Cultural depictions of Abraham Lincoln
President of the United States
Assassination and legacy
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 Statues of Abraham Lincoln and other tributes
- 2 Film, drama and fiction
- 3 References
- 4 Further reading
- 5 External links
Statues of Abraham Lincoln and other tributes
Outside the United States
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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.
- O Captain! My Captain!, Walt Whitman, 1865
- When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd, Walt Whitman, 1865
- Hush'd Be the Camps To-Day, Walt Whitman, 1865
- This Dust Was Once the Man, Walt Whitman, 1871
Over 1000 pieces of music spanning every generation since his presidency have been written about Lincoln.
- Abraham, Martin and John, written by Dick Holler, recorded by Dion (1968). This popular song first appeared under a sheet music cover picturing Mount Rushmore.
Film, drama and fiction
Lincoln himself wrote poetry and at least one piece of fiction loosely based upon one of the murder cases he defended as a young lawyer. In April 1846, The Quincy Whig published Lincoln's short story under the title "A Remarkable Case of Arrest for Murder". The story was republished in March 1952 by Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and retitled "The Trailor Murder Mystery." Lincoln refers to his own unnamed character as "the defense" and "the writer of this".
- In Jules Verne's 1870 novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, a fictitious steam frigate, the Abraham Lincoln, is sent to hunt down the "monster" that has been attacking ships at sea, and is attacked itself. Captain Nemo also has a portrait of Lincoln hanging in his study on board the Nautilus. In the prequel The Mysterious Island, the five shipwrecked Union prisoners name the island which they discover, "Lincoln Island".
- 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.
The first motion picture based on 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.
- Abraham Lincoln's Clemency (1910), played by Leopold Wharton
- When Lincoln Paid (1913), played by Francis Ford
- The Sleeping Sentinel (1914), played by George Steele
- The Birth of a Nation (1915), played by Joseph Henabery
- The Copperhead (1920), played by Nicholas Schroell
- The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln (1924), played by George A. Billings
- The Heart of Maryland (1927), played by Charles Edward Bull
- Abraham Lincoln (1930) played by Walter Huston
- The Phantom President (1932) played by Charles Middleton
- The Littlest Rebel (1935) played by Frank McGlynn Sr.
- The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936) played again by Frank McGlynn Sr.
- The Plainsman (1936) played again by Frank McGlynn Sr.
- Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) played by Henry Fonda
- Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940) played by Raymond Massey
- Virginia City (1940) played by Victor Kilian
- Rock Island Trail (1950), played by Jeff Corey
- New Mexico (1951), played by Hans Conried
- The Tall Target (1951), played by Leslie Kimmell
- San Antone (1953), played by Richard Hale
- Prince of Players (1955), played by Stanley Hall
- Apache Ambush (1955), played by James Griffith
- Black Friday, a 1955 episode of Medic, played by Austin Green
- The Story of Mankind (1957), played again by Austin Green
- The Passersby, a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone, played again by Austin Green
- How the West Was Won (1962), played again by Raymond Massey
- The Chase, a 1965 episode of Doctor Who, played by Robert Marsden
- Treasure of the Aztecs (1965), played again by Jeff Corey
- The Fortune Cookie (1966), played by John Anderson
- Death Tunnel, a 1966 episode of The Time Tunnel, played by Ford Rainey
- The Hall of Presidents opens at Walt Disney World featuring all 36 presidents to date, including Lincoln (1971)
- In The Great Man's Whiskers (1972) Dennis Weaver portrays Lincoln.
- In Sandburg's Lincoln (1974), Hal Holbrook plays the title character
- In "Sex and Violence", a 1975 pilot for The Muppet Show, an Abraham Lincoln Muppet (performed by John Lovelady) appears as part of the Muppet version of Mount Rushmore.
- The Lincoln Conspiracy (1977), played again by John Anderson.
- George MacDonald Fraser's 1971 novel Flash for Freedom! features a young Abraham Lincoln at the time that he was a Congressman. Anti-hero narrator and self-confessed cad Harry Flashman describes him as having "the makings of as big a scoundrel as I am myself".
- 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.
- Gregory Peck portrayed Lincoln in the 1982 television movie, The Blue and the Gray.
- In the miniseries North and South, Hal Holbrook played Lincoln (once again) in Books I and II
- 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.
- He appeared in the 1987 film The Garbage Pail Kids Movie inside the State Home of the Ugly for being "too shiny", along with Mohandas Gandhi for being "too bald" and Santa Claus for being "too fat".
- In the sketch comedy series SCTV Network 90, Joe Flaherty plays a time-traveler Lincoln going to the past to chase the child John Wilkes Booth through time with a gun to prevent his assassination, repeatedly failing attempts to kill Booth. Catherine O'Hara plays Mrs. Lincoln who asks her time traveler husband where her future is to lead her. When he casually responds "in an insane asylum," she proclaims her foresight ability, responding "I knew it!"
