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Abraham Lincoln (1920 statue)
and the sculptor was familiar with sign language. Historian James A. Percoco has observed that, although there are no extant documents showing that

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Not to be confused with Abraham Lincoln (1912 statue). This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (February 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) Abraham Lincoln Artist Daniel Chester French Year 1920 Type Georgia marble (Murphy Marble) Location Lincoln Memorial,
Washington, D.C., United States

Abraham Lincoln (1920) is a colossal seated figure of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) sculpted by Daniel Chester French (1850–1931) and carved by the Piccirilli Brothers. It is situated in the Lincoln Memorial (constructed 1914–22), on the National Mall, Washington, D.C., USA, and was unveiled in 1922. Stylistically, the work follows in the Beaux Arts and American Renaissance traditions.

  • 1 Description
  • 2 History
  • 3 Folklore
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


The 170-ton statue is composed of 28 blocks of white Georgia marble (Georgia Marble Company) and rises 30 feet (9.1 m) from the floor, including the 19-foot (5.8 m) seated figure (with armchair and footrest) upon an 11-foot (3.4 m) high pedestal. The figure of Lincoln gazes directly ahead and slightly down with an expression of gravity and solemnity. His frock coat is unbuttoned, and a large United States flag is draped over the chair back and sides. French paid special attention to Lincoln's expressive hands, which rest on the enormous arms of a circular, ceremonial chair, the fronts of which bear fasces, emblems of authority from Roman antiquity. French used casts of his own fingers to achieve the correct placement.


Daniel Chester French was selected in 1914 by the Lincoln Memorial Committee to create a Lincoln statue as part of the memorial to be designed by architect Henry Bacon (1866–1924). French was already famous for his Minute Man (1884) statue in Concord, Massachusetts. He was also the personal choice of Bacon who had already been collaborating with him for nearly 25 years. French resigned his chairmanship of the Fine Arts Commission in Washington, D.C.—a group closely affiliated with the memorial's design and creation—and commenced work in December.

French had already created (1909–1912) a major memorial statue of Lincoln—this one standing—for the Nebraska State Capitol (Abraham Lincoln, 1912) in Lincoln, Nebraska. His previous studies of Lincoln—which included biographies, photographs, and a life mask of Lincoln by Leonard Volk done in 1860—had prepared him for the challenging task of the larger statue. For the national memorial, he and Bacon decided that a large seated figure would be most appropriate. French started with a small clay study and subsequently created several plaster models, each time making subtle changes in the figure's pose or setting. He placed the President not in an ordinary 19th-century seat, but in a classical chair including fasces, a Roman symbol of authority, to convey that the subject was an eminence for all the ages.

Installation of the statue in 1920

Three plaster models of the Lincoln statue are at French's Chesterwood Studio, a National Trust Historic Site in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, including a plaster sketch (1915) and a six-foot plaster model (1916). The second of French's plasters, created at Chesterwood in the summer of 1916 (inscribed October 31) would be further enlarged and finally became the basis of the colossal marble. The work was originally to have been a 12-foot (3.7 m) bronze image. To determine the optimum scale and size for the memorial statue French and Bacon took photographic enlargements of the statue to the memorial while it was still under construction. French's longtime collaborators, the firm of Piccirilli Brothers, were commissioned to do the carving of a much larger sculpture in marble from a quarry near Tate, Georgia.

It took a full year for French's design to be transferred to the massive marble blocks. French provided finishing strokes in the carvers' studio in New York City and after the statue was assembled in the memorial on the National Mall in 1920. Lighting the statue was a particular problem. In creating the work, French had understood that a large skylight would provide direct, natural illumination from overhead, but this was not included in the final plans. The horizontal light from the east caused Lincoln's facial features to appear flattened—making him appear to stare blankly, rather than wear a dignified expression—and highlighted his shins. French considered this a disaster. In the end, an arrangement of electric lights was devised to correct this situation. The work was unveiled at the memorial's formal dedication on May 30, 1922.

Folklore General Robert E. Lee's profile is purported to be hidden in Lincoln's hair, facing backwards.

