—The Lincoln Heritage Trail —
1809 Abraham Lincoln born at Sinking Spring farm, in present-day Larue County, Kentucky.
1816 Lincoln family moved from Kentucky.
1841 Abraham Lincoln visited his friend Joshua Speed at Farmington, the Speed family plantation, in Louisville, Kentucky.
1842 Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd of Lexington, Kentucky.
1847 The Lincoln family visited Lexington, Kentucky, en route to Abraham's only term in Congress.
1860 Abraham Lincoln elected President of the United States in November.
1865 Abraham Lincoln assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.
Abraham Lincoln was the first president of the United States born on the frontier. His parents, Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, were married on June 12, 1806 near Springfield, Kentucky, and taught their son the meaning of hard work and perseverance. Later, step-mother Sarah Bush Johnston would instill in him a profound love of learning. Long before his election as president in 1860, he became one of Illinois' most successful lawyers and politicians. As an adult, Lincoln advised others to find their calling as he did: "get the books, and read, and study them carefully."
Although Lincoln left Kentucky in 1816, Kentucky friends and family had a profound and lasting impact on his life and career ever after. Joshua Speed became a life-long friend. John Todd Stuart encouraged Lincoln to run for political office and study law. All three of Lincoln's law partners were Kentuckians, including his trusted friend and biographer, William H. Herndon. In politics, he found inspiration in the great Kentucky statesman, Henry Clay. And with Mary Todd Lincoln, who came from one of Kentucky's most prominent families, Lincoln formed an ambitious, intellectually rich, and politically powerful partnership. Again and again, as a lawyer, politician and as president, Lincoln turned to fellow Kentuckians for advice, guidance, and support.
On June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln had invoked the biblical injunction "A house divided against itself cannot stand." When civil war came on April 12, 1861, President Lincoln's own family became a "house divided," as many of Mary Todd Lincoln's relatives supported the Confederacy. The Lincolns felt keenly the deaths of Mary's brothers at the Battle of Shiloh and at Baton Rouge. Lincoln was shaken when he learned that his friend and brother-in-law, Confederate General Ben Hardin Helm, had been killed in the Battle of Chickamauga. Yet the conflict and Helm's death permanently estranged the Lincolns from Mary's sister, Emilie. Sharing in the nation's wounds, Lincoln nonetheless anticipated, in his Second Inaugural Address, the need for true reconciliation, "with malice toward none, with charity for all."
In an 1841 letter to Mary Speed, Lincoln described the sight that he would later say was a "continual torment... "
A gentleman had purchased twelve negroes in different parts of Kentucky and was taking them to a farm in the south. They were chained six and six together — A small iron clevis was around the left wrist of each, and this fastened to the main chain by a shorter one at a convenient distance from the others, so that the negroes were strung one a together precisely like so many fish upon a trot-line — In this condition they were being separated forever from the scenes of their childhood, their friends, their fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters, and many of them, from their wives and children
Abraham Lincoln to Mary Speed, Sept 27, 1841