You know, history news just won’t let me alone to write history these days. So much for that break from blogging.
This morning I arose at a reasonable hour to have breakfast while I perused our local newspaper, The Arizona Republic. You can imaging what pleasant reading that can be, between our governor’s desire to cut funding for transplant patients (talk about health care death panels … where are Obama’s health care critics on this issue?) and the continuing saga of the NFL Cardinals (thank goodness I’m a Giants fan).
There, in the Valley & State section, I came across a feature article on a display of documents related to Arizona’s territorial organization and push for statehood. The original state constitution and other documents had been set out for public viewing at the state capitol. One of the other documents was “a portion of the Arizona Organic Act of 1863.” As the article tells us: “The document, which former President Abraham Lincoln signed, was fragile: Several pieces of clear tape, which yellowed over time, held the paper together.”
Hmmm, I thought, that’s a remarkable sentence. I had never seen Lincoln referred to as “former President Abraham Lincoln,” but, given the condition of funding for public education in this state, perhaps readers needed that reminder. I could also imagine preservationists and others wincing as they found out that the document was being held together by clear tape. Obviously the state spares no expense or expertise in preserving essential documents.
Then I looked at the photograph of Lincoln’s autograph:
Oops. That’s not Lincoln’s autograph. Not even close.
You may recall that among my professional duties that I am a member of the board of directors of the Abraham Lincoln Association, so I’ve seen my share of Lincoln autographs over time. Usually, Lincoln signed his name with a simple “A. Lincoln,” but he wrote out his full name for important documents, including the Emancipation Proclamation. Here, for example, is Lincoln’s autograph on a printed version of the Emancipation Proclamation:
Oh, my goodness. This ought to throw things into quite a tizzy.
The formation of Arizona as a territory in 1863 was due to the Civil War (why that is will be explained at another time). Until then it had been part of a larger New Mexico Territory, which contained land acquired in one way or another from Mexico prior to the American Civil War. A small part of that territory, in the northwest corner, eventually became part of the state of Nevada, which gained statehood status in 1864, just in time for its three electoral votes to fall into the Republican column that year. Arizona and New Mexico would have to wait until 1912 to gain statehood, filling out what was called the lower 48 when Alaska and Hawaii achieved statehood nearly fifty years later.
Oh, well. Another fake Lincoln autograph … this time on a pretty important document, clear tape and all.
Only in Arizona.