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The monument in honor of former Republican President Abraham Lincoln (1861 – 1865) in Washington, one of the most visited tourist attractions in the capital, on Monday turns 100 years since its inauguration.
Since it was inaugurated by President Warren Harding on May 30, 1922, to coincide with the celebration of Memorial Day, the gigantic monument has become a symbol of the struggle for civil rights, has been the scene of key moments in American history and has appeared in numerous films.
In 1963, the historic black rights activist Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in front of it, and in 1970 President Richard Nixon also staged an unprecedented impromptu debate with young people protesting against the Vietnam War.
The Lincoln statue and the classical-style building that houses it has featured prominently in such iconic films as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Forrest Gump (1994), Deep Impact (1998), and Wedding Crashers (2005).
Lincoln, a Republican, led the United States during the secession of the Confederacy and the subsequent Civil War and is considered to be largely responsible for the abolition of slavery in the country.
Born to a poor family in Kentucky in 1809, Lincoln is, along with George Washington, the most vindicated president in U.S. history, and one of the most popular among the public.
The Republican, a staunch detractor of slavery even before he was elected president, his electoral victory in 1860 and his arrival in office in March 1861 were the triggers for the southern states to declare independence, thus starting the Civil War (1861-1865).
Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865, a few days after the war had ended, by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth in a Washington theater.