The sixteenth President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln led the Union during the American Civil War, his Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 resulting in the abolition of slavery. To follow in his footsteps is to understand the journey of a country through one of its most tumultuous periods.
Many sites commemorate his iconic figure and his achievements, from the majestic Lincoln Memorial to the sombre Gettysburg Battlefield where Lincoln gave his famous address. And any tour of Abraham Lincoln’s life would be incomplete without a visit to Ford Theatre, where it was so dramatically ended. Wherever your travels take you, we’ve compiled a fascinating selection of historic places linked to Abraham Lincoln with our editor’s picks followed by a few hidden gems you won’t want to miss.
What are the most interesting Abraham Lincoln sites to visit?
Abraham Lincoln’s presidency was shaped and remembered for his victory in the American Civil War and no more is this felt than at Gettysburg National Military Park. In 1863, the small town of Gettysburg became the scene of one of the bloodiest battles in the war and one which marked a significant turning point in favour of Lincoln’s Unionists. This would also become the site of Lincoln’s famed Gettysburg Address, said to be the most quoted speech in American history.
It was in Ford’s Theatre on the night of 14 April 1865 that well-known actor John Wilkes Booth shot and fatally injured President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was the first American President to be assassinated. Ford’s Theatre is now an operating theatre house as well as a museum showcasing a variety of historical artefacts related to Lincoln’s presidency, his assassination and his life in Washington. Ford’s Theatre also stands across the street from Petersen House, where the President was taken following the shooting and where he subsequently died.
Petersen House was the boarding house where President Abraham Lincoln was taken after being shot across the road at Ford Theatre on the night of 14 April 1865. The President died the morning after arriving. The Peterson House Museum offers its visitors a brief tour including the room where Lincoln died as well as viewing various historical artefacts relating to his assassination.
The Lincoln Memorial is a Greek style monument in Washington DC’s West Potomac Park built to honour the sixteenth President of the United States of America. It houses a giant statue of Lincoln inside the memorial with the words “In this temple as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the union the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever”. As the site of many important political speeches and events, Lincoln Memorial has a history of its own. In particular, it was the site where Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech on 28 August 1963.
Lincoln Tomb in Springfield, Illinois, is the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln. The tomb is now also the burial place of his wife and three of his four sons. Visitors to Lincoln Tomb can enter the 117-foot brick and granite structure and learn about Lincoln through his own speeches, which are displayed throughout.
Abraham Lincoln’s vital role in shaping his country is commemorated at Mount Rushmore, where his face was immortalised alongside those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. The artist, Gutzon Borglum said he chose Lincoln to represent the preservation of the United States.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Illinois explores the life of the 16th US president and his legacy, all in the context of wider US history. From detailed recreations of the places where major events in his life took place – the White House, his boyhood home – to genuine personal possessions, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum has a range of exhibits about Lincoln.