Thursday, September 04, 2008

It Takes a Train to Cry

Seeing the repeated CNN cutaways to a couple of different Lincoln impersonators on the convention floor tonight (at we think they were Lincoln impersonators - with the average attendee being a white male approximately 199 years old, it's hard to tell), we were reminded, appropriately enough, of Lincoln's funeral. Lincoln's funeral - the first, and most elaborate, state funeral in US history - lasted for three weeks, with open-coffin services in at least 10 cities, the great man's cadavers being transported more than 1,600 miles from Washington to Springfield in a specially decked-out railroad car christened the United States. More people participated in Lincoln's funeral than any other in history.

After the funeral, the car was sold to the Union Pacific Railroad (an ex-client of Lincoln the lawyer), where it was used as a luxury car for company officials before being transferred to more prosaic work hauling supplies out in Colorado. In the early 20th Century it was sold to a developer who stored it out in a grassy field in Minneapolis where, in 1911, it was destroyed by a raging brush fire. Tonight, 2300 Republican delegates - just 36 of whom were black - gathered near the ashes of Lincoln's funeral train and nominated John McCain as Lincoln's successor.

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