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But in the early 20th century, Lincoln's appeal broadened considerably. By then, adults who had lived and suffered through the Civil War had died. Once a symbol of division, Lincoln came to be seen as a symbol of national peacemaking, admired alike by New York bankers and the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. In 1922, the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated, its structure modeled after the temples of ancient Greece, its statue reminiscent of Zeus on his throne, its location chosen to maximize the power of impression by an object of reverence and honor. In Illinois, sites associated with the 16th President were marked as "Lincoln shrines."
And so the legend grew. In the 1930s, Henry Fonda played Lincoln on the big screen and stonecutters carved his face on Mount Rushmore; in the 1940s, Aaron Copland's magisterial Lincoln Portrait debuted; in the 1950s, Carl Sandburg held a joint session of Congress rapt with his speech that began, "Not often in the story of mankind does a man arrive on earth who is both steel and velvet, who is hard as rock and soft as a drifting fog, who holds in his heart and mind the paradox of terrible storm and peace unspeakable and perfect." In 1963, TIME put Lincoln on the cover of its 40th-anniversary issue, "The Individual in America," and christened him the embodiment of that quality "in the special double sense that Americans attributed to the word--the common man who is yet uncommon."
In retrospect, one of the high points of the Lincoln legend may also have marked its breaking point. In August 1963, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. began his landmark "I Have a Dream" speech by paying homage to Lincoln: "Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity."
For decades, African Americans had not only remembered Lincoln kindly but also invoked him as a present-day force. "The rise of Jim Crow segregation in the South," explains Allen C. Guelzo, "occurred hand in hand with the efforts of Southerners to downplay the significance of slavery both for the war and for Lincoln, and blacks battled back by keeping slavery and Lincoln's image as the Great Emancipator at the forefront of the nation's memory." A common folktale in the mid--20th century South--which Leadbelly poignantly rendered in a song he recorded in the early 1940s--had Lincoln rising from the dead, coming down and bringing justice to the Jim Crow South.