HomeUSA newsLincoln statue back on display at Cornell University Library after abrupt removal

Lincoln statue back on display at Cornell University Library after abrupt removal

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A historic bust of President Abraham Lincoln is back on the Cornell University campus after it was abruptly removed earlier this year.

“I think this is the cancellation of the cancel culture. The cancellation of Lincoln is a real victory against the cancel culture that has taken over universities,” said Randy Wayne, an associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Sciences at Cornell University, told Fox News Digital in a telephone interview.

A bust of Lincoln and a Gettysburg Address plaque were located in the university’s Kroch Library from 2013 until spring of this year, when they were abruptly removed.

Wayne sounded the alarm about the missing bust of Lincoln in June, telling The College Fix at the time that “someone complained and disappeared.”

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The bust of Lincoln in the Uris Library at Cornell University.
(Dr Randy Wayne)

The school told Fox News Digital that the bust was removed the same month because it was part of a “temporary exhibit” set up to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address in 2013, and was put into storage after the exhibit ended this year.

As quietly as the bust disappeared, it quietly returned this month, Wayne said, already to an even more remarkable place. The historic bust, which is set on a plinth to reach the height of Lincoln’s imposing 6′ 4″ height, Wayne explained, is now on display at the Uris Library, where it was originally displayed in 1891.

Close-up views of the bust of Lincoln that has returned to the Cornell campus.

Close-up views of the bust of Lincoln that has returned to the Cornell campus.
(Dr Randy Wayne)

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Wayne, who previously described himself as a “squeaky wheel” on campus who doesn’t shy away from advocating for free speech and academic freedom, said he received many letters and emails from people across the country, and even from the world, expressing their concern. about the bust of Lincoln removed earlier this year.

Randy Wayne, Associate Professor, School of Integrative Plant Sciences

Randy Wayne, Associate Professor, School of Integrative Plant Sciences
(Randy Wayne)

Wayne was the most vocal Cornell staff member when the Lincoln statue abruptly disappeared, but the professor credited a team effort to get the statue reinstalled on campus. He singled out the Cornell Free Speech Alliance of alumni, staff, students and others who joined him, as well as outlets like The College Fix for raising the alarm about the removal.

“The university has just announced that ‘Old Abe’ will be reinstated in a new, more prominent exhibit at the Uris Library. CONGRATULATIONS to the CornellFSA supporters who made this happen!” the Cornell Free Speech Alliance proudly states at the top of their website in mid-November.

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The bust itself is steeped in history. Just before Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, he agreed to sit for a teenage sculptor named Vinnie Ream, who captured the 16th president’s “resolve” and the “weight of war” that was etched on his face, according to Wayne.

American sculptor Vinnie Ream (1847-1914) poses next to his bust of Abraham Lincoln.  Created when she was just a teenager, she was the first woman and the youngest artist to be commissioned by the United States government with a statue.

American sculptor Vinnie Ream (1847-1914) poses next to his bust of Abraham Lincoln. Created when she was just a teenager, she was the first woman and the youngest artist to be commissioned by the United States government with a statue.
(PhotoQuest/Getty Images)

After Lincoln’s death, Ream became the youngest artist and the first woman to be commissioned by the federal government with a statue: the statue of Lincoln that stands in the rotunda of the United States Capitol.

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Sculptor Vinnie Ream Hoxie

Sculptor Vinnie Ream Hoxie
(Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

“This is a real celebration of bringing out the Vinnie Ream sculpture. It’s a celebration of women, it’s a celebration of young women,” Wayne said.

On the Cornell campus, Wayne has relied on the statue as a portal for his students to go back into history and truly understand the weight and evils of slavery and the American figures they fought for.

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“[I take them to see] see the handcuffs and feel how heavy they are, and just to understand that bondage is not something to be used just as a topic of conversation. It really affected people…it’s something to be taken seriously,” she said.

Wayne previously told Fox News Digital that, amid his battle to proclaim free speech and academic freedom on campus, he employs face-to-face conversations motivated by understanding and the “power of love.” He didn’t deviate from that strategy as he called for Lincoln’s return, met with a library official and emailed school leaders.

Bust of Lincoln in the Uris Library at Cornell University.

Bust of Lincoln in the Uris Library at Cornell University.
(Dr Randy Wayne)

But successfully getting other statues back on campuses and cities across the country has a long way to go. Wayne pointed to The College Fix’s “Culture Cancellation Database,” which details statues of historical figures ranging from Walt Whitman to George Washington that have faced destruction or been removed from prominent display since 2020.

“I hope that Abraham Lincoln will be the first of many statues and busts that the alumni associations of each university can recover,” he said.

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He also explained that many people in academia are motivated to support diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives out of fear of being canceled and are waiting for the current climate to change.

“A small percentage are really authentic people who believe in” the diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives found on most campuses across the country. “But most of them are just petrified, and virtue signals and plays the game, hoping it’s over.”

Fox News Digital has reached out to Cornell University for additional comment on Lincoln’s return and was provided with a statement previously given to the news outlet.

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“The bust of Lincoln, sculpted in marble by Vinnie Ream ca. 1864-1870, was featured in a temporary exhibit commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. That exhibit ended in August 2021 and the bust has been moved into storage. Questions Discussions about this curatorial decision inspired a thoughtful conversation among library staff. I was touched by the great interest in this historic artifact and made plans to return the bust to public view,” said Elaine L. Westbrooks, Carl University Librarian. A. Kroch.

“Cornell proudly owns an enviable Lincoln collection, including one of only five known copies of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln’s handwriting, and one of only 14 handwritten copies of the 13th Amendment bearing the original signatures of Lincoln and the members of Congress who voted for her. In addition to the bust of Lincoln, the university also owns and displays a statue of Lincoln in the Uris Library.”

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