Photograph of the signature of Abraham Lincoln on a white piece of paper.
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Lincoln’s Legacy

How Have People Remembered Lincoln?

Today, many Americans see Abraham Lincoln as one of the country’s national heroes. But over the decades since his death, people have debated the meaning of his legacy. Explore these debates, past and present, below.

“We are able to create a Lincoln for all seasons.”

Catherine Clinton, University of Texas, San Antonio

Lincoln’s assassination left a lasting impact on this country and it is still felt today. How is his legacy represented?

Each generation since his death has found new aspects of the man and myth to emphasize. Lincoln’s deeds and words shaped one of the most crucial periods in U.S. history. People around the globe, both past, and present, take heart in Lincoln’s leadership and thought. Still, others see Lincoln as representing the worst of presidential leadership.

His impact on American society and culture can be seen all around us in symbols and memorials, currency, and advertising.

Conduct Your Own Investigation

As you see how different people around the globe remember President Lincoln, consider…

  • How have different generations chosen to portray Lincoln?
  • What aspects of Lincoln do people most often remember? Why?
  • How did Lincoln’s legacy and its controversial nature evolve over time?
  • Why would people want to attach Lincoln’s name to their own project?
  • How does each image or quotation represent Lincoln’s Legacy?

Memorials to Lincoln

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Black and white photograph of Abraham Lincoln. Written on top of him is "When one man died because he believed in"