Last Tuesday, November 19th, was the 150th anniversary of one of the most important speeches in American history: President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. A year after his famous 1863 speech, Lincoln would deliver another speech, establishing the first university in the Union for the Deaf: the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and Blind. Congress authorized the institution to administer college degrees and President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill to incorporate the new school into law in 1864.
In 1954 the university’s name was officially changed to Gallaudet University in honor of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, the founder of the first school for deaf students in the United States. Gallaudet University’s football program began in 1883 and began its 2013 campaign ranked 234 out of 238 teams in the NCAA. Now, its football team will play its first NCAA playoff game in school history after finishing 9-1 to clinch its first conference title in school history.
A popular legend is that Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. shows Lincoln using sign language to represent his initials, with his left hand shaped to form an “A” and his right hand to form an “L”, the president’s initials. The sculptor, Daniel Chester French, also sculpted statues of Gallaudet and his student Alice Cogswell, which stand on the Gallaudet campus in Northeast DC.