Celebrate the Lincoln Bicentennial
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 Lincoln’s
birthplace in Hardin County, Kentucky,
and culminating in Springfield, Illinois, and Washington,
DC, on the big day, February 12,
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 Lincoln’s
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 Lincoln’s 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 Lincoln’s
life. Aspect one represents Lincoln’s Kentucky birth and
childhood, 1809–1816, with a log cabin design. Aspect two represents his
formative years in Indiana, 1816–1830, and
reading a book while taking a break from splitting rails. The third aspect
shows Lincoln during his professional life,
1830–1861, standing before the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois.
The final aspect represents Lincoln’s
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. Lincoln’s 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.