The First Public Statue of Abraham Lincoln

District of Columbia Court of Appeals, Washington, DC – © David H. Enzel, 2022

No, it’s not the Lincoln Memorial.

In 1868, a statue of 16th President Abraham Lincoln sculpted by Lot Flannery was erected on the south side of the former District of Columbia City Hall building (“Old City Hall”) at Judiciary Square. This became the first public monument in Lincoln’s honor. The monument appeared just three years after Lincoln’s assassination on April 15, 1865, at the age of 56.

The Washington Post reports that 20,000 people gathered to witness the monument’s dedication. All federal and municipal offices were closed. Flags flew at half-mast and cannons boomed every half-hour. Many consider this monument to be the best likeness of Lincoln.

The building itself was built in 1820. It was designed by George Hadfield, who supervised construction of the United States Capitol from October 1795 to May 1798. Hadfield was born in Livorno, Italy in 1763.

The building now houses the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the highest court of the District of Columbia. Established in 1970, it is equivalent to a state supreme court, except that its authority is derived from the United States Congress rather than from the inherent sovereignty of the states.

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