Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Abraham Lincoln and Colorado

     Abraham Lincoln never visited Colorado, but Colorado and the other western territories were constantly on Lincoln's mind, notes William Convery, Colorado Historical Society State Historian. Lincoln hand-picked some of Colorado's most notable names-Gilpin, Evans, Colfax, Weld and others-who helped establish and administrate the territory and laid the groundwork for it to become a state in the Union.
     "Colorado was important to Lincoln because the West was important to the Civil War," Convery says. "It was vital that the West remain loyal to the Union and Lincoln firmly believed that Colorado's mineral wealth would save the United States from the debt accrued during the Civil War. As a result, Lincoln personally selected many of the individuals who would later create Colorado."
     Lincoln had a conversation about the Colorado mining regions on April 14, 1865 with former Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax only a few hours before he left for Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., where he was assassinated. Colfax was charged with inspecting the transcontinental railroad route that would transport Colorado's gold and silver to the East. Lincoln gave Colfax a personal address to deliver on his behalf to miners in Colorado. Colfax delivered the speech, among Lincoln's last public addresses, to a gathering of miners in Central City six weeks later. In gratitude for his efforts to bring statehood to Colorado, Denver city leaders named Colfax Avenue after the Indiana Congressman in 1868. The Colorado State Capitol Building also sits on the corner of Colfax Avenue and Lincoln Street.

     History Colorado hosted the first public appearance of Abraham Lincoln: Self-Made in America mobile exhibition, back in April-May, 2008 at the Colorado History Museum.

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