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Three Lincoln Statues Planned for Illinois

John McClarey, an internationally known Lincoln sculptor from Decatur, Illinois, has been commissioned to create three new full-size statues for public places in Vandalia, Peoria, and Charleston. He spends about 2,000 hours, or roughly one year, on each full-size figure.

McClarey, who has produced many busts of Lincoln, recently sent his first full-size Lincoln statue to the foundry. The bronze figure depicts Lincoln sitting on a log and will appear across from the restored Vandalia statehouse where Lincoln served as a legislator.

In Vandalia, McClarey found a young man of Lincoln's size to pose for this new work. Because there is no known Lincoln photograph or life mask from the 1830s (the time period Lincoln worked in Vandalia), the sculpture only approximates Lincoln's actual appearance. The statue, entitled Young Lincoln on a Log Bench, will be dedicated on February 10, 2001.

For Peoria, McClarey is working on an exceptional bronze statue (see model, left) called Lincoln Draws the Line, to commemorate one of Lincoln's most powerful speeches, given on October 16, 1854. Lincoln's finger points to an imaginary line in the ground to symbolize his opposition to the expansion of slavery. On October 14, 2001, the statue will be placed near the actual location of the speech on the grounds of the Peoria courthouse.

The Peoria committee which commissioned this statue intends that it be "of the people, by the people, and for the people," with funding coming from private sources. You can help through a tax-deductible gift of any size or by purchasing a Limited-Edition Lincoln Maquette. McClarey will create only 300 maquettes in cold-cast bronze. The 10 1/2-inch-high maquette is an exact replica of the life-size figure. Each one is $360 (plus $12 shipping in the U.S.), of which $200 is tax-deductible.

The First Presbyterian Church of Peoria is acting as a repository for this project. To order, send your payment to: The Lincoln Statue Project, First Presbyterian Church, 1101 Hamilton Blvd., Peoria, IL 61606-1522. Their phone number is 309-685-5248.

In Charleston, McClarey will depict the Lincoln-Douglas debate of September 18, 1858. As this model shows, the bronze figures of Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas face each other across a metaphorical divide. McClarey says the sculptural composition represents the chasm of the "House Divided," with both men considering the country's split over slavery and its extension.

The statues will form a gateway to the new Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum. The dedication will be in September 2001 to coincide with the 143rd anniversary of the Charleston debate. You can help complete the museum and statues by sending your tax-deductible gift to: Lincoln Douglas Debate Museum, c/o Charleston Tourism Office, P.O. Box 77, Charleston, IL 61920.

For more information about any of these sculptures, email John McClarey or call him at 217/422-6335.

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