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The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
—Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address
That guy who won the American Civil War, proclaimed the slaves free, delivered the Gettysburg Address and was shot dead at the theatre. He's also known for wearing a top hat and being very tall (the tallest president, in fact, at six feet four inches), and when he for a brief time took direct control of the Union army, showed himself to be a talented military strategist as well. A genial and charming speaker, Lincoln had an uncanny ability to explain complex issues in layman's terms, and his speeches are among the most famous in American history. Considered an untested and possibly radical figure, he is famous for Growing the Beard in office. In many ways he's the only post-Founding Fathers/ pre-Teddy Roosevelt President who's thought of at all. He is almost universally considered to be one of the greatest (if not the greatest) Presidents in American history.
Emphasis on "almost." There is a minority of Lost Cause followers, neo-Confederates, libertarians and anti-federalists who hold different views on the man, claiming that he was a dictatorial leader who trampled on civil liberties and states' rights, set the stage for the centralization of power in America, and launched the American Civil War not out of his moral opposition to slavery, but to maintain his own power base. There are also a number of folks who think Abe Lincoln was a fundamentally good guy, and had the nation's best interests at heart, but that (the rest of) America would be better off today if he had let the South go, arguing that the North and the South are two fundamentally different places. In addition, he had won the election without a single Southern electoral vote — in some states, he wasn't even on the ballot. (The South was pretty miffed over his opposition to slavery.) He was pretty widely reviled and despised among certain segments of the Northern population as well - particularly Irish-Americans, who alleged (with some justification) that they were being used as cannon fodder for "Lincoln's War".
It is also relevant, if somewhat uncomfortable to admit, that Lincoln was by today's standards a racist. He considered blacks to be inferior to whites. Though he opposed slavery, he was willing at least in principle to allow slavery to continue, believing that it would end on its own. Early in his Presidency he said that he would back any solution to the slavery question that preserved the Union, whether it was freeing all the slaves, freeing none of them, or freeing some and leaving others enslaved. His anti-slavery views became stronger over time, however, eventually crystallizing in two famous quotes: "In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free," and "Whenever I hear anyone arguing over slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." By the end of his Presidency, he clearly regarded blacks quite highly and on April 11, 1865, Lincoln gave a speech in which he promoted voting rights for blacks.
His memorial in DC is a very popular spot for "inspirational" moments in media, and is much hardier than most other memorials. He is also the only non-British Empire citizen to have his statue in Parliament Square in London.
Was famously born in a log cabin, but not the one you can get tours of (despite what the guides will tell you); that one was built 8 years after he was born. As Stephen Fry once put it, it is dangerously close to the legendary schoolboy gaffe, "Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin he built with his own hands."
It is also said that his ghost haunts The White House. His presence is sometimes made clear by appearing, if briefly, before some Presidents and other guests during times of great crisis.
Incidentally, in contrast to most modern-day "deep and smooth" depictions, Lincoln's voice was actually somewhat high-pitched and nasal. For something approaching what's considered to be more accurate, consider this feature, filmed for Time Magazine.
The last living person to witness Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theater was Samuel J. Seymour, who sat in the balcony box across from the Lincolns at age five, and appeared on the game show I've Got A Secret to relate his story 91 years later in 1956. He died several months later.
One of the things which allegedly mellowed Lincoln out on the issue of race was his unlikely friendship with escaped slave and civil rights leader Frederick Douglass, along with the extreme polarization of the public on the issue, as hundreds of thousands died During the War. After unexpectedly winning re-election in a stunning turnaround, in his Second Inaugural Address (only slightly longer than the one at Gettysburg) Lincoln famously delivered one of the greatest speeches of all time.
Lincoln's Speech (excerpt)
All knew that (slavery) was somehow the cause of the war... It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. ..."Woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come... and that He gives to (us) this terrible war as the woe due... Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether!"
Note that he went on to say:
But given the foregoing, he could have just as easily finished up with:
The war was won weeks later. Coincidence? Perhaps not.
Fact: Abraham Lincoln can and, if needed, will, beat you in a fight. Even if you're Batman. Or Bigfoot. In some ways, Abraham Lincoln is almost as much a Memetic Badass as Chuck Norris. In fact, this is where you can go to watch them have a rap battle. Some would count him as the only president to be more Badass than Theodore Roosevelt (and maybe Andrew Jackson, if you ignore the politics). On the other hand, Cracked doesn't even count him among the top five, though the same author later acknowledged the oversight and made an article devoted strictly to Lincoln called Abraham Lincoln: Portrait Of A Crazy Badass. It really depends on how much weight you give the Badass Beard.
