Mission & History

Mission

The newly reconstituted Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation is the official successor organization of the U. S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (ALBC), which was created by Congress and the President of the United States to plan the commemoration of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday in 2009.*

The Foundation is newly committed to initiating and supporting innovative and historically meaningful national, state, and local programs that commemorate the memory and sustain the ideals and historic impact of America’s sixteenth president, particularly during the current, five-year observances of the Civil War sesquicentennial.  Building on the ALBC’s original focus on early education, professional scholarship, online access, publications, public programs, and community-based programming, the Foundation will offer support, sponsorship, expertise, and encouragement to non-profit initiatives devoted to sharing knowledge, preserving historic sites and artifacts, and engaging diverse audiences on the subjects of leadership, freedom, equality, and opportunity.

History

During its nine years of active existence, the ALBC created a foundation to raise private funding to support its events, publications, educational outreach, and website activities.  Former U. S. Congressmen Bill Gray and the late Jack Kemp served as the original chairmen of the Foundation, and steered it toward future independence.  In the period immediately preceding and following the sunset of the ALBC in the summer of 2009, historians Jean Soman of Florida and Orville Vernon Burton of South Carolina, respectively, served as interim chairs of the Foundation.

In 2009 and 2010, the Foundation officially reconstituted itself, electing an expanded Board and a new chairman, historian Harold Holzer of New York.  The Foundation officially announces its existence and mission on February 10, 2011, at an official introductory event at the Willard in Washington, the hotel where Abraham Lincoln and his family resided in the ten days immediately preceding his inauguration as President exactly 150 years earlier in 1861.

The Foundation also announced that it had committed in its initial round of funding to co-sponsor and provide financial support for two planned Washington-based activities and one Lincoln-related historic site in Pennsylvania.

  • An all-day 150th commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the National Peace Conference at the Willard (February 1861), the last major effort to reverse secession and civil war.  Funding for “The Peace Convention at 150: A Call to Compromise” at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, Washington, will help support an all-day scholarly symposium, the creation and installation of a commemorative plaque, and performance of Lincoln’s speeches by actor Stephen Lang.  The project was initiated and is organized by the Lincoln at the Crossroads Alliance.  (Local Contact: Maria Elena Schacknies, meschackjnies@latcra.org)
  • Support and co-sponsorship of a 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s First Inauguration (March 4, 1861), scheduled for Saturday, March 5, 2011, with a ceremony and re-enactment at the U. S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, and a luncheon program and historians’ remarks at the Willard Hotel.  The event was initiated and will be organized by the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia.  (Local Contact: John Eliff, jteliff@aol.com)
  • Support to help staff and maintain for one year the Historic Gettysburg Railroad Station, the landmark depot still standing along the tracks where Lincoln arrived on November 18, 1863 to deliver his most famous speech.  Scheduled to be acquired by the National Park Service, the building became a visitor destination in 2007, but was threatened with a shutdown pending NPS takeover. (Local Contact: Tina Grim, Civil War Institute, Gettysburg College, tgrim@gettysburg.edu)

The Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation has issued a call for further requests for support, sponsorship, and endorsement, and announced that it would consider such proposals at its regularly scheduled quarterly meetings.