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Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
by James Earle Fraser
1876 - 1953

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Abraham Lincoln

During the early days of the Civil War, President Lincoln often walked to a hill overlooking Washington to spend the twilight hours in thought and meditation. Fraser's portrayal has Lincoln sitting on a stone and gazing down on the troubled capitol of the Union, his shoulders revealing the burden of his office.

Considered a "western" president, Lincoln made remarkable contributions to the settlement and development of the West even while preoccupied by war. In May of 1862, he signed the Homestead Act into law, permitting the unhindered ownership of farmland in the West by more than one million families prior to 1910. This was followed by the College Land Grant Act of July, 1862, which enabled the establishment of institutions of higher learning in largely unsettled frontier states and territories. Under his tutelage as well, the Railroad Land Grant Acts of 1862 and 1864 were passed, laying the foundation for the transcontinental routes and quickening the pace of western settlement.

The Lincoln Association of Jersey City, New Jersey, commissioned this heroic statue to mark the eastern entrance of the Lincoln Highway, America's first transcontinental road for automobiles. Fraser was chosen to create the piece because his End of the Trail sculpture was associated with the terminus of the Lincoln Highway at San Francisco, California. The finished bronze monument was unveiled in June of 1930. This original plaster model was obtained by the museum in 1968 and is the same size as the bronze statue which still marks the forgotten highway to the West.

More Information About the Artist  

Fraser with Abraham Lincoln statue Born in Winona, Minnesota, James Earle Fraser grew up around Mitchell, Dakota Territory, amidst stories of the "Old West" and Native American lore. The family moved to Chicago in 1890, and Fraser became an assistant in the studio of sculptor Richard Bock while attending classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. He later remarked that the sculpture exhibited at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 inspired his career in that medium.

At the age of 20, Fraser went to Paris to study at the l'Ecole des Beaux Arts and later served as an assistant in the Paris and New Hampshire studios of noted sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. In 1902, he opened his own studio in New York City and, two years later, became an instructor at the Art Students League.

During a creative and prolific career, Fraser executed a number of prominent commissions, including, the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the Tomb of Robert Todd Lincoln at Arlington National Cemetery. Today, Fraser is recognized as one of the leading American sculptors of the early twentieth century.

Suggested Readings & Links  

The following materials are available for review in the Research Center.

E457.9.A572 Andrews, Mary Raymond. Perfect Tribute. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, [1906].

E457.A58 Angle, Paul M. Lincoln Reader. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, [1947].

E457.5.B63 Bishop, Jim. The Day Lincoln Was Shot. New York: Harper & Row Publishing Co., [1955].

E457.C478 Charnwood, Godfrey Rathbone Beson. Abraham Lincoln. Garden City: Garden City Publishing Company, Inc., [1917].

E457.H237 1994 Hanchett, William. Out of the Wilderness: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, [1994].

E457.6.L78 Lorant, Stefan. Lincoln, A Picture Story of His Life. 1st ed. New York: Harper & Row Publishing Co., [1952].

E457.2.N6 Nichols, David A. Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, [1978].

E457.O17 1994 Oates, Stephen B. With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln. 1st Harper Perennial ed. New York: Harper Perennial, [1994].

E457.R212 1991 Randall, J. G and Current, Richard Nelson. Lincoln the President: Last Full Measure. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, [1991].

E457.4.S36 Sandburg, Carl. Abraham Lincoln: The War Years. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, [1939].

E457.T178 Tarbell, Ida M. The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Vols. 1 & 2. New York: McClure, Phillips & Co., [1900].

E470.W78 Williams, T. Harry. Lincoln and His Generals. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., [1952].

E457.W75 1925 Wright, A. M. R. Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Grosset & Dunlap Publishers, [1925].

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