He, too, was a Kentuckian: See him in Munfordville

The Hart County Historical Society, together with Kentucky Chautauqua, presents Abraham Lincoln: “I, too, am a Kentuckian” Chautauqua at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12 at the historical

Abraham Lincoln portrayed by Jim Sayre

Abraham Lincoln portrayed by Jim Sayre

society museum, 109 Main St. in Munfordville.

Born on a farm in what is now LaRue County, Ky., Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) spent his early years in the Commonwealth. When he was 7, his family moved to Indiana, and later Illinois. 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, Ill., he had a partner, William “Billy” Herndon, who hailed from Greensburg, Ky. His best friend in Springfield was Joshua Speed from Louisville. His wife, Mary, was from Lexington, a daughter of the prominent Todd family. And his political role model, a friend of the Todd family, was the Kentucky statesman Henry Clay. During the Civil War, Lincoln was 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.


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