Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, in a one-room log cabin, near what is now Hodgenville, Kentucky. His parents were Thomas (a carpenter and farmer) and Nancy Hanks. Lincoln had one sister, Sarah, who was 2 years older and a brother, Thomas, who died when he was still a baby. The Lincoln family moved to Indiana in December 1816, settling near present-day Gentryville.¹ From March 1-15, 1830, the Lincoln family moved to Illinois and settled in Macon County near what is now Decatur. In July 1831, Abraham Lincoln left his family and arrived in New Salem. He was 22 years old. While in New Salem, he worked as a clerk in one store, became part owner of another store that eventually failed, and worked as a postmaster and a surveyor. It was also while living in New Salem that he began studying the law in earnest and was elected to the Illinois legislature. On April 15, 1837, Abraham Lincoln arrived in Springfield with all of his belongings in two saddlebags to begin his law practice. He arranged to share a room with Joshua Speed, a Springfield store owner.
Map 2 was created by an artist based upon research on what 1860 Springfield may have looked like.
1. Using Map 1, examine the migration pattern of Lincoln. In which direction did he generally move? Can you think of any reasons why he and his family might move West during the early 19th century? What are some reasons why families might move to a different part of the country today?
2. Locate the Lincoln Home, the Old State Capitol, and Lincoln's Law Office on Map 2. How would you describe the Springfield community?
3. Note the distance from Abraham Lincoln's house at Eighth and Jackson Streets to his law office and the capitol on Map 2. What kind of commute did he have? How do you think he got from place to place?
4. What might be some of the advantages or disadvantages in living and working so close to the seat of power of the state government?
¹ For more information about Lincoln's boyhood home in Indiana, please visit our lesson, Lincoln Boyhood Home National Memorial: Forging Greatness during Lincoln's Youth.
* The maps on this screen have a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Map 1 and Map 2, but be aware that each file may take as much as 60 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.