The Foundation Announcement

Date: Thursday, February 10,2010           Contact Name: Harold Holzer          Contact Phone: (212) 744-1860 or (646) 894-6902

Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation Expands Board,
Announces Initial Grants, And Issues Calls for New Proposals
Actor Stephen Lang to Read Lincoln’s Words at Opening Event


Grant Recipients and Board Members join Chairman Holzer in announcing ALBF funding. Photo: Henry F. Ballone

WASHINGTON, D. C., FEBRUARY 10, 2011—The 10 member Board of Directors of the new Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation (ALBF) officially announced today its expanded membership and broadened mission.
The ALBF is the official successor organization of the Congressionally-created Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial
Commission, and its new roster of Board members includes veterans of the original Commission, Lincoln scholars, and history enthusiasts from around the country, all sharing a commitment to supporting the further study of America’s 16th president.

The Foundation concurrently released news today of its first-ever round of sponsorships. These initial grants will be directed to commemorating the 150th anniversary of major 2011 Lincoln-related events in Washington, D.C., and helping to guarantee continued public access to an endangered Lincoln historic site in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Finally, the Foundation issued a national call for new proposals for funding and sponsorship aimed at keeping Abraham Lincoln a major focus of the nation’s forthcoming observances of the Civil War Sesquicentennial.

Following a Foundation board meeting, these announcements were made at an opening reception for the ALBF this evening, at Washington’s Willard InterContinental Hotel, where Lincoln stayed for the 11 days before his inauguration in 1861. The event was highlighted by a performance of Lincoln speeches by acclaimed actor Stephen Lang. The events coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s inaugural journey to Washington.

The Foundation is committed to initiating and supporting innovative, historically sound, and publicly engaging national, state, and community efforts to commemorate the memory and sustain the ideals of Abraham Lincoln, particularly during the upcoming five-year observances of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Building on the former Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission’s original focus on early education, professional scholarship, online access, publications, and public programs, 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 publicly and through the worldwide web on such Lincoln-focused subjects as leadership, innovation, freedom, equality, and opportunity.

Commented Harold Holzer, newly elected chairman of the Foundation: “The relevance of Lincoln’s ideals, ideas, and accomplishments did not fade with the official bicentennial of his birth in 2009. Now that North and South—the regions he fought to preserve as one inseparable Union—are engaged in commemorating the Civil War sesquicentennial, the Foundation will work to keep Lincoln very much at the center of all observances. And it will encourage integrityand reality in Civil War commemoration, working to make sure 21st-century Americans do notforget the struggles for freedom that Lincoln led in the 19th century. Abraham Lincoln remains the one former president who continues to inspire all modern presidents, and the writer-orator who sanctified American doctrine on democracy, freedom, and opportunity. My colleagues and  I will consider support for any organization that creates programming to educate, enlighten, and involve broad public audiences on these ever-compelling subjects. Our goal is to encourage efforts to use the sometimes painful lessons of the American past to inform the vast possibilitiesof the American future.”

Holzer served from 2001-2010 as co-chairman (with Senator Dick Durbin and then-Congressman Ray LaHood) of the original Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, which sunset in August 2010.

The other members of the new ALBF Board are: historian Orville Vernon Burton (Vice Chairman), attorney and historian Thomas Campbell (Treasurer), attorney and former mayor Charles Scholz (Secretary), historian Darrel Bigham, publisher and community leader David Lawrence Jr., historian Edna Greene Medford, pioneering news anchor Antonio Mora, historian and philanthropist Jean Powers Soman, and historian and retired jurist Frank J. Williams. (For full biographies see attachment.)

The ALBF held its quarterly meeting this afternoon at the Willard, then announced its official mission and a call for new proposals at a welcoming reception at the historic hotel. Stephen Lang, co-star of Gettysburg (as General George E. Pickett), Gods and Generals “Stonewall” Jackson), and the 2009 blockbuster Avatar, performed Lincoln’s February 11, 1861 Farewell Address to Springfield as well as the President-elect’s welcome address to the citizens of Washington on his arrival for his inauguration 150 years ago this month. Mr. Lang has long been devoted to Civil War history and preservation, and has given voice to many of the war’s battles and leaders, including its Medal of Honor winners, in stage programs across the country. Most recently, he has narrated historian Gabor Boritt’s audio guide to the Gettysburg battlefield.The New York-born stage and screen actor is currently filming the Steven Spielberg-produced TV drama Terra Nova.

The Foundation also announced that it had committed in its initial round of funding to cosponsor 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)
  • Conditional 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, (grim@gettysburg.edu)

Beginning today, the ALBF website (www.abrahamlincoln200.org), a re-activated and revised version (in progress) of the Commission’s original site, will post online all requirements and details for the submission of future proposals. The Foundation is committed to continuing to work to upgrade the website in the months to come.

Tomorrow, February 11, Foundation board members will participate in the organization’s first endorsed and sponsored activity: The Willard Hotel symposium commemorating the 150th anniversary of the National Peace Convention, which took place at the hotel in February 1861. The convention was the last, albeit unsuccessful effort to find a compromise that its organizers hoped would stem the secession crisis and prevent outright civil war.

Among the speakers at the February 11 conference are Virginia Tech history professors James I. (Bud) Robertson and William C. (Jack) Davis, both acclaimed Civil War scholars, along with historians (and members of the ALBF Board) Frank J. Williams, Edna Greene Medford, and Harold Holzer. Stephen Lang will perform Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address. The symposium will be followed by the unveiling of a plaque on the Willard façade commemorating the doomed Peace Convention and marking its sesquicentennial.

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Includes ALBF Fact Sheet and Board Member Bios

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