Cornell removes Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln bust from library

A bust of President Abraham Lincoln and a plaque with the Gettysburg address were removed from a Cornell University library.

“Somebody complained and it went away,” Cornell biology professor Randy Wayne told College Fix about the matter.

The bust of Lincoln and the bronze plaque with the former president’s historic address in 1863 have been in the Kroch Library, which houses the university’s rare and manuscript collections department, since 2013.

Wayne said he noticed the display was missing a few weeks ago and asked the librarians what happened. He was told the display was removed after some sort of complaint, but gave no further details, according to College Fix.

Cornell’s communications team told Fox News Digital that the display was a “temporary exhibit” installed to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address in 2013.

“President Lincoln’s bust was part of a temporary exhibit celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. The bust was on display in the Rare and Manuscript Collections from 2013 to 2021,” Rebecca Valli, director of media relations at Cornell University, told Fox News Digital on Tuesday.

The professor claimed the bust was removed because of a “complaint”.
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“Cornell proudly possesses one of five known copies of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln’s handwriting. The original is kept safe, with a digital facsimile on permanent display. Additionally, five electronic Lincoln exhibits are available online 24 hours a day,” Valli added.

Valli did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on Wayne’s claim that librarians told him the ad was removed after a complaint. Fox News also reached out to the school library, inquiring about his claim, but received no response.

Photos from the site where the exhibition was once held show that the area is now barren.

Before Valli commented to the media about the ad, Wayne had emailed Cornell President Martha E. Pollack on June 23 to inquire if she knew the ad was being removed and why, according to E- Mail correspondence reviewed by Fox News Digital. The email went unanswered as of Tuesday, when a staffer at Pollack’s office replied that “President Pollack is not normally made aware of changes to library exhibits that I believe will be decided by library staff.”

Wayne said he believes no one has “the whole story” about the removed display “at this point in time,” stressing the importance of the Gettysburg address to him and his students.

“When I take my students to RMC each semester, I have one of them read Lincoln’s hand original. I cry every time I hear a student read those words,” Wayne told Fox News Digital.

“The Gettysburg Address is an incredible speech,” he added in a comment on the College Fix. “We have a handwritten copy in Lincoln’s hand. It is known as the Bancroft copy. It comes with an envelope signed by Lincoln (using his franking privilege) and a letter to Bancroft thanking him for requesting a copy of the address to enclose a book for charity.”

Exhibits, statues and names honoring historical American figures have come under increasing scrutiny, particularly during the summer of 2020 protests and riots.

Lincoln was among the targets. Activists in Washington, DC, argued that a statue of Lincoln – funded in part by formerly enslaved Americans – depicting him freeing a slave wearing a loincloth and kneeling at his feet is being removed because it is demeaning . A replica of the statue in Boston was successfully removed in 2020 due to its depiction of the freed slave. Cornell removes Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln bust from library


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