Born on a farm in what is now Larue County, Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln spent his early years in the Commonwealth.
His family moved to Indiana when he was seven, partly because of his father’s opposition to slavery, and never returned. But as his native brilliance and burning political ambition carried him to the presidency and greatness—a panel of historians recently chose him as the most influential American who ever lived—Lincoln always had connections with his native state.
In his law office in Springfield, Illinois, he had a law partner from Green County, Kentucky—William Herndon, who later wrote a biography of Lincoln. His best friend in Springfield was Joshua Speed, a son of Louisville’s prominent Speed family; and in Springfield he found a wife from Kentucky—Mary Todd, the daughter of a well-known Lexington family. Lincoln visited Kentucky to see the Speeds and his in-laws, and took the great Kentucky statesman Henry Clay as his political hero. During the Civil War Lincoln was very unpopular in Kentucky, but when he said, “I too am a Kentuckian,” no one could dispute it.
The above narrative is from the Kentucky Humanities Council webpage. The KHC oversees a wonderful Chautauqua Characters drama program. Jim Sayre is one of 26 Chautauqua speakers available through the KHC Chautauqua this year. Jim Sayre as Lincoln is one of two speakers we will have as our guest at the Battle of Ivy Point Reenactment on the Gardner Farm this coming April. The other speaker is Trish Clark as Mary Todd Lincoln. From the KHS site; Mary Todd Lincoln lived a life of tremendous achievement and great tragedy. Born in Lexington in 1818, she was uncommonly educated and politically-minded. She followed her older sisters to Springfield, Illinois, and in November 1842 she married lawyer and state legislator Abraham Lincoln. Mary had high ambitions for her husband’s political career, in which she was both influential and instrumental. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1846, and then to the Presidency in 1861. Mary’s years in the White House were some of the most tumultuous; while her husband worked to unite a nation divided by the Civil War, Mary controversially spent her time renovating the run-down presidential residence into a stately and symbolic mansion-cementing her reputation among both admirers and critics as a force to be reckoned with. While politically triumphant, the Lincolns’ personal lives were filled with tragedy. Three of their four sons died before reaching adulthood, and a number of Mary’s siblings and relatives died in the war. And, of course, at the war’s end, President Lincoln was assassinated. In 1871, the last remaining Lincoln son, Robert, committed his mother to a private asylum for the insane. You, the audience, get to decide if she belonged there.
The Magoffin County Civil War Committee will be working with Magoffin County High School personnel to arrange a high school student essay contest on our Chautauqua performances at the reenactment on the Gardner Farm. Awards will be $200 for the winner, $150 for 1st runner up and $100 for second runner up. Participants must attend the Chautauqua event Saturday April 11th, 2015 beginning at 6 pm at the Battle of Ivy reenactment; full details to be worked out. These dramas are geared toward high school and adult audiences.
As a Committee we are pleased to be able to offer these events free to the public in the hope that they will inspire a love of Magoffin County history. We have an exciting event planned so please watch for our ads, flyers and web-pages for complete information.