The Somerset Community College Student Government Association, together with Kentucky Chautauqua, will present Abraham Lincoln: “I, too, am a Kentuckian” on October 7 at 11:00 a.m. in the foyer of Building 2 at the SCC McCreary Center located at 250 College Street, Whitley City, Kentucky 42653. There is no charge and all are invited.
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.
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. And he never lost sight of its strategic importance in the Civil War. “I think to lose Kentucky,” he said, “is the same as to lose the whole game. 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 was dead.
Jim Sayre of Lawrenceburg portrays Abraham Lincoln for Kentucky Chautauqua. A retired transportation manager, Sayre has been studying and portraying the great president for several decades.
Kentucky Chautauqua is an exclusive presentation for the Kentucky Humanities Council, Inc. with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and from: Christina Lee Brown, the Brown-Forman Corporation, the Cralle Foundation, the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Lindsey Wilson College, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University, PNC Bank in Lexington, Scripps Howard Foundation, Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America, Inc., Union College, WCPO-TV, and Western Kentucky University.
The Kentucky Humanities Council is a non-profit Kentucky corporation affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is not a state agency, but is a proud partner of Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. For information, visit www.kyhumanities.org or call (859) 257-5932.