Lincoln Club of Delaware one of America’s oldest, most prestigious Lincoln groups

The Lincoln Club of Delaware (LCD) is one of America’s oldest, largest and most prestigious Lincoln Clubs, dating to a celebration of the birthday of America’s 16th President on Feb. 12, 1929, over dinner at the Wilmington Country Club.

“The Club really grew out of a spontaneous interest and association of a group of men who were Delaware’s civic leaders in the day,” said the Hon. William C. Carpenter Jr., a Delaware Superior Court Judge who is its 2016 president.

Judge Carpenter will preside over the 87th annual dinner meeting of the group on Friday, the 19th of February, at the Wilmington Country Club. Cocktails are 6 p.m., with a 7 p.m. dinner and an 8 p.m. program featuring Lincoln authority John S. Skilton, a Madison, WI, patent litigation attorney, speaking on Mr. Lincoln’s legal career, before adjournment promptly at 9 p.m.

Tickets are $95 for non-members, discounted for members, and reservations may be made with LCD administrator Karren Helsel-Spry at Karren@UDel.edu. The event is black-tie. More information about the LCD can be found at http://sites.UDel.edu/LincolnClub/ .

“Much of the genesis of the LCD is traced to the Frank G. Tallman collection of Lincoln materials,” said Timothy D. Murray, an ex officio member of the LCD Board who heads special collections at the University of Delaware Morris Library, where the Tallman Lincoln Collection is housed.

“Mr. Tallman was a prominent Wilmingtonian who built the collection, which he bequeathed via the LCD to the Wilmington Institute Free Library. Given the significant value of the collection, it was moved in 1971 to the stewardship of the University of Delaware, where the Board of the LCD has been a guiding force in its management, with occasional acquisitions to expand it.”

Notable documents include original copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Congressional Resolution that resulted in the 13th Amendment that freed the slaves who had not been freed by Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that impacted only slaves in states in rebellion against the Union.

More information about the Lincoln Collection can be obtained by writing Tim Murray at TDM@UDel.edu.

Historic leadership of the Club reads like a “who’s who” of Delaware public life.

Although the Club was created in the days of segregation, even the legendary civil rights attorney Louis L. Redding headed it in 1984. Before Mr. Redding, presidents included such men as former US Sen. Thomas Bayard, Dr. Walter Hullihen, Joseph Bancroft, Frank Schoonover, Pierre S. DuPont III, Sam Lenher, Judge Caleb Wright, C. Douglass Buck Jr., Supreme Court Chief Justice Daniel L. Hermann, Rabbi Herbert E. Drooz, attorney and former Lincoln interpreter Thomas Herlihy

After Mr. Redding’s tenure, Club presidents included Judge Jerome Herlihy, Murray Sawyer, Rob Krapf, Tony Flynn, David Swayze, WSFS Bank President Mark Turner, and, in recent years, Marty Lesssner, Judges Charles H. Toliver IV and Anne Hartnett Reigle, and former State Senators James P. Neal and Myrna Bair.

A significant past president in the last decade is recently retired Delaware Supreme Court Justice Henry duPont Ridgely, who headed the LCD in 2007, before co-chairing Delaware’s Lincoln BiCentennial Commission in 2009.

“Being a member and volunteer leader of this group for nearly 25 years has been one of the more interesting experiences of my life,” said Sam Waltz, founding publisher of the Delaware Business Times and a business strategist and consultant, who grew up where a young attorney Lincoln rode the circuit in rural downstate Illinois.

Waltz was Club President in 2002, following then University of Delaware President David P. Roselle, now Winterthur President, who chaired the group in 2001. “I always remember David remarking, ‘what can be more civilized than spending an evening in a tux, with a fine meal at Wilmington, and listening to a great national-quality historian speaking to us about Mr. Lincoln’.”

In an interesting turn of events, African-Americans were admitted as full-fledged Club members long before women were admitted to the formerly all-male group, which “in the day” would enjoy fine cigars while listening to a speaker.

“I felt privileged to arrange for our first woman president, former Rep. Jane P. Maroney, to follow me as President in 2003, and women have headed the group twice more in the last decade,” said Waltz who is continuing LCD Board Secretary, and who can provide LCD membership information at SamWaltz@SamWaltz.com.

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