In late June of 1867, Mary Todd Lincoln traveled to Racine, Wisconsin. Her sons, Robert and Tad, had been called to Washington to testify in the trial of John Surratt. (Surratt had been an accomplice of John Wilkes Booth. Surratt escaped after the assassination but was later caught and brought to trial.) Racine was the site of an Episcopal secondary school, Racine College, which had been recommended to Mary for Tad. Mary took advantage of her sons' absence to spend time relaxing in Racine and looking over this school.
Many years later a pioneer resident of Racine, Miss Lena Rosewall, who had studied the lives of the Lincolns, felt Mary had done much to further her husband's career. When Miss Rosewall passed away in 1935, she left her entire estate of $20,000 for the construction of a memorial of Abraham and Mary together. The executors of Miss Rosewall's estate chose Frederick C. Hibbard, a well-known artist, and sculptor, to make the statue.
|The statue's base is of Minnesota pink granite five feet high. The Lincolns are chiseled from Elberton gray granite from Georgia. Mary stands seven feet high.
Hibbard, who completed the two-year project in his Chicago studio, said he wanted to portray the Lincolns "before Abe became president in 1861, before the president's face became seamed and furrowed in the struggle to save the Union, and while Mrs. Lincoln's future was unclouded." The statue portrays Abraham seated with Mary standing beside him. They are dressed for a formal occasion. The statue was dedicated on July 4, 1943. The work stands in Racine's East Park in front of the Gateway Technical College campus on Main Street.
NOTE: A second statue of the Lincolns together, which was patterned after the Racine statue, is located in Phillips, Wisconsin, at Fred Smith's Wisconsin Concrete Park.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.
Contributor, Abraham Lincoln Research Site