Also Fact: In 1842 Abraham Lincoln was once challenged to a duel by political rival James Shields. In dueling, the challenged party selects the place of the duel, and the weapons to be used. Since Lincoln felt the situation was ridiculous he stated that he wanted to use "Cavalry Broadswords of the largest size". He also added that he wanted the duel to be carried out in a pit 10 feet wide by 12 feet deep with a large wooden plank dividing the square in which no man was allowed to set foot over. Shields was going to go through with it, but then saw Lincoln clearing branches with a broadsword and realized how insane the situation had became and backed down.
- NB: The fencing treatise "By the Sword" notes that Lincoln's apparently ridiculous rules for the duel belie a cunning tactician's mind: By choosing long, heavy weapons and dividing the dueling ground to prevent his opponent from closing distance, the much taller Lincoln ensured that he — with his nearly 6 inch longer reach — could attack with impunity and/or (more likely) effectively stalemate the duel without drawing blood.
- NBB: Lincoln felt the situation was so ridiculous that, when Shields first challenged Lincoln to choose the dueling weapons, Lincoln initially chose "cow pies." Lincoln only switched to broadswords when Shields rejected this idea.
Also Also Fact: Abraham Lincoln, 140 years before its first usage in ECW, frickin' invented the chokeslam. During his youth as a "wrassler", one of Lincoln's opponents made the mistake of stomping on Lincoln's instep with the heel of his boot. As recounted by noted Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg, "This exasperated Lincoln so that he lost his temper, lifted Armstrong up by the throat and off the ground, shook him like a rag, and then slammed him to a hard fall, flat on his back."
- Badass: Unlike his predecessor, Lincoln did not hesitate to take a definitive stand on the morality of slavery, while still defending its legal continuance where it existed, and he did this knowing full well it could cause a civil war. He did it anyway and refused to apologize for it.
- Badass Beard: He grew one at the advice of a young lady named Grace Bedell, who thought he'd look more impressive with facial hair.
- Beware the Nice Ones: He was a very hard guy to make mad, but during a wrestling match as noted above, he invented the chokeslam on the guy who finally managed to piss him off.
- Papa Wolf: Union soldiers called their commander in chief "Father Abraham", which he was aware of and took pride in.
- Fat and Skinny: Lincoln was the latter of these two when compared to his rival, Stephen Douglass.
- Friendly Rival: Lincoln was fierce rivals with Stephen Douglass, and although both men were very serious on the political stage, neither had any genuine disregard for each other away from politics. In fact, Douglass even helped hold Lincoln's hat during his inauguration to show he accepted his rival had the job he had wanted instead.
- Loophole Abuse: Invoked this to get around complaints he exceeded his authority when he suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War, asserting at the time Congress was not in session and the danger was so immediate the executive had to act if the legislative branch could not. Was made moot by the time Congress finally did meet because the Civil War was in full swing by then and it would have been insane to end what Lincoln started.
- The Messiah: Was considered such by four million slaves for ending their bondage forever.
- Nice Hat: That stovepipe hat Lincoln is well known for.
- Principles Zealot: Lincoln remained committed to his stances on slavery, and his refusal to moderate them a dot (even though his was already pretty tolerant for a Republican) was what helped ensure the Civil War was going to happen, because the South refused to accept he opposed to ANY extension of slavery while protecting it where it already existed.
- Rules Lawyer: He was an actual lawyer, but during the Freeport debate with Stephen Douglass in 1858, he pointed out Douglass' popular sovereignty doctrine was full of holes anyone invoking this trope could have used to make a hash of the whole idea.
- Second Love: His wife was his own after his first love died of illness, and speaking of Mary Todd, she was once courted by Lincoln's political rival Stephen Douglass, so Lincoln was her take on this trope.
- The Smart Guy: Lincoln was known for his intellectual talents since his youth, and not only did those talents help him become a lawyer and later a statesman, he is also the only president thus far to have a patent filed in his name, specifically a device for lifting boats over shoals.
- Lincoln was one of the former identities of The Immortal in Invincible.
- Lincoln is the president who gives The Amazing Screw On Head his orders in the graphic novel by Mike Mignola.
- A painting of Lincoln—with the word "N****r" scrawled across it—is the source of much controversy in the first arc of Ex Machina.[context?]
- The "Statue of Lincoln comes to life" subtrope even has an Animal Superheroes version; in one issue of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, a villain animates a statue of "Abraham Linkidd" (who is a goat, in case you were wondering).
