Explore the Lincoln Memorial Room at The Union League of Philadelphia

The Union League of Philadelphia is a patriotic society founded in 1862 to support Abraham Lincoln and the Union during the American Civil War.

The concept of a room devoted to Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), 16th President of the United States until his assassination on April 14, 1865, by John Wilkes Booth, and those who fought for the Union, was first proposed on February 20, 1915, by Union League member Edwin S. Stuart. Stuart, a past president of the Union League, former mayor of Philadelphia and former governor of Pennsylvania, thought it would be a fitting tribute to these men.

Jakob Otto Schweizer (1863-1955), a Swiss-born sculptor and prominent artist in the city, won the commission with his proposal for a full-length sculpture of Lincoln, as shown in this plaster maquette.

Located on the second floor of the Union League House, the Lincoln Memorial Room is brimming with sculpture and symbolism related to President Abraham Lincoln, the American Civil War, and The Union League of Philadelphia.

President Lincoln is depicted delivering the Gettysburg address, during the consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg in November 1863, following the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. President Lincoln's left arm is bent and his fist clenched, with a determined expression on his face. The pose gives President Lincoln an assertive and commanding presence.

Lincoln stands within a white limestone niche, inscribed with the motto of the Union League, "Amor Patriae Ducit" (Love of Country Leads).

The sculpture, originally designed for the center of the room, includes four sculptural panels on the base. Each depicts an allegorical image: Government, Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness. The depiction of Government faces forward, and includes figures representing, from left to right, War, Justice, Unity, Law and Peace.

A decorative, patriotic frieze decorates both sides of the sculpture, and includes depictions of flags, tassels and wreaths.

Lincoln's most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address, is clearly inscribed to the left and the right of the sculpture.

Lincoln delivered the speech on Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Eight medallions, located beneath the Gettysburg Address, depict Union commanders from the American Civil War.

From left to right, Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, Brevet Major General David McMurtrie Gregg, General Philip Henry Sheridan, and General Ulysses S. Grant.

From left to right, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman, Major General George H. Thomas, Major General George Gordon Meade, and Admiral David Farragut.

Vertical bronze tablets, located beneath each medallion of a Union commander, list the names and ranks of five hundred and fifty-five members of the Union League who fought in the Civil War.

The Lincoln Memorial Room was dedicated on November 24, 1917, at the celebration of the 55th anniversary of the founding of the Union League.

Upon the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial Room, James Tanner, a Union veteran, donated this manuscript to the Union League.

It contains Tanner's stenographic notes and transcription of the eyewitness testimony of President Lincoln's assassination, given to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and David Kellogg Cartter, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, at the Petersen House.

It is the only handwritten copy of this document in existence.


Tanner wrote to Union League President John Gribbell: "believing that they are of considerable interest to the general public owing to the circumstances surrounding their creation and believing they will become more so as the years pass, I write to say that if you care to give the volume a place among the treasures you may now possess or may naturally gather in the future regarding President Lincoln, I shall be glad to present them to you in perpetuity, limited only to the life of the Union League."

The Lincoln Memorial Room, the sanctum sanctorum of the Union League, is the most unique room dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln in the United States of America.

It stands today as a permanent testament to the Union League's patriotism and dedication to honoring veterans.

Credits: Story

The Abraham Lincoln Foundation of The Union League of Philadelphia.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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