August 6, 2020

Learning from the Source: The Art of Tribute

Lincoln Statue, Capitol

From the Library of Congress bicentennial exhibition—With Malice Toward None—we learn a bit about the profound effect Abraham Lincoln’s death had on people all over the world.

The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, had a tremendous impact both in the United States and abroad. People in Great Britain, which had favored the South, mourned as if Lincoln had been their leader. France, whose citizens had made no secret of their sympathy for the Union, paid tribute in verse and song. All eyes were on this struggling American democracy, so aptly personified in the person of Abraham Lincoln, and the world mourned his passing.

The pursuit of the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was one of the most extensive manhunts ever mounted by the United States government. The search lasted twelve days, by which time the body of President Lincoln, transported by rail on a thirteen-day journey to Springfield, Illinois, for burial, was half way to its resting place. Unending crowds of mourners lined the tracks between Washington and Springfield to pay their final respects to the martyred President Abraham Lincoln.

Over time, numerous monuments to Abraham Lincoln were built. Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines monument as: “a lasting evidence, reminder, or example of someone or something notable or great”. What more can you learn about Lincoln, his character and his achievements by analyzing these works of art? Who is worthy of a monument?

Work in a group to analyze at least six Lincoln statues (see below) by answering the questions below, then discuss your learning from the analyses.

Research and evaluate the building of historical statues and monuments in the United States by reading the texts linked to below and considering the questions that follow.

Reflect on your learning by answering the questions below, then sharing your thoughts with your group.

  • What types of people deserve monuments?
  • What qualities should these people possess?
  • What contributions are worthy of a memorial tribute?
  • Do you agree with the suggestions and selections of the people mentioned in relation to the National Garden of American Heroes? Why or why not?

Individually, create a drawing or small prototype of a statue of someone to be installed in the National Garden of American Heroes and include a plaque that identifies the person and briefly (no more than 280 characters, including spaces) and succinctly describes the purpose or reasoning behind the monument. Alternatively, you may write a short op-ed (no more than 400 words) against the construction of the National Garden of American Heroes. In either case, share what you created with your congressional representative.

Statues

Lincoln Memorial statue Close-up view of the statue of Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln Memorial statue by Daniel Chester French Lincoln Memorial statue Close-up view of the statue of Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln statue, bronze Seated statue of U.S. president Abraham Lincoln at Aspect  Lincoln Square, Chicago
Lincoln statue, bronze, Lincoln Park Seated statue of U.S. president Abraham Lincoln at Aspect Lincoln Square, Chicago
A 1932 statue of Abraham Lincoln by Cleveland sculptor Max Kalish  The Commander in Chief  Sculpture of Lincoln sitting on a park bench
Abraham Lincoln by Cleveland sculptor Max Kalish The Commander in Chief Sculpture of Lincoln sitting on a park bench
 Abraham Lincoln statue in front of a grammar school  Lincoln Statue, Court house Abraham Lincoln statue at the Old District Courthouse
Abraham Lincoln statue in front of a grammar school Lincoln Statue, Court house Abraham Lincoln statue at the Old District Courthouse
Abraham Lincoln as captain in the militia Statue of Lincoln National Cathedral  Abraham Lincoln and his horse
Abraham Lincoln as captain in the militia Statue of Lincoln National Cathedral Abraham Lincoln and his horse
Young Abraham Lincoln Emancipation Memorial Lincoln and Tad
Young Abraham Lincoln Statue of Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln Park Lincoln and Tad
Sculptor David Kresz Rubins's 1969 "Young Abe Lincoln" statue Monument to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln's tomb
Young Abe Lincoln statue Monument to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln’s tomb

 

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