The Sculptured Panels

The Indiana Panel

NPS Photo

Among the more outstanding features of the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial are the five sculptured panels of the Memorial Building. They are the work of E. H. Daniels, who also designed the bust of Lincoln located in the Nancy Hanks Lincoln Hall of the building. Below is a guide to the interpretation of these bas-reliefs which illustrate the steps in Abraham Lincoln's life that progressively brought him from a cabin to the White House.

KENTUCKY PANEL: 1809-1816.
The Childhood Years of Lincoln.

The Kentucky panel illustrates the years of Lincoln's life spent on the Sinking Spring and Knob Creek farms. On the far left dressed in the style of the frontier is Jesse LaFollette, grandfather of Wisconsin Senator Robert M. LaFollette and neighbor of the Lincolns at Knob Creek. Beside him stands Thomas Lincoln, father of the President.

Seated is Dr. Christopher Columbus Graham, doctor, scientist, and visitor at the Lincoln home. His stories fascinated Abe, who is pictured here at the age of seven. Behind the boy is his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln. Sarah, his only sister, stands at the chum. On the far right is Caleb Hazel, Lincoln's second schoolteacher.

INDIANA PANEL: 1816-1830.
The Boyhood Days of Lincoln.

This panel depicts Lincoln as a youth, but fully grown and capable of doing a man's job. At the extreme left is David Turnham, from whom Lincoln borrowed the first law book he ever read. Next to him is Allen Gentry, whom Lincoln accompanied on a trip down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans. Behind Lincoln, holding a hewn log, are Thomas Lincoln, his father, and Nathaniel Grigsby, a childhood friend. To the right are Dennis Hanks, his mother's cousin, and step-mother Sarah Bush Lincoln.

ILLINOIS PANEL: 1830-1861.
The Years of Political Ascendancy.

Here Lincoln is shown receiving congratulations from his friends and associates on his election to the United States House of Representatives in 1846. John Stuart, his first law partner, is on the left. Next is Stephen T. Logan, a later law partner. Grasping Lincoln's hand is his close friend, Joshua Speed, the merchant. Between Lincoln and Speed is William Herndon. To the right and behind the beardless Lincoln sits editor Simon Francis. The woman behind him is Mary Todd Lincoln, and the last figure is Lincoln's friend, Orville H. Browning, who served as United States Senator and in the cabinet of Andrew Johnson as Secretary of the Interior.

The Years of Command.

In the Washington panel the sculptor has chosen Lincoln's career as Civil War President for his subject. The President is pictured with General Ulysses S. Grant at Grant's headquarters in Petersburg, Virginia, near the close of the war. The other figures are soldiers symbolic of the many brave men who made victory possible.

"And Now He Belongs to the Ages."

These historic words of the President's Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, are a reminder of the heritage left to the men and women of all time to come. The figures in the panel represent some of the people to whom Lincoln will forever belong-the farmer, the laborer, the family, the freedman. At the right of Lincoln stands Cleo, Muse of History, holding a scroll on which the deeds of the Emancipator are recorded. Beside her is Columbia offering the wreath of laurel, tribute of a nation to its leader. In the background a cabin and the White House serve as symbols of American opportunity.


The nine inscriptions above the sculptured panels on the wall forming the Memorial Court were selected from Abraham Lincoln's writings to illustrate some of the beliefs which he held. The complete inscriptions are given below:


And having thus chosen our course, without guile, and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God.

Message to Congress, July 4, 1861.


To do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.

Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.


Labor is the great source from which nearly all, if not all, human comforts and necessities are drawn.

Cincinnati Address, September 17, 1859.


Surely each man has as strong a motive now, to preserve our liberties, as each had then, to establish them.

Message to Congress, July 4, 1861.


And that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863.


We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861.


It will then have been proved that among free men there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet.

Letter to James C. Conkling, August 26, 1863.


Have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.

Cooper Institute Address, February 27, 1860.


I hold that, in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution, the Union of these States is perpetual.

First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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