Historical Markers
Abraham Lincoln (Bristol) Historical Marker
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Abraham Lincoln (Bristol)

Philadelphia and its Countryside/Lehigh Valley


Marker Location:
Near intersection of Bristol Pike & Pond St., Bristol

Dedication Date:
January 1, 1991

Behind the Marker

A view of Lincoln's first inaugural ceremony in Washington, March 4, 1861. The U.S. Capitol building was still under construction at the time.
Presidential Inaugural Ceremony of Abraham Lincoln, Washington, D. C., March...
President-elect Abraham Lincoln left his home in Springfield, Illinois, on February 11, 1861, to travel to his inauguration in Washington, D.C. on March 4, 1861. In the face of the withdrawal of several southern states from the national government following his election, Lincoln was determined to rally northern opinion in favor of preserving the Union. He embarked on an unprecedented inaugural trip through several northern states on his way to Washington. Elected with less than 40 percent of the popular vote in a four-way contest for president, his legitimacy as chief executive was literally at stake.

Lincoln stopped briefly in Bristol, Pennsylvania, on his way to Philadelphia. According to local accounts, when the train arrived, the crowd surged around the rear platform of his car, cheering the President-elect and his family. His wife Mary and their three sons, Robert, Willie, and Tad, accompanied Lincoln. A young laborer named Frank Woodington was reportedly the first resident of Bristol to meet the President-elect. "Mr. Lincoln," Woodington said, "when you get to be President, enforce the laws." Startled but apparently appreciative of the warm-hearted endorsement of his pro-Union policy, Lincoln responded with "a hearty handshake" and said, "That I will try to do, my friend!"

The last citizen to greet Lincoln was Gilbert Tomlinson, a carpenter who was also one of the community's most active public officials. The former school board director had to leap from the moving train as it departed for Philadelphia.

Whatever good feeling the President-elect discovered in Bristol soon disappeared, however. That night, Lincoln received word that there was a plot in Baltimore to assassinate him.
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