Five Illinoisans who made a significant impact on the history of the state and nation have been inducted into The Lincoln Academy of Illinois Hall of Fame.
Two of the inductees, Otis B. Duncan, the highest-ranking Black officer in the U.S. Army during World War I, and William Herndon, a law partner and biographer of President Abraham Lincoln, had deep ties to Springfield.
Other inductees include architect Daniel Burnham, pilot Bessie Coleman and social reformer Julia Clifford Lathrop.
“These five people helped to shape the world as we know it today,” said Lincoln Academy Chancellor Frank Clark. “We proudly place their names beside other Illinoisans who have inspired and humbled us with their place in history.”
Duncan, part of a long-established Springfield family, served as a lieutenant colonel in the 370th Infantry Regiment in World War I.
Duncan was awarded the Purple Heart and the French Croix de Guerre for gallantry in action while serving on the Western front against the German army.
Duncan was a major on the regimental staff during the Pancho Villa expedition into Mexico in 1916.
Duncan is the namesake for American Legion Post 809 in Springfield.
During the 1908 Springfield Race Riot, a white mob broke into and ransacked Duncan’s house.
Duncan’s maternal grandfather was William Fleurville, a Haitian-born businessman who was Lincoln’s barber and friend.
Herndon was invited by Lincoln to form a law partnership in Springfield in 1844. Lincoln said that Herndon “was my man always above all other men on the globe.”
The one-time mayor of Springfield, Herndon became one of the organizers of the Republican Party after the dissolution of the Whig Party. Lincoln also joined the Republican Party, hoping to “fuse” people of different political affiliations who wanted to end slavery.
Herndon, following Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, began to collect stories of Lincoln’s life from those who knew him. Herndon aspired to write a faithful portrait of Lincoln, based on his own observations and on hundreds of letters and interviews he had compiled for the purpose. That resulted in the three-volume Herndon’ Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life, which received mixed reviews.
The Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices at Sixth and Adams streets are within the only remaining building in which Lincoln maintained a law office.
Burnham helped shape the 1892-93 World’s Columbian Exposition and much of the city’s famed skyline. He also designed the Flatiron Building in New York City.
Chicago’s Coleman became the first Black-Native American woman to earn a pilot’s license. She specialized in stunt flying and parachuting and she earned a living on the “barnstorming circuit” at air shows.
Lathrop, a Rockford native, advocated for the training of professional social workers and championed child welfare and mental illness issues.
Contact Steven Spearie at 622-1788, email@example.com or twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.
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November 16, 2020 at 08:19AM