Kentucky proclaims itself as Lincoln's birthplace

Sunday, June 11, 2006

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Others claim Abraham Lincoln as their own, but Kentucky has bragging rights as the birthplace of the nation's 16th president.

Kentuckians marked the connection with a bicentennial celebration of the Kentucky wedding of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, Lincoln's parents. The re-enactment of the wedding took place as part of a play staged over Memorial Day weekend at Lincoln Homestead State Park near Springfield in central Kentucky, a region that claims Lincoln as its own.

It was a prelude to a much larger celebration being planned to commemorate the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth in 1809 in a one-room log cabin near what is now Hodgenville. Lincoln moved to Indiana in 1816 when he was 7.

State Sen. Dan Kelly, co-chairman of the Kentucky Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, said he hoped the wedding bicentennial will "create a buzz" leading up to celebrations beginning in 2008 to observe Lincoln's 200th birthday.

The national celebration will begin on Feb. 12, 2008, at the Lincoln birthplace near Hodgenville. The bicentennial will continue until February 2010 with other events planned in Washington, D.C., as well as in Illinois and Indiana, where Lincoln also lived. Other Kentucky events are planned between 2008 and early 2010.

A Lincoln Heritage Trail will be developed, and historic sites in Kentucky with ties to Lincoln are planning exhibits and programs.

In Louisville, a memorial planned along the city's waterfront will depict moments in Lincoln's life, including his early years in Kentucky.

During the Civil War, Lincoln stressed the strategic importance of border state Kentucky, with its rivers, railroads, horses, mules and manpower. Early in the conflict, Lincoln told a U.S. senator, "I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game."

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