Online Exhibits - Lincoln in Kansas, Part 3
Abraham Lincoln won two presidential elections, in 1860 and 1864. The first election was the most important for Kansas.
Lincoln was elected as the nation's 16th president on Nov. 6, 1860, beating his old rival Stephen Douglas. Southern slaveholding states reacted to Lincoln's election by seceding from the Union in late December. Because there were no southern votes in Congress blocking Kansas' admission as a free state, Kansas finally gained statehood on January 29, 1861.
Flags bearing the sentiment "Admit Me Free" appeared all over the North during the 1856 and 1860 presidential campaigns. The phrase demands that slavery be prohibited in Kansas. This flag (top, left) was flown in Pennsylvania during both presidential elections.
The Republican Party distributed coins or tokens promoting its candidate during the 1860 presidential campaign (these were not legal tender). Slogans on the coins included "Freedom National / Slavery Sectional" and "Liberty / Union / and Equality." The token bearing the slogan "The Rail Splitter of the West" (top, right), played on Lincoln's humble youth. "Millions for Freedom / Not One Cent for Slavery" (center, right), was defined as "Republican Principles" on the obverse of the coin.
This umbrella (center, left) sheltered Lincoln during a speech in Utica, New York, as he traveled east on his way to the inaugural. A reporter held it over the President-elect's head as snow began to fall during his remarks. The umbrella eventually found its way to a Civil War veterans' organization in Topeka.
Kansas Connection: Grace Bedell Billings
Grace Bedell, who lived most of her adult life in Kansas, became famous because of her childhood correspondence with Lincoln.
As an 11-year-old, Grace wrote to Lincoln from her home in New York with a campaign suggestion. She believed Lincoln would look better with a beard.
"If you let your whiskers grow . . . you would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husband's to vote for you and then you would be President."
--Grace Bedell, New York, 1860
Lincoln took Grace Bedell's suggestion to heart, and grew a beard. When passing through Grace's hometown on the way to his inaugural, he stopped to show her the new whiskers.
Grace later married and moved to Delphos, Kansas, where she lived out her life. A monument in Delphos commemorates the famous letter and its writer.
Lincoln in Kansas is an online exhibit developed by the Kansas Museum of History.
- The Back Story - The Lincoln Douglas debates
- I Think I Would Go to Kansas - Lincoln's 1859 Kansas trip
- Rail Splitter of the West - Presidential campaigns
- The War President - Civil War years
- He Is In Glory - The assassination and its aftermath
- How Well Do You Know Abraham Lincoln? - Take our fun quiz
Contact us at KansasMuseum@kshs.org