Trump told the audience which included the vice president, members of the Cabinet, lawmakers and others, that although Lincoln led a hard life he is remember for his leadership, inspiration and his enduring vision of "government of, for and by the people".
Trump said it was also a "special pleasure" for him to watch as two of his friends, former National Football League quarterback Peyton Manning and businessman and philanthropist Ronald Perelman, received the Lincoln Medal.
The President & the First Lady are scheduled to attend a gala at Ford's Theatre later this evening where he will give remarks.
A attractive day to be outside - the press pool accompanied President Trump at 9:30 a.m. and rolled down to Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, for a few hours.
President Donald Trump is about to make his debut on Washington's social scene.
Trump to date has limited his socializing to the White House and his Trump-branded properties. He has turned down invitations to one highly anticipated staple of the D.C. social calendar after another, where a presidential appearance has been par for the course for decades. He has had a prickly relationship with the news media and he held a rally in Pennsylvania on April 29 - the night of the White House correspondents' dinner - to celebrate his 100th day in office.
Ronald Reagan is the most recent president to skip the dinner thrown by the White House press corps.