- Based on a novel by Gore Vidal, the 1988 telefilm Lincoln starred Sam Waterston in the title role, and Mary Tyler Moore as his wife.
- Robert V. Barron appeared as Lincoln in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989), and in episodes of Out of This World (#2.15, 1988).
- Appears as Joshua Speed in Parke Godwin's sci-fi novel The Snake Oil Wars.
- Appears in a This Is America, Charlie Brown episode titled "The Smithsonian and the Presidency", with his segment focusing on the Gettysburg Address. He is voiced by Frank Welker.
- The Civil War (1990) Sam Waterston played Lincoln
- 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.
- In Harry Turtledove's alternate history novel The Guns of the South (1992), several members of the South African white supremacist organisation Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging traveled back in time from 2014 to January 1864 and provided Confederate army general Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia with AK-47s, allowing the Confederate States of America to win the American Civil War, which became known as the Second American Revolution. Lincoln remained in Washington, D.C. even with the defeat of the U.S. Army in the face of the Confederate AK-47s at the Battle of Bealeton. Upon the arrival of the Army of Northern Virginia, Lincoln invited General Lee into the White House to negotiate an armistice, ending the war. He spent the remainder of his term attempting to negotiate favorable terms with the Confederacy in the final peace. In the 1864 election, Lincoln and incumbent Vice President Hannibal Hamlin carried twelve states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Michigan, West Virginia, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nevada) with 83 electoral votes. However, he was narrowly defeated by the Democratic ticket of Horatio Seymour and Clement Vallandigham, who carries ten states with 138 electoral votes. After leaving office, Lincoln toured Missouri and Kentucky, agitating tirelessly in favor of the two disputed states remaining in the Union. In the post-war plebiscites, Missouri voted to remain in the Union whereas Kentucky voted to join the Confederacy. Lincoln then returned to Illinois where he practiced law.
- The Speeches of Abraham Lincoln (1995)
- A&E Biography: "Abraham Lincoln - Preserving the Union" (1997)
- 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).
- Lincoln appeared as an occasional guest host on Histeria!, especially in two episodes centered on the Civil War. Pepper Mills mistakes him for Lurch from The Addams Family, and one sketch shows the Civil War politics like an episode of Seinfeld, with Lincoln as Jerry and George B. McClellan as George Costanza. In another sketch, Loud Kiddington demands he explain the parts of the Gettysburg Address that he doesn't understand (such as what "four score" means). On Histeria!, Abe acts like Johnny Carson and was voiced by Maurice LaMarche.
- 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 (1997) , 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 Benjamin Butler lead most of the right-wing Republicans to them. 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.
- Talk show Late Night with Conan O'Brien started in 1993, with Dino Stamatopoulos as the original portrayer of Lincoln. In 1999, Mike Sweeney took over this role.
- In an episode of Cartoon Network's Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter faces his rival, Mandark, using the statue of Lincoln (voiced by Frank Welker) from Mount Rushmore that he has brought to life, and fights Mandark who is using the giant animated statue of George Washington.
- 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 1999, a comic book story featuring The Phantom was made called Lincoln's Murder, and published in Europe and Australia.
- In the MTV claymation television series Celebrity Deathmatch, He appears as a fighter in which he faced off against George Washington.
- In the film Bedazzled (2000), Brendan Fraser's character makes a deal with the Devil (Elizabeth Hurley) for seven wishes. Upon wishing to be President of the United States, he is transformed into Lincoln and finds himself in Ford's Theatre.
- Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided (2001), a documentary on PBS's American Experience.
- 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 Gangs of New York (2002), Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis's characters attend a play of Uncle Tom's Cabin in which an actor representing Lincoln is suspended in mid-air (with his body apparently backwards) to address the blackface actors. An audience member interrupts him, as the immigrant audience members begin throwing objects at Lincoln and rioting.
- 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 the 2004 alternative history mockumentary C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, Abraham Lincoln flees after the South wins the war and annexes the northern states. Harriet Tubman attempts to help him flee to Canada in blackface makeup, but they are soon captured. He later declares, "Now I too am a Negro". Lincoln quickly tried for war crimes against the Confederacy and was imprisoned in Fortress Monroe, Virginia while Tubman is executed. In 1866, Lincoln—frail and gaunt from his two-year sentence—is fully pardoned by Confederate President Jefferson Davis and exiled to Canada. Lincoln remains until he dies in June 1905 at the age of 96. Shortly before his death, Lincoln laments not having made the Civil War a battle to end slavery.
- In 2005, Lincoln appeared in the song and video of The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny by Lemon Demon.
- 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.
- National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007) is a fictional film which concerns the assassination of Lincoln.
