Unveiling Lincoln as a SurveyorSurveying's prestigious presidential connection was commemorated recently when a new statue depicting Abraham Lincoln as a surveyor was unveiled in central Illinois on October 4th.
The bronze statue, titled "Abraham Lincoln Deputy County Surveyor," was commissioned by the Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association (IPLSA) to honor Lincoln's work as a surveyor in New Salem, Ill. When Lincoln arrived there at the age of 22, New Salem was a small village about 20 miles from the town of Springfield, where Lincoln would later move and be elected to the White House.
While in New Salem, the untrained Lincoln tried many jobs, one of which was surveying. Upon learning of this newcomer's honesty and intelligence, the county surveyor asked him to become the deputy county surveyor. Lincoln took the position on the condition that his political views and activities would not be hindered in any way. He performed about 30 surveys and laid out five towns while holding the position from 1833 to 1837. After leaving New Salem and becoming an attorney in Springfield, Lincoln argued cases before the court that set case law regarding surveying that is still used today. Only one year after Lincoln began working as a surveyor, villagers elected him to the Illinois House of Representatives.
"The purpose of the statue is to let the public know that Lincoln was a surveyor and in turn let people become aware of the surveying profession," said IPLSA Executive Director Robert E. Church, who spearheaded the project. "We feel surveying was an important part of Lincoln's early life and helped him develop as a statesman."
The 9 1/2 foot statue shows a 25-year-old Lincoln peering through a Rittenhouse surveyor's compass on a Jacob's staff. The leather patches on his pants hint at the sometimes rough, muddy conditions in which Lincoln surveyed. The statue is set in the middle of a 26-foot diameter concrete base made to look like a compass face.
New Salem has been reconstructed to look like it did during Lincoln's time there and is now an Illinois historic site. The statue is located at its entrance. It was unveiled during an elaborate ceremony attended by hundreds of people, including IPLSA members and their families; surveyors from Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and West Virginia; local dignitaries; and many visitors to the historic site. "We were amazed at the number of people who came to the unveiling," said Church, who presided over the ceremony.
The Lincoln statue was created by central Illinois artist John McClarey, who specializes in the form and thought of Abraham Lincoln. He has created several works of Lincoln found around the world at the Russian State Library for Foreign Literature in Moscow, the Illinois State Historic Library and Lincoln National Historic Site in Springfield, Ill., the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and collections in Japan, Cuba and China.
McClarey spoke at the unveiling ceremony and said the statue represents Lincoln's journey from "the bottomlands" to greatness. "It's about a journey that any of us can take," he said.
New Salem historical site's manager, David Hedrick, worked closely with Church on the statue project. At the ceremony Hedrick said, "This statue will forever be a testament to the transformation of Lincoln from an unskilled laborer to a surveyor, a lawyer, a statesman, and eventually, to president of the United States." Hedrick also credited the IPLSA and Church for making the statue a reality. "It is not unusual for me"¦ to receive suggestions on how to improve [New Salem]. What is unusual about this project is that the Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association, under the leadership of Robert Church, offered their suggestion of a new statue with an offer to raise the needed money. It was an offer we could not refuse."
Church's efforts to erect a statue of Lincoln as a surveyor began 28 years ago. Shortly after he became the IPLSA executive director in 1975 he learned about a book detailing Lincoln's land surveying career, titled A. Lincoln with Compass and Chain by Illinois land surveyor Adin Baber.
After learning so much about Lincoln's surveying career from this book, Church thought he could take advantage of the opportunity to showcase Lincoln's connection to surveying and publicize the fact that Lincoln, long considered one of our nation's greatest presidents, was a surveyor before he established himself in his political roles. Erecting a statue of Lincoln as a surveyor at New Salem seemed a fitting way to commemorate that part of his life. (Lincoln's actual surveying equipment is on display at New Salem's Visitors Center.)
He discovered Lloyd Ostendorf of Ohio, an artist who had created several works about Lincoln. Church discussed with him ideas for a statue. Ostendorf agreed to do some preliminary sketches, but died just three weeks afterwards.
In an interesting twist of fate, Church discovered Ostendorf's sketch while visiting his home and studio shortly thereafter on his widow's invitation. The sketch was sitting on the artist's drawing table.
"I thought the statue project would end with Lloyd's death," Church said. But in another interesting twist, Ostendorf's widow introduced Church to Lloyd's brother, Ned, who is also an artist. He completed the statue's sketch and the project continued, with the resulting contracting of McClarey and the subsequent statue unveiling.
Church secured the state's permission to place a statue at New Salem and began raising the money necessary for the project. He says IPLSA is close to reaching its financial goal of $130,000 to fully fund the statue project, but continues to offer items related to the statue and Lincoln for sale, including: copies of the recently reprinted book that sparked the statue's idea-A. Lincoln with Compass and Chain, envelopes with the statue logo and a Louisiana Purchase stamp that were hand canceled at Lincoln's New Salem Post Office the day of the unveiling, 15-inch maquettes (prototype sculptures) of the statue that have been signed and numbered by artist John McClarey, silver and bronze Lincoln surveyor coins, and signed and numbered Ostendorf prints of Lincoln the surveyor.
To learn more about the Lincoln Statue Project, visit the IPLSA's website at: www.iplsa.org and read the article, "Surveyors of Presidential Proportion" in the December 2002 issue of POB magazine.
Accepting A New ACSMWhat was for some time a rather heated debate among some surveyors belonging to the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) was settled earlier this year. On June 18, 2003, the Tellers Committee for ACSM counted ballots asking members, "Shall ACSM replace its existing Constitution and Bylaws with the proposed Bylaws of Operation and Procedure as approved unanimously by the ACSM Board of Direction?" The Board of Direction had voted its unanimous approval of the proposal during its annual meeting in April 2003; the existing Bylaws and Constitution required 75 percent approval of the Board and two-thirds ratification by those members voting by letter ballot.
The results of the vote were decidedly in favor of adopting the new Bylaws with 1,390 yes-votes and only 196 votes against the proposal. "It's gratifying that the membership seems to have a good understanding of the proposal," said Rita Lumos, PLS, ACSM director from the Member Organization (MO) National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS). "ACSM now has an opportunity to be a stronger voice for all those who are involved in the practice of surveying and geomatics. There is opportunity for the current member organizations to be stronger in pursuit of their goals. There is also opportunity to bring in other organizations with similar goals, and become a stronger Congress for the wider profession."
In addition to establishing the current MOs as autonomous entities, the now approved reorganization plan also opens the door for other autonomous organizations to become part of the ACSM "Congress family." Organizations in the geospatial community with a national presence will have the opportunity to participate in ACSM in two ways. Organizations can participate the same way that the current member organizations do by taking advantage of services provided by ACSM, such as accounting, publishing, etc., or they may participate in ACSM without use of the administrative services. This also gives an opportunity for individuals within the industry to form associations. For example, members of DOTs who are not required to be licensed, and therefore would not qualify for membership in one of the current MOs, could form an organization of their own and have the support of ACSM. ACSM Executive Director Curt Sumner, LS, believes that "having an organization that internally provides a forum for as many points of view as possible can only help the entire industry better address its issues."
Most of the leaders of the MOs are hopeful and optimistic about the future of the organization. John Matonich, ACSM director from NSPS, warns that "the viability of the MOs and ACSM will certainly be tied to the success of the MOs' ability to retain and attract new members. ACSM has heard for years about the need for the MOs to be stronger and have an identity. The new structure will be the catalyst to make the MOs successful."
The leaders of the four current MOs, along with ACSM headquarters staff, have begun finalizing plans for implementation of the reorganization, set to take effect Jan. 1, 2004.