Around Kansas Abraham Lincoln

(Deb) Welcome to Around Kansas, I’m Deb Bisel. On November 30, 1859, Abraham Lincoln crossed the Missouri River on a ferry. He came from St. Joe over to Elwood and at the Great Western Hotel in Elwood, Kansas, Kansas Territory that is, he made his first speech in the Kansas Territory. It was all about slavery. How we didn’t need to expand slavery, and we should get rid of it. Now he had gotten famous the year before with the Lincoln Douglass debate for the Senate job in Illinois. But he had lost, of course. So he was not as big a deal as he might become. He got some attention in the Kansas Territory. He visited Troy, Doniphan, Leavenworth, Atchison, in fact he made some pretty significant speeches. A big long speech, a couple of hours in Atchison. Got almost no newspaper coverage when he was in Atchison even though he had a good crowd and made a long speech, because the newspaper editor, John Martin, who would later become Governor, was a Seward man. He was voting for the other guy that was running against him. He was determined he wasn’t going to pay any attention to Abraham Lincoln. Now while Lincoln was in Kansas, news of the hanging of John Brown reached Lincoln, and he voiced an opinion. He was quoted in the newspaper as swing basically while he can’t condone slavery, neither can we condone John Brown’s actions. Basically saying that he deserved the fate of hanging for the acts he had committed. And he was just a little overzealous, the actions he had taken to end slavery. Now while he was in Leavenworth, he stayed with some distant relatives, the Delahays. The Delahays were Lincoln’s cousins and one of those little girls, Julia Delahay, who was just young at the time, she recalled how big Lincoln’s shoes were. You know, just little details like a kid would notice when he came to visit. She went on to marry Thomas Osborn. She became Kansas First Lady during the Osborn administration. Many of the items that Lincoln used while he was visiting in Leavenworth at the Delahays are on display at the Frontier Army Museum, at the Post there at Fort Leavenworth. The Delahay House is a private residence, but those nice folks that own it are very proud of the legacy of the Delahay family and occasionally they open that for tours in Leavenworth. Kind of stay on the radar with the Leavenworth Home Tours there and you might have the opportunity to see it sometime. You know, another connection with Lincoln in Kansas of course is Grace Bedell, a little girl who wrote to President Lincoln and said that he really should grow some whiskers, he would look better. She wound up moving to Kansas later on in life. She wound up in the little town of Delphos. For years the letters hung on the wall of the Delphos Bank where her husband was the President. And she is buried there in the cemetery at Delphos. Now she was a little girl in New York when she wrote to Lincoln and as he was headed to Washington for his inaugural he stopped in New York and said I believe there’s a little girl that I need to see here. She brought him a bouquet of flowers and got to meet Lincoln. Now another really interesting Lincoln connection is up at St. Mary’s College in Leavenworth. The only letter known to have been signed by both Abraham and Mary Lincoln is in the collection there in their archives. An incredible artifact. So so many Lincoln connections here in the sunflower state. And Lincoln said one time, you know, if I were to go West, I think I’d go to Kansas. We wish you could have come back.

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