Lincoln Comes To Providence

On this date in 1860, Abraham Lincoln visited Rhode Island the day after his famed Cooper Union address. The morning after his Monday night speech in New York City, he took a train across Connecticut and arrived in Providence. From Abraham’s Lincoln Classroom:

That evening, he spoke at Railroad Hall on the second floor of the railroad station in Providence. The audience was swelled to 1500 by favorable reports of his speech the night before and his debates in Illinois two years before.

Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer wrote: “Lincoln was cheered from the moment he appeared at the doorway of the auditorium, and earned another burst of loud applause when the evening’s chairman offered ‘stirring’ words to introduce ‘the orator of the occasion.’”

This commemorative plaque can be found at the corner of the Federal Building on Exchange Street in downtown Providence, the site of the former railroad station. It reads in part:

To please New England supporters and to visit his son Robert at Phillips Exeter Academy, he undertook a speaking tour, which helped his party to win spring elections in New England and contributed to his election as president in November.

One of the largest collections of Lincolniana resides here in the McLellan Lincoln Collection at Brown University’s John Hay Library. Indiana native John Hay attended Brown before working on Lincoln’s campaign, going on to serve as his private secretary. (PDD 2.12.21)

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