"A house divided against itself cannot stand."
"The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
— Abe Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address
(February 12, 1809 — April 15, 1865) was the 16th President of the United States between 1861 and 1865
. That guy who won the The American Civil War
, proclaimed the slaves free, delivered the Gettysburg Address, and was born in a log cabin
which he built with his own two hands
. (Old joke.)
He immediately followed James Buchanan
and preceded Andrew Johnson
. He's also known for wearing a top hat and being impressively tall (tied with Lyndon Johnson
for tallest president ever, at 6'4"). When he took direct control of the Union army for a brief time, he showed himself to be a talented military strategist as well.
A genial and charming speaker, Lincoln had an uncanny ability to explain complex issues in layman's terms, and his speeches are among the most famous in American history. Considered an untested and possibly radical figure, he is famous for Growing the Beard
in office. In many ways he's the only post-Founding Fathers/ pre-Teddy Roosevelt
President who's thought of at all
. He is almost universally considered to be one of the greatest (if not the
greatest) Presidents in American history.
It is also relevant, if somewhat uncomfortable to admit, that Lincoln was by today's standards a racist. He considered blacks to be inferior to whites. Though he was abolitionist, he was willing at least in principle to allow slavery to continue, if only because it was constitutionally protected in established states, believing that it would end on its own if it could be kept from spreading. Early in his Presidency he said that he would back any solution to the slavery question that preserved the Union, whether it was freeing all the slaves, freeing none of them, or freeing some and leaving others enslaved. but he had already chosen option 1 by then apart from exempting the Border States initially. His anti-slavery views became stronger over time, however, eventually crystallizing in two famous quotes: "In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free," and "Whenever I hear anyone arguing over slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally."
His memorial in DC is a very popular spot for "inspirational" moments in media, and is much hardier than most other memorials
. He is also the only non-British Empire citizen to have a statue in Parliament Square in London.
Was famously born in a log cabin, but not the one you can get tours of (despite what the guides will tell you); that one was built 8 years after he was born. As Stephen Fry
once put it, it is dangerously close to the legendary schoolboy gaffe quoted above.
It is also said that his ghost
haunts The White House
. His presence is sometimes made clear by appearing, if briefly, before some Presidents and other guests during times of great crisis(such as a kung fu fight against Richard Nixon
Incidentally, in contrast to most modern-day Badass Baritone
depictions, Lincoln's voice was actually somewhat high-pitched and nasal
. For something approaching what's considered to be more accurate, consider this feature
, filmed for Time Magazine. Daniel Day-Lewis
became the first actor to break away from the deep-voiced tradition with his portrayal of the 16th President in 2012's Lincoln
; this alone was considered a huge
expose, nevermind that pesky 'obstruction of justice' stuff.
The last living person to witness Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theater was Samuel J. Seymour, who sat in the balcony box across from the Lincolns at age five, and appeared on the game show ''I've Got A Secret''
to relate his story 91 years later in 1956. He died several months later.
One of the things which allegedly mellowed Lincoln out on the issue of race was his unlikely friendship
with escaped slave and civil rights leader Frederick Douglass, along with the extreme polarization of the public on the issue, as hundreds of thousands died During the War
. After unexpectedly winning re-election in a stunning turnaround, in his Second Inaugural Address (only slightly longer than the one at Gettysburg) Lincoln famously delivered one of the greatest speeches of all time.
Lincoln's Speech (excerpt)
All knew that (slavery) was somehow the cause of the war... It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged
. The prayers of both could not be answered. ..."Woe to that man by whom the offense cometh."
If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come... and that He gives to (us) this terrible war as the woe due... Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether!"
Note that he went on to say:
The war was won weeks later. Coincidence? Probably.
Fact: Abraham Lincoln can and, if needed, will, beat you in a fight.
Even if you're Batman
. Or Bigfoot
. In some ways, Abraham Lincoln is almost as much a Memetic Badass
as Chuck Norris
. In fact, this is where you can go to watch them have a rap battle.
Some would count him as the only president to be more Badass
than Theodore Roosevelt
(and maybe Andrew Jackson
, if you ignore the politics
). On the other hand, Cracked doesn't even count him among the top five,
though the same author later acknowledged the oversight and made an article devoted strictly to Lincoln called Abraham Lincoln: Portrait Of A Crazy Badass.
