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An photo a large white building with big pillars.
Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States from 1861 to 1865, has been memorialized in many town, city, and county names,[1] Along with George Washington, he is an iconic image of American democracy and American nationalism.

Changing image

Barry Schwartz, a sociologist who has examined America's cultural memory, states that in the 1930s and 1940s, the memory of Abraham Lincoln was practically sacred and provided the nation with "a moral symbol inspiring and guiding American life." During the Great Depression, he says, Lincoln served "as a means for seeing the world's disappointments, for making its sufferings not so much explicable as meaningful." Franklin D. Roosevelt, preparing America for World War II, used the words of the American Civil War-era president to clarify the threat posed by Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan. Americans asked, "What would Lincoln do?"[2] However, he also finds that since World War II, Lincoln's symbolic power has lost relevance, and this "fading hero is symptomatic of fading confidence in national greatness."[3] He suggested that postmodernism and multiculturalism have diluted greatness as a concept.[citation needed]

While Lincoln remains in the very top tier of the historical rankings of presidents of the United States, all of the presidents have slipped in historical prestige in the public's mind. Schwartz said that the reason is what he calls the "acids of equality": as the culture of the United States became more diverse, egalitarian, and multicultural, it also suffered a "deterioration and coarsening of traditional symbols and practices."[4]

Lincoln sites remain popular tourist attractions, but crowds have thinned. In the late 1960s, 650,000 people a year visited the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois, slipping to 393,000 in 2000–2003. Likewise visits to Lincoln's New Salem fell by half, probably because of the enormous draw of the new museum in Springfield. Visits to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., peaked at 4.3 million in 1987 and have since declined. However crowds at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., have grown sharply.[5]


The oldest continuously operating association in the United States honoring Lincoln is the Lincoln Association of Jersey City in Jersey City, New Jersey, which was formed in 1865 shortly after Lincoln's assassination. The association has held a banquet in Jersey City every year on Lincoln's birthday, February 12. The association has been addressed by a number of people of national importance, including political figures, military veterans, educators and civil rights leaders. The association celebrated its 150th anniversary on February 12, 2015, which included the laying of a wreath at the entrance to Jersey City's Lincoln Park. The association's annual dinner featured speaker Todd Brewster, author of Lincoln's Gamble, about the struggle to create the Emancipation Proclamation.[6]


The memorials include the name of the capital of Nebraska (1867). The first public monument to Abraham Lincoln, after his death, was a statue erected in front of the District of Columbia City Hall in 1868, three years after his assassination.[7]

In 1876, on the anniversary of his death, a memorial, paid for by emancipated citizens to honor the Great Emancipator, the Freedmen's Memorial was dedicated in Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C. Present for the dedication were President Ulysses S. Grant, cabinet members, and representatives of both the Supreme Court and Congress. Frederick Douglass gave the dedication speech.[8]

The first national memorial to Abraham Lincoln was the historic Lincoln Highway, the first road for the automobile across the United States of America, which was dedicated in 1913, predating the 1921 dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., by nine years.

Lincoln's name and image appear in numerous other places, such as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and Lincoln's sculpture on Mount Rushmore, Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Hodgenville, Kentucky,[9] Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City, Indiana,[10] Lincoln's New Salem, Illinois,[11] and Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois[12] commemorate the president.[13] The Lincoln Memorial at Louisville Waterfront Park features a double-life-size sculpture of a seated, hatless Lincoln surrounded by narrative bas relief sculptures by Edward Hamilton which depict the history of slavery as witnessed by Lincoln in the slave markets of Kentucky.[14]

Ford's Theatre and Petersen House (where he died) are maintained as museums, as is the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, located in Springfield.[15][16] The Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, contains his remains and those of his wife Mary and three of his four sons, Edward, William, and Thomas.[17] Springfield's airport is named for him, the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport.[18]

There was also the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln exhibit in Disneyland, and the Hall of Presidents exhibit at Walt Disney World, which was based on Walt Disney admiring Lincoln ever since he was a little boy.

Lincoln Memorial University located in Harrogate, Tennessee near the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park was established in 1897 as a living memorial to President Lincoln. The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum located on campus, houses a large collection of memorabilia relating to the school's namesake.

The Lincoln Memorial Shrine was built in 1932 in Redlands, California. Has an original Lincoln bust by George Grey Barnard. Only museum and research center to Lincoln west of the Mississippi River.[19]

Mount Rushmore, showing the full size of the mountain and the scree of rocks from the sculpting and construction


Main article: Lincoln Tomb

On the night of November 7, 1876, a group of counterfeiters entered Lincoln's tomb with the intent of absconding with his mortal remains and holding them for ransom in order to secure the release of their leader, Benjamin Boyd, an imprisoned engraver of counterfeit currency plates. The group entered his tomb, but had only succeeded in partially dislodging its marble lid before a US Secret Service agent who had infiltrated their number alerted law enforcement authorities. Although several escaped, most served a one-year prison term. For much of the next decade (c. 1876 – 1887), Lincoln's tomb was mobile, to avoid further unwanted disinterment.[20]

Statue burning

On August 16, 2017, a bust of Abraham Lincoln in a park in West Englewood, Chicago was spray-painted black and later covered in tar and set on fire.[21][22][23] The bust restoration was finished in 2018, it was then moved to the Chicago Public Library.[24]

Stamps, currency and coins

$10 Demand Note issued in 1861, while Lincoln was still alive.

