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Lincoln of Kentucky

Lincoln of Kentucky

Lowell H. Harrison
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 324
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    Lincoln of Kentucky
    Book Description:

    "Young Abraham Lincoln and his family joined the migration over the Ohio River, but it was Kentucky--the state of his birth--that shaped his personality and continued to affect his life. His wife was from the commonwealth, as were each of the other women with whom he had romantic relationships. Henry Clay was his political idol; Joshua Speed of Farmington, near Louisville, was his lifelong best friend; and all three of his law partners were Kentuckians. During the Civil War, Lincoln is reputed to have said, ""I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky."" He recognized Kentucky's importance as the bellwether of the four loyal slave states and accepted the commonwealth's illegal neutrality until Unionists secured firm control of the state government. Lowell Harrison emphasizes the particular skill and delicacy with which Lincoln handled the problems of a loyal slave state populated by a large number of Confederate sympathizers. It was not until decades later that Kentuckians fully recognized Lincoln's greatness and paid homage to their native son.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-2940-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 Lincoln in Kentucky’s Memory
    (pp. 1-15)

    President Abraham Lincoln spent part of April 14, 1865, consulting with his cabinet on ways to restore the Southern states to their rightful place in the Union as quickly as possible. Although only Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had surrendered by then, the long war was practically over. Lincoln remarked that it would be good “to reanimate the States and get their governments in successful operation, before Congress came together in December.” Some members of Congress had “feelings of hate and vindictiveness,” which he could not agree with or accept.¹

    Most of the day was filled with the...

  5. 2 A Kentucky Boyhood
    (pp. 16-25)

    Abraham Lincoln never knew much about the history of his family, and he did not try very hard to learn about it. He was a self-made man in the truest sense of the term; his record could speak for him with little reference to ancestors. Lincoln once dismissed questions about his ancestry by saying, “I don’t know who my grandfather was, and I am much more concerned to know what his grandson would be.” He may have feared being embarrassed by what might be found by any detailed search into the family tree. In 1860 when he was receiving serious...

  6. 3 Kentuckians in Indiana
    (pp. 26-39)

    In the fall of 1816, Thomas Lincoln made a trip into Indiana to select a spot for their new home. He decided on a heavily wooded area on Pigeon Creek in Perry County. (It later became Spencer County.) Vines and underbrush were so heavy that a path had to be hacked through them to reach the site he had selected, about sixteen miles from the Ohio River. Thomas liked what he saw, and before leaving he blazed trees and piled up brush to indicate the boundaries of the parcel of land he intended to buy from the federal government. Either...

  7. 4 Kentuckians in Illinois
    (pp. 40-58)

    When Abraham Lincoln moved to New Salem in July 1831 after his second trip to New Orleans, he had no idea what line of work he would undertake, except that if at all possible it would not be farming. Denton Offutt had not yet built the store in which Lincoln was to clerk, so for a time he supported himself with any odd jobs that were available. New Salem had only a hundred or so inhabitants, a number of them former Kentuckians, but it was the center of a trade area, and it had a surprising number of business establishments....

  8. 5 Lincoln and Romance
    (pp. 59-77)

    When Abraham Lincoln moved to New Salem in the summer of 1831, he was twenty-two years old and an eligible bachelor despite his lack of a steady income. He became popular almost immediately with the males in the community, but he was shy and awkward with the females, especially those of marriageable age, and efforts to match him with various young women failed. Nevertheless, it was at New Salem that Lincoln had the first of the three more or less serious romantic attachments of his life. All three of the women had been born in Kentucky. They also increased his...

  9. 6 Lincoln and Slavery to 1854
    (pp. 78-92)

    After Lincoln completed his term in Congress, he concentrated for several years on building up his law practice. He and Herndon worked well together, with Billy doing much of the general research required to prepare a case and calling Lincoln’s attention to significant information. Lincoln was adept at drafting clear and logical briefs, and he was much better than Herndon in presenting cases before a jury. Herndon often remained in Springfield when Lincoln rode the circuit twice a year. They did considerable business in the federal courts in the state, Lincoln becoming noted for his presentations before the Supreme Court...

  10. 7 The Gathering Storm
    (pp. 93-110)

    One of the many portents of change for Lincoln in the 1850s was his reluctant decision to become a Republican. Whigism was in his political bones, but that party was crumbling fast, and with its disappearance went one of the bonds of national union. In sharp contrast, the Republican party would be a sectional party without a Southern branch to encourage compromise. Lincoln expressed his dilemma in a long letter to Joshua Speed on August 24, 1855.

