An original letter written by Lincoln during his presidential run in
1860 to cousin John Hanks (a distant relative of the actor Tom
Hanks) is part of the exhibit. Lincoln wrote of helping a relative
plow some land when the extended family moved to Illinois in 1830:
"I helped him at breaking pra(i)rie, with a joint team of his and
ours, which in turn, broke some on the new place we were improving."
A Paul Manship sculpture of Lincoln created in 1932 shows the young
Lincoln's two main pursuits as a young man -- chopping wood for home
and farm, and reading. Lincoln grew early in the conviction that
more education for farmers would benefit everyone, so as president
he promoted and signed the Morrill Act in 1862, which for the first
time enabled the new western states, including Illinois, to
establish colleges for their citizens to receive advanced education.
The act gave every state that had remained in the Union a grant of
30,000 acres of public land for every member of its congressional
delegation. The states sold this land and used the proceeds to
establish colleges in engineering, agriculture and military science.
More than 70 "land grant" colleges, as they came to be known, were
established under the original Morrill Act; including the University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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At the 1859 Wisconsin State Fair, Lincoln shared his most
extensive remarks on the need for scientific gains in agriculture
and education for farm producers. An original 1859 volume printed
his speech for the first time, and it is part of the presidential
Lincoln created the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1862.
Acting on his lifelong beliefs, Lincoln created the first separate
federal government agency to specifically deal with agriculture. His
personal copy of the department's first annual report in 1862 is
part of the exhibit. It was donated to the presidential library and
museum in 2000 by farm broadcaster Max Armstrong.
Paid admission is required to visit the museum.
For more information about exhibits and events at the Abraham
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, visit
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
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