Home > Deaf History > In Honor of Abraham Lincoln

In Honor of Abraham Lincoln

February 12, 2007

Abraham Lincoln
February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865

We, Fookem and Bug, would like to honor Abraham Lincoln because it is his birthday today. If he is still alive, his age would be 198 years old. We researched and studied Lincoln’s history in the deaf issues. Honestly, there is not much details in the Deaf History about him but he was an amazing man for what he had done to the Deaf people in late 1800’s.

There was a rumor that Abraham Lincoln learned fingerspelling from Edward Miner Gallaudet at the White House before attending Ford Theater that evening. However, it is a myth.

In 1864 Edward M. Gallaudet’s ambition was build the Institution into a college for deaf students. He induced Congress to authorize the Institution’s Board of Directores to grant and confirm usch degrees in the liberal arts and sciences as are usually confered in Colleges. President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill. Gallaudet University was founded in 1864 by an Act of Congress, and its charter was signed by President Abraham Lincoln. Thanks to him.

The Illinois bill appropriated a percentage of the funds in the state’s educational fund to finance the Illinois School for the Deaf. Abraham Lincoln voted for the school, he was an Illinois legislator. His name is on the school charter. Later Lincoln added his name to another charter which resulted in the founding of a Gallaudet University.

Speaking of Lincoln Memorial, many of you know that hands of Lincoln are in the positions they are to represent the letters “A” and “L” in the ASL so to represent “ Abraham” and “Lincoln”. I stopped by several time and wondered if it was true. There was National Park Service Ranger standing beside the statue. I came to him and quested if he knew anything. He smiled and said that he often heard that question, he admitted that he doubt that Daniel Chester French the American sculptor would do that on the purpose but we would never know. To my best knowledge, there was only known statue that Daniel French created which has used of ASL is on the campus of Gallaudet University. He made Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet showing his first student Alice Cogswell, the letter “A” of the manual alphabet. The NAD selected him to do the work. Beautiful statue. If you haven’t seen Abraham Lincoln Memorial and Statue of Thomas Gallaudet with Alice Cogswell, please visit them in Washington, D.C.

Again you wonder if it is a fact or myth that Daniel Chester French did that on the purpose? Do the hands on the Lincoln Memorial spell out a message? Let’s hear from historian and director of Punlic Programs, and Carolyn Texley, Archivist and Director of Collections, The Lincoln Museum. His name is Dr. Gerald Prokopowicz . He wrote:

Not intentionally, although the hands do appear to be forming the signs for “A” and “L” in American Sign Language. According to the daughter of sculptor Daniel Chester French, this was a coincidence and not French’s intent. French modeled the hands from Leonard Volk’s casts of Lincoln’s hands, as well as casts of his own hands. While French did not intend to use the hands to form letters, he was at least familiar with the concept of sign language, having previously sculpted a memorial to Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, the founder of the nation’s first permanent public school for deaf students. Gallaudet’s son Edward Miner Gallaudet founded the college for deaf students now called Gallaudet University, for which President Lincoln signed the charter in 1864.

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Categories: Deaf History
  1. February 12, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    It’s a myth that Lincoln signed the charter of Gallaudet.

    See:

    http://gpli.blogspot.com/2007/02/culture-of-lying-and-corruption-at.html

  2. Dolphingurl
    February 13, 2007 at 1:37 am

    What a beautiful story that you wrote! Keep writing.

  3. Ron
    February 13, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Interesting facts. Thank you for sharing.

  4. February 13, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    That’s very interesting, Brian. If it is a really fact, time for them to re-write everything in the books. Thank you for putting it in here. I wonder if Dr. Gerald Prokopowicz knows this. Hmm.

    Bug

  5. February 13, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    Check this out if you’re interested.

    http://pr.gallaudet.edu/gallaudethistory/page1.html

  6. February 13, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    That Web page says that Lincoln signed the “charter” that authorized granting college degrees, yet they offer no references or justification for that claim.

    The law authorizing granting of college degrees (that Lincoln signed) wasn’t even necessary. It was just something “extra” that EM Gallaudet wanted to do. It wasn’t part of the charter.

  7. February 14, 2007 at 12:27 am

    Brian, I did wondering about that part before you gave out the better facts. I added the last link and see if anyone would catch it with their eyes. Thank you for your help. Please bring some more if there is anything that we might not be aware of. Again, thanks. Bug

  8. Starbuck Lover
    March 9, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    I smack (kiss hand) Abe. He was a good guy.

  9. Dr. Gerald Prokopowicz
    March 30, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    In answer to a question above, no I was not aware that there was controversy over the nature of the document that Lincoln signed in connection with the institution that would become Gallaudet University. I am working on a book of questions and answers about Lincoln, and would be happy to receive any information or citations to sources regarding the specific document that Lincoln signed on April 8, 1864.
    Thanks,
    Gerry Prokopowicz
    East Carolina University

  10. Anonymous
    April 18, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    really very INTERESTING story to read.

  11. June 8, 2007 at 9:11 am

    I am doing a project on Abraham and this article was very helful

  12. Alphonse Dattolo
    July 22, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    DR. ABRAHAM LINCOLN NEVER CEASES TO AMAZE ME! HE IS A GREAT EXAMPLE FOR TODAY’S YOUTH. HARD WORK ALWAYS PRODUCES SUCCESS!!! DR. LINCOLN IS OUR GREATEST AMERICAN!!!!!!!!!

  13. Lisa Marie
    July 23, 2007 at 2:41 am

    we visited all his homes and his ceremony…studied his history. He’s my favorite USA president.

  14. May 8, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    we a president of lincoln,the history q to know the deaf usa study more the university gallauder.i blees usa

  15. Ember Dragon
    October 15, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    I am doing a report for my ASL 2 class, and we found that the person who sculpted the monument was DEAF O_O so the whole “a” and “L” thing was on pourpose =o i found that to be pretty darn cool though

  16. October 16, 2008 at 12:05 am

    Ember, thank you for the comment. Seem like you didn’t read the facts what I wrote. Daniel Chester French the sculptor was not deaf. Speaking of fingerspelled letters (“A” and “L”),there is no evidence that he did that on the purpose. -Bug

  17. Brian Riley
    November 1, 2008 at 2:23 am

    Here’s more information about the *possibility* that Daniel Chester French purposely shaped Lincoln’s hands into an “A” and “L” in the Lincoln Memorial:

    http://tinyurl.com/67vlza

  18. Nina
    February 11, 2010 at 6:02 am

    Interesting ideas about a president of the U.S.A.

  19. February 11, 2010 at 10:51 am

    To Brian,

    Excuse my delay in replying this. Thank you very much for the link and now we know that evidence is weak. I still like to know that Daniel Chester French did that on the purpose but we will never know.

    Bug

  20. Anonymous
    April 19, 2013 at 11:10 am

    It does not look like an L sign. He is just resting his hand on the arm rest of the chair. But his other hand does look like an A sign.

  21. May 14, 2013 at 10:37 am

    For the novice, the first thing you need to understand is what the
    term “Digital Single Lens Reflex” means. ” and for the duration of the take, (s)he is an audience member sitting in the theatre or their couch at home. Whenever you rent a book from them, they plant a tree to show the benefits of renting books.

  1. May 28, 2007 at 12:15 pm
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