Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lincoln Spoke at Morganfield

The following information has been gleaned from an article in the Evansville, Indiana Press, Sunday, 26 April 1936 and is being re-printed in the Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog.

The only political speech Abraham Lincoln ever made in Kentucky was given in Morganfield, according to local tradition. It was in 1840, the year of the Tyler and Harrison presidential race, which was distinguished by hard cider and the family slogan, "Tippecanoe and Tyler too."

Union County was mainly Whig and hearing that a stump speaker of the same political calling was touring Southern Illinois, a local delegation sent to Shawneetown, just across the river from Union County, Kentucky.

That speaker was Abraham Lincoln.

His speech was heard by most of the county residents. George Riddle, who was in charge of entertainment, was injured when a cannon fired in Lincoln's honor, exploded.

A popular tale in Morganfield reveals that later, during the Civil War, Riddle was captured and imprisoned and wrote Lincoln: "I entertained you in 1840. I can't say I like your brand of entertainment as well."

Lincoln pardoned him.

George Riddle, born in 1802, was reputed to be the first person born within what later became the corporate limits of Morganfield. This was before Union County was carved out of Henderson County.

Riddle's Spring was the first county seat. It was switched to Morgan's Spring, present site, a little later, when Presley O'Bannon opened a couple of hogsheads of whiskey and got the authorities to change their vote.

According to History of Union County, KY (1886), Morganfield was designated as the county seat in mid-1811 and then, on 23 December 1811, Presley O'Bannon presented a plan to the county court. O'Bannon donated the streets and public square.

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