Antebellum Kentucky

Although Abraham Lincoln moved away from Kentucky early in the nineteenth century, the state continued to have an influence on the future president. Between his close connections with the families of his wife, Mary Todd, and his best friend, Joshua Speed, and his idolization of Henry Clay, Lincoln was shaped by Kentucky culture and politics. Of particular importance were Lincoln’s encounters with slavery. Witnessing slavery impacted his burgeoning opposition to the institution and affected him for years afterward. In Henry Clay, Lincoln found a political hero, whose influence lasted well beyond Clay’s death in 1852. Despite Lincoln’s geographic separation from the state in the antebellum era, Kentucky and Kentuckians continued to play an important role in the life of the future president.

For further information about Kentucky during the antebellum years, please read the sections on Slavery the Divide of the 1850's, Henry Clay, and Lincoln and the Speed family.