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The National Park

Lincoln Home Tour

Abraham Lincoln was born and raised in a one-room log cabin; Mary Todd was born and raised in a fourteen-room house. Abraham received less than one year of formal schooling; Mary received education throughout her childhood. Despite these opposite backgrounds, they met one night at a dance in Springfield, Illinois. Abraham approached Mary, and told her that he wanted to dance with her in the "worst way." As she later related the story, she said he did just that - danced with her in the worst way. She overlooked his two left feet and they began courting. However, her eldest sister - Elizabeth - and her husband - Ninian - disapproved of Abraham. The young couple broke off their courtship on what Lincoln referred to as the "fatal first of January" 1841.

For over a year, Abraham and Mary avoided each other, until mutual friends brought them back together, and they dated in secret. Mary did not tell Elizabeth until their wedding day, November 4, 1842, that the couple was courting again. Elizabeth apparently gave in, and permitted the wedding to be held in her house. Afterward, the couple went to the place where they spent their first year of marriage- a single room on the second floor of a rooming house. In those humble dwellings, Mary gave birth to their first child - Robert Todd Lincoln. After renting a small house, Abraham Lincoln purchased his first and only house. In May of 1844, Abraham, Mary, and Robert moved into a one-and-a-half-story cottage - a house which they eventually expanded into two stories, and a home where they raised their family for seventeen years.

The house today reflects the Lincoln Home of 1860. By that date, the Lincoln family numbered five - Abraham, Mary, Willie, and Tad, although for much of that year, Robert was away at preparatory school.

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Author: Tim Good