Director’s Letter

Dear Friends,

Abraham Lincoln dedicated his life to the idea that the United States was the last, best hope for government by, for, and of the people—a bastion of democracy. He believed deeply in the rights of individuals to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Like many of the founders of this nation, he held that each individual reflected something noble and worthy of respect. Remarkable for his time, he showed this respect over and over through his interactions with people from all walks of life. He recognized that slavery deprived millions of their rights and signed the Emancipation Proclamation to begin to change that.

The value of the individual—at least for some individuals—inspired the Declaration of Independence and led to the framing of our deeply treasured democratic way of life. The notion that individuals matter deeply grew directly from the Enlightenment, which also emphasized the importance of knowledge. Cultural historian Isaiah Berlin has suggested that another key principle of the Enlightenment was that all genuine questions can be answered. This is one of the origins of critical thinking that requires us to raise questions and seek the answers.

Every day at the Cottage, we pose questions to our visitors. We ask what inspiration they find in Lincoln’s example. Lincoln asked a British traveler what he thought of our great nation, and we ask visitors what they think makes this nation great today. Lincoln chose to address the key issue of his time—slavery–and we ask visitors what issues they believe define our time. And because we value each visitor as an individual, we listen closely to their responses.

Sometimes, visitors ask us interesting and challenging questions about the Cottage, the Civil War era, or the Lincoln family. Five years ago, we started the Q&Abe Podcast to dive deep into the most complicated questions, questions that we could not respond to fully on the tour. We have explored questions like “How could Lincoln sleep, if slavery was happening?” and “Was Lincoln a racist?” These questions are  hard, and that makes it all the more important to unpack their nuances with thoughtful people.

Inspired by Lincoln’s transformational leadership, values of individual worth and intellectual curiosity fuel our work at the Cottage.

Take care and stay curious!


Grammy-winner Dom Flemons to headline Bourbon & Bluegrass- Tickets now on Sale!

Grammy-winning artist Dom Flemons, the American Songster, will be headlining Bourbon and Bluegrass, our annual celebration of American music and culture on Saturday, May 20th and Sunday May 21st from 1-5pm.

Join us on the Cottage lawn for live performances Flemons both days, along with Letitia VanSant and The Fly Birds (Saturday) and Adeem the Artist and Nora Brown (Sunday).

Plus, enjoy specialty cocktails, good food, lawn games, and more.

Tickets on sale here!

Latest Awards & Recognitions for the Cottage

Our special exhibit, Reflections on Grief and Child Loss, just won an Outstanding Public History Project Award from the National Council on Public History (NCPH)! The committee wrote that the “exhibit represents a wonderful example of how interdisciplinary work can look in museums. The project successfully merged the timelessness of loss with a reinterpretation of the Lincoln family.” If you have not had a chance to visit this powerful exhibit, please do so!

Additionally, Unique Venues recently recognized us as a Top Presidential Venue for Productive Meetings. We are glad to keep Lincoln’s legacy of having important meetings at the Cottage alive!

Last Chance to Apply for the 2023 #SOSSummit

The 10th Annual SOS Summit will be held June 25 – July 1. During the Summit, participants from around the world will build a network of fellow youth activists and build skills to continue Lincoln’s fight for freedom. This Presidential Award-winning program is a transformative experience for young people eager to make a difference in their communities and the world.
Lodging and meals are provided, full scholarships are available, and community service hours will be granted.

President Lincoln’s Cottage in the News

  • Voice of America shared the story of our winter installation by Georges Adéagbo to their French speaking audience in Africa
  • CBS‘s Allison Keyes interviewed Michael Atwood Mason about the George Adéagbo installation
  • The Washington Post named Presidentail Family Fun Day we participated in at the National Portrait Gallery as a best thing to do
  • Kid Friendly DC also previewed the Presidential Family Fun Day
  • Washingtonian our program with Chris Wilson as a way to commemorate Black history
  • DCist spotlighted the National Symphony Orchestra event as a top thing to do
  • Country Standard Time announced the Bourbon & Bluegrass dates in an article on Dom Flemons


Support our educational programs, preservation efforts and public events by making a contribution to President Lincoln’s Cottage. Donate online today.