Daily Archives: February 12, 2010

On the menu for Lincoln’s Birthday

The Miss Frank E. Buttolph American Menu Collection at the New York Public Library originated “through the energetic efforts of Miss Frank E. Buttolph (1850-1924), a somewhat mysterious and passionate figure, whose mission in life was to collect menus.”

Thanks to Miss Buttolph we can peruse today a rather fine assortment of old Lincoln’s Birthday dinner programs.

The one above is from the annual Lincoln Night banquet hosted by the Middlesex Club at the Hotel Brunswick in Boston in 1907.

If you think the lack of civility in public discourse is a new development, note the New York Times‘ coverage of the Middlesex Club’s dinner in 1900:


Congressman Cushman Denounces the Anti-Imperialists at a Boston Banquet.

Boston, Feb. 12. – At the Lincoln’s Birthday banquet of the Middlesex Club tonight, Congressman Francis W. Cushman of Washington paid his respects to Edward Atkinson and Senator Hoar.

He referred to Mr. Atkinson as the American who flies the flag of his country at half mast.

Of Senator Hoar he said: “Think, then, of this man, who, in the crisis of his country, arose in his seat in the Senate and attacked, not the Spaniards or the Filipinos, but the Americans! Who launched his shafts, not against Aguinaldo, the assassin of his countrymen, but against William McKinley, the Nation’s chief!

“Treason, treason, treason, that has no counterpart in American history since Breckinridge, in the old days of secession, arose in the United States Senate and bade farewell to the Union and leaped into the waiting arms of an expectant Confederacy.”

And Sen. Hoar (the ur-waterboarding critic) was a member of Rep. Cushman’s own Republican Party.

The Times previously had criticized Sen. Hoar himself for “pettifogging demagogy” and “silly and conceited abuse” of his own critics. The headline on the editorial: IS SENATOR HOAR DEGENERATE?

This program is for the Lincoln’s Birthday dinner hosted by the Hamburg-American Line aboard the yacht Prinzessin Victoria Luise in 1906. The menu included oysters, beef broth with vermicelli, fried halibut with Russian sauce, roast beef Duchess style, and Strassbourg goose liver with jelly.

At the Lincoln’s Birthday banquet hosted by the Union League of Maryland in 1906, the themes of the toasts were Abraham Lincoln, Republicanism and Our Country, and the Tendency toward Centralization. The menu included clear green turtle soup, sweetbreads in cases a la Rennert, roast Jersey capon, Moet & Chandon White Seal, Roman punch, jelly, hominy cakes, Smithfield ham, café noir and Perfectos.

I do like this one, from the Young Republicans of Philadelphia dinner of 1901. Serried ranks of the Grand Army of the Republic and Monopoly guys in top hats are marching to meet for a handshake – an allegory for the Republican Party of the Gilded Age.