Lincoln Facts

  • Abraham Lincoln lost the first time he ran for public office. He finished eighth of thirteen candidates.
  • Lincoln was to participate in a duel with James Shields on September 22, 1842, until it was called off at the last minute by friends on both sides.
  • Lincoln applied for a patent for his "new and improved manner of combining adjustable buoyant chambers with steam boats or other vessels." The patent (#6469) was granted on May 22, 1849. He is the only President to hold a patent.
  • Lincoln's largest collected legal fee was $5000, which he received for successfully defending the Illinois Central Railroad. Unfortunately for Lincoln, the Railroad did not want to pay him, and he had to sue to collect his fee.
  • Lincoln did not receive the nickname "Rail Splitter" until the Illinois Republican Convention held in Decatur on May 9-10, 1860.
  • Abraham Lincoln established the US Department of Agriculture on May 15, 1862.
  • Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, the first one being celebrated on November 26, 1863.
  • The Lincoln Home has almost burned down two times since its construction in 1839. The first fire occurred over the Christmas/New Years holiday of 1854/1855. This fire may have encourage the Lincolns to add the full second floor. The second fire was the result of a lightning strike, which burned the roof near the north chimney.
  • Gas lighting was installed in the home by the second tenant, George Harlow.
  • The first telephone was installed in the Lincoln Home between 1878 and 1879.
  • Electricity was first used to light the home in 1899.
  • A caretaker lived in the Lincoln Home until December 1, 1953.
  • President Richard Nixon signed the legislation authorizing the establishment of the Lincoln Home as a National Historic Site at the Old State Capitol, using the same desk Lincoln used to write his first inaugural address.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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