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The Lincolns at Home in Springfield: Abraham Lincoln with His Sons Willie and Tad

(LINCOLN, ABRAHAM.) Whipple, J. A.. Photograph portrait of Lincoln and his sons Willie and Tad at their home in Springfield, Illinois.

Boston: J. A. Whipple, Summer 1860

Albumen print (13 1⁄4 x 11 1⁄2 in.), original printed mount with Whipple imprint and title “Home of Abraham Lincoln,” early erroneous inscription “Original photograph made in 1858 or 1859.” Minor wear and soiling, crease at upper right.

Abraham Lincoln at his home in Springfield.  “Lincoln stands on the terrace of the only house he ever owned. He called it his ‘little brown cottage’ and bought it for $1500 in 1844 from the Reverend Charles Dresser, an Episcopal rector who had married the Lincolns in 1842. Here Lincoln’s sons Eddie, Willie, and Tad were born, and here he was living when elected President” (Ostendorf). Lincoln stands with his sons Willie and Tad, who is barely visible behind a post.

Lincoln left Springfield for Washington on February 11, 1861. In his farewell address, he told the people of Springfield, “My friends, no one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.”

The photographer, John Adams Whipple (1822-1891) was a pioneering American photographer and inventor who owned a successful photography studio in Boston. “Whipple was instrumental in the development of the glass negative/paper positive process in America” (Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography).
Lincoln was chosen as the Republican nominee for the presidency on May 18, 1860. Whipple journeyed to Illinois that summer to photograph the rising political star at his home in Springfield. This rare large-format print bears Whipple’s imprint and address.

Large-format photographs of Abraham Lincoln and his family are rare.

Ostendorf, Lincoln’s Photographs O-38.