Nineteen Lincolns

Abraham Lincoln is one of America’s most esteemed presidents. Every school child learns about his modest upbringing in a humble log cabin and how he walked miles to borrow a book, and read by the light of a kerosene lantern. Physically Lincoln was an awkward man, tall and gangly, with a hollow face and wild hair. Yet in spite of his lack of formal education, modest means, and physical awkwardness, Lincoln rose to the highest office in the land.

These men all belong to The Association of Lincoln Presenters. They are passionate about Abraham Lincoln and spend time studying, reading, and performing for school groups, community celebrations, and senior citizen centers.

I photographed the men individually to allow each the opportunity to present his idea of Lincoln. The muted palate and softly focused background references history painting and binds the group together suggesting a communal identity.

I asked the men to write about why they dress and act as Lincoln. Although they began this obsession for various reasons their motives for continuing it are similar. Repeatedly, they refer to Lincoln’s moral character and the work ethic that enabled him to rise from humble beginnings to the presidency. They revere Lincoln because he embodies one of America’s most cherished tenets, that the common man, through sheer hard work and determination, can elevate his status in society.

My intention is to comment on the way a society, composed of individuals, is held together through the creation of its history and heroic figures.

 

Greta Pratt 2006