Cultural depictions of Abraham Lincoln

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Further information: Memorials to Abraham Lincoln
The Apotheosis of Abraham Lincoln, greeted by George Washington in heaven, who is holding a laurel wreath (an 1860s work, post-assassination)
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Abraham Lincoln

President of the United States

First Term

Second Term

Assassination and legacy

Abraham Lincoln 1862 signature.svg

President of the United States

Since his death in 1865, Abraham Lincoln has been an iconic American figure depicted—usually favorably or heroically—in many forms. Lincoln has often been portrayed by Hollywood, almost always in a flattering light.[1][2]

Statues of Abraham Lincoln and other tributes[edit]

Statue of Lincoln at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.

Outside the United States[edit]

Statues of Abraham Lincoln can be found in other countries. In Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, is a 13-foot (4 m) high bronze statue, a gift from the United States, dedicated in 1966 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The U.S. received a statue of Benito Juárez in exchange, which is in Washington, D.C. Juárez and Lincoln exchanged friendly letters during the American Civil War, Mexico remembers Lincoln's opposition to the Mexican-American War. (For his part, Juárez refused to aid the Confederacy and jailed those Confederates who sought his help.) There is also a statue in Tijuana, Mexico, showing Lincoln standing and destroying the chains of slavery. There are at least three statues of Lincoln in the United Kingdom — one in Parliament Square in London by Augustus St. Gaudens, one in Manchester by George Grey Barnard and another in Edinburgh by George Bissell. There is also a bust of the President at St Andrews Church in Hingham, Norfolk, where Lincoln's ancestors lived. In Havana, Cuba, there is a bust of Abraham Lincoln in the Museum of the Revolution, a small statue of him in front of the Abraham Lincoln School, and a bust of him near the Capitolio. In Quito, Ecuador, a statue of Lincoln can be found in the Plaza Abraham Lincoln. Avenida Abraham Lincoln, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is one of the capital city's most important and trafficked streets.



Fictional depictions[edit]

Late 1800s[edit]

  • The German writer Karl May wrote two stories concerning Canada Bill Jones: Ein Self-man (1878) and Three carde monte (1879). The narrator meets several times with the young Abraham Lincoln and together they oppose "Kanada-Bill". Both stories have in common the first meeting of the heroes: The narrator finds Lincoln in a forest training to orate.[3]


The first known motion picture based on Mr. Lincoln was 1908 film The Reprieve: An Episode in the Life of Abraham Lincoln. Directed by Van Dyke Brooke, the film shows Lincoln pardoning a sentry who fell asleep on duty, a theme that would be depicted repeatedly in other silent era shorts. This era is also when the first Abraham Lincoln impersonators originated, and the modern idea of what he sounded like is derived from these, much like the oral traditions of African folklore.[citation needed]


As with the first picture on Lincoln, most of the films in this decade featured Lincoln pardoning sleeping sentries. Films included Abraham Lincoln's Clemency (1910), When Lincoln Paid (1913), The Sleeping Sentinel (1914) and The Birth of a Nation (1915).

John Drinkwater's play, Abraham Lincoln (1918), was successful on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching Broadway and the West End. Drinkwater was an English poet and playwright. In the same year, he was also depicted in the song "Abraham Lincoln, what would you do?" as a means to promote U.S. involvement in World War I.


  • In 1925, DeForest produced a Phonofilm, Memories of Lincoln, with 91-year-old Chauncey Depew giving his recollections of meeting Lincoln in person.




  • "Mr. Lincoln", a five-part TV episode appearing in 1952–53 on Omnibus, with Royal Dano as Lincoln


  • In 1961, John Collison played Abraham Lincoln at a re-enactment of his inauguration at a ceremony in Washington D.C.[6]
  • Abe Lincoln in Illinois - TV production (1964)
  • In the 1967 independent film In The Woods, Lincoln's ghost has a duel with The ghost of Nathan Bedford Forrest. He then shoots Forrest saying "To hell with the CSA"


  • In Sandburg's Lincoln (1974), Hal Holbrook plays the title character


  • Lincoln impersonator Rex Hamilton was introduced in the opening credits of each episode of Police Squad! shooting back at John Wilkes Booth, though he would not further appear in any episodes.[7]
  • The 1987 American TV series Amerika displays an America occupied by Soviet troops. Lincoln's image is displayed along Marx's and Lenin's in parades, exemplifying the re-interpretation of American symbols by the new state.


