Fraker unveils new Lincoln book at LC Heritage Museum
October 26, 2012, By Phil Bertoni, Attorney Guy Fraker of Bloomington has just released a long-awaited treatise on Abraham Lincoln’s legal and political work in central Illinois entitled: Lincoln’s Ladder to the Presidency – The Eighth Judicial Circuit (SIU Press, 2012). It was certainly fitting that Fraker chose our 16th President’s namesake college (Lincoln College – established in early 1865) to launch his thoroughly-researched hardback. Many friends, acquaintances and Abraham Lincoln enthusiasts were on hand for Fraker’s talk and book-signing held at the Lincoln College Heritage Museum, with museum curator Ron Keller moderating.
Guy Fraker with Ron Keller
Finally, after all these years – 152 to be exact – since his election to the Presidency of our United States, a book has been written that concentrates almost solely on Abraham Lincoln’s legal and political years in the mid 1840’s to the his election in 1860. At long last, residents of Illinois – particularly of central Illinois – can proudly read the never-before-told story under one cover of how Mr. Lincoln developed his ideas and character while working and making lasting relationships among the people who knew him best – among the ancestors and ancestral friends of present-day Illinoisans. Fraker takes Paul Beaver’s recent book (Abraham Lincoln in Logan County, Illinois 1834 – 1860) to the next level by revealing Lincoln’s work not only in Logan County, but also throughout the Illinois 8th Judicial Circuit.
As Fraker carefully documents, President Lincoln amassed and formed his societal, economic, moral and political views while spending twenty six years serving Illinois as a maturing lawyer and then as a maturing politician – later frequently intertwined – as he made his was “up the ladder” to the Presidency of our United States of America. While young Lincoln learned to detest the institution of slavery, Fraker discovered that he learned to balance his feelings and thoughts with the requirements of the law in his work as a lawyer, politician and finally as President.
Indeed, as Fraker continues to explain, our Lincoln grew to know his fellow men, women, the law and politics through his years of traveling by foot, horseback, horse and buggy and then by train to and fro throughout the Illinois landscape as he grew in stature as a lawyer and political figure. As we all have known for a long while, Abraham Lincoln is very highly acclaimed locally, nationally and throughout the world as one of the greatest personalities of all time – and now we know more about the why.
Fraker makes his case that central Illinois was the hot-bed of legal and political work in the mid-1800’s, pointing out that the state population was more concentrated in central Illinois as contrasted to that of sparsely populated Cook County. It was in central Illinois and in the counties of the Illinois 8th Judicial Circuit, as Fraker documents, that many very intelligent lawyers and politicians – Lincoln among them – went to work. Amazingly, as Fraker reminds us, crowds of 5,000 – 7,000 or more would attend the speeches of Stephen A. Douglass and Abraham Lincoln to hear their views and later excitedly discuss them as they returned to their farms and towns – for there was usually “no better entertainment”.
Fraker’s book is given a large boost with an eloquent forward written by nationally acclaimed author and professor Michael Burlingame of University of Illinois at Springfield. In Burlingame’s words: “For bringing the 8th Judicial Circuit vividly to life and for explaining how and why it shaped Lincoln significantly, Fraker deserves the gratitude of all who seek to understand the life and times of America’s greatest statesman.”
Fraker has included some very interesting reporting of the fates of some of the 8th Circuit friends and acquaintences: George C. McClellan, Richard Oglesby, David Davis, Albert T. Bledsoe, Ward Hill Lamon, and others.
His writing on Leonard Swett is remarkable! And his last sentence is simply marvelous: "The prairie that had delivered him up to save the nation now received his remains."