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Did Lincoln own enslaved human beings????

Started by nebo113, January 07, 2024, 10:26:52 AM

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So says someone on FB, and that he freed his own enslaved human beings in 1863 prior to the Emancipation Proclamation. 

I tend to be interested in the origins of such statements, so delved into online sources.  I do not have access to an academic library  but some access to JSTOR.

Here's what I found:  Mary Todd's father enslaved people; that's a fact.  Here's where i gets at least mildly conspiratorial, and I cannot verify.  When Robert Smith Todd died in 1849, because two people did not witness his death as legally required in Kentucky, he died intestate, even if he had a will, so his estate was distributed among his heirs.  Mary, being female, was not allowed to participate in the legal process, so husband Abe was the legal inheritor of the property which included slaves....which he sold in 1863, while he was Pres.  All this, of course, was properly documented.....except some deranged preacher went around and stole all the documents....but we know it's true because there is a definite trail of where this dude went as documents disappeared.

SMH and RME......

What I would like to locate, if possible, is the disposition of the estate of Robert Smith Todd, Mary's papa, and/or scholarly research on this issue of enslaved person ownership by Abe.

As some of you may recall from my dive into "haint blue" I am retired and not publishing.  I just get these bees in my bonnet and want to know.

Any suggestions/directions, search terms for JSTOR, will be appreciated.


I don't know anything about the scholarship on this issue. However, the best way to find estate documents is to check with the county clerk of the county in which the decedent lived. In the case of Robert Smith Todd, who died in Lexington, Kentucky, that would be Fayette County (unless Kentucky's counties have been renamed). I've never done any research involving Kentucky's probate records, but here's a link that looks helpful:

Depending on the practice at a given time and in a given state, you might find an inventory of the estate. Now, if someone stole all the records, you may be out of luck. But it is worth an inquiry.


Here's a book by a Harvard historian

Did Lincoln Own Slaves

on the subject. The title is your exact question.

Used copies from Walmart are really cheap.

That's not even wrong!
--Wolfgang Pauli