Celebrate the Lincoln Bicentennial

January 2009


Lincoln historians have been planning for 2009 for decades. The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission was set up in 2000 by the President and Congress to inform the public about the impact Abraham Lincoln had on the development of our nation and to find the best possible ways to honor his accomplishments. For full text of the Commission Act, read Public Law No: 106-173.


During 2008, Lincoln events have been taking place beginning at Lincolns birthplace in Hardin County, Kentucky, and culminating in Springfield, Illinois, and Washington, DC, on the big day, February 12, 2009.


Everyone will have an opportunity to celebrate when the new Lincoln pennies begin circulating. The original Lincoln penny was designed by Victor David Brenner and was issued in 1909 to mark the centennial of Lincolns birth. It was the first U.S. coin to feature an historical figure on the obverse (front) of the coin instead of an allegorical figure. The reverse of the 1909 coin featured two stylized wheat stalks. For 1959, the sesquicentennial of Lincolns birth, the reverse was redesigned to feature the Lincoln Memorial, completed in 1922.


The 2009 pennies will have four versions, one for each phase of Lincolns life. Aspect one represents Lincolns Kentucky birth and childhood, 18091816, with a log cabin design. Aspect two represents his formative years in Indiana, 18161830, and shows Lincoln reading a book while taking a break from splitting rails. The third aspect shows Lincoln during his professional life, 18301861, standing before the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. The final aspect represents Lincolns presidency, 1861-1865, and shows the U.S. Capitol dome under construction, as it was when president-elect Lincoln first arrived in Washington. Although funds were needed at the time to fund the Civil War, Lincoln declared that the Capitol construction must continue and be completed to demonstrate that the government was continuing and would grow stronger and more solid if we kept working at it.


The new Lincoln silver commemorative one-dollar coin was unveiled in Gettysburg on November 19, 2008, the 145th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. The coin contains 90 percent silver and will have a limited issue of 500,000 coins. The last 43 words of the Gettysburg Address are etched on the reverse of the coin.


And watch out for the long lines at the post office on February 9, when four new Lincoln stamps will be issued. Lincoln already appears on more than 50 postage stamps, but this issue represents something more elemental. Lincolns correspondence through his letters to his wife, politicians, newspapers, and families of soldiers gives us a legacy of who Lincoln was just as much as his official written documents as lawyer, congressman, and president.