It really depends on how much weight you give the Badass Beard
Also Fact: In 1842 Abraham Lincoln was once challenged to a duel by political rival, state auditor James Shields. In dueling, the challenged party selects the place of the duel, and the weapons to be used. Since Lincoln felt the situation was ridiculous he stated that he wanted to use "Cavalry Broadswords of the largest size
". He also added that he wanted the duel to be carried out in a pit 10 feet wide by 12 feet deep with a large wooden plank dividing the square in which no man was allowed to set foot over. Shields was going to go through with it, but then saw Lincoln clearing branches with a broadsword and realized how insane the situation had become and backed down.
Also Also Fact
- NB: The fencing treatise "By the Sword" notes that Lincoln's apparently ridiculous rules for the duel belie a cunning tactician's mind: By choosing long, heavy weapons and dividing the dueling ground to prevent his opponent from closing distance, the much taller Lincoln ensured that he—with his nearly 6 inch longer reach—could attack with impunity and/or (more likely) effectively stalemate the duel without drawing blood.
- NBB: Lincoln felt the situation was so ridiculous that, when Shields first challenged Lincoln to choose the duelling weapons, Lincoln initially chose "cow pies." Lincoln only switched to broadswords when Shields rejected this idea.
- This has been called one of the most bizarre episodes in Lincoln's life, involving his using a female persona (with input from Mary and a friend) to write a witty letter for a widely read Illinois paper, mocking Shields' personal appearance and reputation with the ladies along with his policies. A followup letter — actually by the women — caused Shields to challenge.
- Some historians think that Lincoln and Shields set this up to get publicity.
: Abraham Lincoln, 140 years before its first usage by The Undertaker
, frickin' invented the chokeslam
. During his youth as a "wrassler", one of Lincoln's opponents made the mistake of stomping on Lincoln's instep with the heel of his boot. As recounted by noted Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg, "This exasperated Lincoln so that he lost his temper, lifted Armstrong up by the throat and off the ground, shook him like a rag, and then slammed him to a hard fall, flat on his back."note Both men would become good friends.
Lincoln was also the other kind of inventor, also held a patent for a device intended to help boats navigate shallows. He was also a licensed bartender and co-owned a pub for a while before entering politics. Thus when Lincoln quipped that he wished he could serve all his generals what his skilled General Ulysses S. Grant
was drinking, he was in a position where he could have done that legally and literally
Lincoln is also one of the few presidents to have an aircraft carrier
named after him. As well as the capital of Nebraska, a make of luxury car, and toy logs.
Tropes on legacy of President Lincoln:
- Beam Me Up, Scotty!: He was often credited with saying, "As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless." The quote was published 20 years after his death, and his secretary immediately denounced it as a fraud. But it was used a lot in the 1896 presidential election, and came to be seen as fact. That said, it is true that Lincoln was not entirely comfortable with the rise of the corporate business elite in his time.
- Another quote usually attributed to Lincoln is "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time." However, there is no hard proof that he ever truly said it, although again it is consonant with some things he said or clearly believed.
- A bit of Memetic Mutation attributes to him a quote about the dangers of trusting historical quotes on the internet.
- Magnum Opus: The Gettysburg Address is the most quoted and acclaimed speech in American history.
- Rousing Speech: Gave us two of the greatest political speeches - the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural - in American History, perhaps human history.
Honest Abe in fiction:
- Lincoln is one of Bill and Ted's collection of historical figures in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.
- The whacked-out Chinese movie Fantasy Mission Force opens with several World War II generals being captured. One of them is Lincoln. And he clearly identifies himself as such - even in the original Chinese.
- In 1935's The Littlest Rebel, Virgie (Shirley Temple) visits Lincoln (Frank Mc_Glynn Sr.) asking him to pardon her dad and a sympathetic Union colonel, who are falsely accused of spying and sentenced to death.
- In the 1939 film, Young Mr. Lincoln, he's portrayed by Henry Fonda.
- Tyler Durden of Fight Club wants to fight him, because he's a big guy, with big reach. And besides, skinny guys fight 'til they're burger. He becomes an unlockable character in the Video Game version.
- In Gangs of New York, an actor portrays him in a production of Uncle Tom's Cabin and he is greeted with jeers, food throwing, and shouts of "Down with the Union!" This is a pretty good reflection of how working-class New Yorkers actually felt about President Lincoln; New York City mayor Fernando Wood even proposed that the city secede from the Union and become an independent country.
