Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

A Kalamazoo park where Abraham Lincoln once spoke will get a statue of the 16th president

Sepia-tone portrait of Lincoln, seated, wearing a suit with a long jacket and looking slightly to the right
Library of Congress, Prints and
President Abraham Lincoln, little more than a week before he gave the Gettysburg Address. (AP Photo/Corporate Archives/Library of Congress)

Lincoln visited what's now Bronson Park in 1856.

Kalamazoo City Commissioners have approved a plan to memorialize Abraham Lincoln. He gave a speech in what’s now Bronson Park a few years before he was elected president. Now the Lincoln Institute of Kalamazoo will erect a statue of him in the park.

It’ll show Lincoln as a young man holding a copy of his speech. Commissioner Chris Praedel says Lincoln was not yet famous when he spoke in Kalamazoo.

"At the time he came here, he was relatively a nobody. The Battle Creek newspaper even misspelled his name. But he rose to become one of the most prominent and transformative figures in this country's history," Praedel said.

Lincoln criticized slavery in the speech, though not strongly enough in the opinion of some Republicans, according to a historical marker in the park.