Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, rose to prominence in Illinois, and died in Washington, DC. So what’s his statue doing on Bascom Hill? UW–Madison honors Lincoln because it was during his presidency that Congress passed the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, which devoted federal land to support state universities. Wisconsin assigned its share of Morrill Act lands to support the UW (even though it was already 13 years old). The Lincoln statue was created by Adolphe Weinman, based on one he had made for Lincoln’s birthplace in Hodgenville, Kentucky. Richard Lloyd Jones and Thomas Brittingham purchased it for the university and placed it on Bascom Hill in 1909, the centennial of Lincoln’s birth. Ten years later, the UW moved it to its current location (higher up on the hill), when it created the Lincoln Terrace. For many years, Badger students have left a penny under Abe’s toe (or just rubbed it) for luck. In the past, graduating seniors have also been known to climb into his lap to have their pictures taken — but now because of wear and tear on the statue, and student safety concerns, the UW discourages the practice.
The art for the Badger Pride Wall was created for WAA by Madison illustrator Nate Koehler.