A legend is that Lincoln is shown using sign language to represent his initials, with his left hand shaped to form an "A" and his right hand to form an "L". The National Park Service denies the story, calling it an urban legend. However, historian Gerald Prokopowicz writes that, while it is not clear that sculptor Daniel Chester French intended for Lincoln's hands to be formed into sign language versions of his initials, it is possible that French did intend it, because he was familiar with American Sign Language, and he would have had a reason to do so, i.e., to pay tribute to Lincoln for having signed the federal legislation giving Gallaudet University, a university for the deaf, the authority to grant college degrees. The National Geographic Society's publication, On This Spot: Pinpointing the Past in Washington, D.C., states that French had a son who was deaf, and the sculptor was familiar with sign language. Historian James A. Percoco has observed that, although there are no extant documents showing that French carved Lincoln's hands to represent the letters "A" and "L" in American Sign Language, "I think you can conclude that it's reasonable to have that kind of summation about the hands."

See also
  • Outdoor sculpture in Washington, D.C.
  1. ^ a b Jacob, Kathryn Allamong (1998), Testament to Union: Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C., Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, pp 119–125.
  2. ^ a b "Lincoln Memorial National Memorial – Frequently Asked Questions". National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. 2008. Archived from the original on 30 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  3. ^ Prokopowicz, Gerald J. Did Lincoln Own Slaves? And Other Frequently Asked Questions About Abraham Lincoln. ISBN 978-0-375-42541-7. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Evelyn, Douglas E.; Dickson, Paul A. (1999). On this Spot: Pinpointing the Past in Washington, D.C. National Geographic Society. ISBN 0-7922-7499-7. 
  6. ^ Harrington, Tom (May 2002). "FAQ: Lincoln Memorial Statue". Gallaudet University website. Gallaudet University, Washington D.C. Archived from the original on 2009-01-04. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  7. ^ Percoco, James A., speech given on April 17, 2008 in the Jefferson Room of the National Archives and Records Administration as part of the National Archive's "Noontime Programs" lecture series. Broadcast on the C-Span cable television network on April 4 and April 5, 2009.
External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to Abraham Lincoln seated at the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Save Outdoor Sculpture Survey.

Coordinates: 38°53′21″N 77°03′00″W / 38.8893°N 77.050122°W / 38.8893; -77.050122

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Take the Journey: Teaching American History Through Place-Based Learning
Take the Journey: Teaching American History Through Place-Based Learning
In Take the Journey, author, historian, and educator James Percoco invites you and your students to the places where many events in American history happened. The Journey Through Hallowed Ground is a 180-mile National Heritage area encompassing such historic sites as the Gettysburg battlefield and Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. Though it might prove difficult to visit these particular sites with your students, Percoco argues that every community has a story that can be connected to larger themes in American history and that placed-based history education can be made a part of every classroom, from Nevada to Washington to Pennsylvania. Filled with students’ voices and an enthusiasm for American history, Take the Journey offers the following: Practical and easy-to-implement lessonsClassroom-tested materialsSpecific directions for employing place-based best practices in the classroomWays to meet state standards without sacrificing teacher creativity or hands-on learningLists of resources and primary source materialsSo bring your students along and let them discover the twists and turns offered by history and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground.  

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A Passion for the Past: Creative Teaching of U.S. History
A Passion for the Past: Creative Teaching of U.S. History
James Percoco challenges you to venture beyond your history textbook and provide students with opportunities to experience history firsthand. He demonstrates how, using applied history, you can bring to life the people, places, and events of our nation's history, inspiring in your students a passion for the past. Join Percoco and his students as they embark on what he calls "academic adventures." Taking advantage of the many resources in their surrounding community and beyond, Percoco's students travel to historic sites and exhibits, examine archives and other primary source documents, analyze movies and documentaries, conduct interviews, create sculptures, and much more. Throughout the book, Percoco lists numerous sources for historical information and documents, as well as practical suggestions for cultivating contacts and managing logistics. As a result of the tangible experiences applied history offers, students come to appreciate the relevance of the past to their present and their future. As they work to make sense of the past, they will learn to question their assumptions, to think critically, and ultimately to develop their own personal yet valid understanding of our nation's history.