- Lincoln is one of Bill and Ted's collection of historical figures in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.
- The whacked-out Chinese movie Fantasy Mission Force opens with several World War II generals being captured. One of them is Lincoln. And he clearly identifies himself as such - even in the original Chinese.
- In the 1939 film Young Mr Lincoln, he's portrayed by Henry Fonda.
- Tyler Durden of Fight Club wants to fight him, because he's a big guy, with big reach. And besides, skinny guys fight 'til they're burger.
- He becomes an unlockable character in the Video Game version.
- In Gangs of New York, an actor portrays him in a production of Uncle Tom's Cabin and he is greeted with jeers, food throwing, and shouts of "Down with the Union!" This is a pretty good reflection of how working-class New Yorkers actually felt about President Lincoln; New York City mayor Fernando Wood even proposed that the city secede from the Union and become an independent country.
- Raymond Massey had a popular, Oscar-nominated turn as Lincoln in the 1940 film Abe Lincoln in Illinois. If you ever see Massey in anything and think "that guy sounds like Abraham Lincoln", that's because the popular conception of Lincoln's molasses-like voice stems from Massey's performance.
- In CSA: Confederate States of America, he loses the Civil War. He attempts to flee to Canada with Harriet Tubman disguised as a black man, but is captured by Confederate forces. After a two year imprisonment, Jefferson Davis, hoping to ease tension in the newly conqured North, pardons him and exiles him to Canada, where he dies a lonely man in the early 1900s. All history remembers him for is being the man that lost "the War of Northern Agression".
- A major character, and a surprisingly sympathetic one, in the outrageously racist 1915 film Birth of a Nation.
- In Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian the statue from the Lincoln Memorial comes to life.
- In Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Jefferson Smith goes to the Lincoln Memorial several times.
- Visits to the Lincoln Memorial are practically a Trope in their own right.
- He is considered as one of the three people (along with Elvis Presley and Bigfoot) as the real identity of Batman in The Dark Knight.
- In the Wild Wild West movie, Dr. Loveless makes a grand appearance at his party by hiding inside a statue of Lincoln, whose head explodes.
- At the climax of Black Dynamite, when Richard Nixon grabs John Wilkes Booth's pistol to shoot BD, the ghost of Lincoln appears and kung-fus the gun out of Nixon's hand.
- In The Master of Disguise, Pistachio's grandfather tells about how the Disguisey family made impact on history. Abraham Lincoln was such a boring speaker, so a disguised Lincoln helped him become elected president by partying and dancing while I Like to Move It by Reel to Real is played.
- Played by Daniel Day-Lewis in Steven Spielberg's 2012 biopic Lincoln, opposite Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Sally Field.
- In a few of the Flashman books, Lincoln appears as a rare example of a Magnificent Bastard with completely good motives who also has some similarity with the "Atticus Finch" "simple country lawyer" type.
- Gore Vidal's bestselling historical novel Lincoln takes place over the span of the Civil War. The book doesn't presume to know what Lincoln is thinking, instead switching between the perspectives of his advisers (plus John Wilkes Booth's accomplice). The author caught the ire of historians for including third-party anecdotes regarding Abe's bout with syphilis, among other things. Vidal's rebuttal was that U.S. historians tend to gloss over the imperfections of their idols, leaving us with only a faint impression of the men they really were.
- One of the plots in the NUMA Series book Sahara concerns Lincoln.
- In the Alternate History novel How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove, Lincoln is a main character (having been a one-term president after losing the Civil War). Inspired by the writings of Marx, Lincoln becomes a travelling speaker lecturing about the rights of man and the benefits of socialism. Lincoln also leads a faction of the splintering Republican Party into defecting to the Socialist Party, causing the Socialists to eventually eclipse the Republicans as one of the nation's two major political parties.
- Lincoln plays a small part in Turtledove's The Guns of the South, where he surrenders after the Confederates, equipped with AK-47s by time travelers, win the war. The next (and last) time we see him is April 15, 1865, where he delivers a speech trying to convince Kentucky to stay with the United States; this date is, as pointed out later in the book, the day he was assassinated in the regular timeline.
- When the time travelers try to assassinate newly inaugurated Confederate President Robert E. Lee, killing his wife, Lincoln sends a telegram saying his prayers are with Lee "and your country in your hour of sorrow." Lee, who respects Lincoln, cherishes this message.
- In the novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter he...well, you can probably work out the rest.
- Lincoln's Dreams, a novel by Connie Willis, has Lincoln's dreams of his own assassination as a major plot point.
