On a recent trip to our nation’s capital, I marked a visit to Ford’s Theater—the site of Lincoln’s assassination—off my bucket list. While I could write plenty about the awe I felt standing so close to where Booth pulled the trigger—and just might—I must note a fascinating tribute to our greatest president that I’d not known existed. One that honors him on many levels.
Across the street from the theater is the Center for Education and Leadership connected to the boarding house where Lincoln breathed his last. There, a tower of books written with Lincoln as their focal point scaled three stories, thirty-four feet in all.
I was flabbergasted to learn that, over the decades, about 15,000 separate titles have been written about our sixteenth president. How much could there be to say? This is phenomenal considering books that center on his wife, Mary Todd, or the Civil War in general are not included in that number. Only books that deal with the man himself.
The tower is comprised of 6,800 copies of 205 titles, all made of fireproof bent aluminum. Cover art was printed directly onto the metal versions of each book. Imagine if all 15,000 were included. The building could not contain the soaring literary monument.
In 2010, designers glued each book onto the tower by hand, taking about ten days to complete. The video below shows the construction in about a minute and a half.
That so much has been written is a testament to the times Lincoln lived in, yes, but also to the wisdom the man gleaned from a lifetime of tragedy and pain. On top of that, he masterfully steered our country through the most trying time in our history, despite cruel and crass derision by too many of his countrymen from the North and the South.
We will not see his like again. Not because people of his caliber cannot or will not exist, but with our present-day fixation on the superficial, we will never, ever elect them.