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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Security for the Inauguration (Lincoln's, that is)


Security for President Bush's second inauguration is reputed to be the tightest ever devised. In sharp contrast, Abraham Lincoln's security detail consisted of a single officer - - Al Pinkerton, founder of the famous detective agency. Frank Pond, a Wisconsin teenager who shoveled coal on the train that carried the president to his inauguration in January 1861, left this account of how Pinkerton and Lincoln successfully eluded hostile mobs en route to the inauguration (yes, even Old Abe had fierce detractors). A few years later, after rising to the rank of engineer, Pond also drove the funeral train that brought the assassinated president home to the Midwest. His memoir is part of our collection of Local History & Biography Articles. If you're reading this in the Madison area, you may want to stop by the Historical Society to see an exhibit of invitations to presidential inaugurations (on the first floor of the Headquarters Building at 816 State St.). The earliest is from Lincoln's presidency; in the small space of two display cases you can traverse a century and a half of pomp and circumstance.
:: Posted in Curiosities on January 20, 2005
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