- Fred Saberhagen wrote one book in which time travelers seek to kidnap Lincoln from the instant before his assassination, leaving a convincing dummy in his place (they want him to be an inspirational figure in a troubled future). The kidnap attempt goes wrong, alerting the President to John Wilkes Booth's attack — and he picks Booth up and hurls him out of the theater box onto the stage. Fortunately, the time travelers recruited the main character because he has a psychic Reset Button power, so he can "rewind time" and try the kidnapping again.
- Abraham Lincoln was summoned to take part in a duel to the death between good and bad factions in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Savage Curtain". Sadly, he was among the first to die.
- From the opening of Police Squad!: "...And Rex Hamilton as Abraham Lincoln!", which leads to a brief shot of Lincoln firing back at John Wilkes Booth.
- Lincoln appears briefly in two episodes of the original Twilight Zone set during the American Civil War, "Back There" and "The Passersby".
- A whole episode of Touched By an Angel features his assassination, with Monica and Tess working as his seamstresses and Andrew meeting up with and trying to redeem John Wilkes Booth.
- In a skit on the Sketch Comedy The Whitest Kids U' Know, Lincoln is presented as having been very loud and obnoxious at Ford's Theatre. When John Wilkes Boothe asks him to be quiet, Abe begins mercilessly taunting him. Boothe finally snaps, and
shoots Lincolnbeats his ass with a hammer.
- On Late Night with Conan O'Brien, a common skit involved Conan checking out wacky (and obviously fake) channels from all around the world. One of the most memorable of these channels is the Abraham Lincoln Money Shot Channel, which is an entire channel devoted to, you guessed it, shots of Honest Abe, a-hem, finishing his business.
- The Red Dwarf episode "Meltdown" features waxwork creations representing various famous people from history; one of these is Lincoln.
- In one episode of Father Ted, Dougal, in a delusional state due to extreme hunger, sees Ted in a Lincoln costume.
- In Babylon 5, when Centauri Vir Cotto sets up an "underground railway" of sorts to smuggle Narns off their occupied homeworld, he creates a fake Centauri noble named "Abrahamo Lincolni" to expedite matters. The name fools the other Centauri (most of whom don't know anything about Earth history), but the humans who run across it burst out laughing.
- The video for the Electric Six song "Gay Bar."
- Because he's gonna take you to the gay bar.
- In Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, He popped out of his grave, took an AK-47 out from under his hat, and blew Batman away with a rat-a-tat-tat, but he ran out of bullets and ran away 'cause Optimus Prime arrived to save the day.
Recorded and Stand-Up Comedy
- One of Bob Newhart's early routines, "Abraham Lincoln vs. Madison Avenue", satirically juxtaposes the cynical marketing of modern political candidates with Lincoln's honesty.
- One of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show monologues essentially involved puns based on "Lincoln".
"Every Lincoln's Birthday reminds me of my old girlfriend back in Nebraska...Gina Statutory. She went to Lincoln High, and was voted Miss Lincoln...because every guy in school took a shot at her in the balcony."
- Lincoln is a Badass Cursed with Awesome
ZombieHarrowed MIB in Deadlands.
- The backstory of Task Force: VALKYRIE in Hunter: The Vigil starts with the abduction of Abraham Lincoln by supernatural creatures in 1864. He was killed during the retrieval, and it was a substitute that took the bullet to the head in Ford's Theatre.
- Since the musical Assassins deals with presidential assassinations, Lincoln naturally makes an appearance.
- A giant statue of Abraham Lincoln, actually from the Memorial to said man, is the Antagonist in one episode of The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police. He appears later as merely a giant head and falls in love with one of Sam and Max's neighbours, Sybil Pandemik. They later marry and have a child. A running gag in the series is that he claims not to be one good for speeches; he had absolutely nothing prepared when he made the Gettysburg Address, and was just winging it at the time. At one point in the second season the real Lincoln appears as a zombie.
- Lincoln is the leader of America in Civilization 1, 2 and 3. He is added as a leader in an Expansion Pack for Civilization 4.
- One of the subplots of Fallout 3 is the struggle between slavers and freedmen to control Lincoln's legacy. Several of his artifacts, including his hat and rifle, can be found and equipped in the game.
- Dealt in Lead takes place in a very strange world, where the Lich-Emperor Abraham Lincoln has risen from the dead to continue the war against the south.
- In Team Fortress 2, he was the original Pyro, and possibly even the current one.
- According to the backstory of Assassin's Creed, Booth was killed off by the Assassin Order, implying that Lincoln may have affiliations with the Assassins himself.
