Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 22–46 | Cite as

‘From here Lincoln came’: Anglo-Saxonism, the special relationship, and the anglicisation of Abraham Lincoln, c. 1860–1970

  • Sam EdwardsEmail author


Despite being reviled by much of the British political establishment during his life, a statue of Abraham Lincoln was, nonetheless, erected at Westminster in 1920, whilst a year earlier a Lincoln bust was also established in the parish church of Hingham, Norfolk, the birth-place of his lineal ancestor, Samuel Lincoln. The dedication ceremonies of both were dominated by politically motivated invocations of Lincoln’s English ancestry. Similar efforts to anglicise Lincoln recurred in the years immediately after the Second World War, and Lincoln’s ‘Englishness’ continues to occupy the attentions of some commentators — especially in East Anglia — even today. This article accounts for twentieth century attempts to anglicise Lincoln by connecting these appropriations to the wider transatlantic political and cultural context, and by paying close attention to the details of place and locale in which so many Lincoln focused commemorative projects unfolded. In doing so, this article contends that the twentieth century ‘anglicisation’ of Lincoln not only offers insights into changing British perceptions of the Great Emancipator, it also sheds light on a key moment of discursive shift in Anglo-American relations: from the racial Anglo-Saxonism of the early twentieth century, to the Churchillian ‘Special Relationship’ of the post-1945 period.


Abraham Lincoln Anglo-Saxonism special relationship anglicisation commemoration East Anglia 


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© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History, Politics and PhilosophyManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK

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