Lincoln’s Link to Idaho


by Ryan Gerulf

More than any other state, Idaho is related to Abraham Lincoln,” claims the Idaho Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Though this claim may be debatable, there is no question that Abraham Lincoln left a lasting legacy on the state of Idaho. Not only did he sign our Territorial Bill in 1863, but he also attended the meeting where the name Idaho was selected.

In return for our territorial status, Idaho supplied the revenue from Idaho’s gold mines to aid in fighting the Civil War. As it turned out, Abraham Lincoln would never set foot in what became Idaho, but we see his legacy everywhere in the Gem State. We have Lincoln County, the community of Springfield named for Lincoln’s hometown, and even the Lincoln Auditorium located in the Idaho State Capitol.

To celebrate this legacy, the Idaho State Historical Society worked with David and Nancy Leroy to create a permanent Lincoln exhibition that highlights more than 200 artifacts and documents illustrating Lincoln’s life and the early history of the Idaho Territory. There is a replica of Lincoln’s White House Cabinet Room, a tour of Lincoln’s life, from childhood to assassination and documents signed by Lincoln himself!

“Since opening in 2013, the Lincoln Legacy Exhibit has been visited by thousands of people including many children. These visits provide a one of a kind opportunity for people to learn about the influence and contributions of President Lincoln to the development of the western United States, particularly that of the Territory and State of Idaho,” said David Matte, State Archives Administrator.

When establishing this exhibition, David and Nancy felt that it was important that all Idahoans and visitors to our state be able to access this exhibition. That’s why the exhibition is free to the public. Visitors can explore the exhibition from 11am-4pm on Tuesday through Saturday at the Idaho State Archives.

In addition to viewing the Lincoln exhibition, visitors can also explore some of the more than 500,000 photographs housed in the state’s collection. These photos includes everything from images of early Henry’s Lake, inmate mug shots, and pictures of neighborhoods across the state.

On February 11, 2017 the Idaho State Historical Society will celebrate the 208th birthday of our 16th President at the Idaho State Archives located at 2205 Old Penitentiary Road in Boise. The celebration will begin at noon, and includes a guided tour of the Lincoln exhibition, refreshments, and discounts on Lincoln memorabilia.

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