- The ending of Conduit 2 has Abe Lincoln and George Washington in Powered Armor showing up as reinforcements for the protagonist.
- The web comic Thinkin' Lincoln.
- A reassembled and reanimated Lincoln puts in an appearance as the dreaded dictatorial leader of the land of Monstru, Lincolnstein, in the web comic Monster Commute.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, a Funny Background Event is Lincoln fighting a woolly mammoth with a chainsaw.
- In Axe Cop, the eponymous character brought Lincoln back to life, had him place a bomb in every bad guy, turned him into a girl and married him.
- He has a lightsaber duel with George W. Bush in Robot Chicken. He's also voiced by Hulk Hogan.
- The web cartoon Hard Drinkin' Lincoln has a drunken Lincoln causing ridiculous amounts of trouble in office.
- In Englishman it transpires that the Lincoln who was assassinated was a decoy, to cover up for the fact that he had been abducted by aliens. He makes his return and resumes his second term as President.
- In Decades of Darkness, Lincoln's family moved from Kentucky to New England soon after his birth, and he eventually becomes President of the Republic of New England, though the fact he is limited to a single four-year term means he doesn't achieve all he wanted in office. In an Allohistorical Allusion, while he is in power, the rump United States is governed by President Jefferson Davis, and the two men are rivals. However, when Davis is assassinated, Lincoln attends his funeral.
- A clone of Abraham Lincoln is the protagonist of Clone High. Due to the circumstances of the series, he's best friends with Gandhi and Joan of Arc and dates Cleopatra.
- In one episode of SuperNews!, a sketch involved President Obama, after running out of ideas on how to fix the economy, having his entire cabinet dig up Abe's body, insert all the stem cells they could find, and see what happened. He beat up the head of AIG.
- Futurama, in a robot mental hospital:
(Fry and another robot come upon a robotic Abraham Lincoln.)
- Not to mention Evil Holographic Lincoln, as seen when the Holoshed on the Nimbus goes on the fritz again.
- He is still the President in The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.
- One episode of Dexter's Laboratory has Dexter animate Lincoln's head from the Mount Rushmore memorial into a Humongous Golem, to do battle with the giant George Washington his rival Mandark created. To make a long story short...
Statue Lincoln: (speaking for the first time) "It appears we are evenly matched."
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force: "No one can stop Time Lincoln. No one ever-"
- Appears in the Time Squad episode where he got fed up for being so honest and starts joining prankster gangs while calling himself 'Dishonest Abe'. He got better.
- Also mentioned in the Buffalo Bill episode as having apparently won the election by using his third eye to hypnotize his opponent.
- South Park. Cult leader David Blaine brought the Lincoln statue to life. Jesus and friends defeated it by building and animating a John Wilkes Boothe statue.
- Family Guy. There was this Biblical joke about "Abraham (Lincoln) killing Isaac (the bartender from The Love Boat)"
- Another episode showed that Booth killed him for talking on his cellphone during the play.
- A parody of Mentos ads involved Booth shooting through his hat. Cut to the Griffins watching it, and most of them question whether the ad even had a message. Peter then stands up, and walks off while saying (as if hypnotized), "Must... kill... Lincoln...."
- In the episode "Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater", Peter finds a bunch of photos that show Lincoln, (among with other 19th century politicians) visiting a brothel.
- In the Adventure Time pilot, Abraham Lincoln transports Finn's mind back in time. And to Mars.
- The Venture Brothers meet Lincoln's ghost.
- The Simpsons:
- The Halloween Episode "How To Succeed In Dead-vertising" implied he was gay.
- In addition, the episode "Bart to the Future" is based around a vision Bart has where, thirty years down the road, Lisa is president. Living with her in the White House, Homer becomes obsessed with finding the treasure Lincoln supposedly buried on the grounds.
- Grandpa Abe was named after Lincoln after he helped Abe's grandmother and a runaway slave (eventually husband) run away to Canada.
- Appeared in an episode of Animaniacs where, after he signed their autograph book, the Warner siblings helped him to compose the Gettysburg Address. For bonus points, he sounds exactly the same here as he did in The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.
- Lincoln appeared in a picture in every single ending credits for Aqua Teen Hunger Force, inexplicably lighting a wooden rocket that the protagonists are riding in. This is expanded in the fictitious backstory that Shake provided for the group in The Movie, where this incarnation of Lincoln is known as "Time Lincoln," who aided the heroes after they escaped from Egypt.
- Another account of the match can be read here.