In the shadows of Manchester ’ s breathtaking Hildene estate , an elegant and majestic marvel of late 19th century design and engineering stands in front of a stately platform in an enchanting forest clearing . Inside , shiny overhead lighting fixtures and gleaming polished wooden walls beautifully exemplify the opulent and splendid stylistic conventions that defined a crucially-overlooked period in American history .
Although the 1903 Pullman car , Sunbeam , is certainly a magnificent visual spectacle , the true allure of the treasured railcar lies in its rich and compelling history . In order to fully understand the extent of the Pullman car ’ s cultural significance – as well as its historical connection to Manchester and Hildene – one must first understand the sequence of events that led to the creation of the Hildene estate , and reflect on the social and political developments that were directly influenced by the Pullman Palace Car Company and the Pullman Porters .
Robert Todd Lincoln – Lawyer , Statesman , and Railcar Magnate
Robert Todd Lincoln was a student at Harvard University when he first visited Manchester , Vermont in the summer of 1864 . America was standing at a critical crossroads . Nearly two years after his father , President Abraham Lincoln , signed the Emancipation Proclamation in January of 1863 , the Civil War continued to rage at full force . As the Confederate and Union armies clashed in the southern states , the future of the American Union hung on a tenuous thread .
After graduating from Harvard in the fall of 1864 , Robert enlisted in the Union Army . As a member of General Ulysses S . Grant ’ s official staff , Robert was present at the historic Appomattox Courthouse Surrender on April 9th , 1865 . It was there that General Lee famously capitulated on behalf of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia . Five days later , President Abraham Lincoln was tragically assassinated by John Wilkes-Booth at Ford ’ s Theatre in Washington , DC . Less than two months after President Lincoln ’ s assassination , the last remaining active regiments of the Confederate Army surrendered . Soon after , the Civil War officially ended , and slavery was declared illegal throughout the United States of America . In the aftermath of President Lincoln ’ s death , Robert Todd Lincoln moved back to Illinois with his brother , Tad , and his mother , Mary Todd .