When Abraham Lincoln departed Springfield for the presidency on February 11, 1861, he told the crowd “To this place, and kindness of these people, I owe every thing.” Lincoln first moved to Springfield in April 1837 as a rising politician and recently licensed lawyer. He left behind a thriving practice as the first Republican and Illinoisan elected to the presidency.
Lincoln’s relationship with Springfield was a vital part of his rise. An emerging midwestern town when he arrived, it grew alongside him. Indeed, Lincoln was instrumental in moving the state capital there as part of the “Long Nine” in the Illinois Legislature. He spent almost three decades in the city and put down deep roots. No wonder Mary fought for Lincoln’s body to return to Springfield after his assassination, where it remains today.
The only home Abraham Lincoln ever owned still stands in Springfield, Illinois, as a national historic site. He purchased it in 1844 for a growing family of him, Mary, and young Robert. Originally a bungalow, the couple expanded it over the next 15 years and planned to return after Lincoln’s presidency.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum holds numerous items relating to Lincoln’s domestic life. Among the artifacts in the library’s collection are the Lincoln home’s original doorplate and items saved from its various renovations, including this key.
Few know Abraham Lincoln was an inventor. This is a model for his invention using inflatable balloons to lift ships stuck in rivers. It reflects Lincoln’s interest in science and America’s economic growth. Never put into practice, the idea nevertheless received a patent, making Lincoln the only president to hold one.