.
The Lincoln Association was founded in response to lingering controversy among some city residents regarding Lincolnís policies during the Civil War, its purpose and conduct. City newspapers reflected the differing views on Lincoln's war leadership. For example, The American Standard (1859-1875) opposed Lincoln's presidency. Published by John H. Lyons, the Standard reflected the views of the "Copperhead" faction of the Democratic Party. It faulted the abolitionist movement for the Civil War and opposed Lincoln's candidacy in 1860. Hudson County was dominated by the Democrats and the newspaper was regarded as "Democratic." During the war, the Copperhead dissenters also opposed the draft and sought immediate termination of the war.
The Evening Journal (1867-1909), now Jersey Journal, founded by Major Z.K. Pangborn and his partners William B. Dunning and Joseph A. Dear, were pro-Lincoln. They called themselves "patriots" and referred to Lincoln as the Great Emancipator who struggled to save the Union and restore the status of the South within the Union. They held public meetings to demonstrate their loyalty to Lincoln against his detractors.
Jersey City had a special connection with the former president. Although Lincoln lost New Jersey in the elections of 1860 and 1864, the city gave witness to two noteworthy events at the beginning and end of Lincoln's presidency--one on route to his first inauguration in 1861 and the other as part of memorial services held for the president in 1865.
On February 21, 1861, the president-elect stopped in Jersey City. He was traveling by train from his home in Springfield, IL, to his inauguration (March 4, 1861) in Washington, DC. He arrived in Jersey City from New York City on the ferry John P. Jackson at the depot of the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Company at Hudson Street and Exchange Place. Aboard the ferry to accompany him were the President of the Jersey City Board of Aldermen A.A. Hardenbergh, and Governor Charles S. Olden's representative NJ Attorney General William L. Dayton, the former Republican 1856 vice presidential candidate and Lincoln's future ambassador to France, among others. A reported crowd of 25,000 gave Lincoln an enthusiastic reception along with Jersey City's Mayor Cornelius Van Vorst, former Mayor Dudley S. Gregory and other dignitaries. Lincoln extended a special handshake to Gregory with whom he previously served in the US Congress. From Jersey City, Lincoln continued to Washington, DC aboard the special train Governor (William) Pennington constructed in New Jersey
Four years later, Lincoln's funeral train made its way to the Exchange Place station on April 24, 1865, transporting the president's body from Washington, DC westward to Springfield, IL, making several stops for American citizens to pay their respects to the slain leader. In Jersey City the funeral railway car was placed on a barge and towed by the ferryboat Jersey City to New York City, where it lay in state at City Hall.
Two years later, on February 12, 1867, eight Jersey City leaders began meeting in Lincoln’s memory at the Zachau's Union House, then located at 146 Newark Avenue. On May 3, 1867, they formalized their gatherings as the "Lincoln Association of Jersey City" with the election of officers. Later that year the association held a banquet called "The Lincoln Ball" on Christmas Eve, December 24. It took place at Library Hall on the corner of (704) Grand Street and Ivy Place. The Bergen Library Associates built the hall to hold Bergen’s lending library and an auditorium.
The success of the Lincoln Association's
first dinner started the tradition of the annual Lincoln day event. Over
the years it has been held at various places: Taylor's Hall, now the site
for the Commercial Trust Company at Exchange Place; the Washington Hotel,
Mary's Residence at 240 Washington Street; Jersey City Club, now the
Masonic Club at Crescent and Clinton avenues; the Carteret Club, now St.
Dominic's Academy at Kennedy Boulevard and Duncan Avenue; and most recently,
Casino-in-the Park in Lincoln Park. One year the decorations for the event included a scroll "Abraham Lincoln, The Nation's Choice - 1865, The Nation's Loss."
Among the association's distinguished speakers to offer their appraisal and appreciation of Lincoln's legacy have been Ambassador Ralph J. Bunche of the United Nations, NJ Governor Edward Casper Stokes, Chief Justice Clarence E. Case, and Charles Osgood of CBS television.
In the 1920s, the Lincoln Association, with the assistance of school children, raised funds for the bronze statue of Lincoln at the Hudson (now Kennedy) Boulevard entrance of Lincoln Park . From their collection of pennies and nickels, the children contributed $3,500 towards the $75,000 total cost for the memorial. The association chose sculptor James Earle Fraser (1876-1953) to design and build the monument dedicated on June 14, 1930. He attended the dedication and was among the over 3,000 people in attendance. Fraser was noted for his design of the buffalo nickel and End of the Trail sculpture of an American Indian on horseback for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. The statue is now in the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City.
With the placement of the Lincoln Memorial on Hudson Boulevard in 1930, the association successfully obtained the renaming of the West Side Park, designed by landscape architects Daniel W. Langton and Charles N. Lowrie in 1905, for the President Lincoln.
Lincoln Highway Project
The placement of the Fraser's Lincoln Monument on Hudson Boulevard (now Kennedy Boulevard) had been part of the proposed Lincoln Highway, the first coast-to-coast highway dedicated to the "age of the automobile." The Lincoln Highway Association intended for the route to start in Times Square, New York City, and follow across the continent to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, CA., where Fraser's End of the Trail sculpture would be placed. In New Jersey the highway would turn west off Bergen Hill and cross the Meadowlands into Newark and continue west across the state and beyond.
By the late
1920s, however, New Jersey replaced the Lincoln Highway concept in Hudson
County with an alternate road that became US Route 1. Included in the
highway development was the four-lane
Pulaski Skyway built in 1932 as an overpass from the Holland Tunnel to the Meadowlands
connecting Jersey City and Newark. The Lincoln Highway project for the
nation never came to fruition but Fraser's statue of the pensive, crisis-burdened Lincoln has become a local landmark. Its installation also began the morning ceremony to recite from Lincoln's best-known and significant speeches. The low wall surrounding the Lincoln statue bears excerpts from three of his addresses:
LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT
Grundy, J. Owen. "Lincoln Unit Faithful 104
Years." Jersey Journal 12 February 1971.
| By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub