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Frequently Asked Questions

When is the Bicentennial?

Thursday, February 12, 2009, is the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.  The Bicentennial Commission has designated the period from February 2008 through February 2010 as the official Bicentennial period.  The Bicentennial will be formally launched at the Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville, Kentucky, on February 12, 2008. 

What is being planned to mark the occasion?

Many activities and programs are being planned by the federal Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (ALBC), 10 state commissions, and state and local governments and community organizations across the country.

Among the many activities, programs, and events that will mark the Bicentennial include:

  • A ceremony rededicating the Lincoln Memorial
  • Concerts and museum and library exhibits
  • National town hall meetings on equality, opportunity and race
  • Joint session of Congress
  • A redesign of the Lincoln penny in 2009 with four new tails-side images
  • A series of commemorative and definitive stamps
  • A new television documentary
  • Development of a curriculum about Abraham Lincoln for school children
How can I participate in the Bicentennial?

Numerous events and activities over the next few years will offer plenty of opportunities for you to participate.  Some examples include:

  • Encouraging your local community to plan events celebrating Abraham Lincoln’s life; organizing a town hall meeting on equality, opportunity, and race in your community; rededicating a local Lincoln statue, or adopting a Bicentennial themes for your Independence Day parade in 2009. 
  • Visiting the many Lincoln historic sites and participating in planned activities.
  • Collecting the four newly redesigned Lincoln pennies, the Lincoln Bicentennial commemorative coin, and the commemorative and definitive stamps as they are issued in 2009. 
Why do we need to celebrate this anniversary?

Abraham Lincoln remains the central figure in American history, and generations of Americans have regarded him as our nation’s greatest President.  When the Civil War plunged the United States into its worst crisis, democratic government— “of the people, by the people, for the people”— was still a uniquely American enterprise.  Lincoln’s unwavering leadership and commitment to democracy preserved the Union and created a nation “worthy of the saving.”  

How does Lincoln still matter?

The tenets of American democracy enshrined in the Declaration of Independence remain relevant today— indeed, they are eternal.  Lincoln so deeply believed in those principles that he gave his life to ensure that the only nation built on them up to that time would survive its greatest test.  Abraham Lincoln remains relevant today because the ideals he loved and fostered remain relevant: freedom, democracy, and equal opportunity.

Why is Lincoln considered America's greatest president?

Various reasons are offered for Lincoln’s appeal.  His rise from backwoods poverty to professional success and ultimately to the pinnacle of political power, all with little formal education, inspire many to struggle to overcome personal hardship.  Historians and political scientists acclaim him for his steadfast commitment to the principles articulated in the Declaration of Independence.  His faith in democracy allowed him not merely to save the Union, but create a nation.

How can I get an expert to come to my community to talk about Lincoln?

Dozens of academics and collectors around the country have devoted their lives to studying Lincoln—his life, thoughts, and contributions—and collecting artifacts and documents associated with the 16th president.  The ALBC has established a Speakers Pool, composed of individuals willing to travel to talk or write about their favorite subject.  Learn more about the Speakers Pool.

Who is on the Commission?  How did they become commissioners?

The legislation establishing the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (Public Law 106-173) spells out how its 14 members are appointed.  The President appoints five members, including three recommended by the governors of Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky.  The speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader each name three, and the minority leaders of the House and Senate each appoint two.

How can I have my idea for commemorating the Bicentennial acknowledged?

To encourage broad public participation in the bicentennial, the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission will endorse programs, events, and other activities that embody the bicentennial's message of “freedom, equality, and opportunity."  When considering endorsement, the applicant must demonstrate to the Commission's satisfaction that the proposed project meets at least one of the bicentennial goals.