By Barr Memorial LibraryNovember 7, 2019
Barr Memorial Library and Kentucky Chautauqua will present "Abraham Lincoln: Wit and Wisdom of a President" at the library Nov. 21, beginning at 6 p.m.
Born on a farm in what is now LaRue County, Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) spent his early years in the Commonwealth.
When he was 7, his family moved to Indiana and later, Illinois. Though his native brilliance and burning political ambition carried him all the way to the presidency and historic 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 partner, William "Billy" Herndon, who hailed from Greensburg, Kentucky. His best friend in Springfield was Joshua Speed from Louisville. His wife Mary, a daughter of the prominent Todd family, hailed from Lexington. Even his political role model Henry Clay, a friend of the Todd family, was a Kentucky statesman. During the Civil War, Lincoln became unpopular in Kentucky, but when he said, "I, too, am a Kentuckian," no one could dispute it.
Though he never came close to winning Kentucky in a presidential election and was reviled by some of the state's most outspoken residents, Lincoln always regarded Kentucky with affection. He never lost sight of its strategic importance in the Civil War.
"I think to lose Kentucky is the same as to lose the whole game," he once said. "With Kentucky gone we cannot hold Missouri nor, I think, Maryland." Lincoln read Kentucky newspapers, knew the thinking of opinion leaders, and was sensitive to the state's strong attachment to the institution of slavery. Despite imposing a sometimes harsh military rule, he was able to keep Kentucky in the Union, but few Kentuckians thanked him for it until after he died.
Greg Waltermire of Lexington portrays Abraham Lincoln for Kentucky Chautauqua. Waltermire, who holds a Ph.D. in educational policy studies and evaluation from the University of Kentucky, has been active in regional theater and appeared in a few independent films. He firmly believes Kentucky has a history worth telling.
This program is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Barr Memorial Library at 502-624-1232 or visit the website at the link below.