Within a year of this death, Lincoln's image began to be disseminated throughout the world on stamps.[25] Pictured on many United States postage stamps, Lincoln is the only U.S. President to appear on a U.S. airmail stamp.[26]

To date, more than 50 nations around the world have issued postage bearing his image.[27]

Lincoln was one of five people to be depicted on United States paper currency (federal issue) during their lifetime (along with Salmon P. Chase, Francis E. Spinner, Spencer M. Clark, and Winfield Scott). He has been featured on several denominations ($1, $5, $10, $20, $100, and $500) across different issues (e.g., Demand Notes, Legal Tender, Gold Certificates, Silver Certificates, etc.) since the first federally issued U.S. Bank Note in 1861.[28] In addition to the modern United States five-dollar bill, currency honoring the president includes the Lincoln cent, which represents the first regularly circulating U.S. coin to feature an actual person's image.[29]

Lincoln's image on the five-dollar bill was used by Salvador Dalí to help commemorate the U.S. Bicentennial with his creation of "Gala looking at the Mediterranean Sea which at a distance of 20 meters is transformed into the portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko)" and Lincoln in Dalivision, the earlier of which was displayed at The Guggenheim in New York during the 1976 Bicentennial.[30]


The first statue of Lincoln outside the United States was erected in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1893. The work of George Edwin Bissell, it stands on a memorial to Scots immigrants who enlisted with the Union during the Civil War, the only memorial to the war erected outside the United States. A second statue by George Grey Barnard was erected in Manchester, England in 1919. Nowadays situated in Lincoln Square west of Manchester Town Hall, the statue commemorates the impact the American Civil War had on the cotton cloth-producing region of Manchester and Lancashire.[31] A large statue of Lincoln standing by Saint Gaudens was unveiled near Westminster Abbey in London, on July 28, 1920, in an elaborate ceremony. The principal addresses were delivered in Central Hall, Westminster.[32] In 1964, United States President Lyndon Johnson presented a Saint Gaudens to the people of Mexico, which is displayed in Mexico City's Parque Lincoln.[33] Also in Mexico, a monument in Tijuana was unveiled in 1981 while a reciprocal statue of Lincoln's contemporary and friend President Benito Juarez was unveiled in neighboring San Diego.[34]


Abraham Lincoln's birthday, February 12, was never a national holiday, but it was at one time observed by as many as 30 states.[1] In 1971, Presidents Day became a national holiday, combining Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays and replacing most states' celebration of his birthday.[35] The Abraham Lincoln Association was formed in 1908 to commemorate the centennial of Lincoln's birth.[36] In 2000, Congress established the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission to commemorate his 200th birthday in February 2009.[37]

Sculpture in the United States

See also: List of statues of Abraham Lincoln

Emancipation Proclamation, Lee Lawrie, Nebraska State Capitol, Lincoln, Nebraska
Pioneer-Backwoodsman, Lincoln Tower, Ft. Wayne, Indiana
Roger Williams Park, Providence, Rhode Island
Seated Lincoln at Syracuse University
Young Lincoln by Charles Keck, in Chicago

