Abraham Lincoln: From Homely to Heroic

The astute politician transformed his image before and during his presidency.

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Unveiling a statue of Lincoln lifting a liberated slave from his knees—a work that seems politically incorrect today but attracted thousands of admirers to Washington for its 1876 dedication—ex-slave Frederick Douglass urged Americans to "multiply his statues, to hang his pictures high upon your walls." Lincoln, in his savvy, disarming, diversionary, occasionally even disingenuous way, made sure they could.