CHARLESTON -- There now are more ways to see an artist's concept of the divide between political candidates and in the nation leading up to the Civil War.

B.F. McClerren, a longtime local Abraham Lincoln portrayer, was the owner of smaller versions of the sculpture that sits on the grounds of the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum in Charleston.

Now, the items are at the home of the full-sized version to give visitors an idea about how it was created, as McClerren donated them to the museum.

The items are a prototype model and a small commemorative versions of the statue.

McClerren was a strong supporter of the museum that opened in 2001 at the Coles County Fairgrounds, which was one of the locations of the series of debates between Lincoln and Douglas during the 1858 U.S. Senate campaign.

Charleston High grad Oakley hopes to bring continuity to teaching, FFA position

He obtained the small sculptures during the museum's fundraising campaign. Now, he said, he's retired from portraying Lincoln and wanted the items to be in a public setting.

"I thought it was the place for them, to be viewed by people," McClerren said.

The prototype was one of several proposed versions for the museum sculpture and led to Decatur artist John McClarey being selected to create the piece.

McClarey was on hand for McClerren's donation and praised the man known as "Mac" for his efforts to raise money for and help build the museum.

Mattoon 'Mad Gasser' incidents began 75 years ago this month

You have free articles remaining.

Become a Member

Keep reading for FREE!
Enjoy more articles by signing up or logging in. No credit card required.

"I don't think it would have happened without Mac," McClarey said. "I think the community owes him a debt."

The smaller items are displayed in a case inside the museum, near another, somewhat larger commemorative version.

Charleston Tourism Director Diane Ratliff said the sculpture draws interest from museum visitors and she welcomed McClerren's contribution.

"We appreciate the donation to have the history here," she said.

McClerren and McClarey are planning to create a display about the sculpture's history that will be placed next to the donated items.

EIU sees 3.7% enrollment increase over last year

Charleston Mayor Brandon Combs also attended the donation presentation and thanked McClerren for the gift to "make sure others enjoy" the sculptures.

"It's fantastic that he's willing to donate these items to the museum," Combs said.

The sculpture outside the museum shows life-sized versions of Lincoln and Douglas engaged in one of their debates. A gap of a few feet separates the two, representing the divide over slavery expansion that was an issue of the campaign.

Among McClerren's portrayals of Lincoln was during a re-enactment of the Charleston debate that was part of a 1994 series on the debates by the C-SPAN network.

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Contact Dave Fopay at (217) 238-6858. Follow him on Twitter: @FopayDave



Dave Fopay is a reporter for the JG-TC who covers Coles County, the local court system, Charleston schools and more.

Subscribe to the JG-TC

Reporting like this is brought to you by a staff of experienced local journalists committed to telling the stories of your community.
Support from subscribers is vital to continue our mission.

Become a subscriber

Thank you for subscribing

Your contribution makes local journalism possible.

Load comments