Cultural depictions of Abraham Lincoln

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Apotheosis of Abraham Lincoln, greeted by George Washington in heaven, who is holding a laurel wreath (an 1860s work, post-assassination)

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[edit]

Statue of Lincoln at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.

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.


Walt Whitman was especially fascinated by Lincoln during the Civil War and wrote several famous poems about him. Lincoln was fond of Whitman's poetry even before the war.[3]


Over 1000 pieces of music spanning every generation since his presidency have been written about Lincoln.[4]

Classical music[edit]

Film, drama and fiction[edit]

Lincoln has been portrayed in many films and TV shows since 1908.[6][7]


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".[8]

Late 1800s[edit]

  • 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 about Canada Bill Jones: Ein Self-man (1878) and Three carde monte (1879).[9] 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.[10]













An Abraham Lincoln reenactor in 2015
  • 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.[14]
  • The Conspirator (2010) deals with the assassination of Lincoln, centering on Mary Surratt.
  • 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 2010-2019 TV show Adventure Time, Abraham Lincoln is depicted as the King of Mars in the 2007 short and in the main series episode "Sons of Mars". He is also mentioned in other episodes throughout the series.
  • 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 video game Sid Meier's Civilization V, Lincoln is added in the expansion pack Sid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New World (2013) as the leader of the Union in the American Civil War scenario.
  • 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.
  • Starting in 2016, author Jonathan F. Putnam has penned three historical mystery novels featuring Lincoln, and his friend Joshua Fry Speed as the protagonists.
  • Lincoln appears in the season 1 episode "The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln" of the NBC series Timeless, portrayed by Michael Krebs.
  • 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 2018 film documentary, The Gettysburg Address, voiced by David Morse.


  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. ^ David S. Reynolds, Lincoln and Whitman History Now (2013) online
  4. ^ McCall, Matt (February 15, 2016). "In music, Abraham Lincoln's image evolves for each new generation". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  5. ^ Barry Schwartz, "Rereading the Gettysburg address: Social change and collective memory." Qualitative sociology 19#3 (1996): 395-422.
  6. ^ Mark S. Reinhart, Abraham Lincoln on Screen: Fictional and Documentary Portrayals on Film and Television (McFarland, 2009).
  7. ^ a b 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.
  8. ^ Lundin, Leigh (14 February 2016). "Abe Lincoln's Mystery". SleuthSayers.
  9. ^ Online texts of Ein Self-man and Three carde monte (in German)
  10. ^ Ekkehard Koch: Der »Kanada-Bill«. Variationen eines Motivs bei Karl May. In: Jahrbuch der Karl-May-Gesellschaft 1976, pp. 29–46. (in German)
  11. ^
  12. ^ Berhman, John (March 9, 1985). "Escondido teacher Rex Hamilton is dead at 60". The San Diego Union. p. II-1.
  13. ^ Scott Sharkey, "EGM's Top Ten Videogame Politicians: Election time puts us in a voting mood", Electronic Gaming Monthly 234 (November 2008): 97.
  14. ^ Michael Cieply (May 9, 2011). "Aside From the Vampires, Lincoln Film Seeks Accuracy". New York Times.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]