- 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.
- Futurama featured different depictions of Abraham Lincoln:
- An Evil Hologram of Lincoln appears in "Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch" voiced by Maurice LaMarche.
- A Robot Lincoln with 20 personalities (All of them Lincoln) called Abraham Lincolnbot appear in "Insane in the Mainframe" voiced by David Herman.
- Abraham Lincoln's Head in a Jar has also appeared voiced by Billy West in the episodes "Put Your Head on My Shoulders" and "All the Presidents' Heads" and by Maurice LaMarche in Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder.
- 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.
- 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.
- Lincoln appears in the form of his statue at the Lincoln Memorial coming to life in the film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian voiced by Hank Azaria. In the video game adaption, Abraham Lincoln's statue is voiced by Jim Cummings.
- Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2010) is a novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, in which Lincoln makes it his life's goal to destroy all evil vampires in the United States. The film adaptation was released in July 2012.
- The Conspirator (2010) deals with the assassination of Lincoln, centering on Mary Surratt.
- In the "Lincoln Lover" episode of American Dad!, Stan decides to write a play to show his admiration for Lincoln and unwittingly ends up portraying him as a homosexual, attracting the attention of the Log Cabin Republicans.
- 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.
- Lincoln, a 2012 film based upon Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the role. The film focuses on Lincoln's determination to assure that Congress passed the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.
- Shattered Nation: An Alternate History Novel of the American Civil War, written by Jeffrey Evan Brooks and published in 2013, features Lincoln as a major character.
- 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.
- Louis C.K. parodied his show Louie as Lincoln on Saturday Night Live, portraying Lincoln as a stand up comedian. (Season 38, Episode 6)
- Portrayed by Billy Campbell in Killing Lincoln.
- The film Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, from The Asylum.
- In the music video for the comedy song "Cold Dead Hand", one of The Eels members is dressed up like Lincoln.
- The 2013 film Saving Lincoln depicts the friendship between Lincoln and his bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon.
- 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 novel The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy.
- Lincoln is featured in four episodes of Epic Rap Battles of History: "Mitt Romney vs Barack Obama", "Chuck Norris vs Lincoln", "NicePeter vs EpicLloyd", and "Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton".
- 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.
- The Better Angels, aka, The Green Blade Rises, produced by Terrence Malick, focused on Lincoln's upbringing, showing the events and tragedies that forged him into the man he became.
- Lincoln is featured in the upcoming 2017 film documentary, The Gettysburg Address.
- Steven Spielberg, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Tony Kushner, "Mr. Lincoln Goes to Hollywood", Smithsonian (2012) 43#7 pp. 46–53.
- Melvyn Stokes, "Abraham Lincoln and the Movies", American Nineteenth Century History 12 (June 2011), 203–31.
- David S. Reynolds, Lincoln and Whitman History Now (2013) online
- McCall, Matt (February 15, 2016). "In music, Abraham Lincoln's image evolves for each new generation". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
- Barry Schwartz, "Rereading the Gettysburg address: Social change and collective memory." Qualitative sociology 19#3 (1996): 395-422.
- Mark S. Reinhart, Abraham Lincoln on Screen: Fictional and Documentary Portrayals on Film and Television (McFarland, 2009).
- Sarah Miles Bolam; Thomas J. Bolam (2007). The Presidents on Film: A Comprehensive Filmography of Portrayals from George Washington to George W. Bush. McFarland. p. 108. ISBN 9780786424818.
- Lundin, Leigh (14 February 2016). "Abe Lincoln's Mystery". SleuthSayers. SleuthSayers.org.
- Ekkehard Koch: Der »Kanada-Bill«. Variationen eines Motivs bei Karl May. In: Jahrbuch der Karl-May-Gesellschaft 1976, pp. 29–46. (in German)
- Berhman, John (March 9, 1985). "Escondido teacher Rex Hamilton is dead at 60". The San Diego Union. p. II-1.
- Scott Sharkey, "EGM's Top Ten Videogame Politicians: Election time puts us in a voting mood", Electronic Gaming Monthly 234 (November 2008): 97.
- Michael Cieply (May 9, 2011). "Aside From the Vampires, Lincoln Film Seeks Accuracy". New York Times.
- Gabor Boritt. The Lincoln Enigma: The Changing Faces of an American Icon (2001)
- Jackie Hogan. Lincoln, Inc.: Selling the Sixteenth President in Contemporary America (2011)
- Barry Schwartz. Abraham Lincoln and the Forge of National Memory (2000)
- Steven Spielberg, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Tony Kushner, "Mr. Lincoln Goes to Hollywood," Smithsonian (2012) 43#7 pp 46–53.
- Melvyn Stokes, "Abraham Lincoln and the Movies," American Nineteenth Century History 12 (June 2011), 203–31.