  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Meltdown", Lincoln (played by Jack Klaff) was featured as a Waxdroid in a theme park planet called Waxworld, where evil waxdroids and good waxdroids are fighting.
  • An Abraham Lincoln robot acts as a defense attorney for African-American children Leon, Kahlil, LaShawn and Pee-Wee in Bebe's Kids (1992).
  • Lincoln (voiced by Peter Renaday) is assisted in writing the Gettysburg Address by the Warners in the Animaniacs episode "Four Score and Seven Migraines Ago" (1993).
  • In the 1993 film Coneheads, Dan Aykroyd's character dresses as Lincoln for a costume ball, as the President's stovepipe hat effectively covers his cone-shaped head.
  • In an episode of the HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show, Abraham Lincoln is portrayed (in an openly historically inaccurate skit) as the man who designed the American flag. Tom Kenny portrayed Lincoln as speaking in a thick New York accent.
  • In Harry Turtledove's alternate history novel How Few Remain , part of the Southern Victory Series, Lincoln is a viewpoint character. He serves as President for one term from 1861 to 1865, where he saw the Confederate States win their independence during the War of Succession. He loses the 1864 election in a landslide. Feeling that the Republican Party was no longer true to its original roots, Lincoln leads a left-wing fraction of Republicans into the Socialist Party in 1882 during the Second Mexican War. The Socialists soon replace the Republicans as the primary opposition to the Democrats, which absorb most of the right-wing Republicans. Despite this, the Republican Party survives, but as a central third party. Mr. Lincoln himself is referred to in later novels in the series as the father of American socialism, as his eloquence and political influence after leaving office.
  • In The DC Comics Elseworld title Superman: A Nation Divided, a reimagining of Superman's origins as coming into his powers during the American Civil War, President Lincoln features heavily. He is first seen reading field reports by General Ulysses S. Grant that describe "Atticus" Kent's special abilities. Lincoln then assumes Grant has been drinking, until Kent himself shows up at the white House. After Kent helps win the war, he accompanies Lincoln to the Ford Theater, where he prevents John Wilkes Booth's assassination attempt. After this Lincoln is seen to be one of the most popular presidents in history, serving two full terms.
  • In 1998, Scott McCloud wrote and drew the graphic novel The New Adventures of Abraham Lincoln, in which the president seemingly returns to life in the present day; however, it is in fact a disguised Benedict Arnold, working for aliens in a plot to conquer the world. He is unmasked by the true Lincoln, who also returns from the dead.
  • In 1998, TNT aired "The Day Lincoln Was Shot," with Lance Henriksen as Abraham Lincoln and Rob Morrow as John Wilkes Booth. The film is a remake of "Ford Star Jubilee: The Day Lincoln Was Shot" (1956).


  • In an episode of the 2001 cartoon Time Squad, Lincoln (voiced by Tom Kenny) is depicted as feeling jaded and bitter towards his "Honest Abe" title, believing that he is missing out on fun. As a result, he begins numerous foul pranks and bullies citizens in town instead of paying attention to his presidential duties. Time Squad was able to get him back on the right track.
  • Clone High (2002) features a clone of Abraham Lincoln as a major character (voiced by Will Forte).
  • In The Master of Disguise (2002), Pistachio Disguisey's grandfather tells him about the family legacy. In one part of the story, he tells about the Disguiseys helping Lincoln get elected.
  • Though The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy and Evil Con Carne are set in modern times, Lincoln (voiced by Peter Renaday) is strangely used to portray the President of the United States in the story's plot. One episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy even features him as Grim's replacement in Billy and Mandy's group of friends.
  • In an episode of The Venture Bros., the ghost of Lincoln requests the help of Hank and Dean to save the current president from being killed.
  • In the fourth episode of the 2007 game Sam & Max Save the World, the statue of Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial is converted into a giant robot. He returns in the game's final episode, and becomes a major recurring character in its sequels.
  • He is ranked fourth in Electronic Gaming Monthly's list of the top ten video game politicians for his appearance in Fight Club for the PlayStation 2.[8]
  • In the 2008 video game Fallout 3, set in a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C., the Lincoln Memorial is portrayed as a beacon of hope to escaped slaves trying to survive in the wasteland. The player can also find a hidden weapon called Lincoln's Repeater, which is one of the most powerful rifles in the game. Coincidentally, Liam Neeson, who was considered for the role of Lincoln in the Spielberg film, is featured in the game as the voice of the player character's father, James.
  • In Robot Chicken's first Star Wars Special, Lincoln (voiced by Hulk Hogan) is seen as being seated under the Lincoln Memorial, and engages in lightsaber combat with George W. Bush. In "Bionic Cow," Abraham Lincoln (voiced by Seth Green) is doing four score and seven kicks to Robert E. Lee's balls while two Union Soldiers hold Robert E. Lee.
  • The series finale of Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2009) features a segment in which Batman foils the attempted assassination of a parallel-universe Abraham Lincoln (voiced by Peter Reneday), after which the two team up to defeat a steampunk-armored John Wilkes Booth.


