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.


9 responses to “On the menu for Lincoln’s Birthday

  1. Old Dominion Tory

    Excellent! For quite some time, I have been looking for menus like these in order to stage my own Lincoln Day dinner at my humble abode in The Valley of Virginia. So, thanks for posting.

  2. Happy to be of service! And what will be on the ODT bill of fare? Terrapin? Perfectos?

  3. My grandfather (and maybe my father for a time) was a member of The Union League in Philadelphia. I wonder if women guests still have to go in by the side door?

  4. They allow women in? Things have come to a pretty pass.

  5. Yes, Mark, that pretty pass hit in the 1970s. Indeed, since the time of a NY City lawsuit, the Union League Club has been forced to actually admit women as members!
    Finding no Franklin Pierce exhibit in the City at the moment, this morning I was drummed into the “Lincoln and New York” exhibit at the New-York Historical Society. (Three fellows in Union uniforms were hitting a drum and trying to draft more visitors on the corner of 77th Street and CPW. ) I do not recall seeing any menus, but many interesting items on the testy relationship beteen Lincoln and the City. Here is a link (at which there are, alas, no pictures): https://www.nyhistory.org/web/default.php?section=exhibits_collections&page=exhibit_detail&id=683588

  6. Old Dominion Tory

    Seeing as I am in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, I’d say terrapins are a must.

  7. Steve, thanks for the link to the N-YHS ~ I quite like the image of the Indian Ki-On-Twog-Ky (also known as Cornplanter ) that is featured at the site.

    ODT, I hope you are planning Washington Pie for the next presidential holiday. The great old bakery, Lyndell’s, in Ball Square, Somerville, makes a version they call Powderhouse Pie, in standard size and miniature.

  8. Old Dominion Tory

    Washington pie *definitely* is making an appearance on the menu on February 22. I might bring one to my office and introduce a great New England tradition to the Valley of Virginia.

  9. ODT, now you’re talking.

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