- Raymond Massey had a popular, Oscar-nominated turn as Lincoln in the 1940 film Abe Lincoln in Illinois. If you ever see Massey in anything and think "that guy sounds like Abraham Lincoln", that's because the popular conception of Lincoln's molasses-like voice stems from Massey's performance.
- A major character, and a surprisingly sympathetic one, in the outrageously racist 1915 film Birth of a Nation.
- In Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian the statue from the Lincoln Memorial comes to life.
- In the 2011 remake of Arthur, one of Abraham Lincoln's suits is bought by Arthur at an auction, and Arthur quotes Lincoln near the end of the film, but is punched in the face before he can say his actual quote.
- In the Wild Wild West movie, Dr. Loveless makes a grand appearance at his party by hiding inside a statue of Lincoln, whose head explodes.
- In CSA: The Confederate States of America, he loses the Civil War. He attempts to flee to Canada with Harriet Tubman disguised as a black man, but is captured by Confederate forces. After a two year imprisonment, Jefferson Davis, hoping to ease tension in the newly conqured North, pardons him and exiles him to Canada, where he dies a lonely man in the early 1900s. All history remembers him for is being the man that lost "the War of Northern Agression".
- In Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Jefferson Smith goes to the Lincoln Memorial several times. Visits to the Lincoln Memorial are practically a Trope in their own right.
- At the climax of Black Dynamite, when Richard Nixon grabs John Wilkes Booth's pistol to shoot BD, the ghost of Lincoln appears and kung-fus the gun out of Nixon's hand.
- In The Master of Disguise, Pistachio's grandfather tells about how the Disguisey family made impact on history. Abraham Lincoln was such a boring speaker, so a disguised Lincoln helped him become elected president by partying and dancing while I Like to Move It by Reel to Real is played.
- Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, based on the book of the same name, portrays him as a secret vampire hunter.
- Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies is a Mockbuster made by The Asylum about a secret mission where Abe hunts the undead.
- He's played by Daniel Day-Lewis in Steven Spielberg's long-gestating biopic Lincoln, opposite Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Lincoln's son, Robert, and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. Day-Lewis won an Academy Award for his performance.
- In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Lincoln appears with a variety of other dead characters when the narrator snidely suggests that the film just resurrect everyone.
- At the end of Happy Gilmore, he's seen alongside the alligator that ate Chubbs' hand and Chubbs himself waving at Happy from Heaven.
- In the 1994 film Quiz Show, University professor Charles Lincoln Van Doren achieves fame by winning a quiz show but secretly was getting the answers in advance. A journalist asks Van Doren how would Honest Abe (sic.) fare in a quiz show - which disturbs Van Doren, because Van Doren was being dishonest.
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: The Klingon Chancellor Gorkon was modeled after Lincoln as well as Mikhail Gorbachev.
- In a few of the Flashman books, Lincoln appears as a rare example of a Magnificent Bastard with completely good motives who also has some similarity with the "Atticus Finch" "simple country lawyer" type. He is notable as one of the few characters who sees right through Flashman.
- Gore Vidal's bestselling historical novel Lincoln takes place over the span of the Civil War. The book doesn't presume to know what Lincoln is thinking, instead switching between the perspectives of his advisers (plus John Wilkes Booth's accomplice). The author caught the ire of historians for including third-party anecdotes regarding Abe's bout with syphilis, among other things. Vidal's rebuttal was that U.S. Historians tend to gloss over the imperfections of their idols, leaving us with only a faint impression of the men they really were.
- One of the plots in the NUMA Series book Sahara concerns Lincoln.
- In the Alternate History novel How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove, Lincoln is a main character (having been a one-term president after losing the Civil War). Inspired by the writings of Marx, Lincoln becomes a travelling speaker lecturing about the rights of man and the benefits of socialism. Lincoln also leads a faction of the splintering Republican Party into defecting to the Socialist Party, causing the Socialists to eventually eclipse the Republicans as one of the nation's two major political parties.
- Lincoln plays a smaller part in Turtledove's The Guns of the South, where he surrenders after the Confederates, equipped with AK-47s by time travelers, win the war. The next (and last) time we see him is April 15, 1865, where he delivers a speech trying to convince Kentucky to stay with the United States; this date is, as pointed out later in the book, the day he was assassinated in the regular timeline.
- Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
- Lincoln's Dreams, a novel by Connie Willis, has Lincoln's dreams of his own assassination as a major plot point.