    Speed had suggested in a May letter to Lincoln that they probably differed now on political matters. We are not that different in...

  11. 8 An Election, a War, and Kentucky’s Neutrality
    (pp. 111-138)

    During most of the nineteenth century, presidential candidates did not campaign openly; the post was supposed to seek the man. Lincoln remained true to that tradition, but a number of managers pushed his campaign. Some dealt with particular constituencies; Gustave Koerner, for example, was Lincoln’s main link with German Americans. Judge David Davis, who weighed some three hundred pounds and thus was allowed the luxury of sleeping alone while riding circuit, came closest to being the campaign manager. When Mark W. Delahay, who hoped to be elected senator from Kansas, asked for financial assistance, Lincoln replied, “I can not enter...

  12. 9 The War Enters Kentucky
    (pp. 139-154)

    The Border State Convention that Kentucky had called met in Frankfort on May 27,1861. Only Kentucky and Missouri were represented, plus one person from Tennessee, who was not officially admitted. The convention called for constitutional amendments to protect states’ rights, continued Kentucky neutrality, and a national convention to find a way to end the war and reunify the nation.¹ This effort failed, as had so many others in recent months; matters had gone too far to be solved by any method short of war.

    The governor, the General Assembly, and numerous private citizens had coupled neutrality with a state military...

  13. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  14. 10 Lincoln and Military Operations in Kentucky
    (pp. 155-175)

    President Lincoln paid considerable attention to the course of the Civil War in Kentucky, although it was only briefly, upon occasion, one of the major theaters in the conflict. He did so in part because of his acute and continuing interest in the state during its period of neutrality, but he continued his close attention because he seldom had confidence in the Union military commanders in the state. Indeed, one of Lincoln’s major problems during much of the war was finding generals who were capable of waging successful campaigns instead of explaining why they could not accomplish what he wanted...

  15. 11 Wartime Politics in Kentucky
    (pp. 176-193)

    Though lessened, Lincoln’s concern with Kentucky affairs did not end when the state ceased to be a theater of major military operations. Much that happened in the state continued to be influenced by the war, and the president was frequently involved with issues that were referred to him. Given Kentucky’s fondness for politics, it was evident that a mere war would not end partisan conflict on the political front. Indeed, the war created additional political turmoil for Kentuckians.

    When James F. Robinson replaced Beriah Magoffin as governor, the Unionists were in control of the state government with large majorities in...

  16. 12 Lincoln and Wartime Issues in Kentucky
    (pp. 194-220)

    The military governors were the focal point for much of the unrest in Kentucky and for the many disputes with the national government. They were in an almost impossible position. As army officers they had a duty to execute the orders that they were given, and most of them had a genuine interest in doing everything possible to insure a Union victory. In carrying out their functions, they were sure to antagonize the individuals whose activities they had to restrict or whose plans they had to foil. They knew that a sizable minority of Kentuckians were pro-Confederate, and they tended...

  17. 13 Lincoln, Slavery, and Kentucky
    (pp. 221-246)

    Although Lincoln hoped for the ultimate end of slavery, his primary object in 1861 was the preservation of the Union. Four slave states had remained in the Union, and they seemed to the president to offer a way to move toward voluntary emancipation within the framework of states’ rights but with federal encouragement. Viewing Kentucky as the bellwether of the loyal slave states, Lincoln tried repeatedly to persuade Kentucky to adopt a program of gradual emancipation with compensation provided by the federal government. After Kentucky’s refusal to accept emancipation and under increased pressure from abolitionists to destroy slavery, Lincoln turned...

  18. Notes
    (pp. 247-276)
  19. Bibliographical Essay
    (pp. 277-286)

    Of the many Lincoln biographies, the best one-volume study is David Herbert Donald,Lincoln(1995). Extensively researched and clearly written by a longtime Lincoln scholar, it should be the standard account for years to come. Other good modem one-volume biographies are Benjamin P.

    Thomas,Abraham Lincoln, A Biography(1952), Stephen B. Oates,With Malice toward None: The Lift of Abraham Lincoln(1977), and Reinhard H. Luthin,The Real Abraham Lincoln(1960). Among the multivolume biographies, two important ones were published before the twentieth century. John G. Nicolay and John Hay, Lincoln’s devoted secretaries, publishedAbraham Lincoln: A History,10 vols....

  20. Index
    (pp. 287-305)