Lincoln's Presidency in Washington, DC (1861-1865) - The depiction of the U.S. Capitol dome under construction was a somewhat controversial choice for this coin design. There are many images that can be used to portray the quintessential "Lincoln as President" archetype, but the half-finished Capitol dome certainly isn't one of them. In the end, however, this design was chosen as being the most emblematic of the challenges Lincoln faced overall during his presidency. The U.S. was torn apart by the Civil War, and its underlying moral struggle regarding slavery, and Lincoln sought to build consensus and compromise and attempt to heal the nation after this terrible sundering. The construction of the U.S. Capitol dome, which was completed during Lincoln's first term, stands as a fine symbol of everything Lincoln stood for. The depiction on the coin is pretty much the same as the Capitol building actually appeared during Lincoln's Inauguration as President on March 4, 1861 (see next photo.)
The design for this penny was created by AIP Master Designer Susan Gamble, and sculpted by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna.