Near Hardinsburg in Breckinridge County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)
Joseph Holt and Abraham Lincoln
Born on January 6, 1807, Holt attended Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, before practicing law in Elizabethtown. He became Commonwealth's Attorney of Louisville in 1833, and, two years later, moved to Mississippi, where he built a lucrative law practice. By age thirty-five he had retired and moved back to Louisville.
Beginning in 1857, Holt served in many positions under President James Buchanan, including commissioner of patents, postmaster general, and secretary of war. His tenure as secretary of war ended when Abraham Lincoln was elected president. Holt became a staunch Unionist during the Civil War. He played a major role in orchestrating Unionist political victories across Kentucky in the summer of 1861 and helped keep Kentucky loyal to the Union.
In 1862, President Lincoln appointed Holt judge advocate general of the United States. In this position, Holt presided over the trial of the eight Lincoln conspirators, obtaining the conviction
Holt turned down Lincoln's offer to appoint him attorney general in 1864, writing instead to support fellow Kentuckian James Speed:
I can recall no public man in the State, of uncompromising loyalty, who unites in the same degree, the qualifications of professional attainments, fervent devotion to the union, & to the principles of your administration, & spotless purity of personal character.
— Joseph Holt to Abraham Lincoln, Washington, D.C., December 1, 1864
Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail
1809: Abraham Lincoln born at Sinking Soring farm, in present-day Larue County, Kentucky
1816: Lincoln family moved from Kentucky
1841: Abraham Lincoln visited his friend Joshua Speed at Farmington, the Speed family plantation, in Louisville, Kentucky
1842: Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd of Lexington, Kentucky
1847: The Lincoln family visited Lexington, Kentucky, en route to Abraham's only term in Congress
1860: Abraham Lincoln elected President of the United States in November
Center: Judge Joseph Holt, Judge Advocate General, U.S.A. (1862-1875) Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Right: Judge Joseph Holt worked closely with Abraham Lincoln on many court-martial cases and presided over the trial of the assassination conspirators in 1865. This image shows the four hanged and hooded bodies of the convicted conspirators in Washington, D.C., including Mary E. Surratt (first hanged person on the left), the first woman to be executed by the United State government. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Erected by Kentucky Abraham Lincoln Heritage Trail, Kentucky Heritage Council, Kentucky Historical Society and Kentucky Department of Highways.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Government & Politics • Law Enforcement • Military • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #15 James Buchanan, and the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln series lists.
Location. 37° 54.741′ N, 86° 34.669′ W. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6205 KY-144, Hardinsburg KY 40143, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Joseph Holt, Father of the Judge Advocates (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Joseph Holt (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Joseph Holt (approx. 5 miles away); First Coal Oil (approx. 6 miles away); Cloverport Veterans Monument (approx. 6.1 miles away); Breckinridge County Veterans Memorial (approx. 6.1 miles away); Lincoln Family Trail (approx. 6.1 miles away); Early Shipping Point (approx. 6.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hardinsburg.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 13, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 17, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 45 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on November 17, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. 3, 4. submitted on December 11, 2020, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.