The following piece was produced by HuffPost's OffTheBus.
As the inevitable YouTube moments wait to surface for 2008 presidential contenders, the following is one of the first documented cases of a candidate's goofball photo. I like to call him Emo-ham Lincoln.
It's unknown exactly when this Abraham Lincoln portrait was taken, but it was not the standard hairdo of the day. Viola Richardson sent it to The Pathfinder 75 years ago, and the magazine described the chain of events recounted by Abraham Brokaw, a friend of Lincoln's. An image of Robert Smith of the Cure is added for emo reference.
"Circumstances regarding the taking of the picture, as related by Abraham Brokaw, wagonmaker, when he presented the picture to Mr. Sercombe, follow:
One morning young Lincoln sat on the Bloomington court house steps chatting with his friend Brokaw, running his fingers through his great shock of hair, while waiting for court to open. A lawyer friend came up and dared Lincoln to have his picture taken with his hair all tousled. Lincoln took him up, and they went across the street where the picture was made by a photographer named Waterman."
Richardson called the image "the real Abraham Lincoln" and she wrote,
"Those admirers of Lincoln who prefer to know him as he was rather than as some idealists would prefer to picture him, will be delighted with this unique portrait from the original photograph . . .."
So before helping form a new political party, Lincoln posed for a goofy photo on a dare. You get bored here in Bloomington, the home of Beer Nuts. Displaced from New Orleans where the carnival finds you, I'm recalling that the Midwest is the home of making your own fun. The fact that anyone has ever tipped a cow speaks volumes.
In today's Lincoln parallels, Barack Obama announced his candidacy in Springfield, Hillary Clinton emphasizes her Illinois roots, John Edwards is a populist and Fred Thompson is tall.
But no one beats Mike Gravel's goofball parallel in his rock toss video. This portrait was painted of Lincoln's hair photo; it surfaced years later as candids are likely to do, even before MySpace existed.
Waterman Photography made the daguerreotype. Robert Whitney Waterman was the publisher of the Waterman Independent newspaper, and here is where their two roads converge. Both he and Lincoln had been store clerks, and both were state delegates when the Republican Party held its first National Convention in Bloomington.
Waterman moved back from the West Coast to help get his candidate nominated. After Lincoln was elected President his friend traveled west again, discovered a silver mine, bought a gold mine and became the 17th Governor of California. His nickname was Old Honesty - not quite as catchy as Honest Abe.
As lieutenant governor, Waterman filled the governor's position when Washington Bartlett died, but he declined to run for a second term after wrangling with the state legislature. In the House of Representatives, Lincoln also declined to run again after strongly voicing his opposition to the Mexican-American war. His Whig party had succeeded in defeating the Democrats by one vote to add these words to a routine resolution:
". . . a war unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the President of the United States."
Lincoln's early career in Congress did not survive the fallout.
Governor Waterman outlived President Lincoln's assassination by decades. With his friend gone, Old Honesty probably took comfort in this photo of Honest Abe's big hair dare.
Follow Karen Dalton-Beninato on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kbeninato