Founded in 1987 in California and incorporated in Louisiana in 2004, the International Lincoln Association holds tax exempt status with the United States Internal Revenue Service as an educational non-profit 501(c) (3) organization. Its name is trademarked with the U.S. Patent Office.
The organization was originally founded by a group composed of lawyers, political scientists and a Foreign Service officer (retired) to foster and promote worldwide education about the life, values and works of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), the sixteenth president of the United States. It has a special focus on primary and secondary schools, as well as colleges and universities.
Through meetings and publications, the International Lincoln Association stresses three large themes:
- Abraham Lincoln as the Great Emancipator who ended slavery in the United States and endorsed the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution;
- Abraham Lincoln as the Great Commoner who saved the Union and democratic values during the American Civil War, and thereby preserved the idea of self-government in the world;
- Abraham Lincoln as the Great Reconciler (“with malice toward none”) whose administration is credited with pioneering the first humanitarian code for the conduct of the military during wartime, setting the precedent for 20th Century international humanitarian law agreements.