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Latest news

Lincoln really did speak here

New research confirms Toulon’s and Kewanee’s Abraham Lincoln history

July 19, 2011

KEWANEE – Local and state historians have confirmed through new research that Abraham Lincoln spoke in Kewanee during the 1858 U.S. Senate campaign, and have placed a new date on a speech he made in nearby Toulon. The findings are the result of a collaboration between the Stark County Historical Society; the Kewanee Historical Society; and The Papers of Abraham Lincoln, a project of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

The chief piece of evidence for both new findings was an original letter written by Lincoln on October 18, 1858 where he admits he has forgotten the name of the town in which he is to speak. The letter was written to prominent Toulon attorney and State Senator Thomas J. Henderson, who invited Lincoln to speak in Toulon and gave him a ride from the railroad station in Kewanee. Historians have known about the letter for many years, but its obscure references had been misinterpreted.

“Until now, no official historical sources that tracked Lincoln’s whereabouts in 1858 had him speaking in Kewanee,” said Daniel Stowell, editor of The Papers of Abraham Lincoln. “And we have also learned that the 99-year-old monument that memorializes Lincoln’s 1858 speech in Toulon has him visiting that town on the wrong date.”

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Newly discovered Lincoln document traveled with Donner Party to California

July 19, 2010

SACRAMENTO, CA – In one of the more unusual discoveries in recent years, researchers in Illinois, Utah, and California have confirmed that an original Abraham Lincoln document from the 1830s was carried by one of Lincoln’s military buddies on the ill-fated Donner Party expedition to California in the 1840s. That document, an 1832 list of the men in a company of Illinois volunteers during the Black Hawk War, is located in the California State Library in Sacramento, where experts recently determined it contains Lincoln’s original handwriting.

“We often find documents that detail fascinating stories about Abraham Lincoln’s life and times, but it is rare indeed for the document to have such an intriguing history after it was written,” said Daniel W. Stowell, director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln. “That these documents detail part of Lincoln’s military service and that they accompanied the Donner Party to California makes them doubly significant.”

“Our interest in James Reed’s papers centers on the horrific ordeal of the Donner Party,” observed Gary Kurutz, the head of Special Collections at the California State Library in Sacramento, “but it is fascinating to learn of his pre-California life, the Black Hawk War, and his association not only with a future president but also with the other fascinating personalities recorded on the muster roll, including noted Western explorer and mountain main James Clyman.”

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Pieces of earliest known Lincoln document reunited

Two halves of teenage Lincoln’s homework in Chicago and Providence electronically joined after 145 years of separation

April, 14, 2010

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The dog didn‟t eat it, but until now it was a mystery what had happened to a page of Abraham Lincoln‟s homework as a teenager in the 1820s, a part of the oldest known original Lincoln document.

Researchers with the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, a project of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, have identified and electronically matched two pieces of a page from Lincoln's arithmetic copybook, one piece at the University of Chicago and the other at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

“The Papers of Abraham Lincoln is delighted to have been able to reunite these two fragments from a page of Lincoln‟s homework as a teenager,” said Daniel W. Stowell, Editor of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln. “Although the two original fragments are in repositories nearly 1,000 miles apart, the Papers of Abraham Lincoln has reunited them digitally into a single page.”

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Reassembling Lincoln

Two halves of original Lincoln document in New York and Illinois electronically reunited after 153 years

December 23, 2009

CANTON, NEW YORK – The two hadn’t seen one another in 153 years. Now, thanks to some historical detective work and modern technology, two halves of an original Abraham Lincoln legal document that have been residing in New York and Illinois have been electronically reunited.

“Lincoln lost the legal case in question, but our researchers from The Papers of Abraham Lincoln came up with a winner when they discovered that pieces of paper in two separate states were halves of the same document signed by our 16th President when he was an attorney,” said Illinois State Historian Thomas Schwartz.

“Although we are largely done with Lincoln’s legal papers, it is always exciting to add new documents in Lincoln’s hand, especially when they have been in separate pieces for such a long time,” said The Papers of Abraham Lincoln Director Daniel Stowell.

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