Portraits of President Lincoln in the Commons

[Abraham Lincoln, Congressman-elect from Illinois. Three-quarter length portrait, seated, facing front] (LOC)    [Abraham Lincoln, U.S. President. Seated portrait, holding glasses and newspaper, Aug. 9, 1863] (LOC)

[Abraham Lincoln, U.S. President. Seated portrait, facing front, January 8, 1864] (LOC)    [Abraham Lincoln, candidate for U.S. president. Half-length portrait, seated, facing front] (LOC)

The Library of Congress has released a number of fascinating pictures of one of America’s best known presidents. The set, Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), is part of a series of photos released by the Library, and others, in the Flickr Commons, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of President Lincoln’s birth on February 12, 1809.

President Lincoln is without doubt one of the most well-recognized figures in American history. But in reality we really only know what he looked like from only a handful of images: a photo in a grade-school history text, a visit to the Lincoln Memorial, or the iconic image of him on the five dollar bill.

But really, photography figured prominently in President Lincoln’s life and happily many of those pictures have been preserved by the Library and other institutions. Most of these portraits have rarely been seen by a wide audience, and they offer a glimpse into a fuller portrait of the man we know as ‘Honest Abe’, who lived in a log cabin, steered the country through Civil War, and ended slavery. Beyond the iconic image on the currency, what these pictures reveal about President Lincoln is quite wonderful, down to the emergence of his beard and changing haircuts, as he evolved from a young Senator to America’s 16th President.

Hon. Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States (LOC)

Photos by the Library of Congress.

Visit the Library’s blog for more information.