“Homer’s Celebration of Lincoln in Paint & Print”
February 12, 2009, was the bicentennial of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln, and
communities across the nation observed this historic milestone throughout 2009. The
community of Homer, in the heart of New York State, is one such community. Sponsored
by the Homer Education Foundation and the Homer Center4theArts, “Homer’s Celebration of
Lincoln in Paint & Print” occured the week of May 11, 2009. The national Abraham Lincoln
Bicentennial Commission endorsed the “Celebration,” and one of its co-chairmen, the
esteemed Lincoln scholar, Harold Holzer, spoke on May 15 and 16 on Homer's connection to
Lincoln via its two native sons: Francis B. Carpenter (1830-1900) and William O. Stoddard
Carpenter was a portrait painter. His greatest accomplishment was the nine foot by fourteen
foot oil painting on canvas entitled “The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation
before the Cabinet,” which now hangs in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Mr.
Holzer has determined that this painting by “the most important artist ever to portray
Abraham Lincoln” might not have been accepted by the government of the U.S. had it not
been for behind-the-scenes efforts of Carpenter’s good friend from Homer, William O.
Stoddard. Stoddard was an assistant personal secretary to Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. As such,
he was responsible for making handwritten copies of Lincoln’s historic Emancipation
Proclamation. Both Carpenter and Stoddard were at the White House at the same time and
later wrote books about their interactions with President Lincoln that are still cited by Lincoln
Yet, neither man would have been in a position to contribute by paint and print to what we
know of Lincoln today were it not for a third native-son of Homer, Eli DeVoe (1809-1874).
DeVoe was one of the detectives that helped to thwart the plot to assassinate President-elect
Lincoln in Baltimore, MD, in 1861, thereby allowing him to be inaugurated the President who
would preserve the Union and end slavery during the Civil War.
How many communities east of the Appalachians can claim a connection to Abraham Lincoln
through three native-sons? Besides the presence of Harold Holzer and descendants of
Carpenter and Stoddard, Homer’s unique connections to Lincoln was marked by musical
entertainment, a dramatic production, Civil War re-enactors on Homer’s picturesque village
green, educational events, and a parade. Famed Lincoln impersonator, Mr. Getty, of
Gettysburg, PA, was on hand, and the Center4theArts hosted an exhibit of the largest
collection of Carpenter portraits ever assembled.
The Town and Village of Homer gathered to honor
Lincoln and the men from Homer who knew him.