Friday, October 30, 2009

A New Memorial To Lincoln In Indiana

One of the nation's newest memorials to Abraham Lincoln is located in Lincoln State Park, Indiana, almost immediately across the state highway from the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Plaza was dedicated on June 12, 2009. I had the pleasure of visiting this new memorial during my trip last month to Spencer County, Indiana, where Lincoln spent 14 years living from the age of 7 until he reached adulthood at 21.

The plaza is really a bisected circle, each half representing different stages of Lincoln's life. The front part of the memorial is in honor of Lincoln's youth spent here in this area, while the part facing away from the entrance to the plaza honors his presidency. Here is an artist's sketch of the plaza, which will hopefully give you a better idea of what the layout is.



As the visitor enters the plaza, one can see various granite pedestals which contain quotes either from Lincoln himself or from those who knew him. An example of one such pedestal is shown below:



Others feature quotes from friends such as Nathaniel Grigsby (a neighbor of Lincoln's in Indiana), and Lincoln's secretary John Nicolay. One of these markers has the quote attributed to Lincoln in which he refers to his "angel mother."

The main focus of the plaza is the center semi-circular structure depicted below. Each of the stone slabs with the dates over them represent the approximate height of Lincoln in that year as he grew to a final height of 6'4" by 1830, when the Lincoln family relocated to Illinois.



The other side of this structure contains the beautiful larger-than-life bust of Lincoln along with along with the text to his two most famous speeches, The Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address.

According to the description under the bust of Lincoln, his closed left hand represents his desire to hold onto the Union, to prevent one nation from becoming two. His open right hand represents his desire to "bind up the nation's wounds" and extend "charity to all" once the Civil War was over. The photo below is a wider shot of the bust and the text of his speeches.


The artists who came up with this design are Mr. George Morrison and Mr. Will Clark. The bronze figure of Lincoln, twice life-size, weighs 400 pounds. There are over 90 pieces of stone in the memorial, quarried in Indiana. The single largest slab of stone weighs more than 3,400 pounds.

I was struck by both the beauty and uniqueness of the plaza. While it certainly lacks the majesty of other memorials to Lincoln, it is very striking and far more interesting than a simple statue would have been. The quotes featured on the pedestals around the plaza help the visitor to understand Lincoln a bit better, and to get a feel for how people felt about him. I'm pleased that the portion representing his presidency includes the text of his speeches. The plaza sits in the woods which Lincoln knew so well. It's a moving experience to visit the plaza.

Lincoln State Park is named not for Abraham, but rather his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln. The park includes the Little Pigeon Church where the Lincoln family worshipped and the cemetery where his sister, Sarah, is buried. More about that in the next post.


7 comments:

Rebecca said...

That's a really nice bust of Lincoln, and a nice memorial too. I'm a little surprised at how new it is. I wonder how many actual memorials to Lincoln there are in the country and how many more are added every year!

Geoff Elliott said...

Rebecca,

I would have no idea how many various memorials, monuments, and statues there are dedicated in this country to Lincoln. There's even a Lincoln statue in London, England. The capital of Nebraska, Lincoln, was named for him. There are universities named after him.

I seem to remember having read somewhere that a guy was going around the U.S. intending on photographing all the different Lincoln statues. It would be a long journey, I'm sure.

Rebecca said...

Geoff,

Not only that but every town in America probably has a street named Lincoln!

A guy left a comment on my blog who was doing research for a book on Lincoln statues and I'm sure that will take a while too!

Lincolnphotog said...

Geoff and Rebecca,
I am that "guy" going around photographing Lincoln statues, memorials and monuments. At this point I have visited over 250 but there are probably more than 300 if you count every memorial and plaque dedicated on a spot where Lincoln spoke or visited. I have been to 35 statues and plan to include around 235 or so statues in a book I'm working on.
There have been 20 new statues erected in the past 2 years and there are still some more on the way.

Geoff, didn't I send you a 2009 desk calendar with Lincoln stataues on it last year? Seems to me I did.

One A Day, Your Spiritual Vitamins said...

Excellent blog. I've been presenting Abraham Lincoln as a One Man Drama all over the United States for close to two decades. If you are interested in chcking out a Lincoln film I put together FROM THE WILDERNESS TO WASHINGTON go to speakerneil.com. I also wrote a book on Lincoln THE SPIRITUAL ABRAHAM LINCOLN some four years ago. I give my permission, if you are interested, to download my film so your readers can view it. There is no charge. I am a Presbyterian mninister who continues to present other One Man Dramas about such individuals as Charles Wesley, Ben Franklin, Martin Luther,etc. A larger picture of my film is also available on You Tube. Just type in You Tube, Neil Wyrick Abraham Lincoln. From one historian to another. Thanks again for the privilege of enjoying your blog.

Rev. V. Neil Wyrick

Sarah Gershman said...

Thank you for telling us about this memorial. I particularly appreciated your description of his hands on the bust - trying to hold the nation together. I am a speech coach and just posted about Lincoln's Thanksgiving proclamation - as not simply an eloquent statement about national unity but as a specific call to action - something we can all learn to include in our presentations.

http://sarahgershman.blogspot.com/2009/11/thanksgiving-and-power-of.html

I look forward to hearing your comments!

Sarah

Nick said...

I am really sad to find out that anyone in their right mind would find this bust of Lincoln "beautiful". It's quite simply hideous and amateurish.I teach art to grade school kids on occasion and can pick out a handful of students out of 20 that would make a better bust of Lincoln than this. Shame on Indiana, this was a rigged commission.

 
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