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Journey One: The Pre-Presidential Years

A young Lincoln sits atop a stump outside an imaginative re-creation of the Indiana cabin of his childhood in the exhibit Carving a Family Home.

Abraham Lincoln’s journey from the backwoods of Kentucky to Washington, D.C., is told in nine exhibits that comprise Journey One: The Pre-Presidential Years. Learn about Lincoln’s early and abiding quest for knowledge, his personal and family life, his parenting style, and the issues he confronted as a presidential candidate in 1860.

Among the Journey One exhibits is The Slave Auction, a wrenching scene of a slave family being torn apart at auction. Did Lincoln witness such a scene as a young man? Perhaps. Certainly he was exposed to slavery during two flatboat trips (1828 and 1831) down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.

The horror of slavery is captured in The Slave Auction.

Imagine the 1860 presidential contest presented in the form of a modern campaign. You can see it in the Campaign 1860 gallery, where multiple video monitors spin out a TV news program analyzing the four-way race for the presidency that Lincoln won.

Also in Journey One: The Pre-Presidential Years:

  • Self-Taught. A teenage Lincoln teaching himself with borrowed books
  • On the River. Lincoln’s experiences plying flatboats
  • New Salem. Life as a store clerk and a possible romance with Ann Rutledge
  • Life in Springfield. Lincoln’s legal and political careers as his life as a suitor, husband, and father
  • The Permissive Parent. Lincoln’s boys were seen and heard!
  • On to Washington. Lincoln’s farewell speech to Springfield well-wishers