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Lincoln Visits Hamilton

In 1859, Abraham Lincoln, a politician with an increasingly national reputation, visited Butler County.  Lincoln had been invited to speak in Ohio as part of the hotly contested race for governor between Democrat Rufus P. Ranney and Republican William Dennison.  The “Little Giant” Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln’s opponent in a well publicized series of debates a few years before, had been invited to tour the state on behalf of the Democratic candidate, and Lincoln was brought in as a counter-weight to Douglas’ political influence.  After making a speech in Dayton, Lincoln's next destination was to be Hamilton.  The Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad train that carried Lincoln on September 17, 1859, stopped briefly at Middletown Station, which was located on the west side of town then called Madison. The train only needed a few minutes to take on wood and water, but it was time enough for Lincoln to step off the train and talk with the small crowd on hand. Most of the people in the area had supported Stephen A. Douglas in their debates, but the chance to see Douglas’s opponent in the flesh was a once in a lifetime experience. Middletown historian George Crout wrote "Lincoln looked to the east across the river, noting a few three-story brick buildings on the horizon." He also wrote that the Madison House was somewhat new, having been constructed in 1846. Some of the passengers frequented the bar, but Lincoln remained near the engine chatting with the small crowd. The fireman completed his assignment and complained that his fellow workers were too slow. He bellowed quite loudly, "Come on, men, we got to get out of here - We've got to have Lincoln at Hamilton on time, for he still has to make Cincinnati tonight." Lincoln immediately stepped back onto the train, and, in a matter of minutes the C.H.& D. was on its way.  He arrived at the Hamilton Station (which still stands today), and on the afternoon of the 17th, he gave which concentrated on Popular Sovereignty. Lincoln began his speech by complimenting the Miami Valley.  He said: "This beautiful and far-famed Miami Valley is the garden spot of the world."  A marker has been erected to commemorate the 16th President’s visit.
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