Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Louisville in Jefferson County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)
 

The Brothers Speed — Joshua and James

 
 
The Brothers Speed — Joshua and James Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, November 28, 2020
1. The Brothers Speed — Joshua and James Marker
Inscription.  On April 15, 1837, Abraham Lincoln rode into Springfield, Illinois, on a borrowed horse, to begin his career as an attorney. He stopped in a local store where he met the clerk, Joshua Speed, a fellow Kentuckian. They became roommates and began a close friendship that lasted the remainder of Lincoln's life. This friendship continued despite differing political views and their disagreement over slavery. Speed moved back to Louisville, Kentucky, in 1842, and lived on the Farmington plantation.

After Lincoln's election and the outbreak of the Civil War, Joshua and James Speed were two of Lincoln's most ardent supporters. Joshua played an important role in distributing guns to Union forces in Kentucky, which became known as “Lincoln guns.” Lincoln appreciated Joshua Speed's counsel and reportedly offered him the post of secretary of the treasury, but Joshua repeatedly declined.

James Speed, Joshua's older brother and a Louisville attorney, had his political career in Kentucky stunted because of his opposition to slavery. James and his brother Joshua, despite their divergent opinions about slavery, played a key role in
The Brothers Speed — Joshua and James Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, November 28, 2020
2. The Brothers Speed — Joshua and James Marker
The main house of Farmington, the Speed family's plantation, in the background.
keeping Kentucky in the Union. James served two important roles during the Civil War. He was mustering officer for Kentucky Union volunteers and commanded the Louisville Home Guard.

James became Lincoln's attorney general in December 1864. After Lincoln's assassination, he remained attorney general for President Andrew Johnson until July 1866. On April 16, 1865, after Lincoln was killed, James wrote his mother:

The best and greatest man I ever knew, and one holding just now the highest and most responsible position on earth, has been taken from us, but do not be downcast and hopeless. This great Government was not bound up in the life of any one man. The great and true principles of self-government will under God be worked out by us or by better men.

Sidebar
A core group of Kentucky advisors kept Lincoln informed about the Bluegrass State during the Civil War.

Robert J. Breckinridge was a Kentucky politician, Presbyterian minister, and leading figure in antebellum education. He was a staunch Unionist during the Civil War and was temporary chairman of the national convention that led to Lincoln's renomination in 1864. He was a leading voice for the border states throughout the Civil War.

Born in Connecticut, George Prentice came to Kentucky in 1830 to write a campaign biography of Henry Clay. He remained in the commonwealth
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
until his death in 1870. He became editor of the Louisville Journal, the mouthpiece of the American Whig Party, and remained a strong Unionist during the Civil War. Prentice's two sons joined the Confederate army.

Joseph Holt was a distinguished attorney and Kentucky politician who was President James Buchanan's secretary of war. When the Civil War erupted, his many letters and public addresses helped keep Kentucky in the Union. In 1863, he became judge advocate general of the United States and presided over the trial of Lincoln's assassination conspirators.

James Guthrie was an attorney and Kentucky politician who presided over the 1849 Kentucky Constitutional Convention. He was secretary of the treasury under President Franklin Pierce and a U.S. senator following the Civil War. in February 1861, he led a National Peace Conference in Washington, D.C., as a last-ditch attempt to avert war. He worked for the Union cause throughout the war.

Timeline
1809 — Abraham Lincoln born at Sinking Spring 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
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
family visited Lexington, Kentucky, en route to Abraham's only term in Congress.
1860 — Abraham Lincoln elected President of the United States in November.
1865 — Abraham Lincoln assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Captions
Top center: Joshua Speed Courtesy of The Filson Historical Society, Louisville, Ky.
Bottom center
: James Speed Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Bottom right (left to right)
:
• Robert J. Breckinridge Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society.
• George Prentice Courtesy of The Filson Historical Society, Louisville, Ky.
• Joseph Holt Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
• James Guthrie 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 & PoliticsWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln series list.
 
Location. 38° 12.85′ N, 85° 40.118′ W. Marker is in Louisville, Kentucky, in Jefferson County. Marker can be reached from Farmington Access Road. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3033 Bardstown Road, Louisville KY 40205, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Abraham Lincoln & Farmington — 1841 (within shouting distance of this marker); Farmington (approx. 0.2 miles away); Bowman Field (approx. 0.6 miles away); Bray Place / Scoggan-Jones Horse Farm (approx. ¾ mile away); Alonzo "Lonnie" Clayton / African American Jockey (approx. 0.9 miles away); Bashford Manor (approx. 0.9 miles away); Hayfield (approx. one mile away); Aero Club of Louisville (approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Louisville.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 10, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 7, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 49 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on December 7, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.   2. submitted on December 10, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Paid Advertisement
Mar. 6, 2021