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Abraham Lincoln's Tomb

After laying in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, President Lincoln's body was brought by train to Springfield, Illinois, where a burial service was held on May 4, 1865. The coffins of the President and his son William, who died during Lincoln's presidency, were then placed in the public receiving vault at Oak Ridge Cemetery.

On May 11, 1865, fifteen of Lincoln's friends created the National Lincoln Monument Association to develop a memorial and tomb. They wanted the tomb to be erected in downtown Springfield, but Mary Todd Lincoln insisted that her late husband be buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery. William Saunders was subsequently hired to design the grounds for the Lincoln Tomb, and a national design contest (in 1868) resulted in Larkin G. Mead being awarded the honor of designing the tomb/monument. Ground was broken on September 9, 1869, and the tomb was dedicated on October 15, 1874.

Lincoln's body was moved several times before and after the tomb's construction, and the tomb itself has been rebuilt several times. Lincoln now rests in a concrete-and-steel reinforced chamber ten feet below a red arc fossil obelisk. Mary Todd Lincoln is also entombed with the monument, as are three of the couple's four children (Robert is buried at Arlington). The burial chamber is directly below a granite obelisk, the pinnacle of which is 117 feet above the tomb's base. The main structure is 72 feet square with large semi-circular projections on the north and south sides. The obelisk is "framed" by four bronze sculptures representing the four Civil War military services -- infantry, artillery, cavalry, and navy. The interior of the tomb is adorned with bronze statues depicting various stages of Lincoln's life and plaques with excerpts from Lincoln's Springfield Farewell Speech, the Gettysburg Address, and his Second Inaugural Address.

Tomb of Abraham Lincoln, exterior

Abraham Lincoln's Tomb, burial chamber

The State of Illinois took over responsibility for the tomb in 1895. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 19, 1960, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.


Abraham Lincoln Online
Lincoln Monument Association

See Also

Mary Todd Lincoln
Gettysburg Address

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The Robinson Library >> Abraham Lincoln

This page was last updated on August 30, 2018.