In case you hadn’t heard, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has made its way to the big screen. Starring Benjamin Walker, it traces the President as he discovers that vampires are planning to take over the country, and as he makes it his mission to eliminate the threat. Recently, author, screenwriter, and producer Seth Grahame-Smith sat down in the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library to talk with CBS about the phenomenon his horror fantasy story has become.
However, it’s hardly the first time Abraham Lincoln has been portrayed in popular culture. Lincoln has beamed aboard the USS Enterprise, attacked the small town of South Park, and was even the subject of a conspiracy in National Treasure 2. So what is it about Honest Abe that makes people so interested? After all, you don’t see anyone clamoring to make William Henry Harrison: Werewolf Fighter. New-York Historical Society Historian Valerie Paley offers one explanation:
There are an estimated fifteen thousand books about Abraham Lincoln, who ranks consistently as one of the top three American presidents, with George Washington and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. All three men were faced with the drama of war and its trials, tribulations, and triumphs. And all three presidents shared the personal qualities of character, leadership, and integrity—as do, to a certain extent, most of those who have been elected to the top office.
But there always has been something mythic about Lincoln, starting with his American Dream-like biography. He was born in Kentucky, spent his early childhood on the frontier, faced familial hardships, and although he had only around a year of formal education, he taught himself the law and became a successful lawyer, congressman, and President of the United States during one of the most perilous periods in American history. He is remembered, among other things, as the “great emancipator” of the slaves; as the leader who upheld the union; and as the author of perhaps the most famous speech in American history, the Gettysburg Address. The tragedy of his assassination less than a week after Lee’s surrender and the effective end of the Civil War sealed the narrative of his mythology.
So what’s cool about Abraham Lincoln to you? Tell us about your favorite president in the comments!