Friday, April 25, 2008


Hello, everyone!
Like I promised, we have an interview with James Percoco! Part of it is online here but the entire interview is on our website!

Thanks to Jim and and Jennifer Ballot for her help with this!

Battlefield Journal: First, I LOVED the book. I am a lover of Civil War monuments and have done a lot with the New England town square monuments as well as written a book about Gettysburg from the point of view of the monuments. My question is how did you choose which monuments to include in the book?

JP: First of all I am glad you loved the book. All writers want to hear that.

I actually visited about 30 monuments of which seven ended up with full chapter treatments. The others are listed in an Appendix. My criterion was based on the following:
• The statues had to be from the Great Age of Lincoln Sculpture 1870-1935
• All sculptors had to be born in the century in which Lincoln lived – 19th,
• The statues had to reflect the several genres/themes related to Lincoln sculpture – Great Emancipator, Great President/Statesman, Man of Sorrows,
Youthful Lincoln, Commander-in-Chief
• The sculptures had to be of high artistic merit – meaning that aesthetically they had to be successful or they had to have a story that was deeply tied to the Lincoln myth or legacy. I was actually tempted to give each of the seven I picked a report card grade, because I only think that three of the seven deserve an A for artistic merit, The Standing Lincoln by Saint-Gaudens (Chapter 4), Lincoln of Gethsemane by Borglum (Chapter 5) and Lincoln
by French in the Lincoln Memorial (Chapter 7). I really wanted to give full chapter treatment to Lincoln the Lawyer by Lorado Taft in Urbana, Illinois
and Captain Lincoln in Dixon, Illinois. Each reveals another dimension of Lincoln’s life – the circuit lawyer and his role as a Captain in the militia from New Salem during the 1832 Black Hawk War; it’s the only statue of Lincoln in uniform and wearing a sword. Unfortunately the paper trail was limited on these two statues and I could not flesh out much of a story either behind the statue or about the sculptural process.

Battlefield Journal: You seemed to have an exceptional group of students that traveled with you. Overall, do you find that students, especially of middle and high school age, are that enamored with history? What are the chances that future generations might not even understand why those Lincoln monuments were placed where they were?

JP: Most young people gravitate towards history when it is made relevant. The key for me has been showing students that I find monuments to be very relevant to my life and that transfers over to them in the way I approach and teach history.

I actually find all of human history relevant and have always taught it as such; we can’t understand how we got to where we are today without having some sense of what transpired before we lived.

I think given Lincoln’s role in U.S. and World History future generations are going to understand why Lincoln statues permeate our public spaces. Many foreign nations have public statues to Lincoln, as well, such as Mexico, Great Britain, and Russia. The Chinese, in Beijing, are very open about the design of Chairman Mao’s mausoleum and that it is based on that of Henry Bacon’s Lincoln Memorial.

Check the website for more!!!

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