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SUMMARY: "Vinnie Ream"

The article "Vinnie Ream," from the August 2000 issue of Smithsonian Magazine, tells the story of a woman in the 1800's who was chosen to sculpt statues of prominent Americans, including Abraham Lincoln, despite having little experience. The article gives both an overview of the life of Vinnie Ream and an account of the political battles that arose from her commissions.

The article opens by talking about how the government had decided to commemorate Civil War hero David Farragut with a statue. While many people expected congress to choose well-known sculptor Horatio Stone for the work, they instead picked a 26-year old woman who had only done one large statue in her life. This episode is used to illustrate how Vinnie Ream caused a great deal of controversy, with a strong split between supporters and detractors.

There is a brief recounting of her childhood leading up to her interest in sculpting, influenced by an artist named Clark Mills, who encouraged and taught Ream. She was then given permission by Abraham Lincoln to do a small statue of him. After he was assassinated, congress decided to pay $10,000 to commission a larger statue of the president. Ream wrote letters and made friends with members of congress in an effort to secure the commission.

This effort led to a ferocious debate both in congress and among the general public. Many were swayed by the girl's charms and enthusiasm, while others saw her as lacking both experience and talent, claiming that she was being considered only on the basis of her personality. She was eventually chosen for the work, and the statue she made met with the same mixed response.

Having made friends in high places, she later sought the commission for the Farragut statue. With the help of people like William Tecumseh Sherman, she was able to get this prestigious work as well, though many were



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