Opposite the Washington Bay stands a massive bronze statue of President Abraham Lincoln, a bequest of his great-grandson, Lincoln Isham. The statue seeks to portray the nation’s 16th president leaving his home in Springfield, Ill., on his way to Washington to assume the presidency. Carved on the wall behind him are excerpts from his farewell speech in Springfield.
Nearby, a carved tympanum shows a pair of hands clasping an olive branch, symbolizing reunification after the Civil War. Below each hand are small carvings that depict the caps of Confederate and Union infantrymen.
Above, an abstract window depicts the agony of the Civil War, with deep reds and purples that represent battlefield deaths and Lincoln’s own assassination. Blues and grays recall the military uniforms of North and South, while golds and yellows hint at fields of wheat and corn that signal a return to peace. A smaller separate window celebrates the life of the two women who raised the future president: his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln; and his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln.
Below the statue, a five-pointed star contains 21 Lincoln pennies, surrounded by a ring of 13 pennies that represent the 34 states in the Union at the time of Lincoln’s inauguration. Legend has it that the central coin is placed face down to represent South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union.