Cultural depictions of Abraham Lincoln

Cultural depictions of Abraham Lincoln
The Apotheosis of Abraham Lincoln, greeted by George Washington in heaven (an 1860s work)

This article addresses cultural depictions of Abraham Lincoln.


Statues of Abraham Lincoln and other tributes

Outside the United States

Statues of Lincoln can be found in other countries. In Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, is a 13-foot (4 m) high bronze statue, a gift from the United States, dedicated in 1966 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The U.S. received a statue of Benito Juárez in exchange, which is in Washington, D.C. Juárez and Lincoln exchanged friendly letters during the American Civil War, Mexico remembers Lincoln's opposition to the Mexican-American War. (For his part, Juárez refused to aide the Confederacy and jailed those Confederates who sought his help.) There is also a statue in Tijuana, Mexico, showing Lincoln standing and destroying the chains of slavery. There are at least three statues of Lincoln in the United Kingdom — one in Parliament Square in London by Augustus St. Gaudens, one in Manchester by George Grey Barnard and another in Edinburgh by George Bissell. There is also a bust of the President at St Andrews Church in Hingham, Norfolk, where Lincoln's ancestors lived. In Havana, Cuba, there is a bust of Abraham Lincoln in the Museum of the Revolution, a small statue of him in front of the Abraham Lincoln School, and a bust of him near the Capitolio.


Fictional depictions

Late 1800's

In Jules Verne's 1870 novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, a fictitious steam frigate, the Abraham Lincoln, is sent to hunt down the "monster" that has been attacking ships at sea, and is attacked itself. Captain Nemo also has a portrait of Lincoln hanging in his study onboard the Nautilus. In the prequel The Mysterious Island, the five shipwrecked Union prisoners name the island which they discover, "Lincoln Island".


The first known motion picture based on Mr. Lincoln was 1908 film The Reprieve: An Episode in the Life of Abraham Lincoln. Directed by Van Dyke Brooke, the film shows Lincoln pardoning a sentry who fell asleep on duty, a theme that would be depicted repeatedly in other silent era shorts. This era is also when the first Abraham Lincoln impersonators originated, and the modern idea of what he sounded like is derived from these, much like the oral traditions of african folklore.


As with the first picture on Lincoln, most of the films in this decade featured Lincoln pardoning sleeping sentries. Films included Abraham Lincoln's Clemency (1910), When Lincoln Was President (1913), When Lincoln Paid (1913), The Sleeping Sentinel (1914) and The Birth of a Nation (1915).

John Drinkwater's play, Abraham Lincoln (1918), was successful on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching Broadway and the West End. Drinkwater was an English poet and playwright.


  • The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln (1924)
  • Abraham Lincoln (1924) (1924/I)








  • The Civil War (1990) Sam Waterston played Lincoln
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Meltdown", Lincoln (played by Jack Klaff) was featured as a Waxdroid in a theme park planet called Waxworld, where evil waxdroids and good waxdroids are fighting.
  • The Speeches of Abraham Lincoln (1995)
  • A&E Biography: "Abraham Lincoln - Preserving the Union" (1997)
  • An Abraham Lincoln robot acts as a defense attorney for African-American children Leon, Kahlil, LaShawn and Pee-Wee in Bebe's Kids (1992).
  • Lincoln appeared as an occasional guest host on Histeria!, especially in two episodes centered around the Civil War. Pepper Mills mistakes him for Lurch from The Addams Family, and one sketch shows the Civil War politics like an episode of Seinfeld, with Lincoln as Jerry and George B. McClellan as George Costanza. In another sketch, Loud Kiddington demands he explain the parts of the Gettysburg Address that he doesn't understand (such as what "four score" means). On Histeria!, Abe acts like Johnny Carson and was voiced by Maurice LaMarche.
  • In the 1993 film Coneheads, Dan Aykroyd's character dresses as Lincoln for a costume ball, as the President's stovepipe hat effectively covers his cone-shaped head.
  • In an episode of the HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show, Abraham Lincoln is portrayed (in an openly historically inaccurate skit) as the man who designed the American flag. Tom Kenny portrayed Lincoln as speaking in a thick New York accent.
  • In Harry Turtledove's novel How Few Remain, Lincoln is a viewpoint character, struggling to keep the Republican Party alive while championing the cause of the working man, which eventually leads to the Socialist Party of America replacing the Republicans as the primary opposition to the Democrats. Mr. Lincoln himself is referred to in later novels as the father of American socialism, as his eloquence and political influence after leaving office (Lincoln is not assassinated in this universe) led to most of the Republican liberals defecting to the Socialist Party.
  • Talk show Late Night with Conan O'Brien started in 1993, with Dino Stamatopoulos as the original portrayer of Lincoln. In 1999, Mike Sweeney took over this role.
  • In an episode of Cartoon Network's Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter faces his rival, Mandark, using the statue of Lincoln from Mount Rushmore that he has brought to life, and fights Mandark who is using the giant animated statue of George Washington.
  • In The DC Comics Elseworld title Superman: A Nation Divided, a reimagining of Superman's origins as coming into his powers during the American Civil War, President Lincoln features heavily. He is first seen reading field reports by General Ulysses S. Grant that describe "Atticus" Kent's special abilities. Lincoln then assumes Grant has been drinking, until Kent himself shows up at the white House. After Kent helps win the war, he accompanies Lincoln to the Ford Theater, where he prevents John Wilkes Booth's assassination attempt. After this Lincoln is seen to be one of the most popular presidents in history, serving two full terms.
  • In 1998, Scott McCloud wrote and drew the graphic novel The New Adventures of Abraham Lincoln, in which the president seemingly returns to life in the present day; however, it is in fact a disguised Benedict Arnold, working for aliens in a plot to conquer the world. He is unmasked by the true Lincoln, who also returns from the dead.
  • In 1999, a comic book story featuring The Phantom was made called "Lincoln's Murder", and published in Europe and Australia.
  • In the MTV claymation television series Celebrity Deathmatch, He appears as a fighter in which he faced off against George Washington


