In 1844, fourteen years after the Lincolns left Indiana, Abraham Lincoln returned to visit the neighborhood in which he was raised and where his mother and only sister were buried. Appropriately, it was politics which brought him back. Henry Clay, a man he "revered as a teacher and a leader" was seeking the presidency and Lincoln thought "he might carry the state for Mr. Clay."
During the month of October, Lincoln made political speeches in Vincennes, Washington, Rockport, Carter Township, Gentryville, Boonville, and Evansville. Unfortunately, none of his speeches were preserved and only one newspaper even reported on them. According to the Rockport Herald of November 1, 1844, "Mr. Lincoln of Springfield, Illinois, addressed a large and respectable audience at the court house on Wednesday evening last, upon Whig policy. His main argument was directed in pointing out the advantages of a Protective Tariff. He handled the subject in a manner that done honor to himself and the Whig cause. Other subjects were investigated in a like manner. His speech was plain, argumentative and of an hour's duration." Despite the fact that Henry Clay carried Spencer County by 90 votes, the State of Indiana went for James K. Polk in the election.
Lincoln's sensitive nature and the feelings he held for his Indiana home are revealed in two poems he wrote as a result of this visit to Indiana. The twenty-one stanza poem, "My Childhood Home" reveals the pleasure he felt with the re-establishment of old friendships from his boyhood days in Indiana. The twenty-two stanza poem, "The Bear Hunt" vividly describes some of the wildlife in Indiana and the pleasure Lincoln's friends and neighbors took in the hunt.
Though he never returned to his boyhood home, Lincoln did visit Indiana again in 1855, 1859, 1860, and 1861 for either political or professional reasons. His last contact with the state came in 1865 when his funeral train passed through thirty Indiana towns during its long, mournful journey back to Illinois for his burial.
Last updated: April 10, 2015