Abraham Lincoln "Immortal Conscience"
Scarcely five years passed from Lincoln's triumphant Cooper Union address to
the end of the Civil War on April 9, 1865. Those five years produced
profound changes in our nation and equally profound changes in the face of
Civil War began just one month after Lincoln's inauguration and lasted four
years. In its wake, hundreds of thousands of Americans lay dead and
wounded. The nation, ripped apart, had been brought back together, but at
a terrible cost.
In creating the second half of my portrait, "Immortal Conscience,"
I decided to portray President Lincoln as I believe he would have appeared the
day before his assassination, April 14th, 1865. The war has ended; he
feels deep remorse for the nation's sacrifice, yet is comforted in the knowledge
that the Union has been preserved and slavery abolished. Mr. Lincoln
projects a calm confidence that the future will "bind up the nation's
My favorite photograph from this period, and the one that provided me with
the most inspiration, was taken by Alexander Gardner on Sunday, February 5th
1865, two months before Lincoln's death. The photograph shows a tired
president, physically frail and ravaged by the responsibilities and pressures of
the war. This Lincoln has lost twenty-five pounds from his already sparse
frame. He suffers from poor health; his sunken eyes gaze into the remote
distance, seemingly aware of his impending fate and knowing that his life's
greatest challenge is almost complete. To study his face is to study the tragedies
of war and the transcendence of spirit.
Although physically frail and visibly tired, President Lincoln possesses an
inner strength which comes from his "Immortal Conscience"- the
unshakable conviction that "These dead shall not have died in vain; that
this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that this government of the
people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the