Friday, November 2, 2007

Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site - A Symbolic Cabin




Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 on his parents' Sinking Spring Farm near Hodgenville, Kentucky. Today the farm is the location of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site. The site features a neo-classical Memorial Shrine which houses a log cabin. For many years, the National Park Service, which operates the site, claimed that this cabin was the actual cabin in which Lincoln was born. Visitors to the site believed that this was the true birth cabin. I know I did when I visited as a young boy.

Of course, historians knew this to be incorrect. Indeed, it appears that this enshrined cabin wasn't even built until AFTER Lincoln was assassinated! People who visited the farm even prior to Lincoln's death reported that there was no trace of any cabin at the location, so how could this be his birth cabin?

For more information about the history of the "Lincoln cabin," a good source is the book "Lies Across America" by James W. Loewen. Chapter 33 goes into great detail about this cabin.

To its credit, today the National Park Service labels this a "symbolic cabin," representing the actual cabin. Still, the casual visitor to the National Historic Site must be made to understand clearly that the true cabin vanished long ago.

Here's a link to the official National Park Service website for the Lincoln Birthplace Historic Site:

And a link to the book "Lies Across America":


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