Calendar Listing: National Museum of American History Celebrates Abraham Lincoln

January 4, 2009
Special Display

Signed Copy of the Emancipation Proclamation in “The American Presidency”
Dec. 30, 2008 – Feb. 8, 2009
Third Floor, Center

A printed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln is on temporary display in “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden” to mark the anniversary of its delivery Jan. 1, 1863. Issued as the Civil War approached its third year of fighting, the Emancipation Proclamation declared the freedom of all slaves in the rebellious confederate states and fundamentally altered the nature of the war.


White House Copy of the Gettysburg Address
Extended through Jan. 11
Second Floor, East Wing

Lincoln’s short address in Gettysburg, Pa. Nov. 19, 1863, became one of the most famous and eloquent speeches in American history. The manuscript on view in the museum’s new Albert H. Small Documents Gallery is one of five drafts, the last known to have been written in Lincoln’s hand. Penned in March 1864 for an anthology to raise funds for the Union, it was kept by one of the book’s publishers, Alexander Bliss, and was auctioned in 1949. Oscar Cintas, a former Cuban ambassador to the United States, purchased it and on his death in 1957, he asked that it be placed in the White House collection. There, it is usually displayed on a corner desk in the upstairs Lincoln bedroom, which is not on public tours. With the generous support of Mrs. Laura Bush, the White House is loaning this copy of the Gettysburg Address for a very limited public viewing, now extended through Jan. 11, 2009.

Exhibitions – Opening Soon

“Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life”
Third Floor, Center
Jan. 16, 2009 – January 2011

As part of the Smithsonian-wide celebration of the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, the museum will bring together—for the first time—its unique and unparalleled Lincoln collection. Through a focused selection of nationally important Lincoln artifacts, visitors will explore the life and times of this extraordinary figure. Each highlighted object will be augmented with personal stories told by Lincoln and the people who knew him best. The exhibition will showcase more than 60 historical treasures associated with Lincoln’s life from an iron wedge he used to split wood in the early 1830s in New Salem, Ill., to his iconic top hat he wore the night he was shot at Ford’s Theatre. The exhibition will tell a new and very intimate story of the life and legacy of this remarkable individual.

“America’s New Birth of Freedom”: Documents from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Albert Small Documents Gallery
Second Floor, East Wing
Jan. 16, 2009 – March 22, 2009

The museum, as part of its Abraham Lincoln commemoration, is hosting an exhibition of 10 rare and important documents from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. The display will include a signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation and letters expressing Lincoln’s views toward emancipation and the conclusion of the Civil War. These documents have become the cornerstone of current thinking on Lincoln and his legacy. Included in the exhibition are Lincoln’s letter to long-time friend James C. Conkling in which he makes his forceful defense of the Emancipation Proclamation and his letter to Francis Blair, Lincoln’s unofficial conduit to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, on his unwavering demands for peace.

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. Documenting the American experience from Colonial times to the present, the museum looks at growth and change in the United States. After a two-year renovation and a dramatic transformation, the museum will shed new light on American history, both in Washington and online. A grand reopening festival is scheduled for Nov. 21, 2008. To learn more about the museum and its renovation, check where visitors can sign up for an electronic newsletter. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000, (202) 633-5285 (TTY).