  • In the film Bedazzled (2000), Brendan Fraser's character makes a deal with the Devil (Elizabeth Hurley) for seven wishes. Upon wishing to be President of the United States, he is transformed into Lincoln and finds himself in Ford's Theatre.
  • Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided (2001), a documentary on PBS's American Experience.
  • In Clone High, a main clone character was Abraham Lincoln.
  • In Gangs of New York (2002), Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis's characters attend a play of Uncle Tom's Cabin in which an actor is suspended in mid-air (with his body apparently backwards) to address the blackface actors. An audience member interrupts him, yelling, "Leave the nigger dead!" as the immigrant audience members begin throwing objects at Lincoln and rioting.
  • A daily political comedy podcast at TheAbrahamLincolnLogs is represented as being written by Lincoln.
  • Though The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy is set in modern times, Lincoln is strangely the current President of the United States in the story's plot. One episode even features him as Grim's replacement in Billy and Mandy's group of friends.
  • In the 2005 alternative history mockumentary C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, Abraham Lincoln flees after the South wins the war. He is captured in blackface makeup and later declares, "Now I too am a Negro".
  • In 2005, Lincoln appeared in the song and video of The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny by Lemon Demon.
  • In an episode of The Venture Bros., the ghost of Lincoln requests the help of Hank and Dean to save the current president from being killed.
  • National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (2007) is a fictional film which concerns the assassination of Lincoln.
  • He is ranked fourth in Electronic Gaming Monthly’s list of the top ten video game politicians for his appearance in Fight Club for the PlayStation 2.[2]
  • In the 2008 video game Fallout 3, set in a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C., the Lincoln Memorial is portrayed as a beacon of hope to escaped slaves trying to survive in the wasteland. The player can also find a hidden weapon called Lincoln's Repeater, which is one of the most powerful rifles in the game. Coincidentally, Liam Neeson, who was considered for the role of Lincoln in the Spielberg film, is featured in the game as the voice of the player character's father, James.
  • In Robot Chicken's first Star Wars Special, Lincoln (voiced by Hulk Hogan) is seen as being seated under the Lincoln Memorial, and engages in lightsaber combat with George W. Bush.
  • Lincoln appears in the form of the Lincoln Memorial coming to life in the film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.
  • In the fourth episode from the 2007 game Sam & Max Save the World, the statue of Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial turns into a giant robot. He is becoming one of the recurring characters in the game.


  • Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2010) is a novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, in which Lincoln makes it his life's goal to destroy all vampires in the United States. In 2011, the movie version is being produced for a 2012 release [3]
  • The Conspirator deals with the assassination of Lincoln, and the trial of the conspirators, and, chiefly, the guilt or innocence of Mary Surratt.
  • In the "Lincoln Lover" episode of American Dad!, Stan decides to write a play to show his admiration for Lincoln and unwittingly ends up portraying him as a homosexual with David Derickson, attracting the attention of the Log Cabin Republicans.


In 2001, Steven Spielberg acquired the rights to Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography of Lincoln, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln in order to base a film on it.[4] John Logan was hired to write the script, and playwright Paul Webb and Tony Kushner rewrote it.[5] Liam Neeson was cast as Abraham Lincoln in January 2005,[4] while Sally Field was cast as Mary Todd Lincoln in September 2007.[6] As part of his preparation for the role, Neeson read twenty-two books about the president, as well as his personal writings. He also visited Ford's Theatre, where Lincoln was assassinated.[7] However, in July 2010, Neeson left the project, saying that he was 'too old to play the former commander-in-chief'.[8] In November 2010, it was announced that Daniel Day-Lewis was cast in the role.[9] Filming began in the fall of 2011 for expected release in the fourth quarter of 2012 through Disney’s Touchstone distribution label.[10]


  1. ^ Berhman, John (March 9, 1985). "Escondido teacher Rex Hamilton is dead at 60". The San Diego Union: p. II-1. 
  2. ^ Scott Sharkey, “EGM’s Top Ten Videogame Politicians: Election time puts us in a voting mood”, Electronic Gaming Monthly 234 (November 2008): 97.
  3. ^ Michael Cieply (May 9,2011). "Aside From the Vampires, Lincoln Film Seeks Accuracy". New York Times. 
  4. ^ a b Michael Fleming (2005-01-11). "Lincoln logs in at DreamWorks: Spielberg, Neeson eye Abe pic". Variety. Retrieved 2007-01-24. 
  5. ^ Steven Awalt (2007-03-28). "'Munich' screenwriter takes on 'Lincoln'". Retrieved 2007-04-01. [dead link]
  6. ^ Carly Mayberry (2007-09-25). "Field is Spielberg's new first lady". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2007-09-26. [dead link]
  7. ^ Max Evry (2007-01-24). "Liam Neeson Talks Lincoln". Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  8. ^ Simon Reynolds (2010-07-30). "Neeson quits Spielberg's Lincoln biopic". 
  9. ^ Shoard, Catherine (2010-11-19). "Daniel Day-Lewis set for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln film". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  10. ^ Fischer, Russ (2010-11-19). "Daniel Day-Lewis to Star in Steven Spielberg’s 'Lincoln'". /Film. 

External links

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