January 13, 2009


The burgers and dogs were on the grill and it was the last Fourth of July gathering at the home where I grew up. It was 1976 and we were playing a bicentennial game of jarts. I remember almost everything sold had something about the bicentennial stamped on it; from bicentennial soup to bicentennial nuts, the tacky American way of commerce making itself bicentennially known.

200 years earlier and seventy-five miles southeast of what is now Louisville Daniel Boone commanded Boonesboro, a settlement he founded. They defended themselves against attacks by the Shawnee Indians who, allied with the British, wanted Boonesboro wiped from the face of Kentucky. The British and Shawnees did not succeed. In 1779 Daniel Boone would return to North Carolina and head up more émigrés to settle more land in Kentucky. One of these settlers was Abraham Lincoln, grandfather of the sixteenth president.

In May 1786 Abraham was clearing land one day twenty miles east of Louisville and was shot dead by an Indian. His son Mordecai ran to the cabin to get the gun while eight year old Thomas stood by his father’s body. From the cabin Mordecai saw an Indian reach for Thomas. Mordecai shot and killed the Indian

Thomas Lincoln grew up, married Nancy Hanks, and settled in what is now Hodgenville, Kentucky and on February 12, 1809 Abraham Lincoln was born. This February 12th is the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.