Daniel Day-Lewis should have thanked Galenian Elihu Washburne.
If you haven’t seen the movie ‘Lincoln’, you should make the effort. In this year’s Oscar awards, Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor for his amazing portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln. He gave a wonderful acceptance speech, although he did fail to thank Elihu Washburne of Galena, Ill.
In 1840, more than 300 steamboats arrived and departed Galena. Among the passengers that year was a very politically astute fellow from Livermore, Maine by the name of Elihu Washburne. Remarkably, in 1840, Washburne began promoting the political virtue of a young lawyer from Springfield, Ill. — Abraham Lincoln.
Washburne would later be Lincoln’s primary advisor during the Lincoln-Douglas debates and a tireless supporter of Lincoln during his 1860 presidential campaign. Washburne was active in the anti-slavery movement, founder of the Republican Party and served eight terms in the House of Representatives.
Washburne was also a friend and associate of fellow Galenian Ulysses S. Grant.
Washburne stood by Grant’s side when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox Courthouse. Lincoln’s own words best draw the important links. After suffering crushing defeats under the command of seven different generals, Lincoln was in the market for a new general. Washburne had a recommendation. In a letter to Washburne in 1864 Lincoln wrote: “About all I know of Grant, I have got from you. I have never seen him. Who else besides you knows anything about Grant?”
Arguably, there may not have been a President Lincoln or a President and General Grant without Galenian Elihu Washburne. Maybe there wouldn’t have been a surrender at Appomattox Courthouse or an assassination or a Best Actor Oscar for Daniel Day-Lewis.
— Bob Tosterud, Galena, Ill.