See also


  1. ^ a b Dennis, p. 194.
  2. ^ Barry Schwartz, Abraham Lincoln in the Post-Heroic Era: History and Memory in Late Twentieth-Century America (2009) pp. xi, 9, 24
  3. ^ Barry Schwartz, Abraham Lincoln in the Post-Heroic Era: History and Memory in Late Twentieth-Century America (2009) p. xi, 9
  4. ^ Schwartz, (1990) p. 190.
  5. ^ Schwartz (2009), pp. 153–155.
  6. ^ "Lincoln Association of Jersey City marks 150th anniversary celebration year". The Union City Reporter. p. 14.
  7. ^ "Renovation and Expansion of the Historic DC Courthouse" (PDF). DC Court of Appeals. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-11-05. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
  8. ^ "Frederick Douglass Project Writings: Oration in Memory of Abraham Lincoln | RBSCP". Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  9. ^ "Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site". U.S. National Park Service.
  10. ^ "Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial". U.S. National Park Service.
  11. ^ "Lincoln's New Salem". Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Archived from the original on 2011-10-26.
  12. ^ "Lincoln Home National Historic Site". U.S. National Park Service.
  13. ^ Peterson, pp. 312, 368,
  14. ^ "Trees at Lincoln Memorial Site - on". No. Indiana edition. Louisville Courier Journal. January 14, 2009. p. 5. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  15. ^ "The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum". Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Archived from the original on 2011-09-03.
  16. ^ "About Ford's". Ford's Theatre. Archived from the original on 2011-10-13.
  17. ^ "Lincoln Tomb". Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Archived from the original on 2011-10-25.
  18. ^ "What's in an eponym? Celebrity airports - could there be a commercial benefit in naming?". Centre for Aviation.
  19. ^ "Redlands has had a shrine to President Lincoln for 90 years, here's why". 11 February 2022.
  20. ^ Keith Verinese (5 April 2012). "The Adventures of Abraham Lincoln's Corpse". io9.comdate=April 5, 2012.
  21. ^ Spielman, Fran; Dudek, Mitch (August 17, 2017). "Alderman says Lincoln bust in West Englewood burned". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on September 14, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  22. ^ "Lincoln Statue Found Burned on Chicago's South Side: Alderman". NBC Chicago. 17 August 2017. Retrieved 2023-05-03.
  23. ^ "Abraham Lincoln monument torched in Chicago: 'An absolute disgraceful act'". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2023-05-03.
  24. ^ Seitz, Amanda. "Abraham Lincoln monument safe in Chicago neighborhood". AP Newa. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  25. ^ Healey, Matthew (19 April 2009). "Lincoln Stamps Bring Neary $2 Million at a New York Auction". The New York Times.
  26. ^ William W. Cummings, and James B. Hatcher Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps (1982) p. 284.
  27. ^ Kenmore Stamp Company <>; Jones, William A., & James Kloetzel, editors, Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers (Scott Publishing Company, 2010); Abraham Lincoln Famous People Postal Stamps <> (Retrieved June 1, 2020). Perhaps because he had a Countries with Lincoln himself pictured on stamps (not including the Lincoln Memorial or the cabin of his birth) have been: Aden, Agman, Antiqua, Argentina, Beguia, Cameroon, Canouan, Central Africa, Cameroun, Chad, China, Columbia, Congo, Cuba, Dominica, Fujairah, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Grenadines, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kathiri, Lesotho, Liberia, Maldives, Mali, Manama Michel, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Monaco, Mozambique, Nevis, Nicaragua, Niger, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Rwanda, San Marino, Scotland, Sharjah, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, St. Thomas, St. Vincent, Surinam, Taiwan, Tanzania, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, Venezuela, Union Island.
  28. ^ Portraits on U.S. Bank Notes : Abraham Lincoln (The National Currency Foundation), retrieved 28 December 2012
  29. ^ Vinciguerra, Thomas (February 7, 2009). "Now if Only We Could Mint Lincoln Himself". The New York Times. p. WK4.
  30. ^ "Lincoln in Dalivision". Archived from the original on 2013-01-06. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
  31. ^ "Abraham Lincoln - Manchester". Manchester Art Galleries. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
  32. ^ Twenty-Sixth Annual Report of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, 1921 (Albany, NY: J. B. Lyon Company Printers, 1922), pp. 194–95.
  33. ^ "Abraham Lincoln Coming to Cornish". February 13, 2015.
  34. ^ Pfledderer, Sarah (2018-08-02). "Inside the Icon: Monumento Abraham Lincoln". San Diego Magazine. Retrieved 2022-01-28.
  35. ^ Schwartz (2009), pp. 196–199.
  36. ^ Peterson pp. 147, 263.
  37. ^ Carroll, James R. (January 12, 2009). "Let the Lincoln Bicentennial Celebrations Begin". The Courier-Journal.
  38. ^ Abraham Lincoln: The Man (Standing Lincoln) 1884–87; reduced 1910; cast 1911.
  39. ^ Nawrocki, Dennis Alan, with Thomas J Holleman, “Art In Detroit Public Places”, Wayne State University Press, Detroit 1980 p. 32-33
  40. ^ ""Lincoln, The Emancipator"- Buffalo History Museum". Buffalo as an Architectural Museum. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  41. ^ Kvaran & Lockley, Guide to the Architectural Sculpture of the United States"
  42. ^ "Abraham Lincoln Statue". Buffalo as an Architectural Museum. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  43. ^ Pelland, David (1 October 2013). "Abraham Lincoln Statue, Hingham, Massachusetts". CT Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  44. ^ "The Young Lincoln". The Civil War in Art. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  45. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form" (PDF). Rhode Island Preservation Society. Rhode Island Preservation Society. p. 2. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  46. ^ "Roger Williams Park: Self-Guided Tour of Notable Art" (PDF). Rhode Island Foundation. Rhode Island Foundation. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 August 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  47. ^ "SEPTEMBER 2, 1858: ABRAHAM LINCOLN SPEAKS IN CLINTON, IL". Retrieved 27 May 2017.[permanent dead link]
  48. ^ "Abraham Lincoln Quotes". but you can't fool all of the people all of the time
  49. ^ "In the former capital of the Confederacy, the debate over statues is personal and painful". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2023-05-03.

Further reading