Although Honest Abe was born and raised in rural Kentucky and Indiana, he spent most of his adult life in Springfield, and the Abraham Lincoln House is still there to this day. It was Lincoln’s legal career that initially brought him to Springfield. Although he had no formal education, Lincoln was encouraged to follow his interest in the law by his friend John T.
Stuart, a prominent lawyer in Springfield. He spent the next several years studying legal books he borrowed from other friends and was able to pass the Illinois bar exam in his late 20s. It was then that he moved to Springfield, joining Stuart’s existing legal practice.
After his move to Springfield, Lincoln became acquainted with Stuart’s cousin, Mary Todd. The two began a romantic relationship and were married in 1842, after a couple of bumps and false starts. Two years later, the Lincolns bought a home in Springfield and began to raise a family there. They stayed in the same house for 17 years, only moving after Abraham was elected to the White House. Only one of the couple’s four sons, Robert Todd Lincoln, would live to adulthood because of frequent tragedies. Abraham Lincoln was known as a caring and affectionate father, although his work often kept him away from home.
Lincoln’s political career also has its roots in Springfield. In 1838, a 28-year-old Lincoln, then a member of the Illinois state legislature, gave his first major political speech to the Springfield Lyceum, a social club for young men. In the speech, Lincoln warned against the growing threat of political violence and spoke out against slavery, two topics that would recur in his later campaigns. The Lyceum speech is considered to be the first of Lincoln’s great speeches, a precursor to his famous remarks in Peoria, Cooper Union, and Gettysburg.