An Abraham Lincoln reenactor in 2015
  • In the 2011 director's cut of Gods and Generals based on the book of same name Lincoln was played by Christian Kauffman during a few added scenes, including one where Lincoln watches Macbeth featuring John Wilkes Booth where Booth gives the "Dagger of the Mind" soliloquy while staring intently at Lincoln.
  • In the Two and a Half Men episode "What a Lovely Landing Strip", Walden tells Bridget that Mary Todd was a "rebound" relationship for Lincoln.
  • In the music video for the comedy song "Cold Dead Hand", one of The Eels members is dressed up like Lincoln.
  • The 2013 video game BioShock Infinite features Lincoln being demonized by the Founders of Columbia for freeing the slaves. The Vox Populi even hijack Motorized Patriots and remake them in Lincoln's likeness.
  • In The Lego Movie, Abraham Lincoln (voiced again by Will Forte) is one of the Master Builders. Abraham Lincoln's toy bio states that he lives in a log cabin that he built all by himself, in the middle of a forest that he built all by himself, then cut down, and then rebuilt all by himself again. Abraham Lincoln is among the Master Builders that meet in Cloud Cuckoo Land and to express his disdain towards Emmet where he commented "A house divided against itself... would be better than this!" Then he rode his rocket chair out of the "Dog" in Cloud Cuckoo Land much to the dismay of Emmet. He later joined in the battle against Lord Business and his forces in Bricksburg.
    • Abraham Lincoln is a playable character in The Lego Movie Videogame. He attacks by throwing the Gettysburg Address at enemies.
  • Abraham Lincoln is one of the historical figures who appeared in Mr. Peabody & Sherman voiced by Jess Harnell. He is among the historical figures that rain down into the present due to an incident with the space-time continuum. Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Bill Clinton support Peabody's legal custody of Sherman and award Peabody a presidential pardon. When the space-time continuum is fixed, Abraham Lincoln is returned to his own time.
  • Lincoln is featured in the upcoming 2015 film documentary, The Gettysburg Address.
  • Lincoln is featured in 3 episodes of Epic Rap Battle of History; Mitt Romney vs Barack Obama, Chuck Norris vs Lincoln, & NicePete vs EpicLloyd
  • Lincoln is featured as central character in the 2015 videogame Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., voiced by Wil Wheaton. This version of the character staged his own assassination, allowing him to disappear from the public eye and concentrate on running the S.T.E.A.M. strike force to combat the impending alien invasion.


  1. ^ Steven Spielberg, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Tony Kushner, "Mr. Lincoln Goes to Hollywood", Smithsonian (2012) 43#7 pp. 46–53.
  2. ^ Melvyn Stokes, "Abraham Lincoln and the Movies", American Nineteenth Century History 12 (June 2011), 203–31.
  3. ^ Ekkehard Koch: Der »Kanada-Bill«. Variationen eines Motivs bei Karl May. In: Jahrbuch der Karl-May-Gesellschaft 1976, pp. 29–46. (German)
  4. ^ SilentEra entry
  5. ^ Lee DeForest and Phonofilm at Virtual Broadway
  6. ^ Newsreel for event British Pathe, accessed 18 February 2013
  7. ^ Berhman, John (March 9, 1985). "Escondido teacher Rex Hamilton is dead at 60". The San Diego Union. p. II-1. 
  8. ^ Scott Sharkey, "EGM's Top Ten Videogame Politicians: Election time puts us in a voting mood", Electronic Gaming Monthly 234 (November 2008): 97.
  9. ^ Michael Cieply (May 9, 2011). "Aside From the Vampires, Lincoln Film Seeks Accuracy". New York Times. 

Further reading[edit]

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