Issue Date: February 9, 2009
City: Springfield, IL
Born in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) was the first U.S. President born outside the original thirteen colonies. During his childhood, Lincoln’s family moved first to Indiana, then settled in Illinois.
Lincoln was an avid reader with a quest for knowledge. Although he received less than 18 months of formal education, Lincoln’s self-education was extensive.
At 22, Lincoln moved to New Salem, Illinois. He supported himself by working a variety of odd jobs, including shopkeeper, postmaster, surveyor, and rail-splitter. Unusually tall and strong, Lincoln was an able wrestler and talented with an axe. He served as captain of the local militia during the Black Hawk War and was widely respected by the men in his command.
Although he despised the nickname, Lincoln began to be known as the “Rail-Splitter” during the 1860 presidential campaign. To emphasize his humble beginnings, supporters marched into the Illinois State Republican Convention holding split rails painted with the slogan “Abraham Lincoln, The Rail Candidate for President in 1860.” Because of – or perhaps despite – the nickname, Lincoln won the nomination and the presidential election.