Abraham Lincoln

Signer of Gallaudet University’s Enabling Act

One of President Lincoln’s many accomplishments was his supportive role in the founding of Gallaudet University, the collegiate department of Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind (its original name), which was created by an act of Congress. Its original charter was signed on February 16, 1857, by President Franklin Pierce. On April 8, 1864, towards the end of his first term and during the Civil War (on the same day that part of General Nathaniel Banks’ Union army was defeated by a Confederate force under Richard Taylor’s command at Sabine Crossroads in Mansfield, Louisiana), Lincoln signed the Enabling Act authorizing the Columbia Institution to grant postsecondary degrees—marking the first such opportunity for deaf students in the world. This wasn't strictly necessary from a legalistic point of view, but was something that E. M. Gallaudet wanted for his fledgling school. To this day, the sitting President serves as patron of Gallaudet University, and Charter Day is celebrated annually on campus with a festive awards banquet.

Photo courtesy of www.lincoln.com

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