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Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words

February 12, 2009 - July 12, 2009

A draft of the epoch-making “House Divided” speech, stirring notes for an address against slavery, a telegram encouraging General Ulysses S. Grant at a turning point in the Civil War, and the resolution for the Thirteenth Amendment bearing the President’s signature: These are among the rare and important letters, papers and official documents in Abraham Lincoln’s own hand that will be on display, as the New-York Historical Society presents, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the exhibition Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words.

Daniel Chester French (1850-1931), Abraham Lincoln, 1916-22, Painted plaster, New-York Historical Society, 1954.164

Click here for answers to the Lincoln Crossword

A draft of the epoch-making "House Divided" speech, stirring notes for an address against slavery, a telegram encouraging General Ulysses S. Grant at a turning point in the Civil War, and the resolution for the Thirteenth Amendment bearing the President's signature: These are among the rare and important letters, papers and official documents in Abraham Lincoln's own hand that will be on display, as the New-York Historical Society presents, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the exhibition Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words.

Opening on February 12, 2009 (the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth) and remaining on view through July 12, Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words is the latest offering in the Historical Society's Lincoln Year of exhibitions, lectures, events and public programs commemorating the bicentennial. The Lincoln Year will culminate in the Historical Society's major exhibition for 2009, Lincoln and New York (opening October 9), for which the distinguished Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer has served as chief historian.

"Nothing matches the immediacy of approaching a great figure through authentic objects," stated Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. "Visitors to Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words will experience this thrill of physical presence, as they view Abraham Lincoln's life and career in the original, from his period as an attorney and legislator in Illinois through his assassination and its aftermath."

"As Lincoln begins his third century in American memory, we hope these documents will help illuminate his unique contribution to our country's history," stated James G. Basker, President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

In addition to seeing handwritten public documents by Lincoln, visitors will also encounter his more personal side, in letters to a struggling school friend of his eldest son and to his wife Mary (the latter written days before his death). Also on view are first edition texts, including a signed lithograph of his Emancipation Proclamation, a broadside of his Second Inaugural Address distributed in 1865, and a copy of his First Inaugural Address as published in 1861 in the Chicago Tribune.

Lending dramatic context to these items are a variety of other remarkable period objects, such as photographs, prints, sculptures, testimonies, and more. Visitors will see a cast of Lincoln's face made in 1860 by sculptor Leonard Volk; a photograph by Alexander Gardner of Lincoln and General McClellan in the field in 1862; a Currier & Ives print of the fall fo Richmond in 1865; and a letter of condolence to Mary Todd Lincoln from Frederick Douglass, written in August 1865. Rounding out the exhibition are the original artists' models by Daniel Chester French for the Lincoln sculpture commissioned by Lincoln, Nebraska (1911) and for the colossal seated figure at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. (1916).

With the exception of the sculptures, all objects in the exhibition are drawn from the Gilder Lehrman Collection, which is on deposit at the New-York Historical Society. An accompanying illustrated book, Great Lincoln Documents: Historians Present Treasures from the Gilder Lehrman Collection, has been published by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, featuring essays by ten noted historians, including James McPherson, Allen Guelzo, David Blight, Richard Carwardine, and Harold Holzer.

Other Lincoln Year February Events at the New-York Historical Society

February 1-28, 2009
A LINCOLN'S BIRTHDAY PRESENT

The New-York Historical Society offers free admission throughout February 2009 for anyone with a birthday on February 12.

February 5, 2009 6:30PM
Lincoln's Constitution

The Lincoln Bicentennial Series
With the possible exception of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln had a vastly greater influence on the Constitution than any other president. Legal scholars Benno Schmidt and Akhil Reed Amar discuss Lincoln's unparalleled influence on executive power and the idea of the Constitution as a dynamic, changing document, and his reshaping of the Constitution with respect to the most fundamental, divisive, and terrible issue in the history of the country: slavery. Benno Schmidt is Chairman of the Edison Schools, and has served as President of Yale University and Dean of Columbia Law School. He is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York. Akhil Reed Amar is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University and a 22-year veteran of the Yale Law School faculty. He is the author of America's Constitution: A Biography.

February 17, 2009 6:30PM
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

The Lincoln Bicentennial Series
Two experts examine one of the most colorful, engaging, and vital episodes in American history: the debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas during the 1858 campaign for the U.S. Senate. The issues so fiercely debated were not about ordinary partisan differences, but one momentous, nation-threatening issue: slavery. Douglas L. Wilson is George A. Lawrence Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at Knox College and a two-time winner of the Lincoln Prize, which he won most recently for Lincoln's Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words. Rodney O. Davis is Szold Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History at Knox College and was co-recipient of the First Annual Abraham Lincoln Institute Book Award in 1998. They are co-directors of the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox and co-editors of The Lincoln-Douglas Debates, the most complete record ever assembled of the debates.

February 24, 2009 6:30 PM
LOOKING FOR LINCOLN

The PBS documentary Looking for Lincoln, hosted by renowned scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., addresses many of the controversies surrounding Lincoln – race, equality, religion, politics, and depression – by carefully interpreting evidence from those who knew him and those who study him today. Journalist Bob Herbert joins Professor Gates to discuss these issues and more in this special program, augmented by short clips of the film. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute of African American History at Harvard University. He is the author or editor of many books, most recently Lincoln on Race and Slavery with Donald Yacovone. Bob Herbert, moderator, is an Op-Ed columnist at The New York Times who often writes about politics, urban affairs, and social trends.

Programs are developed with grant funds from the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural (URR) Program.

Creative: Tronvig Group