- Oscar Lewis' novella The Lost Years portrays a never-named president known affectionately by his staff as "The Shogun", who is badly wounded at Ford's Theater but recovers. He completes his second term, returns to Illinois and later visits California (which in real life he planned on doing once the Civil War and the transcontinental railroad were finished). An encounter with a little girl who is being ostracized because her father fought for the South turns into a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. (Lincoln was actually known by his staff as "Taikun", the polite term of address for a real shogun.)
- Walt Whitman wrote his famous poem "O Captain! My Captain!" about Lincoln's death.
- Likewise, Henrik Ibsen made a poem called The Murder of Abraham Lincoln, commenting on exactly that. Possibly the angriest poem Ibsen ever wrote.
- Since the musical Assassins deals with presidential assassinations, Lincoln naturally makes an appearance.
- A giant statue of Abraham Lincoln, actually from the Memorial to said man, is the Antagonist in one of the Sam & Max: Freelance Police episodes. He appears later as merely a giant head and falls in love with one of Sam and Max's neighbours, Sybil Pandemik. They later marry and have a child. A running gag in the series is that he claims not to be one good for speeches; he had absolutely nothing prepared when he made the Gettysburg Address, and was just winging it at the time. At one point in the second season the real Lincoln appears as a zombie.
- Lincoln is the leader of America in the first three games. He is added as a leader in an Expansion Pack for Civilization 4.
- In the Beyond The Sword expansion pack to 4, the intro cinematic shows him briefly giving the Gettysburg Address. This then Match Cuts to the Lincoln Memorial, where Cold War-era spies are going about their business.
- One of the subplots of Fallout 3 is the struggle between slavers and freedmen to control Lincoln's legacy. Several of his artifacts, including his hat and rifle, can be found and equipped in the game.
- In Team Fortress 2, he was the original Pyro. And he also invented stairs, so people don't need to rocket jump to the upper floor anymore.
- According to the backstory of Assassin's Creed, Booth was killed off by the Assassin Order, implying that Lincoln may have affiliations with the Assassins himself.
- Dealt in Lead takes place in a very strange world, where the Lich-Emperor Abraham Lincoln has risen from the dead to continue the war against the south.
- The ending of Conduit 2 has Abe Lincoln and George Washington in Powered Armor showing up as reinforcements for the protagonist.
- In Bioshock Infinite, Abraham Lincoln is demonized by the citizens of Columbia for the Emancipation Proclamation while Booth is revered as a hero for assassinating him by the Order of the Raven, a Klan-like society. In turn the opposing faction, the Vox Populi, revere Lincoln, albeit for the wrong reasons, such as seeing him as a role model for glorifying violence and conflict.
- In Codename STEAM, Lincoln had faked his death and gone underground to found S.T.E.A.M. (Strike Team Eliminating the Alien Menace), a steampunk squadron designed to repel a lovecraftian alien invasion. He also pilots a Humongous Mecha called A.B.E.
- In Decades of Darkness, Lincoln's family moved from Kentucky to New England soon after his birth, and he eventually becomes President of the Republic of New England, though the fact he is limited to a single four-year term means he doesn't achieve all he wanted in office. In an Allohistorical Allusion, while he is in power, the rump United States is governed by President Jefferson Davis, and the two men are rivals. However, when Davis is assassinated, Lincoln attends his funeral.
- He goes up against Chuck Norris in the Epic Rap Battles of History.
- He makes a return during the Mitt Romney vs Barack Obama battle, and schools them both. "OF THE PEOPLE! BY THE PEOPLE! FOR THE PEOPLE! EAGLE!"
- Lincoln's profile makes a brief appearance in the Homestar Runner dance mix Come On Fhqwhgads.
- A clone of Abraham Lincoln is the main protagonist of Clone High. Due to the circumstances of the series, he's best friends with Gandhi and Joan of Arc and dates Cleopatra.
- He has a lightsaber duel with George W. Bush in Robot Chicken. He's also voiced by Hulk Hogan.
- Futurama, in a robot mental hospital:
(Fry and another robot come upon a robotic Abraham Lincoln.)
Fry: Lemme guess. He thinks he's Lincoln.
Robot: Well he's supposed to. The problem is he's got multiple personalities, all of them Lincoln.
Robo-Lincoln: I was born in 200 log cabins.
- Not to mention Evil Holographic Lincoln, as seen when the Holoshed on the Nimbus goes on the fritz again.
- Also, his head in a jar (and George Washington's) appear in a President's Day commercial for Malfunctioning Eddie's Used Cars.
