UW–Madison wouldn’t exist without Abraham Lincoln, who in 1862 signed the law that created land-grant universities. Since finding its permanent home in 1919 in front of Bascom Hall, the statue has been our center of gravity.
Abe’s feet are burnished from the countless students and visitors who have rubbed them for luck. Could these pennies — perhaps left with a passing wish — be the start of a new Badger tradition atop Bascom Hill?
The bucket list for new UW graduates includes climbing up for a photo op in Abe’s lap. Some take the opportunity to whisper their hopes and dreams for the future into the big guy’s ear.
Many hats have adorned the statue over the years. Students have topped Abe’s head with a construction cone, a Santa hat, a cheesehead, and even a pair of red earmuffs. During the McCarthy era, he was painted red.
Photo courtesy UW–Madison Archives #S03825