Home for Brave Ideas
President Lincoln’s life inspires our work. While living here, Lincoln made nation-changing decisions about the Union, Freedom, and the Presidency, most notably the Emancipation Proclamation. The importance of what he accomplished in this space encourages us to embrace the Cottage as a Museum of Ideas over a traditional historic house museum model.
During the Civil War, the Lincolns chose to move their family from the White House to a cottage on a hilltop overlooking the city. They made this move three summers in a row, in the midst of a war that threatened the country they held so dear. It would be tempting to think of the Cottage as a pastoral retreat, a refuge from the chaos of war, but the evidence suggests otherwise. The White House may have been the “iron cage,” but life at the Soldiers’ Home brought Lincoln closer to the war and its human cost. Here Lincoln said, “my thoughts — my solicitude for this great country follows me wherever I go.” Lincoln encountered people from all walks of life here and on his commute, gaining new perspectives on freedom, justice, and humility.
Every day on our tours and in every program, we witness that the stories of what happened here historically have the power to bring out the leader in any person today, inspiring courageous ideas, respectful dialogue and thoughtful compromise.
We believe the world still needs a Home for Brave Ideas and are committed to being that place.
Highlights that demonstrate our commitment include: