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Lincoln Quiz

In January of 1861, Lincoln wrote his First Inaugural Address. What happened behind the scenes before this speech was given?

Lincoln wrote this famous speech in a back room above his brother-in-law's store on the town square of Springfield, Illinois. As President-elect, he was in constant demand, so he sought a secluded place to concentrate on this important task.

Lincoln's law partner, William H. Herndon, said that Lincoln only used four references for his speech: Henry Clay's 1850 speech on compromise, Webster's reply to Hayne, Andrew Jackson's proclamation against nullification, and the U.S. Constitution.

The first draft of the speech was printed at the Illinois State Journal, a Springfield newspaper office, where proof copies were secretly run off and given to Lincoln.

Lincoln almost lost his copy of the speech, however, during his inaugural journey to Washington. He had entrusted its care to his oldest son Robert, who temporarily lost the suitcase. Robert had taken off time from freshman-year studies at Harvard College to accompany his father.

Lincoln allowed four people to read the speech before he delivered it: David Davis, a close friend and Illinois circuit judge; Orville Browning, another Illinois friend and political associate; Francis P. Blair, a fellow Republican from Maryland; William H. Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State and former political rival.

Just before Lincoln delivered the speech, he was introduced to the nation by Senator Edward D. Baker, his close friend and son's namesake (this child died before Lincoln became President). Baker became an early casualty of the war and was mourned by the entire Lincoln family.

Other Quizzes

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  • Which friend of Lincoln was killed on October 21, 1861?
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  • What happened the morning of February 11, 1861?
  • What happened behind the scenes with Lincoln's First Inaugural Address?

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