Ohio History Journal

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Associate Professor of History, Youngstown College


The crossroads of America nurtured Abraham Lincoln; they

were home to him. He spent most of his life in the villages and

small towns of the Middle West, and the thriving city of Spring-

field, Illinois, numbered only seven thousand persons in its popu-

lation during the years in which Lincoln was one of its leading

citizens. The teeming life of the American city never appealed to

the man of the prairies; he was more at home among the towns-

people with whom he had lived.

Cities played a part in the life of the man, and he appeared

before more than one large crowd of city people as he traveled

upon the way to Washington in 1861. He did not feel at home be-

fore these people, and he voiced his feelings to a guest upon the

train which was carrying him from Cincinnati to Columbus. The

fellow traveler was Dr. James Scott, editor of a Republican weekly

in a small Ohio town, and a politician of local note. He had

traveled with some fellow members of the state legislature as one

of a committee to escort the president-elect to Columbus. Lincoln

and the group were chatting pleasantly upon the incidents of the

trip, and the reception at Cincinnati was referred to as one of the

outstanding events in the travels through Illinois, Indiana, and

Ohio. The "Queen City" of Ohio had a population well in excess

of 150,000 people, and most of the citizens had gathered to see

and hear the first president-elect of the newly formed Republican

party. Pro-southerners had listened to his words with apprehen-

sion; the German workingmen had applauded his words, and the

ovation must have pleased and encouraged the distinguished guest.

It had impressed his fellow travelers, and they asked about his

reaction to the reception. Editor Scott, who was close at hand,

observed that in his reply, "the president remarked he had never

been much in big cities, and city ways came awkward to him, and he