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Oldest Lincoln statue in DC | by dbking
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Oldest Lincoln statue in DC


Abraham Lincoln

Judiciary Square, D Street between 4th and 5th Sts NW

Sculptor: Lot Flannery

Date: 1868

Medium: Marble


---life size marble statue of Abraham Lincoln stands in front of DC Superior Court, which was at one time DC City Hall


---oldest memorial to the slain president in the nation, but not the first---the first was erected in San Francisco in 1866 which eroded, replace by a metal one that was destroyed in the 1906 fires following the earthquake


---thirteen days after the assassination, a committee to erect a memorial was underway


---John T Ford gave a benefit performance and contributed the proceeds, about $1800 the largest donation to the cause, then he sold his theatre to the government and moved to Baltimore where he opened another theatre


---the monument committee considered several designs, but unanimously accepted one submitted by Lot Flannery declaring it to be the “most spirited” and “an excellent likeness”


---Flannery was not really an artist, he and his brother had immigrated to the US from Ireland where they owned one of the city’s largest stone-carving businesses, specializing in tombstones


---He had won praise as a sculptor for the Arsenal memorial at Congressional Cemetery


---unveiled on April 15, 1868, three years after Lincoln’s death. Approximately 20% of the city’s population at that time attended (somewhere around 15-20,000ppl)


---parade formed at 9th and D Sts NW at 1pm. Many dignitaries in attendance including President Andrew Johnson, sculptor Flannery, Generals Winfield Scott Hancock, William T. Sherman, two Pueblo leaders, and the Chief of the Creek nation. Absent were members of Congress, and Supreme Court Justices who were at the Capitol at the impeachment trial of President Johnson. Gen. Ulysses S Grant opted not to stand on the platform, due to his dislike of Pres. Johnson, instead opted to stand among his fellow countrymen


---the life like statue was set atop a marble column over 30’ high, causing complaints that folks could barely make out who was on the column.


---the features of the sculpture are sharply curved and the eyes deep set making Lincoln unmistakable even at a distance. He is shown as if ready to speak, with his left hand resting on a Roman fasces, a symbol of union


---in 1919 when City Hall underwent renovation for its centennial, the statue and column were dismantled and put in storage.


---As the larger Lincoln Memorial under construction took shape, this smaller statue had become and embarrassment and was suggested to be moved to Ft. Stevens. An outcry from the public, led by the Sons of the Revolution, the G.A. R (Grand Army of the Republic), the Columbia Historical Society and the Association of the Oldest Inhabitants demanded the statue be placed back in its original location, it couldn’t be found!


---Finally located in a crate behind the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, the statue was cleaned and placed on a simple low granite pedestal on April 15, 1923, a full 55 years after its unveiling.


---Within easy reach, the statue fell prey to vandals, Lincoln’s fingers were repeatedly broken off. Eventually his right hand was re-carved but on far too large a scale


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Taken on May 30, 2005