Abraham Lincoln: The Head of State


Abraham Lincoln: The Head of State (also called Seated Lincoln or Sitting Lincoln) is a 9-foot (2.7 m) tall[1] bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln in Grant Park, in Chicago. Created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and completed by his workshop in 1908, it was intended by the artist to evoke the loneliness and burden of command felt by Lincoln during his presidency.[2][3][4] The sculpture depicts a contemplative Lincoln seated in a chair, and gazing down into the distance. The sculpture is set upon a pedestal and a 150-foot (46 m) wide exedra designed by architect Stanford White.[5]

Abraham Lincoln: The Head of State
Sitting Lincoln.JPG
ArtistAugustus Saint-Gaudens
LocationGrant Park, Chicago
CoordinatesCoordinates: 41°52′38.24″N 87°37′17.47″W / 41.8772889°N 87.6215194°W / 41.8772889; -87.6215194

Although not as well known as Saint-Gaudens' Standing Lincoln (in Lincoln Park), it does demonstrate the years of attention that the sculptor gave to capturing Lincoln in a most somber light. Prior to being installed in Grant Park in 1926, the sculpture was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and at the San Francisco World's Fair in 1915. The section of Grant Park, where this statue of Lincoln is located, was designated as the Court of Presidents in the plan for the park but, to date, this is the only such monument that has been erected.


Wide view of exedra

In his will, the industrialist John Crerar bequeathed funds for the creation and maintenance of a free public library in Chicago to be called the John Crerar Library. He also bequeathed $100,000 (roughly equivalent to $3,015,925.9 today) to his executors, Norman Williams and Huntington W Jackson, for the erection of a "colossal statue of Abraham Lincoln" at a location of their choosing.[6] Crerar died in 1889, and in 1897 Saint-Gaudens was commissioned to sculpt the statue.[7] In 1901 the Chicago city council approved an act for the construction of the John Crerar Library in Grant Park on a site bounded by Michigan Avenue, the Illinois Central railroad tracks, Monroe Avenue and Madison Street (the site of the Crown Fountain today). The act also allowed the trustees of the money bequeathed by Crerar to construct a statue of Lincoln to place the statue within the grounds of the library.[8]

A fire at Saint-Gaudens studio in 1904 destroyed all of his drawings and models for the sculpture, however Saint-Gaudens was able to complete design work and begin casting before his death in 1907.[9] Plans to build in Grant Park were opposed by Aaron Montgomery Ward, who in 1910 won a court battle to prevent the Crerar Library and the Field Museum of Natural History from being constructed in the park. The library was instead constructed at the northwest corner of Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue.[10] Subsequent plans for the development Grant Park called for the statue to be located on reclaimed land between Van Buren Street and Congress Parkway, but delays in the construction of the park led to the statue being stored, first at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (from 1908 to 1913) and then in a building in Washington Park.[10]

In 1924 it was announced that the South Park Commissioners had approved a location for the statue 225 feet (69 m) east of the Illinois Central railroad tracks and north of Van Buren Street,[11][12] and the statue was unveiled on May 31, 1926.[13]


The statue's head was used for the commemorative postage stamp issued on the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's birth in 1909.[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Guadens' Abraham Lincoln SIRUS Art Inventory Simthsonian
  2. ^ "Seated Lincoln (in Grant Park)". Explore Chicago. City of Chicago. Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2011-01-15.
  3. ^ "Abraham Lincoln: The Head of State". Chicago Park District. 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "The Chicago Public Art Guide" (PDF). City of Chicago - Department of Cultural Affairs. May 2007. p. 22. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  5. ^ "Abraham Lincoln: The Head of State ("Seated Lincoln"), 1897-1906". The Saint-Gaudens Memorial. Friends of the Saint-Gaudens Memorial. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2011-01-15.
  6. ^ Crerar, John (1922). The will of John Crerar, dated August 5, 1886, admitted to probate November 14, 1889. p. 10. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
  7. ^ "Favors the Crerar Plan". Chicago Daily Tribune. March 19, 1901.
  8. ^ Andrews, Clement Walker. The John Crerar Library: 1894–1905. p. 46.
  9. ^ "St. Gaudens' Tasks Almost Completed Before Death". Chicago Daily Tribune. August 26, 1907.
  10. ^ a b "Lincoln Statue Stored for Years". Chicago Daily Tribune. March 6, 1914.
  11. ^ "Grant Park Site Picked for Statue of Lincoln". Chicago Daily Tribune. November 8, 1924.
  12. ^ "Lincoln Statue at Last to be Shown Public". Chicago Daily Tribune. April 19, 1925.
  13. ^ "Unveil Statue of Lincoln, Given to City by Crerar". Chicago Daily Tribune. June 1, 1926.
  14. ^ US 1909.com Saint-Gaudens Archived July 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine