Lincoln's Journey to the Presidency

colorized portrait, from ALAG

1809 - Lincoln was born Feb. 12 in a one-room cabin on his father's Sinking Spring Farm near Nolin Creek in Hardin County, Kentucky, 3 miles south of the present town of Hodgenville in Larue County, today's Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site at 2995 Lincoln Farm Road, Hodgenville, Kentucky.

1811 - family moved to another farm on Knob Creek in Hardin County. Privately owned until November 2001, the Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home located at 7120 Bardstown Rd, U.S. 31E North of Hodgenville, is now part of the National Park System as a unit of Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site. This is the farm where the Lincoln family resided from 1811 to 1816, where Lincoln walked to a log school in 1815.

1816 - family moved to Little Pigeon Creek in Perry County, Indiana, near today's Gentryville and the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial; learned to use an axe to clear timber; became sorrowful after he shot a turkey at age 7 and would never hunt game again; was kicked in the head by a horse at age 8.

1819 - father Thomas married the widow, Sarah Bush Johnston, after Abe's mother Nancy Hanks Lincoln died the previous year.

1828 - took a flatboat of cargo to New Orleans with Allen Gentry, fought 7 black men who tried to rob them, saw a slave auction; would receive boat patent in 1849.

1830 - family moved 200 miles to the Sangamon River in Macon County, Illinois, near today's Decatur, Illinois.

1831 - Abe moved to New Salem, worked as a clerk, a postmaster, and a surveyor, learned to wrestle and joined debating society; became involved with Mary Owens and Ann Rutledge. Lincoln's New Salem today is a re-created log village and State Historic Site located 20 minutes northwest of Springfield on highway 97.

1832 - lost election try for Illinois General Assembly; elected captain in the militia and served for 51 days in Thirty-First Regiment of Illinois, during the Black Hawk War, but saw no action. Owned a general store in New Salem with William Berry who left Abe with a large debt that took him 15 years to pay off. Stephen Douglas later would accuse Lincoln of serving liquor in a frontier saloon, but Abe was a teetotaler and the store liquor license in New Salem was in Berry's name only.

1834 - elected to the Illinois General Assembly for Sangamon County, and relected in 1836 and 1838, worked for internal improvements in the Vandalia Statehouse, was member of the "Long Nine" Whig group that helped moved the state capital from Vandalia to Springfield. The Long Nine Museum is today in Athens, Illinois.

1837 - moved to Springfield with two saddlebags, shared a room with Joshua Speed, a Springfield store owner, became law partner of John Todd Stuart, Mary Todd Lincoln's cousin.

1839 - began riding the Eighth Judicial Circuit in Illinois - Overview of Law Practice

1842 - married Mary Todd, age 23, on Nov. 4 (were supposed to marry Jan. 1, 1841, but Abe failed to show up), and moved to a single room on the second floor of the Globe Tavern rooming house. The Globe Tavern was located on Adams Street between Third and Foruth Streets. Robert Todd Lincoln was born Aug. 1, 1843, in this rooming house. The family bought a house at Eighth and Jackson Streets in 1844, restored today as the Lincoln Home NHS at 426 South Seventh St. The A 2nd child Edward Baker was born in this house in 1846 (died 1850). A 3rd child William Wallace (Willie) was born here in 1850. A 4th child Thomas (Tad) was born here in 1853.

1844 - began his own law practice with partner William H. Herndon. His first law office was at 109 N. Fifth St.

1846 - elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, of the 30th Congress.

1847 - The Lincoln family moved to DC, Abe began serving in Congress Dec. 9; introduced Spot Resolutions Dec. 22; Mary and the family returned to Illinois in 1848.

1849 - returned to Springfield to practice law, withdrew from politics.

1856 - helped organize Republican party in Illinois, tried to win the vice-president nomination but lost to William L. Dayton who ran with John C. Fremont, but Lincoln won national attention in this campaign.

1858 - delivered his House Divided speech at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, after getting the Republican nomination to run for the senate against Stephen Douglas; 7 debates from Aug. to Oct.; he won the popular vote in the election Nov. 2, but the Democratic majority in the state legislature selected Douglas.

1860 - traveled to New York to deliver the Cooper Union Speech Feb. 27; gave speech on slavery Mar. 6 in New Haven, CT; was nominated on the 4th ballot for the presidency at the Republican National Convention in Chicago's Wigwam in May; received a letter on October 19 from 11-year-old Grace Bedell advising him to grow a beard; won the Nov. 6 election with Hannibal Hamlin of Maine.

1861 - left Springfield Feb. 11 by train on his journey to the inauguration, arrived in Westfield NY Feb. 16 to visit with Grace Bedell, in Buffalo NY Feb. 16, in Peekskill NY Feb. 19, in Philadelphia Feb. 21, warned by Allen Pinkerton of plot in Baltimore; took train to Harrisburg Feb. 22 and that night secretly took special railroad car to Philadelphia, changed trains, through Baltimore at 3:30 am by carriage to transfer to another train, arrived in DC early Feb. 23; Inauguration March 4; began residence at Mr. Lincoln's White House in Washington DC.


revised 2/21/06 by Steven Schoenherr at the University of San Diego