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The Boston Globe


How Boston changed Lincoln

On a visit to this abolitionist hotbed, a young congressman had a revelation that would change history.

A dark, gangly figure emerged from the Boston and Providence Railroad depot in Park Square on Sept. 15, 1848. Except for his unusually lofty, angular frame, Abraham Lincoln would have attracted little notice as he walked the byways of Boston. The obscure 39-year-old freshman congressman was on his first visit to the city and his first venture into presidential politics. Lincoln’s long gait carried him to lodgings at the elegant Tremont House at the corner of Tremont and Beacon, just steps from the bones of Hancock, Revere, and the other patriots in the adjacent Granary Burying Ground.

The Abraham Lincoln who visited Massachusetts in 1848 was not yet leading man material. But on a 13-day trip in which he spoke before audiences in Boston and eight nearby towns, Lincoln got his first glimpse at the intensity of antislavery sentiment in Massachusetts and emerged with a deeper sense that political action on slavery was necessary.

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