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Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
02-18-2017, 04:27 AM
Post: #31
RE: Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
Thanks Reignette and Susan for the new input. I am still on the fence.

As for "again, no reference to Lincoln sitting for Ream" - how self-evident is such proceeding for a sculptor himself to mention it at all?

My current "theory" is that he wasn't exactly sitting for her and that she later possibly embellished the part of no one being allowed to disturb as this would somehow have made its way into other accounts of those days, but that she was allowed to quietly sketch him from a corner of the room while he worked at his desk which might not have gotten more attention than a servant waiting somewhere.

Re. Rollin's "Your bust of Mr. Lincoln is for the best which I have seen of him; it is indeed an almost perfect work of art" - what do y'all think? In this bust he looks totally different to me than in all other likenesses - smiling, like a funny guy. Doesn't resemble the other images and photos much IMO.
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02-18-2017, 05:11 AM
Post: #32
RE: Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
Eva, I have been trying to find independent verification of her story; if I can find this my doubts will be erased. I checked Tom Pendel's Thirty-Six Years in the White House. He was the chief doorkeeper for Lincoln's White House. No mention of Vinnie Ream in that book. I also checked Through five administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, body-guard to President Lincoln. Crook writes about Tad Lincoln and others who were in and about the White House, but no mention of Vinnie Ream. Additionally, I checked Recollections of Abraham Lincoln, 1847-1865 by Ward Hill Lamon. Lamon is the one who allegedly came upon an entrance to Lincoln's office that kept Mary Lincoln from knowing about Vinnie Ream's daily visits. No mention of Vinnie in Lamon's book.
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02-18-2017, 05:36 AM
Post: #33
RE: Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
I however doubt she would have needed that many sessions and would suspect she embellished on the number. Maybe she came at least a very few (three, four) times during that period?
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02-18-2017, 05:54 AM
Post: #34
RE: Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
(02-18-2017 05:36 AM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  I however doubt she would have needed that many sessions and would suspect she embellished on the number. Maybe she came at least a very few (three, four) times during that period?

Eva, IMO, her embellishing is much more likely to be the truth rather than visiting daily for 5 months. Also, and again I emphasize this is just my opinion, it would not surprise me if it was one day discovered that she actually did the bust with no White House visits.
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02-18-2017, 07:53 AM
Post: #35
RE: Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
You certainly may be right. I'm addressing those who read more or even bios on her - would it have been out of character?
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02-18-2017, 12:20 PM (This post was last modified: 02-18-2017 12:45 PM by Rob Wick.)
Post: #36
RE: Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
Just a couple of thoughts.

First, in 1871, during the private unveiling of the Lincoln statue before the Secretary of the Interior, the Washington Evening Star published on its front page a detailed account of Ream and the history of the statue. From reading the article, spread across three full columns of the front page, it's obvious the article was sourced by Ream herself. Nowhere in the article does she mention ever sitting alone with Lincoln in the White House. Given the negative publicity Ream had received up to that point (Charles Sumner questioning her ability to complete the sculpture, her alleged involvement in Edmund G. Ross's vote not to convict Andrew Johnson or being kicked out of her studio in the Capitol building) it seems unfathomable that Ream wouldn't have mentioned her intimate sittings with Lincoln over the years in the White House in an attempt to garner favorable publicity and bolster her own reputation. From the newspaper articles I've read, Ream was a master at manipulating the press as well as various congressmen and senators. She might have been a young girl, but she was a savvy and rather mature young girl.

Second, it seems the key here is James S. Rollins. It was Rollins who first introduced Lincoln to Ream, and it would have been Rollins that Ream approached to get into the White House. Rollins's papers are located at the State Historical Society of Missouri. According to the finding aid, the first mention of Ream comes in 1862, so the time frame would be accurate to Ream's later story, but, of course, the contents of the letters would go toward determining whether Ream embellished her later story or told the truth. Rollins was obviously a fan of Ream, mentioning her in a speech in 1871, and he shared a deep friendship with the painter George Caleb Bingham, so he had a personal interest in the art world and did all he could to promote the career of those he found worthy, so it seems his letters in Missouri could possibly be the Rosetta Stone in this.

However, given the failure of Ream to mention her sitting with Lincoln in the 1871 article, I'm growing more skeptical that she had numerous sittings with Lincoln. I'm not ready to say she never sat with Lincoln, but I think it seems probable that she didn't for as long as she claimed.

UPDATE: In further examining papers of the era, I came across an account of the unveiling in the New York Herald of January 26, 1871. In a speech, Lyman Trumbull is quoted as saying that Ream was among many sculptors and artists who made "statuettes and heads of Lincoln and she also made a bust from sittings by Lincoln." This seems to me to be the earliest reference to her sitting with Lincoln not made by her (at least in a public speech). She may very well have told Trumbull this, but it seems equally possible that Trumbull may have known this on his own. Certainly not conclusive, but it isn't immediately clear that Trumbull was told this before his remarks.

Best
Rob

Abraham Lincoln in the only man, dead or alive, with whom I could have spent five years without one hour of boredom.
--Ida M. Tarbell
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02-18-2017, 04:18 PM (This post was last modified: 02-19-2017 09:25 AM by Gene C.)
Post: #37
RE: Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
This note from "Vinnie Ream An American Sculptor" by Edward Cooper
"Unless otherwise noted, correspondence to and from Vinnie Ream (VR) along with material from her scrapbook and journals, are from the Papers of Vinnie Ream and Richard L Hoxie (VRP) in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division."

