Topeka, Kan. – Harold Holzer will present “Lincoln and 150 Years of Fake News” during Washburn University’s annual Harman Lincoln Lecture. The lecture is Thursday, Feb. 21, at 3 p.m. in the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center.
“The Face of Lincoln,” a bronze statue, will be unveiled in conjunction with this lecture. The mask was originally created by renowned American artist and former Washburn University (then Washburn College) instructor Robert Merrell Gage.
The lecture and the unveiling are free and open to the public.
“As a society, we tend think that the conflicts between the media and our political leaders evolved as we saw the introduction of the 24-hour news cycle. The reality is that these power struggles have always been a part of our history,” said Dr. Bruce Mactavish, assistant professor of history and associate dean for the college of arts and sciences for Washburn University. “Harold Holzer will explore how 19th century newspapers influenced politics, and how politicians cultivated party papers, as illustrated by Lincoln who was a successful strategist in shaping what was written about him.”
Holzer, winner of The 2015 Gilder-Lehrman Lincoln Prize, is one of the country's leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. A prolific writer and lecturer, and frequent guest on television, Holzer served for six years (2010–2016) as Chairman of The Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. For the previous 10 years, he co-chaired the U. S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (ALBC), appointed by President Clinton. President Bush awarded Holzer the National Humanities Medal in 2008. In addition, in 2013, Holzer wrote an essay on Lincoln for the official program at the re-inauguration of President Obama. He is now co-chairman of The Lincoln Forum.
The Harman Lincoln Lecture Series is in its 31st year at Washburn University. The lecture’s purpose is to “encourage individual and public interest in the ideals and integrity exemplified in the life of Abraham Lincoln,” as stated by Judge Jerome Harman, a 1935 graduate of the Washburn School of Law, when he and his wife created the lecture fund. Washburn was established as Lincoln College by a charter issued by the State of Kansas and the General Association of Congregational Ministers and Churches of Kansas on Feb. 6, 1865.
Editor’s Note on “The Face of Lincoln”
Robert Merrell Gage was born in Topeka, Kansas. He studied at Washburn College under Frances Davis Whittemore, who encouraged him to become a sculptor. In 1911, he traveled to New York where he studied at the Art Students League and the Robert Henri School of Art. Upon completing his studies in 1914, Gage became an assistant to the sculptor Gutzon Borglum, best known for sculpting the monumental visages of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. Gage taught art at the then Washburn College from 1915-17. In 1918, a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln, his first significant commission, was installed at the southeast corner of the grounds of the state capitol in Topeka and still sits there today. In 1955, Gage’s film, “The Face of Lincoln,” won an Academy Award in the two-reel short subject category.
“The Face of Lincoln” was originally created in terra-cotta. The opportunity for Washburn University’s Mulvane Art Museum to buy this mask emerged through the North Carolina Gallery of Fine Art, which purchased the original terra-cotta in 1992 and cast the bronze in 2018. This cast of “The Face of Lincoln” was made possible by donors to the Mulvane Art Museum.