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Regency Women's Dress: Techniques and Patterns 1800-1830
Regency Women's Dress: Techniques and Patterns 1800-1830
The distinctive style of the Regency period is a source of endless fascination for fashion academics and historians, living historians, re-enactors and costume designers for stage and screen. Author and fashion historian Cassidy Percoco has delved into little-known museum hoards to create a stunning collection of 26 garments, many with clear provenance tied to a specific location, which have never before been published and never - or very rarely - displayed. Most of the garments have an aspect in their construction that has not been previously documented, from a style of skirt trim to the method of gown closure. This practical guide begins with a general history of the early 19th-century women's dress. This is followed by 26 patterns of gowns, spencers, chemises, and corsets, each with an illustration of the finished piece and description of its construction. This must-have guide is an essential reference for anyone interested in the fashions or the history of the period, or for anyone wishing to recreate their own beautiful Regency clothing.

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Orchestral Masters Vol. 4
Orchestral Masters Vol. 4
ABLAZE Records fourth volume of new orchestral works from composers around the world.

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Summers with Lincoln: Looking for the Man in the Monuments
Summers with Lincoln: Looking for the Man in the Monuments
Across the country, in the middle of busy city squares and hidden on quiet streets, there are nearly 200 statues erected in memory of Abraham Lincoln. No other American has ever been so widely commemorated.A few years ago, anticipating the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth in 2009, Jim Percoco, a history teacher with a passion for both Lincoln and public sculpture, set off to see what he might learn about some of these monuments―what they meant when they were unveiled, and what they mean to us today. The result is this captivating book, a fascinating chronicle of four summers on the road looking for Lincoln stories in statues of marble and bronze. Of all the monuments, Percoco selects seven emblematic ones. He begins and ends the journey in Washington, starting with Thomas Ball’s Emancipation Group, erected east of the Capitol in 1876 with private funds from African Americans, and dedicated by Frederick Douglass. Here, Percoco and his multi-ethnic band of teenage historians explore the impact of this Freedman’s Monument showing Lincoln and a kneeling freed bondsperson. What does the statute say about race and freedom to today’s Americans? What did Ball―and his sponsors―want it to say? From Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s majestic Standing Lincoln of 1887 in Chicago, which helped move our image of Lincoln from great emancipator to that of statesman to Paul Manship’s 1932 Lincoln the Hoosier Youth, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which glows with an art deco sleekness, Percoco mines a wealth of Lincoln legacies―and our reactions to them expressed across generations. Here are controversial gems like Barnard’s 1917 tribute in Cincinnati and Borglum’s Seated Lincoln, struggling with the pain of leadership, beckoning visitors to sit next to him on his metal bench in Newark, New Jersey. At each stop, Percoco chronicles the history of each monument, spotlighting its artistic, social, political, and cultural origins. His descriptions of works so often seen as clichés tease fresh meaning from mute stone and cold metal―raising provocative questions not just about who Lincoln might have been, but also about what we’ve wanted him to be in the monuments we’ve built.

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Divided We Stand: Teaching About Conflict in U.S. History
Divided We Stand: Teaching About Conflict in U.S. History
Our students face conflict every day, and one of the best opportunities to help them make sense of it is in the study of American history. Here we find conflict of all kinds, most often as an agent of change. By focusing on the roots of conflict, we can help our students develop a more mature view of their world. By encouraging an empathy for people from the past, we may even be able to promote compassion and tolerance in the future. That's James Percoco's aim with the publication of Divided We Stand. Divided We Stand was written to assist you in dealing with sensitive and controversial topics in secondary U.S. history classes. Using firsthand accounts and student words, Percoco explores the kind of issues we should be discussing if we are serious about making a better future for successive generations, topics such as gender issues, race, Vietnam, and civil rights. He provides a virtual handbook for teachers, describing specific lessons you can use to study conflict. All manner of resources are explained, with an emphasis on how to access those resources and use them effectively in instruction. There are also templates for the activities as well as critical-thinking worksheets, film synopses, and other tips. All the sources described are current, and the book reflects recent scholarship in both the arena of pedagogy and methodology, as well as a broader vision of American history. One of Percoco's skills as a teacher is his ability to raise questions with students that challenge their assumptions. Divided We Stand will enable you to do the same. Visit Jim Percoco's website!

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