Lincoln of Kentucky
by Lowell H. Harrison
In the nineteenth century, thousands of Kentuckians crossed over the Ohio River and went to work and live in Indiana and Illinois. Young Abraham Lincoln and his family joined this migration, but it was Kentuckythe state of the future presidents birththat shaped his personality and continued to affect his life at every stage.
Lincoln spent the early years of his life in Kentucky, and though he returned for only a few visits, the state and many of its natives were of great importance to him. 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 Kentuckys importance as the bellwether of the four loyal slave states and accepted the commonwealths illegal neutrality until Unionists secured firm control of the state government. Lincoln of Kentucky 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.
Lincoln urged the commonwealth to adopt a scheme of gradual, compensated emancipation, a position so unpopular that Kentucky voted for George B. McClellan in the 1864 presidential election, one of only three states to do so. It was not until decades later that Kentuckians fully recognized Lincolns greatness and paid homage to their native son.
An outstanding work that sheds new light, brings people and events alive, and provides the reader a deeper understanding of the problems and challenges of Lincoln and Kentuckians in the Civil War.
James A. Ramage, author of Gray Ghost: The Life of Col. John Singleton Mosby