On the evening of February 28, 1860, Abraham Lincoln spoke in Providence, on the second floor of Railroad Hall, previously located near today’s Kennedy Plaza. Lincoln came to Rhode Island immediately after giving his famed Cooper Union speech in New York in an effort to please his New England supporters, as well as visit his son going to school at nearby Exeter Academy.
Drawing a crowd of around 1500 people, Lincoln spoke about a press article that had criticized points he made in an earlier speech. Before this crowd of Rhode Islanders, he defended the opinions he expressed, by saying that “this country cannot permanently endure half slave and half free.”
Lincoln stayed the night in the home of Mr. John Eddy, a prominent lawyer at the time. At the time, his house was located at 57 Washington Street, but the house has since been moved and now stands at 265 Washington Street.
The next time you’re downtown visit the plaque that has been installed to honor this visit. Located on Fulton Street, near the corner of Exchange Street, you can find it easily by using our self guided Statues and Monuments Tour.
Plan on taking this tour? Tag your photos on Instagram or Twitter with #DPPCtour so we can follow along.