In Honor of 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.