Lincoln Rail Splitter
“Lincoln the Railsplitter” in Garfield Park was created by a direct purchase from sculptor Charles Mulligan by the West Park Commission – an antecedent to today’s Chicago Park District. Unlike the other Lincoln sculptures in Chicago that portray him late in life, Mulligan’s depiction is of a young man who was destined to come up from modest circumstances and work in strenuous physical labor to become one of the most impactful presidents in United States history. The sculptor, Charles Mulligan, also worked his way up from modest circumstances, having arrived in the United States as an immigrant from Ireland whose early work included being a laborer in stone cutting. His abilities in art later resulted in a position as an assistant in in the Chicago studio of the prolific sculptor Lorado Taft, where he soon worked his way up into a position of authority overseeing the studio’s multiple ongoing projects. Mulligan’s formal education included the school of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Mulligan was actively involved in the City Beautiful movement of the early twentieth century, particularly in the beautification of Chicago’s West Side parks. It was this connection that probably led to the purchase of the Lincoln sculpture for Garfield Park. Other sculpture by Mulligan in Chicago includes “The Miner ‘s Homecoming” in Humboldt Park, “William McKinley” in McKinley Park, and the Independence Square Fountain.