This article or speech in 1893 by Vinnie Ream beginning on page 603
https://archive.org/stream/congressofwom...5/mode/2up

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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02-18-2017, 06:19 PM
Post: #38
RE: Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
Interesting find, Trumbull's words, Rob. This is my current "stage", too - "I'm not ready to say she never sat with Lincoln, but I think it seems probable that she didn't for as long as she claimed."

One further point for everyone to consider - if she did sketch him during so many sessions, wouldn't t be strange if none of the sketches survived? Would one dispose of such mementos?
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02-18-2017, 07:16 PM
Post: #39
RE: Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
(02-18-2017 06:19 PM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  Interesting find, Trumbull's words, Rob. This is my current "stage", too - "I'm not ready to say she never sat with Lincoln, but I think it seems probable that she didn't for as long as she claimed."

One further point for everyone to consider - if she did sketch him during so many sessions, wouldn't t be strange if none of the sketches survived? Would one dispose of such mementos?

Did she leave a line of descendants? Have biographers cited family sources?
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02-18-2017, 10:41 PM
Post: #40
RE: Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
Here's an article posted by the U.S. Capitol Historical Society in Capital Art, Women's History.

"In 1866 Congress authorized a $10,000 commission for a statue of Abraham Lincoln to be placed in the Capitol. Ream had completed a bust of Lincoln the year before which received much acclaim. (She claimed throughout her life that Lincoln had sat for the sculpting in person in the White House over a five-month period. However, there is no evidence other than her word that suggests Lincoln and Ream ever met.)"

https://uschs.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/v...t-scandal/
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02-19-2017, 05:13 AM
Post: #41
RE: Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
(02-18-2017 10:41 PM)Linda Anderson Wrote:  (However, there is no evidence other than her word that suggests Lincoln and Ream ever met.)"

Linda, thank you. That sentence gets at the heart of why I began this thread; over the years I have grown increasingly skeptical of certain Lincoln-related claims (Coggeshall, for example). Ream's claim is one of them. I do not know if there can ever be a definitive answer either way. I checked The Collected Works to see if Lincoln ever mentioned Ream in a letter, etc. I drew a blank. Maybe in the future a new discovery will be made - a Lincoln letter to a friend in which he writes something like, "As I sit here pondering the future, there is a pretty young girl in my office making a bust of me." I highly doubt such will be found. But who knows...
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02-19-2017, 06:33 AM (This post was last modified: 02-19-2017 03:05 PM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #42
RE: Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
I meanwhile think you are right, Roger.
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02-20-2017, 06:57 PM
Post: #43
RE: Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
I've also been wondering about this and am quite skeptical. Some sources print a letter from Mary to Vinnie, but it is signed Mary Todd Lincoln, which she never used in any other discovered letter. It was either made up for the drama of it or whoever typed it up didn't scrutinize the signature closely and filled in the blank mentally. There are letters from Mary to Charles Sumner and others denouncing her lobbying to get the commission and her ability to do the statue. She says she received a note from Vinnie related to it. Then a little bit later she tells Alphonso Dunn, who had some of Lincoln's clothes that I think Vinnie wanted her model to wear, after telling him not to give them to her, that he can do whatever he wants with them. She says she still thinks Vinnie will fail, but is apparently over it, and she declares Vinnie "an entire stranger to me and mine" and an "unknown person" multiple times.
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02-20-2017, 09:02 PM
Post: #44
RE: Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
Vinnie Ream's biographer, Glenn V. Sherwood, commented in the U.S. Capital History Society post I mentioned in Post #40.

"Vinnie Ream knew many prominent men, but most of them did not want to be linked to her to avoid scandal. This may be why information is obscure on her modeling well-known men. She had two signed photographs that some think Lincoln gave her to aid the modeling work. And some thought the life mask of Lincoln by Clark Mills was also made to aid Vinnie Ream’s work."

I found another article on Ream from The State Historical Society of Missouri.

"While in Washington, Ream reestablished contact with James S. Rollins, who was now a U.S. Congressman. Rollins remembered Vinnie’s desire to become a sculptor, and he took her to visit Clark Mills, one of the country’s most prominent sculptors. Mills offered Ream the opportunity to work in his studio."

The resources include an article with the odd title “A Homely Woman’s Opinion of a Pretty One.” Liberty Tribune. September 14, 1866, p. 1.

I couldn't find the article in GenBank or Chronicling America but the Liberty Tribune Archives are available for a free 7 day trial subscription.

http://shsmo.org/historicmissourians/name/r/ream/

Also, the papers of James S. Rollins might have more information. Correspondence from Ream is included in eight folders.

http://shsmo.org/manuscripts/columbia/1026.pdf
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02-21-2017, 01:23 AM
Post: #45
RE: Did Vinnie Ream visit the White House daily for 5 months?
Wow, very interesting, Linda!!!
"Vinnie Ream knew many prominent men, but most of them did not want to be linked to her to avoid scandal " - what kind of scandal was there to expect (from a 17-yrs-old girl, or just because of the mere fact she was?)?
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