While Indianapolis has seen its fair share of excellent attorneys arguing important cases before judges and juries for over 200 years now, one of the more notable attorneys ever to call Indiana their home was famous for much more than his litigation skills, that being Abraham Lincoln. Our country’s 16th President was brought to Indiana from Kentucky by his father in 1916. While the move was in part an altruistic one, in opposition to Kentucky’s pro-slavery stance, Lincoln himself said it was due to difficulty in acquiring a land title there.
Though he was only eight years old, he was bigger than most boys his age, and the simple fact was that his father had staked out uncut forest land that had to be cleared. Lincoln’s palms were worn by an axe handle until he was 23 years old. He described Indiana at the time of his upbringing as “a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods.” He tried hunting, in addition to farm work, but Honest Abe later confessed that he’d never bagged anything bigger than a wild turkey.
“Careless of His Attire, Ungraceful in His Movements”
Lincoln received very little in the way of a formal education, as such was not a huge priority in the early days of frontier settlement. He acquired his knowledge (and his law degree) on his own. It was the combination of Republicans in both Illinois and Indiana that pushed Lincoln to the nomination in 1860, after the Illinois congressman made a trip to Indianapolis, at a time when neither State had enough of a delegation presence to influence the convention in Chicago.
The City of Indianapolis honors President Lincoln in the way that the State of Indiana best remembers him – as a lad, barefoot, a stack of books clutched in one large hand, as depicted in the publicly-displayed bronze statue, Young Abe Lincoln (David K. Rubins, 1962). The statue graces the grounds of the Indiana Government Center in Indianapolis, a stone’s throw away from the Indiana Statehouse.