- He is still the President in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
- One episode of Dexter's Laboratory has Dexter animate Lincoln's head from the Mount Rushmore memorial into a Humongous Golem, to do battle with the giant George Washington his rival Mandark created. To make a long story short...
Statue Lincoln: (speaking for the first time) "It appears we are evenly matched."
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force: "No one can stop Time Lincoln. No one ever-"
- Appears in the Time Squad episode where he got fed up for being so honest and starts joining prankster gangs while calling himself 'Dishonest Abe'. He got better.
- Also mentioned in the Buffalo Bill episode as having apparently won the election by using the third eye he apparently hid under his hat to hypnotize his opponent.
- South Park. Cult leader David Blaine brought the Lincoln statue to life. Jesus and friends defeated it by building and animating a John Wilkes Boothe statue.
- In "The List" Kyle is supposedly voted the ugliest boy in class by the girls, and Craig (voted the handsomest) consoles him that Abraham Lincoln was ugly too. Later Abe's ghost appears to Kyle and tries to convince him that ugliness will make him a more competent adult, but fails.
- Family Guy. There was this Biblical joke about "Abraham (Lincoln) killing Isaac (the bartender from The Love Boat)."
- Another episode showed that Booth killed him for talking on his cellphone during the play.
- A parody of Mentos ads involved Booth shooting through his hat. Cut to the Griffins watching it, and most of them question whether the ad even had a message. Peter then stands up, and walks off while saying (as if hypnotized), "Must... kill... Lincoln...."
- In the episode "Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater", Peter finds a bunch of photos that show Lincoln, (among with other 19th century politicans) visiting a brothel. Apparently he had jungle fever.
- In the Adventure Time pilot, Abraham Lincoln transports Finn/Pen's mind back in time. And to Mars.
- The Simpsons:
- The Halloween Episode "How To Succeed In Dead-vertising" implied he was gay.
- "Bart to the Future" is based around a vision Bart has where, thirty years down the road, Lisa is president. Living with her in the White House, Homer becomes obsessed with finding the treasure Lincoln supposedly buried on the grounds.
- In "Mountain of Madness", Homer and Mr. Burns are trapped in a snowed-in cabin, succumbing to Cabin Fever. Before fighting, Homer asks "You and what army?", before imagining an army of snowmen behind Burns, prompting him to say "Stay back, I have powers! Uh, political powers!", imagining various political leaders including Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi behind him.
Lincoln: (swinging a chain) IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT'S SHOWTIME!
- Lincoln appeared in a picture in every single ending credits for Aqua Teen Hunger Force, inexplicably lighting a wooden rocket that the protagonists are riding in. This is expanded in the fictitious backstory that Shake provided for the group in The Movie, where this incarnation of Lincoln is known as "Time Lincoln," who aided the heroes after they escaped from Egypt.
- The Venture Bros. meet Lincoln's ghost, who then helps them thwart a Manchurian Candidate-style assassination plot against the current president.
- Appeared in an episode of Animaniacs where, after he signed their autograph book, the Warner siblings helped him to compose the Gettysburg Address. For bonus points, he sounds exactly the same here as he did in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
- The Cold Opening of the Series Finale of Batman: The Brave and the Bold has Batman and a parallel universe's Lincoln teaming up to defeat a steampunk cyborg John Wilkes Booth.
- In A Brief History of the United States of America by Flickerlab's Harold Moss, when the Union wins the Civil War, the freed slaves give Lincoln a blanket toss in celebration.
- Stalemated George Washington on Celebrity Deathmatch.
- Earthworm Jim once got a talking sword that had the power of Time Travel. The sword ordered Jim to test it by going back into Lincoln's time and shave his beard. The sword believed the only change it'd cause would be the beard disappearing from the coins bearing Lincoln's face. Instead, it destroyed Lincoln's credibility and created a timeline where the Confederacy won. The sword angrily told Jim to get back and restore Lincoln's beard.
- In one episode of Pinky and the Brain, the Brain, knowing that Americans crave an honest politician, devises a scheme that involves using a mechanism to speak through the Lincoln Memorial and convince everyone that Lincoln's spirit has returned and is living inside it. His plan works until the oldest living American, who heard Lincoln make a speech when he was five years old, hears the Brain talk, and realizes that it isn't Lincoln's voice. (The man claims that "the real Lincoln had a raspy voice... well, more like Tony Danza".)