The work of this alumna is set in stone

She is one of Christian College's most famous alumnae, but many people today have never heard of Vinnie Ream.

She attended Christian College, now known as Columbia College, in 1857, excelling in music and art. She later moved to Washington, D.C., to study sculpture. In 1865, her supporters convinced President Abraham Lincoln to sit for her while she created his bust in clay.

On the day Lincoln was assassinated, she was one of the last people to have a friendly, informal conversation with him.

Congress wanted a life-size statue made of Lincoln after his death. With a letter signed by 31 senators and 144 representatives, Ream was chosen over several distinguished male sculptors. She was only 18 when she received that honor, which made her the youngest person and the first female to be awarded a congressional commission.

There was a storm of controversy that followed in giving the highly-coveted commission to a teenager and unknown artist, much less a woman. Despite a campaign of slander against her, she completed the marble statue and unveiled it in 1871. It still stands in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

Ream went on to sculpt more than 100 works, including major military and political figures of her day.

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