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.
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
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.
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, .
E457.A58 Angle, Paul M. Lincoln Reader. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, .
E457.5.B63 Bishop, Jim. The Day Lincoln Was Shot. New York: Harper & Row Publishing Co., .
E457.C478 Charnwood, Godfrey Rathbone Beson. Abraham Lincoln. Garden City: Garden City Publishing Company, Inc., .
E457.H237 1994 Hanchett, William. Out of the Wilderness: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, .
E457.6.L78 Lorant, Stefan. Lincoln, A Picture Story of His Life. 1st ed. New York: Harper & Row Publishing Co., .
E457.2.N6 Nichols, David A. Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, .
E457.O17 1994 Oates, Stephen B. With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln. 1st Harper Perennial ed. New York: Harper Perennial, .
E457.R212 1991 Randall, J. G and Current, Richard Nelson. Lincoln the President: Last Full Measure. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, .
E457.4.S36 Sandburg, Carl. Abraham Lincoln: The War Years. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, .
E457.T178 Tarbell, Ida M. The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Vols. 1 & 2. New York: McClure, Phillips & Co., .
E470.W78 Williams, T. Harry. Lincoln and His Generals. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., .
E457.W75 1925 Wright, A. M. R. Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Grosset & Dunlap Publishers, .