Abraham Lincoln ascended to the presidency campaigning in part against the institution of slavery and its spread among the new states. Upon his election, and the secession of seven of the southern states, Lincoln pledged to fight to preserve the Union, even if it meant plunging the country into a civil war. At the outbreak of hostilities, he drew upon his full authority as president, raising a Union army, imposing martial law, and suspending writs of habeas corpus in threatened areas of the Union. In 1863 he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in those states still under Confederate control. The war ended April 9, 1865. Five days later, the President was assassinated.
In addition to the marble bust acquired in 1867 (installed in the Senate Chamber), an oil portrait of Lincoln was also proposed for the State House. Nearing the anniversary of Lincoln's 100th birthday, a portrait was finally authorized for purchase, and Albion Harris Bicknell of Malden, who had been painting the president since the war, was chosen. His full-length likeness, probably from photographs taken by Matthew Brady, was considered at the time to be his finest rendition. It was installed in the foyer of the Executive Suite until moved to Doric Hall in 1939.
Lincoln is also recognized in Doric Hall for his historic speech at the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863. A combination bronze plaque and portrait head reproduces the entire text of the Gettysburg Address. The portrait head was cast from a life mask taken by Leonard Volk in 1860 (now at the Smithsonian Institution) which Volk later patented and sold as replicas. The memorial was the gift of the Massachusetts Department of the Woman's Relief Corps, an auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, in 1912.