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December 15, 2008

Obama not the first Pres.-elect to take train through Baltimore

Barack Obama has never been one to shy away from Lincoln symbolism in his presidential run (for example, making his campaign announcement on the steps of the old state house in Springfield, where the 16th president served). Like Lincoln, Obama plans to arrive in Washington by train. (Lincoln rode the rails all the way from Illinois; Obama's just picking up a train out of Philly.) But he's looking for a somewhat more triumphant stop in Baltimore than Lincoln got in 1861.

The Illinois Republican's election precipitated major secessionist uprisings throughout the south; six states seceeded before inauguration day, but border states, including in Maryland, stayed in the Union. But Baltimore was still a hotbed of anti-Lincoln sentiment, and the president-elect's chief of security, Allan Pinkerton, went to extraordinary lenghts to get him through the city safely. There's some dispute among historians about whether the plot to kill Lincoln in Baltimore was real, but Pinkerton evidently thought so. Lincoln's security forces cut telegraph lines between Baltimore and Pennsylvania to cut off communications among potential conspirators, and the president-elect left Harrisburg on a secret night train. To avoid running afoul of a city law prohibiting the running of trains through downtown at night, Lincoln's cars were drawn through by horses.

When crowds gathered to greet Lincoln's train the next day, they discovered he was already gone.

Posted by Andy Green at 10:57 AM | | Comments (5)


and Lincoln's body laid in state here for a day after his assasination

Bill Clinton rode a specially-augmented MARC commuter train from DC to Baltimore on April 5, 1993 to head to Oriole Park at Camden Yards to toss out the "first ball" for the 1993 baseball season. There have been numerous other presidential visits by train, including a 1952 Eisenhower campaign train and Truman's 1948 campaign train.

Who will ever forget the slow moving train carrying Bobby Kennedy's body to Washington. People were lined up along the tracks through Maryland. Very sad day

the president elect has shown more leadership and thoughtfulness in the last month then the current president has shown in the last 8 yrs,

To reduce costs and energy, Jimmy Carter rode a train to Baltimore from DC. That caused extra cars to be put on the train for security and the train was preceded and followed be helicopters. Not much savings there.

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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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