Knoxville, Tennessee, April 20, 2018— Monuments to the 16th President of the United States dot maps across the country. Abraham Lincoln’s name is memorialized by cities like Nebraska’s state capital and on roads like the historic Lincoln Highway which has the distinction of being the first road for the automobile across the United States of America. His likeness adorns mountains, memorials, museums and statues from Mount Rushmore to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. This week the Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law (LMU Law) unveiled the newest tribute to “The Great Emancipator” in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee.
“LMU is a living memorial to this great American who by trade was a lawyer,” said Judge Gary R. Wade, vice president and LMU Law dean. “So it was wholly fitting for this institution to erect a monument here at the LMU Duncan School of Law honoring that aspect of Lincoln’s life.”
Wade set out to raise funds for such a tribute soon after he arrived as dean in 2015. He also needed to identify an artist to create the one-of-a-kind sculpture. Wade didn’t have to look far or long. Around the same time the City of Maryville unveiled a tribute to Sam Houston by Wayne Hyde. After seeing the detail of the statue in person, Wade knew he had the right person for the job.
When Hyde happened upon the book Lincoln, Life-Size several years ago he was drawn to the striking collection of photographic portraits. It was just one of several Lincoln-centric books Hyde collected over the years.
“Lincoln was such a fascinating subject, I had built a collection of resources to draw from with the hope that someday I would be given the opportunity to honor him,” Hyde said. “When LMU called, I knew it was an incredible opportunity to sculpt such an outstanding figure in American history. Then to find out that it would be on display in a city with such a rich history, it was a great honor.”
Wade and Hyde collaborated on the general direction of the work, but a great deal of the creative design was left to the sculptor. Hyde visited LMU’s Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum for research and found many anecdotes that showed Lincoln to make a firm stand on individual issues. Lincoln knew the law and he knew his way around law when required. He was inwardly strong and determined. Out of his research, Hyde chose to portray Lincoln in his early 40’s, around 1850.
Standing over seven-feet tall on a nearly six-foot marble pedestal, “The Final Summation” depicts Lincoln a decade before his presidential campaign. He is standing in court with his papers in hand. Lincoln is very slightly animated, as if stepping forward as he is laying out his final summation. He tilts his head downward so as to make eye contact with those seated in the jury box. The statue’s gaze looks out over downtown Knoxville.
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett joined Hyde, Wade and LMU dignitaries including President Clayton Hess and Chairman Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk to unveil the statue on Tuesday, April 17.
The Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law is located in Knoxville’s Historic Old City Hall Building. LMU Law is an integral part of LMU’s values-based learning community, and is dedicated to preparing the next generation of lawyers to provide sound legal service in the often underserved region of Appalachia and beyond.
Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law is provisionally approved by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association, 321 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60654, 312-988-6738.