Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about LMU athletics.....
1. "What is a Railsplitter?"
This question is probably asked more than any other. "The Railsplitter" is one of the nicknames of Abraham Lincoln and the one he used in the 1860 presidential election.
"Lincoln the rail splitter." c1909. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.
The Railsplitter, painted in 1860. Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum
For some background we give you a bit of history courtesy of the Chicago History Museum:
"On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected sixteenth president of the United States. He won as “The Railsplitter” candidate, a nickname acquired the previous May when Illinois Republicans convened at Decatur to endorse a favorite son for president.
"Lincoln was the likely choice but his supporters felt he needed a catchier nickname than “Old Abe” or “Honest Abe.” Thus, Richard J. Oglesby and John Hanks, a first cousin of Lincoln’s mother, located a split-rail fence supposedly built by Lincoln in 1830. When they walked into the hall carrying two of the rails—decorated with flags, streamers, and a sign that read, “Abraham Lincoln/The Rail Candidate”—the crowd went wild.
"Although Lincoln claimed he could not say for certain that he had split those particular rails, he said that “he had mauled many and many better ones since he had grown to manhood.” By now, Lincoln was a prominent lawyer, not a backwoodsman. But, he had split rails in his youth, and the image held enormous appeal to voters (all male) who shared similar backgrounds and cultural beliefs about the merits of hard work and self-reliance.
"Several days after the state convention, the Republican Party held its national convention in Chicago and nominated Lincoln for president. Lincoln did not actively campaign for office (as was the custom), but his supporters staged a lively campaign. An unknown artist created this mythical, life-size portrait of Lincoln (the painting above on the right) to be used at public rallies; notice that there’s an image of the White House on the distant horizon."
While LMU is the only collegiate team to use the name "Railsplitters," we know of high schools in Illinois, Iowa, Pennsylvania, New York, Missouri and Michigan using the name. And almost certainly many more elementary and middle schools use the name.
The image of Lincoln the Railsplitter has also appeared on the one cent piece as part of the Lincoln Bicentennial in 2009.
The 84th Infantry Division (now the 84th Training Command) is also known as the Railsplitters. The division was originally raised in Illinois and their tradition traces their lineage to the militia company captained by Abraham Lincoln in the Black Hawk War of 1832. The Railsplitters were a reserve unit in the First World War and in World War II they saw action in the Roer Valley and were in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. Following the war up to the present day, the unit became part of the Army Reserves as a training unit, only being re-activated once as part of Operation Desert Storm.