Library of Congress Magazine (LCM), Vol. 1 No. 2: November-December 2012 Page: 2
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THE LIBRARY UNDER LINCOLN
THIRTEEN MEN HAVE SERVED AS LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS DURING THE
- O. INSTITUTION'S 212-YEAR HISTORY. TWO OF THEM WERE APPOINTED BY
PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN DURING THE CIVIL WAR.
", ' 'On May 24,1861-less than two months after the start of the Civil
War-President Abraham Lincoln appointed a political supporter, John
- G. Stephenson, a physician from Terre Haute, Ind., to the position of
r Librarian of Congress. The record shows that Stephenson asked for the
job. On May 7, 1861, the doctor wrote to Lincoln regarding "the question
of a change in the Office of'Librarian to the Library of Congress' and
reminded him of his past support of "the Cause that triumphed in your
During his tenure as the fifth Librarian of Congress, Stephenson spent a
good deal of time on the battlefield as a surgeon and aide-de-camp for the
Union Army, earning a commendation for his performance at Gettysburg.
,,Np To act in his stead, he appointed Cincinnati bookseller and journalist
Ainsworth Rand Spofford as Assistant Librarian. Spofford lobbied hard
to replace Stephenson upon the doctor's retirement at the end of 1864. In
all, he boasted the endorsement of 22 senators and 87 representatives "who
have signified their preference in the matter."
On Dec. 31, 1864, Lincoln appointed Spofford the sixth Librarian of
Congress. Spofford, who served through 1897, established the Library's
national role and obtained support for several legislative acts that ensured
growth of the collections and made Congress's library the largest in the
United States. It was said Spofford continued to increase the Library's
collections to the last few weeks of his life, in 1908.
Six weeks before Lincoln's assassination on April 14, 1865, he approved
, a $160,000 appropriation for expansion and fireproofing of the Library's
space in the Capitol.
In the first published Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress,
covering the year 1866, Spofford wrote, " the fact that the whole library
. is now impregnably fire-proof, being constructed of solid iron material
throughout, and that future accessions to its stores, as well as the present
accumulate of valuable works, are secure from a casualty which has twice
consumed our national library, is a matter for sincere congratulation."
0 MORE INFORMATION:
View the Abraham Lincoln papers
memory. Iloc.gov/ammem/al html/malhome. html
Learn more about past Librarians of Congress
r www.loc.gov/about/I ibrarianoffice/ ibrarians.html
" From top, the Congressional Library in the
U.S. Capitol circa 1870, John G. Stephenson,
Ainsworth Rand Spofford I Prints and Photographs
2 LCM I Library of Congress Magazine
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Office of Communications, Library of Congress. Library of Congress Magazine (LCM), Vol. 1 No. 2: November-December 2012, periodical, November 2012; Washington, D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc133017/m1/4/: accessed June 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .