Lincoln's Bicentennial

Peter Wood

             Today is the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the re-founder and re-dedicator of the American republic. Lincoln is an ever-present reminder for us that the lack of a college degree is no bar to statesmanship, eloquence, and historical genius. It is no bar to an education either, in the broader sense of what can be attained through dedicated reading and a determination to wrest as much as possible from the opportunities at hand.  

            We will have much more to say about Lincoln in the coming year. Today, we’ll just offer ten pennies’ worth of thought: the top ten ways to commemorate Honest Abe’s bicentennial!  


  1. Take a field trip to the newly-restored Lincoln Summer Home in Washington, D.C. Mary Kate Cary at the U.S. News and World Report calls it Washington’s best-kept secret. Here is how she describes the house:  
It's on a breezy hill overlooking the city, and President and Mrs. Lincoln spent the summers of 1862 through 1864 there. Right next door is the old Soldier's Home, and surrounding that is a cemetery where many of the Civil War soldiers are buried. Lincoln used to pace the rows of headstones at night when he couldn't sleep, and they're still there. The cottage itself is fully restored but sparsely furnished, with only a replica of the desk that Lincoln used as he worked on the Emancipation Proclamation. (The original is in the White House, in the Lincoln Bedroom.) There's even a little bookstore full of Lincoln books.


  1. Ponder this quote from Lincoln: “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.” – Mentioned by Star 99.1FM radio. 
  1. Read a book! Abe loved reading, and is famed for traveling miles to borrow a new one, reading late into the night by candlelight…Check out this list of books that Lincoln read while growing up and in adulthood. Or read a book about Lincoln; William Safire provided a good review of new Lincoln books in the New York Times
  1. Keep an eye out for the new memorial pennies that are now in circulation.  
  1. Visit Ford's Theatre, which just reopened.  
  1. Find someone named Douglas (or Doug) and debate him. 
  1. Visit a patriot’s grave and listen to the mystic chords of memory. If you can’t hear them, bring your iPod and listen to the rock band Mystic Chords of Memory
  1. Memorize the Gettysburg address if you haven’t already. If you have, recite it at dinner. 
  1. Build a cabin with Lincoln Logs
  1. Grow a beard. If that proves impossible, get one from Anytime Costumes.
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