Centre alum set Abraham Lincoln on road to extraordinary success
RELEASED: Feb. 8, 2007
DANVILLE, KY—He'll be 200 years old in a couple of years, but Kentucky native Abraham Lincoln has never been a hotter commodity.
From a Steven Spielberg film in the works to a published biography by Pulitzer Prize-winner Doris Kearns Goodwin, the 16th president remains an A-list celebrity.
Before all this attention and even before he became known to his contemporaries as Honest Abe, the man on the $5 bill had a powerful connection to Centre College.
Lincoln, who was U.S. president from 1861 until his assassination in 1865, was indeed born in a log cabin in Hodgenville, Ky., on Feb. 12, 1809. He guided the country through one of its greatest crises, the Civil War, and went on to become perhaps our most cherished presidents.
In 1832 Lincoln was far from looking as if he were on his way to becoming an American legend. He was a 23-year-old with no great ambition who planned to become a blacksmith. But John Todd Stuart (Centre College class of 1826) urged him to study for the bar exam. When Lincoln protested that he had nothing to study, Stuart loaned his good friend Lincoln a set of books, according to an autobiographical sketch Lincoln wrote in 1860.
Lincoln passed the exam and was admitted to the bar in 1837. Stuart became Lincoln’s first law partner in Springfield, Ill., and they remained partners for five years.
The Kentucky natives first met in 1832 when they fought in the same battalion during the Black Hawk War. After their military service, both ran for the Illinois General Assembly, with only Stuart winning a seat that year. Two years later, Lincoln joined Stuart in the state legislature.Lincoln married Stuart’s cousin, Mary Todd of Lexington, Ky., in 1842. Stuart and Lincoln remained close friends until Lincoln's death in 1865. Stuart later headed the National Lincoln Monument Association, which built a monument to the fallen president in Springfield, Ill.
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