Ask Abe: Why is there a statue of Abe Lincoln on Bascom Hill?

An Alum

Why is there a statue of Abe Lincoln on Bascom Hill?

Abe

No, Abraham Lincoln isn’t responsible for the founding of the University of Wisconsin. But he did help to pass legislation that made it possible for the UW to grow. Lincoln signed three acts during his presidency that hugely enhanced the quality of universities across America, including the UW. One of the three was the Morrill Act, signed in 1862 after it had been vetoed by President Buchanan. This act granted parcels of land to all states to fund universities that would “promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.” This act has been called the “Education Bill of Rights,” and it was instrumental in helping more students to attend college. W.D. Hoard, a former Wisconsin governor and president of the Board of Regents, spoke at the statue’s unveiling ceremony and accepted the gift “because of our deep and lasting gratitude as a commonwealth for the character and services of Abraham Lincoln; because of the faith and pride we have in the purpose and achievements of our noble university … with the promise that nothing shall be lacking on their part to maintain and preserve it as a sign to all future generations of the high ideals of American citizenship that are taught here to the young of the land.” The statue arrived on June 22, 1909.