Sunday, February 12, 2006

"Happy Birthday Honest Abe"

Today is the birthdate of Abraham Lincoln, who was born in 1809 (by my figuring 197 years ago) in Hodgenville, Ky.

His family soon moved to another little burg in Kentucky (Knob Creek), but he only stayed there until he was 2 years old and the family moved to Illinois.

Hodgenville is about 45 miles from where I live, and probably every kid in Kentucky at one time or another back in grade school, took a field trip to the Lincoln Farm and birthplace. The National Site is located right outside of the town and a pleasant little drive along HWY 31-E North from here. At the park there's, of course, a museum, picnic area, a gift shop where they sell Civil War-type things, and one can walk over to the old boundry oak which was old when Lincoln was young. The base of the oak is immense, and usually they'd have the school children join hands and circle to tree to see how many it took to make the link.

Then there's the little spring where the Lincoln Family got their water, and of course, the log cabin in which Lincoln was born, situated within a large memorial building.

Funny thing though about that cabin. No one knows if it's actually the one he was born in or not. You see, interest in the cabin itself didn't happen until around 1909 on what would mark his 100th. birthday. At that time everyone just about had heard or read about Lincoln's childhood (since he'd only been dead around 40+ years at that time), but the cabin had not been preserved as any sort of momument. So...they went to look for it.

What they found on the old homeplace was more than one cabin, so, they decided that the one in the best shape was his. In 1916 congress designated The Lincoln Farm as a National Historic Site.

The cabin was then unassembled and taken across the country on tour. In fact, it was on display at the 1939 World's Fair.

Then , in the 1940's, a memorial building was build and the cabin assembled within (where it's stayed ever since). Whether or not that's the actual birth cabin of Lincoln is unimportant however as long as it helps to remind people everywhere who come to see it, that it represents the humble beginnings of a man who rose pretty much from poverty, educated himself and obtained the highest political office in this country; a man who struggled with the conflicts of brother against brother during The War of The States, and chiefly responcible for the abolition of slavery.


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