Chiniquy, Charles. Collection, 1876-1909 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
This collection consists of correspondence from Charles Chiniquy, John Carroll Power, and others to Edwin A. Sherman. Correspondence discussed subjects including Abraham Lincoln, the Roman Catholic Church, and research conducted by Chiniquy and Sherman, both of which culiminated in publications.
Charles Chiniquy (1809-1899) was a Canadian Catholic priest who was ordained in Quebec, Canada, in 1833. He settled in Illinois in 1851 and laid the foundations for several French-Canadian communities in Kankakee County. In 1855 he was sued for slander by Peter Spink, a prominent Catholic man in Kankakee, Illinois. Chiniquy hired Abraham Lincoln as his lawyer, and Lincoln successfully arranged for a settlement of the suit. After clashing with his superiors, Chiniquy left the Catholic Church in 1858 and became vocal about his criticisms of the Church. In 1885 he wrote a book entitled Fifty Years in the Church of Rome, in which he charged that the Vatican was behind the Confederate cause and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Edwin A. Sherman (1829-1914) was a journalist, publisher, land surveyor, and mining expert. Like Chiniquy, Sherman was also critical of the Catholic Church, and he served as a resource for Chiniquy throughout the research and production of his book, Fify Years in the Church of Rome. Sherman served as Commander-in-Chief of the Lincoln Grand Guard of Honor, a fraternal organization founded in 1875. This organization might have been related to the similarly-named Lincoln Guard of Honor, which was founded in 1880 in Springfield, Illinois, as a way of protecting the body of Abraham Lincoln shortly after an attempt was made to steal his remains in 1876. Several members of the Lincoln Guard of Honor were also officers of the Grand Guard of Honor, including Joseph N. Reese, Gustavus S. Dana, Joseph P. Lindley, and John Carroll Power, custodian of the Lincoln Tomb from 1874-1894.
The bulk of the collection contains letters from Charles Chiniquy to Edwin A. Sherman dated 1878 to 1895. These letters regard Abraham Lincoln, the Roman Catholic Church, Chiniquy’s research and book, and the personal research of Sherman. The collection also includes letters to Sherman from John Carroll Power (1819-1894), who was the first custodian of the Lincoln Tomb and the founder of the Lincoln Guard of Honor, a group formed in 1880 to protect the remains of Lincoln. Additional letters to Sherman regard his 1883 book The Engineer Corps of Hell; or, Rome's Sappers and Miners, which was dedicated to Chiniquy. This collection also contains ephemera such as a promise signed by Chiniquy to defend Sherman's book, a circular dedicating Chiniquy's Fifty Years in the Church of Rome to Sherman, and an undated broadside expressing anti-Republican sentiment around the 1884 presidential election.
The Lincoln Room, a predecessor of the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, purchased these items as a collection in 1954.
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